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 Lists
01.13.20 Blazin's Top 40 Songs of 201901.12.20 Top 20 Drumming Performances of 2019
12.21.19 User's Top 50 of 2019 Predictions01.09.19 1000th Rating Special: Middle of the Ro
01.03.19 Best Everything of 201701.03.19 Users' Top 10 of 2018 Predictions
12.31.18 Top 20 Drumming Performances of 201812.30.18 Blazin's Top 40 Albums of 2018
12.25.18 Blazin's Top 40 Songs of 2018 09.30.18 Sput's OCT 2018 Song of the Day
06.20.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (April and May 06.18.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (Dec. 2017 - Ma
06.17.18 9 Month Game of Catchup (Sept. - Nov. 01.28.18 500 Rating Special - Personal Top 10 So
10.11.17 A Blazin' Birthday Special Part 109.08.17 Best Songs and Albums of July 2017
07.13.17 Best Songs and Albums of June 201706.06.17 Best Album and Songs of May 2017
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Blazin's Top 40 Songs of 2019

Best Albums should be coming out within the next three days or so.
41Numenorean
Adore


Honorable Mentions:

50. Thom Yorke – “Traffic”
49. Tim Bowness – “The Train That Pulled Away”
48. TOOL – “7empest”
47. Sol Distorsion – “Iris”
46. FKA Twigs – “Fallen Alien”
45. Ithaca – “The Language of Injury”
44. Floating Points – “Bias”
43. Cult of Luna – “Nightwalkers”
42. Warforged – “The Color of My Memory”
41. Numenorean – “Portraits of Pieces”
40The Tallest Man on Earth
I Love You. It's a Fever Dream.


“I’m a Stranger Now”: Kicking off this list is Sputnik lovebird The Tallest Man on Earth, who has had his fair share of deserved accolades over the years. His newest output might be a step below his best work, but “I’m a Stranger Now” is one of the best tracks he’s ever released. Reminiscent of traditional, energetically strummed folk music, the vocal performance and production make this particularly memorable. The keyboard adds a satisfying thickness to Matsson’s humble melodies. It’s an exploration of love’s struggles and inner loneliness with dashes of hope found in the music.
39Copeland
Blushing


“Suddenly”: A somewhat underrated track on Copeland’s much-talked-about Blushing, “Suddenly” seamlessly mixes modern pop motifs with electronica, R&B, and loads of intriguing mystery. Every little detail has its standout moments; the vocoder, bass, ride bell, and (obviously) saxophone all have extremely memorable roles in the song’s composition. The flow of these details well emphasizes the rush of love the main characters has for the person standing in front of them. The emphasis isn’t forced upon, but it sports a captivatingly lovely atmosphere that only gets more infatuating upon each listen.
38Fire! Orchestra
Arrival


“Silver Trees”: Arrival is, from my experience, a rather subdued album that allows its nuances to shine rather than general chaos and masturbatory talent (though these aren’t exactly absent from the record either). “Silver Trees” is the proper slow-burn midpiece this album deservedly built up to. The consistent funk rhythm featured throughout the track’s 15-minute runtime builds the essential foundation for the vocalist’s groovy, yet echoed delivery. It’s first led by the bass and cello (which has a fine solo about a third into the track), and the brass section slowly but surely makes its way as a staple element in the composition. In the song’s second half, the mixture of orchestral jazz and funk becomes more well-defined between the swelling violins and saxophones that alternate from frenzied to head-bobbing. Despite the time required to build up to such a climax, the whole song is honestly really fun to listen to through and through.
37Black Midi
Schlagenheim


“Speedway”: Considering that Slint’s Spiderland is one of my favorite albums ever, “Speedway” was destined to hit a few notes with me. Even then, Black Midi still manages to do more than wear that influence on its sleeve. This song has a strong post-punk flavor to it that mixes funk into the rhythmic backbone. The lyrics and guitar melodies crate a satisfying sense of mystery that climaxes into panic of unknowingness by the end of the song. Although the lyrics may be referring to the frustrations and repetitions with society and/or the music industry, the nature of “Speedway” is far from repetitive in its short runtime and presents itself s as one of the best 3-minute songs of the year.
36Periphery
Periphery IV: Hail Stan


