Editor’s note: Damn… that was fast. In the blink of an eye, 2010 is coming to a close. You’ve probably noticed, we here at Reviews/Resist have been slacking on the updates these past few (six) months. Well… weddings, new jobs, child-raising, side-work, remodeling, recording & international travel will do that to you.
We have good intentions for 2011, and here’s to hoping we get back on track soon. Speaking of which… best wishes go out to our good friend King for his safe & speedy recovery. Can’t wait until you’re back rocking our souls.
I’m not sure if this is saying something or not, but 2010 marks the second year in a row that my #1 album is not of the metal variety (call me a sucker for spacey indie rock). But you know what? Awesome is awesome, so it’s not really up to me. This year’s choice is especially interesting, in that it comes from a local band (one of two to make the list), and one who’s members are practically young enough to be my kids. If they keep writing tunes this catchy, we might just have the next Hum on our hands.
Overall, 2010 was a bit of a dry year. Not to discount any releases on this list, but there seemed to be a lot of half-assing going on this year concerning most things metal (ourselves included). Oh well… here’s to 2011 rocking more better. Onto the rock:
10. Torche – Songs For Singles (Hydrahead)
Despite being the worst vinyl packaging in the history of records, this EP still screams Torche. Which is all it takes to make my list.
Check Out: Hideaway
9. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
Not quite as good as “Ashes Against the Grain“, but “Marrow of the Spirit” proves once again Portland can be a cold dead place too.
Check Out: Into the Painted Grey
8. Goes Cube – Coextinction Release 2 (Coextinction Recordings)
Proving they aren’t just a Torche clone, Goes Cube lengthens their songs and tightens their songwriting. And it rules.
Check Out: Crohn’s Attack
7. Nachtmystium – Addicts: Black Meddle Part II (Century Media)
Different? Yes. Good? Also Yes.
Check Out: Blood Trance Fusion
6. Thou – Summit (Gilead Media/Southern Lord)
Face Rippingly Beautiful.
Check Out: By Endurance We Conquer
5. Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… better than Opeth.
Check Out: Singular
4. Weye – Friends, Family & Others (Self-Released)
A local band that rivals classic Don Cab in complexity and catchiness. Relapse should take notice and sign a real instrumental band.
Check Out: Great Hall
3. Deftones – Diamond Eyes (Warner Bros.)
It’s not a bad thing that Deftones are wearing their influences (:cough: Meshuggah :cough:) on their sleeves more than ever (enlisting Sergio Vega certainly doesn’t hurt either). Easily the best Deftones record since Around the Fur.
Check Out: Diamond Eyes
1. Lybria – Cycles (Self-Released)
While their influences might be obvious, their songwriting skills are anything but. Deep, catchy, and hypnotic; Lybria is the next generation of rock’s “small step for man.”
Check Out: All of Them!
10. Cynic – Re-Traced (Season of Mist)
Not really a “new” Cynic album, but a different interpretation of various songs from 2008’s Traced In Air. As usual, anything and everything Cynic does blows my mind. This became my outdoor jogging soundtrack for about two months over the summer.
9. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
Ex-Celtic Frost guru Tom Fischer turns it up pretty damn loud on this kick ass album. The guitars alone are enough to to melt one’s face. The H.R. Giger cover is enough period!
8. High on Fire – Snakes for the Divine (E1 Music)
Just crank the shit out of it.
7. Nachtmystium – Addicts: Black Meddle Part II (Century Media)
A polarizing metal band with an odd history of constant line-up changes, touring issues and drug dabbling. Nachtmystium take a strange stylistic turn here… and it works! Catchy songs, good riffs, and loud production – solid album.
6. The National – High Violet (4AD)
I know, I know… this isn’t metal. But it’s dark, brooding, chilled-out, and amazing. This album should be on everyone’s top 10 list, regardless of genre.
5. Atheist – Jupiter (Season Of Mist
A fierce mindwarp of progressive thrash, and their first new album in years. This record is a puzzle, but when it starts to make sense you will be spinning it non-stop.
4. Intronaut – Valley of Smoke (Century Media)
Intronaut kicks my ass. Ever since picking up “Void” a few years back I have always gotten excited about their new releases. “Valley of Smoke” turns up the psychedelia and even adds clean vocals into the mix, but the band sounds just as tight and crushing as ever. And Danny Walker might just be my new favorite drummer too.
3. Cloudkicker – Beacons (Self-Released)
This solo project of Columbus, OH-based guitarist Ben Sharp has some of the most interesting and mind-blowing guitar acrobatics of any instrumental rock or metal album I have heard in recent years.
2. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
Incredibly expansive, dark, and thoughtful melodic black/doom metal. In my opinion one of America’s most underrated and gifted outfits.
