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Metal Riot’s Top 15 albums of 2019.

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 5:10 AM (PST)

Immortal Bird deserve to thrive

 

Hi everyone. As usual, I am inclined to post my AOTY list a little on the early side to hopefully get capitalist metal scum to buy more of these masterpieces in advance of the holiday season. I also am very busy doing important shit like going through a hellish move to get away from a slumlord, petitioning Marvel to reinstate Julian MacMahon as Dr. Doom in the MCU , etc. I have also been busy being furious that the entire Metal Riot Twitter account was deleted by vengeful Melanie Martinez and Foxygen stans just because I said that my gf Globelamp and I are not part of a god damn murder plot against stupid Foxygen and that anyone who thinks that is an idiot (FYI: their official twitter tweeted and deleted awhile ago “she tried to kill me and isn’t done”…complete evil nonsense). She has dental records that her teeth were knocked out, geniuses. It wasn’t from no one. The Melanie stans also hated that my gf stood up for the woman who accused Melanie of assault. Everything is wack. Not a good look to support Foxygen, to put it nicely.

Sorry I dropped some F bombs, Twitter! I notice you still have Richard Spencer on there with a god damn turkey emoji dogwhistling Native American genocide, you trash! Sorry I stood up for my abused girlfriend and want some losers to leave us alone. I do apologize to anyone inconvenienced and will continue to do my best to support lots of bands, though I am disgusted by the Twitter platform so not sure I will be replacing the account.

Anyway, it has been an intense year so I sure as hell hope these impeachment hearings gain some traction. Quick shameless plug. I was honored to release two albums this year with my Walking Bombs project via Nefarious Industries, the war, hate and capitalism themed Suicide By Citizenship and the non binary themed Sphinges Sibling Selves and Queens.

I am still in awe of the assembled allies who took part in these albums, from Gridfailure to members of Tad, Caustic Resin/Earth, Cycle Sluts From Hell, Kylesa, All Out War, Globelamp , The Beautiful Bastards and more. I will remain very thankful for years to come for these releases, which helped me express myself during a very hard personal year where my gf and I were battling Foxygen legally and dealing with DARVO. Thank you EVERYONE who checked my records out this year or did a premiere. More to come in 2020!

The following are some of the musical powerful albums by others that really resonated with me the most this year.  Well, I mean they are the ones cloests to the hard rock, metal and punk genres. I also listened to lots of Tamaryn, Kerli and Jenny Lewis, as should you all. Bless you cool cats and let’s all keep the faith, I value you all and thank you for continuing to support the site. In the next few weeks before the end of the year we will also post short lists from other staff and guest artist favorite list contributors to continue our year end celebration. Stay loud and proud! Love, fangs and headbangs, y’all. Today is trans day of remembrance as I write this and let’s make the world brighter.

Read the Year End List BELOW.

Album Of The Year: 1. Immortal Bird – Thrive On Neglect: The seamless blend of genres never feels forced, completely in service to the songs in a way that is rare. Immortal Bird grow from already impressive past work to become even more formidable and vital. Ultimately, the narratives of the songs are also never overshadowed by style choices that clip the wings of so many albums which sacrifice authenticity in service to scenester aesthetics. This band really feel united, as in synch instrumentally as they are with the ferocious, from the depths vocal performances. Even the most cursory listen will leave you rattled. And can we talk about how great this record sounds? Immortal Bird have found the sweet spot between the raw and refined, channeling complex feelings and musical arrangements with fierce collective grace and true passion for the art. “Anger Breeds Contempt” could match any Converge set opener for hyped up, rollicking and ready chaos. The amount of unforced energy and care the band put into this release elevated it above…well, everyone. This is a record to make you feel like you are strong enough even when you feel alone. Brilliant. Important. Support!

Fave tracks: “Avolition”, “Anger Breeds Contempt”.

2. Candlemass – The Door To Doom: As soon as I heard this unlikely gift from the purest realms of doom metal Johan Längqvist helmed masterpiece of a motherfucker of an album, I knew it would not only be on my year end list but that any list to exclude it was fucking tripping on drugs. Could it really be this good after decades between Epicus Doomicus Metallicus? Yes! What did we do to not only deserve this blessed event but to also have Tony Iommi guest solo on a song with a title like “Astorolus – The Great Octopus”? As Wayne and Garth once gushed to Aerosmith or somebody ,”we are (truly) not worthy”.

