We finally got off our asses and did it. It’s already the year 2009, but we’ve complied a list of our top albums of 2008. Compiling such a list is never easy, and 2008 was no exception. Maybe it was a lack of albums that really stood out, or maybe we just weren’t paying enough attention. Regardless, we took a quick look back on the metal albums we felt were notable in 2008.
shady rajah’s top 10
1. KRISIUN - Southern Storm
Back with a vengeance on their seventh onslaught, KRISIUN delivers all the aggression, urgency, and fury we have come to expect from this Brazilian death squad but with their explosive energy tempered by strong hooks and grooves aplenty. While most of their peers have slowed down or softened up, Southern Storm keeps KRISIUN raging full speed ahead. [Read our full review]
2. MESHUGGAH - Obzen
Syncopated rhythms and intricate arrangements all delivered with deadly precision, Obzen sees the band take a more direct approach while molding it with layers of dissonance. Off-kilter rhythmic gymnastics in a sea of lava help drive the band in to the next level of their musical evolution. [Read our full review]
3. ABORTED - Strychnine 213
Launching their catchiest, hook-driven album yet, vocalist Sven charges forth with a new lineup and an 18 year old blastmaster in tow, ignoring genre conventions and blazing ahead with their own distinct path. [Read our full review]
4. SOILENT GREEN - Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction
Death, murder, accidents, hurricanes… things many metal bands talk about but few have lived through as SOILENT GREEN has. As fearless and determined as ever, the NOLA crew came roaring back with a raging record of grooves, power, and technical chaos. [Read our full review]
5. TESTAMENT - The Formation of Damnation
Cheating disease and death, TESTAMENT returned in ‘08 with a monstrous, thrashing metal record that reinforced what good metal is all about. [Read our full review]
6. MISERY INDEX - Traitors
The under the radar and underrated MISERY INDEX deliver their most fully realized, structured effort to date with Traitors. Detailed, punchy and precise, the band takes their craft to new heights.
7. DYSTOPIA - Dystopia
Southern California’s long running, influential cornerstone of everything from sludge, crust, punk, metal may finally be laid to rest, but DYSTOPIA went out with a bang, delivering one last stress-filled, cavity-inducing avalanche of audio anguish.
8. ESOTERIC - The Manical Vale
Much like any powerful epic, The Manical Vale took it’s time, unveiling layers of dense, richly textured song structures of cinematic scope.
9. INTRONAUT - Prehistoricisms
One of the more creative new forces in underground music, INTRONAUT delivered yet another innovative album in their rapidly expanding catalog, displaying an ability to progress far beyond their years and the genre’s so called “rules.”
10. METALLICA - Death Magnetic
While still a long way from a full pardon, Death Magnetic was a step in the right direction and hope that even after twenty years of tomfoolery, these veterans still have some tricks up their sleeves. [Read our full review: Take 1, Take 2]
dr.park’s top 10
1. DIR EN GREY - Uroboros
DIR EN GREY could’ve gotten away with creating another an album that was more of the same. However, the band stepped it up and added new subtle dimensions to their sound and Uroboros is the awesome result. World domination is one step closer. [Read our full review]
2. SOULFLY - Conquer
Max Max Max! Dark Ages was an awesome return to Max’s true metal roots but Conquer took the brutality even further. Fast, raging thrash/death metal has no equal to Conquer in 2008. [Read our full review]
3. CAVALERA CONSPIRACY - Inflikted
The sound of years of pent up emotions and creativity between the baddest brothers in metal, Max and Igor Cavalera, can never be duplicated. [Read our full review]
4. KRISIUN - Southern Storm
The second baddest brothers in metal only get better with each album. Southern Storm is the best death metal album of the year and further shows that KRISIUN are indeed the kings of killing. [Read our full review]
5. U.S. CHRISTMAS - Eat the Low Dogs
Eat the Low Dogs won’t be gracing the covers of glossy metal mags but don’t let that deter you from discovering one of the most impressionable albums of the year. The album is just a strong testament to the power of atmospherics and those desolate and desperate emotions that makes music so good. [Read our full review]
6. VOLBEAT - Rock the Metal/Metal the Devil
Who would’ve thought that a combo of roots rock n’ roll, metal, and punk would’ve sounded so damn good? VOLBEAT know how to dish out the prime riffs and big hooks. [Read our full review]
7. BORIS - Smile
BORIS live on Planet BORIS and that’s a good thing. They don’t stick to formulas or conventions but know how to do it all. Pure underground goodness. [Read our full review]
8. IHSAHN - angL
Everyone knows Ihsahn’s got more talent in one finger than the vast majority of the metal world combined. AngL is an interesting exploration of his progression as an artist and a great representation of where his head is at. [Read our full review]
9. TESTAMENT - The Formation of Damnation
TESTAMENT have done something no one would’ve thought possible 15 years ago - they’ve taken the thrash metal throne. While their peers struggle to create solid albums, release more of the same, or have identity crises, TESTAMENT have put out a solid, modern, and catchy album in The Formation of Damnation. [Read our full review]
10. INTRONAUT - Prehistoricisms
In a world of clones, INTRONAUT stands out as not only having an excellent original sound but they are good at what they do. They really know how to utilize their talents to create an always stimulating and interesting sonic landscapes.
