The fact that it is June already blows my mind in a way I didn't think was possible. This year has flown by in the best and worst of ways, but as we are just about over the half way mark of the year (and over the half way mark as far as the musical release schedule of 2019), I figured it's time to get past all of the bad stuff in my life and try to focus on some of that good. A huge part of that has been album releases in 2019. Thais year has been incredible with varied releases, from soon to be classic masterpieces, to outstanding debuts, to some of the most consistent and killer representations of bands you could ask for. It's my yearly duty to start half way through the music release year to talk about some of my personal favorites and it's a doozy of a list in 2019.
If you're new, here's the rules!
1.) Has to have been officially released between January 1st-June 21st, 2019 (yes, as of reading this, some albums haven't been released yet). Anything released after will come in the form of my Top 100 List at the end of the year, if it ends up making the list.
2.) No EPs, cover albums, live albums, compilations, etc. Strictly albums. All the others will get their own lists of some kind at the end of the year.
3.) Just quick couple sentence reviews to give you an idea of what to expect. With a Band Name- Album Title, FFO: section below it.
4.) Alphabetical order! not giving away my favorite album of the y ear away till December.
5.) If I'm missing an album you think should be on the list that fits the above criteria; I either missed it, haven't heard it yet, haven't heard it enough to give a real opinion yet, or it just wasn't enough of my bag (baby) to make the top 50.
So Let's Begin!
1.) Abrahma- In Time For The Last Rays of Light
FFO- Atmospheric Metal, Doom Metal, Post Metal
If you dig what Pallbearer has morphed into, but want it to be even more varied, Abrahma is the band for you. Sorrowful, melodic and hits you right in the gut with it's dark power.
2.) Aenimus- Dreamcatcher
FFO- Technical Death Metal
Branching off from just showing off their skills, to showing off their songwriting ability, Dreamcatcher takes some of the classic Stephen King novels and writes a tremendous soundtrack for their stories in a way Aenimus only can. This is how Tech Death should be done!
3.) Afterhand- Escaping Misfortune
FFO- Progressive Rock, Alternative Rock
An odd mix of Tool, Neal Morse, Coheed & Cambria, and Porcupine Tree: Afterhand's debut album is a grand journey of the prog senses done in a way that is explored upon with the most satisfying of enjoyment. SO much to discover upon every listen.
4.) Allegaeon- Apoptosis
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Building upon what the band has accomplished with their previous album; the band is exploring more of the varied sound of the band while not losing it's brutality. It's grander, proggier and exactly what the heavier prog fans would want in a band like this. Allegaeon continues to shine brighter and brighter with every release. Apoptosis proves it!
5.) Arch/Matheos- Winter Ethereal
FFO_ Progressive Metal
While the band's debut release was nothing short of a masterpiece; Winter Ethereal truly shows what the band is capable of when they focus on their strengths and forge their own path. Combining the band of what both Arch and Matheos can do and making it even more original and grand? You simply can't lose!
6.) Astronoid- S/T
FFO- Atmospheric Metal, Dream Pop, Progressive Rock
One of the most original bands in the game is back with their sophomore LP and they are continuing to prove they are here to stay. Mew meets Strapping Young Lad! What the band lacks in brutality and blast beats compared to the debut album, Air; they more than make up for in showing off the variety in the band and their best songwriting to date. One of the best new bands around!
7.) Avantasia- Moonglow
FFO- All Star Symphonic Power Metal
Writing a follow up to the absolute masterpiece that was Ghostlights was going to be no easy task. So instead of just writing the same songs over, they made the album more melodic and somber in different ways. While a continuation of the story of Ghostlights, it feels like such a natural progression story wise. It also features one of the best vocal lineups the project has ever has on a single album. A sheer delight!
8.) Candlemass- The Door To Doom
FFO- Doom Metal
This is the closest thing you'll get to the classic...and I mean CLASSIC Candlemass sound. This album is perfection from start to finish and exactly what Candlemass has been needing, which many people like myself didn't even realize needed fixing. It'll take something monumental to top this as Doom Metal Album of the Year.
9.) Children of Bodom- Hexed
FFO- Swedish Death Metal, Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal
Much like I just said about Candlemass, could possibly be said about Children of Bodom here. The classic and let's face it...BEST era of Children of Bodom is the early years through Are You Dead Yet. This album delivers that in strides while still being contemporary enough to where the band is now. The best of both worlds and the band continues to prove that they can deliver.
