Erich’s Top 20 Metal Albums 2019
2019 is one of those years that will be bittersweet for many metal fans as several bands that could be considered institutions launched or completed farewell tours. Obviously, the question for some is how long these retirements will last, but with Slayer, Kiss, UFO and other calling it quits, it is indeed a sobering reminder of my own advancing age. On the bright side, Vio-lence and Mercyful Fate reformed and new music and tours are highly anticipated for both bands.
Hard to believe it has been eight years since their last album, but WINTER ETHEREAL was well worth the wait. John Arch continues to astound with his age-defying vocals, varied twists and unconventional approaches. Matheos lays down the solid foundation that allow these songs to shine and Arch to soar above it all. This is an inspired and connecting work that helped carry it to the top of my albums for 2019.
2. Bloody Hammers – The Summoning
The husband/wife team of Anders Manga and Devallia continue to release their inspired blend of doom, goth rock, and metal with no signs of slowing down or backsliding. THE SUMMONING features some of their catchiest tunes, but that does not mean there is no heft or sinister riffing, because there is.
3. Queensrÿche – The Verdict
I was fortunate to see the band open the tour in my home city of Orlando back in February. It was a mesmerizing performance and the crowd was as enthusiastic as any I have seen. The passion for the new songs was just as high as the classic material, and on THE VERDICT it is easy to see why. Everybody in the band delivers, and while I will always miss Geoff Tate, there is no questions that Todd La Torre is the right man for the job. He even played drums on this album in the absence of Scott Rockenfield.
4. Candlemass – The Door To Doom
The return of singer Johan Längqvist has clearly inspired the band, and THE DOOR TO DOOM is the best album Candlemass has put out in a decade. I went in with measured expectations and came away impressed. The inclusion of Tony Iommi on the epic “Astorolus – The Great Octopus” was long overdue and well worth the wait. Here is hoping the current lineup sticks together long enough to put out at least a few worthy follow-ups to this return to form.
5. Angel Witch – Angel of Light
Forever to be known for their classic debut, the band managed to put out two albums in the last decade. ANGEL OF LIGHT is by far the superior of the two, Heybourne and crew sounding much more energized and focused than on AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. Proof positive that good music and the NWOBHM is timeless.
6. Within Temptation– Resist
Continuing to explore and experiment while retaining their core sound, Within Temptation are among the best in a crowded field of symphonic female-fronted metal. RESIST features several guest appearances that I could have done without, and growly vocals from guys like Anders Friden. Still, this does not detract from the band’s patented ability to craft resonating and powerful songs setting them apart from their contemporaries.
7. Evergrey – The Atlantic
8. Overkill – The Wings of War
9. Týr – Hel
10. Enforcer – Zenith
11. Crazy Lixx- Forever Wild
12. Possessed -Revelations Of Oblivion
13. Sacred Reich – Awakening
14. Avantasia – Moonglow
15. Pretty Maids – Undress Your Madness
16. Devin Townsend – Empath
17. Avatarium – The Fire I Long For
18. Ray Alder – What The Water Wants
19. Hammerfall – Dominion
20. Bloodbound – Rise Of The Dragon Empire
Prong – Age Of Defiance
Best Live/DVD Releases
Cirith Ungol – I’m Alive
Queensrÿche with Fates Warning, The Plaza Orlando, February 27, 2019. First date of the tour.
Best New Discovery
Switzerland’s Burning Witches influences can be traced back to old school Warlock to the more recent Crystal Viper and Crucified Barbara. They blend old school metal with elements of speed metal and power metal to provide a highly enjoyable, no frills brand of well-crafted tunes.
Slayer Plays Last Show – We knew it was coming and I said it last year. Will it hold? Hard to say, but if so then there is no question their legacy is firmly established for all time. It will be difficult knowing there will be no new Slayer albums, but a 39-year career is nothing to sneeze at.
Blind Guardian – Legacy of The Dark Lands – I really like Blind Guardian and I admire their ambition. So, maybe this is just me. In general, I do not care for metal bands working with orchestras. I hate S&M from Metallica and this is better than that. But, it is still a major disappointment. Too long by far, but I am certain this will make some folks happy. Not one crunching distorted guitar will you find though, and to me this falls flat.
Motorhead Nominated To Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I have been to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and it is worth a visit. However, they have often neglected worthy bands for decades, so it is good to see they recognize the importance of Motorhead, despite flubbing the initial nomination by not including Phil Campbell and Mickey Dee. Fan outrage rightfully forced the Hall to correct this injustice.
Hopes for 2019
A New Album From a Re-formed Vio-Lence with Robb Flynn On Board – I love BURN MY EYES and I really like one or two other Machine Head albums. However, the most recent offering, CATHARSIS is probably the final nail in the coffin for the band. Why not reunite with Phi Demmel and the company and put out the album Vio-Lence fans deserve?
Demons & Wizards New Album – If the new single from Hansi and Jon, “Diabolic” is an indicator of what the new album will be like, we are in for a worthy and long-awaited follow-up to TOUCHED BY THE CRIMSON KING. Good thing too, hearing Hansi sing over chugging and distorted guitars after the guitar-less LEGACY OF DARK LANDS album.