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08.14.12 More Things Of A Deviant Nature 07.31.12 Things Of A Deviant Nature
06.26.12 Dev's 2012 (down The Winding Road) 12.15.11 A Deviant 2011
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03.24.11 When Deviant Tells You What To Do 03.11.11 Users' Best Of 2010: 100 - 51
02.24.11 Dev's Summer & The User Best Of 2010 12.30.10 Devstep Part II
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Users' Best Of 2010: 100 - 51

So after handing in the top 100 for the Users' Best of 2010 feature, the powers that be informed us that the feature was actually intended as a top 50, along with the top EPs section. Now instead of writing off the bottom 50 (which would have erased all the hard work put in by the contribs and all the users who took part) we have decided to post the bottom 50 as a list for your benefit. On behalf of all the contribs who took part in this, I would like to personally thank all the users who unwittingly gave up their emails so I can now spam the hell out of them, and who took the time out of their busy schedules to provide me with some truly excellent write-ups. Your work was, and still is, greatly appreciated. The top 50, along with the top EPs will be up in a week or so (in full feature flashiness). Enjoy!

With their most recent release, .neon, coming in 2010, Lantlos have once again displayed their ability in the category of producing shoegazey black metal and mastermind Neige shows why he's one of the best artists in the genre. There are plenty of redeeming qualities about .neon. Whether you like dreamy atmospheric, melodic tremolo picked black metal riffs, beautifully played piano parts, or screeching harsh vocals, you can find it here on .neon. This is also a great album because it can be enjoyed whether you're in a chill mood or even in the mood for something more extreme, because it has influences from both ends of the spectrum. Fans of black metal, post-rock, or shoegaze will most definitely find something to enjoy about the album. And if you're a fan of all 3, then you just hit the jackpot. Recommended similar albums would be Lost by An Autumn for Crippled Children, as well as The Great White Emptiness by Cold Body Radiation. -- hawks
49The Felix Culpa
Sever Your Roots

The Felix Culpa are about as marvelous as a young band can get throwing any signs of immaturity out the window, and drinking that youthful sense of observation heard a couple years ago when the Devil and God battled inside one troubled man. Let?s get our imagination caps on and picture Brand New shacking up with As Cities Burn. Throw in some horns, string sections, cowbell, and a wicked sense of personality and you?ve got this fine endeavor. Certainly it's no easy task to carve a new niche into today's post-hardcore scene, and yet somehow Sever Your Roots establishes the band as an independent and natural force. From the dreary opener reminiscent to Come Now Sleep the album is set up for one quaint affair. Catchy hooks, seamless transitions aiding in the frustration of genre Nazis, and the vaguest of lyrics help an adaptable atmosphere feel familiar and new all in the same ear hole. There are moments of dissonance like the scratchy 'The Constant' which feels derived from passionate anger, and there's complete vulnerability ill concerned with packing punches and fully intent on painting pictures 'Roots'. Something genius is happening here?
It's deceiving as well might I add. Four tracks in one may question just how the band will continue to keep their sound fresh. Keep listening, they do. Of course a majority of this experience lies within the listener, depending on their range with musical hybrids and your enjoyment from such simple musical aesthetics. You know how Brand New does nothing new instrumentally, but just enough to empower their front man? Same here. Minor riffs lamented just low enough to accentuate poignant lyrical moments occur time and time again. The drumming is freely spread before cookie cut in place for all the momentous build ups; much like As Cities Burn does when flirting with post-rock tendencies. The Felix Culpa do marvelous things on Sever Your Roots, things that limit the ability to describe with words so let?s hope you?ve kept those imagination caps on. -- fromtheinside
48High On Fire
Snakes For The Divine

Snakes For The Divine might not be High On Fire's best album, but it's still a strong release which at times shows why the band remain at the forefront of sludge metal. This is probably the bands most accessible offering yet, particularly the excellent opening title track, which fully displays the bands terriffic power. Elsewhere, the likes of 'Bastard Samurai' and 'Fire, Flood and Plague' display the band at its dense, sludgy best, and although some of the latter songs lose their way a little the album as a whole is pretty consistent. A solid album from a band that deserves more appreciation. -- AliW1993
47Devil Sold His Soul
Blessed & Cursed

If the pure energy and raw emotion displayed on Devil Sold His Soul's debut album A Fragile Hope hinted at greatness, then the refinement evident on their follow up record Blessed & Cursed does little to diminish the bands stature as first successor to Neurosis' post-metal crown. Where the metalcore influences of A Fragile Hope accentuated the almost unbearable tension between Ed Gibbs outpours of emotional frustration, the two components blend together more naturally on Blessed & Cursed giving the record an overall more organic feel. From the off 'Tides' displays the band?s new-found maturity through Gibbs' effortless progression from ferocious growls to earthly cleans. The instrumentation has taken a step back from the band?s earlier days too, and at times the almost minimalistic passages serve to wash away the existing moods to allow new beginnings. It all comes together to create a vastly different atmosphere to the one forged on A Fragile Hope, but that doesn't make it any less powerful and the climactic 'Frozen' is as beautiful and powerful a moment of music as anything on A Fragile Hope. For a six-piece band to complement each other so flawlessly on only their second full-length outing is a rare event, but to their credit, Devil Sold His Soul make it look (and sound) easy, and for nothing else Blessed & Cursed deserves to be the album to propel Devil Sold His Soul into the post-metal mainstream. -- MutatedFreek

