It’s been snowing here in Minnesota. That can only mean one thing – 2019 is coming to an end. It’s been a great year for rock and metal fans. One of the things I like to reflect on at the end of each year is my favorite albums of the past twelve months. I have compiled a list of my ten favorites with a short description of each.
This band has undergone its share of controversy since frontman Tim Lambesis’ release from prison, but there is no denying that this is a solid release from the California quintet. It seems like their years apart have created new energy between the band members and Tim’s new outlook on life has shaped more positive lyrics.
It seems like this band’s sound matures with every release. Vocalist Ash Costello continues to impress with her amazing voice and musically, “Unbreakable” sounds much heavier than their 2015 album, “Malevolence. This album is comprised of a dozen songs that will not fail to please.
Despite the loss of a couple of long-time members over the last few years, After the Burial has been surprisingly consistent in producing their signature sound. Like the previous two albums, “Evergreen” only has 9 songs, but will not bring disappointment if you need a fix of progressive metal on your drive home from a long day at work.
While some people enjoy the softer side of rock, others may lose interest in a band that seems they were beginning to forget their metalcore roots over the last several albums. However, “Earthandsky” shows that Carlisle and company still know how to bring a brutal sound and intriguing lyrics. Of Mice & Men was a band I was beginning to get bored with but I am putting this album on my top ten list of 2019. Enough said.
Using traditional rock and blues influences, Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton delivers his first solo album. If you doubt these influences take away from the heaviness of the album though, you are dead wrong. Collaborating with multiple vocalists including but not limited to: Jacob Shaddix, Chuck Billy, and the late Chester Bennington; this album is a buffet of heavy riffs, groovy beats, and guest appearances by many of the greats.
Sure, Korn has had its ups and downs over their 26-year career, but since Brian Welch’s return in 2013, the band has been moving in a much better direction. There’s no denying “The Nothing” is heavy-both musically and lyrically. The riffs are catchy & classic Korn and Jonathan Davis’ emotions are raw and transparent throughout. I’ve had this album on repeat since its release mid-September.
In an age when many rock and metal bands sound so generic, it is a breath of fresh air when a band emerges with a unique sound and the talent to pull it off well. The Hu is a quartet from Ulaanbaatar that combines modern rock with traditional Mongolian instruments and un-replicated throat singing. While this may not be heavy metal, it’s heavy in its own way. This past spring, their first single, “Wolf Totem” reached No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hard Rock Digital Song Sales. This is an impressive feat for a band that sings exclusively in their native tongue.
These Orlando based musicians took this album in a slightly different direction from their previous five releases. Combining the use of synthesizers with the heaviest riffs, Alter Bridge has proved that once again they can push the limits of our expectations while still staying true to their familiar sound. Did I mention guitar solos? “Walk the Sky” will not disappoint.
These Swedish veterans proved that once again they are not slowing down. “The Great War” is a concept album highlighting some of the heroes and battles of World War One. From the accompanying choir and pulsating riffs of the opening track, “The Future of Warfare,” to the harrowing sound of the vocal-only “In Flanders Fields” to end the album, Sabaton shows dominance in their genre. “The Great War” was released on the 100th anniversary of the peace marches ending World War One. You can’t get more metal than that.
It’s been a decade since Rammstein’s last studio album and this is arguably their best release in their 25-year career. There is nothing really new on this untitled album but somehow it seems as if these shock rockers from Berlin took everything they do well and did it just a little better than before. The opening track, “Deutschland” will have you begging for more and one doesn’t need to know the German language to understand vocalist Til Lindemann going crazy on “Puppe.” Similar to their live show, this “untitled album” ignites what rock n roll truly is and it burns hotter than any other.