“CHVRCH BVRNER”: Periphery’s discography is kinda rough up to this point as I haven’t truly liked an album I’ve heard from them so far. Though in that journey, I’ve remembered a couple of bangers they’ve released, namely “Have a Blast” and arguably their best track yet “CHVRCH BVRNER”. Played as an antithesis to “Blood Eagle”, this song has surprisingly solid lyrics with thought well put into lyrical emphasis. The nasty guitar playing and Dillinger Escape Plan-like drum work make this more of a silly blast to listen to. The violin break at 2:20 has to be one of my favorite 1-second moments in metal this year. This is one of a few times Periphery has went all out in the aggressive direction and I see them all the better for it.
35(Sandy) Alex G
House Of Sugar


“Gretel”: Justifiably a fan favorite for many who have sent time with House of Sugar, this song made a great impression on my first listen. There’s just something so sweet about that guitar line, especially when mixed with the glossy lo-fi synths and violins. Like the fabled and enticing “House of Sugar” referenced in the song, I always want to come back for more. The story told isn’t all that pretentious or even complex, but there’s still plenty of power and meaning behind what Alex sings about with the Hansel and Gretel background. Although I wasn’t too impressed with House of Sugar as a whole, this track shows me that Alex G as a lot of potential in redefining the indie genre of the modern era.
34Inter Arma
Sulphur English


“Stillness”: A melodic outlier on an album that mostly toys with death metal and doom metal elements, “Stillness” is similar to “Silver Trees”, an earlier entry on this list, in the fact that it’s a slower song. Despite the outlying nature of this track, it proves to be among the best sludge metal cuts of the year. Whirring organs, distorted guitars, and distant vocals provide a great sludge metal atmosphere that are often only done by those who excel in the genre of sludge metal. The song’s progression is just on point as well as it never overstays its welcome but is also granted enough time to flesh out. I was surprised to see this song be an Adult Swim single of all things, but that’s probably because it’s already popular with stoners.
33Turilli / Lione Rhapsody
Zero Gravity (Rebirth and Evolution)


“D.N.A. (Demons and Angels)”: Far and away the best power metal track of the year, “D.N.A.” stands out in a genre that today seems so homogenous. In fact, it could be the best power metal song of the decade. The track represents all the best parts about its representative album: properly epic, great pacing, and full of talent vocally and instrumentally. “D.N.A.” also utilizes the now-common electronic elements without any unnecessary cheese and instead serves as an extra layer of melody behind the vocals and guitar lines. It’s self-discovery told in an epic atmosphere, and there aren’t many that could have done it better then these guys.
32Panopticon
The Crescendo of Dusk


“The Labyrinth”: And keeping right on pace is Austin Lunn, coming fresh off the heels of 2018’s best song. While The Crescendo of Dusk EP is his only notable work this year, he’s in no shortage of ethereal tunes to provide. “The Labyrinth” is one of these tunes as it continues the signature mournful folk side of Lunn’s music. While it may not live to the ridiculously high standards of “The Moss Beneath the Snow”, the saccharine guitar melodies and the build-up into the bells/xylophones more than make up for that. Labyrinth joins the new EP the same way that this style of music has always paired up with the traditional black metal Panopticon is known for, and it’s shown to be doing just fine.
31Holly Herndon
PROTO


“Crawler”: While the album’s more defined singles such as “Alienation” or “Eternal” were naturally more popular, there’s an unconventionality found in this song that’s rarely found or rarely works anywhere else. This aspect of “Crawler” reminds me of some of the best Bjork tracks from her later years but with the uneasiness of an Anna von Hausswolff song. This track’s “rhythm”, if it can even be called as such, somehow has a fantastic sense of flow leading to great pacing. The synth and vocal effects bring a perfect balance of beauty and uneasiness to the track. “Crawler” is effectively split up into five parts, the next more unsettling than the last. While it is one of the tougher songs to initially get into on the album, this song is a treat to know.
30Joliette
Luz Devora


