It’s time for another Ghost Cult “End Of Year” Guest post! We’ll be sharing lists, memories, and other shenanigans from our favorite bands, partners, music industry peers, and other folks we respect across the globe all month long! Andrew Mikhail and his Orchestral Blackened Death Metal band Serpents (US) released their immaculate Temet Nosce release, played some tour dates formulated many plans for 2020. Andrew took some time out to share his personal Top 25 albums of 2019, and he also curated a Top 50 Spotify playlist available on the Serpents U.S. Page that deserves your attention too!
Andrew Mikhail’s Top 25
25. Baroness – Gold & Grey
We (undeservingly) received another addition to Baroness’ already “unfuckwithable” history of releases this year, so I just had to put this on the list–out of sheer principle.
24. Numenorean – Adore
This album is dark, beautiful, and embraces you like the cold winter winds; it basically sounds like my 2019, if it ever had a sound.
23. Mayhem – Daemon
I was very skeptical to hear this album, but once I did, I had to give the masters the recognition they deserve; as this was overall, a great fucking album to add to their legacy.
22. Borknagar – True North
I will admit, I am a sucker for anything involving ICS Vortex; but the fact that we got another Borknagar album this year, WITH Simen, made it so much sweeter!
21. Cigarettes After Sex – Cry
If you dig the “dark rock” wave that was widely prominent in the 90s, or enjoy watching “Twin Peaks”, I’d highly recommend checking this album out.
20. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
Being that Serpents (U.S.) is often compared alongside such greats like Septicflesh or Fleshgod Apocalypse, I’m always weary of diving too deep into these bands; out of fear that they might influence our writing too much. However, being a closet-fan of both, I just had to check out “Veleno”; and once I did, I began to wonder what took me so long! This was an awesome album; epic, beautiful, and crushing. I would like to recommend to any “Initiates” out there, please listen to this monster album; it will hold you over, while you wait for the next Serpents (U.S.) album to come! [Laughs]
19. Cult of Luna – A Dawn to Fear
Despite the drama swirling around this release, I’ve always been a loyal fan of (ex-label mates) Cult of Luna. Enough said.
18. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
If you dig Alcest’s old stuff, and even their new stuff; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this album. I considered this a “return to form”, and loved how they blended both styles with this release. Really looking forward to the next!
17. Miley Cyrus – SHE IS COMING
Hate all you want.
16. Car Bomb – Mordial
This band does NOT get the recognition they deserve, and hopefully, this CRUSHING album will get them alongside such greats like Meshuggah, Gojira, and even The Red Chord.
15. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
To be honest, it’s been really exciting to see how Ken transforms the sound of Abigail Williams with each release. This album, unlike the previous one, combined the grit of “The Accuser” and the beauty of “Becoming”; which is EXACTLY what I was hoping for with a new AW release. Solid.
14. Uneven Structure – Paragon
I love this band. So, naturally, I was really excited for a new release. If you dig the atmospheric aspect of “Djent”, groove, and realistic-yet-soaring clean vocals; then you will love this album.
13. Miho Arai & Steve Vai – Piano Reductions Vol. II
It really saddened me to see that this album did not get the recognition it deserved. Being that it’s not an “official” Steve Vai release, I think this album painfully flew under the radar; which is shocking, because Steve and Miho released this together! Any-who, if you dig Steve Vai’s songs in general; then check this album out, because Miho REALLY transformed these popular Vai tracks into something extravagant and somber. Hell, you could probably play these over Christmas dinner and no one in the family will suspect anything of it! You’re welcome for the free Life Hack there…
12. Soilwork – Verkligheten
Soilwork has not put out a bad album yet…fight me.
11. Trentemøller – Obverse
This album is dark, sexy, and almost scary at times. If you dig Radiohead, GusGus, or even Massive Attack; then you might like this album as much as I did.