10.) Chrome Waves- A Grief Observed
FFO- Blackgaze, Doom Metal, Post Metal
The Sophomore album from this band has been eagerly awaited by fans since the release of the S/T debut in 2012. The band has comeback with somber full force and put out one of the strongest albums of the year. The atmosphere, lyrics, production, everything about this band, is what the Blackgaze genre deserves to be. Also their cover of Nirvana's Something In The Way (released earlier this year) is one of the most heart wrenching things you will ever hear. Check out Chrome Waves!
11.) Darkthrone- Old Star
FFO- Black n' Roll, Punk Rock, Black Metal
Darkthrone starting to hint back at their black metal roots? WHAT???! it's true! and it is a sheer pleasure to hear it. While the band's new signature sound is still in tact, this album captures that old raw sound, but done in a new way and it totally works. It's not Under A Frozen Moon or Transylvanian Hunger by any means, but it refreshing to see the black metal even hinted at again, let alone the actual riffs that shows up on a few of the tracks on the album. Absolutely fantastic.
12.) Death Angel- Humanicide
FFO- Thrash Metal
Every release from Death Angel, especially since they got back together, has been better than the next. This is no exception. Just a completely and utterly solid thrash metal album that delivers will full force. This is how thrash in 2019 is done, folks!
13.) Devin Townsend- Empath
FFO- Devin Townsend
It seems as if every decade or so; Hevy Devy goes through a new metamorphosis. Be it Strapping Young Lad, be it ZIltoid, and now, be it going completely solo (with guest spots of course). This is the most Devin Townsend....Devin Townsend album ever. Whether you want absolute chaos, somber ballads, joyous hymns, or quirky fun; it's all here. I've seen everyone divided on this album. To many, it's either the greatest thing he has ever written or it's just a hodgepodge of randomness that makes no sense. I'm still gathering my bearing on where I fall into line with where the album lands on my personal ranking, but I will say this is one of the finest albums of 2019.
14.) Downfall of Gaia- Ethic of Radical Finitude
FFO- Atmospheric Black Metal, Doom Metal, Crust Punk
One of the best bands of the style right now! Every release sees the band growing stronger and stronger. This album shows them at their most creative and most punishing. This is required listening for 2019!
15.) Dream Theater- Distance Over Time
FFO- Progressive Metal
This is probably the best Mangini era Dream Theater album to date. It is the easiest to digest, the songs are all catchy and memorable. While there is no true "Epic" on the album that a lot of DT fans want on every album; This album feels like a counterbalance to their previous release, The Astonishing, while keeping the idea of keeping the best ideas of a song, rather than just spacing off just to space off. Without question, this is in the top half of the DT catalog so far!
16.) Eluveitie- Ategnatos
FFO- Folk Metal
If you are like me and think the best era of Eluveitie is Spirit and Slania...this album is for you! after the watershed moment of half the band leaving to form Cellar Darling, the band is back to making those legendary songs that those first two albums were known for, while keeping what they learned over time. This is the Eluveitie album I've wanted since I discovered the band.
17.) Enforcer- Zenith
Speed Metal, Heavy Metal
Enforcer is two speeds; rapid fire and hard rockin'! Zenith explores more of the latter in this case, which is not a bad thing. It makes the faster songs feel even faster and when they do slow things down, it's very impactful. Enforcer has yet to let us down and Zenith is no exception.
18.) Evergrey- The Atlantic
FFO- Dark Metal, Progressive Metal, Power Metal
The last album in the band's water based trilogy ends on it's strongest note. Tom Englund and Co. is sounding as fresh and inspired as they have ever been all while keeping what brings the fans back for every album. Where will Evergrey go from here. I simply can't wait to find out!
19.) Fleshgod Apocalypse- Veleno
FFO- Symphonic Death Metal
There's one of two things that happens when a band goes through a major breakup. They either grow stronger or the quality diminishes. In the case of Veleno, the band is not only the strongest and tightest they have ever been, they have become one of the best bands on the planet! The most varied album in the band's catalog; the band showcases its fastest, slowest, most brutal, most melodic, and most emotional album to date. There can be a lot of pain that comes with change, but change can be for the absolute best. There is no finer example of that, musically, than with Fleshgod!
