Recommend me some quality Metal


This is my favorite album of the year so far. Such a fun listen… except for the weird croaking frog voice on Goddess of Dirt, which I skip.

But the rest of it is fantastic.


December 2018 AotM

Relatively light crop of releases for the month, but there were some real doozies mixed in there. Figure I’ll give them a few days to shine on their own before New Year’s hits and everybody forgets December in favor of albums of the year. What stood out to you guys?


  • Chapel of Disease - …And as We Have Seen the Storm, We Have Embraced the Eye
  • Sulphur Aeon - The Scythe of Cosmic Chaos


  • Vanishing Kids - Heavy Dreamer
  • Henry Derek Ellis - The Devil Is My Friend
  • Cosmic Atrophy - The Void Engineers
  • Torian - God of Storms
  • Frozen Land - S/T
  • Threads of Fate - A Funeral For the Virtuous
  • Lovebites - Clockwork Immortality


  • Corpsessed - Impetus of Death
  • Moonshield - The Warband
  • Rauhnacht - Unterm Gipfelthron
  • Dirge - Lost Empyrean
  • Beaten to Death - Agronomicon


I didn’t listen to a lot this month since work ended and that’s where I do most of my headphones time. And I didn’t get round to hearing Sulphur Aeon yet, which was on my ‘interested’ list. :)

So my album of the month was one I somehow missed from October, the awesome Sargeist:

Sargeist - Unbound

For actual December releases for me it’s hard to beat new Dødsferd album:

Dødsferd - Diseased Remnants of a Dying World


I’ve always listened to a lot of Devin Townsend but for some reason neglected Strapping Young Lad most of the time. I love absolutely everything he’s done - from Devin Townsend Project to non-metal stuff like Casualties of Cool to oddities like Ziltoid and Synchestra, but SYL always kind of eluded me.

But then I heard Almost Again thanks to Pandora and holy shit, legitimate chills down my spine.

The bass 33 seconds into that song on a great pair of headphones is a special treat.


Deconstructed (DTP) is the best mix of SYL and his solo stuff, and my favorite album of his. The production is a little iffy on a couple SYL releases (Alien mostly), but overall they’re must-haves through and through.

And as much as I like nearly everything he does (not a big fan of the Ki album at all), I do miss the pure mania of his SYL output. It’s okay though, can’t blame him for getting older, cleaner, and wanting to tap the brakes a bit.


Man I love Deconstruction and Ki. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything from him I don’t like.

Can’t wait to see what he’s cooking up. Sounds really ambitious in what he’s said on Twitter over the last month.


High fives. Love both of those.

Personally it’s hard to rank hem, they’re all so distinct. Deconstructed is upper half for sure, but would I rate it better than Z2? Synchestra? ZTO? Terria? Transcendence?

I mean, maybe? Depends on the day, I guess. Any one of those may get my top spot depending on my mood.


My love for DT’s output is essentially Transcendance = Sky Blue = Epicloud > Dark Matters > All other DTP > All SYL > Whatever the hell that was with Steve Vai

When he hit the maximum peak of bombastic wall-of-sound hyper-produced choirs-n-Anneke van Giersbergen prog metal insanity with the last three DTP records, he finally roped me in, thanks in no small part to a lot of goading from @CraigM. However, before that point, there’s just lots of little things that bug or fail to engage me. Crappier production. More focused, narrower soundscapes. Ambient, floaty soundscapes that never go anywhere. And the sheer manic fury of most of the SYL stuff just slides right off of my brain.

Then again, producing four of my favorite albums of all time (Transcendence, Epicloud, and the Z2 two-parter) is pretty fucking impressive in its own right. . .


Sure, but Synchestra has Letters from Africa and Vampolka/Vampira, so it is well worthy of inclusion in his best.

And Dark Matters> Sky Blue, it for no other reason than War Princess \m/


Posting here, as it is mostly metal, after all:

For those that don’t care for images, my top 50 for they ear, though the ordering past about #15 or 20 gets pretty hazy, tbh.