When Burial finally gets round to putting out that much heralded third LP he's going to find himself with a lot of catching up to do. Granted, anything with Will Bevan's illustrious moniker attached to it will undoubtedly stop the world, but now more than ever, will it be because of the connotations that come with the name, rather than the actual music. Simply because Burial is no longer alone in that echo filled subterranean meeting point of sub-laden dubstep and mournful garage beats. While he'll always be sitting at the top of the pile, the likes of Scuba, Synkro and Phaeleh are gleefully taking stabs out of that scene that was so long filled by that one lone street wanderer. And then of course there's Clubroot, who's debut spoke of admiration rather than imitation, who's sinister and brooding underpinnings bought to mind images of the dark and shadow riddled cathedral and medieval architecture that mark his hometown of St. Albarns. His second round now, still filling in for Bevan's absence (well, barring 'Fostercare' or course), draws images even upon first glance. II-MMX hides nothing from the get-go, its cover plainly illustrating the confined emotional storm that lies in wait. Its an album of almost silent intensity, his 2-step beats laced with rave odes and garage isolation. His rumbling bass is gently cooled with cascading synths, the two distinct opposites intertwined in a lovers trance. This mournful sense of isolation is never forced though, Clubroot's Burial tendencies play out unspoken and thus, as a result, become something incredibly more hypnotic, yet still so amazingly subtle. II-MMX is an album built for nighttime escaping, for sitting on rooftops and drifting away. To float over darkened landscapes and then simply disappear. It's music for an absence, yet fulfilling so much more. -- Deviant
45At The Soundawn

Italian experimental metal band At The Soundawn are a pretty hard group to pigeonhole, and their sophomore release, Shifting, does little to clear the water. For the most part, their sound can be classified as metal: the guitars are distorted, the drums are bombastic, and the growls are?.um?growly. What stands out on Shifting though, is the phenomenal level of variety. Make no bones about it, this is definitely a metal album, but the musical diversity found in nearly every crevasse and around every corner is nothing if not astonishing. At any given point, the listener could find themselves in the middle of a post-rock build up, or a jazzy interlude, or a winding polyrhythmic section with clear Latin influences. Luckily for At The Soundawn (and their listeners), they have the chops to pull it off.
Every track on this album will take you on a journey, whether it?s the building ambience of 'Drifting Lights,' the alternative rock stylings of 'Hades,' or the epic voyage through the many dynamic changes of nine minute album closer 'Prometheus Bring Us The Fire.' Casual fans of metal need not be deterred by the band's "proper" genre; Shifting is not an album that can be easily described by picking a couple of your favourite musical buzzwords (dude, this is like, post-progressive-sludgecore-fusion). There is truly something for everyone on Shifting. -- Aida
44Motion City Soundtrack
My Dinosaur Life

My Dinosaur Life is basically Motion City Soundtrack maturing in reverse. Their sound here is fresher, more lively, and more happy-go-lucky than ever. Even the cartoon-like dinosaur lends a hand in making this the most animated, enjoyable record in Motion City Soundtrack?s discography. Absurdly catchy numbers like 'A Lifeless Ordinary', 'Her Words Destroyed My Planet', 'Disappear', and 'Pulp Fiction' all anchor the album as one of 2010's most memorable. Aside from its massive hooks, My Dinosaur Life still possesses clever lyrics, fast paced drumming, high-pitched guitars, and vocals that keep pace with the music...overall, it is just extremely upbeat. Although the phrase is used far too often, there really is something for everyone here. It is no wonder then that this album quickly became a fan favorite and a shoe-in as one of the best pop albums of the year. -- SowingSeason
43Kings Of Leon
Come Around Sundown

The southern rock feel that Kings of Leon mastered for so long before Only By The Night is again found here, 'Mi Amigo' is a fantastic example of this, with a rich yet funked up guitar line clashed against a smooth yet throaty performance by Followill, it is one of the best rock offerings by the band to date. Come Around Sundown is everything that you could have hoped for. Delving into a sound that feels and is obviously more comfortable for the band, the infectious guitar hooks, bouncing bass lines and more importantly a stunning performance by Followill, mean that Kings of Leon are back on track with a reinvigorated sound that clears all the uncertainty that has been hanging in the air. Come Around Sundown is a fantastic return to form. -- Douglas
42Coheed and Cambria
Year Of The Black Rainbow

Yeah, it's been said and will continue to be said - Chris Pennie's influence permeates Year Of The Black Rainbow in almost every way, from the electronic swells of 'Guns Of Summer' (featuring what is probably the sickest instrumental work the band has done yet) to the dark brooding synths of 'Far', along with drumming that puts the phoned-in Good Apollo: Foo Edition (and their entire past discography) to shame while being surprisingly restrained and tasteful throughout. Throughout the album every band member has standouts and plays a bit more outside the typical Coheed box. It's way less poppy and a lot more moody and dark, from the weirdly atonal/minor riffs of ?This Shattered Symphony?, the insane DEP-meets-Rush rhythms of 'Guns Of Summer' and the almost Mars Volta groove of 'In The Flame Of Error', Coheed bring a strange mix of electro-prog-pop that shows a much more experimental side of the band and a much needed (did I say evolution? Let's say "sidestep") in sound after the pedestrian NWFT. -- Strizzmatik
Monument To Time End

The proverbial "Supergroup" almost never amounts to anything more than average at best, a syndrome that may be attributed to either ego or individuality, with members so lost in their own greatness and reverence that they refuse to latch onto the ideas of others or too introverted to accept anything outside of their narrow-minded perspectives on what may be the same genre of music. Enter the titans of American extreme metal (plus some member of Isis): Neil Jameson, Jeff Whitehead, Blake Judd, Aaron Turner, Sanford Parker, and Stavros Giannopoulos, who are bringing together under the banner of Twilight a glorious helping of black metal that is intense, innovative, and most importantly, enjoyable. The soundscapes alone are absolutely gargantuan, taking in hints from all of the represented influences, from post-metal to black metal to sludge. The rousing brilliance of '8,000 Years' carries its own weight in replay value, a testament to the power of the songwriting displayed not by a fragmented group of egotistical, divergent and elite stars, but by a group of musicians who appreciate each others work and strive to incorporate all aspects present as smoothly as possible. To that, Monument To Time End is a massive success, an album that shows the power of great minds working together to produce something truly worth note. -- Crysis
In War and Pieces

