I worship at the altar of Devin Townsend, and Deconstruction is another example of why. There is nothing this man does that he doesn't pour his entire heart and soul into. He makes the most genuine metal/industrial/ambient/whatever he feels like out there today. This here is his return to heavier stuff, and while it doesn't touch the sheer frustrated passion of City or even the beauty of Terria, I'd rank this as the best album he's given us in years. Heavy, quirky, passionate, impressive.
Chicago thrashers, just how I like them. This is one of the more intense forms of thrash I've heard that doesn't go the full out Kreator/Sodom route. The vocals remind me of Matt Drake, which makes this sound like a non-shitty Evile. My other thought initially was that this musically reminded me of Deathrace King, and wouldn't you know it, they cover "Executioner... Slayer of Light". Any band that covers The Crown is worthy of listening.
I'm gonna be 100% honest and say this one was a completely blind bluebeard, but it wound up being an excellent one. This is dirty, dank death metal that reminds me of a more technical Immolation, plus touches of Dismember. Completely worth anybody's time. It lives up to the title of the album and just completely overwhelms and drowns you in filth and insanity.
Spoiler alert: Out of everything on my mid-year report, this is the only recurring band here today. I still can't describe what makes this so awesome, it's just the most beastly Swedeath I've heard in ages, and nobody else in the genre can touch them this year. Essence and Beyond Creation and other bands I rated highly six months ago faded, Demonical isn't going anywhere.
I'm not only putting them on here because I have a mancrush on Alex LeBlanc, but also because Neuraxis excels in one area where most tech death bands fail nowadays, they can write some absolutely ass kicking riffs. Seriously, tone down the blasts a bit and make the solos more chaotic and this could be just a really, really fast straight up death metal album. This is how tech death should sound, either like amped up late era Death, or like Neuraxis.
Cracking into the top ten, we meet an old face from years past. At the time, Paradise Lost ranked as my number one album of 2007, and if it's been dethroned since then, it hasn't been by much. Not much has changed here, so the four year wait was pretty frustrating since this is a logical continuation of the more aggressive style they've been leaning towards over the last few years, but it's every bit as good as what came before it. It's a marathon listen, but it never drags. Make sure you get the legit 2 disc version for maximum enjoyment.
Now this here is a very interesting mixture. Satan's Host play black/death metal, but the vocalist is Harry Conklin. Yeah, Jag fucking Panzer Harry Conklin. "License to Kill" from Ample Destruction Harry Conklin. I would have never guessed his voice would work in an extreme metal setting, but it meshes seamlessly here. The songwriting is top notch, his vocals are as good as they were in the 80's, the riffs rule, the drumming is intense, just everything works here.
After disappointing the living hell out of me with The Skull Collectors, Hibria roared back in 2011 and redeemed themselves with Blind Ride. This is everything the previous album wasn't. This is fun, high energy, memorable, catchy, lasting, intense, well written, technical, it just throws the kitchen sink at you and lands right on the money.
So Proscriptor marks my third mancrush to appear on this list, behind Devin Townsend and Alex LeBlanc, and he has earned his spot just like the others. There is some mystical quality about Absu that I can never quantify, but I love it more than basically anybody playing their style. And maybe that's part of it, because there aren't many Absu imitators out there. I suppose you could call them black/thrash, but it sounds nothing like Bestial Mockery or Sabbat or any other bands I usually think of with that title. Excellent Lovecraftian mystique betwixt furious blasting riffydoodle nonsense.
This album is fucking silly. It's so over the top and ridiculous that I can't help but love it, just like Dragonforce. Unlike the multicultural noodlers, Battle Beast keeps the creature reined in to just one niche subgenre of classic, straight up heavy metal, but it's done with so much conviction and flair that it's hard not to get completely lost in it. "Justice and Metal" could possibly be song of the year, if I ever made a corny JRPG, that would be the battle theme.
Top five, the creme de la creme for the year. Skeletonwitch continues their trend of never releasing the same album twice, with this one having more black metal touches than any of its predecessors, but everything that makes Skeletonwitch who they are is here in spades as well. The swagger, attitude, absurdly catchy and fast thrash riffing, short and memorable songs. They keep the punch, the brevity, and the quality while still changing up their formula. Not many bands can successfully pull that off three or four times in a row.
FUCK I LOVE VADER. This is the closest a band has ever come to doing no wrong, as even my least favorite album of theirs (Necropolis) was a cut above its contemporaries. This here is their thundering return to the forefront of death metal. Nobody can do it like these Poles, Piotr is a legend in the genre and this is proof as to why. Vader will not ever die, this is the corpse that keeps on rolling, and Vader know when to experiment and spice it up a bit to keep it fresh, and when to keep chugging along with what works. Most bands could learn a thing or two from them. Death metal album of the year.
I only discovered this band this year via this album, and through listening to their previous efforts, I can see they haven't changed a whole lot, but goddamn they rule at what they do. Incredibly infectious German heavy/speed metal. They borrow a lot from my favorite band of all time, Running Wild, and unlike Lonewolf (what's up with Germans aping RW and loving wolves?) it stays interesting and is mixed in with enough moments to keep it away from pure worship. There are only a few tracks that really delve into the RW territory, those sections just accentuate the greatness for me. It's silly and over the top, but I love it.
I had a review for this mostly written a few months ago, but never published it because I spent a ton of time rambling about cultural preconceptions and other nonsense I don't really know about, but I can't stress enough how awesome this is. Gargoyle play an atypical thrash/heavy metal blend and carry a really bizarre crooner behind the mic because in-tune vocals are frowned upon in Japan apparently. Kiba is just part of the charm though, as there are no other bands like Gargoyle and that is one of the reasons they stand out so much. The songs are all well written and memorable, and apart from one weird J-rock moment, it's almost flawless. Varied, catchy, memorable, all the best stuff.
This is probably topping a lot of lists, and it truly, truly deserves the honors and accolades it is getting. I wanted to hate this, I really did, the contrarian in me wanted to hate the hell out of this simply because the hype leading up to it was so absurd. But after I finally got around to hearing it, I have to begrudgingly admit that this is better than Black Future in every way. The riffs are just as well written and memorable, the different twist on thrash is just as interesting, the vocals are just as hellish and twisted, the atmosphere is just as whacked out and spacey, but the things that make it better than the previous album is that the percussion is now just as interesting as the guitars, and the songwriting is more succinct. Outer Isolation is about 15 minutes or so shorter than Black Future. With less meandering noodle parts and a much more palatable runtime, it has surpassed its predecessor and also claimed the BH Award for Album of the Year. Congrats Vektor, keep growing that fur.
And now for the other, slightly less important stuff, though I'm sure you guys like seeing me rage more than praise things.
Riot - Immortal Soul: This one probably ranks at 16, it amazes me how little Riot has managed to slow down over the years. About on par with Thundersteel.
Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory: FUCK it amazes me I haven't heard of this band before this album came out. Death/grind insanity at its finest. These veterans have a poise almost unseen, and I'm a little mad at myself for not putting it on the 15, just the higher vocals don't sit well with me, otherwise it would probably be a few spots higher on my hypothetical list.
Uncreation - Burning Blood: This deserves a nod purely because it's the only melodeath album I've liked in years.