  1. TribulationDown Below - A brilliant, perfectly constructed death-tinged gothic album from top to bottom, with groovy riffs, potent vocals, hooky melodies, fantastic production, and an excellent mood and general feel from the word go. It’s actually a little hard to express why I like it, since the answer is essentially “everything about it.” However, I will note that my often-used description for this band is “what if Ghost sounded like how they looked, but kept hold of some of their brilliant pop sensibility in the transition?” “The Lament” is an excellent way to kickstart the album, though “Subterranea” might just be my favorite of all.
  2. Harakiri for the SkyArson - This grinding, driving, highly melodic and unexpectedly catchy post-black metal album somehow overcomes the stupidest fucking bandname on my list this year in amazing form. It grabs you by the face and never lets go from the opening moments of “Fire Walk With Me,” screaming an agonized plea for you to share in the pain driving every moment of this release, though “Heroin Waltz” is the standout track of the whole enterprise. It’s gorgeous, dark, enormous, melodic, and just about perfect.
  3. GUNSHIPDark All Day - A fantastic, nay, excellent record in a year of incredible synthwave, GUNSHIP’s sophomore release features more of his vocal-heavy retro new wave stylings, refined and perfected from years of hard work. Incredibly listenable, it’s got great pop hooks, catchy-as-fuck choruses, and some seriously groovy little 80s-inspired synth tunes to back it all up. And while “When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies” might be super sappy and touching, “Black Blood Red Kiss” is one of the most banging synthwave songs ever.
  4. TRNA - Earthcult - A gorgeous instrumental post-metal album that sojourns through naturalistic soundscapes and then quickly turns and propels you along pulse-pounding sections in between, Earthcult might just be the only good thing to come out of Russia here recently. Wait, no, we got a new Arkona record, too. . . I digress. The four tracks on this album are each beautiful, haunting, compelling journeys in and of themselves, and by the record’s end, you have traveled far indeed down leaf-strewn pathways into forgotten realms. Take the trip, please; there’s a lot more going on here than your usual post-rock/metal lull/swell repetition.
  5. Finnr’s CaneElegy - This was a tough call, but in the end, the grinding depressive atmospheric black metal stylings of Finnr’s Cane, launching you down an autumnal dark hole that never seems to end, beat out Amorphis’s best record in a decade or more. I know, I know. I’m really going heavy on the “driving, autumnal, depressing black metal” thing this year. It’s just where my head’s at. And Finnr’s Cane tap that impulse perfectly, with haunting vocals, inspired harmony, and some surprisingly excellent melodies. But perhaps most surprising is a gleaming core of warmth and sunlight-dappled gold running through the whole enterprise, making it far more than you might at first assume.
  6. AmorphisQueen of Time - As above, the best Amorphis record in ages, and featuring my song of the year, “Amongst Stars,” featuring the incomparable Anneke van Giersbergen. But it’s got it all, from jazzy moments to proggy moments to some unabashed death metal ferocity. The entire band are playing on point, achieving that amazing, melodic death metal feel that Amorphis does so well when they’re hooked in, with some insanely catchy choruses. This would be a top 5 release for me almost any year; 2018 was just a little too stacked for em.
  7. ErraNeon - A real callback to my youth in some ways, Neon combines screamo stylings with proggy death metal innovations to produce something thoroughly modern and excellently listenable. It’s got the catchy throwback high vox in the vein of Circa Survive’s Anthony Green mixed with surprisingly good screams and growls, some brilliantly complex guitar and bass work, and a thumping drumline to push the whole thing forward. Sure, it dates itself with some cheesy breakdowns now and again, but it nonetheless represents a thoughtful evolution of a seemingly dead genre.
  8. HAKENVector - I’ll be the first to admit that HAKEN’s decidedly more djenty turn from the 80s throwback wankery of Affinity let me down at first, but in the end, their catchy songwriting chops, excellent musicianship, and propensity for eminently foot-tapping choruses shines through the new production’s sheen and guitar distortion stylings. Tracks like “The Good Doctor,” “Puzzle Box,” and “A Cell Divides” showcase exactly why I love these guys so, so much.
  9. Vermilia - Katkyt - One of two one-woman black metal productions rounding out my top 10 this year, Vermilia’s Katkyt just edges out the other by bent of its relentless aggression, expert use of harsh and clean vocals, and faint tinges of Arkona-style folk influences creeping in at the edges. It’s exactly the sort of atmospheric black metal I’m totally and unapologetically addicted to, with just enough novelty to elevate it over similarly excellent offerings from Bastard Tongue, Sojourner, and Choria.
  10. SylvaineAtoms Aligned, Coming Undone - Fresh off a turn on Alcest’s Kodama, Katherine Shepard dropped one of the most compelling atmoblack albums of the year, drenched in shoegazey haze and autumnal sleepiness amidst a solid metal core. Gorgeous, haunting vocals, echoing guitars, and some real standout tracks like “Severence” and “L’appel Du Vide” make this one record eminently worthy of spot number 10 for me.
  11. KamelotThe Shadow Theory - Great power metal that’s finally come into its own, the enormous shadow cast by ex-vocalist Roy Khan seems to be lifting as Kamelot reascend to the heights of power metal.