The world of thrash isn?t one for the weak. Endless drinking, jean jackets, handlebar moustaches, headbanging, death, Harley Davidsons, a little bit of Satan, war, more drinking, it all takes its toll on even the best of us. That is to say, those who thrash are a special breed, and Sodom has been one of the staples of thrash metal since the early 1980's. It is surprising then that in 2010 Sodom showed with In War And Pieces that they are still neck-deep in the empty beer cans of the thrash metal lifestyle, spewing out a seemingly endless onslaught of serrated riffs and shredding guitar solos. Amidst the barks and yells, melodies take shape and provide an uplifting sense of soul to the album (the soft intro to the conspicuously titled 'God Bless You' had me wondering), one which was already present but too busy thrashing to give this beast a fully-formed conscience. The songs carry themselves well, with a solid battery and a refreshing enough songwriting effort to make the natural progression in Sodom's 13th LP seem effortless, while still being irrefutably Sodom. Those who have been thrashing to Sodom since Obsessed By Cruelty will continue to do so unabated, and those who want to get a taste of the ways of thrash will do well to give In War And Pieces a listen. -- Crysis
39Marina & The Diamonds
The Family Jewels

2010, the year that renowned artists such as Kanye West, Janelle Monae, Big Boi, etc., rose to the higher echelons of pop music by honing their craft was also the year that we saw the emergence of the wild and quirky Welsh pop singer Marina Diamandis with her album The Family Jewels. Now, The Family Jewels isn?t the genre's saving grace, but it?s a damn fine debut LP full of glorious pop sheen, propelled by Marina?s idiosyncratic vocal delivery and somewhat unconventional songwriting prowess. Marina plays to her pop sensibilities by borrowing elements from cited influences that range from Kate Bush to Elliott Smith, infusing various musical styles to create something organic and invigorating within a genre notorious for its homogeneity. The vast majority of songs ride a wave of emphatic happiness; most of which are so bubbly and light-hearted that they beg to be sung along to. What's surprising is how genuine and honest it all comes across, as pop artists tend to sound detached when approaching the genre. It seems as though British female pop stars have been making a splash in popular music recently and Marina & The Diamonds has cemented herself as one of the better, more distinguishable pop stars to emerge in 2010. Highly recommended for people seeking a contemporary pop album with a keen sense of exceptional songwriting that?s very enjoyable through and through. -- Gyromania
38Earl Sweatshirt

When Earl Sweatshirt described himself on fellow Odd Future member Tyler's track 'Assmilk' as a "reincarnation of '98 Eminem", he wasn't too far off. Of course at 16 or however old he may have been, he didn't have the charisma of Em or have as nearly fast a flow. But who do you last recall going from gay fantasies of celebrities to twisted assonant rhymes such as "but hurry up, I got nuts to bust and butts to fuck and ups to shut and sluts to fuckin' uppercut". However EARL is a hardly a regressive record, but rather a showcasing, a glimpse into a personality that shows massive potential in hip hop. Backed by minimal, gritty beats, Earl sounds confident in his verbose, humorous delivery and his "as a matter of factly" tone. While the album's underproduction and Earl's focus on younger themes will make the record seem amateur, these moments are usually always overshadowed by clever rhymes in the vein of "swag by the eighth in case you wanna taste it, faggots wear prada, Satan wears Aryn K shit." So while Earl is currently imprisoned by his legal status, his debut shows that based on where he started off, we can expect some hard-hitting rap from him in the future.
Fuck Steve Harvey. -- Enotron
Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place

I have to admit that I approached Dark is the Way, Light is a Place with a considerable amount of doubt. There are few times in which I can recall a band proclaiming their upcoming work to be their "darkest and heaviest yet" or making some similarly brash prediction without seeing it crash and burn within the wreckage ignited by their own arrogance. Naturally, when Stephen Christian announced that their fifth LP would be "darker and edgier" than prior releases, painting a picture of a magnum opus, I stood unwavering within my stubbornness and reasonable speculation that this would be an unsuccessful attempt at Cities meets New Surrender. Thankfully, Anberlin had the motivation and skill to prove me ? along with a slew of other doubters ? completely wrong.
The band's best and most endearing traits remain intact ? Christian's vocals are as strong as ever, alternating between atmospheric howls and moderately aggressive growling. The guitar work is quite solid throughout, creating peaks of emotional grandeur and breathtaking valleys that will help the listener get caught up in every second of the journey. They still have those "diamond in the rough" tracks that qualify as "good finds", but the irony is that there is really no "rough" on the album. Dark is the Way, Light is a Place is a consecutive string of gems, with no disconcerting interruptions to make you question the band's intentions or the thematic direction of the record. As a result, we have Anberlin's most consistent album to date. It may not obliterate memories of Cities, but it is just what Anberlin needed to show fans that they can mature gracefully while simultaneously bringing new ideas to the table. Best of all, the new ideas they concocted have clearly elevated them to a whole new level of success ? one that will pack arenas while also staying true to the most loyal of fans. -- SowingSeason
36Adebisi Shank
This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called...

Awesome follow-up to the debut on many levels, most notably in the development and changes in their style despite the fact that the first was well-received. Some really unique ideas at work here with outstanding tracks such as 'Logdrum', 'Micromachines', 'Genki Shank' and 'Europa'. I'm already a big fan of their sound but this has so many surprises for new and old listeners alike. -- NaomiNeu
Eparistera Daimones

