This was without a doubt, the absolute hardest year I've had to deal with making a top 20. Nothing else comes close. I say that as every single album in this top 20 has a strong argument to be number one and even as I write this part up now, I have no idea what is going to be number 1. I've remade, then remade, then remade again, then remade after that, and so on and so on and so on every single day for the last week. Rughly 10-20 times a day I come over to the computer and reorder my top 20 trying to make it into an order that I feel comfortable saying is correct. Now what ever I pute here 20-1 will be my final order, but just know that these 20 albums are all worthy of the title Album Of The Year. So Let's Finish This!
Let's go over the ground rules:
1.) This is my own personal top 100 list, that is made in 6 parts. Parts II-VI is the Top 100 and Part I is the Honorable Mentions. Check back every day for a new part till all six are available.
2.) This is done 20 albums per part, in countdown order (100-1).
3.) As mentioned, this is my own list. I am not paid, asked, or sponsored by any band, label, etc.My choices are mine and mine alone.
4.) 2019 has been an incredibly horrible year for my personal life and I have not been able to cover nearly as much music as I had hoped. There is many albums that I really dug that I had to cut from the list do to not being able to hear it enough, giving it enough time or simply it wasn't my bag...baby.
5.) CHECK OUT EVERY PART OF THIS LIST!!! My favorite one may be yours as well. Your favorite album may be number 17 or 34 or 89 or even an honorable mention. You simply don't know if you skip any part. The numbers don't matter; a good album is a good album. All of these are good albums.
6.) All 100 albums of the list will be made into a Spotify list (or at least as many that are on Spotify), where I'll pick a track from each album and show it off countdown style. Check back every day for the playlist to updated till the list is complete.
7.) The whole purpose of list is to not only show off my favorite albums of the year, but to try to get every person who reads this recommendations for new music to check out. My goal is to have everyone make one new discovery they dig. If you do, spread the joy!
20.) Possessed- Revelations of Oblivion
FFO- Death Metal
An album that I never thought I would hear from a band I never imagined would put out a new album. Not only did they put out a new album after 33 years, they put out their best album ever! This album is what I love about death metal to a T. It's nice and thrashy, it's not straight up growls (actually the vocals take on a Chuck Billy style death metal approach where everything is audible and clear), it's musical and filled with hooks. It's just a perfect death metal record that can make the elitists, purists, noobies, and ones that dabble in death metal from time to time agree that Possessed just blew the roof off what is possible in 2019 just by being themselves. BRAVO!
19.) Our Destiny- Awakening
FFO- Melodic Progressive Rock
This is the antidepressant I needed more than anything in 2019. For anyone that knows me and even those that don't; I've been suffering from Suicidal Depression, High Anxiety, PTSD, and Trauma for almost 19 years now and even as of October I took a 9th attempt at my life. This album and it's co-creator, Vikram Shankar helped me get to a place just from listen to this album and talking about our depression struggles to make me realize that life needs to be lived and I am now in therapy trying to get me life on track. As far as the album, this album is the definition of gorgeous. It's uplifting, crystal clear production, and utterly soothing. Life is not just about the dark, depressive, negative sides. Those are real things and real emotions, but so are the positive, uplifting and loving things that want to keep us around. This album is a way of telling you to love yourself, love those that care about, and to do what you can to get to a place to find peace in life. While I am struggling myself to find that peace, and album like this let's me know I'm not alone and as long as I'm here, I cans till try. Whether you are struggling or not, give this album a shot. It's by far the lightest thing on this entire list, but that's exactly what makes it stand out from the crowd.
18.) Cattle Decapitation- Death Atlas
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Deathgrind, Technical Death Metal
From an album about finding inner peace to an album that says "Save the world or we are all going to die!", I guess you can say I have an eclectic musical taste. Cattle Decapitation's latest album is easily my favorite thing they have done. Sure, the fanbase is getting more and more divided as the band isn't just making grindgore/Deathgrind records anymore; they are making more technical and progressive elements to their sound and I think it's the best decision they ever could have made. This album is the most ambitious when it comes to that as there is more than ever on the record, including the title track which clocks in at over 9 ,minutes. Whether you want your deathgrind to sound something different or you want your progressive and technical death metal to sound as brutal as possible, go pick up this album.
17.) Killswitch Engage- Atonement
Killswitch is back with their third album since frontman Jesse Leech rejoined the band. This sees the band at arguably their most mainstream since Killswitch Engage (KSE 2009 or KSE II depending on how you look at it), but it also sees the band be much more diverse and show off some of their heaviest material and most different material. The fact that Chuck Billy and even Howard Jones make vocal appearances on this album is jaw dropping. What hits me most about this album is the lyrical content. So many of the songs on this album are about self discovery and trying to get yourself to find inner peace and getting the help you need to get there. As you read 2 albums agao, I need that in my life and hearing an album like this is helping me even more in getting me to that position of transition. This album is a metalcore self help album and in 2019, I think we can ALL benefit from that.