20.) Flotsam and Jetsam- The End of Chaos
FFO- Thrash Metal
Is this the best Flotsam album since Doomsday for the Deceiver? Is this the best Flotsam album ever. I can emphatically say...YES! This covers what the band has always been best known for but multiplies it by a billion! This is how you make melodic thrash metal!
21.) Gloryhammer- Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex
FFO- You Know EXACTLY Who This Album Was Made For!
As if it couldn't be more apparent; Gloryhammer is the definition of fun power metal. The band's latest album takes the absurdity to a whole new level in the best possible way. Be it epics, be it singles, be it...unicorns? If you like Power Metal and can be fun at the same time, Gloryhammer deserves to be your new favorite band.
22.) Grand Magus- Wolf God
FFO- Heavy Metal
Grand Magus simply rule and Wolf God shows off exactly why that is! Horror lyrics, heavy moving riffs and powerful vocals. They just combine what has always been needed in metal and make it exactly what you'd want this style to be. I can't wait for them to come this fall to North America and tear everyone's heads off live!
23.) Haunt- If Icarus Could Fly
FFO- Classic Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal
A perfect throwback to metal days gone by, Haunt brings back what has been missing in a lot of revival classic metal bands by making it their own. Adding the right amount of tinges of prog to their classic metal sound is what the band needed and this whole album slays because of it, Give it a try, you just may dig it!
24.) Hedonihil- I
FFO- Nihilistic Death Metal
What happens when you take members of Swallow The Sun and tell them to crank up the BPMs? You get Hedonihil. An album that looks at everything bad in the world and embraces it, hoping for the end of civilization. Whether you take that message literally is on you, but for me, it's a sense of the world needing a purge in lifestyle and become anew. Regardless, this album is a complete shock to those that are only familiar with their work as Swallow The Sun and is a refreshing change while being completely themselves. This will be an overlooked album in 2019, but it's easily one of the best debut albums of the year...I mean bad...it's one of the bad debuts of 2019!
25.) Helevorn- Aamamata
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal
If you looked at the previous entry on this list and want that Swallow The Sun vibe. OR Draconian, or early day Anathema, I got the band for you in Helevorn. This is soul crushing death/doom in the best possible way. It will tear your soul apart but it's because you want it to, because it's needed. This is easily one of the best albums of 2019 from all facets of metal and should not go overlooked!
26.) Inanimate Existence- Clockwork
FFO- Technical Death Metal, Progressive Death Metal
Another shining example of a band who simply gets better with every subsequent album. Clockwork showcases the band in top gear with their superb songwriting, spellbinding musicianship, and an overall sense of how to make technical music more than just fret gymnastics. A more underground release overall, but not one to be missed!
27.) Inter Arma- Sulphur English
FFO- Post Metal, Sludge Metal, Doom Metal
One of the best bands of their style, Inter Arma continues to prove that they are one of the most interesting, unconventional, and enjoyable bands going today. It can go from absolutely crushing to absolutely beautiful on the turn of a dime. A band that simply does not deserved to be skipped any longer, go check them out!
28.) Memoriam- Requiem For Mankind
FFO- Death Metal
3 albums in 3 years and the band is only improving! A lot of other bands would be completely out of steam trying to do such a thing, not Memoriam. This showcases the best of what the band is known for in their short existence but makes it stand out even more and and overall sense of wishing more bands pulled this off in slower/mid paced death metal. Plus some of the most poignant lyrics in 2019 so far! This band delivers!
29.) Moon Tooth- Crux
FFO- Progressive Metal
A band that can mix Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Devin Townsend, and Destrage is A-OK by me!. Off the wall progressive metal that is oddly mainstream sounding and very easy to bob your head/headbang to. If you want to make prog that stands out, this is how you do it.
30.) The Mute Gods- Atheists and Believers
FFO- Progressive Rock
For anyone that knows the band, you know that they have been known for writing some the catchiest music that will make you feel absolutely miserable about the outside world, this is no exception. The music is so outstanding on it's own, then you add the lyrics and themes that really hits you hard and bums out out completely. One of the best prog bands that we have on this short time on earth, so don't miss out!
