Peter’s Top Albums of 2019
2019 was a jam packed year of music for me. It may seem like that at the end of every year, but when I was going through all the 2019 releases I bought, and also reflected on the amount of vinyl reissues, box sets, and video game music releases I purchased, I could have probably bought a car. I’d say don’t tell my wife, but she sees the amount of mail that gets delivered here and can easily access the man-cave. Love yah, baby!
Here’s the countdown of my top 20 albums that I purchased this year. After my number one pick, I’ll list some honourable mentions.
Note: all pics are from my Instagram account (link on the main page) but all art is, of course, property of the respected artists. As well, to snag a bunch of these, visit Mad Rush Media and score great tunes!
20. TIE: Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion (Nuclear Blast) &
Nocturnus A.D. – Paradox (Profound Lore)
Yeah, I know I’m cheating a bit to get an extra album in, but both are kinda similar. Both bands released classic death metal albums early in their careers. Both bands went through a slump, and both bands disappeared for a while. Surprisingly both bands decided to release albums last year with a new sense of purpose and fury.
While the albums are grounded in what made fan love their music in the first place, and their overall sound, there is still progress in production and songwriting to be found. That doesn’t mean either band has mellowed out over the years. Both albums are aggressive and I don’t think there’s any filler in either. Revelations of Oblivion and Paradox are both welcome and strong additions to both band’s catalogues and have made fans, old and new, very pleased.
19. Torche – Admission (Replase)
I loved most of what Torche put out in their career, but I was not a fan of their last album, Restarter. Something just didn’t click with me and I think I spun it less than five times. When Relapse announced Torche’s new album, I didn’t pay too much attention because of the last album. I figured I’d check it out when it dropped and perhaps buy it afterwards after sampling it. The release date came and went and I totally forgot about it until a few months later. I checked a few tunes out online and liked enough to decide to buy the album and listen to it all the way through. I’m glad I did because I found it going back to the same kind of writing, sound, and vocal delivery found on Harmonicraft. This is a fun album and the hooks will have you going back to it frequently.
18. This Gift Is A Curse – A Throne of Ash (Season of Mist)
The reason I checked out this band was simply because of the album art. I saw it advertised and thought, “damn, that is a cool cover.” I knew they were a metal band but had no idea as to what sub-genre of metal they were. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised with the insane black metal onslaught that blasted out of my speakers. This album sucked me in, beat the shit out of me, and left me begging for more. The production is clear enough to hear everything but not polished enough to make it not sound like dirty, evil black metal. No song overstays its welcome and there is enough diversity on here to keep your attention throughout. This is a band that I can’t wait to see grow and their next album can’t come soon enough. Don’t ignore this one.
17. Mayhem – Daemon (Century Media)
You’d think the masters of black metal would have run out of ideas by now. Nope. Instead they have put out another album of amazing tunes. It’s wild to read some fans and even some in the band themselves weren’t fans of their last album, Esoteric Warfare, and how they think this is the true successor to Wolf’s Lair Abyss. I really liked the last album (then again, I also really love Grand Declaration of War for how different it was). People who love Mayhem at their fastest, most blasphemous, and dirtiest will embrace this album. Looks like many fans have.
15. Mortiferum – Disgorged From Psychotic Depths (Profound Lore)
This is another album that got my attention due to the cover art (and a completely unreadable band logo). After creating two demos, this band was getting enough attention for Profound Lore to sign them for their debut album. I’m glad they did because this is one catchy old school death metal style album. That’s not saying that these guys are just copying the fantastic 90s formula and/or sound. They bring their own ideas to the world of death metal. You’ll find little things on each additional listen and find yourself actually tapping your foot to the many of the riffs/beats. This was an unexpected surprise this year for me.
15. Lord Mantis – Universal Death Church (Profound Lore)
I was super stoked when I read that Lord Mantis was coming back. They broke up in 2017 after the suicide of their drummer at the time. While some members kept busy in other bands, my hope was for Charlie Fell to come back to the band and we would see some sort of reformation. Thankfully, that happened and holy shit, did these guys come back with a vengeance. The anger and hate flows throughout this album and the intensity doesn’t go away. It’s like the band picked up after Pervertor and didn’t miss a thing. Buy it.