roycifer’s top 10
1. GOJIRA - The Way of All Flesh
This French quartet play pure metal but make it sound fresh, new, and exciting. That’s something that can’t be said of any other metal band currently out there. The Way of All Flesh oozes with creative rejuvenation for a genre often drenched with blandness.
2. OPETH - Watershed
OPETH have rekindled their fire and written the album that should have been the follow-up to their groundbreaking Still Life album. Watershed matches that mix of epic, progressive metal with dark, heavy death/black metal that they had softened up for too many albums. [Read our full review]
3. CANNABIS CORPSE - Tube of the Resinated
Beyond a joke/rip-off band, CANNABIS CORPSE have accurately resurrected CANNIBAL CORPSE’s peak-era death metal sound. It was a sound no one else ever matched, not even CANNIBAL CORPSE themselves. With tasty production, CANNABIS CORPSE blow smoke all over death metal clones.
4. DIR EN GREY - Uroboros
The maturation process continues on an album that captures the emotion, groove, and intensity DIR EN GREY have owned their whole career. Uroboros is finely dressed with atmospheric textures and solid songwriting. [Read our full review]
5. BORIS - Smile
Hardly the band’s best album but still a captivating mix of their energetic psychedelic rock and shoegaze/experimental/drone. Edgy and experimental as always. [Read our full review]
6. STAROFASH - The Thread
Norwegians dance circles around those who claim to be artists. STAROFASH support that by having delivered another classy and artistic avant-garde effort. With a delightful appearance by Garm, The Thread is an album that is both metal and gothic, yet neither of both. [Read our full review]
7. SUNN O))) - Dømkirke
Gregorian chants are a perfect match for SUNN O)))’s singular-style of music. The chants add a haunting mystique to their doom-laden drone. Dark and devilish, Dømkirke resonates.
8. INTRONAUT - Prehistoricisms
Creativity is not lost on INTRONAUT. Like GOJIRA, they make music sound new, fresh, and exciting. Prehistoricisms sees a young band continuing to make great musical strides.
9. ENSLAVED - Vertebrae
ENSLAVED have been conquering new ground with their progressive, post-black metal sound. Vertebrae is rich with layers of deep, atmospheric/progressive songwriting. [Read our full review]
10. MISERY INDEX - Traitors
Despite line-up instability, MISERY INDEX have stood resilient and delivered their best non-EP/split release. Adam Jarvis’ drumming fulfills the void from Kevin Talley that was a necessary compliment to the Jason Netherton/Sparky Voyles tandem.