31.) Myrath- Shehili
FFO- Progressive Metal, Power Metal
Tunisia is not the first place you think of when it comes to outstanding progressive power metal, but Myrath is a shining example of great music can from anywhere at any time. 5 albums in and the band continues to showcase their absolute talent in songwriting, hooky melodies and overall sense of wonder you just don't hear in a lot of bands. Myrath is a band couldn't let us down if they tried.
32.) Nailed to Obscurity- Black Frost
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal
The very first album I heard for 2019 and my very first interview for an album in 2019! Nailed to Obscurity that does not deserve to be obscure anymore. With Black Frost, the melancholic overtones, overall sense of hopelessness, and the great mix of cleans/growls makes this one of the greatest depressing albums of 2019, for all the right reasons!
33.) Numenorean- Adore
Like Chrome Waves mentioned earlier, this is how you make Blackgaze! If you miss the old days of Deafheaven, if you are bummed (like me) that Vattnet Viskar isn't around anymore, If you want what started in Blackgaze to be expanded upon in a darker way, rather than the indie rock way; Numenorean is the band for you. Adore is easily one fo the best albums of the year.
34.) October Tide- In Splendor Below
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal
Case in point, if you miss the early day Katatonia, it is alive and well in October Tide. 6 albums in, and they have released their most heartbreaking album to date. Reaching everything from bell tolling funeral marches to blast beats to some of the darkest melodic riffs around; October Tide absolutely delivers and gives us that dark sense that we need.
35.) A Pale Horse Named Death- When The World Becomes Undone
FFO- Gothic Metal, Alternative Metal
As someone who has been suffering from suicidal depression for nearly 20 years, this was the first album that brought tears to my eyes due to it's lyrical content, in 2019. This album is one of the finest examples of what it feels like to be suffering from Mental health issues you're going to find this year. It's dark, brooding, catchy as all get go, and of course, it's just fantastic music. I think you just may enjoy it as well!
36.) Pensees Nocturnes- Grand Guignol Orchestra
FFO- Horrifically Evil Carnival Black Metal
That's about the best description I can give this. The music feels like you are trapped in a 19th/early 20th century traveling carnival and there's no way to escape, you are going to die, but not before you are tortured by the sickest, most evil, horrendous freaks, clowns, and ringmasters you will ever see. This needs to be a soundtrack to the movie I just described...like RIGHT NOW!
37.) Periphery IV: HAIL STAN!
FFO- Modern Progressive Metal
In complete honesty, I fell off the Periphery train after the Clear EP. PIII had some great moments, and Juggernaut just wasn't my bag. But PIV is EXACTLY what I've wanted in the band for the longest time. A band with literally no more cares to give and they can write the music they want to back without a label telling them what and what not to write. Sure, there are the 8 string djents throughout, but nothing you don't hear outside of some modern progressive metal albums today. Hell, the new Dream Theater album has them too! This album is everything you want from the band. For some, it is too varied, for me, it's what I've always wanted and I can't see what is coming next.
38.) Possessed- Revelations of Oblivion
FFO- Classic Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Man, I never thought I'd see a new Possessed album in my lifetime, let alone speak to Jeff Becerra for over an hour in an interview this year. This album sounds like the band never took nearly 3 decades off from writing music and it's perfect for that reason. Of course new influences are all over this album, but that classic Possessed sound is alive and kicking strong. Becerra's vocals sound magnificent on this album, the production is the perfect blend of raw and clear, and the songs...THE SONGS...are just spectacular. This is what all bands in Death Metal should strive to accomplish, even once, in their lifetime.
39.) Pounder- Uncivilized
FFO- Classic Metal
A perfect throwback to 80s speed metal, heavy metal, and thrash metal; all while being completely original and significantly setting their mark on their own sound. There are a lot of bands of the revival of classic metal, but so many can't forge their own sound. Pounder does and hits the mark perfectly. Seriously, go check this out!
40.) Pulcha Morte- Divina Autem Et Aniles
FFO- Death Metal, Doom Metal, Heavy Metal
Too heavy to just be heavy metal, too slow to be just death metal, to fast to be doom metal; so...it's all of it. A very unique blend that plays the music they want to play with a dark, sinister, majestic feel that makes the songs standout and make you pay attention, no matter the tempo, no matter the tuning, no matter the length. It's just a great band forging their own path and they deserve your love.
