I try to follow the rules, but, once again, another year of good music has gone by, and I was able to narrow it down to 20 instead of 10. There are a bunch of variables that make me connect to a song or artist. Whether it’s the overall vibrations the sound leaves behind in my eardrums, the emotional pain that resonates in the lyrics to one killer guitar solo, all of it factors in to my personal favorites. Here are 20 albums that I’ve connected with the most in 2019. 


20) Vitriol, To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice (Century Media)

This is the slot where I can easily get shit on with people asking why isn’t this Possessed, Nile, or even Soilwork’s new album? While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the above and it was a difficult choice to choose between all four, Vitriol surprised me the most. I honestly didn’t expect to hear such a killer album as a debut. The first artist I thought of when I first listened to this record was Hate Eternal. For a debut record, they have skyrocketed to the rankings of veteran death metal bands. Their first album has also led these Portland death metallers to tour with Nile and Hate Eternal this year. I learned a lot about the LP when I spoke to vocalist/guitarist Kyle Rasmussen, and even Nile’s Karl Sanders gave them a nod. The record is brutal, and you will enjoy it from the very first listen.

Key Track: “The Parting of a Neck”  


19) Avantasia, Moonglow (Nuclear Blast)

Towards the beginning of the year, I knew Avantasia’s Moonglow would be on my top 10 list before even listening to the record. However, when I finally heard it, I needed at least five or six spins before I understood its greatness, and to write the review. I didn’t connect with it as fast as I did with 2016’s Ghostlights. Something is missing about the album, and yet, there’s also an unspeakable perfection about it. It’s hard to explain. Perhaps it had something to do with hearing Tobias Sammet discuss it in his own words

Key Tracks: “The Raven Child,” “Ghost in the Moon,” “Maniac” 


18) TIE: Battle Beast In Black, No More Hollywood Endings/ From Hell With Love (Nuclear Blast)

Am I a horrible person for purposely putting Battle Beast and Beast In Black together as a tie? Probably. However, after Anton Kabanen’s departure from Battle Beast, he formed the mighty Beast in Black. And all I could say is: WOW. This is early Battle Beast mixed with something more. I admire Anton’s unstoppable spirit as From Hell With Love is a fantastic album. It has all the elements I love about heavy metal. I was blown away from the first listen. For Battle Beast, you could say No More Hollywood Endings marks another new chapter for the group. They aren’t afraid to showcase different styles and experimentations. They write their music together, which is different when Anton was with them. Now regardless of the good/bad term split: the split was meant to be. Unlike Beast in Black, it took me quite a few listens to get a full understanding of what Battle Beast were doing. Singer Noora Louhimo also helped me understand their different direction and the meaning behind “Endless Summer” when I spoke to her earlier this year. 

Key Track: Beast In Black – “Cry Out For A Hero,” “Repentless”// Battle Beast – “Eden,” “The Golden Horde” 


17) In Mourning, Garden of Storms (Agonia)

The promotion for In Mourning’s new album, Garden of Storms, didn’t populate nearly as much as it should have. It’s difficult to define the overall sound of these Swedish metallers as they combine progressive with death, atmosphere, and melodic. Garden of Storms takes you on this journey of musical excellence, more so than other records I’ve personally seen on year-end lists thus far. It’s compelling from the first listen. 

Key Track: “Black Storm”


16) Lingua Ignota, Caligula (Profound Lore)

As recent as this is, if it weren’t for Matt Brown’s top ten list, Lingua Ignota wouldn’t be featured on here at all. Hell, maybe this would have been a slot saved for Chelsea Wolfe’s new album, Birth of Violence. While the emotional screams of despair aren’t for everyone to stomach, Caligula is the record for anyone and everyone who has experienced trauma, sadness, and the dark sides of life. Kristin Hayter’s display of human emotions on this album honestly blows artists such as Wolfe and Myrkur out of the water. I will be listening to a lot more of Caligula