Best of 2019: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Top 20 Studio Albums of 2019

1. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Death Atlas is every bit as good as the hype surrounding it suggests.  Heavy doesn’t even been to describe the magnitude of this album; it’s an equally melodic and mercilessly brutal collection of tunes that’ll raise the social consciousness of anyone within earshot.  At a time when the world is literally on fire, Cattle Decap have delivered the perfect soundtrack while once again raising the bar for death metal bands everywhere.

2. Batushka – Панихида

One of the last bands you’d ever imagine to become embroiled in the stereotypical rock star BS, Poland’s Batushka unfortunately fell victim to just such a fate in 2019, resulting in 2 versions of the band vying for ownership of the name.  One of those versions released a big album that was met with shrugs and canceled tours, while primary songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Krzysztof Drabikowski quietly released this masterpiece of liturgical black metal 100% on his own through Bandcamp.  Roughly translated as “Requiem”, Панихида is an exceptional album that seethes with the kind of disciplined vitriol that’s truly fitting of the Batushka legacy.

3. Idle Hands – Mana

What started out as a guilty pleasure for me ended up as a full blown obsession.  Sounding almost like a collaboration between Moonspell and Sisters of Mercy, Mana is a flawless spectacle of traditional metal, goth flavors, and the occasional dragon.

4. Nocturnus AD – Paradox

Revenge is a dish best served several decades cold.  After years of legal drama, Mike Browning has finally reclaimed the Nocturnus name and gifted us with Paradox.  A sequel to The Key 30 years in the making, Paradox is a dizzying platter of hyper technical sci-fi death metal about deity killing robots and mad scientists.   Doesn’t get much better than that.

5. Darkthrone – Old Star

While I didn’t dig Old Star as much as I did Arctic Thunder, Darkthrone never ceases to impress.  The cult is still very much alive.

6. Sacred Reich – Awakening

7. Saint Vitus – Saint Vitus

8. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites

9. Dead Witches – The Final Exorcism

10. Pathology – Reborn to Kill

11. Dead to A Dying World – Elegy

12. Candlemass – The Door to Doom

13. Devourment – Obscene Majesty

14. Queensryche – The Verdict

15. Exhumed – Horror

16. Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion

17. 1349 – The Infernal Pathway

18. Memoriam – Requiem for Mankind

19. Mayhem – Daemon

20. Exhorder – Mourn the Southern Skies

Best Metal DVD/Blu-Ray: King Diamond – Songs for the Dead Live

Best EP: Cianide – Unhumanized

Best Live Album: Slayer – The Repentless Killogy

Best New Band: Idle Hands

Best Concert: King Diamond, North American Tour 2019

Disappointments of 2019:

  1. Lords of Chaos – I had minimal expectations for this movie to be any good, but sweet merciful Jeebus, this piece of crap makes that stupid Queen movie look like the Godfather.  The documentary “Pure F@#king Mayhem” is free to watch on YouTube, features the folks that were actually present for these events, and tells the same story 1,000 times better.
  2. Pat O’Brien – Get better man, we’re all pulling for you.
  3. The ever increasing trend of bands getting robbed on tour.  Being a touring musician is hard enough already as it is, nobody’s doing it for the paycheck.  But it seems like there a was a story every week about somebody’s equipment, merch, or even the entire van disappearing overnight.  It’s soul crushing to hear these stories.
  4. The continued rising cost of concert ticket prices – Markups and fees are making it tougher each year to support live music.  I hate having to play “how bad do I want to see them” whenever a band I like rolls through town.  The increased numbers of package tours and festivals makes it a little more efficient, but it still feels I need to sell a kidney for GA tix.
  5. The absolutely baffling amount of coverage and blind adulation surrounding Tool and Slipknot.  I’m over it.

Hopes for 2020:

  1. King Diamond actually releases The Institute.  “Masquerade of Madness” is a phenomenal teaser and the theater tour this year was a dream come true. If this is the only album that comes out in 2020, I’m good with that.  Can I press my luck for a stateside Mercyful Fate appearance?
  2. Ozzy’s Ordinary Man album is his last and is age appropriate.  He’s an old, old man in the twilight of his career, and I’d rather hear more stuff like “Under the Graveyard” and the Elton John tune than him trying to sound scary for the sake of an image.  No longer the Prince of Darkness, he’s more the Grandfather of Darkness – and that’s okay, there’s nothing left to prove.  We love you Oz, hope to see you on tour this summer.
  3. The lineup for MDF 2020 is absolutely insane.  Just getting to see Dismember is worth returning to Charm City, but MDF has managed to once again stacked the deck with 4 days of must see bands.
  4. After sitting out Psycho Las Vegas in 2019 and missing out on what turned into a fantastic lineup, I’m blindly heading back to Vegas this year.  Early announcements have been okay, but I’m hoping that the final announcements live up to last year’s caliber.
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