Quite possibly one the most anticipated albums of 2010 (at least for me), let's just start off by saying that if you had any doubts that Thomas Gabriel Fischer (aka Tom G. 'Warrior') couldn?t pull off a comeback (again), you should just give up believing that you have any metal cred whatsoever. The guy pulled off Monotheist in style (save for a few rotten tracks) all the while completely transforming Celtic Frost for the millionth time and giving the band a far more trudging, downtuned sludgy sound. Who really cares though; that was the past and this is the present. Warrior even said in interviews prior to Eparistera Daimones release that the album would be comprised of a few leftovers from the Monotheist sessions as well as a handful of new tracks. Warrior has not only surprised the hell out me again, but I think he will catch a lot of people off guard with this one. Eparistera Daimones is heavy as fuck and not in the sense that it's mindless, string-dangling chugging throughout. Instead, Warrior opts for longer tunes to branch out his droney-style, sludgy riffs (remember that sick guitar tone on Monotheist?) full of dark gloom and doom. Warrior also continues his exploration into gothic territory with songs such as 'My Pain' where he adds the angelic voice of Simone Vollenweider, moving the listener in a sort of near-death slumber before crushing them one last time with the 19 minute monster 'The Prolonging'. Top the album off with artwork from H.R. Giger (long time friend of Warrior's since he did To Mega Therion) and you have a complete package that shrouds itself in the darkest, confined spaces of the human mind. Warrior opens up this album with the line "Satan, saviour, father, lord, constructor of my world"; now that is worthy of throwing horns up to! -- Wizard
34Future Islands
In Evening Air

Who knew you could get away with delivering a smoke-ten-packs-each-day, Tom Waits inspired, vocal performance over drum machines and shimmering synths? Not only does Samuel Herring get away with it, but with an extremely powerful vocal performance, In Evening Air convinces you that it?s how electro-pop should be done. While their contemporaries are focused on fun upbeat music with catchy hooks and high-pitched vocals, Future Islands have created a though-provoking album that seems to stretch beyond the brevity of the nine tracks within. Never letting things get too cluttered, the instrumentation stays appropriately subtle enough for the storytelling to be impactful, but beautiful enough to move even the toughest of the hard-hearted. These streamlined cinematic qualities make it hard to believe this was a bedroom recording: Each track is constantly building towards something huge, always keeping the listener actively interested with anticipation of where it's taking them. So although relatively new to the music world, this three-piece knows exactly what they're doing. But with such expert control over what they want to accomplish with their music, it seems like they have been doing it for years. -- Yotimi
33Foxy Shazam
Foxy Shazam

To put it simply, don?t listen to this album looking for the wackiness of 'No! Don?t Shoot' or the brutal ending in 'Ghost Animals'. Foxy have gone full blown, unadulterated pop. With that said, some die hard veteran Foxy Shazam fans might shed a tear and put The Flamingo Trigger on repeat for a few weeks, but rest assured, there really is no reason for that as this album is a fantastically constructed pop album with catchy hooks aplenty.
With Nally's showy and soaring vocals backed by some dazzling piano lines, a feel-good guitar lick here and there and the addition of a more that apt trumpet player, Foxy Shazam have successfully made an album full of hard hitting, straightforward and (can?t stress this enough) fun pop tunes. It really all boils down to one thing: accessibility. Yes, this album can be enjoyed in just about any situation. Whether you're having a good day and want to keep that feeling going, or you?re have a not so good one, Foxy Shazam can now always remind you that life is a bitch, but she?s totally do-able. -- WeepingBanana
Wooden Heart

Often performing in the basements of anybody who will take them, Listener are one of those groups who appear like a star in the space of the modern underground music scene. Like a diamond in the dirt, stumbling upon them is a true delight, and their fourth LP contains some of the best music of 2010. It rises and falls with its intense, compassionate songs like 'Save Up Your Hopes Friends' and the slower, more flowing songs such as 'You Were A House On Fire' which holds the diversity to make it worth the several listens it requires to fully digest it. Fans of poetic and passionate lyricism will be immediately attracted to Dan Smith's presentation and lyrical brilliance, and in no time will be hooked. Listener's Wooden Heart, could easily grow to be one of the several excellent records of the year, and for good reason. It holds everything that makes music what it should be. -- Slum
31The Birthday Massacre
Pins and Needles

The power of purple is simply relentless in Pins And Needles. Yes, the ominous vibe The Birthday Massacre gave off on Violet has now totally disappeared, but what takes its place is just as enjoyable; well produced gothic/industrial rock tracks that are so catchy it should be a sin to even listen to them. However, this very description may as well describe their entire sound since the beginning of their career. The guitars and drums form the backbone as usual while beautiful synth lines and pads dance over top. We certainly cannot forget the creme de la creme of The Birthday Massacre which are Chibi's angelic vocals. Ladies and gentlemen, it's all there just as you remember from their major label debut, Violet. Lightning strikes thrice. Yeah you read correctly. Effin' thrice. -- Bloc
30Alter Bridge

After Blackbird, expectations were set very high for Alter Bridge's next album. I'm pleased to say that the band hasn't let us down. Tremonti still rules behind the axe, dishing out more memorable riffs and solos, and Myles Kennedy still dazzles with his vocals. It's also a darker, more brooding album, so it's a bit less accessible than the band's previous work. It may not have a track as good as 'Blackbird' or 'Ties That Bind', but it still rules nonetheless; a much-needed triumph for mainstream rock. -- tiesthatbind
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky

My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky is the culmination of several dark atmospheric rock essentials. The swaying rhythms and mystifying aura are presented with a newfound potency that allows Swans to alternate between their artistically crafted mask of anonymity and forthright delivery of some of the most abrasive, shocking moments you will hear in music. Relentlessly overwhelming in its sound, the album grasps one's ears and mind alike, leading them into a twisted, blackened skyline on a rope as long as the imagination can fancy. The perfection achieved almost immediately by 'No Worlds/No Thoughts' is a prime indicator of just how high Swans can take you. Although clad with haunting bells, jet engines, and heavy distortion, the song is mostly propelled by its constantly shifting momentum and unrelenting, perpetually heavy percussion. It all makes My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky feel less like a journey to the heavens and more like a slow plummet into the depths of hell. This is a bold album representing just about everything in Swans' arsenal, and it dares the listener to climb that rope just a little bit more and discover all of the beauty within this dark, clearly unstable opus. -- SowingSeason
Death Is Silent

