I think this is the easiest year-end list I’ve ever had to put together. I’m sure there’s plenty of music I’ve missed as always, but I’m also sure that each of these albums earned their place on this list.
10) Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore)
Bell Witch’s single-track album runs for nearly an hour and a half. I was skeptical, but this album really puts the funeral in funeral doom metal. It is a slow, haunting journey, a heavy sonic slab that I found to be almost meditative during my initial listen. Death is certainly not a new concept in the world of heavy metal, but few efforts have been as crushing or as spiritual as Mirror Reaper.
Suggested Track: “Mirror Reaper” (It’s the only one)
9) Converge, The Dusk In Us (Epitaph)
A few seconds into “A Single Tear” is all I needed to hear to know the five-year wait between albums was well worth it. Converge’s ninth album proves that the band is as fierce as ever and that The Dusk In Us is another winner in their already venerable discography. “Under Duress” is one of the heaviest songs this year and alone makes this album worth it.
Suggested Track: “Under Duress”
8) Anathema, The Optimist (Kscope)
I tried once or twice to get into Anathema, but it didn’t seem to stick. Then I found myself enraptured with The Optimist for weeks after its release. It’s a lot more on the prog rock side than metal side, but between the emotional drive of “Endless Ways” and the slow build of “Springfield” there was no way this album wasn’t going to earn a spot on this list.
Suggested Track: “Springfield”
7) Leprous, Malina (InsideOut)
2015’s The Congregation was a dark horse winner for me two years ago, and I’m happy to see Leprous continuing their streak on Malina. Einar Solberg’s vocals are still an instrument in their own right as demonstrated in the final track “The Last Milestone.” “Illuminate” is where the album shines brightest (no pun intended, really) for me as it showcases the band’s many talents from its synth driven sound to their impeccable instrumentation.
Suggested Track: “Illuminate”
6) Ne Oblvisicaris, Urn (Season of Mist)
I’ve enjoyed Ne Obliviscaris’ two previous albums, but neither of them seized me with such immediacy as Urn did. It’s the band’s shortest album yet, and feels tighter and more cohesive as a result. Frontman Tim Brown’s violin still gives the band’s sound that extra classical edge and the 12 minute centerpiece “Eyrie” is simply one of if not the best prog metal track of the year.
Suggested Track: “Eyrie”