We’re almost two weeks away from bringing in a new year. And as 2010 gets closer to ending, every online blog and magazine takes part in a beloved tradition: “favorite albums of the year” lists. Hell, we’ll admit that even though it’s been overdone, they’re also fun to compile and read.
We’ll be posting different lists from various people over the next few days, but Bram and Zach decided to use this week’s Headbangers’ Brawl to honor this tradition and reveal their top ten favorite metal/hard rock albums of 2010. Stay tuned for tomorrow when we list the top tens of our contributors, and in the meantime, take a look at the artwork for The Final Frontier, which was the only album that we both had in common.
Keep in mind that these are in no particular order, and if you asked me a day ago or two hours from now, there could be four or five changes…
Deftones, Diamond Eyes (Reprise)
This band had no business putting out such a good album. After two thoroughly mediocre outings, the incapacitation of their bass player through a nasty car accident, and the scrapping of Eros, the album they’d been working on, nobody expected much. But the hastily-recorded album is as much a tribute to Cheng as it is a vital piece of their work, and it wins the “Alice In Chains” award for defying the odds to put out a great album.
Coliseum, House With A Curse (Temporary Residence)
This trio was best-known as a punk/hardcore band when they were on Relapse, but by signing to Temporary Residence, they kept the heavy, but embraced their Amphetamine Reptile-inspired indie noise roots. The end result is one of the most different sounding heavy releases of the year, and an automatic inclusion in my top ten. It’s like Helmet and the Jesus Lizard birthed an ugly/beautiful child.
Kylesa, Spiral Shadow (Season of Mist)
I’ll admit it – I really never “got” Kylesa until this album. The two drummers, the boy-girl dynamic, and southern riffs sounded good on paper, but I was usually left cold after listening. I’m not sure if I came around, or the band just made the best album of their career, but this album’s gorgeous and heavy at the same time, a headphones record for indie kids, metalheads, and lovers of guitar tones everywhere.
The Sword, Warp Riders (Kemado)
The Sword’s debut album, Age of Winters, was a flawless slab of stoner rock. Gods of the Earth was ok, but on this one, they’ve made a ’70s guitar rock album, mixing Bob Seger and ZZ Top in with their Sabbath sludge. Bonus points for the Asteroids-inspired album art.
High on Fire, Snakes for the Divine (eOne Entertainment)
I’ve always liked High on Fire, but this album made me love them. Everything about it is bigger from the riffs and song lengths, to Matt Pike’s ‘I gargle on broken glass dipped in whiskey’ singing voice.
Agalloch, Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
It took black/folk metal band Agalloch four years to record a proper follow-up to the epic Ashes Against the Grain. The wait was worth it. It’s a little stylistically different than its predecessor, but it’s no less epic.
Nachtmystium, Addicts: Black Meddle, Volume 2 (Century Media)
I like diversity in an album, and Nachtmystium continue to play with the conventions of black metal on their follow-up to Assassins. While I don’t think it’s as groundbreaking as their last album, I didn’t expect it to be. What I also didn’t expect is a dance song. Nachtmystium is unpredictable, but that’s something that’ll keep me following them.
Iron Maiden, The Final Frontier (uME)
This isn’t on here just because it’s the band’s best album in a decade, because that’s faint praise. But seeing them play a show that was full of songs from the last decade and still having the audience sing along to every word showed that this band still matters. Like, a lot. And with them being the first real metal band (read, not played on the radio) that I got into, it means something coming from me.
The Ocean, Anthropocentric/Heliocentric (Metal Blade)
I’m cheating by combining these two releases, but they both came out in 2010. I love me some prog, and The Ocean’s blend of progressive rock, technical metal, melody and sprawl sucked me in on 2007’s Precambrian. The collective continue here with two albums, one released in April and one just last month. The new one’s supposed to be heavier, but I love them both and don’t see too much of a difference between them (ok, maybe a little more piano on Heliocentric).