14. Misery Index – Rituals of Power (Season of Mist)
I didn’t think it was that long since the last album, The Killing Gods, was released, but we haven’t had new music from Misery Index since 2014! Suffice to say, I was excited for this one and it didn’t disappoint. There are only two songs over 5 minutes (and not by much), which means the band doesn’t waste any time on any tracks. They’re brutal, yet catchy, and I think this is the best album of their career. I know many wish they’d go back to their early grind days, but I’m happy with how the band has progressed into powerhouse song writers who know what makes a killer death metal song and album.
13. The Lennon Claypool Delirium – South of Reality (ATO Records)
I was aware these two had collaborated on some past releases, but I never bothered to check them out. I have no idea why I finally decided to check out what these two sounded like together, but I’m glad I did. I bought the album immediately (well, on CD. I haven’t picked this up on vinyl yet). I supposed the best way to describe this album is that it’s a tad weird, but fun. There are so many hints of The Beatles mixing in with aspects of Primus here. The lyrics are a blast and everything is so enjoyable. I actually had this CD in my car for two weeks straight, listening to it repeatedly because it just made me happy driving to and from work. Don’t wait as long as I did to finally see what the hype is about.
12. Gost – Valediction (Century Media)
The synthwave meets death metal artist (now looking like a two-piece), who was a staple on the indie Blood Music label was picked up by Century Media for the “band’s” newest release. I’ve purchased all of Gost’s music and I love how there are multiple genres crossed and blended in a blanket of 80s synth.
This release has Gost embrace the black metal aspect full on, yet it also features some of the biggest hooks and beats, throwing back to early 80s synth stylings. This album features the most extreme ends of the spectrum on a Gost album to date and will bring surprises to fans who still haven’t had the chance to dive into this one.
11. Mesarthim – Ghost Condensate (Self Released)
The past few year-end lists have included this duo from Australia and their atmospheric black-metal magic. I love the various synth and keyboards incorporated into the music and the journey each of the two (yes, only two) twenty minute songs take you through. While this may not beat some of their past releases for my ears, it’s still another amazing effort. It’s wild in this day and age there is so little known about the band. I’d love to know more about them (him? her?). I know 20 minutes songs are everyone’s jam, but those minutes fly by with this band. Get some good headphones for this stuff.
10. Exhumed – Horror (Relapse Records)
If the 2017 concept album, Death Revenge, was a little too out of Exhumed’s box for long time fans (or just fans of their earlier stuff), then Horror will put them back in grace of those fans. This ablum feels like the band went back to their roots (specifically their first two albums) and decided to show the current generation how to do gore-grind in this day and age properly. The songs here attack out of the gate and don’t give up. They are short, sweet, and go for the kill, with one tune, “Dead Meat,” coming in just over 50 seconds. Props to the guys in the band putting together some sweet 80s retro-packaging. It takes me back to my days of going through a video store and looking at the horror VHS tapes.
9. Collective Soul – Blood (Fuzze-Flex Records)
Collective Soul on a best of list in 2019? Yep. Damn right. I’ve always love Collective Soul and have bought every one of their albums. While some haven’t been the most inspired or exciting, there are still many throughout their discography that feature a plethora of excellent tunes, and this one is no exception. I don’t think there’s a song on here I don’t like and it makes for a very easy play through. The rock songs rock, and the ballads/softer tunes are heartfelt and not cheesy.
Ed Rolland and the crew continue to make music that is well thought out and they should still be played on the radio more so than most of the other crap that is labelled as “rock” on “rock radio” these days. If you left these guys in the 90s, it’s time to return and see all the goodness you missed out on.
8. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
I loved Shelter (2014) although it took all the metal out of Alcest’s sails. The shoegaze experience found on that album was perfect just to sink into the couch, close your eyes and listen to. Many who wanted the black metal essence in their music didn’t dig it. Kodama (2016) tried to bring back some of the metal back into the fold but the songs on that album didn’t resonate with me as much as their earlier work. On Spiritual Instinct, I think many will find the songs to be the true successor to Les Voyages de l’Âme, and I think that’s something fans of the band’s earlier work will appreciate. For me, I just love getting new music from Alcest and exploring all the layers over numerous listens. It’s a strong album.
