2019, the year that closes the decade and with it a lot of interesting releases in the Heavy Metal world. In this article, you’ll get to see my top 20 favorite albums of the year. It was no easy task to choose just 20, a lot of talented bands released quality stuff this year, but I believe these are the ones that close the decade on a high note and gives us hope for more in the future.
20. Yatra – Death Ritual
Call them Doom, Stoner, Blackened Doom, whatever you want, this Maryland based trio, Yatra came with one of the most solid Stoner/Doom albums of the year with Death Ritual by incorporating heavily Sleep-influenced riffs and vocals, but they still stand out within their own music. This album is heavy and rips hard.
19. Cheetoh’s Magazine – Amazingous
Can we turn “Happy Prog” into a genre and categorize Cheetoh’s Magazine as part of this? These Spaniards had one of the most technical and progressive albums of the year with their release entitled Amazingous which has everything. From Latin-based rhythms to heavy riffs and amazing vocals. If you’re a Progressive Metal fan you cannot miss this album.
18. The Contortionist – Our Bones
The Contortionist keeps evolving with each release they put out. Though, personally I think that Language has been their best release so far, Our Bones kept the vibe that was kind of lost in Clairvoyant. Of course, this is an EP, short and sweet. Also, that Smashing Pumpkins cover of ‘1979’ is pretty awesome.
17. Soilwork – Verkligheten
I have to admit that it’s been a long time since I properly sat down to listen to any Melodic Death Metal band. In the past few years I’ve emerged myself deep down the Doom, Stoner, and Progressive Metal waters, but it’s always a pleasure getting back to the genre that I basically grew up with. Soilwork, even though I’m aware of their legendary status, was never a band that I paid attention to, but Verklighten changed my perspective about the band combining beautiful melodies with Death Metal blast beats. Check it out if you haven’t yet for some reason.
16. Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea Of Tragic Beasts
How to be different and innovative in a genre where every band sounds the same? Well, Fit For An Autopsy lets us know why they’re one of the top bands in the Deathcore genre with The Sea of Tragic Beasts. Though I wouldn’t necessarily consider them Deathcore anymore, the band is exploring in more melodic landscapes and I like it. Obviously, my good friend Josean Orta is smashing the drums in this one and he doesn’t disappoint, not even one bit.
15. Crypt Sermon – The Ruins Of Fading Light
Doom Metal has been on the up rise in the past few years with great bands like Pallbearer, Conan, and many more appearing in the scene like some of the most solid bands in the genre out there. I believe Crypt Sermon must be in the same conversation of the bands mentioned above, especially after their work on The Ruins Of Fading Light. Melodic, dark, and beautiful, one of the best of the year for sure.
14. Russian Circles – Blood Year
I swear that Russian Circles is probably the heaviest band I’ve ever seen live, and those are big words considering that I’ve seen bands that play music ten times heavier than them and have way more members (and guitar strings) than the trio from Chicago. Russian Circles bring another gem with Blood Year where they just keep pushing their unique brand of Heavy Post-Rock.
13. Soen – Lotus
Another band that keeps raising the bar with every release. These Swedish dudes do not mess around and Lotus keeps adding to their solid catalogue of releases. The combination of melody and heaviness makes this album one that you would not want to skip and also, what else can we say about Martin López (ex-Opeth) that we haven’t said before? The dude is a beast.
12. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
Imagine yourself about to jump into an oblivion of feelings, you do not know what to expect, but you feel thrilled because you know that you’re going to enjoy it and that you’re ready for the trip. Alcest’s Spiritual Instinct brings you that and it will leave you breathless.
11. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
Another band that keeps innovating in a genre where each band sounds the same. The growth of Cattle Decapitation is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed (which I’m sure isn’t) and that it should be an example for both established and upcoming bands. Death Atlas is probably one of the best albums of Extreme Metal of the decade and Cattle Decapitation keeps raising the bar higher and higher.