41.) Rage of Light- Imploder
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Power Metal, Trance
It feels very odd to say, but in this era of bands combining modern pop and metal together since the 2nd Amaranthe album, have really done it better! Follow The Cipher was a fantastic example of that last year. Rage of Light is the prime example in 2019. Combining very danceable beats and melodic hooks, with some crushing melodeath over top is pure perfection to my ears. If this is just their debut, their sophomore album is going to be even better and they will become one of the biggest bands on the planet. Catch them now before the wave comes in, seriously!
42.) Rotting Christ- The Heretics
FFO- Black Metal, Gothic Metal, Experimental
This is BY FAR, my favorite Rotting Christ album. the vastness of sound on this album is what I've always wanted in this band. Much like I feel Enslaved got better when they did more than just black metal, same goes for Rotting Christ. The music is top notch, the lyrics are haunting, the overall vibe is just the right amount of creepy to grab hold of you and make you stay around for the whole ride. Catch this ride now!
43.) Saor- Forgotten Paths
FFO- Celtic Folk Black Metal
This band is FINALLY getting at least part of the recognition they deserved for years now and I'm so happy to see it. Between their unique blend of black metal, folk instrumentation and surreal atmosphere, this is the perfect combination for over-joyous musical experiences. Its grandiose in the greatest sense of the word and if this intrigues you even in the slightest, you are doing yourself a disservice by not listening to this album immediately.
44.) Soilwork- Verkligheten
FFO- Swedish Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Soilwork can simply do no wrong and this album is their finest example yet. It is almost like a full best of album of their current sound, with all new material. I did a whole write up of this album back in January, go check it out!
45.) Swallow The Sun- When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light
FFO- Doom Metal, Death Metal, Progressive Metal
After the TRIPLE album, Songs from the North, where could STS possibly go? Well right back to being one of the darkest, heaviest and most brooding bands around. Taking elements from the previously mentioned triple album and combining it into the best songs possible, this covers so much ground in the best way and this album is a worthy successor and deserves all the praise it has received so far. A sheer highlight.
46.) The Three Tremors- S/T
FFO- Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Power Metal
Combine three of the best vocalists around with music that feels like the coming apocalypse and it makes for absolute chaos in the best way possible. A band that has really shown that a "supergroup" can actually put out amazing material and live up to the hype. Such a fun album, go check it out.
47.) Together to the Stars- An Oblivion Above
Swedish blackgaze...need I say more? This combines the blackgaze charm with the ever so slight Swedish patented Melodeath sound to create music that is just an absolute sonic blast of enjoyment and sadness. I highly recommend this album as it may go under the radar, and it really, REALLY shouldn't.
48.) Twin Temple- Bring You Their Signature Sound...Satanic Doo-Wop
FFO- The Title Says It All
Ghost brings back satanic themes to mainstream rock and metal, Zeal and Ardor take an adventurous route of satanic themes mixed with African American spirituals, Twin Temple takes....Doo-Wop and makes it satanic. This album feels like it was made right in 1954 and the real music parents at the time should have been mad at their kids for listening to. But seriously, this is a phenomenal album with a great twist in 2019 and it absolutely pays off. An off the wall album, but worth every second of your time.
49.) Vaura- Sables
Vaura will not make the same album twice. With this being their third album; the band expands upon it's more melodic, 80s, and indie sound instead of the chaotic metal and post rock feelings explored in the past. I love a band that is able to expand upon their sound as much as Vaura has and they become and ever growing stronger band for it. This album rules and I can't wait to see what's next.
50.) Within Temptation- Resist
FFO- Modern Metal
In speaking of genre changing, how about that Within Temptation eh? I can't imagine anyone outside of the band expected this drastic of a change from their symphonic metal roots. Sure it was hinted at in the past, but this is the definition of writing the music you want to write...and it pays off dearly! While it can be a complete shock to the system at first, once that dies off, it completely pays off. WIll WT completely abandon their old sound? I can't imagine so, at least not live anyways, but I am 100% in favor of a band making the music they want to write, I'll take a band trying to forge a new sound, than a stale album that has zero heart. Resist is pure heart and it shows.
And there we go folks, 50 of the best albums of 2019 so far. From heavy, to evil, to proggy to doo-wop. I got it all covered here and I hope you find some new music to enjoy!
Till next time, this is That Drummer Guy saying...SEE YA!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
That Drummer Guy: Radio DJ, Interviewer, Reviewer, overall...an OK guy.