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12.30.10 Another Generic Favorites Of 2010 List 12.30.10 Another Generic Favorites Of 2010 List
01.22.10 25 Favorite Albums Of 200904.06.09 Some Good Metalcore Albums
01.02.09 Worst Albums I Listened To This Year12.30.08 My Favorite Finds Of The Year
12.30.08 Favorite Finds Of The Year12.28.08 My Biggest Disappointments Of 2008
12.26.08 Top 20 Albums Of 200808.06.08 My Albums Of Summer 2008
05.10.08 Guilty Pleasures12.28.07 My Top 25 Albums Of 2007

Top 20 Albums Of 2008
1 The Gaslight Anthem
The '59 Sound

I'm not sure where to begin with this, really. Ever since I found out about them in March, I loved everything I've heard. Their debut album, Sink or Swim was a masterpiece in my opinion, and I didn't think that they could follow up on it. However, what The Gaslight Anthem do is instead of attempting to improve on Sink or Swim, they go with a totally different direction on The '59 Sound and make yet another amazing album. What they do different on The '59 Sound is they place more influence on soul and old rock n' roll rather than the mixture of punk, folk & rock n' roll that Sink or Swim was based upon. I wouldn't call this anything revolutionary but it's definitely the best thing I've heard all year. I can relate to a good amount of songs on The '59 Sound as The Gaslight Anthem sings about good times passing, having the greatest expectations, wondering which song they'll play when we go and of course, people in high-top sneakers and sailor tatoos. You'll just have to listen to the album to know what I've been rambling about here. If it wasn't for this, I wouldn't still love Tom Petty songs and drive old men crazy and really, what's greater than that? Again, you'll have to listen to this album to know what I'm talking about. If you haven't heard the album, then you probably have no fucking clue what I've been talking about for this whole summary! Anyway, my favorite album of the year and one of my favorite finds this year. How Gaslight will follow-up on this, I have no clue, but I can't wait.
2Toxic Holocaust
An Overdose of Death...

To put it simple, this record fucking slays, the best metal album of the year for sure. Toxic Holocaust are another band in the thrash revival but they are definitely a worthy contributor to it with their unique blend of thrash and black metal. Their first two albums are solid but were plagued by terrible production, which was the thing missing to make them really take off in the metal crowd. A basic deion of their sound is fast, ripping thrash metal riffs with black metal style vocals. On An Overdose of Death, they got the much needed production and their sound took off a lot more than expected. The guitar tone is fucking amazing as it makes the riffs sound a lot heavier and the addition of a studio drummer (Donny Paycheck from Zeke) helped them out a lot too. It still has an overall raw sound but it's much more polished than their first two albums. It is somewhat of a change for Toxic Holocaust but in this case, change is good.
3Scar Symmetry
Holographic Universe

I definitely wasn't expecting something this good from a newer melodic death metal band as Scar Symmetry's new album, Holographic Universe took me by surprise for sure. The band places a lot of emphasis on melody in their music, and they execute it very well as their choruses are catchy and impossible not to love. Holographic Universe has a lot of progressive parts as well, which is what makes this a gem among newer melodic death metal albums. The thing that caught me the most was how fucking great Christan Alvestam's vocals are. He has one of the best ranges I've heard in awhile, going from deep death grunts, basic metal shrieks to beautifully sung choruses.The guitarists of Per Nissolsin and Jonas Kjellgren are also extremely impressive on Holographic Universe too as they make an excellent duo. Whichever side of the band you prefer, Holographic Universe showcases both of them very well and you may find yourself listening to this album almost as much as I did this year.
4The Loved Ones [US]
Build & Burn

When I got Keep Your Heart back in April, I was in love with that album. It was nearly all I listened to for a couple months. I had heard that Build & Burn wasn't as good as it but I figured I would give it shot anyway and it turned out to be just as good as Keep Your Heart. The Loved Ones do change it up a little bit, adding more traditional instruments into their forte and building on their rough punk sound. It was a good move in my opinion, because a lot of people probably wouldn't have wanted Keep Your Heart pt. 2, I would have been happy with it but I don't know about others haha. Anyway, this is much more "mature" than Keep Your Heart as a lot of the lyrics focus on the troubles and burdens of life. Some members from The Hold Steady also drop in and contribute to this album as well, helping The Loved Ones take their sound to a whole new level.

