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**Click the Arrow on the top left of the player for songs from 40 – 31**

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40. In the Nursery – 1961
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Post Rock/Classical/Ambient // ITN Corporation

In The Nursery have been around since the early 80s and have gone through a number of style changes without ever losing sight of their original formula. That formula is basically percussion-laden classically-influenced music. 1961 is significant because it marks yet another stylistic adjustment, and it might just be their biggest yet. This time In The Nursery have added rock elements to their classical sound, and it basically makes the album sound like a very symphonic post rock album with occasional vocals. In the Nursery have never really released a bad album, and this one isn’t bad either. Every change they’ve ever made has been great and the rock influence on 1961 is no different. The song on the video doesn’t really do the album justice, but it was literally the only video I could find for the album.

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39. Cyanotic – Tech Noir
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Industrial // Glitch Mode Recordings

I’m a big fan of Cyanotic’s brand of industrial metal. A lot of industrial bands that feature guitar riffs tend to get real lazy with the programming and electronics, but Cyanotic never have. I guess that’s why they can pull off an album like Tech Noir. Tech Noir drops almost all of the guitar parts in favor of a synth/electronics laden album that still features the gravel-throated vocals and powerful beats the band have always been known for. After two excellent, but similar, industrial metal releases and a questionable third release, Tech Noir is a breath of fresh air and a welcome return for the band.

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38. The Negative Bias – Lamentation of the Chaos Omega
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Black/Death Metal // Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum 

Dark, callous, cold melodic blackened death metal that excels in the kind of icy atmospheres that only the best seem capable of creating. Much like the cover presnets, Lamentations of the Chaos Omega definitely feels like it could be the soundtrack to a space-themed horror movie; think Event Horizon. Almost every song runs between six to nine minutes long as it builds on an aggressive collection of riffs and tremelo-picked leads and melodies, pounding percussion, and the raspy death growl synonymous with black and death metal. At the end of the day, it might not being anything ground breaking but it’s definitely some really well done melodic blackened death metal.

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37. Toothgrinder – Phantom Amour
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Modern Progressive Metal // Spinefarm Records

Much of what we get on Phantom Amour can be found elsewhere, which makes it familiar, yet the ways it comes together feels oddly refreshing. It even lets a psychedelic touch or two slip here and there, offset a bit more frequently with the hardcore vocals, but even they are used in a less-than-generous manner. The overall experience is one that keeps you intrigued without necessarily challenging you, thanks in large part to its attempts at creating ambiance, which are quite effective at pulling you in just a bit more as the album plays out. — Xenorazr

This is going to shock longtime fans. Toothgrinder started out as one of those modern prog bands specializing in chaos, noise, and aggression with occasional moments of clean singing and melody. On Phantom Amour the chaos and noise has been replaced by lush atmosphere, and most the aggression has been replaced by the clean singing and melody. The most similar sonic shift that comes to mind is the change between Gabriel and Transhuman — in fact, this and Transhuman have a lot in common. Throughout its runtime, Phantom Amour delivers a moody, melodic blend of modern prog, alternative rock, and even a little psychedelia.

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36. In Search Of Sun – Virgin Funk Mother
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Alternative/Progressive/Metal // Spinefarm

First off… ignore the first track. I don’t know why the lead off with literally the worst track on the album, but every song after is awesome. In Search of Sun sound like a cross between Dance Gavin Dance and Tesseract. In more broad terms, Virgin Funk Mother  is a funky, melodic alt. prog band that occasionally delves into short bouts of heaviness and specializes in huge choruses and catchy riffs.

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35. Kamikaze Girls – Seafoam
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Post Punk/Indie // Big Scary Monsters

Grungy, abrasive female fronted post punk/alt. rock. I like it. Throughout the album I hear The God Machine, Hum, Nirvana, The Pixies, Mephisto Walz, and The Cure but it’s all wrapped up in a more abrasive sound and washed in shoegaze feedback. Seafoam features forceful, gritty, female vocals over music that is a cool blend of alt. rock and post punk.

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34. Gravity – Noir
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Progressive Metalcore // Apathia Records

Female-fronted progressive metalcore that does more than what you might expect from the combination of genres. It’s just a little more musical, a little more diverse, and a little more memorable than your average proggy metalcore band. Gravity still have a little ways to go if they want to make a truly excellent album, but Noir is definitely an great beginning.

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33. Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black
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Death Metal // Metal Blade Records // Album Review

Cannibal corpse continue cannibalizing corpses in a way only a cannibal could cannibalise corpses — Reviewc0re

A Skeletal Domain was my favorite release. I really liked the sharp production, increased technical prowess, and diversity of both the songs and the tempos. I really had hopes that Red Before Black would be a continuation of that release, but it is anything but that. After a few disappointed listens, I did grow to appreciate it for what it is, instead of what I hoped it could be. What Red Before Black is, is a more old school-sytle death metal release that is ferocious from start to finish. It’s really good, but I have a hard time knowing what song is playing at any given time… that all kind of blend together.