Hooray. Kno finally decided to craft a solo album after being heavily petitioned by the loyal fan-base of his choicely named hip hop group; Cunninlynguists. It?s of no surprise that after last year?s terrific Strange Journey releases, the next hip hop album floating to the top from the Cunninlynguists moniker would kick ass. The producer, known for his grimy, rampant southern-style beats, is in full control, pouring a healthy amount of dissonance and acid-flaying synths into a darker, emotional venture into life and death. And for the first time since 2003's SouthernUnderground, he?s picked up the mic again to deliver more witty, punchline rhymes. Fans of the group, throw your guns in the air, for Death is Silent brings this respected producer to new heights of turntabalism and lyrical dexterity. It is an effort that outshines the masterful albums that brought CL to fame, and stands to become among the top hip hop albums of the century. -- Lobby
Beyond Hell/Above Heaven

It seems Volbeat are aiming for a bigger stage on Beyond Hell/Above Heaven, and if greater notoriety is the intention it would be an unmitigated travesty if not fully realized. After riding their natural tendency to deliver face caving rock over the years, Volbeat has finally achieved the summit of rock nirvana. The ability to rock hard as only they can has finally collided with overwhelming consistency. When one bumps Volbeat, fists will automatically be aimed at the sky. The difference is when Beyond Hell/Above Heaven is the soundtrack, they will never come down to take a break. -- BigHans
The Golden Archipelago

Shearwater's sixth LP The Golden Archipelago comes close to matching the beauty and majesty of its picturesque cover art. The record's diversity might at times seem like it results from a lack of focus, but the band's ambitious, wide-ranging endeavors always prove rewarding. Rustling numbers like 'Meridian', angular guitar workouts like 'Corridors' and bipolar tunes like 'Runners of the Sun', which exercises both the rhythmic and the breathlessly quiet sides of the band, fit together to form an (almost) seamless whole. Jonathan Meiburg's quavery falsetto is a beautiful instrument in itself, tying the loose pieces together. -- zen5729
25Ghostface Killah
Apollo Kids

Admittedly, Apollo Kids is nothing new and innovative from Ghostface Killah, it's nothing we haven't heard before and the writing's on the wall that we'll hear it all again before too long, but when it's this inspired (even after all these years), this tantalizing, this soulful, how do we not eat it up? Everything's tight and shaped to perfection, the beats are fresh and full of life, there's no filler or unnecessary skits to wear out the skip button. All this is is hip hop in its simplest form, street level and dirty, looking up at the skycrapers, not standing on the edge of them looking down on you and I. It's wearing scuffed shoes and hand me down clothes, and it's exactly where it wants to be ? amongst the people. -- Deviant

So Recovery didn't quite end up dwarfing the world like many hoped it would. And perhaps the main reason why it somehow missed that commercial mark that Em used to easily sail over at the turn of the century is because Recovery is an album that not a lot of people seem to really understand. It would seem that because Marshall has actually returned with something to say (and this time sounding like he's hot to spit), that Recovery should therefore be the sequel to The Marshall Mathers LP that no one ever thought of asking for until Relapse showed up and proved to be no one's cup of tea. Well, why would, or should, that be the case? There's a ten year gap separating the pinnacle and the pretender, yet no one seems to think that maybe Eminem was somehow able to mature in that time, and possibly report back on that soul searching he seemed so invested in doing 2-3 years ago. Marshall has never been one to hide from the truth, in fact he revels in his confrontational nature, no subject to taboo or personal for him not to provide commentary on. And Recovery shows that this time around, Eminem has something new to discuss rather than falling back on his old Tourette's like habits. The profanity is still a constant, but he sidelines it on multiple occasions to actually apologize to his fans for his less than remarkable track record of late. For someone who made a living out of "laughing at people who have died as long as it wasn't happening to him", that small gesture of compensation, the point where he admits fucking up time and time again and assures us that he won't be doing that again anytime soon is more than just a small revelation for the self proclaimed mischief maker, it shows that even his slim shady persona wasn't entirely invincible after all.
So instead of going through the motions (Relapse), or just trying to piss off everyone around him (Encore), Eminem goes for broke with Recovery, as much for himself as for his dwindling fanbase currently in the midst of regressing back to the year 2000. And for the first time in a long time Marshall sounds energetic, even excited at just making music again. He bolsters his recovered passion for hip hop with some of the best beats of his career as well; before Em's own production came across as essentially the same catchy jingle rehashed time and time again just to give him stable ground to rap over, whereas here he's actually backed up by fully fledged and blossoming tunes. The guest spots are of the normal standard for commercial hip hop as of late, with both the divas doing admirable work at cheering Marshall on, and Weezy actually comes off much better than he has on his own material as of late. But the true star is of course the return of Eminem, off the leash but a little more subdued, with more to prove to himself than to any one else. When he dissolves into his more shady-like tendencies he falters occasionally, almost as if he's lost the ability to be completely vitriolic. But that's really only because he's been too busy pulling himself to shreds for the last few years. -- Deviant
23Sleigh Bells

Treats is a record driven by production gimmicks and fundamentally weak songwriting; it is, almost without exception, the same song repeated over and over again. Thankfully, that one song is pretty fucking incredible, the most ridiculously fun thing to grace listeners' ears all year. Sounding like a pep rally infused with several cans of Red Bull, a couple of cannons, and way too much confetti, Treats forgoes traditional musicality for pure narcotic pleasure. Lyrics? Who cares about them? "Got my A machines on the table, got my B machines in the drawer' is about as meaningless as lines come, but it doesn't matter, since nobody's really listening to the words of these songs anyways, right? Nope, the ear goes straight to Derek Miller?s searing guitar riff and Alexis Krauss's indelible delivery, and the experience is nothing short of euphoric. -- ConradTao