Probably my favorite band from this new wave of folk metal that's been getting really popular lately. The main reason I like them so much is that they combine folk music and metal without coming off as ridiculously cheesy. So many other bands have failed at dong so, but this band manages to combine the two styles perfectly. Their metal side is heavily influenced by Dark Tranquillity, especially the vocals. The more folk side is very prominent as they use mainly Celtic folk instruments like pipes, fiddles and bagpipes. They may be considered too heavy to be a folk metal band but there aren't too many melo-death bands that use flutes in their sound so calling them melodic death metal may also be a bit of a stretch. Whatever genre they do fit into, it's obvious that they are a standout among those in it. Eluveitie are definitely a worhty contributor to the folk metal scene rather than just a clone of other bands in it since this new style of melodic death metal/folk metal might influence tons of other bands.
6Murder By Death
Red of Tooth and Claw

I got into this band at the beginning of the year and have loved everything I've heard including this album. I didn't know if I would like this as much as their other three albums but it ended up being my 2nd favorite from them. Unlike their last album, they wrote a concept album that revolves around one story instead of 12 different ones. This story details the adventures of the protagonist of their second album, Who Will Survive & What Will Be Left of Them as he travels the desert to the town where the former album takes place. They tone down on the depressing ballads on this album and focus more on faster-paced songs, but most of them still have the solemn vibe that they are known for. The main exception being the closer, "Spring Break 1899" which is probably the most upbeat song I've heard from the band and one of their bests for sure. Not as great as their last two albums but it's still fantastic and one of the top albums this year. If you have never listened to this band before, prepare for something like you have never heard before.
7Off With Their Heads
From The Bottom

Off With Their Heads' debut From The Bottom has finally arrived and it is absolutely stellar. Their style of aggressive but upbeat and fast punk rock drew me into listening to them more but what made me a fan was the lyrics.If this isn't one of the most honest punk records I've ever heard, then I don't know what is. You can tell that Ryan Young means what he says when he delivers these honest, (yet, hateful at times) lyrics. Some examples are; "Until the day I die I fuckin' swear I'm gonna make your life as miserable as mine" '-Until The Day., "I'll tell you why I fucking hate my life, I'll tell you why I can't seem to get it right, I'll tell you why I entertain the thought of dying all the time"- I Am You, and "I'm so sick of fighting with every single person that I know, and I'm so sick of lying and burying myself in a hole, I just want to fill that tank up and drive, It's the only thing that still makes me feel alive"- Fuck This, I'm Out. These are some of the most truthful, hateful and honest lyrics I've heard from a punk band awhile. Young's gruff voice is another reason why they stand out from others in the punk scene. When I say gruff, I don't mean a little rough, his voice is really fucking gruffs. Almost like Al Barr from Dropkick Murphy's if he drank acid. Their upbeat sound contrasts the lyrics and vocals nicely to make one fucking excellent punk album.
8Amon Amarth
Twilight of the Thunder God

If there's one band that I've never been disappointed by, it's Amon Amarth. Their style of Viking Metal has remained consistent through their years as a band but it has shifted over the years. They took a more doom metal approach on a couple of their albums but returned to their faster, melodic death metal sound on 2006's epic With Oden On Our Side and continue it on Twilight of the Thunder God. How Twilight of the Thunder God is different from With Oden... is that it sounds much more epic than any of their previous albums and uses a lot more guitar solos. Amon Amarth's sound is still powered buy the sick dual-guitar riffs and Viking related lyrics. It's not as good as With Oden..but it's still a very outstanding album for the metal community in 2008.
Still Nothing Moves You

