Part of me feels like this album will be lost in many year-end roundups because of how early this year it was released, which is a shame. The band managed to release their third album of black metal influenced shoegaze (or shoegaze influenced black metal?), and are able to not sound stale. This album is so beautiful and emotionally heavy. Neige, you are a god.
Recommended tracks: “Beings of Light” & “Summer’s Glory”
6) Borknagar, Urd (Century Media)
For me, this album came out of nowhere. Borknagar was a band I had always heard associated with ICS Vortex and the not-so-extreme black metal pocket of Norwegian metal bands, but I was only sort of familiar with 2010’s Universal. This album is unrelentingly excellent and has since caused me to visit their catalog. Vintersorg and the returning Vortex sound phenomenal together as an epic vocal duo. Needless to say, Oystein Brun really outdid himself with this album.
Recommended tracks: “Age of Creation” & “Frostrite”
It is debatable if this album should be included on my top metal albums list, but these songs are proggy and guitar heavy enough for me to warrant the inclusion of Ascension. The latest release from these guys has a nostalgic aspect to it that harks back to the band’s first few albums, but manages to not become an album that is a band desperately trying to regain long lost fans. If The Afterman: Decension wasn’t coming out in a few months, it would be a shame that there isn’t more of this album…but there is!
Recommended tracks: “Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute” & “Mothers of Men”
This is the album that turned me into a full-on Gojira fan. Prior to L’Enfant Sauvage I respected them from a distance but didn’t go much further than that. Something about this one just kicked my ass in the right way. It is heavy in a way that I haven’t experienced, and hits in a way their older material doesn’t. It also manages to have melody and atmosphere without feeling soft of pretentious. Truly a great listening experience.
Recommended tracks: “Liquid Fire” & “The Axe”