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32. Currents – The Place I Feel Safest
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Djent/Metalcore // Sharptone Records // Album Review

This record is a fantastic listen if you’re after a perfect blend of crushing breakdowns and technical riffs. — BandanaGeorge

Huge djenty breakdowns, chugging riffs aplenty, technical leads and rhythms, creative melodies, shouted vocals accentuated by death growls and clean singing… Yeah, there’s nothing that really sets these guys apart from all the similar bands, but the level of conviction and talent is definitely up there. Well worth a listen for those into the style.

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31. Distant Landscape – Insights
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Post Rock/Progressive Rock // Sliptrick Records

After Night is the New Day Katatonia decided to take their compact little sound and expand it with progressive and atmospheric elements. For everyone that thought that it was a good idea, but hated the actual execution, there is Distant Landscape. This was the sound I had in mind when I was reading about Katatonia taking their sound in a more atmospheric/progressive kind of direction. Highly recommended.

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**Click the Arrow on the top left of the player for songs from 30 – 21**

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30. Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper
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Funeral Doom // Profound Lore // Album Review

absorbing, crushing and unusually accessible for an 84 minute single-track funeral doom metal album. flawlessly executed and so easy to get lost in… repeated listens show a frankly brilliant display of songwriting simplicity yet meticulous attention to detail, and the sheer weight of its cathartic emotional power coupled with masterful restraint are what make its 84 minutes feel half that. ‘mirror reaper’ is a standard setter for the genre and a standalone masterpiece. — DarkNoctus

Funeral Doom has a high cost of entry. One does not simply walk into a funeral doom album unprepared. The music’s lethargic pace coupled with riffs and melodies that can take minutes to come together, and death growls that sound more like a continuous abstract groan than actual words or syllables — these are the hurdles that one most overcome in order to enjoy most funeral doom. That doesn’t even begin to get into the genre’s propensity to write songs that are ten-to-twenty minutes (or even longer). Mirror Reaper is all of those things, except taken to a one-hour and twenty-four minute runtime. It’s also really good and a rewarding listen for anyone that has the time and patience. Despite the extended runtime, the melodies are fairly instant and memorable and the death growls are broken up by the occasion clean vocals. Would this be the album I recommend to someone just getting into the genre; probably not. Is it something those already into the genre absolutely should check out? Definitely.

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29. The Monolith Deathcult – Versus I
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Death Metal/Experimental/Industrial // Hammerheart Records

The Monolith Deathcult don’t write songs so much as they write sweeping, vast pieces; sometimes starting and stopping in completely different locales. The first half has quite a bit of industrial style sampling, much like their older stuff, but this trails off gradually in the second half as the symphonics escalate the general mood into full movie score. It has its share of negatives… there are lulls strewn here and there throughout the sonic meshes they call songs…  Still though, the band have always had an interesting idea, and here they expand on it in unusual ways while not scaring away their core fan base. — Panzerchrist

What the hell did I just listen to? Versus I begins with a short snippet that sounds like it came from The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits; one of those creepy black-and-white mystery shows with the occult/alien undertones. As near as I can tell, this one has something to do with Nazi’s trying to raise some sort of monster or something and they’re called The Monolith Deathcult… it’s strange. The story is delivered through a myriad of death, doom, industrial, and symphonic elements; to name just a few. The thing is, all these different elements blend pretty seamlessly and collectively deliver a very cool soundtrack-ish experience over the course of the album. Some of the different spoken word samples are pretty damn funny, too.

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36. Imperialist – Cipher
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Black Metal // Independent Release

The tones, the leads/melodies, the overall feel — this reminds me a lot of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse without any keyboards, but blended with a bit of Dissection and maybe the more aggressive riffs of Old Man’s Child/Dimmu Borgir (without the symphonic cheese). Whatever it reminds you of, Cipher is definitely a well done homage to the 90s classic black metal sound full of sharp leads, treble-based riffs, inhuman growls… oh, and sci-fi lyrics (as far as I can tell). There’s surprisingly very little information on the band and what there is is limited, but it’s worth the effort to seek them out.

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27. Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
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Gothic/Experimental/Industrial // Sargent House // Album Review

It would appear that Chelsea Wolfe has now leaned completely into those delicious doom metal influences that gave Abyss a lot of character, and for what it’s worth, Hiss Spun is pound-for-pound the heaviest album she’s ever penned. Wolfe’s vocals are typically excellent, with the airy etherealness of her voice morphing with the already hazy atmosphere to create a very hypnotic feeling. This is the record many have been waiting for her to create, and it definitely does not disappoint. — RoundOnEndHiInMiddle

There was a 90s record label called Projekt Records that specialized in lush, etheral, albums that trended towards breathy female vocals, lush, yet minimal, instrumentation, and an abundance of atmosphere. I imagine if one of  those bands ever decided to do a doomy/post metal-ish release it would sound exactly like this. Despite the use of guitars, drums, and bass, the music itself leans towards an almost abstract and ethereal sound that just so happens to revel in a gritty/heavy space that is entirely unexpected. It’s unexpected because Chelsea Wolfe’s vocals are so… how do you even describe her voice? They’re soft, yet sinister. They kind of drift over the music, but are still the focal point. They’re sweet sounding, but dark as hell.

