1. Megadeth – Endgame
This had to be the number one. It’s just very important to have Megadeth existing and putting out some proper music again. I still think that they can improve on this, but for the time being, enjoy Mustaine sneering and thoroughly thrashing his tits off once more.
2. Exivious – Exivious
Just an incredible album, all instrumental featuring the half of Cynic that weren’t on Death’s Human album and the drummer from Textures. For me Exivious comes across even stronger than Cynic’s Traced in Air (which was itself amazing), with the mandatory shit load of crazy time changes and jazz club vibe. Some 5 Finger Death Punch fans might call it meandering wank but they’re ignorant, inbred cunts so fuck them. If this had been the follow up to Focus and they’d added some robot vocals into the mixer then the entire world may very well have exploded, unable to contain the jazz metal mastery and tsunami of critical acclaim.
3. While Heaven Wept – Vast Oceans Lachrymose
This majestic behemoth of an album came out of nowhere and blew me away. While Heaven Wept meld powerful doom riffs to progressive structures and soaring vocals that would make Fates Warning cry sweet tears of jizz and Dream Theater vomit as their grasp of atmospherics is shown to be pitiful in comparison. It’s like a giant (possibly some sort of mutant Joey DiMaio created by mad Manowar worshipping scientists in the heart of Germany) striding across the world saying “This is heavy metal, what the fuck are you going to do about it?” and the answer, of course, is rock out to epic power ballads (Vessel) and 15 minute undulating progressive monstrosities like The Furthest Shore. Yes, some of the melodies are as cheesy as the cheesiest cheese warehouse on a hot summer’s day but I just can’t stop listening to it!
4. Augury – Fragmentary Evidence
This one I’d been looking forward to for quite some time, and happily Augury have moved on a great deal from where they left off with 2004’s Concealed, losing the female clean vocals and upping the prog-factor to new levels. The result is a brilliant Technical Death Metal album that is underpinned by the fretless bass (an instrument that appears in 3 albums of this top 10 because it’s fuckin’ sweet) prowess of Dominic ‘Forest’ Lapointe, who also amply filled the mighty Steve DiGiorgio’s shoes in fellow Montreal-eans Quo Vadis. Fragmentary Evidence is heavy, technical, interesting, complicated and with great songs. Yes.
5. Novembers Doom – Into Nights Requiem Infernal
This band keeps getting heavier! The Death/Doom maestros continue to evolve in the opposite direction of EVERY other doom band that ever lived and, rather than turn into HIM are instead morphing into some sort of Doom Amon Amarth. The album is as bristling with humongous riffs as it is sorrowful passages, and there is a real confidence in the dynamics that showcases just how on top of their game Novembers Doom are at the moment.
6. Obscura – Cosmogenesis
Ah the new Necrophagist album. Oh no, wait, they are still playing to the worlds scene kids on their 68th US tour, as they have been for the last FIVE FUCKING YEARS. Well they can consider their throne well and truly usurped by Obscura’s Cosmogenesis, featuring two of the members that made Necrophagist’s Epitaph so awesome in 2004. You snooze you lose. The requisite neo-classical solos are there, dizzying passages of technicality and… hang on… some extremely melodic interludes that elevate this above the massed tech-death hordes.
7. Insomnium – Across the Dark
Insomnium evolve again, moving further away from the outright Gothenburg worship of old to what verges on Amorphis-channelling on this, their fourth album. There’s something in that Finnish water. A much more introspective album than anything that has gone before it, with only occasional bursts of melodeath being tastefully scattered across the frosty landscape they conjour. With this they have managed to be both less accessible and more accessible at the same time. My brain hurts.
8. Nile – Those Whom the Gods Detest
Worthy of a place in the top 10 for re-affirming my faith in them after the disappointing Ithyphallic, they are back up there at the pinnacle of death metal where they belong. Crushing, frenzied yet classy.
9. Dying Fetus – Descend Into Depravity
Dying Fetus give everyone another lesson in violence with this album, not re-inventing the wheel but just adding more spikes on to it and driving very fast over your face. The album is more fluent than their last couple of releases, and the production is meatier than Pavarotti eating a meat pie. This transforms songs like Atrocious By Nature and Shepherds Commandment into the musical manifestation of Charles Bronson – Fucking nuggets and not to be messed with.
10. Cauldron – Chained to the Nite
This sneaks into the top 10 just for the sheer number of listens I managed to give this album during the summer. Classic (in the sense that these songs could all have been released 30 years ago) metal all the way, with sing alongs a-plenty and enough denim and leather to equip the next 14,672 Saxon conventions.
Just missing out:
Amorphis – Skyforger
Suffocation – Blood Oath
Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire
Immortal – All Shall Fall
Alice in Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
Katatonia – Night Is the New Day