Fave track: ‘Splendor Demon Majesty’

3. Venom Prison – Samsara: This band went harder than just about anyone this year (with due respect and shout outs to Knaaves killer debut, Friendship’s Undercurrent, the insane Serpent Of Gnosis record and Wormwitch’s “Disciple of the Serpent Star’ baller track). Venom Prison just crushed everything in their path, getting their name out with a vengeance behind a truly potent album for our times. They remind me of if a band even more intense than Landmind Marathon had the ‘we’re taking over’ drive of those early Slipknot eras. The record is almost too overwhelming to get through at times, more actually oppresive than over hyped imaginary cavernous death metal cave troll aesthetic type shit via the paranoia and maddening rage of this actual day and age. Most intense cover art of the year. I could go on and on, but y’all know already. This band is poised to be one of the next great metal bands if they hang tough and keep going, but have already made some classics people will enjoy for years.

Fave Tracks: ‘Uterine Industrialisation’, ‘Naraka’

4. False – Portent: While other non sketch black metal bands like Waldgeflüster, Bull Of Apis Bull Of Bronze and of course Dawn Ray’d made mighty and important works as well, I was most floored in the genre this year by the new False album. A triumphant leap ahead, it is the most poetic, deeply stirring and perhaps loneliest album I heard all year. I don’t know any of the band and am like proud of them and shit. Huge kudos and love.

Fave Track: “Rime On The Song Of Returning”

5. Darkthrone – Old Star: This is probably heretical to say but I listened to this so much in my gf’s car this year driving around day after day with those sweet, bare, no bs killer metal riffs and no nonsense arrangements. It might just be my fave Darkthrone album. It’s just real heavy metal, no pretense, friendship, the love of the genre. Killer tunes and my favorite riffs of the year.

Fave tracks: “The Key Is Inside The Wall”, “Duke Of Gloat”.

6. Redbait – Cages: I don’t know how anyone could see the cover of Redbait’s explosive 2019 EP Cages and not feel motivated to riot. This is an incendiary release perfectly suited to rail against the walls of injustice in this collective nightmare. So much passion and good songwriting condensed into this all too brief release, hungry for change. “Taken for a shower /You’ll never see your mother /Sleeping on the concrete floor/Alone.”

Fave track: “Cages”

7. L7 – Scatter The Rats: The funnest and most rock n roll album of the year was kind of misread by a lot of dipshit critics who somehow missed in the snarky blogosphere of too cool for school 2019 that Scatter the Rats is the near perfect symmetry with age blend of L7’s catchy and gritty sides that a lot of fans have always dreamed would come together so well. Song after song is just no frills good riff and attitude perfection with singalong streetwise grunge and pop n roll glory. This band remain the fucking essence of cool. This is one of the all time most meaningful bands in rock and the fact they can still write circles around most peers and up and comers speaks volumes. In a world where most of the Ramones are in Rock N Roll Heaven, not high schoool, let’s just say L7 are still around real rock n roll gang we need…a true sisterhood. Any rat who doesn’t get it can stay scattered. Just sayin’.

Fave Songs: “Holding Pattern”, “Stadium West” aka best earworms of the year.

8. Sanhedrin – The Poisoner: Sanhedrin avoid the run of the mill trad metal mistakes that make a lot of well intentioned bands falter, namely these songs kick complete ass compositionally and have a lot more feeling than many bands. Erica, Jeremy and Nathan are a sick team, very convincing in energy as they make at times beautiful and at times punch packing landscapes with a real respect for metal that comes through.Brad Boatright’s mastering job on this album is amazing. It is very satisfying after many a listen and the songs really grow on you. Highly recommended band who deserve more attention and more than earned a spot here with this very vibey release. Crank the intro to last song “In From The Outside” and you’ll be won over very fast.

Fave track: “The Poisoner” (love that Kris Force cameo).

9. Ithaca – The Language Of Injury: This metallic hardcore record stole the hearts of basically anyone with a pulse this year who still cares about this scene. With good reason. Ithaca are the answer to a lot of prayers, their own party but with nods to the past coloring their inspiring present. Super energizing and motivating music to start a movement to. Random noise and alarm clock flirteriffery. Pit starting moments galore. Djamilia Azzouz ! Secret Dimebag moments. Hardfriggin’core. And they really do seem like great people. Can’t go wrong with this one.