After is a mix of soundscapes, from crushing riffs to peaceful interludes, even with a saxophone solo mixed in. With an improvement in instrumentation and vocals from its sole member, Ihsahn has created an album that not only pushes his own genre to the limit but questions where he really belongs in the music world. Pulling from many different influences, Ihsahn has crafted an album that while not being the perfect album of the year is most likely his best since the demise of Emperor. -- Blindsided
Fallen Light

In that ever increasing sphere currently referred to as "look ma, I can dubstep too!" there's very few who can truly lay claims to doing things just a little bit differently. In fact, let's not worry too much about originality points, but how about artists who can do it with a little bit of style. For every wobble heavy artist currently distorting the paint on the walls in dingy basements the world over, there's always the ones who prefer to riddle their tunes with some brightness and a little hope. Phaeleh is one such musician; an artist obviously deeply influenced by his home town, the same area that gave birth to trip hop. He peppers his 2-step anthems with lush overtones and downtempo trips through memory lane and teeters between dips into melodic waters and slightly more floor filling tumblers, always at ease with the contrasting styles. He effortlessly slides between skittering garage beats and clipped r & b samples while throwing in wistful overtures of ambient construction at every turn. The crooks and crannies of his maze are filled with various ethnic guises and charming bouts of trip-influenced melody, yet he never strays too far from more dub laden grooves, such as when he transitions from the skanky underpinnings of a track like 'Badman' to the more peaceful contemplations of the title track. Fallen Light allows Phaeleh's rise to stardom to continue unhindered, the Portishead and Massive Attack influences only adding to the already vibrant palette that was perfected on Within The Emptiness. Classically trained and overwhelmingly motivated, Phaeleh has crafted the dubstep album of 2010. Simple as that. -- Deviant
20Max Richter

British Composer Max Richter's Infra sounds just as one would expect--beautifully elegant and tragically desperate. It is in these motifs that Infra truly finds its voice, balancing somewhere between a minimalist venture and bombastic artistic statement. The record is split into two separate and distinct halves: Journey and Infra. Ultimately, this creates a dichotomy within the album, as Journey is the darker, more elusive side of the album, while Infra is less cryptic and more easily relatable. Richter?s penchant for electronics is as prevalent as always, giving a cold, ethereal glow to his solid neo-classical sensibilities. Yet it isn?t the underlying themes of love and death, nor is it even the quality of music that makes Infra one of 2010's highlights, but how fully realized it feels. Literally every piece--from the serene and mysterious 'Infra 1,' to the deep solemnity of 'Infra 8'--feels absolutely necessary. You see, Infra isn?t merely the sum of it?s parts, rather, it is a complete package; a beautiful, dark, and unassuming story, and one that only Max Richter could pen. -- Xenophanes

It is hard at times, to truly attempt to define Portland, Oregon's whirlwind pop outfit Menomea let alone begin placing concrete value on any one of their records outside of an emphatic "great." Each of the band's mind-bending forays into some semblance of modern "indie-rock" are as difficult to narrow-down as they are each insatiably infectious.Yet the throw-until-something-sticks method of songwriting has always been a bit of an inherent game of chance that the band has seemingly never lost. Songs like the ethereal 'Killemall,' the humble-rumbles to bombastic hook of 'Tilthe' and 'Oh Pretty Boy, You're Such A Big Boy' or the outright foreboding grandiosity of 'Five Little Rooms' are not only successful forays into the realm of more standardized song-structure; but concrete proof that Menomena were in fact onto something with their goof-ball instrumental wankings. That something lay purring seductively below their distorted guitars, rotating bells and screaming saxophone, biding its time. Mines takes that conventional disposition and slams it into Menomena's usual bevy of off-kilter bridges and brassy breakdowns with a wrecking-ball force. What we're left with in the wake is a uniformly assured, resoundingly appealing and unquestionably bizarre record that is plainly a very talented bands most consistent to date. -- AggravatedYeti
Valley Of Smoke

California's Intronaut are one of the most unique and fastest-rising bands in the modern sludge metal scene. After 2008's sophomore effort Prehistoricisms gained much-deserved acclaim in the underground, the band began touring with metal giants like Mastodon and Cynic, where they established themselves as a jaw-droppingly heavy live force with a knack for moody atmospherics. With Valley of Smoke, Intronaut are setting foot in a new and interesting direction while keeping the signature elements that have lofted them to the top of the metal underground. While some may accuse them of imitating Isis on this one, the sound is still unmistakably Intronaut. If you get the chance, see the band live and you'll realize their full strength. -- HenchmanOfSanta
17Black Breath
Heavy Breathing

The cohesiveness of this group is what makes this cd so powerful. Album opener 'Black Sin' sets the tone of bone crushing madness and never lets up. Each song is attention grabbing from the opening seconds, and it?s no mystery as to why; the songs are fun, rambunctious and distinct enough that repeated listens are a must. -- fromtheinside
All Idols Fall Before The Hammer

All Idols Fall Before the Hammer was perhaps 2010?s darkest and most macabre record. It draws inspiration from a horde of influences, ranging from acts such as Von and Archgoat, to more clearly defined death metal groups. Adversarial fit loosely with other ?new-wave? Canadian black/death acts (such as Antidiluvian), who pay homage to the country's well-established and unrelenting style first defined by bands like Blasphemy. More than just replicating however, Adversarial build upon the minimalistic approach of the aforementioned bands and have created a far denser and engaging representation of the style. Their intentions were first made clear on their Thralls demo, but as much as the album builds upon the demo, as much as it throws maniacal riff after riff at the listener, All Idols Fall Before the Hammer remains quite possibly the most polarising extreme metal album released last year. Why? The snare. The production mix here is murky but still relatively clear, but the drumming is quite prominent and the snare has a definite 'trash-can' quality to it - this particular detail caused many a listener to snub their noses and miss out on what is one 2010?s best metal records. Still, it?s not too late. If you?re undecided on whether this is worth a listen, you just need to reassess if you actually like this style of music. If you do, then this is essential. -- rasputin
15How To Dress Well
Love Remains