“Senor Mora”: From the best hardcore album of the year, “Senor Mora” ever so slightly stands above the magnificent crowd of tracks surrounding it. It’s immediately hard-hitting and comes straight at the listener with Joliette’s signature style of hardcore punk. This song’s instrumentally frantic, made more evident by the ridiculously tasty drum solo at the 2:22 mark. After this section, however, the song picks up even more by taking its steady guitar and bass lines and accompanying the vocals with stunningly beautiful ferocity. The latter section includes the Gojira/Mastodon-inspired guitar playing found all throughout Luz Devora on a final breakdown. “Senor Mora” is a stellar track from one of the most out-of-nowhere albums this year.
29Black Midi
Schlagenheim


“bmbmbm”: Despite the apparent popularity of tracks like “953”, “Speedway”, and “Ducter”, “bmbmbm” has always been the face of Schlagenheim. Even including its own record, the compositional quirkiness of “bmbmbm” is matched by few, which inevitably causes a significant divide of fanatics and haters of the track. I can be considered a fanatic of this particular track as people have correctly categorized it as a grower. The repetitive, yet unpredictable emphasis of the catchphrase “She proves with a purpose” brings an interesting irony in that the majority of the song doesn’t seem to have a specific goal in mind other than the freakish repetition. Nonetheless, the ending breakdown is well deserved, awesome, and totally fitting of the work that Black Midi have provided thus far. The best part is, this isn’t even the band at its best.
28A.A. Williams
A.A. Williams


“Cold”: A.A. Williams quietly released the best E.P. of the year in her self-titled record. It’s an album that shines mixing goth, post rock, and alternative rock sounds in the vein of a calmer and more consistent Chelsea Wolfe. Simple and beautiful, “Cold” is the E.P. at its best. Williams’s harmonies flawlessly match that with the blaring mixture of strings and guitars at a satisfyingly steady pace. It’s kinda hard to do much new with the simple song structure attempted here, yet this is one of the most returnable songs this year. Nothing too flashy or extravagant is needed here, it’s just a gorgeously melancholic song about a struggling relationship. Please check this and A.A. Williams’s E.P. out if you haven’t already.
27Falls of Rauros
Patterns in Mythology


“Memory at Night”: Patterns in Mythology was a crowning achievement in mixing black metal and hard rock elements which, to me, nearly matched the success of Deafheaven’s Sunbather and its fusion of black metal and shoegaze. “Memory at Night” is the closer this album deserved and it perfectly summarizes what the album was meant to be in a triumphant closing statement. The lyrics are underratedly excellent and the guitar work continues to be some of the best that modern black metal has to offer. Where this track does differ from others on the album in in the vocal delivery, where shouting is sometimes used rather than screaming or growling. This style’s vulnerability brings a memorably distinct flavor to song’s purpose on the album.
26Jenny Hval
The Practice of Love


“Ordinary”: Joining Holly Herndon in the category of “female singer-songwriters who make strange music”, this closer from The Practice of Love bests the work I’ve heard from Jenny Hval so far. “Ordinary” is anything but. The bells, synths, drum-and-bass inspired rhythm, and repetitive nature of the vocals support an insanely hypnotic vibe. The music matches the rush of realizations from someone seemingly locked into a controlled marriage. It’s beautifully hypnotic as it is somewhat crushing with vague answers. This is a track that only gets better with time and there isn’t much out there that sounds like it or even goes for what it’s achieved.
25Saor
Forgotten Paths


“Monadh”: My first attempt into modern black metal star Saor with Forgotten Paths has been admittedly mixed as some ideas on the record just don’t come together as they should. Despite seemingly being about no more than burning mountains, “Monadh” is a pure exception and already feels like a folkened black metal classic. Andy Marshall’s harsh growls soar through blast beats after the cavalcade of strings and bagpipes in the song’s opening. Then some quality, muffled cleans come in to finish the lyrics about halfway through the song. With a magnificent guitar solo and mourning bagpipe melody, the final section of this song is one of many great endings in the best metal cuts this year.
24Bent Knee
You Know What They Mean


“Catch Light”: While Bent Knee didn’t quite reach the consistent heights of 2017’s Land Animal, “Catch Light” is a track that is as good as “Insides In” if not better. This song achieves a similar feat to “Cold” by A.A. Williams in that it can make simple song structures sound so much different than one would except. It also undeniably bops. The synth hook is irresistible and Courtney Swain adds her lovely vocal quirks within an incredibly impressive range. The guitar work is subtly awesome, chugging away at its own pace opposite to the bass and drums through the song’s majority. Perhaps the most important aspect of the track is the band’s enjoyment in playing the song. The band seems so enthused about the song when playing it live, and that fun attitude can be heard on the record, too.
23Yellow Eyes
Rare Field Ceiling