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26. Persefone – Aathma
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Progressive Death Metal // ViciSolum Records // Album Review

Persefone are undoubtedly ambitious, with Aathma being their latest solidification. Sprawling, dynamic and occasionally whimsical, what we have here is nothing short of lush atmosphere to match the eye-catching cover art. — Xenorazr

When I think of a conventional progressive death metal, I think of death metal bands that add some melody, some technical chops, and maybe an increased emphasis on hooks, but that are otherwise still death metal. Persefone don’t fall into that stereotype at all. In the broadest terms, Aathema is like a 50/50 split of modern prog and progressive death metal, but without the excesses of either genre. Don’t get me wrong, though, the technical ability is definitely on display wherever you look. The moments where the guitar and keyboard merge to create one seamless solo scream of Dream Theater influence (but, again, without the excess), as do the abrupt rhythm changes, but the band know when to use them and when to return to the song. The clean singing and death vocals are also both well done, and complement the atmospheric undercurrent of every track (while the guitars and rhythm section continuously show of without becoming too much). Aathma is very well done and surprisingly melodic while still being pretty damn riffy.

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25. Anacondas – Gracer/Disgracer
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Post Metal/Post Hardcore/Sludge // Independent Release

Anaconda’s previous release kind of reminded me of what Fugazi might sound like if they decided to release a sludgy post metal album. It wasn’t bad, but it was kind of conventional; except with vocals that set it apart from the post metal masses. Gracer and Disgracer follow that same basic formula of sludgy post metal with a fugazi-style kick, but it expands on the formula greatly. First, this album is absolutely crushing in its dirty bottom end-heavy riffs, and the melodic portion, while still very gritty, has been expanded on, as well. While their previous release was kind of a one-trick pony, this double album is surprisingly diverse. Throughout the two discs, there’s occasional black metal influences and even rhythmic djent-style sections. The vocals, too, have diversified beyond the Ian McKay style of the previous release to include a multitude of different shouts and singing styles. Anaconda’s Gracer/Disgracer releases are an ambitious undertaking (both for the band and the listener), but they succeeded in totally outdoing themselves.

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24. Felix Martin – Mechanical Nations
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Progressive Metal/Jazz/Funk // Independent Release

It’s cool and all, but it’s just not listenable. – Leprous

I can see how some people might find this unlistenable. First of all, instrumental rock/metal music has a limited fanbase to begin with, and Mechanical Nations can’t even fit comfortably into either of those genres. Felix Martin is a self-taught child prodigy from Venezuela. He eventually managed to go to Berklee College of Music, and eventually launched a solo career. His angle, if you want to call it that, is that he plays custom 13-, 14-, and 16-string guitars, and he plays them more like a bass guitar. A lot of the sounds that come from this album sound like a more melodic, more energetic version of what Les Claypool does on Primus songs. Basically, this guy plays all sorts of funky looking guitars and delivers some of the coolest instrumental music I’ve ever heard. It’s not metal by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely has an edge. It’s like progressive rock/jazz/metal/unique shit. The twitchy rhythmic nature of the songs and the out of left field melodies just appeal to me.

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23. Celeste – Infidele(s)
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Black Metal // Denovali Records

Celeste specialize in moderately paced, 90s-era black metal, with occasional bouts of energy, but with a larger focus on heavy riffs. Their style is probably most similar to Malsain, Abbath, and maybe even Satyricon’s classic style. What sets Infidele(s) apart from a lot of the more recent black metal releases is how well it is done. The production is clear and powerful, and allows the abundant collection of riffs to simply drive each song forward. Also, despite there being very little melody (in the traditional sense of the word), the songs all get stuck in your head after only a few listens. This is in large part due to how well the riffs were written. Anyone looking for a well-done black metal release that eschews the frantic pace of its peers in favor of a deliberate, riff-filled, black metal album need look no further than Infidele(s). One last thing, they also don’t do the keyboard drenched symphonic thing either, so there’s that.

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22. Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis
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Thrash/Metal // Napalm Records

This one probably needs a little explanation. How does a Cavalera Conspiracy album end up on a ‘best of’ list? My personal lists are based on two things: how much did I enjoy it and how often did I come back to it. It doesn’t have to be ground breaking or feature mind-fucking musicianship; it doesn’t even have to be a genre essential. This is a good thing, because that basically sums up PsychosisPsychosis attacks with a thrashy ferocity that is singular in its focus, and relentless in its pursuit of the almighty riff. Just about every song launches at a breakneck pace, and rarely lets up from there — except for the occasional slower sections (relatively speaking) that are basically thrashy breakdowns. Psychosis isn’t ground breaking or even all that original, and it certainly won’t win any musicianship awards, but the conviction and unrelenting focus makes this an album that I’ll continue to come back to.

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21. Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
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Progressive Rock // AFM Records // Album Review

Complements this years Anathema’s release The Optimist perfectly, melodies are beautiful and Daniel’s vocals are outstanding in the album. — marcsit

Monochrome makes it pretty obvious who the main songwriter is on Anathema’s last few albums, because it’s basically the modern day Anathema sound. Granted, it’s not as proggy, there isn’t really any electronics, and it’s definitely less energetic, but otherwise it’s very similar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering how bogged down The Optimist was in electronics. To me, Monochrome is basically the album the band should have released and The Optimist sounds more like the experimental side project. Also, instead of the sister providing female vocals, on Monochrome they’re handled by Anneke Van Giersbiergen… which is never a bad thing. Having said all that… what does it actually sound like? Monochrome is driven by mellow piano melodies, acoustic guitars, occasional subtle synth/electronic elements, and the soothing vocals of Daniel Cavanagh with occasional input from Anneke.