7. Life of Agony – The Sound of Scars (Napalm Records)
I’ve loved almost everything Life of Agony has done throughout their career. I had no issue with the direction the band went after their debut because I really loved their songwriting and the topics covered in the lyrics. When I read this album would be the lyrical successor to their debut, River Runs Red, where the person we thought died by suicide at the end of the record actually lived, I was a bit skeptical. I thought it may be a ploy to get those who abandoned the band back into the fold. I also had no idea if the band would be going back to the sound and style from their debut with this kind of announcement.
After the first listen, I was hooked. While not a replica of the first album at all, the band sounds the most aggressive they have in years and the songs are catchy as hell. While modern, it also took me back slightly to the 90s, in a good way. The story/lyrics through the album are good and really help the order of the tracks really flow and I understood why they decided to continue on with the events in the character’s life.
I’ve listened to this album many times since I got it and it hasn’t gotten old. Thankfully I had the chance to see them here in London and they didn’t disappoint. Songs from this album fit well into their set with their older tunes. Simply put, this album is their best since 1997’s Soul Searching Sun.
6. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites (Nuclear Blast)
Tech death metal isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There’s so much going on in every Nile song that you could potentially listen to an album for a year or more and still discover new stuff. While the band has made some absolute classics, they’ve had some line-up changes, particularly seeing 20 year member, Dallas Toler-Wade, exit the band. Losing such an integral part of the band had many fans wondering what main man Karl Sanders, and longtime drummer (and songwriter) George Kollias, would come up with next.
With the album being this high up on my list, you can probably infer that this album kicks some serious ass. I’m going out on a limb and saying that I think Sanders and his new recruits (with Kollias) has made the album of the band’s career. Brutal, yet catchy. Complex, yet digestible. Add the well thought out lyrics with the liner notes Sanders adds about Egyptian lore and history to provide insight on the what drove the songwriting and inspiration, and you have an amazing package you’ll revisit numerous times. If you’re a fan of extreme metal, this is one to get.
5. Korn – The Nothing (Elektra)
It’s shocking to me to have a Korn album in my top 20 of the year (especially in my top 5). While never giving up on the band, I just had not felt the same way about them after Untouchables. While I bought and listened to everything after that album, nothing resonated with me like it used to. This album dropped and I bought it without hearing a tune (like usual) and it blew me away. I must have listened to this album about 10 times in a row before I moved on to listen to more new stuff that arrived. Maybe it’s due to the band writing some of their darkest and angriest stuff in a long time, fueled by Jonathan Davis’ lyrics about losing his wife, but this album just sucked me in with its angst, but also gave me something to reflect upon in my own life. Every song has a purpose and there is absolutely no filler on this album.
On a side note. after really getting into this album, I decided to listen to their last three albums again. Instead of going into them with my “meh, it’s Korn and they’re doing what they do” attitude I had when I bought them, I went back with more of an open mind. I found them to actually be better than I had judged them to be initially (and that also goes for their Untitled album, which was the one I thought was their worst of all time).
4. Rival Sons – Feral Roots (Atlantic)
I’ve been on the Rival Sons bandwagon since Pressure and Time and their jump to a major has really pushed up their exposure in the mainstream rock world. It’s well deserved because I think these guys are one of the best rock bands that have arrived over the last decade.
When Feral Roots arrived in January, I posted somewhere (maybe my Instagram page) that this was probably going to be on my year end list. It is that good. After being bit disappointed in the less engaging (and short) Hollow Bones album, the guys in the band really stepped up their songwriting and variety on this one. The production isn’t anything to scoff at either. It makes the band sound like their about to conquer arenas. If you love rock and hate the commercial crap on the radio, make sure to buy this. It’s a front to backer and will have your singing along in no time.
3. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas (Metal Blade)
I think Cattle Decapitation is the best death metal band on the planet right now with vocalist, Travis Ryan, taking top honours as the best and most diverse metal front men. This band is on a hot streak with what I consider the third in a trilogy that started with one of my favourite death metal albums of all time, Monolith of Inhumanity.
