30) Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
If you like Amaranthe but miss the old style, this is the band for you! With massive female vocals over bombastic tunes and harsh male vocals, it’s a winning mix that sounds extremely impressive.
29) HateSphere – Reduced To Flesh
As a longtime fan of this band, I was thrilled to see them return with a blistering set of thrash tunes that border on death metal in places. Not sure if this will win new fans over but the older fans will definitely be pleased with this.
28) Parkway Drive – Reverence
This is a record that I honestly didn’t expect to make as much of an inpact as it did. Being a band I’d never really paid much attention to, I wasn’t as familiar with their style or sound. This record though just has a certain appeal that can’t be denied. Heavy as hell but still very melodic with some giant sized hooks in places. The bass playing on this thing is just so in your face, I absolutely love it. An absolute stomper!
27) In Vain – Currents
Another band that I was very happy to see return as their last record was one of my favorite records of the last decade. This one takes a bit of more straight metal approach but some grandiose passages mixed over the heaviness.
26) Ektomorf – Fury
Not much subtlety here, just good old fashioned stomp your head thrash with a huge bottom end. Crank this one up and bang your head!
25) Corrosion of Conformity – No Cross No Crown
It’s CO freaking C, man! Do I really need to say much more?
24) Impellitteri – The Nature Of The Beast
Man, Rob Rock just gets better with time. His voice her is absolutely flawless and Chris’ guitar is as lethal as ever. The best that I’ve heard this band sound in a decade!
23) Crossfaith – Ex Machina
What do you get when you mix Japanese Metalcore and Heavy Trance music together? You get this band! It’s an unholy cacophony of sound that will brutalize your mind and leave your head spinning. pretty innovative stuff while still being brutal to the max.
22) Nervosa – Downfall of Mankind
Possibly the heaviest, fastest, and most unrelenting record of any released this year. We’re not talking re-inventing the wheel here, we’re just talking thrash metal that will stomp your ass into the ground and kick you in the dick for good measure.
21) The Admiralty – We Will Prevail
Columbus, OH based band that lands here with their adventurous record that combines heavy grooves with some theatrical touches that remind of WASP in places and Helloween in other.
20) The Crown – Cobra Speed Venom
Another record that is low on the sublety meter. Again, just straight beat you over the skull melododeath done that way it was meant to be done. Fast, furious, and as deadly as the name implies.
19) Alien Weaponry – Tu
New Zealand trio comes in here with their debut record that is performed entirely in the native Maori language. Imagine all the amazing Haka videos you’ve seen over the years…now set to some of the most intense sounding metal you can find. If that isn’t enough to scare the piss out of your enemies, I don’t know what is!
18) We Sell The Dead – Heaven Doesn’t Want You And Hell Is Full
A record that explores the story of Jack The Ripper…if he had joined a metal band. It’s adventurous but it works on so many levels. The band has written a great record that is enthralling while still being plenty dark and heavy.
17) Stagma – Stagma
Super melodic metal featuring the vocals of Rob Mancini, it’s a tour de force musical affair. The tune “Gates of Valhalla” is an instrumental and worth the price alone. Just gorgeous songwriting.
16) Northward – Northward
Northward is a metal duo composed of Dutch vocalist Floor Jansen of Nightwish and Norwegian guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad of Pagan’s Mind. They come in here with their debut record that explores different musical territory than either of their main bands. Floor is in fine form here singing her heart out and showing why so many people love her!
15) Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Power Metal with Christian themes. Once again proving why Ulterium Records is one of the best in the world, they’re a label that has never released a bad record. This is definitely no exception. Power metal the way that it was meant to be performed.
14) Riverside – Wasteland
Massive sounding progressive metal performed with a ton of conviction. This is one that will go over many people’s heads’ musically. This is a must have for the true fans of Prog metal though!
13) Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Rivers have elevated death metal to a whole new art form on this record. Mixing traditional death passages with sweeping soundscapes that is both gorgeous and haunting at the same time, this record is designed for the fans of highly technical music that crosses musical boundaries with no effort at all.
12) The Amsterdam Red Light District – Sapere Aude
UK based metalcore with amazing vocals and propulsive tunes that will get any party’s mosh pit in full swing!
11) VOJD – The Outer Ocean
Stoner infused metal with a ton of melody in the vocals and more hooks than a Texas slaughter house. Seriously, this record is so catchy it’s sickening! One of those record you put on for a long drive and then just cruise!
10) Sam Russell – Impetuous Desire
This was sent over to me by Sam, who asked if I’d be interested in checking out his record for my radio show. It was a welcome surprise that combines superb songwriting, killer vocals, and some of the tastiest guitar wizardry I’ve heard this year. This is a must hear for all serious music fans. I hope to have Sam on the radio show very soon for an interview and feature.
09) Machine Head – Catharsis
Many fans had sort of a love/hate thing for this record when it was released. I love that the band has retained it’s super heavy style while adding in some of the elements that made “The Burning Red” such an amazing record. it takes a couple runs through this one to get everything that Rob did, as well. Overall, a winner on every level for me.
08) Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs
This one is going to be for the very adventurous, die hard metal fans. One of the most amazing and diverse sounding records this year, mixing middle eastern style passages with a mix of male and female vocals that takes a page from the Nightwish playbook and then ups the ante by tenfold!
07) Bane – Esoteric Formulae
While not always a fan of Black Metal, I can appreciate it if it’s done correctly. This is the perfect example of how to do it correctly. Razor sharp guitar playing, blast beats for days, and deathly vocals that could scare the shit out of the grim reaper himself, this is one vicious sounding record that will have the roof shaking and the windows rattling!
06) Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit
Man, has anyone been more innovative in the metal genre over the past 5 or so years? Manuel Gagneux has taken metal music to a whole new realm of consciousness. It’s really hard to even describe this accurately, you just have to hear it for yourself. Hands down, one of the best new acts in the world right now, regardless of genre.
05) Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
I totally missed this one until pretty late in the process as I missed it’s release. It only took one listen though with Tom on vocals to realize that an epic feat this record was. With a dozen songs, many of them clocking well past 6 minutes and some over 10, this is a record for the serious music fan that loves super complex music that requires you to actually think. You’re rewarded though with a record that is flawless in nearly every way.
04) Ghost Ship Octavius – Delirium
These guys return with their sophomore release that picks up where the debut left off. Adding even more melody to go with the musical assault, this one is like TSO on steroids and minus the Xmas themes.
03) Heart Of Jordan – Heart of Jordan
When you talk about DEBUTS of the year, this one has to be right near the top of any list. Coming out of the gate like a raging bull with a mix of songs that are melodic, ultra heavy, and engaging all at the same time, this Michigan based band is poised to make huge noise! A name that I guarantee you’ll be hearing more of in the very near future!
02) At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
The godfather’s of European style Melodic Death land here with their newest record, an absolute monstrous sounding record that leaves little doubt as to why they’re held in such high regard among their fans. When it comes to this style, nobody else comes close.
01) Ihsahn – Amr
Again, there was no doubt about what the #1 was going to be once this was released. Just when you think you know where Ihsahn is going next with his music, he takes a left turn and pulls you into totally new dimensions of music. Hands down, the most innovative musician in the business today. Effortlessly mixing genres and styles that leave your senses reeling and your brain asking what the hell just happened.
Anyone that needs a lesson in how to write a metal record that breaks down musical barriers and defies every rules the so called musical elite have written, need look no further than this masterclass in brilliance.
On a scale of 1-10, this would be a 50!