“No Dust”: From one of the weirdest and most enjoyable black metal records of the year, “No Dust” is a dusky and seemingly unforgettable cut after an already excellent opener. Terrific instrumental work can be found throughout the whole song, consisting of awesome guitar riffs and challenging guitar work. The vocal production successfully captures the charm of older black metal records. As I believe the song is about a world overtaken by the ocean, the music makes this reality seem quite bleak as one might would imagine it as with doomed riffs and crashing waves of cymbals. “No Dust” is just another outstanding track in a superb year for the more extreme side of metal.
22Shadow Of Intent
Melancholy


“The Dreaded Mystic Abyss”: Much like Bent Knee, I’ve been well aware of this band’s potential in the past, especially with their outstanding 2017 closer, “The Tarturus Impalement”. Also like Bent Knee, this epic is possibly better than that 2017 cut. Right from the opening drum roll, I knew this would be something right up my alley. So many head-banging melodies and riffs are conjured up here while not being just a mere montage of ideas. It’s all sealed together by bits of ambience and the few extra shining moments from the keyboards, synths, and choir. The biggest draw to this song is its guitar work. While that seems like an easy feat as the only proper instrumental track on the album, the playing shifts between so many styles and sounds that it’s probably safe to say that this is my favorite performance from a guitarist this year.
21clipping.
There Existed an Addiction to Blood


“Attunement”: As a group that’s having stellar success as a product from the factory of industrial hip-hop, this penultimate cut encapsulates all the uneasiness mastered on their newest record. The vocal delivery style makes perfect sense for the subject of suicidal thoughts, represented as thematically cyclical and anxiously rapid. The industrial screeches heard symbolize inner cries for help as the guitar break provides a false sense of hope that these thoughts might end. With creatively disturbing imagery, the lyrics go through the catalysts of these suicidal thoughts as if they’re impossible to count or remember all at once. As someone who’s struggled a fair deal with growing suicidal thoughts this year, “Attunement” feels justifiably connected to the subject matter in a way that only gifted songwriters can pull off.
20Bad Books
III


“Army”: As one of the most acclaimed longer songs in the indie scene this year, it’s easy to see why this had become an early 2019 favorite. The long-winded storytelling needs no introduction. Taken through the perspective of a PTSD-afflicted soldier, the song lets the listener imagine the soldier’s several traumatic experiences that realistically occur both on and off the battlefield. “Army” is the closer the album had been properly preparing itself for. Though the composition may seem recurrent during the first listen, the backing synths and electronic effects get more intense with each passing choral melody. Hull and Devine do a fantastic job in delivering the lyrics as they should. Perhaps the track’s most unpredictable twist occurs in its hopeful ending, “There’s nothing wrong with being alive.”
19Ni
Pantophobie


“Athazagoraphobie”: Math rockers Ni are a relatively unknown group with oddities reminiscent to that of French counterparts Igorrr, albeit not as extreme or as spectacular in quality. Ni’s newest output was alright, but there’s a jankiness about “Athazagoraphobie” that’s hard to ignore. Between its Tool-esque guitar production and drum work that reminds me of Car Bomb, it figures that an intriguing product could come out of that mixed with Ni’s math rock weirdisms. What we got was something totally awesome. The song comes in two halves. The first is already great with nice post metal touches and vocal screams. Then there’s the rampant second half. The galloping instrumentals build up to one of the most unpredictable rhythms of the year. Those who’ve heard the song know what 15-second section I’m referring to. I still haven’t figured out the time signature that part is even with the floor hi-hat’s help. Oh well.
18Motorpsycho
The Crucible


“Lux Aeterna”: It’s not hard to see why these guys have been around since the 1980’s. Motorpsycho has made their way to the top of the classic prog rock genre, strongly attributing to the likes of King Crimson and company while keeping their own charms. “Lux Aeterna” is probably the best song I’ve heard from the group yet. The song is set in a traditional rock structure, but is still made so much fun with the whimsy vocals, woodwinds, and mellotrons about. The guitar solo’s King Gizzard-like unclean attitude is a blast to hear with the jazz-laden drums filling up the background. There’s even a bit of black comedy sprinkled on top as the more upbeat music contrasts the bleakness in the lyrics (with death as the main subject matter). I’ll personally die happy when I’m able to dive into their thousand-album discogrpahy.
17Pijn and Conjurer
Curse These Metal Hands


