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Wizard's Top 20 Metal For 2009 (and Anything Related)

The worst thing about coming up with these stupid end-of-the-year lists is the amount of time and effort put into choosing what made the biggest impact on metal and what made my ears perk-up, especially this year; sifting through the large amount of derivative bands that continually grind metal into overdone, mundane territory. However, anybody saying that 2009 was not a great year for metal, you simply weren?t listening to the right genre and you should go back to convincing yourself that Slayer put out a classic album this year (ugh!). For a list of metal that represents, please see below: PS. Thank you to anybody on this site that made my year of metal more enjoyable, either through a cheerful comment or a great recommendation.
Wavering Radiant

On Wavering Radiant, Isis is in perfect form, not exactly building on their previous post-metal formula, but rather taking it to heights never thought possible. Songs like ?Hall of the Dead? and ?Threshold of Transformation? blow down typical post-metal structures, never quite allowing the listener to lock into the peak/ valley crescendos done so well on past releases. In the Absence of Truth was only the beginning of juxtaposing that perfect blend of harsh vs. lush, Wavering Radiant makes everything sound so much more cohesive.
Axe to Fall

I?ve never particularly taken a liking to metalcore or vocals that sound like a child taking a hissy-fit. On Axe to Fall, Converge not only throw away the parameters of metalcore, they?ve learned to balance their weakness (Jacob Bannon) and put him lower into the mix, allowing the music to be upfront and center. An added bonus to the album, a mixed collaboration of artists such as Neurosis and Cave In that display Converges influences while allowing the band to have some fun in the studio as well.

Atmospheric black metal has had a moderately good year and Drudkh easily secures number three spot on this list. Not only do they know how to craft songs that cross genres not particular to just black metal, they do it with style and never drone on a single note that makes most kvlt bands so damn boring. Beautiful, poignant black metal that sounds this good should end up on every end-of-the-year list.
Everything is Fire

Pushing down barriers in death metal can be a challenge, but let me introduce you to one of two death metal bands on this list that are challenging the best-of-the-best. A furious display of turbulent, off-kilter riffage is accompanied by one of the most complex rhythm sections this side of brutal death metal and only permitting the listener to breathe here and there when their dense sound allows for a few interludes to creep in. Better get your hearing checked after this one.
Winter Hours

Another band to make my top ten that is currently bashing down brick walls with a fused approach. This is an album to ring in the apocalypse, comprised of a gritty coating smothered over thick post metal and finished off with a dash of black metal fury. If there is one band to watch out for in the future, it?s these New Yorkers who will most likely knock down walls of 10? steel as time goes on.

Conceptually, this takes my number one. Compared to Austin Lunn?s self titled in 08, this doesn?t quite stand up to what could be considered one of the greatest American black metal albums ever produced. Still, this doesn?t really matter when you give this entire album a listen as Lunn has once again produced an incredible example of how folkish black metal should be done. When you make albums as incredible as his self-titled, anything afterwards takes second place and sixth on my end-of-the-year list.
With Echoes in the Movement of Stone

Not much has changed for Minsk between this release and The Ritual Fires of Abandonment. This is a good thing because there was nothing wrong with their fusion of sludge and psychedelic metal to begin with. If you enjoyed their debut album, prepare to hear more of the same swirling tribal-esque rhythm patterns that will have you dancing naked around a fire.

Melodic?..check. Death metal?..check. Opethian folk inspired passages?..check. What more could you ask these New Yorkers who have created an album that sounds more in vein with the Swedish than their hometown hardcore heroes. Whatever the case, these guys know how to write catchy-as-fuck tunes. Want an example of this? ?Stormcalling? should receive song-of-the-year honours.
9Wolves in the Throne Room
Black Cascade

Completely stripping the shoegaze approach of Two Hunters and going for a more raw approach, I felt Black Cascade was a failure after my initial listen. Digging a bit deeper and growing some patience, I discovered why this album is black metal magic; these guys go straight for the refined subtleties that seem to be lost within the black metal genre itself. This might sound bland at first, but trust me, there is more here than what you think you?re hearing.
10Pyramids with Nadja
Pyramids with Nadja

Rounding out my top ten is a collaborative album that tippy-toes the fine line between drone, shoegaze and black metal. When I pick up albums like this, I usually expect to hear the night-and-day aspects between the two bands. This is not a split; this is collaboration between two bands that have formed a new sound instead of sounding like a split that has both bands featuring the best at what they do. This is not to say that you can?t hear both bands sound in the mix, but they?ve managed to amalgamate their creativity into the perfect unity. Breathtaking!
Dimensional Bleedthrough

?Dweedly-dee, dweedly-doo? are some of the retarded adjectives you have to put up with when you?re a fan of Krallice. Sure, they don?t form anything structured by conventional terms, but that is what makes them stand apart. Featuring the guitar virtuosity of Mick Barr (Ocrilim), his speedy tremolo licks are showcased in an oddball combination of avant-garde and black metal. Technically speaking, if you have the patience of a four-year old, you will not understand (or appreciate) what this dweedly-dee, dweedly-doo is all about. Ever see the movie Pi? It?s all about the patterns.