  12. Vanishing KidsHeavy Dreamer - A difficult-to-categorize blind of hard rock, psychedelic music, and shoegaze, Vanishing Kids’ new record is a sleepy, yet powerful, slow burn well worth our time.
  13. Kobra and the LotusPrevail II - Although it isn’t quite as strong as Part 1, the latest from Kobra and Lotus show the Canadian heavy metallers at top form with super catchy tracks and potent vocals.
  14. Lord of the Lost - Thornstar - A dark rock ode to deep-voiced, synth-tinged days of yore, Thornstar is an excellent modern reshaping of old sounds into something new and utterly epic.
  15. Carpenter BrutLeather Teeth - An absolutely fantastic followup to the nearly flawless Trilogy, Carpenter Brut’s latest features some truly great tracks, especially the two with vocals onboard.
  16. ShylmagoghnarTransience - An excellent progressive, melodic death metal release with folky tinges and an impossible to remember name, this album might overstay its welcome slightly, but it’s great while it lasts.
  17. At the GatesTo Drink from the Night Itself - Their hair might be greying, but At the Gates are still at the top of their game when it comes to excellent, classic Gothenburg-style melodic death metal.
  18. Bastard TongueBastard Tongue - The first entry from a local band, Bastard Tongue’s eponymous release shows surprising maturity and mastery of the atmoblack genre for a bunch of young dudes.
  19. Oceans of SlumberThe Banished Heart - An absolutely beautiful, haunting sophomore release from a band with far more troubles than they deserve, the soulful vocals and crushing riffs combine to make true magic.
  20. Dance with the DeadLoved to Death - This guitar-heavy, frenetic synthwave is perhaps just more of the same from DwtD, but it’s exactly what I want, sometimes. . .
The rest of my top 50, with much shorter extra thoughts.
  1. Ghost - Prequelle - Gothy, Satanic hard rock that ain’t “real” metal but is metal as fuck.
  2. Orphaned LandDead Prophets and Unsung Messiahs - Glorious Israeli folk metal with a beautiful message to match the tunes.
  3. Arkona - Krham - Yet more astoundingly good Russian folk metal from Masha Scream and the gang.
  4. LuciferLucifer II - Some awesome 70s-ripoff heavy metal/psychedelic rock with female vox.
  5. Coheed and Cambria – Vaxis – Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures - Cheeseball prog rockers return with yet more impenetrable scifi shenanigans.
  6. Dimmu Borgir - Eonian - A great return to form from a fantastic orchestral black metal landmark.
  7. PowerwolfThe Sacrament of Sin - Awesome, albeit super cheesy, testosterone-drenched power metal.
  8. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats - Wasteland - Music to get stoned as fuck to, I guess. But there’s a seriously great rock record buried in the tryhard production.
  9. Mythic SunshipUpheaval - Also music to get stoned as fuck to, but a little less on-the-nose about it. This really came outta nowhere for me and surprised me.
  10. ImmortalNorthern Chaos Gods - Black metal masterminds still produce fucking amazing black metal, news at 11.
  11. SojournerThe Shadowed Road - An excellent, but slightly sleepy, atmoblack record.
  12. BehemothI Loved You at Your Darkest - Behemoth aren’t doing much new, but they still know how to rock.
  13. PowergloveContinue? - Excellent, long-awaited videogame metal album as one of my favorite videogame cover bands finally returns!
  14. The NecromancersOf Blood and Wine - Hard rocking doom metal with a Grand Magus tinge.
  15. Omnium GatherumThe Burning Cold - Absolutely good, albeit rarely surprising, melodic death metal that does it right.
  16. PrimordialExile Amongst the Ruins - While still failing to live up to their middle-period releases, Primordial continue to write great, unique folk metal.
  17. ObscuraDiluvium - Ludicrously proggy, technical death metal that is more than just mathy noise.
  18. A Forest of StarsGrave Mounds and Grave Mistakes - Hyper theatrical progressive black metal with a pointedly British twist.
  19. Zeal and ArdorStranger Fruit - The combination of slavery-era spirituals and heavy metal thunder you never knew you needed.
  20. Great Leap SkywardMap of Broken Dreams - High quality prog metal record that doesn’t fall into the wankery trap, but keeps it’s brainy core.
  21. WolfheartConstellation of the Black Night - Excellent melodic death metal release that would have ranked higher if it were easier to listen to.
  22. Atra Vetosus - Apricity - Catchy, highly listenable melodic black metal band out of Australia continue to impress, not get devoured by spiders.
  23. SylffInner Devastation | Outer Serenity - Proggy, atmospheric post-black metal that continues a yearlong trend for me!
  24. Time, the ValuatorHow Fleeting, How Fragile - Excellently done poppy metalcore that rises above its shameful early 00s roots. Well, mostly.
  25. SighHeir to Despair - Japan’s Sigh continue to change it up and remain weird and inscrutable, but their latest is all excellence.
  26. XaelThe Last Arbiter - An awesome progressive, symphonic death metal side project from the mastermind behind NC legends Rapheumet’s Well.
  27. DeadbirdIII: The Forest Within the Tree - Sludgy, doom metal that grinds and depresses while it rocks a solid core.
  28. Author and PunisherBeastland - Industrial-influenced doom metal/electronica one-man project that really took me by surprise this year.
  29. The MidnightKids - While a disappointing followup to their last two amazing releases, The Midnight’s latest is still fantastic vocal synthwave.
  30. KorpiklaaniKulkija - Continuing a long, if not necessarily innovative, tradition of solid folk metal.