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**Click the Arrow on the top left of the player for songs from 20 – 11**

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20. AFI – AFI (The Blood Album)
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Alternative/Post Punk // Concord Records // Album Review

It pisses me off that I like this album. How does this work here and not the shitty bunny cover album or the golden heart shaped turd record? Or the black goatse album for that matter? — Nitroadict

I’ve never been a fan of AFI. Their snotty brand of punk was musically decent, but those high pitched vocals were terrible. Eventually the morphed into a gothy post hardcore band, and again, the music wasn’t terrible, but the vocals sounded like an angry chipmunk. On Burials, AFI made another stylistic change, but it was still very much a transitional album — AFI (The Blood Album) is the results of that transition and it’s the first AFI album I’ve truly enjoyed. The band have fully embraced an alt rock-leaning version of post punk that reminds me of bands such as New Model Army or some of the more rock-oriented The Cure stuff. For the first time, too, I appreciate and even enjoy the vocals. Gone are the angry pitchy vocals of the past, and in their place are a fuller, deeper, more melodic style that fits perfectly. A lot of their longtime fans seem to dislike this album, but it’s definitely a welcome direction, as fas as I am concerned.

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19. Samael – Hegemony
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Industrial/Black Metal // Napalm Records // Album Review

It’s hard to talk about Hegemony without constant comparisons to Passage because the two albums are firmly rooted in the same formula. They both feature an industrialized percussive rhythm, fat power chords, vicious growls and the spirit of black metal (if not occasionally the sound). Within the framework of Samael’s discography, Hegemony is the natural progression of everything that made Passage a classic with only minor nods to anything that happened between the two releases. As it is, 15 years late, Hegemony is a great release that finally embraces the nostalgia of the band’s long-time fans. If Samael truly want to experience a musical renaissance, though, they need to do more than simply rehash a sound they should have kept nearly two decades ago. I believe they still have the talent to do so, and Hegemony proves they still have the drive.

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18. In Reverence – The Selected Breed
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Progressive Death Metal // Non Serviam Records // Album Review

What’s the difference between technical death metal and progressive death metal? To me, it’s the melody and focus on actual songcraft that sets progressive death metal apart from technical death metal (and generally makes it more enjoyable). The Selected Breed has the prerequisite melodies and focus on actual songs, but it takes things a step further by crafting excellently dark atmospheres. Of course, The Selected Breed also has plenty of crushingly heavy sections and rapid-fire percussion, as well as the ferocious growling that is also a prerequisite for any band wanting to call themselves death metal. The Selected Breed is melodic, aggressive, atmospheric, and diverse. Everything a good progressive death metal album should be. It has an excellent production, too.

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17. Glassjaw – Material Control
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Post Hardcore // Century Media // Album Review

This album meshes the seductive groove of Coloring Book, the vitriolic heaviness of Our Color Green and EYEWTKAS, and it’s all punctuated with a healthy dash of the proggy, out-there songwriting that made Worship and Tribute a stone cold classic. Material Control stands as a completely worthy addition to the Glassjaw canon, and serves as a shining example of how to come back from a long studio silence with a massive bang. — coma2rium

I would have preferred something that continued from where Coloring Book left off. Of all their albums, that one is easily my favorite… but Material Control is definitely no let down. Whereas Coloring Book was a grooving, Deftones-inspired release, Material Control is a rhythmic monster of noise, feedback, and formless waves of distortion that somehow comes together to make songs. The best way describe almost every aspect of this album is abstract. Save a few conventional riffs, most of the music, beats, and rhythms almost feel… well, abstract and formless.

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16. Adimiron – Et Liber Eris
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Progressive/Technical Death Metal // Indie Recordings 

Adimiron made their name by releasing a couple of relentless progressive metal/technical death metal albums. They were both pretty damn good, but they suffered a bit from a homogeneous sound that simply bludgeoned the listener for a majority of their runtimes. Et Liber Eris fixes the homogeny issue by infusing just a little more melody and picking up some welcome Tool and Opeth influences that never veer into straight-up emulation. Don’t get me wrong, though, their style change isn’t nearly as drastic as Toothgrinder’s was, but it still there and definitely apparent. In fact, the first really drastic change doesn’t even come until the fourth track, “The Coldwalker” which is probably the most melodic thing they’ve ever done. Mostly, Et Liber Eris is the same technical death metal/progressive metal as before but with enough variation, melody and clean singing to give the songs some memorable moments and much needed variation. Overall, Et Liber Eris is really good and definitely a step above their past releases, but they need to move just a step further to truly be great.

