2019 has become a year where more and more EPs are being made as albums are not on everyone's radar anymore. Covers are a great treat to close out or be fully recognized on a release. Live Albums are becoming more and more extinct but sometimes hearing a live album is just an incredible thing to hear. In this hodgepodge of lists, I will be covering all three. WHile these are nowhere near as extensive as the Top 100 List coming up next week, this is a nice treat for those that want different experiences.
As with the previous list, these are just my personal rankings in countdown order. Nothing personal at all and I have missed out on so many releases for reasons out of my control, but hopefully you will find something to enjoy. Let's Do It!
BEST EPs OF 2019
Honorable Mention 2: Arsis Thesis- Pangaea
FFO- Sludge Metal, Stoner Metal, Fuzz Rock, Hardcore
This 5 track debut release (released on April 20th no less...you know...4/20) is a great beginning for this band. It's raw feel mixed in with chaotic vibes, stoner doom goodness and original takes on this style really makes this album a joy to listen to. Never dull and doesn't overstay it's welcome. A fleshed out raw stoner release from a band that is sure to be doing great things in the future.
Honorable Mention 1: Vader- Thy Messenger
FFO- Death Metal
Vader is one of the most consistent death metal bands around. Their take on death metal mixed with thrash and undeniable hooks is what has kep the band rolling all these years. The band's latest 4 track release is a short, sweet, brutal showcase of where the band is at in 2019 and doesn't disappoint in the slightest. If you love Vader, this will keep you satisfied till the next monster of an album is released.
5.) Municipal Waste- The Last Rager
FFO- Crossover Thrash Metal
Municipal Waste, there's no one that does this style with more justice that wasn't part of the original wave of crossover thrash. The Last Rager is 4 tracks, barely over 10 minutes and it feels like a full release. All sides of the band are shown here between all 4 songs and it makes me want more. A definitive fun release.
4.) The Contortionist- Our Bones
FFO- Progressive Rock, Progressive Metal, Alternative Rock
The Contortionist is definitely showing what it means to evolve as a band. From proggy deathcore roots, to some of the most calming and chill progressive metal you'll ever hear. Between three new songs and a cover I'll talk about in the next list; The Contortionist continues to push the boundaries of what the band is capable of achieving. I can only imagine how much the band will flourish on their next LP.
3.) Puppy- iii
FFO- Hard Rock, Alternative Metal, Occult Rock
This band has completely and utterly taken me by surprise and I love it. I actually checked out this EP before checking out their debut album and my jaw dropped to the grown. Imagine King's X doing occult rock. That is this EP and works so perfectly. Seriously I haven't heard a band do KX worship this well and it works magnificently. OF course there are other tinges to the band and this EP, but if you love that KX sound or you want something different, check out Puppy.
2.) Witherfall- Vintage
FFO- Dark Progressive Metal, Power Metal
I am being a stickler here and only not putting this at number 1 because the titl;e track is from 2018 (and I can't just put them at number 1 for everything despite me really, really wanting to.). The short story is original drummer (and one of my dearest friends) Adam Sagan passed away almost 3 years ago now and the band wrote their sophomore album, A Prelude to Sorrow, as a tribute album to Adam and you absolutely hear all of the pain, anger, and full on emotion on this album if you've experienced a hard loss. Vintage EP is the title track from the album, plus a couple covers, acoustic medley of Vintage and a couple new renditions of songs on the debut album; this is jam packed EP and you absolutely get your money's worth. Hopefully you will agree.
1.) Clemens Wijers- Parasite Twin
FFO- Avant Garde, Industrial, Symphonic
Wijers is best known for his work with Carach Angren and it's so fantastic what he can do on the side. Be it doing symphonic work with other bands or working on his own material he can just capture everything that needs to be done. Parasite Twin is a perfect, twisted, fun look at what is capable outside of Symphonic Black Metal. The title track is a humorous take on the movie Basket Case yet other tracks go into darker territory and feels just perfect. If Carach Angren is not your bag, but you like the ideals and imagery; maybe give Wijers' solo work a shot. It may be perfect for you!
BEST COVERS OF 2019
Honorable Mention 2: Dragonforce- My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion cover)
In fairness, I do love this cover and it totally fits an album titled Extreme Power Metal, but it's not my favorite Dragonforce cover (that goes to Death's Evil Dead). If you want what you would imagine Dragonforce covering Celine Dion would sound like, this is exactly it. a fun 3 and a half minute cheesy goodness cover.
Honorable Mention 1: Wednesday 13- Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) (W.A.S.P. cover)
Anyone who covers W.A.S.P. in 2019 gets an A in my book. When you cover their best song, that makes things even better. Funny enough not having the industrial or horror aspects in this cover at all; it feels like a mostly straight ahead cover with just enough double bass fun and raspier vocals to make this a signature W13 song in live shows (I Hope). All in all, this cover rules!
