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Vander's 2010

So, this year had an incredible amount of good music, and now that I've got my hands on just about all of the releases I was looking forward to, here's my end of the year list.
1The Tallest Man On Earth
The Wild Hunt

No matter what I'll write here, I won't be able to describe how much I love this album. AOTY by far.
Majesty And Decay

Immolation don't change very much on Majesty and Decay, but rather refine their sound. Everything from the riffs to the production feels heavier and even more mesmerizing than on most past albums. Second only to Close to a World Below. Also, seeing this live was nothing short of incredible.
3 Les Discrets
Septembre Et Ses Derni?res Pens?es

Les Discrets take what was done by Alcest, with whom they are closely associated, and improve it ten-fold. The ethereal, nostalgic atmosphere is there, but the whole album feels much more concise and focused than Ecailles.

Almost out of nowhere, Atheist come back and release an album that can stand up to anything in the back catalog. Intelligent, mind-bending, proggy death metal at its finest.
Tomorrow Morning

I was very skeptical about this album, mainly because End Times was a huge disappointment and because Eels' happier songs never fascinated me very much, but this turned out to be the biggest surprise of the year. Everything from the lush instrumentation to the brighter tone works perfectly.
6The Sword
Warp Riders

This is one hell of an improvement. The Sword was always decent, but they never were anything more. This album sees them improving in all fronts: the lyrics (usually one of the blander facets of the band) tell a rather fascinating space opera, the vocals (which ultimately ruined a lot of the band's older songs) are stronger, and the riffs become finally become more than Black Sabbath worship. Excellent stuff.
Scenes From Hell

Aside from Imaginary Sonicscape, I've never seen gotten the hype behind Sigh, who always seemed to be a bit boring, until this album came out. The symphonic elements are better integrated and better written, and they elevate merely above-average black metal to greatness.
Ecailles De Lune

Ecailles is saved by its absolutely otherworldly, ethereal atmosphere. Neige's voice ranges from an airy croon to a harsh black metal rasp, and it all works. Ultimately, the metallic segments could have been just a bit better and the album could have dragged a bit less, but those are relatively small complaints. The title track is one of the ten best songs of the year.
9Deathspell Omega

Just recently got into these guys after picking up Fas on a whim at a local record store, and they're absolutely mind-blowing. This is perhaps a bit weaker than Fas, but it's still an incredible release. I first heard this recently, so it might grow on me some more with future listens.
The Tomb Within

Masters of doom/death return with this year's strongest ep. It's marred a bit by the occasional weak vocal, and I like the muddy production of Mental Funeral more than the cleaner tone here, but it's still a great release.

Dryad is only a three-song demo, but contained within is some of the best black metal I've heard in ages. Oddly relaxing, but at the same time grandiose and energetic, Petrychor manages to do what most of their contemporaries fail at.
12The Tallest Man On Earth
Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird

Yup, this Swede of average height made it onto my list for a second time. With absolutely no media coverage prior to its release, this EP came out absolutely unexpectedly. It sees The Tallest Man experimenting with electric instrumentation (The Dreamer), but still retaining the warm, folky sound that made him so endearing in the first place.
13Frank Turner
Rock & Roll

Frank Turner doing what he does best: releasing impossibly catchy folk punk. A five-song long ode to rock and roll, this EP reminds me just why we listened to rock in the first place: it's bloody fun.
14Gogol Bordello
Trans-Continental Hustle

Speaking of fun folk-punk, it's hard to top these guys. Eastern European motifs blend with Bomb The Music Industry! styled punk to make one hell of a ride.

Black metal with a hell-load of atmosphere. Incredible, despair-ridden vocals and mournful riffs make this an absolute delight.
Axioma Ethica Odini

A lot of this has been done before, but it's still done very well. Lightening is Enslaved's masterwork.
17So Hideous, My Love
I Balance Daydreams On The Tip Of A Knife

Post rock, emo, and black metal all converge together to form a stunning, passionate cacophony. Definitely a band to look out for in the future.
18Arcade Fire
The Suburbs

It pales in comparison to the band's past albums, and it's a bit too long (the middle third, perhaps, should have been trimmed), but this is still a highly enjoyable work. Title track is one of the band's best.
19Bad Religion
30 Years Live

This served as my introduction to the band, and it certainly got me interested in the rest of their discography. Very energetic performance and many entertaining songs. Also, it's free, so what's there to lose?
20Iron Maiden
The Final Frontier

Some songs drag a bit and some (The Alchemist) aren't as good as I'd hope, but this is still a fine effort. It's great that the band wants to, at this age, experiment with their sound and progress a bit, rather than just rehash The Number Of The Beast.
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