10. Wilderun – Veil of Imagination
Buckle up, you’re about to enter an epic journey. If you’re just like me, that gets into the music and just get chills by listening to certain melody arrangements and you just cry; yes, cry, then this album will probably lead you to that (maybe not necessarily crying, but you catch my drift). Wilderun covers the gap that Opeth left when they stopped doing Heavy music and focused on being more Progressive Rock. Veil Of Imagination is one of the most complete albums of the year and I can’t wait to see what the future of this band beholds.
9. Gates To The Morning – Return To Earth
Gates To The Morning is one of those great bands that go unnoticed because of their independent status, they’re not signed by a record label, yet they still deliver quality music. If you’re looking for a combination of music with influences of Opeth, Devin Townsend, etc. with a bit of Black Metal involved, Return To Earth is for you and, let me tell you, it’s worth taking the time to listen to this great album.
8. The Well – Death & Consolation
A mixture of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath with a bit of Dark Punk it’s what you can expect from Death & Consolation. The Well keeps demonstrating why they are one of the top names in Psych/Stoner Metal in the world and there’s no sign of them slowing down. Check them out if you haven’t.
7. Avandra – Descender
Avandra has taken everyone by surprise with their album Descender. Easily the most successful Metal band to come from my homeland of Puerto Rico in the past few years, these Prog-Masters show everyone what they’re made of and, trust me, this another band that shows no sign of stopping any time soon. This album also features performances of Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater, O.S.I., Chroma Key), Richard Henshall (Haken), among others. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what else will.
6. Swallow The Sun – When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light
When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light is one of the two albums that had the most impact on a personal level with me this year. Swallow The Sun brings a very solid, meaningful album with this release that made me from being completely uninterested of the band to be very supportive of their craft. Check this album out, it’s a gem!
5. Lucy In Blue – In Flight
Ever wonder how a mix between King Crimson and Pink Floyd would sound? Then go and hit play to In Flight of the Islandic proggers Lucy In Blue. These guys are young but they are making music that, I dare to say, it’s even more mature than stuff being release by older dudes. These guys know how to play and, as they get more detached from their strong influences from these originators of Progressive Rock, they’ll build a solid foundation for future releases and I can’t wait!
4. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rat’s Nest
Easily the catchiest album of the year. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard gain a new fan in me this year by releasing this monster of an album. If you’re looking for music influenced by Mötorhead and early Metallica (think about Kill ‘Em All era) then this is the album that will probably take your neck out of place. Granted, these Aussies are not known for making Heavy Metal or Thrash Metal for this matter, but they nailed it. I’m sure I got to listen to this album about 500 times in a month.
3. Leprous – Pitfalls
The second album that had a big impact on a personal level for me this year. Leprous brings a beautiful balance of how melancholy and heaviness should mix together. If there was such thing as “the most impactful album of the year” this would be it. Einar Solberg vocals are as dramatic as the music itself and you can’t miss this record. Go and hit play NOW.
2. Blackwater Holylight – Veils Of Winter
I always smile when I remember the first time I discovered Blackwater Holylight. Their self-titled first album was one of my top choices from 2018 and in 2019 they came hungrier, angrier, and heavier than ever with the release of Veils of Winter. A perfect album for so many circumstances, that I can assure you, you won’t get tired of. I swear these ladies are going places and I’m so eager to listen to what’s next. In the meantime, go and pick up this album, you won’t regret it.
1. Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
Well, if you know me personally or if you follow me on social media at all, this pick shouldn’t surprise you at all. Yes, Opeth is my ultimate favorite band, but I believe this album reached what Mikael Akêrfeldt has been wanting to do since Heritage. In Cauda Venenum brings a new idea of what Heavy Prog must be and it defines a new era in the band’s music. Honestly, I think they still have way more material to put out, but if this would be their last offering to their fans, I would not mind at all.
Conjurer/Pijn – Curse These Metal Hands
Calamity – Kairos
Massive Destruktion – Mercenaries
Paricia’s Patience – Paricia’s Patience
Destroyer Of Light – Mors Aeterna