Hardcore has become a bit of a joke in recent years with so many "scene" bands trying to pass off redundant, generic garbage as hardcore. Fortunately, Ceremony is not one of those bands and their debut, Still Nothing Moves You sounds exactly like what real hardcore should sound like, only on steroids. They are even more pissed off, angry, ferocious, and it hits you right in the face and knocks you out when you listen to it. This brings back an even more vicious sound that is reminiscent of some hardcore bands that were big around the turn of the millennium, before it went to shit that is. Ceremony are much more progressive, talented and pissed off than those bands, which separates them from being categorized with them, in my opinion. Anyway, Still Nothing Moves You is definitely the best hardcore album of the year and may start a whole new breed of hardcore bands that will be out in the future.
10Rise Against
Appeal To Reason

I'm gonna go ahead and make the very bold statement of saying that this is the band's best album since Revolutions Per Minute. That may not suit well with a lot of people but it's true. On Appeal To Reason, Rise Against combine the aggressive sounds of Revolutions Per Minute with the catchy, "poppier" sound of their last album, Sufferer & The Witness. Rise Against keep releasing one solid album after another and Appeal To Reason continues that streak. The aggressive songs are almost as good as they were on Revolutions Per Minute and some of the "poppier" songs are the best on here. i.e. "The Dirt Whispered." I just love that they haven't completely lost their touch despite what most people say.
11The Mars Volta
The Bedlam In Goliath

There were a lot of bands that improved this year and The Mars Volta may have been the one that improved the most. This is the first Mars Volta album I can listen to the whole way through without skipping tracks or anything. They finally cut the bullshit and made an album that rocks from start to finish. There's a ton of incredible instrumental parts on here; incredible drumming, awesome guitar solos, crazy sounding wind instruments and Cedric's voice sounds better than ever (not counting when he was in ATDI but that's another story). It really sounds like the band had a blast recording this too. Rather than focusing on ambient passages and etc, they just have fun in the studio rocking out and making this album. They've been struggling with their past couple of albums but they come back and blow everyone away with The Bedlam In Goliath.
12 Thrice
The Alchemy Index Vol. III & IV: Air & Earth

Thrice are a perfect example of how a band should evolve. Going from punk to post hardcore to experimental rock within 4 albums, and now they are doing many different things with The Alchemy Index. Showcasing their heavier and softer sides on Fire & Water, they go with a completely different direction on Air & Earth. Air shows them taking an atmospheric style rock approach and Earth shows them with a "back to basics" style approach. Air is the best out of all four albums and has one of the best songs the band has ever done on it with, "Daedalus." Earth is also great. They use mostly acoustic instruments on it and there is only one track with a full drum kit. Both sound nothing like the band has ever done before and both are amazing. It will be very interesting to see how the band goes from here. I was very skeptical as to how much I would like this since Fire & Water took awhile to grow on me, but I ended up being blown away.

Man, how great is Opeth? They keep pumping out one great album after another and Watershed is no different. It shows a bit of a separation between Opeth's heavier and lighter sides, only they aren't repeating what they once did with their older albums. The lighters songs sound much more mournful and darker while the heavier songs are much more brutal than they have been before. The real thing that impressed me was how they managed to put out another fantastic album despite two key members leaving the band. Drummer Martin Lopez and long-time guitarist Peter Lindgren (who was with the band for over 15 years) left the band before Watershed was recorded and many thought they were done after this. Doubters have been proved wrong as Opeth return only with a somewhat new sound, but it doesn't stray away from sounding like Opeth.
14Protest The Hero

One hell of a sophomore effort from the Canadian progressive metal/post-hardcorewhatevethefucktheywanttobecalled band. They've improved in nearly every way possible ever since Kezia came out and show it on this album. Better songwriting, even more incredible musicianship, much improved vocals and each track doesn't sound like 4 different pieces like Kezia did. There's a lot more metal influence on this album too, hell, it could even be considered a metal album to some. Either way, it rules. I was sick of all the hype when this first came out but I eventually learned to deal with it and just accepted the fact that this album slays. Can't wait for the next one.
15Alkaline Trio
Agony and Irony