16.) Exhumed- Horror
FFO- Death Metal, Grindcore
While the band's previous album was a concept album that almost bordered on progressive death metal; the band decided to go in the total opposite direction with Horror. 15 songs, 26 minutes long (one song being only 8 seconds long) and just pure horror inspired deathgrind that people know and love from the band. It's great to see that Matt Harvey can have something like Exhumed come out with a new album and also have his Heavy Metal/Speed Metal band, Pounder, release an album as well. Simply put. This is a fast, brutal, horrific and fun album; come join in the blood spilled fun!
15.) Crypt Sermon- The Ruins Of Fading Light
FFO- Epic Doom Metal
When it comes to straight up doom metal, not death doom, not stoner doom, not sludgy doom; but straight up epic doom metal, NOTHING comes close to the latest release from Crypt Sermon. These guys have released a sophomore album that rivals bands that have been playing for decades in similar styles and buries them deep in the ground. This is what doom should be like in 2019. 10 tracks, 55 minutes and every song is just as epic if not more so than the last. The raw but stellar production gives you just enough of an evil feel but able to hear everything that's going on. The insane vocals fit the band so perfectly, and the music...like I said this is pure DOOM. I can't say enough good things about this album, just go check it out for yourself and thank me later.
14.) Insomnium- Heart Like A Grave
FFO- Melodic Death Metal
Much like I pointed out at the beginning of this last part of the list, this album was number 1 for me at one point in time for 2019. That's how hard of a decision it was to put this top 20 together, but I digress. Just when you think that Insomnium can't get any stronger, they do. This is the darkest, yet most melodic album they have put out to date. It's a very dark melodic but it grips you so hard and it feels like it brings you to the depths of the grave (I do mean that in the best way possible). This album is just what you would want from the band, but done to it's absolute finest. Melodeath simply does not get much better than this. Though I must say, if you dig the music hear, but find it to depressing, make sure to go out and check out Markus Vanhala's other band, Omnium Gatherum. They are in similar vein as Insomnium, but the lyrics are way more on the positive and uplifting side. Hey, give both a shot!
13.) Rage Of Light- Imploder
FFO- Modern Metal, Electronic Groove Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Trance, modern metal and death metal combined into a fusion of one of the best new bands. The debut album from this collective is impeccable. Much like I talked about with The Dark Element; any band who has done something in the modern metal vibe since Amaranthe's 2nd album has done it WAY better than Amaranthe. This is the most perfect example of 2019. The songs are ultra catchy, the msuic can be so simple and so complex at the same time, the vocals are just insanely awesome and to end the album is a flawless new rendition of Amon Amarth's Twilight of the Thunder God. This is just a must have for those metalheads that want some great pop and dance influenced music and vice versa.
12.) Lindemann- F&M: Frau Und Mann
FFO- Industrial Metal
Rammstein meets Pain.Till Lindemann and Peter Tagtgren's 2nd album feels like a completely different trip than their debut album. The biggest reason for that may be because the first album was entirely in English and this album is entirely in German. It really feels like a more metal and progressive Rammstein album or an even more industrial Pain album that was made in German. This really does take the best of both bands and puts it in this album. Till and Peter have perfect musical chemistry and their music videos are hysterical. If you are fan of either musician or if this sounds intriguing to you in the slightest, I highly recommend that you give this a shot.
11.) Devin Townsend- Empath
FFO- Devin Townsend
Who saw this coming? Number 11? That's the way the bones rolled this time around. I will say right off the bat this was sadly another victim to me not being able to hear the album nearly as much as I've wanted to. When I was out of commission when this album came out, I simply couldn't hear it. Then getting bombared with promos and interviews after I got back into the swing of things made things even worse on me. Empath just sadly fell viuctim to circumstance on my end. But let's actually talk about the album now. Empath is the most Devin Townsend thing Devin Townsend has ever done. After deciding to go completely solo and only hiring guest or session musicians going forward; Devin took it upon himself to lay out all of his ideas on the table and make an album out of it.You are guaranteed never to find another album (to date) that has Chad Kroger singing over blast beats...yeah, that's how crazy this album truly is. The album goes from off the all ridiculous to soothing like you're relaxing on the beach to pure chaos to questioning what you are listening to all in one sitting (hell, sometimes in the same song). IF you really want to know what Hevy Devy is all about in one album (maybe not cohesively, but indeed everything he can do) Empath is the album you have been looking for.