Lots and lots of honorable mentions, including the new releases from Alice in Chains, Alkaline Trio, Alkaloid, Anaal Nathrakh, Arsis, Borealis, Choria, Doomed, Drudkh, Frost Giant, Gaerea, Gygax, Ihsahn, Interpol, Judicator, Khemmis, Knightmare, Marius Danielsen, MaYaN, Meteor, Red Velvet, Redemption, Set and Setting, Seventh Wonder, SHINee, Skeletonwitch, Southern Empire, Spacetrucker, Stormland, Tengger Cavalry, The Hazytones, Unreqvited, Vanhelga, Waveshaper, Wheel in the Sky, Windhand, Winterfylleth, Witchcryer, and YOB.


It’s not metal, but I highly recommend Devin Townsend’s side project Casualties of Cool. Incredibly relaxing and amazing in its own right.


As always, I ran out of time long before listening or re-listening to everything I wanted to, and I’m probably going to spend the next month catching up on stuff that was on other peoples’ end-year lists that I missed the first time around. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and here’s where mine stands at the moment:


Oh god, there is so much on there I haven’t heard at all. Gonna have to go delving for sure, now.

Thoughts from yours, though: master boot record, Gygax, Striker, Southern Empire, Khemmis, and Alkaloid were all on the verge of cracking the top for me, but a lot of them did lose out to a lack of re-listens (e.g., GUNSHIP and Dance with the Dead are way more in my head right now than MBR, which came out so early in the year. . . ).

In any case, very nice list, and lots to dig into :-D

What drew you to Solstice and Chapel of Disease?


Here’s what tickled my fancy over the past year, roughly ordered. :)


Gaerea, Wiegedood, Immortal, Shining, Skeletonwitch, Vanhelgd–we aren’t total opposites, at least, @Profanicus. But lots and lots there I didn’t listen to at all. It’s gonna be a busy January indeed :)


Hey we all like metal here, we’re brothers not opposites. ;)

Rest assured that nearly all of my picks are along the same lines as the ones you highlighted - I have fairly one-track tastes these days I know… :)

Though I can enjoy a lot of the different crazy variety in metal genre there’s not enough hours in the day to get into it all. And still there’s a big list of interesting obscure stuff I didn’t get to listen to because it’s not readily available on streaming services and funds are limited.


I know, I kid, I kid. I actually really dig your recs. I don’t dive quite as deeply into black metal as you do, generally, but you’ve unearthed some really cool shit that I’ve enjoyed a lot over the last couple-few years :-D


Likewise! Especially excited to check out some of those synthwave releases, since I missed most of them. And definitely going to give a second chance to some of the ones that underwhelmed me at first, like Haken, Primordial, and At the Gates.

Now that I’ve had a chance to look at yours, I’ll say that Tribulation, Sylvaine, Kobra and the Lotus, Lord of the Lost, Ghost, Powerwolf, Wolfheart, and Sylff all would have been somewhere in my honorable-mention zone.

Honestly, both of those (along with Sulphur Aeon) may be benefiting from recency bias, as I only started listening to them in the past month, and don’t know if they’ll stand the test of time. But Chapel of Disease is a lot of fun due to the constant ebb and flow interplay between the raucous death metal energy and the warm classic-rock guitar vibes. As for Solstice, the intense, sorrowful gravity of the vocals gets me the same way that Primordial does, and the rest is just really well executed epic doom.

I only dip lightly into the black waters you call home, but I can at least strongly concur on Shining, Skeletonwitch, Necrophobic, 1914, and King Goat. Looking forward to checking out some of the rest.


I’d be surprised if you guys didn’t at least get into Varathron. They’re one of the more melodic and approachable listens there; a great majestic/epic sound, always some interesting riff or harmony or build-up/payoff happening. Plus Stefan Necroabyssious has a great voice. :)

Other picks for the less-black inclined would be Antlers, Wallachia, Einherjer, Slaegt.

edit: and this might be ‘recency bias’ but Sargeist is certainly worth your time too.


Thanks for posting short thoughts with each of those, @ArmandoPenblade. I skipped anything with “black” or “death” in it which left a few out of the top 20. Enjoyed all of those that I hadn’t already heard.