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15. Galactic Cowboys – Long Way Back To The Moon
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Alt Metal/Progressive // Music Theories

Galactic Cowboys and Space In Your Face were two brilliant albums in a league of their own. This is their third with the original line-up twenty-four years later. Not as adventurous or virtuoso, but a very good effort indeed! — Schmoove

After 17 years, the Galactic Cowboys came out of nowhere with the announcement of their seventh album Long Way Back To The Moon, and only the third release to feature the original line-up. For those that have heard them before, Long Way Back To The Moon reminds me of a cross between the prog(ish) metal of their debut and the grungier, dirtier, more linear direction they started on Machine Fish. The thing is, Long Way Back To The Moon is better than either of those releases (and their whole discography, really). Whereas previous releases always had some sort of issue that detracted from the album’s overall quality, this one takes everything from their past including the chunky metal riffs, alternative rock and grunge influences, and the huge harmonized choruses and delivers them in a near-perfect package. If their are issues it’s that the abundance of harmonized vocals have a tendency to sound fairly cheesy and make the songs sound more similar than they really are. Also, their vocalist has the same nasally delivery as Voivod’s Denis “Snake” Bélanger during their Angel Rat era, which could be off-putting to some… but not to me.

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14. The Birthday Massacre – Under Your Spell
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Industrial/Alternative/Goth // Metropolis Records // Album Review

Great album by the Birthday Massacre, it has their most intense electronics since Walking With Strangers, and seems to favor atmosphere/mood and clever vocal lines over huge choruses which I personally find to be a nice change of pace. A very confident and mature album, with the cuteness dialed back a bit in favor of darkness. — Gmork89

Ever since Walking With Strangers, The Birthday Massacre have been straddling the line between catchy synth pop and their gothy/industrial roots; leaning more to one side or the other depending on which album you’re listening to. Regardless of direction, though, every album so far had managed to be fairly instant, catchy, and easily digestible. That has changed with Under Your SpellUnder Your Spell is easily The Birthday Massacre’s most subdued album, trading in huge hooks for subdued atmosphere, and cute lyrics with morbid undertones for moody introspection. Due to these changes, Under Your Spell takes more than a few listens to truly start getting into. Those extra listens might require a little dedication, because at first everything seems to blend together with the same tempo and vocal delivery. In the end, though, Under Your Spell is definitely worth the extra ‘work’ because the breakthrough is definitely rewarding.

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13. PVRIS – All We Know of Heaven…
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Electronic/Alternative // Rise Records // Album Review

They’ve taken out most of the poppy, upbeat stuff from White Noise; instead opting for a focus on the darker, more atmospheric elements of their sound… with fantastic results. The harp is awesome too. — sempiturtle

I honestly don’t know anything about this band. I’ve never heard their other releases, so I don’t know how they compare. I only know All We Know of Heaven… is an awesome blend of alternative rock and electronic pop, and they have a great female vocalist. The percussion is powerful, the synths are lush and wash over everything, the melodies and hooks are infectious, and Lyndsey Gunnulfsen’s vocals are the glue that tie everything together. Kind of reminds me of what The Jezabels’ Synthia album could have been if they had decided to go all in on the more electronic/pop elements of their sound.

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12. Within The Ruins – Halfway Human
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Metalcore/Progressive/Death Metal // eOne Records // Album Review

Essentially more of the same from these guys with the introduction of clean vox, which aren’t half bad. Also, Ataxia IV!  — Malconstant

Halfway Human is pretty much the same thing they’ve been doing since 2013’s Elite. Within The Ruins play Djenty, techy, metalcore with occasional hints of death metal; that hasn’t changed. The thing is, they do it so damn well. Every song is chalk full of twitchy start/stop rhythms, blazing leads, melodic undercurrents, and frantic riffing, and it’s damn near flawless. Also, they are definitely becoming better song writers with every release, and they have introduced clean vocals on this album… which is something new for them. Overall, Halfway Human sees Within The Ruins doing what they’ve always done at the top-notch level they’re known for doing it. This album won’t win them any new fans, but old fans will find another awesome (yet familiar) release.

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11. Blaze Of Perdition – Conscious Darkness
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Epic Black Metal // Agonia Records

It seems like good black metal bands are so hard to find these days. They either play it so close to the originals that you might as well listen to the originals, or they’re just terrible… mostly they seem to be terrible. Blaze of Perdition is different. They took that classic 90s black metal sound, extended the songs, added some dynamics and made them just a little heavier. They’re really minor changes, but it works and leads to Conscious Darkness being the first really good black metal album (from a newer artist) in a while. Bleak, heavy, melodic, diverse, atmospheric and epic. Everything a good black metal album with extended songs should be. This album also has a really good drummer.

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**Click the Arrow on the top left of the player for songs from the Top 10**

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10. Greywind – Afterthoughts
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Alternative Rock // Spinefarm // Album Review

A fantastic effort for a debut album, and my god does Steph have an awesome vocal range. — GroundKing

This debut definitely took me by surprise because the confidence and execution on Afterthoughts comes off like a much more established band. Musically and vocally, Afterthoughts reminds me of a heavier version of Flyleaf’s debut without any of the screaming. The difference is that Steph’s range is much higher than anything I’ve heard from Lacey, but the overall vocal tone and delivery is definitely similar. Having said that, this album is a little saturated with power ballads which can definitely be an issue during initial listens. Having listened to this for the better part of a year, I can say that the abundance of mid-tempo songs eventually becomes a non-issue as they’re all so well done and memorable. If there’s really going to be something that makes or breaks Afterthoughts for people it’s going to be Steph. She definitely has some range and will probably be the point that makes people enjoy this or dismiss it. Personally, I’ve totally enjoyed it.