10- the Offering- Home
FFO- Power Metal, Nu Metal, Death Metal, Progressive Metal, Almost Any type Of Metal
This debut album is what dreams are made of. A band that can have Slipknot type riffs over Primal Fear style vocals with Mr. Bungle-esque music changes and Dream Theater style precision. It is as crazy it sounds but with one key difference, it's all cohesive. It doesn't sound like it should be on paper, but in execution, it's perfection. The fact this is just their debut album shows that this band has all the promise in the world and the band's stock is only going to rise. While the band could be going in so many directions in the future, Home shows all of what the band is capable of in 2019 and when the next album comes, it's going to break the band into the masses. Check them out now and be chomping at the bit like I am, waiting for the new album. This is seriously some of the most mindblowing music of the year.
9.) Cyrha- No Halos In Hell
FFO- Modern Metal, Melodic Metal, Hard Rock
The sophomore album from this all star metal band is the band finally finding the sound they were destined to have and it fits the band perfectly. Everything from the production to the songwriting to the performances are just done in a way that makes you pay attention and want to hear the album from start to finish. For better or worse, while not the whole inspiration for the song, I am a part (even just a small part) of the inspiration for the song Battle From Within, which is an emotionally wrecking song that deals with the struggles of mental health and that makes me feel so happy and sad at the same time. But being honest and open about my mental health struggles has helped many people I know personally and others I'll never know and for that, it brings a smile to my face. The rest of the album is just hit after hit after hit and I can't wait to finally be able to see Cyhra one day to hear these songs live. This is the kind of music that should be on mainstream radio, there's no reason it should be left off. I guess I'll have to do my part and play them on my show as often as I can fit them in.
8.) Novembers Doom- Nephilim Grove
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Over the last few albums, Novembers Doom has really toned down on the death metal aspects and added more of the darker, doomy, proggy elements to the forefront. While the death Metal elements are still present and absolutely astounding, I really appreciate that the band has no problem showing off the different sides of the band and will go heavier or doomier or proggier depending on what the music calls for. This album may also feature the most clean vocals on a Novembers Doom album (though I could be wrong on that, don't hold me to it!). This really showcases the musical strengths of the band. And of course what would a Novembers Doom album be without the legendary Dan Swano adding this production touches with mixing and mastering. this feels like the perfect album at the perfect for the band. Be it the heavy opener, the epic title track or the sorrow filled What We Become; This has everything I love about the band in one collective. The band only gets better and better, Nephilim Grove is all the proof you need.
7.) Numenorean- Adore
The sophomore album from this fantastic Canadian post black metal band is the perfect post black metal album. The right uses of segue way track/Instrumental, absolutely tremendous epic tracks, the perfect balance between black metal, post rock and shoegaze; If there is a fault to this album, I have yet to find it. Anytime I need a pick me up at night, I put on this album and it instantly boosts my spirits. Weird to think that in an album like this, right? Take the title track as the perfect example. When you read and hear the lyrics you think it is such a depressing song and feel;ing as low as you possibly can, then you get to the end of the song and you hear this burst of power that says you won't be destroyed this time. Sure, the very end of the song has a more somber turn; but that is life in a nutshell. There are positives, there are negatives you will have ups, you will have downs. the album truly feels like the emotions you have after the end of a relationship and it hits you HARD. But it's the kind of hit you need to take to appreciate what's in front of you. This is just a phenomenal album and I highly suggest you give this album a proper listen. You are in for quite the shock.
6.) Baroness- Gold & Grey
FFO- Progressive Metal, Sludge Metal, Hard Rock
The final "Color" album from this incredible band sure leaves you on a fantastically high note. While many have said the production of this album is not good, I've actually been able to adapt my ears to not care about how the music is presented to me, but rather what is being presented to me. That is the perfect way to go into this album. This album shows every side of the band at their strongest points and added so many more styles along with it. For example, even if it is just a few bars (8-16 depending on how you count the song), you hear blast beats, which is something you'd think is impossible in this style, but it's done.No matter how mellow, bright, heavy, somber this album gets, Baroness has a way to pull all of your emotions and really makes you pay attention. While I can't personally decide between this or Purple as the best Baroness album, I am confident in saying this is one of the best albums of the year.
