01) Mastodon, Hushed & Grim (Reprise)

After an amazing four-album run to start their career, Mastodon seemed to kind of settle into a groove. Still cool, but not as mind-blowingly diverse and unique as their beginnings. Their first double-album gave me that same sense of wonderment that I had when I first heard them. A touching tribute to their former manager Nick John shows the band firing on all cylinders, and Dave Bottrill helped push them in new directions without sacrificing anything that made them what they are. 

Key Track: “Gigantium” 

Honorable mention: Gojira, Fortitude; Iron Maiden, Senjutsu 

I love Gojira and Iron Maiden, and both of their albums are good. Is it wrong that I expect greatness from bands I hold in such high esteem? Probably, but I found myself coming back to both albums a lot less than I expected to. 

Not metal, but: Idles, Crawl I’m a latecomer to Idles, but this album fucking rules. Listen to “The Wheel” and tell me it doesn’t. I’ll wait. This band is overhyped, and I completely buy it. 

Not metal at all, but: Halsey, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power 

If you’re a pop star, you can pretty much call the shots. Halsey enlisting Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to produce her latest album is a ballsy move, and it’s the most interesting and least commercial thing she’s done. If you’re a NIN fan like I am, you’ve already heard this. If you haven’t yet, it’s worth a listen or two.