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9. Anomalie – Visions
9. Anomalie - Visions

Post Black Metal // Art Of Propaganda

Anomalie’s debut was definitely on the primitive side of the post black metal genre, but there was something endearing about it as well. The raw emotions, competent melodies, and subtle diversity was enough to let it hang in the upper tier of the genre. Unfortunately, Refugium didn’t really build on that foundation and felt more like a step back in sound and execution. Visions definitely builds on the debut’s promise, and leaps forward more than a few steps. It takes the melodic post black metal foundation of the debut and expands to include more melody, heavier riffs, great clean/black metal vocals, acoustic guitars, and an all around more entertaining listen without any of the dead spots that plague most post black metal releases.

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8. Leprous – Malina
8. Leprous - Malina

Progressive Metal // InsideOut Records // Album Review

Leprous (almost) completely abandon their heavier side for a more moody and ambient sound. It may be a bit disappointing for fans of their earlier work, but the album is still loaded with gorgeous moments, particularly in the second half. — Christopher Geriak

Leprous is a Norwegian progressive metal band formed in 2001 in Notodden, Norway. They originally made their mark as Ihsahn’s (Emperor vocalist/guitarist) backing band in live situations. Don’t let that mislead you, though, because Leprous don’t play progressive black metal. Their first four albums could broadly be categorized as the kind of quirky progressive metal that only seems to come from Norway, but even that doesn’t describe Malina. On Malina, Leprous has dropped any pretense of simply being a progressive metal band and opened their sound to elements only hinted at before — mainly electronic music. It shouldn’t surprise fans of the band that this has finally happened considering the band count Radiohead, Massive Attack, and The Prodigy among more standard influences such as Porcupine Tree and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

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7. Cradle Of Filth – Cryptoriana: The Seductiveness of Decay
7. Cradle of Filth - Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay copy

Gothic Black Metal // Nuclear Blast Records // Album Review

After making fun of this band for years without every actually listening to them I have to say I had fun. Kinda silly and dramatic but a lot more fun than it has any right to be. Reminds me of Sigh I suppose. — Xenophanes

Nobody expected Cradle of Filth to recover from their 15-year slump with such skill when they released Hammer of the Witches, but they did. Despite that, there were still a lot of questions about the band’s ability to adeptly follow it up. It turns out any concerns were unwarranted. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is easily Cradle of Filth’s most visceral, nuanced, and consistent album in their 23-year career. The riffs are some of their best, the melodies are well-developed, and Dani Filth’s vocals sound better than they ever have. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay does everything its predecessor did right, but better, and with more style, flair, and conviction.

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6. Bjork – Utopia
6. Bjork

Electronic/Pop/Experimental // One Little Indian // Album Review

Bjork sings quietly behind loud, annoying animal sounds and abrasive electronics. — BrushedRed

Bjork is an eccentric little Icelander and it comes across in her music. It’s not like I’m not open to her style, I’ve enjoyed her vocals since The Sugarcubes, but as her musical cheese has fallen farther from the cracker I haven’t always been able to keep up. That’s why Utopia is such a surprise. Musically this reminds me of Orbus Terrarum-style found sounds, deep quirky beats, and lush waves of synth. Over the top Bjork just kind of sings. There aren’t any real choruses or hooks or any other commercial aspects, but Utopia has quickly turned into my favorite Bjork release.

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5. Ulsect – Ulsect
5. Ulsect - Ulsect copy

Technical Death Metal // Season of Mist // Album Review

“Dissonant death metal” ayye this is Dodecahedron with growls and some sludddge breakdowns. — zaruyache

I really want to like these chaotic technical death metal bands that put crushingly dark atmosphere above mindless musicianship. I’m talking about bands like Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega; and in short bursts I really do enjoy them, but eventually I have to make it stop. That’s where Ulsect come in. They also do that wall-of-sound but there are little reprieves buried in the hurt such as around the four-minute mark of “Our Trival Toil” where a barely audible melodic refrain comes in under the crushing riffs before transitioning into something a bit more manageable. At the end of the day, this is awesome technical death metal that transitions between chaotic dissonance and disonant atmospherics. The key here is the unrelenting heaviness…. And dissonance; defintely dissonant.

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4. Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming
4. Eisley - I'm Only Dreaming

Indie Pop // Equal Vision Records // Album Review

Don’t get me wrong, this album is not a massive departure from the classic Eisley sound – they are still as whimsical as ever – but there is enough growth and heart here to possibly make it the best album Eisley has ever put out. — gamal

Eisley do one thing well, but they do it ridiculously well. That one thing is lush, chill, indie pop that features some of the most infectious melodies and gorgeous harmonized vocals I’ve ever heard. Any attempt by Eisley to do anything different has inevitably led to an inferior product. This was nowhere more apparent than on their previous release, Currents. Fortunately, the band realized this too because they have gone back to the chill, melody-drenched, sound of their first two releases and it’s a welcome return.