How To Dress Well, like many artists that combine pop melodies with foreign textures and electronic production, deals in creating escapist music. In particular, How To Dress Well croons, in his falsetto, loosely composed RnB melodies, only to have them crackle and distort and reverberate off into the distance. Tom Krell, the man behind the project, could have easily have turned these songs into Timberlake-esque pop hits, but the way they are separated by hazy clouds of atmospherics and obscured by layered vocals puts them in a whole other dimension. Instead of offering solid pop hooks to embrace, How To Dress Well's music is best remembered in small resonating moments, typically when the various layers and feedback echos coagulate into warped moments of melodic bliss. Where the pop influences represent solid emotions and mainstream format and standards, the grimy electronics and clipped sampling represent stripping down these elements into fuzzy uncertainty, music to dream to. -- Enotron
14The Ocean

This is the sound The Ocean was trying for when they shook things up after Precambrian - much wider dynamic range, bigger climaxes, more poignant spacial areas, and for the first time, this band really grooves during sections. A great step forward. -- pedro70512
13Lone Wolf
The Devil and I

Paul Marshall is a creepy guy. I mean, I'm sure he's actually really lovely in real life, but the lyricism that adorns The Devil & I you?d be excused for mistaking him for a homicidal maniac ? and yet fortunately I wouldn't have it any other way. He masterfully whispers downtrodden tales of death and murder into your ear as intimately as a lover; and with a voice like silk and a penchant for wonderfully melodic Nick Drake-esque finger style, it?s enough to evoke shivers. Whether it?s the endearingly sedated whistles of 'Dead River' or the unrelenting foot stomp of 'Keep Your Eyes on the Road' (which may ironically be the greatest driving song ever) Marshall?s morbid poetry keeps us so entranced that it?s only at the record's conclusion that we can finally take a breath. -- Tombits
12The Contortionist

Combining elements of deathcore, progressive-death, experimental production, and dare I use the cliche, strong use of melody, The Contortionist is a heady mix of abrasiveness and technical metal, which is executed with precision. Exoplanet defines a genre coming of age. Dynamics, and song-writing overtaking aesthetics of violence and brutality dogging the genre, allow the band to stand head and shoulders over its peers, and with breathing space for creativity. -- Aaron
11Taylor Swift
Speak Now

Taylor Swift is as much of a cultural icon as a professional musician these days, with her (gorgeous) face printed on calendars, magazine covers, billboards, and various advertisements everywhere. The innocent charm permeating from her simple brand of country/pop has earned her a unique place at the top of the mainstream music world ? and on Speak Now, Taylor shows us that all of the accolades that have been coming her way since Fearless are extremely well deserved. Speak Now might be viewed as a natural progression from her mega hit of a sophomore album (Fearless currently stands as the top selling country album of all-time), with a sound that is mostly unaltered except for an even more fully-realized pursuit of pop. The country twang still remains ever-present in Taylor?s angelic voice, but from a musical perspective, it has dwindled down to a mere few moments ? such as the introduction to 'Sparks Fly' and the quirky 'Mean.' When you have a songwriter as talented as Ms. Swift, none of that matters though. She has a magical quality sparked by the simplicity of her music and her ability to make it sound like the most beautiful, touching thing that has ever transpired. She obviously isn?t trying to go over the top instrumentally or lyrically on Speak Now ? but that is what works for her: resoundingly simple music that expresses common, relatable themes through just her voice and stripped-down instrumentation. All one needs to do is listen to the sorrowfully reminiscent 'Back to December' or the timid, wistful 'Last Kiss' to get a taste of what Speak Now is all about. This is one of those rare albums in mainstream music that has the ability to make you sing along, reflect, and actually have it mean something on a personal level. It?s country and pop, and it is perfect for what it is. -- SowingSeason
10In Mourning

While not as strong as In Mourning?s groundbreaking debut Shrouded Divine, Monolith proves to be a worthy successor. The boys in In Mourning still have some good songwriting chops and know how to balance aggressive chugging and melodic guitar lines. There is a distinct metalcore influence to this record which might turn a few people off, but the truth is In Mourning know very well how to write progressive and melodic death metal songs. Sure, the atmospheric side of Monolith remains far inferior to the somber mood of Shrouded Divine, but since that?s not what the guys were going for here, it can be forgiven. While Shrouded Divine is the kind of album you listen to at home with your headphones on, the kind of thinking record, then Monolith is a live album foremost with it's rhythmical approach and energetic vocals. Though not for everyone, Monolith only cements the averment that In Mourning is one of the best new melodeath bands around. -- Metalstyles

Thou have always been a consistent band, but they have outdone themselves with Summit. Taking the dense and murky atmospheres of sludge and juxtaposing them amidst dissonant melodies that linger faintly in the background, Summit represents a band hitting their stride, a claim that is hard to make considering the quality of Thou?s back catalogue but one which I think is deserved. Look not for welcoming and accessible riffs that flow endlessly in fine form amongst each other, but instead expect a neck-deep pool of mud that plods incessantly in a direction that is undefined toward a destination that is hidden within the smog. That?s the kind of aura that Summit portrays; raspy vocals and wandering riffs that crest highly before plunging back into the depths of rumbling chords and riffs. It?s an unceasing atmospheric engine, Summit, and for those who can welcome the relative density of Thou?s sound it will be a place to revel in. -- Crysis
8Sun Kil Moon
Admiral Fell Promises

So deeply embedded into the album is this sense of place that it even deposits itself in Mark Kozelek (here, somewhat arbitrarily, as Sun Kil Moon)'s exquisite guitar playing, a sort of Spain-via-California arpeggiated plucking that establishes itself as refreshingly complex (especially when compared to the drab strumming of some lesser modern folk artists) and yet completely un-intrusive. Basically, Mark Kozelek is the type of guy who takes a look around outside his San Francisco apartment, takes mental snapshots, and goes home and writes songs about it--he just happens to be insanely talented, as well as experienced enough to know that you have to be insanely talented to release a solo-guitar album where the average song length is approximately six minutes. Somehow, Kozelek and this, his masterpiece, not only make it out alive but also exceed expectations: Admiral Fell Promises a quiet, introverted folk album as calming and pleasurable as the Californian breeze rolling in from the album cover's window view. -- Robertsona
7Los Campesinos!
Romance Is Boring