Meh. I don't care if I'm biased, I love this album. Sure, it's not as good as other records but it's still very solid for what it is. I don't understand all of the complaints about this being "more mainstream" it sounds like an Alkaline Trio record if you ask me. It shows the band going to sort of a Good Mourning-era sound with a few faster tracks that Crimson lacked. The lyrics are also somewhat upbeat and positive compared to the rest of their discography, it's something different but I like it. The New Wave style production that was on Crimson is absent on this record too, giving it a more simpler feel. This is also coming from someone that enjoyed Crimson a bit, haha. A good few of these tracks are killer live as well. Yeah, it's also the debut of them on Epic Records but all the "Troo punx" need something to complain about, am I right?
16Dillinger Four

Everyone's been waiting years for the release of this and it's finally here and well worth the wait. D4 didn't really change things up on this album but why fix something that isn't broken? They come out in full force and make yet another album that rules from start to finish with their signature style of punk rock. This album is great as a whole, as there aren't too many individual standouts but to me, that means that I'm less likely to skip tracks haha. A few tracks on here sound like they would be better faster but this album still rules either way.
17Street Dogs
State of Grace

I wasn't really expecting much coming into this album since I had never listened to Street Dogs before and my friend told me they were terrible, I'll remember never to listen to him again because Street Dogs are the exact opposite of terrible. Street Dogs are becoming one of my favorite bands and this is the album I started with. This isn't terribly different from their other albums only with a lot more folk instruments thrown in. This is also the Street Dogs' best album lyrical wise, not neccisarily their best album overall though. Oh, and for the record, they sound completely different from the other two Celtic influenced punk bands who are also awesome but everyone knows who they are. Not sure if anyone will get that last sentence but either way, this album is very good and a great addition to Street Dogs' discography.
18 Alestorm
Captain Morgan's Revenge

A friend recommended me this album and as soon as he told me that they were "pirate metal" I had to get on this as soon as possible. The whole idea might sound stupid to some, but Alestorm actually pull off the whole pirate gimmick very well. They're very talented musicians showing off their abilities in a lot of tracks with guitar solos and the inclusion of Celtic and Scottish folk instruments to make their "pirate metal" sound very authentic. Another main reason is because the vocalist literally sounds like a soggy old ship captain who has been wondering the seven seas for years in search of treasure. Just sit back and listen to the band's tales of treasure hunting, booze, wenches and scavenging the seas. There's also a good amount of headbanging tracks on here too as well as some that supply many lulz, so if you're into that, then this is the album for you
19Less Than Jake

I'm in the minority of those who really enjoyed Less Than Jake's last couple of albums, although In With The Out Crowd took awhile to click with me. However, like most, I prefer their earlier albums to their newer ones, which is why this album ended up being so much better than I was expecting. This is pretty much a direct return to their older sound of horn-heavy ska-puk, kind of like what the follow-up to Hello Rockview should have sounded like. Either way, this record is fun, catchy and the band will definitely be happy that they can play new stuff at shows now since the fans wont hate it anymore. haha. Releasing this on their own label might have something to do with this album being better than the last few....
20Polar Bear Club
Sometimes Things Just Disappear

I never heard anything from this band before and knew next to nothing about them but I saw them as a recommendation on and they toured with a few bands I love (Crime In Stereo, Broadway Calls) so I'd figured I'd give them a shot. At first they came across as a weaker version of Hot Water Music at first but I listened to them a few more times to try to get into them, and I ended up loving this album. Yes, they sound a lot like Hot Water Music mixed with older Jawbreaker but they have a very unique sound that stands out in the current punk scene. What really made me love this album was the lyrics. "What good am I to anyone like this? It's been a hard couple months I'll admit But after tonight I'm not so convinced that I'm wrong I feel at ease with my lows, and I'll take it. Lord knows I'll take it. Tonight they're explainable, far from extraneous" from "Convinced I'm Wrong" is probably my favorite line, there was a lot to choose from haha.
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