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APESHIT's Top Metal Albums of 2010

December 7, 2010

December is here, so it is time for us, the APESHIT goons, to share with you our list of metal albums that made an impression on us in 2010. Meaningful and meaningless, but sharing is caring. Bang your head and enjoy!

dr.park top 10

images/darkfuneral.angelusexuro.jpg DARK FUNERAL - Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (Regain Records) Raging, blasting fury + blazing melodies + the best throat shredder in metal + great songs = album of the year. The rich darkness and unending hellfire vibe is undeniable.  DARK FUNERAL’s best album unfortunately became the last album for long time vocalist Emperor Magus Caligula. [Full review]

ALCEST - Écailles De Lune (Prophecy Productions) APESHIT may be one of the few media outlets where you’ll read about France’s ALCEST, but fuck everyone else. Écailles De Lune is one of the coolest albums to come out in years. Who knew that shoegaze and black metal could be combined into a great style? [Full review]

BLOOD OF KINGU - Sun in the House of the Scorpion (Candlelight Records) A lot of bands try to sound dark and brutal but few bands actually succeed in sounding as savage and pitch black as Ukraine’s BLOOD OF KINGU. Black metal, doom, and dark cavernous sounds all combine for a compelling experience.

CATHEDRAL - The Guessing Game (Nuclear Blast Records) The Guessing Game is a reason to celebrate the talent behind this legendary band. I don’t think any fan saw this awesome change in sound/style coming, but what fan is unhappy? CATHEDRAL are alive and well.

THE WRETCHED END - Ominous (Candlelight Records) I love extreme metal that is sophisticated and state of the art. Within THE WRETCHED END’s unique death/thrash style there is a lot of flavor and variety going on. Kerry King wishes he wrote some of the riffs on here. The good news is that album number 2 is already half way done.

SHINING - VI - Klagopsalmer (Season of Mist) It’s a damn shame that more metal fans haven’t caught on to one of Sweden’s best exports. SHINING’s fourth album is more of that high quality desperate black/death metal that we’ve come to expect. Niklas Kvarforth’s songwriting talent clearly outweighs his extreme life performances. [Full review]

NEVERMORE - The Obsidian Conspiracy (Century Media Records) NEVERMORE continue to define what “modern metal” is all about. The Obsidian Conspiracy has more of that top notch musicianship, riffs, and songwriting that the band has weaned their fans on. Who can complain about being spoiled with this album? [Full review]

DARK TRANQUILLITY - We are the Void (Century Media Records) We are the Void is a very welcome step in DT’s sound. The band sounds more fresh than they have in years. And yes, there are still plenty of those trademark invincible riffs. Gothenburg is their city. [Full review]

INTRONAUT - Valley of Smoke (Century Media Records) Valley of Smoke might just be INTRONAUT’s best album to date. The songs are compelling and blatantly unique. The addition of clean vocals sound great and fit in seamlessly. INTRONAUT may also have the best rhythm section in metal…yeah, that’s right!

SHINING - Blackjazz (The End Records) So yeah, every band called “SHINING” turns out to be awesome. Norway’s SHINING live on their own planet and that planet dominates. Who can even begin to grasp the type of mindset that the band have to create such maniacal music? No matter; just sit back and enjoy the madness. [Full review]

shady rajah’s top 10

SLAYER - The Vinyl Conflict (Sony Legacy) MISERY INDEX - Heirs to Theivery (Relapse Records) [Full review] TRIPTYKON - Eparistera Daimones (Century Media Records) SHINING - VI - Klagopsalmer (Season of Mist) [Full review] IMMOLATION - Majesty and Decay (Nuclear Blast Records) [Full review] WATAIN - Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist) [Full review] ATHEIST - Jupiter (Season of Mist) [Full review] ENSLAVED - Axioma Ethica Odini (Nuclear Blast Records) WORMROT - Abuse (Earache Records) [Full review] INTRONAUT - **Valley of Smoke (**Century Media Records)

roycifer’s top 5

images/cathedral.theguessinggame.jpg CATHEDRAL - The Guessing Game (Nuclear Blast Records) I wasn’t particularly expecting an album of this length and quality from a band at this stage of their career, but they somehow dug deep and produced an album both twisted and awkward but fully CATHEDRAL in sonics and songwriting. The proggy elements fit well with their sometimes doomy, sometimes rocking stomp.