2009 was not a good year for industrial and quite frankly, I can?t see the genre going anywhere really interesting in the future. However, when you mention industrial pioneer Justin Broadrick and post metal master Aaron Turner in the same sentence, a load of semen should be shooting out of your ears in excitement. I almost feel though that a majority of people going into this album expecting a Godflesh and Isis collaboration are in for a shock. What we are treated to is a noisy variation of industrial metal that is so ridiculously uncompromising, it completely makes all of those synth-pop loving Skinny Puppy fans look like fags (including myself).
The Sleep of Morbid Dreams

Old school Swedish death metal that doesn?t sound derivative? Count me in! On Funebrarum?s The Sleep of Morbid Dreams, you can find your fill of tight Dismember riffs and enough furnace blasting beats to make Satan shit his pants. Best part of all, you will want to go back for a second helping.
14Deathspell Omega
Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Ka

Deathspell Omega are a bit of an anomaly when it comes to their respected black metal genre. This one song, twenty-two minute E.P. is another awesome stepping stone in the bands strange career. Blinding black metal, whirly progressive passages, bouncy offbeat rhythm patterns; this is only skimming the many surfaces that this song/ band have to offer.

Upon hearing Portal?s Swarth, I was left in a daze of confusion. How could a band manage to sound so awful and yet make the hair on the back of my neck stand straight on end? This is the second of two death metal bands to be featured on this list that I feel are knocking down barriers and rivaling the best in their given genre. Swarth comes across as a pulverizing assault at first, but given time, nuances galore begin to rear their ugly heads from around corners, adding a very terrifying atmosphere to the mix. Brutal? Maybe if you?re a pussy. Terrifying? Someone please, change my pants.
16Napalm Death
Time Waits for No Slave

I find it rather hilarious when I read that grind-album-of-the-year honours go out to Magrundergrinds self titled. Yes they are a great band but the legends of grind simply put Magrundergrind in their place. Devastatingly punishing from start to finish, Time Waits for No Slave is the best example of what Napalm Death does best. The usual death/ grind fuse is still in tact from previous albums, but this time Napalm Death step it up with a hint of atmosphere, making these fourteen cuts some of their most memorable to date.
17Black Cobra

If there was one great thing that 2009 did for metal, we can all collectively agree that sludge was made more accessible for the better. If Kylesa?s Static Tensions didn?t catch your attention, then Black Cobra might be the answer. Utilizing a sludgy tone in the vein of Leviathan era Mastodon, Black Cobra lock onto a groove that strangles the listener with swirling rhythm sections and never lets up throughout.
Pray for Villains

Dez Fafara has come along way since his days of parading around with gothic nu-metallers Coal Chamber. Pray for Villains not only establishes Dez as a dead serious musician, he also brings along a band of competent musicians to help him prove his point that he is indeed all about the metal. Most notably about this album, the power of the riff can be felt throughout and backed by one of the most solid drumming displays of 2009.

Phil McSorley has come up with a new genre, war metal! Fresh off a tour in Baghdad, Iraq, McSorley came back in 2008, wrote Gin, and took off again to fight a war that seems to have no end in sight. What was created between him and his partner in crime Erik Wunder was a view into the darker side of turbulent times. Building upon their black metal roots of 2007s Eater of Birds, Cobalt decided to allow a few more dynamical twists into the mix such as whirling Tool-esque tribal drum patterns and a crustier tone, giving way to haunting, spacious passages that are dark as fuck. Salute!
20Buried Inside
Spoils of Failure

Rounding out my top twenty is a band that failed to impress me back in 2005 with their debut and immensely complicated concept album Chronoclast. While Chronoclast was too complicated for it?s own good (and really, really boring), Spoils of Failure doesn?t exactly change the formula a whole hell of a lot; rather tightening the undone screws and losing the repeating riffs that plagued Chronoclast to no end. Everything here is far more focused and their use of doomy chords throughout each stomping song feels like there is hope at the end of the tunnel. This album fortunately, never allows you to reach that ray of hope.
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