It's often difficult to appreciate the importance of what somebody is saying the first time you hear it. The main reason for this is that people don't express themselves the way that Leonard Cohen does; they talk in the things that they know and they stumble over their words. They also occasionally sound like fucking idiots. But from time to time people pull from seemingly nowhere an insight or statement as beautiful as 'The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future'. Los Campesinos! are a lot like people - young people, mostly - because they drink and change their minds. They're reckless and indulgent to the point that 'Plan A' sticks out like a sore thumb of noise and indecipherable words, but they?re musically talented and excited enough to forge from their imperfections something entirely different altogether. At no point during Romance Is Boring do you ever feel like you're being convinced of anything; it?s just a conversation. Romance Is Boring is that batshit insane friend that you have who you sometimes can?t stand to be around but who, on days like today, is the only person you?d ever want around, because at least they have something interesting and big to say. -- Knott-
6The Knife
Tomorrow, In A Year

The unquestionable divisive album of 2010 is also one of the year's best. Many have stated wicked terms such as: the first half is all "setup nonsense" or "bullshit", or "this is the most pretentious thing I have ever heard". While I can understand someone thinking this way, I also believe that these dorks have only drifted by the album a few times and have not let the wonder sink in. This is a Darwin electronic opera perfected, and that is exactly what The Knife intended to do. -- Chambered89

I'll admit I was a little hesitant to give this a listen due to the high similarities between Journal and over the top bands like The Crinn, and especially due to the fact that the concept of Unlorja was just ridiculous in my eyes. However, I was treated to a collection of songs and one minute interludes on Unlorja that where just fantastic and so well balanced. Forget the spastic image that you may get if you simply just visit the band's myspace; in fact, Journal really knows how to mix chaos and musicality into one listenable concoction. Sure, there is dissonance quite often, but it just seems to fit most of the time, and either way, all is forgiven once beautiful guitar (or vocal) melodies start appearing in the mix. My only issue with this album are the vocals, and while they may be great, there are not enough cleans on this album as there should be. The harsh vocals may sounds like those from a standard metalcore act but enter the clean vocals and it's as if that fat guy from the opera has suddenly taken over. Hell, I even started to forget that this band was singing about a damn video game... -- Bloc
4Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier

The Final Frontier is the first Iron Maiden album in four years, so expectations were bound to be high. Although it is thoroughly enjoyable, it is also very predictable. The band continue the brand of epic heavy metal they've been practicing and developing since Brave New World, and since we've been treated with three full albums of that kind, surprise is never in the picture. Maiden have obviously slipped into a comfort zone by now, and while the material may be pretty similar to their latest albums, it doesn't feel lazy. Harris and the boys are still inspired to write great songs, even if the absence of real classics is a disappointment. The Final Frontier is Maiden by the book, but that isn't such a bad thing: the book is still a great read. -- Nagrarok
3Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles II

Crystal Castles II is a definite improvement over the 8-bit extremities on their first album. This time the techno duo are more focused on melody, evocation, and catchy hooks. Whether it be the somber opening of 'Celestica' or one of the many guilt-free dancefloor anthems on this sophomore album, it is apparent that Crystal Castles are improving: once a guilty pleasure and now an excellent electronic duet. -- Bitchfork
2The Sword
Warp Riders

RIFFS. Now that I have gotten that out of my system, Warp Riders is by far the best vintage metal release of the year. I?m sorry to say this to all you Grand Magus and Iron Maiden fans, but there just wasn't any competition for The Sword this year. As opposed to rehashing the same old formulas and ideas that have been used for decades already (I'm looking at you, Iron Maiden), The Sword actually manage to be creative and compelling when playing their riff-driven brand of heavy metal. Fun, meaty and surprisingly fresh, Warp Riders is a true treat for metal fans across the globe. -- Metalstyles
Plastic Beach

Right from the word go, Damon Albarn's precious little cartoon misfits have been biting off more than they can chew. Though the Blur frontman is no stranger to experimentation and even less shy about removing well loved tendencies in favor of ideas a little less gratifying, hiding behind this animated visage that he inhabits with the Gorillaz have allowed Albarn's slightly more intoxicating eccentricities to sprout forth. And you can tell that he's always wanted to escape the connotations of his britpop trailblazing outfit to let that slightly crazed streak out, to revel in his retro digging, slightly anti pop agenda. But its taken him two whole albums with his hand drawn compatriots before he's finally been able to unify his wants and loves into a wholly cohesive product. Sure, Gorillaz' self titled debut and Demon Days had some standout moments, but the problem was that they shone too much, everything else just seemingly falling into their persuasive orbits. Plastic Beach is the Gorillaz album that Damon Albarn has always wanted to make; you can tell by by the orchestral intro, by having Snoop Dogg introduce the damn thing. Everything here screams epic, but the band's previous pretentious nature has now finally melted away to something a little more well intentioned.
Then of course there's the guestlist, a who's who of crooning legends and pop culture mediators. And then there's the complete amalgamation of everything Gorillaz have always been working too, now ultimately realized as a result of Albarn's increased confidence in not having to show his face. But while being a combination of all their previous strengths, this is a different beast all together; this is a much more soothing and relaxing approach for the Gorillaz. It?s a snapshot of a colorful and inspiration filled mindset, and ends up standing head and shoulders above the rest of their discography. Whatever notions you have about animated characters making music this is an album that demands attention. It's a lazy dub like ride that while running at a 100mph feels like it?s barely moving at all, it?s everywhere and nowhere all at once. Something good washed up on this beach. -- Deviant
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