Top 20 of 2009
1. Katatonia – NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY
In a year full of stellar releases, having to wait until almost the end of 2009 for this album made it that much more stunning. One of the few albums from 2009 that was consistently strong from start to finish, NIGHT IS THE NEW DAY is the kind of genre defining album that only Katatonia could make. It edged out Heaven & Hell for my number 1 spot – that should tell you how good this album is.
2. Heaven & Hell – THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
The fact that this album even happened still blows my mind. There’s something special that happens when this lineup of Sabbath gets together, and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is no exception. Every time I think that I’ve had enough of this album, I give it another spin and it pulls me back in again. Heavy, powerful, magical – this is what great metal is all about. Ozzy who?
3. Alice in Chains – BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE
4. Obscura – COSMOGENESIS
5. Candlemass – DEATH MAGIC DOOM
6. God Dethroned – PASSIONDALE
7. Dark Moor – AUTUMNAL
8. Suffocation – BLOOD OATH
9. Ex Deo – ROMULUS
10. Kreator – HORDES OF CHAOS
11. Augury – FRAGMENTARY EVIDENCE
12. Cauldron – CHAINED TO THE NITE
13. Wino – PUNCTUATED EQUILIBRIUM
14. Thin Lizzy – STILL DANGEROUS
15. Zoroaster – VOICE OF SATURN
16. Wolves in the Throne Room – BLACK CASCADE
17. Soulfallen – GRAVE NEW WORLD
18. Killswitch Engage – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
19. Shrinebuilder – SHRINEBUILDER
20. Black Pyramid – BLACK PYRAMID
Best New Band
This Canadian three piece understands that it’s okay for metal to be fun. Delivering stripped down, 80’s influenced melodic proto-thrash with punchy riffs and catchy lyrics; CHAINED TO THE NITE was one of the best debuts to surface in 2009. These guys have the potential to be huge.
Iron Maiden – FLIGHT 666
Part documentary, part concert film, FLIGHT 666 gave fans a rare glimpse into what touring with one of metal’s biggest acts is really like. This film made me fall in love with Maiden all over again.
Paradise Lost – FAITH DIVIDES US-DEATH UNITES US
This one hurt me the most this year. Being a die hard PL fan since ’91, I had huge hopes for this album. Huge hopes that were unceremoniously crushed upon finally hearing the results. 2007’s IN REQUIEM showed that the band could still bring the heavy while maintaining their trademark melody. FAITH DIVIDES US brought the heavy, but forgot the melody and everything else interesting about Paradise Lost. Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings…
Discovery of 2009
Seeming to have come from out of nowhere, Germany’s Obscura released what was arguably the best death metal album of the year, COSMOGENESIS. Limited distribution kept the band’s 2006 debut, RETRIBUTION, off the metal community’s radar, but a new deal with Relapse Records fixed that problem. The band’s sophomore follow up, COSMOGENESIS was a sci-fi influenced, progressive, technical death metal masterpiece that didn’t sacrifice songwriting for the sake of shred. If you haven’t heard this album yet, what are you waiting for?
Hopes for 2010
1. A full and speedy recovery for Mr. Ronnie James Dio. MAGICA 2 & 3 are still on the horizon, as is the possibility for new Heaven & Hell material. There’s too much great music still left in you Ronnie, so get well soon and get back to work.
2. Anthrax and John Bush will quit dancing around and officially kiss and make up. Festival dates are confirmed in 2010 and supposedly JB is re-recording the vocals on WORSHIP MUSIC, yet still, Bush has not “officially” rejoined the band. Seriously guys, please make this happen for the fans.
3. The new Pestilence album will be the technical monster that RESURRECTION MACABRE wasn’t. Obscura and Augury set the bar pretty high in 2009, so Patrick Mameli needs to put up or shut up.
4. We’ll finally see those DVD collections that King Diamond has been promising us since forever.
5. There were some phenomenal tour packages in 2009. Hopefully in 2010, they won’t forget that the southeastern U.S. exists.