Never a band to rest on their laurels, Cattle Decapitation attacks just as hard, fast, and vicious as ever, but still tries to blend more genres of metal and experiment with different musical patterns and vocal deliveries. This is not Monolith of Inhumanity or The Anthropocene Extinction part two. It’s an album that showcases a band who wants to challenge themselves and their listeners with musical content and insightful lyrics. You want probably the best death metal album of the year? Here it is.
Note: I haven’t had the chance, as I received it close to the end of the year, but I picked up the box set for this album and I’ll feature it soon on my site and channel. I just haven’t had the time to do a video with my house always being on the go and a week of my whole family being ill after the holidays. Stay tuned!
2. Kane Roberts – The New Normal (Frontiers Music SRL)
I kid you not. This is the album I’ve probably listened to the most in 2019. I have one of Robert’s older releases, Saints and Sinners, in my collection and really dig it. I was more familiar with his work when he was with Alice Cooper (two of my fave Cooper albums: Constrictor and Raise Your Fist and Yell) and bought that solo album of his because of it.
I can’t even remember how I came across that Kane Roberts was releasing a new album. I think it was through a social media channel of Alice Cooper’s where he was letting people know he was doing guest vocals on one of the tracks on this album, “Beginning of the End.” I checked out the promo video (also featuring Arch Enemy vocalist, Alissa White-Gluz) and that was it. I was hooked. The song was so damn catchy and heavy. Add in some pop-oriented song structures and boom, you have magic.
Once the CD arrived, I found all the songs to be so well written, recorded, produced, and structured. Robert’s vocal diversity is great and his performance on this album is stellar. There are so many songs on here that could be on rock radio if it wasn’t being told what to play by corporations. I’m hoping one day down the line we’ll get a vinyl release of this album, but I guess that all depends on sales. If you have not listened to this, don’t just stream it; spend $15 or so and buy the damn thing. I love it.
1. Devin Townsend – Empath (Inside Out Music)
This album is an experience. It’s why it got number one even if I haven’t listened to it more times than my number two pick. Devin Townsend is a musical genius and an album release by him is an event, one that is always highly anticipated at that.
I was shocked to read that Townsend had let everyone from the Devin Townsend Project “go” so he could focus on something new. He had a mission and needed to start fresh again. I was a bit scared because everything he had done with the DTP since Addicted has been gold. I was wondering if he would be able to capture everything that made those albums so excellent if he was starting from scratch again. Thankfully, and with you seeing this at number one on my list, he did. I guess I shouldn’t have even had doubts considering the work he produced even before anything with the DTP band.
If you’ve followed Townsend’s career, you know he’s a bit all over the musical map. He’s basically taken everything from every album, put it in a blender, and came up with this album. That’s not saying the songs are all over the place (well, ok, “Genesis” is in a good way), but the songs are coherent and take you for a thought-provoking ride. Simply put, this album is untouchable and one of the pinnacles of his amazing career. Sit down, open the booklet, and enjoy it.
Make sure you pick up the digipak version that features a second CD of “demos.” Like in the past these “demos” are mostly finished songs that could have easily ended up the album (or another album) but he just didn’t think they fit the overall aesthetic is was going for with the album as a whole. There are lots of great songs on the second disc and I hope they get a vinyl release on their own. Expect a 5.1 surround sound version of this album to be released this year! I know I’ll be double dipping to experience it in that format.
That’s it for 2019. This was a hard list to nail down (well, at least from 15-20) due to so many great releases. Just because an album didn’t make this list doesn’t mean it’s not good. 2019 saw pretty good releases (that I bought) from: Full of Hell, Slipknot, Rotting Christ, Opprobrium, Vlitmas, , Hollywood Vampires, Tomb Mold, Abbath, Black Futures, Darkthrone, Band of Skulls, In Flames, Death Angel, Children of Bodom, Blut Aus Nord, Baroness, Tool, Silvertomb, Blood Incantation, Opeth, Cradle of Filth (well, it’s Cruelty and the Beast but remixed and remastered), and more I probably missed.
As mentioned, check out my Instagram to see albums I buy and post, including box sets I scored this year, soundtracks from Waxwork Records, and various Video Game music soundtracks from labels such as 2D Ninja and Laced Records.