It’s been an insane year for rock and metal, with countless albums to listen to every week. Somehow, we listened to just about all of them (our necks hurt) and managed to whittle it down to 10 favorites. Here they are.
10. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
An eerie, John Carpenter–inspired ambient intro sets the stage for We Are Not Your Kind’s raging, hook-laden lead single “Unsainted,” and from there the Knot’s sixth studio album refuses to let up across 14 of the group’s heaviest, most inventive tracks to date. Slipknot may be bigger than ever, but there’s no resting on laurels to be heard here.
9. Korn – The Nothing
Korn’s crowning skill is their ability to emotionally connect with headbangers with heavy hearts, and no other album in their catalog has looked inwardly to express grief quite as well as The Nothing. An expression of pain in singer Jonathan Davis’ darkest hours, it’s a stirring masterpiece from top to rock bottom.
8. Mizmor – Cairn
Mizmor — a one-man black-metal project that cites “spiritual anguish” as a creative inspiration — gave listeners another dose of crushing catharsis with Cairn. The expansive, tortuous tones and glacial pacing are confrontational on first listen, but dig deeper to find healing specks of light poking through each agony-shrouded note.
7. 3TEETH — Metawar
Industrial metal’s best band lived up to the hype surrounding them with the expertly crafted songs and slick visuals of Metawar. Yes, 3TEETH’s attacks on modern society are righteous and well-substantiated, but more importantly their songs are serious earworms and showcase the band’s impressive growth in short span of time.
6. Creeping Death – Wretched Illusions
The wheel doesn’t need reinventing, but a nice coat of fresh grease never hurt how it spins. That’s how Texan upstarts Creeping Death approached death metal on their excellent breakout record, which excels with its gruesome roars, growling guitar licks, and sludgy, vile atmosphere.
5. Rammstein – untitled
The undisputed leaders of Neue Deutsch Härte (“New German Hardness”) kept us waiting for a decade, but when the new single “Deutchland” finally dropped in March, it was clear that fans’ patience had not been in vain. Insanely catchy with those unmistakable crunchy riffs throughout, Rammstein’s untitled effort is the perverse, tongue-in-cheek industrial-metal-dance mashup only they could dream up.
4. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
After 2015’s Starspawn, it seems Blood Incantation climbed deeper into the intergalactic subconscious to painstakingly construct a brilliant ode to cosmic horror with Hidden History. Already-great riffs are couched in mind-bending time manipulation and unexpected twists to create genuinely breathtaking death metal.
3. Lord Dying – Mysterium Tremendum
Lord Dying’s latest is an album with layers, each containing a universe of delicate pathos stacked up like bricks to the stars. A worthy counterpart to Mastodon or Opeth’s best progressive work, Mysterium Tremendum is, indeed, tremendous.
2. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
Traversing an emotional minefield of trauma and invoking the energy of her powerful live shows, opera-meets-noise-meets-WTF act Lingua Ignota waged sonic war on would-be and have-been abusers with her confrontational opus Caligula. Not for the faint of heart, but for those looking to build themselves one stronger.
1. Gatecreeper – Deserted
Modern death-metal torchbearers Gatecreeper proved their rising profile is well-earned with this record packed with riffs and blasts so wickedly suffocating you’ll think you’re burning alive in the Arizona desert right there with them. In a year chock-full of excellent efforts from the most brutal subgenre, Gatecreeper reign mighty once more.