Metal Insider’s Zenae Zukowski’s Top 20 Metal Albums of 2019

Posted by on December 23, 2019


01) Insomnium, Heart Like a Grave (Century Media)

I will be honest; it took me a few listens for this one because it was no Winter’s Gate. But then I listened to Insomnium’s Heart Like a Grave, and it IS the best of the year. I say this every time; I don’t know how Markus Vanhala does it between Omnium Gatherum, which The Burning Cold was my #1 record of 2018 and Insomnium. However, he must be a musical genius. When I spoke to him about Heart Like a Grave, I asked about the song “Pale Morning Star,” and out of all the tracks I could have asked him about, I asked the one song that was his! Little did I know, how much this song has helped me when I heard sad news in my personal life. I ended up listening to this song on repeat for hours on end. In fact, this entire album helped me get through tough situations. Musically, it’s brilliant. They are brilliant. Listen to Insomnium’s most melancholic album-ever right now!

Key Tracks: “Valediction,” “Pale Morning Star”


Dedication: Tengger Cavalry, Northern Memory (Vol.1)

My Heart shattered the night I found out my friend Nature Ganganbaigal died. He had a big heart and a fantastic talent in music. Not only was he passionate about his craft, but there was also nothing he couldn’t do. While I hope this has been a coincidence, it was after his death when the Hu blossomed and took the name of “Mongolian folk metal pioneers.” That has never sat well with me. I am not bashing the group; it’s mainly the logistics of where credit is do. Tengger Cavalry were always known as the pioneer Mongolian folk metal band as they released their debut full-length album in 2010. They worked their asses off. You want to hear the original and rawness of Mongolian folk metal, blast Tengger Cavalry. I will always keep Nature’s memory alive. He always pushed through and made incredible music, which was heard in Northern Memory Vol 1


Non-metal best album of 2019: The Cranberries, In The End (BMG)

The Cranberries’ final album was the most difficult record to listen to and review. I will keep this short because *gasp* it’s not metal. However, Dolores O’Riordan is a big part of my life and I still can’t believe she’s gone. The record is another Cranberries album and yet, sad to hear words such as “it’s all over now,” which was written and recorded before her death. For those who are interested, you can read my thoughts on this album here

Key Tracks: “All Over Now,” “Got It” “In The End”


Honorable Mentions (Alphabetical Order):

1349, The Infernal Pathway (Season of Mist) – “Dødskamp

The Agonist, Orphans (Napalm Records) – “As One We Survive”

Blind Guardian Twilight Orchestra, Legacy of the Dark Lands (Nuclear Blast) – “In the Underworld”

Cyhra, No Halos in Hell (Nuclear Blast) – “Battle From Within”

The Dark Element, Songs the Night Sings (Frontiers) – “Songs the Night Sings”

Death Angel, Humanicide (Nuclear Blast) – “Humanicide”

Destruction, Born to Perish (Nuclear Blast) – “Betrayal”

Dragonforce, Extreme Power Metal (Metal Blade) – “My Heart Will Go On”

Dream Theater, Distance Over Time (Inside Out) – “Untethered Angel”

Eluveitie, Ategnatos (Nuclear Blast) – “Ategnatos” 

Exhorder, Mourn the Southern Skies (Nuclear Blast) – “Hallowed Sound”

Foscor, Els Sepulcres Blancs (Season of Mist) – “Cançó de Mort”

Freedom Call, M.E.T.A.L (Steamhammer) – “M.E.T.A.L”

The Great Old Ones, Cosmicism (Season of Mist) – “The Omniscient”

Hammerfall, Dominion (Napalm Records) – “(We Make) Sweden Rock”

Kobra and the Lotus, Evolution (Napalm Records) – “Thundersmith”

KoRn, The Nothing (Roadrunner) – “This Loss”

Myrath, Shehili (EarMusic) – “You’ve Lost Yourself”

Nile, Vile Nilotic Rites (Nuclear Blast) – “Revel in Their Suffering”

Opeth, In Cauda Venenum (Moderbolaget / Nuclear Blast) – “Lovelorn Crime” // “Minnets Yta”

Possessed, Revelations of Oblivion (Nuclear Blast) – “Abandoned”

Prong, Age of Defiance (Steamhammer) – “Age of Defiance”

Sabaton, The Great War (Nuclear Blast) – “Fields of Verdun” // Apocalyptica’s “Fields of Verdun”

Slipknot, We Are Not Your Kind (Roadrunner) – “Nero Forte”

Soen, Lotus (Silver Lining Music) – “Martyrs” 

Soilwork, Verkligheten (Nuclear Blast) – “Arrival”

Starkill, Gravity – “The Real Enemy”

Steve Grimmett’s Grim Reaper, At The Gates (Dissonance Productions) – “At the Gates”

Tarja, In The Raw (Ear Music) – “Dead Promises”

Tool, Fear Inoculum – “Invincible”

Turbokill, Vice World (Steamhammer) – “Sail With Pirates” 

Twilight Force, Dawn of the Dragonstar – “Dawn of the Dragonstar”

Witherfall, Vintage EP (Century Media) – “A Tale That Wasn’t Right”


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