“High Spirits”: Curse These Metal Hands is a record with stupidly impressive bookends and that’s really about it. While that still a damn solid outing, nothing on the album beats out the opener “High Spirits” which, like Inter Arma’s “Stillness” completely fulfills that atmospheric sludge metal appetite I’ve had for a while, but this song seems to be done with even more authenticity towards the sludge metal genre. And, like Saor’s “Monadh”, this song already seems like a classic staple in its genre, and that’s something SUMAC’s “Attis’ Blade” can’t even say much of despite how amazing that song is on its own. Not to mention that the guitar tones and pacing make for a perfect opener of its representative album.
16Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow


“No One’s Easy to Love”: I’m pretty sure everyone who’s ever talked about this record mentioned “Seventeen” as a top highlight, but I’ll propose this as the better cut. This here is pretty much peak indie pop. “No One’s Easy to Love” is a retelling of an abusive and interfering relationship involving Sharon. The melancholic keys in the chorus perfectly represent the harsh feelings declared by the song title. The synth-melodies and rhythm remind me of 90’s synthpop staples and there’s even a little trip hop sprinkled onto there. The pseudo brass section in the chorus is a wonderful touch to the synths and keyboard melody. This is easily Sharon’s best song and one of the best singer-songwriter cuts I’ve heard in a while.
15Blood Incantation
Hidden History of the Human Race


“Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Reality (Mirror of the Soul)”: Considering the recent praise I’ve given this album, this song had to have been on my radar for the year-end list. The song, like its hilariously indulgent title, takes up about half the album’s runtime. However, it’s among the best death metal can offer and its quality wouldn’t feel out of place on a 90’s Death album. It may not have the same “oomph” factor that the closer from Venenum’s 2017 record did (one of my favorite songs of the decade), but this track’s epicness totally fits within the scope of Blood Incantation’s new album. Although the song goes through its energetic highs and lows with a relaxed ending, this song is still quality death metal right to core. They’re on top of the “death metal in space” food chain at the moment, and this epic is a perfect reason why.
14Falls of Rauros
Patterns in Mythology


“New Inertia”: Yet another gem from Patterns in Mythology, “New Inertia” serves many of the same attractions that “Memory at Night” does but does so with a tinge more suitable compositional structure. The vocals are slightly deeper this time around with a more apparent black metal appearance in the music. The guitar solos in this song are so good I swear I could live in them. Best of all, those things aren’t in short supply so they keep on coming while walking the fine line of avoiding wankery. Fitting for one of the best black metal tracks of the year from the best black metal album of 2019.
13Glass Beach
The First Glass Beach Album


“Dallas”: While “glass beach” was a fairly close list entry with its epicness that reminded me of the great “Beach Life-in-Death” by Car Seat Headrest, “Dallas” seems to be truly special in its own ways. Since I’m naturally weak to music with an “aquatic” atmosphere, it could be said that “dallas” was destined to win me over with its lo-fi punk rock and electronica blends. The vocalist’s ecstatic voice keeps its unique personality on this track as the gorgeous guitar melody eventually joins an earworm of a chorus melody. The middle section, easily the song’s strongest part, is already one of my favorite moments of the year. It takes cues from multiple influences while keeping its unrivaled beauty and awesomeness. Now one of the best album covers of the year gets a song to match it as the most recent entry on this list.
12Glen Hansard
This Wild Willing


“Don’t Settle”: Like several already mentioned entries, this song is a certified Sputnik favorite, and for great reasons. It poses as the most triumphant and energetic cut from This Wild Willing and it eerily recalls moments of John Lennon’s “Imagine” while adding a modern, somewhat orchestral production. To me, “Don’t Settle” is likely the most successful uplifting songs of the decade as it somehow avoids all the expected cheese that’s usually thrown at similar themes. Surprisingly enough, this would be a fitting song for mainstream audiences if not for its length (unless if its popularity miraculously turns into “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and could go down in Irish folk rock legend. Though I probably shouldn’t get ahead of myself with those wishes, the song’s magnificent enough to deserve that praise.
11Thank You Scientist
Terraformer


