picked by: Dan Gargiulo of Revocation
I love it because the guitar playing is so wildly different from what most bands are doing. The drumming absolutely rips as well. But most importantly what I like about it is just the interplay between the instruments and the writing. It’s forward thinking and unique. The only album I know that resembles it is Abigor’s 'Time is the sulphur in the veins of the saint'.
picked by: Steve Blanco of Imperial Triumphant/PAK
I really enjoyed the Krallice EP 'Wolf'. I love how disgusting it sounds, all the harmonic movement, and the insanely slow intro. The production is fantastic. I hear everything, not just drums, like so many metal albums. The musicianship is top-shelf, and most importantly I love the overall music (songs) and sound. For me, it's a stellar work!
Full of Hell 'Weeping Choir'
picked by: Bryan Aiken of Lazer/Wulf, Zruda, Cinemechanica
For my money, there are none more putrid than Full Of Hell. Growing like mold from their roots in sampled noise and grind, the band has recently focused that same anti-listener ethic onto, of all things, crowd-pounding death metal. But the key to FoH’s greatness is that, even as they evolve, they leave nothing behind. Every track here is, or includes, a perfectly-paced twist that echoes either the band’s past or intended future, a kaleidoscope of pitch black, weaving wildly varied interpretations of dread and grief. 'Weeping Choir' is no single thing... but horrific. This is the least fun music I’ve ever heard, and I love it.
The Agonist 'Orphans'
picked by: Nick Petrino of My Missing Half, Dee Snider, Sonic Pulse
One of my favorite metal albums from 2019 would be "Orphans" by The Agonist. As a long-time fan of this band, I found that this album comes across as a really refreshing return to the eclectic and intricate sound that defined their earlier albums. In addition to their super-melodic and catchy, yet extensively detailed and complex songwriting, this album showcases the extremely capable and versatile musicianship all members of this band have to offer - the soaring clean vocals and brutal growls, the virtuosity of the lead/rhythm guitar work, the punishing riffing and bass lines, and the intensely explosive drumming from song to song. As to be expected from The Agonist, 'Orphans' captures their mastery of smoothly incorporating tons of metal subgeneres into their sound, with elements of thrash, death, groove, and progressive metal perfectly complementing their technical melo-death style.
Shit Life 'Reign in Bud'
picked by: Hiran Deraniyagala of Battlecross, Portal of Pazuzu
What Slayer’s 'Reign in Blood' did for thrash, Shit Life’s 'Reign In Bud' does for grind. Relentless, no frills, raw grindcore. It’s the thrash/grind love child you’ve been waiting for. Chris Revill’s riff catalogue is tasty as there are no short change of killer riffing with a gnarly razor sharp guitar tone. Zach Gibson’s (Ex-BDM, GutRot, Shock Narcotic) drums are a punishing sonic assault that leave blast beat fans naked and whimpering in awe. This grind masterpiece clocks in at just under 34 min with some tasty covers included. The Detroit two-piece are one the best grind bands out there and their live show is just as unrelenting. 'Reign In Bud' is sure to please thrash and grindcore fans alike.
Paricia’s Patience 'Paricia’s Patience'
picked by: Berny Santos of Calamity
My favorite metal record this years goes to Paricia’s Patience’s self titled debut EP. In a few words: it is a delightful piece of art. From the artwork to the carefully chosen 4 tracks on it, this record will remind you of the true meaning of 'high quality metal composition'. The perfect balance between classic and progressive metal and the right amount of Puerto Rican folk music vibes on it will give you an awesome listening experience. It's also good to mention that this is the first release from the band, so it is definitely one of the best debut EPs I’ve ever seen. Stay tuned to Puerto Rico scene in 2020. Lot of cool stuff in the making.
picked by: John Lamacchia of Candiria, Spylacopa, Rising Pulse Records
I have been a fan of Torche for some time. I first saw them at Irving Plaza back in 2007 with Jesu and Isis (the band) and was really impressed. The same year I picked up an EP they put out on vinyl called 'In Return' and I really fell in love with their sound.
When I heard the first single "Slide" off of their latest album ‘Admission’ I was blown away. When the record came out I dug into the rest of the songs and just loved the vibe from beginning to end. It seemed like the band really hit their stride. It’s an exciting record and it sounds great so hats off to guitarist/producer Jonathan Nuñez. He really captured the energy of the band but also brought a little something new to the table production wise.
It should also be noted that before this album Nuñez was the bass player for Torche and took on the role of playing guitar for the band shortly before their touring cycle began for 'Admission'. Supposedly he had just several days to learn all of his guitar parts before the band hit the road. Pretty impressive indeed. I am definitely a fan of the post-metal/shoe gaze guitar sound and style that the band utilizes. I also think the cover art and album design was done really well. My favorite tracks off of 'Admission' are "Submission" and "Infierno", but all the tracks are great. It’s an excellent listening experience from beginning to end and I highly recommend it.
Sunn O))) - Life Metal
Cave In - Final Transmission
Droneflower - Droneflower
Cattle Decapitation 'Death Atlas'
picked by: Eliseo Garcia of Absymal Dawn
With a band name like Cattle Decapitation, you kind of know what you are getting yourself into. This band will crush you live and on every album. 'Death Atlas' is no different. Now, go decapitate some cattle, if you dare.
Wilderun 'Veil of Imagination'
picked by: Taylor Washington of Paladin
Dynamic. Grandiose. Dense. Pensive. All of these things come together here without ever coming across as overwrought or pretentious. 'Veil of Imagination' is musical artistry, period. The compositions are so delicately and deliberately crafted, and the orchestrations masterfully commingling with the traditional metal instrumentation. Evan's rich baritone vocals and massive growls punctuating everything perfectly. There's a lot here to digest - sonically, lyrically, musically - but even taken at face value, 'Veil of Imagination' is an enthralling experience.
Wolfbrigade 'The Enemy: Reality'
picked by: David Sanchez of Havok
I really love Wolfbrigade's new record, 'The Enemy: Reality'. It is full of killer riffs and gnarly tones. The singer is so pissed and there are some great lyrics on this album. Something special must be in the Swedish water.
AND lastly, I'll throw my pick of best album of 2019 in here. This is never ever an easy decision to make as I hear so many amazing sonic creations every year but this year I shall pick:
Fallujah 'Undying Light'
Fallujah is a band that constantly evolves. With every album they make you can hear the changes and the growth. I have to admit the first few times I listened to this album, I wasn't sure what to think, but in time it really grew on me. I was also trying to adjust to the new vocalist, Antonio, as I had become accustomed to the way the old singer, Alex sounded and performed. But I have to say, these guys really blow me away. From the atmospheric outer space guitar sounds from Scott to the perfectionist drumming of Andrew, I find a true unique mix here that I don't hear in other bands. This album feels truly emotional.
I also always 100% give mad respect to bands that work hard, stay respectful and are just wonderful humans. As for all bands I know and love, I hope they continue to grow!
Thank you 2019 for some wonderful music and the musicians that make it happen!