1. Anathema – We’re Here Because We’re Here (Kscope)
Good grief… what an album. For those unfamiliar, Anathema was one of the “Peaceville 3” (along with Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride) who helped forge a new and very bleak emotional style of British doom metal back in the early 90’s. They have since moved into dreamy, atmospheric rock territory… with breathtaking results. Very well-written and a completely surreal listening experience.
It’s hard to select my top 10 albums of 2010, because quite frankly, I didn’t like 10 albums this year. There’s really only one album that I felt was worth anyone’s time and that’s Cloudkicker’s Beacons. It’s an interesting picture of the current music industry when the best and brightest offering of the year was done by a single guy with no budget, no distribution, no touring and no label. I’m sure I missed a lot over the year, but almost everything I did hear illicited a reaction somewhere between indifference and disappointment. So instead of “Top Albums“, I’m submitting my “Top Trends of 2010“. It’s been fun, but here’s hoping 2011 is better.
Metal bands playing entire albums Live
Ask yourself this question: what is a more annoying trend? Bands playing with “symphony orchestras” (Metallica, Kiss, Dream Theater, Scorpions), or bands playing their albums live “In their entirety” (Judas Priest, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, Life of Agony, Opeth). In the case of Opeth, they pulled it off and gave us one of the most stunning DVD/CD packages of the year. On the flipside, Priest stumbled through a pedestrian version of British Steel, Mustaine struggled with Rust in Peace and LOA’s River Runs Red was just plain embarrassing.
Everyone loved Diamond Eyes by the Deftones, and I thought it was pretty damn good too, but then I realized, “hmm, I don’t care about the Deftones anymore” and that was the end of it. I felt the same way about Danzig’s Red Deth Saboth. Good album, but Danzig’s ship has sailed LONG ago and even if the album was the next Lucifuge, I doubt I would’ve listened to it that often. Some say metal fans are the “most loyal” and will follow a band even after a few letdowns, but I say that’s a ton of bullshit and those people that do are normally assholes that spend most of their time trying to justify St. Anger, and convince you that Volume 8: The Threat is Real “isn’t half bad”.
Popular Black Metal
Probably the fact that we’re even talking about it on an American metal website means that Black Metal has gone too mainstream, but 2010 saw the genre really seep into popular culture. Luckily, Nachtmystium’s follow up to Assassins was so disappointing and non-metal that no one will start talking about the “New Wave of American Black Metal” anytime soon. Until the Light Takes Us was a critically-acclaimed documentary discussing the early days of the genre, and although I found it quite dull, the fact that it was made and put into small-run theaters shows that people are intrigued by the culture.
Dead Metal Icons
RIP Ronnie James Dio and Peter Steele. (Probably some others that I can’t think of or that weren’t that popular)
Call this the “Curse of Mastodon”, but it seems that when a metal band is about to make a real splash onto the mainstream scene, they release an album that is incredibly dull. This year saw quite a few with High on Fire’s Snakes for the Divine, Lair of the Minotaur’s Evil Power, and the aforementioned Nachtmystium coming to mind. One might call Fear Factory’s Mechanize a “comeback”, but we thought it just plain sucked, much to the chagrin to a few FF fans that decided that we were hurting the band’s feelings.
Metal and Food
Whether its the oppressive popularity of Kuma’s Corner, Melt on Man vs Food, the Grill ‘Em All guys winning The Great Foodtruck Race or a slew of metal cookbooks, for some reason, people have finally realized that metal fans are fat, and that non-metal people that want to seem “edgy” are also fat.
Best things of the Year:
Devin Townsend live solo tour, Kuma’s Insect Warfare burger, The Walking Dead, Southern Tier Pumking, the resurrection of Phil Anselmo, King Buzzo at the World Series, Slayer Christmas lights, Bed-Intruder Song, Mustaine’s autobiography, Soundgarden is back, “basement metal”, Transatlantic at the Park West (and live CD/DVD), Nerdist podcast, Danzig buying cat litter, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Behemoth’s videos, Three Floyd’s Apocalypse Cow (and Creeper beer dedicated to Pelican), Slayer on Kimmel, Ed’s Wacken Honeymoon, The Sword – Warp Riders, Tim & Eric Season Cinco
Worst of the Year:
Cynic’s Re-Traced, Dragonforce live albums, Iron Maiden’s lame set-list, Sepultura’s failed reunion, Ozzy’s Scream, Trooloo song, Facebook memes, Lady Gaga dancing to Metal Militia at Lollapalooza, the unnecessary Beatles cash cow on iTunes, Portnoy leaving Dream Theater and the subsequent whining and crying that followed in the all-too pretentious prog community, Metalocalypse going to 30 min, vampire bands, Halford solo tunes, Sirius-XM’s Liquid Metal, That Metal Show being renewed, South Park.
What I’m looking forward to in 2011:
A new Opeth album… Devin Townsend’s Destruction and Ghost… Scale the Summit’s new one… seeing Immortal in February… a possible Maiden:England Iron Maiden tour.