“Son of a Serpent”: I have to come back to Stranger Heads Prevail at some point because Terraformer was one of the most unexpected successes with me this year. As amazing as tracks like “Anchor” are, the themes of “Son of a Serpent” click with me in a way only a few tracks this year, much less on Terraformer, did. “Son of a Serpent” still provides the very best of Thank You Scientist with awesome instrumental solos, great melodies in the vocals and instrumentals, an outstanding ending, and an earworm of the chorus. As stated, the most shocking aspect of this song were how connecting the lyrics were to the ways I perceive myself. It’s about carelessly making mistakes and cognitively going through the regret that comes with making such mistakes. The chorus contains a lot of I’s and me’s, emphasizing these issues as those with self-ego. Whether this was intended doesn’t matter too much; it’s still a fascinating correlation to ponder.
10A Swarm of the Sun
The Woods


“The Woods”: As frustrating as post rock can be at times, it’s still one of my favorite genres of music today. It’s not so much that many bands do it so well, but I rather have an unexplained weakness for songs with the structures that post rock often provides. “The Woods” is a spectacular example of this. This song occasionally serves as an unintended sequel to Anna von Hausswolff’s “Ugly and Vengeful” with the pipe organ and the extremely slow pacing. Having been with this track for almost a full year now and as the oldest entry, this song is still a favorite of mine. The swelling pipe organ in the song’s middle section and the tremolo-filled climax are easily my favorite parts in this epic, but the whole thing is another post rock masterpiece submitted in a fairly full library of them.
9These New Puritans
Inside the Rose


“Beyond Black Suns”: A somewhat unfortunate theme that runs through some of these entries is the middling mediocrity of an album containing a song the album can only dream of living up to. The new These New Puritans album presents such a problem, but I definitely won’t blame them here as “Beyond Black Suns” exists because of the output. Possibly the best art pop song of the decade, this song assumedly presents letting go of sadness as gloriously as possible. The reverbed vocals and added sound effects in the verses create infectious passages that get better by the listen. Scintii’s voice provides a necessary innocence in the perspective of the song’s themes. Then the operatic ending beautifully shines through as one of the track’s most memorable moments. The whole song just has a concoction of sounds I always want to return to at any given point.
8Cult of Luna
A Dawn to Fear


“The Silent Man”: For someone that had only gotten into Cult of Luna’s discography within the past year, the ten-minute single “The Silent Man” felt different upon first listen, but further listens evolved this into something truly special. I have a soft spot for huge, unforced climaxes, and this song definitely exploits that weakness. Right on cue with the devastation in the first half’s lyrics and post-metal instrumentals, there’s something beautifully apocalyptic about the second half of this track. It feels so cinematic and chilling like a church’s pipe organ confirming the inevitable rapture. The vocals even come back to hint the themes that will arrive through the rest of the album. Fitting enough, that album arguably became this year’s most celebrated on Sputnik.
7American Football
American Football (LP3)


“Silhouettes”: I guess jaw-dropping first listens are an annual thing now. Last year’s recipient was the marvelous Brandi Carlile single “The Joke”, and the unexpected “warmth in winter” feel of this song delightfully shocked me and, along with the more subtle details, kept me returning to it ever since it was released. One of these details include the vocal production, which has a crisp fullness to it that I really like. The boys are also making full use out of the glockenspiel, adding gorgeous melodies throughout. As beautiful as the song is, however, there’s an underlying, understandable sadness occurring in the lyrics and vocals considering the story. If there was a single this year that signified a return to triumph for a group thought of in a past life, this would be it.
6Black Midi
Schlagenheim


“953”: With their debut album, Black Midi immediately broke into the underground scene with an exciting new sound as indicated by their live KEXP performance. What better way to impress than the opener “953”, which starts up with my favorite time signature (5/4) and a Don Caballero-like opening I’ve been longing for years. The next section then represents the album’s bulk, a janky yet perfect combination of post-punk, noise rock, and math rock. The drumming is spectacular in an album full of those kinds of performances; really the instrumentals are all together magnificent. The lyrics also offer an interesting criticism to thought control as some things we think about, whether we like it or not, are not going to appear instinctively or unconsciously. These guys seemed to have it down from the get-go and ended up leaving every other act in the dust as a result.
5Abigail Williams
Walk Beyond The Dark


