10. Todtgelichter – Angst
This band will take my “hardest name to pronounce on the radio” award every year until I see a stranger one. I don’t even know what language it is, as my computer’s translator simply spits it out as “more todtgelichter”. Why thank you, technology, that’s awfully helpful. Nonetheless, this German quintet has finally found their stride. With previous albums hitting more upon a gothic, depressive black metal sound, Angst capitalizes on the latest trends of the “French sound” (Amesoeurs, Alcest, Les Discreets, etc.). Trendy? Yes. Superb? That, too.
9. BXI – BXI
Who’da thunk a marriage between a drone/avant-garde metal outfit like BORIS and a post-punk gothic god in Ian Astbury would work? BXI has to be one of the most unexpected collaborations I have seen in my life, but it works so incredibly well. The four-song EP shook the ground, but only for 20 minutes. Please release a full album—we need it.
8. Melechesh – The Epigenesis
The kings of Middle Eastern black metal strike again in 2010 with their fifth album—yet another strong piece in their incredible body of work. On The Epigenesis, they deftly meld black and thrash with the traditional music of their Israeli homeland. Clocking in at over one hour, it is a lengthy but rewarding affair. This is the black metal album for hot summer months.
7. The Ruins of Beverast – Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite
Without a single doubt in mind, this album wins the “grossest title” award. However it is reflective of the music, which is a dirty and disgusting album of choirs, dirgey guitars, and absolutely zero treble. The Ruins of Beverast show that black metal is still the most adaptable genre in all of the metalverse. The relationship between Foulest Semen… and other blackened albums on this list is near non-existent.
6. Priestess – Prior to the Fire
With 2006′s Hello Master, Priestess proved they could write some decent tunes, but it was far from cohesive. After many difficulties, they finally return with Prior to the Fire—one of the best stoner rock albums since Blues for the Red Sun. Cuts like “Lady Killer”, “The Gem”, and “It Baffles the Mind” show exactly how much they have matured and can now truly be taken seriously as a band.
5. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit
I have slept on Agalloch for way too long. Marrow of the Spirit is a damn fine album with almost everything I love about Metal rolled up into one beautiful album. It brings the aggression of black metal, the melody of folk metal, and atmosphere of post-metal and presents them not as separate entities but as an inseparable, entangled unit capable of crushing speakers and moving hearts.
4. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
Rarely does a band without a member under 50 release material that holds a candle to its earlier work, but Iron Maiden has always been an exception. As an album, The Final Frontier has no trouble looking good against Powerslave or Somewhere in Time. It’s kind of like that 80-year-old guy we all know who works out in the gym every day and still looks like he could beat the shit out of an angry rottweiler.
3. Shining – Blackjazz
Shining‘s fifth symphony, Blackjazz, came as a surprise. With a career that began with playing straight-up acoustic jazz, this bizarre Norwegian act has shifted dramatically. Their uncompromising sound encompasses elements ranging all the way from black and industrial metal to post-bop and avant-garde jazz. They show their influences proudly with an astonishing take of King Crimson‘s “21st Century Schizoid Man”—the best cover of the year. Shining is one of those “What will they think of next?” kinda bands.
2. Fields of Locust – Subtopia
The DIY approach to music is one of the most challenging endeavors one can undertake if he/she wishes to be successful in the industry. However, it also means that you get musicians with a passion to succeed and write fantastic music. No band represents this better than the Greek Fields of Locust, whose self-released, self-produced debut has fired them into the upper echelon of post-metal acts, where they sit with Pelican, Neurosis, and the deceased Isis. American folks are unlikely to see them play in our country any time soon, but at the very least we have their records, and that’s good enough for me.
1. Ufomammut – Eve
Going into the year, Ufomammut‘s monolithic composition about the first human woman was one of my most anticipated releases. Unlike some of the others I was looking forward to this year (*cough* Warp Riders *cough*), this one met—and exceeded—my expectations by 1,000,001 miles. Eve is a five-part epic that blurs the lines between sludge, drone, doom, and stoner metal. Its psychedelic din and out-of-this-world attitude skyrockets it to the top of my list, where not a single other record can even come close. Eve will be my new benchmark to judge similar releases, and I do not expect it to be unseated any time soon. This is the kind of album that only comes around once every decade.
HONORABLE MENTIONS FOR NON-METAL ALBUMS
Congratulations – MGMT
Have One on Me – Joanna Newsom
Something that Has Form and Something that Does Not – On
Teen Dream – Beach House
Swim – Caribou
Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter
Going Places – Yellow Swans
Le Voyage – The Alps
This is Happening – LCD Soundsystem
Crazy for You – Best Coast