Hey everyone! I’m new-ish contributor to Metal-Injection, and some of you may have seen some of my Tech-Death Tuesday weekly posts the last few months. Or you might have caught some of the song premieres and album streams I’ve done since starting here as well. I’m hoping to continue bringing fresh new music to your attention all next year. For now, here are my Top 20 favorite records of the year. A few you will know, but hopefully you’ll find something new you were entirely unaware existed! I’m going to keep the verbiage accompanying most of the bands listed to a bare minimum as its a very busy time of year for me. Just trust me that each record is on here for a damn good reason. Also I’m not used to doing numbered year end list so the placement of who is in which slot is fairly interchangeable to me. Yet something I agonized over! Without further ado…
20. The Crinn-Shadowbreather
Mathcore titans The Crinn have been around for awhile and sharpening their schizophrenic skill with each release. Shadowbreather stands as their strongest release yet.
19. Zillah-Serpentine Halos
Scottland based unorthodox death metal unit Zillah return with their first release since 2005. Serpentine Halos is a brilliant dissonant focused technical death metal record unlike anything else I’ve heard this year.
18. Maruta- Remain Dystopian
With Remain Dystopian, Maruta have yet again released a technical leaning deathgrind record that stands head and shoulders above their peers.
17. Maladie- Still
Maladie are a 9 man super-group from Europe and Still is their second full-length. Still consists of a complex blend of black metal, death metal, and technical death metal. The band utilizes a dense three guitar line-up and a mix of growls, screams, and ethereal singing. With saxophone, piano, and cello enhancing most of the songs with an extra layer of rich melodies. Ambitious and eclectic, Still is an incrediblely epic journey of a record well worth investing time in.
16. Oblivonized- Life Is A Struggle, Give Up
Oblivionized have been kicking around for awhile now, and finally got it together to release something more substantial than a split or EP with their first full length Life is A Struggle, Give Up. Life is a struggle, give up, is a caustic hellhole comprised of mathcore, grind, and death metal forming a singular weapon of death. Jam it if your down with ugly, oppressive, and chaotic music.
15. Repulsive Dissection- Church Of The Five Precious Wounds
Hands down one of the greatest technical brutal death metal records I’ve ever heard. Church Of The Five Precious Wounds is deliciously disgusting and delightfully insane.
14. Pomegranate Tiger-Boundless
If you like instrumental metal like Scale The Summit and Animals As Leaders, you simply have to check out Boundless. It’s definitely top-tier stuff that continues to blow me away with each listen.
Technical grindcore with a blackened and deathly touch featuring grindcore legends such as Erik Burke (Sulaco, ex-Brutal Truth, Kalibas, etc) and Dan Lilker (ex- Brutal Truth./etc) Releases such as this are hard to find in grindcore, Blurring are one of only a few bands taking grind to such creative heights. I’ve had my eye on these guys for a few years and first wrote about them last year over at nocleansinging.com. The riffing on Blurring is unreal, the drumming is fierce, and the vocals are fucking sinister. This is murder music. As pitch black as tar, and twice as suffocating.
12. Antlion- The Prescient
The Prescient came out of nowhere as I’d never heard of Antlion before but I’m certainly a fan now. It’s a technical death metal record, but a very diverse and prog oriented one that also grooves. Definitely a band to keep on eye on for the future.
11. Irreversible Mechanism-Infinite Fields
Yet another group who came out of virtually nowhere that continues to get played frequently by me. Infinite Fields owes a massive debt to Obscura, The Faceless, and Theory In Practice, but the songwriting and playing is so damn phenomenal I really don’t care if it’s slightly derivative in an obvious way. Orchestral and black metal elements find their way into the music of the songs as well.
10. Ad Nauseam-Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est
Do you like experimental and skronky dissonant focused death metal bands? If so, this is your new favorite record. You can thank me later. One of the most criminally underrated and overlooked records of the year.
9. Alkaloid- The Malkuth Grimoire
While The Malkuth Grimoire didn’t turn out to be the record I expected, it still stands as an impressive forward-thinking progressive death metal record that boggles my mind.
8. Okazaki Fragments- Abandoned
If deathgrind mixed with a Gorguts feel and style to it sounds interesting to you, then check out Abandoned. The band broke up after it was released, but it’s one hell of a swansong that for me at least, will stand the test of time.
7. Dendritic Arbor-Romantic Love
Dendritic Arbor released the most interesting mix between black metal and grind I’ve heard to date on Romantic Love among bands crossbreeding both styles together. Don’t sleep on this one.
6. Cerebric Turmoil- Neural Net Meltdown
Like Wormed? Like Psyopus? Like Cephalic Carnage. What if I told you that this really weird band called Cerebric Turmoil sounds like all 3 of those bands blended into one vicious body? Neural Net Meltdown is bat-shit insanity that’s not for the faint of heart.
5. Rivers Of Nihil-Monarchy
Rivers Of Nihil deserve every ounce of attention they’ve been receiving the last few years. Monarchy is a massive achievement for Rivers Of Nihil, and also quite the left turn evolution soundwise from their last record that I didn’t see coming.
4. Hate Eternal- Infernus
You know Hate Eternal, I know Hate Eternal. The real question is, is this a Hate Eternal record worth investing time in? The answer is a clear and resounding yes. Infernus is certainly the best sounding Hate Eternal record to date, as odd production issues have always annoyed me on many of their records.. It’s also one hell of a record and worth followup to Phoenix Amongst The Ashes, which I would argue is the best Hate Eternal record from start to finish. I didn’t expect Hate Eternal to be able to create a follow up that matches up to that, but Infernus surprised me and certainly does.
3. Gorod- A Maze Of Recycled Creeds
A Maze Of Recycled Creeds is yet another jaw-dropping release from Gorod. But at this point, it’s almost a given that what they release is going to be pure technical death metal ecstasy. All hail the kings of tech-death.
2. Between The Buried And Me- Coma Ecliptic
I’ve always been a big fan of Between The Buried And Me, but I can admit to being less than blow away by some of their past few records. Parallax II did a lot to put them back on track and moving in a new direction. Coma Ecliptic is the logical successor to where Parallax II went, but with a smoother prog-rock and larger experimental focus to it. This record sees the group trying a lot of new things and seems to my ears to be the biggest shift in their sound for some time now. Which is what I’ve been wanting them to do. If you passed this one over expecting something very similar to past efforts, you’d be mistaken. Give it a shot.
1. Imperial Triumphant- Abyssal Gods
Imperial Triumphant have grown in strength and sickness with each release. And Abyssal Gods continues their rabid evolution as one of the most disturbing and memorable black metal bands around. Abyssal Gods is a modern black metal classic that fans of Deathspell Omega and classical music such as Penderecki will go nuts over. I’m really not sure why this record isn’t popping up on more year end lists. I guess everyone is just fucking up. Don’t be one of those people. Jam this if you somehow missed it this year. You won’t regret it.