5.) Bloody Hammers- The Summoning
FFO- Gothic Metal, Hard Rock, Post Punk, Doom Metal
The best Bloody Hammers album, bar none! This is the Bloody Hammers album I have been hoping for since the incarnation of the band. While I love every album of the past; I am so happy to hear this heavy, gothic and atmospheric side of the band. Every song is as catchy as the last, no matter how fast or slow it goes. the track From Beyond The Grave might be my favorite song of the year (though that's still pending). This is just that great horror inspired metal and rock album that you didn't realize you needed till you heard it yourself and what an absolute blast of an album it is. I can't fathom why you wouldn't love this album, that's how confident I am in this one.
4.) Fleshgod Apocalypse- Veleno
FFO- Symphonic Death Metal
In speaking of best; This is unquestionably the best Fleshgod Apocalypse album, it may be the best symphonic death metal album ever made. Every single track no matter if it is an interlude or the longest track on the album serves an amazing purpose and the band is without question the best they have ever been. With Francesco Paoli back from being the drummer of the band to being not only the frontman and guitarist of the band, but the main contributor to the band; The band just has this amazingly consistent and coherent vibe that you just didn't realize till you heard this album. There are moments on this alb um that actually make me weap to this day just from how beautiful it is. The chorus of Sugar is a great example of that. It's so strange to think about that, but it's true. This is a full on masterpiece of an album and you simply won't find better.
3.) Astronoid- Astronoid
FFO- Post Rock, Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal, Dream Pop
This album is a thing of wonder. Their debut album, Air, was one of the most jaw droppingly beautiful albums I've ever heard. So how was the band ever going to top that. Well, they found a way. Making the most consistent songs of the band's history so far. Even with some songs not getting into heavy territory, it simply doesn't matter as the songs has such ethereal atmospheric beauty to them. The only bummer side (for me anyways) is the lack of blast beats on this album, as I found them to be one of the things that made Air stand out the most in their sound, but the more I think about, they aren't needed. This is just utterly beautiful music. If you want a band that sounds like Strapping Young Lad, Mew, and Porcupine Tree at the same time, you found your new favorite band.
2.) Soilwork- Verklighten
FFO- Progressive Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal
I did a full write up on this album back in January, but I have no qualms talking about this again. Of the new chapter of Soilwork, this is easily their best album yet. The proggy parts are proggier, the heavier parts got more extreme, the poppy moments are even catchier, and Speed's vocals are quite possible the best that he has ever recorded. The song Needles & Kin stand out as quite possibly my song of the year (along with the aforementioned From Beyond The Grave talked about earlier). This song in particular is what I love about the band in 2019. It simply has it all and so much more. This is my favorite metal album of the year and for very good reason. Even with coming out in January, I checked out98 other albums and 20 honorable mentions that I feel couldn't top this album. But I did find one...I did find one...
1.) Moron Police- A Boat On The Sea
FFO- Progressive Rock, Pop Rock, Electronic Rock
I've love the band's previous two albums a lot. Such quirky fun metal albums about T-bagging Your Grandma; but had you told me that the Morn Police was going to put out what is simply one of the greatest albums not only of 2019, but of the 21st century, I would have never believed you. A Boat on the Sea sees the band shift away from their fun, quirky metal side to more of the progressive and pop rock styling. It's this odd combination of prog, pop, fusion, electronic, anime theme songs inspiration (?), and synthwave to make an album that is so ridiculously catchy, beautiful, fun, and some of the most bonkers time signatures and riffs you may ever hear in these styles. Though on the outside, it feels like a fun album...it's actually quite a dark, serious album as it deals a lot with the repercussions of war and what is happening in the state of the world today. It almost feels like a paradox, but the more you listen to the album, the more everything starts to make sense and you see how everything can be connected, not just lyrically (though it's not a concept album) but thematically and musically as you hear nods to songs from earlier on the album later in the album. What may be another selling point on the album is that it's under 33 minutes and it feels like it goes by even faster, so it has instant replay value. For a guy like me, it really takes a lot for mew not to have some kind of metal album at number 1 of my lists as I cover so much of it and I love so much of it. So it really has to take a stupendous album that's not a metal album to make it to number. that's what Moron Police has done in strides and again I say this without hyperbole; this is one of the best albums of the 21 century so far. Who would of thought that about a band who wrote about t-bagging your grandma just one album prior?
And there you have it folks, all 100 of my top albums of 2019 sign, sealed, and delivered. This seriously took so much out of me to accomplish and make this list as perfect as I could not just for myself, but for all of you. This was one of the best years in music that I have been around to help support and I am so happy I get to be myself and cover so much music, get so much love from the band, and actually have a voice people care about to spread the word. Make sure to check out the Spotify Sampler I made featuring a track from every band on this megalodon of a list amd go discover new music!
Until next decade, this is That Drummer Guy saying, SEE YA!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)