10. Aurora – A Different Kind Of Human (Step II)
Aurora is a guilty pleasure of mine for sure, so I was really excited to hear this release. Once hearing it though, I was hooked; and it hasn’t escaped my rotation ever since. Not to mention, did you HEAR that collab she did with Chemical Brothers this year; or even with Wardruna?! 10/10, I would bend the knee for her.
9. Myrath – Shehili
Being a middle-eastern metal artist/fan, it was delightful to discover Myrath this year; and to be honest, I think that Shehili is only the start for this band. This album is catchy, groovy, and composed very well; and I’m extremely excited to hear what’s next for them/middle-eastern metal.
8. Thom Yorke – ANIMA
Best paired with some flower and the official “ANIMA” video on Netflix.
7. Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
I’m probably going to get a lot of shit for this, but all year, I’ve been FLOORED by all of the talent that has come out of the “O’Connell Household” to date. With releases from Finneas and Billie this year, I really expect great things from them both in the future–truly. Mark my words, if they keep it up, they will both be as relevant as The Beatles someday.
6. Warforged – I: Voice
Aside from the fact that Warforged are: from Chicago, friends, and blowing the fuck up; I genuinely think this release is the start of something great, for them and for metal in general. This album pushes the boundaries of expectation, and stays true to its formula at the same time; two things you do not see much of in metal today. Hails!
5. Krzysztof Drabikowski (aka the True “Batushka”) – Panihida
Unfortunately, this is another band/artist that is shrouded in controversy, but Panihida is exactly what I wanted in a “Batushka” follow-up. Call me crazy, but I am just constantly mystified by Derph’s writing style; and will support any releases of his moving forward, out of sheer fandom. Fuck the politics, and support good music. Simple. As. That.
4. TOOL – Fear Inoculum
I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, another elitist list from some metal dude that has TOOL way high up there just to flex.” Yes, I know you’re thinking this; because I have thought the same thing, especially while reading other publication’s “Best of 2019” lists. However, with the long wait aside, I really tried to take in this album for what it is–a new TOOL album. So, after a few spins, there was just something that captivated me throughout; and I couldn’t put it down. It’s sexy, powerful, and almost manic at times; which really resonates with me personally when listening to metal, let alone a “popular” bands’ album. TOOL worship aside, this is a solid album. Hype ensues.
3. Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz
This was a find I made in my ventures in TikTok-land; yet surprisingly enough, I secretly stumbled onto one of my favorite albums of the year! If you enjoy “soft” music, whether it be rock or electronic, I think you would love this album. 10/10, I would put this on for any highway drive…without traffic of course.
2. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
This album rips. Need I say more?
1. Cave In – Final Transmission
Without knowing of the story surrounding this album’s release, and the events leading up to it; I went headfirst into this album expecting to hate it, as I really didn’t understand this band. Mainly, my confusion spawned from seeing that this band has such a vast audience; with fans from all genres singing their praises–I really didn’t get it. Then, little did I know, my curiosity had AGAIN…gifted me the pleasure of listening to another amazing album! (See a trend here?) Anyways, I loved it; and I wanted more and more. So, as one does, I checked out all their: records-to-date, side projects, socials–whatever. Unfortunately, while going down this rabbit hole, I had found that the front-man Caleb Scofield passed away sometime last year in a horrible accident. Crushed from this news, I decided to listen to the album again; and…it was way more chilling this time around than I’d expect. Not just because of the loss of Scofield, but because I truly believe that they may have caught “lightning in a bottle” with this one record; which should be considered as an amazing feat and a homage to the legacy of their late-singer/the band. With that being said, my respect goes to them, their families, and their fans–as I foolishly wish I had become a fan earlier. Now, with this backstory aside, it is no secret that I am a sucker for bands like Hopesfall, Poison The Well, and Thursday; so it was just natural for me to fall in love with this record/band–being that not very many bands can nail this sound these days. Hands down, my favorite album of the year.