With 2019 coming to a close, we’re going to be taking a look back at some of our favorite albums of the year. Metal in general had a very incredible year with a lot of big releases. So many incredible releases in fact, that a couple of them could be considered some of the best of the decade.
This year also features are largest list to date, as we now will be giving Folk Metal their own top 10, along with our more general “Best of 2019” list. Take a look, take a listen, and let us know what some of your favorite releases of the year were.
Album of the Year: Empath – Devin TownsendWe don’t like to throw around words like ‘Masterpiece,’ or use hyperbolic phrases such as ‘taking you to another place’willy nilly. With that said, Devin Townsends 18th studio album is an absolute masterpiece, and is the perfect record for escaping reality and going to another place. As a standalone progressive metal album, it’s flawless. As a fusion album, it’s the most creative record that we’ve ever heard. We’re a publication that specializes in fusion coverage, and we’ve heard plenty of banjos and bagpipes in metal over the years, but kittens and steel drums are new combination to even us. From the short opening track, to the 23 minute (yes, 23 minute) closing song, Empath is amazing.
Best Folk Metal Album: Ategnatos – EluveitieFolk metal legends Eluveitie have a great discography and seem to consistently put out one solid album after another. Their latest studio effort, Ategnatos, is yet another phenomenal release. The album also features newcomers, Alain Ackermann, Michalina Malisz, Jonas Wolf, and new co-lead vocalist Fabienne Erni. Ategnatos. has quite the variety in that it features probably the bands most soft, and radio friendly song to date, along with a track so brutal, it’s a wonder it didn’t cause a second wave Satanic panic in metal. Overall, folk metal had a good year with some incredible releases, but it’s once again Eluveitie that takes the crown for our Folk Metal spot.
Best Dark Folk Album: Lunar Falls – SulduskDark Folk had a strong year as well, but the biggest standout release was ‘Lunar Falls’ from Suldusk. Suldusk is the post black metal / folk / atmospheric project from Australian singer-songwriter Emily Highfield. The 10 tracks feature everything from stunning acoustic guitar tones, to beautiful textures, emotional lyrics, and those familiar black metal whisper screams. Lunar Falls was also one of our favorite overall records as well. There’s just so much to love about this release.
Best Power Metal Album: Moonglow – AvantasiaTobias Sammet seems to operate on one setting, which is “go big or go home.” Every Avantasia
album always seems to be just a little bit bigger and more impressive than the last. Moonglow features an impressive roster of guest musicians, but two of the standouts this time around include Folk Rock artist Candice Night and the legendary Hansi Kürsch. Moonglow is as histrionic and bombastic as the previous releases, with an abundance of catchy tracks. Again, with Tobias, you never really know what to expect and where he’s going to go next in terms of guest musicians for his rock opera. It’s now at the point where we are just waiting for someone like Joakim Brodén to jump on board.
Best Heavy Metal Album: From Hell with Love – Beast In BlackWith its nostalgic throwback vibe, ridiculously fun and sometimes slightly over-the-top tracks, and just the right amount of power fusion, Beast In Blacks “From Hell With Love” is hands down the best heavy metal album of the year. Make no mistake, it’s great heavy metal even though at times it might sound like something you would find on a cheesy 80’s action film soundtrack. As a matter of fact, there is literally a cover of a song from the Rocky 4 soundtrack, “No Easy Way out.” (Though we would have preferred “The Sweetest Victory.”) This was an album that gave us a lot of headbangs and horns, and a majority of the songs have now landed on my personal gym playlist.
Best Progressive Metal Album: Macro – JinjerShortly after releasing an EP (Micro) earlier this year, Jinjer released a full-length album that showcases why they truly are one of the most creative, influential, and brutal acts in the progressive metal scene. Tatiana Shmayluk is amazing at being able to switch over from an aggressive death growl, to clean melody and groovy vocals. Overall on the album, the band is very versatile and can switch up their sound effortlessly. Macro is an album that delivers the best of both worlds for however you might like your metal.
