We thought we would close 2019 right by listing the best metal albums of the year.
Instead of a clear standout album this year, there were numerous solid releases. Most notably, death metal had a banner year, while doom apparently took the year off. If there was any trend in metal in 2019, it was eclecticism. Many bands inserted influence from other metal sub-genres into their music to great effect. We believe our list reflects this.
Last year we both made individual lists. This year we came together on one list to represent all of Super Metal World brought to you by Michael and Ty.
10. Illuminated by Vintersea
Origin: Portland, Oregon
Imagine being one of the Homo sapiens birthed into the world after the apocalypse. This post-apocalyptic setting has been the inspiration for many video games, movies, TV shows, books, and music as of late. Likely, a sign that we all need to get our act together to prevent such a scenario from ever occurring.
For Avienne, the vocalist of Vintersea, the concept of Illuminated was inspired by the popular video game, Horizon Zero Dawn. A concept successfully conveyed from opening to closing note. Oh, and Avienne? She continues to prove that she is one of metal’s most talented mic wielders.
Standout Tracks: “Illuminated”, “Crack of Light”, “Fiery Tongue”
9. Macro by Jinjer
Origin: Donetsk, Ukraine
Jinjer catches flak for nothing other than having… checks notes… a female lead vocalist who just happens to be pleasant to look at. Tatianna can’t help what her mama gave her, folks! If you take a minute to set aside all prejudice regarding this band and their vocalist, you’re left with a stellar album that makes gutsy, artistic choices. Those choices make for an eclectic, exciting listening experience. This band is MUCH more than meets the eye.
Standout Tracks: “Pit of Consciousness”, “Judgement (& Punishment)”, “Home Back”
8. Planetary Clairvoyance by Tomb Mold
Origin: Toronto, Ontario
Tomb Mold are back again in 2019 with another album. The band has released an album in each of the last three years, but this aggressive release cadence has sacrificed no quality.
When Planetary Clairvoyance isn’t hammering you with one of its abundant riffs, it’s lambasting you with one of its cringe-inducing, dissonant leads. Tomb Mold manages to keep things fresh in an album that is so obviously inspired by classic death metal. And for that we salute them.
Also it should be stated that any band that names themselves after and pulls inspiration from the likes of Bloodborne and Dark Souls has a leg up in my book.
Standout Tracks: “Accelerative Phenomenae”, “Planetary Clairvoyance”, “Beg for Life”
7. Absolute Power by Wraith
I like to imagine Wraith’s sound as the result of black metal and thrash metal spending a long isolated winter together in the far reaches of Northern Canada. It’d cold, icy, and haunting. Absolute Power opens up with the fast pure thrash of “Devil’s Hour” and doesn’t let up.
Wraith has impressed us since their self-titled debut EP, but Absolute Power sets the standard for other blackened thrash bands.
Standout Tracks: “Devil’s Hour”, “Eyes of the Sacred Ram”, “Absolute Power”, “War of Aggression”
6. The Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantation
Origin: Denver, Colorado
This album explores the nature of human consciousness in a way that would have Joe Rogan frothing at the mouth. The new death metallers on the block avoid the sophomore slump with a psychedelic take on the genre that still leans heavily on its death metal roots. I’m hoping they up the ante on atmospheric and stoner elements next go around.
Standout Tracks: “Slave Species of the Gods”, “The Giza Power Plant”, “Inner Paths (To Outer Space)”
5. Gastwerso by Sarke
Origin: Oslo, Norway
Sarke manages to pack an endless supply of influences into a 35 minute black metal package. Prepare yourself for rifftacious attacks, symphonic adventures, and groove. The eight tracks on the album have been pared down to perfection, each with their own unique identity. Sarke is too catchy to ignore.
Something often overlooked in an album is pacing. Sarke absolutely nailed it here. The ebb and flow of this album is well executed. Not once have I wanted to put this album down.
Standout Tracks: “Echoes from the Ancient Crucifix”, “Mausoleum”, “Rebellious Bastard”
4. Death Atlas by Cattle Decapitation
Origin: San Diego, California
Death Atlas evokes primal feelings of dread unlike any album from 2019. The album sharply focuses on mankind’s influence in the destruction of the Earth. Thankfully, Cattle Decapitation provides some solutions for the human-induced apocalypse. “Bring Back the Plague” is a great example of how to recover from humanities wrongdoings.
Travis Ryan stakes his claim as the best vocalist in metal. It’s a tough claim to argue with. Ryan’s vocal ability is on full display in Death Atlas. He has a seemingly endless supply of tricks up his sleeve.
Prepare for a journey that starts with the beginning of the end.
Standout Tracks: “One Day Closer to the End of the World”, “Bring Back the Plague”, “Time’s Cruel Curtain”, “Be Still Our Bleeding Hearts”
3. Walk Beyond the Dark by Abigail Williams
Origin: Olympia, Washington
Having never listened to Abigail Williams before, this album was a true surprise for me. It was the lone black metal album that resonated with me this year. This album creates moody atmospheres that inspire introspection with one track flowing effortlessly into the next.
Standout Tracks: “I Will Depart”, “Sun and Moon”, “Born of Nothing”
2. The Ruins of Fading Light by Crypt Sermon
Origin: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This album is a reminder that heavy metal can put a smile on your face while simultaneously melting it. The epic doom metallers are in a class of one. There aren’t many bands that are doing what Crypt Sermon does at this high of a level. It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that is overloaded with death and black metal bands.
Sidenote. Brooks Wilson can fuckin’ wail. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Beneath the Torchfire Glare.”
Standout Tracks: “Key of Solomon”, “Christ is Dead”, “Beneath the Torchfire Glare”
1. Deserted by Gatecreeper
Gatecreeper led the way in the death metal domination of 2019. Deserted is a stand-out mix of heavy metal inspiration. It takes from classic death, melodic death, thrash, and even some doom. Gatecreeper’s Chase Mason has stated that the band didn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, but this wild Frankenstein of influences begs to differ.
What you’ll find as the album evolves is a ceaseless stream of death metal, but there’s more to it than just traditional death metal. Gatecreeper has set the standard for introducing fresh elements into a genre that, as Ian Corse of Sleeping Village Reviews puts, “spends too much time patting itself on the back.”
Standout Tracks: “Deserted”, “From the Ashes”, “Barbaric Pleasures”, “Boiled Over”