“The Final Failure”: Abigail Williams seemingly came out of nowhere to give their most acclaimed album in Walk Beyond the Dark. The album displayed the band as a string section-laced black metal group that’s mastered riff passages with several songs on the album. However, nothing came close to the compositional masterpiece of a closer “The Final Failure”. This song graciously shifts between metal genres as if effort wasn’t needed to do so. There’s symphonic black metal in the opening, funeral doom about halfway through the song, a death metal-esque guitar solo, and even a bit of metalcore here and there primarily shown by the vast range of vocal styles. Even with all that though, what made this song grip me from the beginning was the final string section solo. In an Estradasphere-like fashion, the double bass goes on for over two minutes while violins and cellos wail in the background. This is easily the best black metal song this year had to offer.
4American Football
American Football (LP3)


“Doom in Full Bloom”: Now one might wonder why LP3 is rated quite lowly as compared to many other featured albums on the list. Rather predictably, that’s because LP3 tries too hard to match the atmosphere of “Silhouettes” with tracks that just feel cheesy in their attempts. Despite the somewhat basic and melancholic plot of “Doom in Full Bloom”, there a hypnotic nature to its songwriting that makes it even better than the previously mentioned entry. The trumpet in the introduction, the matching of vocals and music, the guitar production, and the looping outro come together for an addicting listen. The very latter I’ve put on loop for minutes on end as its an ending I never knew I needed yet defined a whole year’s worth of listens. As with their first album, American Football have come back to show that they can write masterpieces in whichever direction of musical style they choose to go in.
3Cult of Luna
A Dawn to Fear


“Lights on the Hill”:

CERTIFIED CLASSIC

One of the most lauded epics on Sputnik this year, “Lights on the Hill” is Cult of Luna’s best song to date, even beating out works like “Dark City, Dead Man” and other, older material. Even in the intro, the band makes a bold move by creating an extended ambience and a large buildup towards the bombastic post-metal sound Cult of Luna are known for. The riff that kicks off the first verse is one of the most infectious passages of the year rivaling that of the outro in “Doom in Full Bloom”. This passage divinely leads into the 8-minute mark, which brings a storm of tremolo screeches and thrashing harshness coming together so beautifully. The outro brings out the band for a final round, completely unravelling the seams for a final time.
2Leprous
Pitfalls


“The Sky is Red”

CERTIFIED CLASSIC

Leprous, one of the most intriguing bands today, came out with an equally intriguing album in Pitfalls. Quite flawed in its own ways, but it’s a record that showed loads of potential for the poppy prog style Leprous were giving a shot. However, it was the track with a older Leprous vibe that stood out among the crowd as a classic in modern progressive rock. Classically operatic and head-spinningly complex at the same time, “The Sky is Red” packs an unforgettable punch with its unmatchable dynamics and an atmosphere that brings a vivid image to themes of anger and frustration. Baard Kolstad is a monster on the drums coming out with the tastiest rhythm of the year in the opening. Leprous have also been stamped as gods of progression with this song as it never loses steam even with the constantly altering nature of the pacing. Nothing else needs to be said about Einar’s vocals. This’ll be on replay for a long, long time.
1La Dispute
Panorama


“Fulton Street I”:

CERTIFIED CLASSIC

BEST SONG OF 2019

This has been #1 for the past nine months and will continue to stand as its quality is up there with another classic of their own (“King Park”). Musically, you have your usual La Dispute greatness with a post-rock tinge to the song structure. There's an odd lyrical flow that occurs in the second verse, but the vocalist perfectly emphasizes the rush of lyrics with fitting dramaticism. Even with my own harsh relationships with failure and the imagery of the horrific story, there’s an underlying commentary to tragedies that offers a mature perspective to the situation. As a distant passerby, placing flowers by the street only allows oneself to associate with the tragedy as far as imagination can take them. Even then, this action still shows a moniker of awareness for the grief of the anonymous or known circumstances of the tragedy. It’s a chilling, magnificent song that owned my emotions for 2019.
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