10. Esben And The Witch ‘A New Nature’
The least “metal” of all the releases on this list, but no less deserving of a place. This is vastly different to anything the three piece have previously released, so A New Nature is an apt title. Given the usual gothy dreampop sound of their previous material, this album is much darker and, in a live setting, starkly heavier with doom inclinations. Dig Your Fingers In and No Dog, while being catchy as heck, are creepy and almost ritualistic sounding. This is a record that I think most would struggle to dislike.
9. Serpent Venom ‘Of Things Seen and Unseen’
I’ve been following these guys since they first started and they’re one of the few newer acts around that can pull of traditional sounding doom without it sounding rubbish and dated. I fell in love with Let Them Starve at first listen and the fact that Serpent Venom are always so good live just increases my love of this record.
8. Dysteria ‘Fuck the Future’
Anti-humanity hardcore. What’s not to love, right? I adore that Dysteria are one of few London bands that actually deal with very real, very relevant issues, covering everything from gender inequality and politics to the environment. The message is, of course, spewed forth as a barrage of violent vitriol by vocalist Jill Mikkelson and this makes it all the more worthwhile.
7. Conan ‘Blood Eagle’
Fucking hell, Horns For Teeth, what an absolute banger of a tune. Conan are louder, heavier, slower and tuned lower than you will ever be. Managing line up changes while constantly touring but still managing to put out material of a consistent quality is nothing short of admirable and these dudes are a prime example of how the UK are absolutely killing it in music at the moment. I look forward to the follow up.
6. Indian ‘From All Purity’
There were a ton of bands I wanted on this list; Coffinworm, Primitive Man, etc. But there isn’t room and I think Indian are the perfect embodiment of all that’s great about these bands. The perfect blend of truly terrifying guttural hardcore and dirty as heck sludge all tied up in a hateful ribbon. Given the opening track is titled Rape, this record is as shocking as it is gritty and one of the things I love about Indian is how unapologetically bleak they are.
5. Thou ‘Heathen’
Wow, there just aren’t enough words within the English language to describe how good ‘Heathen’ is. Thou are a band I’ve always loved and listened to, but I don’t think I ever truly understood how great they were until they put out this album. Each song is completely self-explanatory in my reasons for loving them – it sounds like nothing else I’ve heard all year. Props for the song titles too – ‘Take Off Your Skin and Dance in Your Bones’ is a particular favourite of mine.
4. EyeHateGod ‘EyeHateGod’
Another band that kept us all waiting for more than a decade, but Jesus Christ, what a triumphant return! Agitation! Propaganda!, Nobody Told Me and Worthless Rescue are three of my favourite songs from this year and, considering they’re all from the same album, this goes leagues in explaining how good this album truly is. It’s hateful, it’s agonised and one of Mike Williams’ best performances. It’s also the last chance we’ll ever get to hear Joey LaCaze drum. RIP.
3. Godflesh ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’
13 years is a hell of a long time to wait for an album, but if you’re a fan of Godflesh you’ll understand that the wait is totally worth it. Decline And Fall was a nice taste of what to expect, but nothing could prepare for how devastatingly heavy this record would actually be. Opening track New Dark Ages takes absolutely no prisoners and re-affirms for me why Godlfesh are one of my favourite bands. I’ve always puzzled at people who scoff at bands for using drum machines, especially when there are bands like Godflesh knocking about. More fool them, however, as A World Lit Only By Fire is incredible.
2. Pallbearer ‘Foundations Of Burden’
Up until I first listened to Pallbearer, I thought the only band that could thrust me into the pits of despair and misery with music alone were Warning. Brett Campbell’s voice plucks at the heartstrings like no other and the pained guitar squeals are genuinely harrowing. Despite all this, Foundations Of Burden still manages to be one of the most beautifully written albums not just released this year but ever. It also possesses that magical quality of universal appeal, meaning ennui for the whole family and not just the token metalhead. I think I might even prefer this to Sorrow And Extinction and I didn’t think that was possible.
1. Yob ‘Clearing The Path To Ascend’
Oh my god, this album. Does it really need any introductions? After a full year of glowing reviews and everyone and their grandmother’s cat raving about it, you’d have to live in an alternate universe not to have heard Clearing The Path To Ascend. I awaited the release of this in anxious anticipation; I love Yob, Mike Scheidt can do no wrong in my eyes, however, previous release Atma was a bit….well, ‘meh’ really. This grabbed me on first listen though, and the emotions this record invokes within me over just four tracks is mindblowing. From the crude “ough” facial expression incited by the crushing riffs (Nothing To Win) to the blubbering mess I become on the slower paced more emotive tracks (Marrow), this album has everything and, in my eyes, is perfection.
Scribed by: Angela Davey