5.) Rage Of Light- Twilight Of The Thunder God (Amon Amarth cover)
The song that introduced the majority of the metal world to Amon Amarth has been covered by some great bands. Most famously by Swedish band Sabaton. This cover features the song with much more symphonic, synth heavy, and some of the most ferocious female vocals you will hear in 2019. If you want a different take on this song to make it just a tad poppier, this is right up your alley.
4.) The Contortionist- 1979 (Smashing Pumpkins cover)
The band that wrote Exoplanet, nearly a decade later, records a Smashing Pumpkins that is not only better than the original, but sounds like it was recorded by an entirely different band. I love that The Contortionist has no limits to what they can record and making a flawless cover of this classic song with zero tinges of metal or prog and just playing for the song is just fantastic to listen to. A sheer delight on a killer EP from one of the best proggy bands around.
3.) Chrome Waves- Something In The Way (Nirvana Cover)
Not being a Nirvana fan (sorry, I'm just not), this was the one song I did truly appreciate from the band., It felt so different than what the band was known for and became known for later. Chrome Waves took this dark closer of a song and made it into one of the darkest covers of the year. besides some cymbal flourishes, there is no percussion, just synths, strings, guitar and haunting vocals. I love when a band can take a dark song and make it even dark and Chrome Waves nailed it. Seriously, check this one out!
2.) Mastodon- Stairway To Heaven (Led Zepplin cover)
Tragedy can sometimes bring a band to write their best work; or in this case, show off one of the great covers you will ever hear. A nearly flawless note for note remake of one of the most famous rock songs ever made. Vocals by Brann Dailor (seriously, how much better has Mastodon improved since he became one of the lead singers of the band?) have such a great haunting vibe and absolutely matches the reason this cover exists. Saying goodbye to long time manager Nick John; this is such a beautiful way to say farewell. It is hard press to find a cover with more passion and heart behind it than this one...
1.) Witherfall- I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty cover)
...yet there is one cover I found. Yes, Witherfall has a way to make me tear up when they record something in the memory of Adam Sagan. This cover, while not only a rousing acoustic version of the song; it sings perfectly to Adam's spirit as this was his mentality his entire life. I never met anyone that had a passion for life more than Adam. This views on life his positive energy, his love of wanting to see everyone around him succeed;p it can't be replicated. When it came to his Lymphoma; this was his attitude, he wasn't going to leave this mortal coil without a fight and he was never going to back down. This rendition of the song is perfection and if only Adam could have heard it. What a great way to show his mentality and show haunting of a song a Tom Petty song can truly be.
BEST LIVE ALBUMS OF 2019
5.) Nightwish- Decades: Live In Buenos Aires
Floor Jansen is covering 3 eras of one of the most legendary symphonic bands in history with Decades. 21 songs that sound pitch perfect, no matter the era. The band is absolutely on fire and the crowd is in love with the band this night. If you want that full blown Nightwish live experience, this is a release you must have.
4.) Tribulation- Alive & Dead at Sodra Teatern
Playing all of the band's latest album, Down Below, and a full set of Best Of songs; Tribulation brings their flavor of blackened gothic metal in their first live release in the best way possible. Recorded in an old gothic theater really capture the band at their best and the performance in both sets is exactly what you would wish to hear. Tribulation simply rules and Alive & Dead proves what the band is capable of. I can't wait to see what's next.
3.) Entombed- Clandestine Live
The legends of Swedish death metal have returned to the live stage and in 2016 they did their most ambitious show. Playing a full set of their album Clandestine, with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, then a set playing Clandestine just as Entombed and the killer track, Left Hand Path to close things out. This live release is of the 2nd set (though both sets are available on DVD). Hearing the classic album from start to finish brings you back to those early days of death metal and how band that captured that sound still remains just as relevant and reliable after all these years. Seriously, check this out.
2.) Zeal & Ardor- Live In London
This band has taken the world by storm in the last few years and I hope that start continues to rise further and further. rather than a new album for 3 years in a row, the band released a live release that features basically both LPs and a couple other tunes to make a showcase of what African spirituals, black metal, and avant garde music can truly achieve. As great as the albums are, Live In London hears the band in their truest form. If you are not familiar with the band, I highly recommend checking this out first and get this ritual of a show a shot. It's more than worth it.
1.) Helloween- United Live In Madrid
What can be said about this live release that would truly capture it? It's Helloween in it's greatest form, featuring all three singers of the band singing together on stage. If you are not familiar with power metal and the true...power...it can have, this is a release you truly need to experience. Every Helloween song you could want is featured here and done to perfection; it feels like you are actually at the show. A truly remarkable show shown off here and is worthy of all the attention it can get.
And there you have it folks, 19 reviews in the worlds of cover songs, EPs, and live releases. Tune in next time for the start of That Drummer Guy's Top 100 albums of 2019 Part I: Honorable Mentions.
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)