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3. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar
3. Ulver - The Assassination of Julius Caesarjpg

Electronic/Pop/Experimental // House of Mythology // Album Review

I felt like I was listening to a post-punk playlist at a gay bar. (Rating: 4.0— plane

I felt like I was listening to a post-punk playlist at a gay bar. (Rating: 2.7) — Xenophanes

Look Above… same exact description and two vastly different ratings. Ulver have always released polarizing albums. From their black metal beginnings to the industrial of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell to the “whatever you want to call what they’re doing these days” of their latest release, Ulver have always managed to frustrate a certain subset of their fans. Their change has probably been easier on me than a lot of long time fans because The Marriage of Heaven and Hell was my first Ulver release, and “Nowhere Catastrophe” from their subsequent release is still my favorite song across their entire discography. What I’m saying is, My favorite Ulver tracks have always been the ones with vocals. This whole album has vocals and it kind of mixes their Blood Inside sound with an almost 80s style synth pop sound. I’m not opposed to a good melody or memorable chorus, and when an band like Ulver can mix those two things into the lush soundscapes they’re known for, I’ll take it every time.

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2. Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
2. Caligula's Horse - In Contact

Modern Progressive Metal // InsideOut Records // Album Review

My first contact with Caligula’s Horse leaves no space for wrong impressions. They certainly belong to that part of the current progressive metal with great musicianship, slick production and overall extravagance. The problem with most of these bands, is whether or not there’s any meat to be found. For every Haken out there there are hundreds of copy cats with half the shine. Caligula’s Horse is not the case. I’ve found myself taken aback from the great riffs and themes. There are many moods explored here, from the Leprous-like Graves with the frantic saxophone, to the mellow ballad with ‘Capulet’, admittedly one of my favourite tracks off this. I’ve learnt to appreciate Jim Grey’s delicate voice from his other band, Arcane, and this time I feel like he outshines himself, in an album where every player strives to outshine the other.. — Mythodea

This was my first exposure to Caligula’s Horse and their rhythmic, yet melodic, brand of progressive metal. Honestly, I just felt like the band name was kind of stupid, and I assumed the music was just as bad. Fortunately, I decided to ignore the name and give these guys a shot… and I’ve been missing out. In Contact reminds me of modern prog bands such as Tesseract mixed with the traditional progressive metal of artists such as Porcupine Tree and Riverside, and they manage to take the absolute best from both versions of the genre. From the twitchy “Dream the Dead” and “Will’s Song” to the dreamy “Love Conquers All” there isn’t a single bit of filler on Caligula’s Horse’s In Contact.

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1. Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day
1. Pain of Salvation - In the Passing Light of Day

Progressive Metal // InsideOut Records // Album Review

Paraphrasing a quote from Confucius, the glory of this band and its main-man, lies not only in past triumphs, but also in rising when circumstances of entirely different context, conspire otherwise. And what a rise this is, as an essentially new band delivers an album that’s up there with Entropia and Remedy Lane, although the blind emulation of mentioned predecessors, is avoided at large. Interested listeners are encouraged to track Pain of Salvation anno 2017 at the intersection of progressive rock lyricism with the atonal nihility of modern/nu metal. Favorite song: Full Throttle Vibe, for obvious and not so obvious reasons. — Voivod

I’m not going to lie, Pain of Salvation lost me after Remedy Lane. I was a big fan of the band’s overly emotive, quirky brand of progressive metal fronted by eccentric main man Daniel Gildenlöw from Entropia through Remedy Lane, but when they pushed the ‘quirky’ and ‘progressive’ further on Be I just couldn’t get into it. With every subsequent release, I would try to enjoy it, and fail. That finally changed with In The Passing Light of Day. During In The Passing Light of Day’s runtime, I hear the heaviness of Entropia, the epic-ness of Concrete Lake, the ultra-catchy melodies of Perfect Element, and the emotion of Remedy Lane… but this is better than all of those. If nothing else, those albums I couldn’t enjoy taught the band how to craft real songs that didn’t devolve into mindless wanking. All the youthful mistakes and Dream Theater meandering that would ruin songs in the past is gone… and that is definitely for the best.

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Willie
12.12.17
Yep. It's definitely that time of the year again.

Voivod
12.12.17
^^Indeed it is. Need to hear Industrialist and Cyanotic at least.

SowingSeason
12.12.17
Phenomenal looking post. A bit surprised to find AFI on here but I like it. Also those Ulver excerpts, lol. Will read the rest of this soon.

theBoneyKing
12.12.17
ctrl + f "metal"

KjSwantko
12.12.17
That Greywind artwork is sweet; I'll have to check 'em. Nice list by the way, Willie.

Papa Universe
12.12.17
i wouldn't have picked any of those, but good for you.

EvoHavok
12.12.17
List looks neat and it contains some jams.

Willie
12.12.17
--Phenomenal looking post. A bit surprised to find AFI on here but I like it. Also those Ulver excerpts, lol. Will read the rest of this soon--

Thanks. I was really surprised about that AFI album. First one of theirs I've actually liked. Yeah, those Ulver excerpts were perfect.

--ctrl + f "metal"--

Yep.