BLACK MOUNTAIN - Wilderness Heart (Jagjaguwar) Not a “metal” album per se but equipped with classic rock vibes, heavy guitars, and the proto-NWOBHM-esque “Let Spirits Ride,” BLACK MOUNTAIN are fit for heavy metal ears. BLACK MOUNTAIN is modern day classic rock with every bit the range, dynamics, and character of what quality music embodies.

TORCHE - Songs for Singles (Hydra Head) Gritty doom/sludge rockers spun their entire menu around by salting their burley, downtuned tunes with a fistful of pop-tinged melody while managing to sound every bit like themselves. Songs for Singles is powerful, energetic, and aggressive but pleasantly dressed with delicious flavor.

HAYAINO DAISUKI - Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell, or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki (Hydra Head) Just fucking ridiculous and over-the-top.

Grill ‘Em All Truck Um… not a band or an album but Grill ‘Em All Truck is still one of the best things to happen to metal in 2010. Metal-themed food is nothing new (Hoek’s Death Metal Pizza in Austin, Hellbent for Cooking, Mosh Potatoes Cookbook) but riding the food truck bandwagon straight into hungry mouths and reality TV shows has helped breath new life into the metal communities it’s fed.

MetalGeorge’s top 10

WATAIN - Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist) [Full review] SABBATH ASSEMBLY - Restored to One [The End Records] ALCEST - Écailles de Lune (Prophecy Productions) [Full review] DAWNBRINGER - Nucleus (Profound Lore Records) ACCEPT - Blood of the Nations (Nuclear Blast Records) ENFORCER - Diamonds (Earache Records) DANZIG - Deth Red Saboath (The End Records) FIREWIND - Days of Defiance (Century Media Records) ALGAION - Exthros (Pulverised Records) SISTER SIN - True Sound of the Underground (Victory Records)

big johnson’s top 10

images/immolation.majestyanddecay.jpg IMMOLATION - Majesty and Decay (Nuclear Blast Records) Although the last few IMMOLATION albums have been decent, their energy dropped off slightly, and they seemed to reach a point where things might have gotten a little stale. Majesty and Decay sure crushes any doubts of slowing down, as “The Purge” immediately shoots nails into your skull with the thick production, audible bass guitar, and Ross Dolan’s growls pummel you with no letdown in sight. As always, Bob Vigna’s signature minor chord riffing, solos, and odd timing make IMMOLATION songs unique and distinctly evil. The band are at their pinnacle, as there hasn’t been this much energy and excitement since Close to a World Below. Frankly, IMMOLATION deserves more credit and success than they already have, as they have been one of the hardest working bands in the underground scene for over 20 years. [Full review]

DARK FUNERAL - Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus (Regain Records) Blasphemy, speed, and pure aggression is what Angelus Exuro Pro Eternus is all about, as DARK FUNERAL unleashes hell with their best album since Vobiscum Satanas. The songwriting is amazing on the entire album, with memorable and brutal songs such as “The End of Human Race” and “My Funeral.” Sure, we’ve heard this formula before, but the music is vicious and flat out excellent. It’s a shame that this album is Caligula’s last performance with the band, as his screeches are filled with hate, and the vocals are his finest work to date. Dominator puts previous drummer, Matte Modin to shame with his relentless pounding of double bass and blasts, and Lord Ahriman has once again returned to top form to slay Christians with his riffs. [Full review]

HAIL OF BULLETS - On Divine Winds (Metal Blade Records) No blast beats? No problem. HAIL OF BULLETS blasts our faces with heavier production this time around, but with the same amount of ass kicking. Focusing on topics from the Pacific campaign, the riffs remain crunchy and heavy as all hell. The simple but effective drumming along with Martin Van Drunen’s huge vocals make this album quite a monstrous entity. On Divine Winds displays huge sound without ever having to resort to any blast beats, and proves that HAIL OF BULLETS is a band to be reckoned with for years to come. [Full review]

