4. Witchcraft – Legend (Nuclear Blast)
I didn’t think it was possible for this band to get any better…I also honestly didn’t think I would ever hear another peep out of this band thanks to a ridiculously long time between albums. It didn’t help that we would keep getting word that a new album was forthcoming only to be disappointed. Except every single second was worth the wait because this album is the best thing they’ve done to date. The addition of a second guitar player was a stroke of genius as their sound on this album s fuller, richer and downright heavier. But don’t let the idea of this album being their heaviest to date sway you from thinking this band changed direction. Like every Witchcraft album before it, this album is the best thing the 1970’s never released. In other words I hope you are wearing bell bottoms and smoking copious amounts of herb when listening. You might wake up in a different decade.
3. Horseback – Half Blood (Relapse)
Take some of the most expansive, dark and psychedelic doom/drone you’ll ever hear and then throw some sick, black metal styled vocals over the top of it and you’ve got the majesty of Horseback. Jenks Miller writes some of the most captivating and intriguing music in all of the metal world. It’s kraut rock on the worst freaking acid trip you could possibly imagine. There is a mesmerizing quality to this band and this album. I’d tell you it’s meditative but I’d fear for what negative expanse this album would lead you to if you attempted it. From the killer riffs to the underlying organ to the bizarre aural soundscapes this album delivers the goods.
2. Royal Thunder – CVI (Relapse)
Man, it was a good year for Relapse, wasn’t it? The best release from a year of stellar releases for the label was from Georgia’s Royal Thunder. Every review I’ve ever read about this band talks about their Southern roots and how that has affected them musically. But if you come in thinking this is just another Southern sludge album you are going to be disappointed…or pleasantly surprised. This album does groove and move with a Southern flair for sure and the soulfulness of vocalist Mlny Parsonz is unparalleled. But they should not be defined by their geographic location. I wrote once about how I witnessed a blue jay demolishing another bird in a friend’s backyard over the summer. (A seriously brutal assault where the blue jay had pinned the other bird, systematically ripped every feather off its wings and then ripped its throat out – all in the matter of minutes.) This album reminds me of that act of nature I witnessed. It is equal parts majestic, beautiful, unsettling and transfixing. This album deserves all the attention you can give it.
1. Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay (Neurot Recordings)
Was there really any question? Any year in which Neurosis puts out an album is a year you are going to see them at the top of my lists. Legends, visionaries, trend-setters, Neurosis have never once put out an album that was anything short of stellar. When placed amongst the pantheon of Neurosis albums, Honor Found In Decay is most closely related to the previous album, Given To The Rising. But honestly every Neurosis album is its own experience, it’s own pathway to aural glory that the band has tread for you. Neurosis has no peers in my book and this album only helps to cement their legacy as one of the most important bands in metal history. Period.
Graveyard – Lights Out
Ides of Gemini – Constantinople
Marduk – Serpent Sermon
Pilgrim – Misery Wizard
Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
Testament – Dark Roots of Earth