-That Greywind artwork is sweet; I'll have to check 'em.--

If you check them out, let me know what you think. Every album has a song attached to it on the YouTube videos to check out.

--i wouldn't have picked any of those, but good for you.--

I'll take it. Ha ha.

--List looks neat and it contains some jams.--

True

Jom
12.12.17
Death, taxes, Willie having a gorgeous year-end featurette.

I always appreciate how you include users' sound-offs (or, in the case of Ulver, staffers' sound-offs...) in your year-end write-ups. A true man of the people.

Sabrutin
12.12.17
Props for 38 and 14, I need to spin 27 once more. Also nice nod to Event Horizon there. I'm afraid that 1 does nothing for me, except for the t/t which does move me a bit.

Phenomenal looking [2]

Toondude10
12.12.17
That Cyanotic album looks interesting, need to listen to some more industrial

PistolPete
12.12.17
I could've gone the whole year not knowing Cyanotic released something...wow I'll need to listen then.

Atari
12.12.17
I also enjoy the inclusion of the user's sound-offs/quotes. Lovey work Willie

SandwichBubble
12.13.17
Love the way everything's presented, good work. Can't say anything about the music, cause I don't know 80% of these -_-

Danred97
12.13.17
Cool list. I haven't even heard of most of this stuff, but you are pretty convincing with a lot of it.

Dewinged
12.13.17
Bookmarked for reading later. That format though, Willie... Mmmmmmmmm...

Willie
12.13.17
--I always appreciate how you include users' sound-offs (or, in the case of Ulver, staffers' sound-offs...) in your year-end write-ups. A true man of the people.--

I like doing it that way. I think it adds an extra dimension to the list, and makes it (slightly) less self-indulgent.

--That Cyanotic album looks interesting--

It's really good. Much better than the previous release, for sure.

--I haven't even heard of most of this stuff, but you are pretty convincing with a lot of it.--

That has to count for something ;)

Thanks to those appreciating the format. Doing the actual layout and stuff is really probably about 75% of the reason I even do these every year. It's relaxing. ha ha.

onionbubs
12.13.17
ayy nice greywind inclusion. didnt expect to see them on any aoty lists, but afterthoughts has some absolute killers on it

Willie
12.13.17
The first half of that Greywind album hooked me immediately, and the rest grew on me over the months.

someguest
12.13.17
The feel when you get that formatting just right.

I haven't heard most of these, but it's definitely a well-rounded list!

bgillesp
12.13.17
Nice on the prog metal love! I loved 1 and 2 was great too although I felt the back half was much stronger than the front. Graves is a killer track off In Contact

PistolPete
12.13.17
No Mastodon Willie? Been jamming that a lot this week and it's better than I originally took it for way back when

Willie
12.13.17
Yeah. The prog stuff is definitely my favorite. Add ‘prog’ to the beginning of just about any genre and I’ll probably enjoy it more. I like the entire Caligula’s Horse album. I can see people liking the second half more since they have the back to back ballads for the third and fourth song.

WatchItExplode
12.13.17
picked up Blaze of Perdition, may check others cheers Willie

Dedes
12.13.17
Awesome list man! I also really like how you include user soundoffs and well detailed descriptions for each album.
Also Ulsect does in fact rule.

Willie
12.14.17
--picked up Blaze of Perdition, may check others cheers Willie--

I haven't really been a fan of a lot of the black metal releases over the last few years, but this year was pretty good for the genre.

--Also Ulsect does in fact rule.--

Truth

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.15.17
OH GOT YES

Titan
12.16.17
closing track on 1 is incredible

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.16.17
Entire list is incredible

Willie
12.16.17
The entire Pain of Salvation album is an awesome return to form, plus it fixes a lot of those youthful album issues.

Where is the real LordePots, because I don’t recognize this poster.

BallsToTheWall
12.16.17
Fuck! I didn't even know In The Nursery put out a ne wone.

kalkwiese
12.16.17
Probs for C-Horse up there. They really deserve it. AOTY is tied to three records for me at tme moment and In Contact is one of them.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
12.16.17
"Where is the real LordePots, because I don’t recognize this poster. "

lmao ;]

calmrose
12.16.17
didn't know 23 had a new album, band rules and will check

Willie
12.17.17
Let me know how it compares. I haven’t heard the older ones.

BallsToTheWall
12.18.17
I need to find 34. Sick list Willie.

foxblood
12.18.17
nice, i need to check some of these

zakalwe
12.18.17
This is mental

captaincrunch11
12.19.17
Cradle of Filth >>>>

Willie
12.20.17
Yeah, Cradle was definitely a surprise. I honestly didn't think they'd be able to go back-to-back.

sempiturtle
12.21.17
Yo thanks for using my soundoff, that PVRIS album was great

Willie
12.21.17
No problem. It was a good soundoff... and, yes, the PVRIS album was definitely really cool. I need to spend some time with their older albums.

Hawks
12.22.17
Fucking awesome list Willie. I gotta hear 2, 9, 11, 19, 23, 31, 34 and 38 so hard.

Willie
12.23.17
That's a lot to check out. Better get on it before 2018 comes and starts the process over. Oceans Of Slumber is my first 2018 rec.

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