WATAIN - Lawless Darkness (Season Of Mist) Although WATAIN has not achieved the level of legendary status like DISSECTION, the immense hype attached to this band is certainly warranted, as WATAIN not only delivers an intense live experience, but Lawless Darkness brings the same intensity in audio format. While most can agree that Casus Luciferi is the apex of WATAIN’s discography, Lawless Darkness has a few grandiose moments with gems such as “Malfeitor,” and the monster epic closing track, “Waters of Ain.” Lawless Darkness goes all out in combining styles of all their previous albums, and by following DISSECTION’s formula of dark riffs combined with beautiful melodies, the band forges their way to greatness without caring what anyone thinks. [Full review]

ATHEIST - Jupiter (Season Of Mist) Another year, another round of reunited bands, and this time ATHEIST takes a stab at living up to high expectations with new material. The band has achieved cult status within the underground elite, and although Kelly Shaefer’s vocals are average, the musicianship is top notch with an electrifying display of tempo changes, and chaotic but structured drum parts. Overall, a straightforward album which flows and sounds like an album. Despite some purists who are disappointed with this effort, and wanted more weirdness or over-technicality with Jupiter, it’s difficult to deny that the album is nothing short of a great disc. [Full review]

DARK TRANQUILLITY - We Are the Void (Century Media Records) DARK TRANQUILLITY is always consistent with the quality of their music, and We Are the Void is no different. Great vocals by Mikael Stanne, melodic riffs, and solid drumming is expected, and they are all delivered with success. The album sounds similar to newer DT efforts, but the band mixes it up so they’re not just repeating previous ideas. The keyboards are tastefully placed in all the songs, and another solid album is in the books, as “Shadow in Our Blood,” “The Fatalist,” and “Arkhangelsk” all support that notion. [Full review]

ORPHANED LAND - The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR (Century Media Records) Some albums are epic in that hundreds of plays are required to gain a full appreciation, and The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR is one of those albums. The complex layering of different instruments and vocal parts make this a complicated, but varied album that consists of traditional metal riffs, progressive passages, acoustic tracks and Middle Eastern influences all thrown into one. While this album is unconventionally long, the tracks are compelling and never stray into any uninteresting parts. Listen to this over and over again to hear new things every time, and appreciate a lesser known gem known as ORPHANED LAND.

MISERY INDEX - Heirs to Thievery (Relapse Records) Jason Netherton and Sparky Voyles left DYING FETUS years ago, but MISERY INDEX have finally put the ghosts of DYING FETUS behind them, as they have written more refreshing albums lately than John Gallagher and the DF camp. While Traitors might have been a better overall album, Heirs to Thievery continues the in-your-face grind attack. Ironically, Gallagher lends his vocals on “Sleeping Giants,” and the short bursts of punchy death metal/grind in “Fed to Wolves,” “You Lose,” and “Day of the Dead,” makes this short album mandatory for repeated listens. [Full review]

TRIPTYKON - Eparistera Daimones (Century Media Records) While black metal youngsters were in their diapers, Tom G. Warrior was already making blasphemous music, and now that CELTIC FROST is dead, TRIPTYKON becomes the sole purpose in his life. Eparistera Daimones is simply doomy, heavy, and one of the most satisfying albums released in quite a while. Memorable riffs are found in “Goetia,” “Abyss Within My Soul,” “A Thousand Lies,” and exemplify how such a depressing mood can be created with only sound and notes. Eparistera is a long album to digest, but well worth it, as this is another keeper which requires multiple listens.

THE WRETCHED END - Ominous (Candlelight Records) After the demise of both ZYKLON and EMPEROR, Samoth has continued his guitar mastery with this Norwegian band, and his influences show quite prominently. Ominous is executed with precision, tight drumming, crunchy palm muting, and tons of ZYKLON-esque riffs all over the place. THE WRETCHED END should be looked upon more as an extension of Samoth’s ideas in ZYKLON, rather than a substitute for ZYKLON. While not as well written or catchy as any ZYKLON album, Ominous is still a very good release, and it’s certainly better than most metal being released right now. [Full review]