4) High on Fire, De Vermis Mysteriis (eOne Entertainment)
Whenever a High on Fire album comes out, you know what you’re going to get. Like a modern version of Motorhead, they’re a power trio in every sense of the word, with iron-lunged frontman Matt Pike. Yet amidst new staples like “Bloody Knuckles” and “Fertile Green” is the slow and sludgy “Madness of an Architect,” which is about as evil as anything the band’s ever written.
3) Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)
It’s hard to deny that Converge have been on a tear for the last decade plus. From 2001’s Jane Doe on, the band reliably put out albums that advance their status as standard-bearers for hardcore and metal. More back to basics than 2009’s Axe to Fall, there isn’t a wasted minute in the album’s compact 38-minute running time. It’s almost boring to nominate Converge, since they’re pretty much an automatic entry whenever they put something out.
2) Royal Thunder, CVI (Relapse)
It’s hard to call this a metal album, but it’s certainly one of the best hard rock records that was released this year. Delivering on the potential that their EP promised, this Savannah quartet released a sultry, slow-burning album, with singer Mlny Parsonz’ enchanting voice at the forefront. It’s pretty easy to get lost in a song like the 10-minute “Blue.”