Fave Track: I mean, “Impulse Crush”, duh. \m/

10. Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky –Droneflower: 2019 really spoiled Stephen Brodsky fans between this stunning collaborative record with musical genius Marissa Nadler and the new Cave In (which we gave 5 stars). Nadler and Brodsky managed to challenge one another while also showcasing signature strengths. The originals are great and compelling mood pieces or songs that perfectly capture an intimate remoteness, but the covers are next level even for Marissa (who is known for knocking covers out of the park). Only Droneflower could have Marissa and Stephen cover Morphine and have it be the 2nd best cover on a record. Also weird to me that I have seen Morphine live back in the day but never saw GNR still, even recently. As someone who nonetheless loves Guns N Roses more than a healthy person should and who has been basically evicted before for smoking pot with my gf and singing Use Your Illusion-era tunes loudly on acoustic, the awe inspiring rendition of “Estranged” on this release froze my soul with joy. The song strips the tune down to dark country gothic pain, exposing the raw heart of one of Axl’s songs where he really gave Elton and Meatloaf a run for the money in the ambition department. While I can still hear every Cozy Powell-esque Matt Sorum stadium ready drum fill from the original in my head, this version is almost better. Scary. Holy fucking shit, y’all.

Fave track: “Estranged”

11. Life Of Agony –The Sound of Scars: While band’s like Cave In and Spotlights made some of the most emotional or melodic records of their careers and while other albums aplenty were heavier or more hipster gushed about, Life Of Agony stayed doing what they do and ushed in a strong new moment or the veteran group. This unabashedly hard rock gem continues the plot of classic River Runs Red but not in a desperate way and we face the even scarier prospect of where to go after surviving hitting bottom, facing the tunnel of adulthood and coping with regret. Veronica Bellino more than earns her place in the band and fans have already adopted numerous songs into their black hearts from this record.

Fave Track: “Black Heart”

12. Sabbath Assembly – A Letter Of Red: The most focused “rock” Sabbath Assembly record to date, A Letter Of Red conquers demons and asserts the band’s staying power. “Solve et Coagula” is proggy hard rock but fluid perfection, merging the occult sensibilities and moody melodicism with marching, mathy strut and the organic feel of a confident live band. “Worthless” gallops like Sabbath Assembly perusing their inner Maiden fan for an amazing, grin-evoking merge of styles. See also the South of Heaven Slayer-esque moments of the intro to “Hymn of The Pearl”, yeahh! The true crown jewel here however is the headiest and in some ways most slow burn gem, “A Welcome Below”. Jamie Myers leads the band through a bewitching brew of brightly glittering dreamy borderline psych and then shadowy, big classic rock-esque terrains in one of the finest yet restrained vocal performances of the year, showing that temperance can be just as affecting as screaming your head off. I always tell people this is one of the most important bands in rock release after release and I stand by that.

Fave Track: “A Welcome Below”

13. Luna13 – Wicked Gods: Dark horse winner of the year goes to Luna13, which came out of nowhere and exploded my radar, upending me like a tornado and scattering all my well prepared class notes. Seriously this will launch you startled into the air like Charlie Brown missing a yanked kickball. This album is infectious yet abrasive, inventive yet nostalgic and utterly fucking addictive yet terrifying. Seriously deranged! Love it. A lot of it is a semi-relentless dirgy workout of harsh energy paired with high drama, very over the top tortured vocals. The whole thing feels like one mass exorcism. Bands with a way bigger budget and notoriety didn’t come close to the relentless energy channeled into this hellish industrialized devilish riot. Even if this band never recorded another note I am certain this would become a cult classic if, as they say, the devil is the lord of this world. Along with brilliant releases from Patriarchy and Rammstein it was a great year for fans of darkly satirical, truth dissecting, industrial influenced material.

Fave track: ‘Serpent’

14. Friendship – Undercurrent: This 2019 Friendship release doesn’t fuck around in any way, just beyond ominous hardcore that lets you know the band are out to take no prisoners. You may wonder why this isn’t a death metal album taking up the slot. With the exception of Vastum and Exhumed, I thought most of the gushed about death metal this year was actually pretty overhyped. This Friendship record is way more intense than some of that stuff, despite being from a generally leaner and less “evil” sub genre. It certainly kicked my ass way more. After the ominous intro of “Demise”, the irregular heartbeat drum barrage of the top of “Vertigo” sets you up for the coming relentless ride. If you want no frills, endurance testing heavy music that is in and out with a bang leaving tumbleweed, broken chairs and noses behind, this is your go to. Reminds me of the insanity of Baptists merged with the heavy of Xibalba for just too much intensity to handle that quickly becomes addictive.

Fave track: ‘Fiend’

15. In Mourning – Garden Of Storms: From a musicianship standpoint, In Mourning continue to astound with Swedish melodeth influenced songs that strike to the heart like a thunderbolt. Progressive but not obnoxious, heavy but not trying too hard, epic yet personal. This one even surpassed recent Cult of Luna and Opeth records for me this year, a true escape on many levels. And that gorgeous, hallucinatory cover. A big win for the bands and Agonia.

Fave track: “Yields of Sand”

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