Best Symphonic Metal Album: Resist – Within TemptationOne of the most prominent bands on the symphonic scene has once again taken a direction in experimenting with a bit more of a fusion style, by jumping into more of a progressive alt rock sound. Though Within temptation has certainly not abandon their roots just yet. Sharon’s vocals are just as phenomenal as ever they are impactful, emotional, and energetic. It features a couple of great guest musicians, and numerous tracks that we had on repeat. Resist is still a great symphonic album and seems to be an important milestone for the band. They have taken their sound into a more bold and positive direction, not by leaving symphonic behind, but by building upon it.
Best Debut Album: Above The Sky- MajesticaWhile it might technically be a debut album, it should be very familiar with listeners as Majestica is the band that has risen from the ashes of the once great ReinXeed phoenix. Back with a new, and easier to pronounce name, Majestica have created an album that features 12 songs, and it’s a relentless explosion of melodic, cinematic power metal with somewhat of a slight progressive feel. What we loved about this album is that it features an incredibly wide variety of sonic signatures. It’s basically a love letter to power metal, with a ton of originality, noticeable influences, while being a bit retro and yet keeping the crisp and energetic tones of modern metal.
Best Alternative Metal Album: Black Anima – Lacuna CoilOver 20 years later and Lacuna Coil are still putting out some of the best alternative Gothic metal albums that we’ve ever heard. It’s pretty amazing watching them continuously get better and better when you think they’ve already hit legendary status with their music. Black Anima is a little bit more twisted and darker than their previous release, and we spoke in depth with Andrea earlier this year about some of the finer details. Be sure to check out that interview for more info on this incredible release.
Best Concept Album: The Great War – SabatonSabaton are probably the hardest working band in metal. They’ve got their own festival, their own cruise, and as of roughly a year ago, their own history channel on YouTube. (which is better and more informative than the actual History channel.) The Great War covers various subjects of World War I, and it’s done it the typical explosive power metal way that we’ve all come to love. Some of the songs include stories about The red Baron, (an ace fighter pilot, not the frozen pizza) Alvin York (a decorated hero with the personality of Mr. Rogers, and the skill set of The Punisher) and Lawrence of Arabia. The Great War also has one of the most brutal closing tracks of any Sabton record, and when we say brutal, it’s not what you’re thinking.
Best Solo Album: Martyr – Lindsay SchoolcraftCanadian singer-songwriter Lindsay Schoolcraft had a very impressive debut as a solo artist with the release of her album, “Martyr.” It’s a nice blend of Gothic rock and various shades of metal with arguably some of the best songwriting of any metal record we’ve heard by a solo artist this year. For us, this album has been a straight play through, as we enjoyed all the songs. On a side note and as a bonus, along with ‘The Spell,” this album also featured some of our favorite artwork this year.
Best Death Metal Album: Death Atlas – Cattle DecapitationBrutal, and technical. Those have always been the two words we’ve used when describing Cattle Decapitation. And still going strong after two decades, the band has been continuing to impress us with their brutal technicality. Death Atlas covers plenty of doomsday style subjects, (thanks for reminding us of our mortality) with plenty of impressive guitar tones, tracks with fantastic progression, and haunting lyrics. This is the best death metal record of the year, and arguably, some of the best work from Cattle Decapitation to date.
Best EP: All Shall Burn – EleineEleine can really be described as symphonic power metal at its absolute best. This band has continued to impress us from the five or so years that they’ve been around. Their latest EP “All Shall Burn,” is a great little appetizer to keep us satisfied until that eventual LP. We are treated with a couple amazing new tracks, and a couple of symphonic renditions, and an incredible cover of Rammsteins “Mein herz brennt.” That was a bold choice for a cover, as a lot of people tend to judge a song that so beloved fairly harshly, unless of course it’s as good as the original. The track is certainly as good as the original, and they do a fantastic job of adding their own subtle Eleine style twist.
The 10 Best Folk Metal Albums And EPS Of 2019
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