big johnson’s top 10
1. CAVALERA CONSPIRACY - Inflikted
This may not be a SEPULTURA reunion album, but it’s close enough. Inflikted is a worthy contender to the material Max released with SEPULTURA in years past. Not only does Max capture the energy of SEPULTURA’s glory days, the renewed alliance with Igor proves that the Cavalera brothers can still create some crushing music. From the super catchy opener, to the riff-tastic closer, Inflikted deserves every ounce of praise it receives. [Read our full review]
2. IMMOLATION - Hope & Horror
Usually EPs contain leftover filler material and/or mediocre songs to fulfill label contracts, but the 3 tracks on Hope & Horror are songs of Christ raping death metal! The brutal quartet from Yonkers still has plenty of fire after all these years, and belt out some of the most evil and complex structures in the genre. The bonus DVD is an excellent treat for fans that have been yearning for an IMMOLATION DVD for years. [Read our full review]
3. UNLEASHED - Hammer Battalion
Death metal runs through the veins of these viking masters, and UNLEASHED show the kids in THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER and other “Swedish” copycats how true Swedish death metal is supposed to sound! Unlike some of their Swedish counterparts from the early 90’s (i.e. GRAVE, ENTOMBED), UNLEASHED has continued to write quality music while progressing. [Read our review]
4. MISERY INDEX - Traitors
Although MISERY INDEX has two ex-members of DYING FETUS, Traitors takes elements of their old band and expands them. Frontman Jason Netherton also opens your eyes about corporate greed and the injustices in the world. Ex-AT THE GATES screamer Tomas Lindberg helps out his talents on Traitors as well, making this album a welcome comeback after releasing the disappointing Discordia album. TRAITORS…TRAITORS!!!
5. RESURRECTION - Mistaken For Dead
On par with their early 90’s Floridian death metal brothers such as MONSTROSITY and MALEVOLENT CREATION, RESURRECTION’s debut album Embalmed Existence was an underrated classic. While their friends in DEICIDE, MORBID ANGEL, and OBITUARY received much hype, RESURRECTION was forgotten about and put to rest. After all these years, guitarist John Astl “resurrected” the band, and Mistaken For Dead continues where the debut album left off. RESURRECTION plugs away at a solid comeback album which contains some catchy and brutal riffs alike. RESURRECTION is quite possibly the best old school death metal band no one has heard of.
6. SOULFLY - Conquer
SOULFLY without Mark Rizzo is just nu-metal recycled garbage. SOULFLY with Mark Rizzo is top notch quality material. Rizzo brought new life to SOUFLY on Dark Ages, and continues to add his high quality of musicianship to the band on Conquer. Max had a busy year releasing both CAVALERA CONSPIRACY and SOULFLY albums, and he has outdone himself with these two excellent releases in 2008. [Read our full review]
7. HAIL OF BULLETS - …Of Frost and War
One of the most refreshing albums of 2008 was the debut album of HAIL OF BULLETS, featuring members of THANATOS and ex-PESTILENCE frontman Martin Van Drunen. A sludgy album in the vein of old DISMEMBER and BOLT THROWER, HAIL OF BULLETS show that death metal does not have to include blast beats and overtechnical guitar wanking to be good! [Read our full review]
8. KRISIUN - Southern Storm
KRISIUN beats your face into submission with every album, and Southern Storm does not disappoint. The Brazilian warriors have progressed nicely through the years without compromising their blast beat roots. You know exactly what you’re going to get with each KRISIUN album, and it is the sound of your skull being crushed! Southern Storm, as with all KRISIUN albums, must be enjoyed at maximum volume. [Read our full review]
9. IHSAHN - angL
EMPEROR’s swansong album, Prometheus was the direction Ihsahn was headed musically, and angL is an extension of the final EMPEROR album. angL is also similiar to Ihsahn’s debut, The Adversary in many ways, even in the thin guitar sound and production. Musically, it is still extreme metal with touches of progressive rock, thanks to Ihsahn’s technical mate, Asgeir Mickelson of SPIRAL ARCHITECT fame. Although OPETH frontman Mikael Akerfeldt guests on “The Unhealer”, the track is still very Ihsahn-eque, and the vocal tradeoffs compliment each other nicely. EMPEROR is dead, but Ihsahn’s creativity and fire is not. [Read our full review]
10. VADER - XXV
Re-recordings of old songs are usually tacked on as bonus tracks, but VADER decided to re-record 25 old songs to coincide with their 25th year as a band. With polished production and the old songs perfectly executed and played, XXV shows that VADER is 25 years old and still running strong. Newbie bands should take note of why these death metal veterans continue to stay strong and crush the weak! [Read our full review]