This is the second of three posts with my favorite albums of the year. Music is subjective, like all other pieces of art. I picked these albums because they were the most entertaining to me. I will start out with my Top 10 Metal releases.
10. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Converge are a storied and legendary metal band. Their meld of chaotic math and grindcore is renowned. All We Love We Leave Behind is their 7th studio album but they bring it like this is their debut. The songs are just as heavy yet just as artistic and unique as they always have been. The speed and fury with which they pummel you is unmatched. Beware of the audio assault that tracks like “Aimless Arrow”, “Tender Abuse”, and “Shame In The Way” assail you with.
9. Shadows Fall – Fire From The Sky
I have always respected Brian Fair and co. but I think that their latest effort is their strongest. The guitar work is intricate and technical. The band also sound re-energized and full of passion. Their is an underlying melody throughout that isn’t overly poppy but makes it an accessible and engaging listen. Don’t just take my word for it, listen to “Fire From The Sky”, “The Unknown”, and “Weight of the World”.
8. Every Time I Die – Ex Lives
As much as I love ETID, I don’t think they have made a better song than “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space”. The album is an evolution of the band, an effect of lead singer, Keith Buckley’s side projects. The sonic shift is apparent all over the disc, especially on the track, “Revival Mode”. His lyrical acrobatics are once again prominent here. Do you expect any less from a former high school English teacher? This album’s standouts are “Drag King”, “The Low Road Has No Exits” and “A Wild, Shameless Plain”.
7. MyChildren MyBride – MyChildren My Bride
Southern Christian metalcore band MCMB are roaring back with their new album. Although this album does not have a track that matches the blistering intensity of Lost Boy‘s “Terra Firma”, this album still has an impressive amount of intensity. It has a more layered and produced sound but the spirit and energy of the band still shines through. “Dreamcatchers”, “Anathema”, and “On The Wings of Integrity Pt. II” are all awesome tunes that showcase the mix of southern metal and metalcore.
6. Texas In July – Texas In July
Their debut album, I Am, literally stunned me. Their follow up, One Reality felt watered down so I was a little worried when their self titled landed on my desk but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I like the creativity of inviting August Burns Red’s drummer Matt Grenier for a guest solo on the album closer, “Cloudy Minds”. I also enjoyed “Shallow Point” and “Bed of Nails”. I instantly fell in love with the album’s first single “Cry Wolf”. What can I say, I am sucker for catchy metalcore.
5. The Ghost Inside – Get What You Give
This album is the only hardcore album on this list this year. The hardcore genre has gotten heavier and heavier. This band does a good job balancing the metal side and the melodic side. There are plenty of opportunities to get interactive with the tunes from this album whether it is some moshing, 2-stepping, or circle pitting at their shows. If that is not your scene, learn these words and scream them back to them. It is also good to learn the lyrics because a lot of them are uplifting. I am a huge fan of gang vocals and they are all over the album. Check out “Engine 45”, “This Is What I Know About Sacrifice” and “The Great Unknown”.
4. The Chariot – One Wing
Darn you, Long Live! I knew this would happen. What was my #1 album two years ago made it difficult for this tremendous album. The bar was set really high and as awesome as this album is, and it is, it just can’t match that. This album brings back the quirky unpredictability with as much fury as ever. Just look at the album’s cover and you realize how much this band appreciates art. That is what they have created here, an artistic, and beautiful but sonically, challenging album. Like all of their albums if you really actively listen to tracks like “Your”, “First”, and “Cheek”, you will be greatly rewarded!
3. For Today – Immortal
This band’s consistent quality is as unwavering as their message of love through Christianity. This band’s beliefs are stated plainly on their barn barner, “Foundation”, “I will not be moved, UNSHAKEABLE.” This steadfast message is uniform throughout the entire album and the music backs it up here with just as much fire and brimstone. Tracks like “Stand Defiant”, “Fearless”, and “Under God” can inspire believers and non-believers alike. From Mattie Montgomery’s vocals to the guitar work to the thundering drums, everything is amped up here.
2. Between the Buried and Me- Parallax II: Future Sequence
I knew they had this album in them. I was worried by the albums that followed Colors, that they couldn’t create an album as engaging and amazing as that masterpiece. The last few releases were not bad, but this album takes everything that they have done so well and presents it in a polished, beautiful package. The breathtaking fragility of the softer moments and the bone crushing heavy moments weave in and out of each other with an ease that only this band can bring. The technicality of this album is amazing this amazing group of musicians are prolific without being too showy. The story that they have written is based on space and slightly complicated but that is what makes the scope of this album seem even larger. I love this album in its entirety but especially “Extremophile Elite”, “Melting City”, and “Silent Flight Parliament” paired with the “Goodbye to Everything Reprise”.
1. As I Lay Dying – Awakened
There were a lot of amazing releases this year, in what was one of the best years for metal in recent memory. I cannot think of an album that resonated with me so much as this one has. I have always been a big fan of AILD but this might be my favorite release of theirs. I love the whole album, top to bottom, it sounds like the culmination of everything they have done previously. Everything is done better here, guitar solos, vocals: both heavy and melodic, and breakdowns. Lyrically, it is introspective but extremely relatable. Lead singer and songwriter Tim Lambesis is gifted in doing that. The uplifting nature of the lyrics is encouraging without being cheesy. All of the tracks are great but my personal highlights are “A Greater Foundation”, “Cauterize”, “Whispering Silence”, and “Overcome”.