Killing Joke, Absolute Dissent (Spinefarm)
This band’s been around as long as Iron Maiden. I guess I love me some geezer rock. But KJ’s sound encompasses more new wave and punk into their sound than Maiden. This is also a diverse record, with reggae, songs you can tell Fear Factory borrowed their sound liberally from, and like Nachtmystium, a dance song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Muse album. And the touching tribute to the former bassist, Paul Raven, is chilling.
Avenged Sevenfold, Nightmare Warner Bros.)
I might be a bit biased since I am a huge A7X fan, but this is probably my favorite album of the year. It features a great combination of the aggression of City Of Evil and the groove of the self-titled release. It may not win over the haters, but Nightmare is definitely an album that will please fans and honor the memory of The Rev.
Rob Zombie, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 (Loud and Proud/Roadrunner)
Songs like “Sick Bubblegum,” “Jesus Frankenstein,” and “Mars Needs Women” are solid Zombie tunes, and even possess some of the heavy elements of White Zombie. This album in general has more of a band essence to it than Zombie’s previous solo work, thanks partly to John 5. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, but still remains a solid hard rock/metal album.
Death Angel, Relentless Retribution (Nuclear Blast) In my mind, this is the most underrated metal album of the year 2010. The San Fran thrash legends create aggressive yet melodic anthems that prove why the band deserves more recognition, or at least as much as their thrash peers. It’s an album with songs that will please both old-school fans of thrash as well as fans of today’s scene. If I may be so daring to suggest, listen to “I Chose The Sky” ASAP!!
Iron Maiden, The Final Frontier (uME)
I’ll keep this short, cause I know it’ll just turn into a discussion about Maiden’s awesomeness. I personally was very disappointed by 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death. But The Final Frontier is proof that Iron Maiden still has what it takes to kick major ass (with new music at least, since we still knew that they can still kick ass live).
The Damned Things, Ironiclast (Mercury/IDJ)
I have to admit that when I first heard “We’ve Got A Situation Here,” I wasn’t all that impressed. Then I heard songs like “Friday Night (Going Down In Flames)” and “Little Darling” and was blown away. Keith Buckley’s vocals, which border Dave Grohl territory with more of a Southern flare, is in my mind the key component to each song’s catchiness, while the members from Anthrax and Fall Out Boy’s riffs are the final elements to making their debut arguably the most fun hard rock record of the year.
Ozzy Osbourne, Scream (Epic)
To put it simply, Scream is unarguably Ozzy’s best record in a long time, partly due to the fresh air brought in by Gus G. and Tommy Clufetos and partly because the songs simply awesome.
Black Label Society, Order Of The Black (eOne Entertainment)
A solid album from Mr. Zakk Wylde and arguably their best album in a long time. For a while, I began to take new music from BLS for granted, since Wylde and crew seemed to put out at least one new album a year. However, it’s been four years since 2006’s disappointing Shot To Hell, and hearing Order Of The Black (which features the band’s strongest material since arguably Mafia) reminded me why I was a fan of the group in the first place. Straight to the point, tough guy metal riffs and Wylde’s sick solos; what’s not to like?
The Murderdolls, Women And Children Last (Roadrunner)
The Murderdolls is being mentioned in a “best album” list?! I know, I’m somewhat shocked that I’m doing this as well, but much to my surprise, it’s actually pretty good. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting anything great from the sophomore album of Joey Jordison and Wednesday 13’s side-group. But the album features some surprisingly catchy and heavy songs that are simply hard not to enjoy.
Fear Factory, Mechanize (Candlelight)
It’s a heavy, aggressive album that deems Dino and Burton worthy of continuing on as Fear Factory. Possibly the best come-back record of the year.
Coheed & Cambria, Year Of The Black Rainbow (Columbia)
Ok, so this isn’t exactly a metal release, but tracks like “The Broken” prove that Coheed can be heavy, and songs like “When Skeletons Live” simply rock.
Honorable mention- Powerglove, Saturday Morning Apocalypse (eOne Entertainment)
They play the themes to f’n Batman and The Flinestones. ‘Nough said!