|Best of 2019: dbizzles edition|
What a great year for music. I rated 167 albums released this year; the list below features albums I gave a 4 or above. Looks like I gave a few less 4/5 ratings this year, but more 4.5/5's. Quality over content wins every time. Anyway, the top 15 or so are ranked pretty firmly, but really any of the top 10 could have been my favorite album this year depending on the day- after that, the list is very loosely ranked. I'm still taking recommendations if you don't see your favorite album here or if you just think there's something I may like based on my favorites. Several artists here are new-to-me and that's the kind of thing that keeps me excited about music. Still, coming into 2019, I had anticipated quite a few releases from bands I already know and love, but who delivered and how hard?
|50||Devoid of Thought|
Honestly just forgot to include this and am tacking it on at the end, which, conveniently rounds my list out at 50. This is one of my favorite demos of the year. Ripping death metal with shades of Blood Incantation.
|49||Billy Woods, Kenny Segal|
abstract hip hop
The lone hip hop album on this list comes to us as a collaboration between rapper Billy Woods and producer Kenny Segal. Nothing else I heard from Billy Woods stood out like this release and that credit is more due to Segal who not only complements Woods' style, but enhances it.
Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave
Witch Vomit is one of a few bands that sprung up out of nowhere in the Pacific Northwest- a region known more lately for its flavor of black metal. But, really, there are shades of that character here, though the evil is often replaced with horror.
|47||Vessel of Iniquity|
Void of Infinite Horror
The world could do with more noisy black metal and Vessel of Iniquity walls you in like the fucking cask of amontillado. Void of Infinite Horror is a panic-inducing thrill ride worthy of its title.
This one grew on me. It was my first listen of Vastum and when I was done I went to their debut and liked it more. Now, I'm not so sure. There's a crispness to the production here that doesn't exist on the debut and it turned me off initially, but now I'm starting to change my tune, as the it actually gives the album the kind of sound that is somewhat lacking in dm right now.
The Origin Of My Depression
dark ambient/harsh noise/death industrial
I know Lingua Ignota is going to be popping up on a lot of AOTY lists, and for good reason. But, I beg any fans of her work to listen to this as well. Uboa reminds me a LOT of Lingua Ignota, but the exhaustion at hand comes at you sonically rather that thematically. One look at the genre tags should have you interested enough.
Festering in Telepathic Communion
Evil, raw black metal with enough melody to be just as memorable as it is hateful and it hits that sweet spot at 40 minutes where you get just the right dose. Impressive debut.
|43||Emily Scott Robinson|
Man, I want to love country music. Real country music. And this album is a great example of singer/songwriter country that remembers the roots without beating genre tropes into the ground. Lots of charming hooks and lines that will be stuck in your head for days.
I like war metal and I like when bands integrate noise elements into their sound. The combination of influences at work here are a stellar success. Would recommend this to anyone interested in extreme metal.
Strange, Beautiful And Fast
When I was recommended this album, I assumed it was going to be some progressive, free-form jazz and field recordings. The name is misleading and also I am dumb. Strange, Beautiful and Fast is, in actuality, a rollicking 33-minute joyride of straight-forward, relentless grind
I've really been trying to explore ambient releases, but haven't really looked for anything relatively new. Malibu, however, provided me with exactly what I needed as I was able to get submerged in the experience, warranting repeat listens in specific situations.
Hooray for good pop! I'm still a novice when it comes to art pop and I'm still not sure I really have a taste for it, but I played this album several times this year. The only song on here I didn't care for is the cover of 10cc's I'm Not in Love, but mostly because it just kind of kills the vibe for me.
I have some friends that call this style 'fake pv' and I guess I love fake pv because this is so much fun. If you want minute-long bursts of anger for the fuck of it, but this one and you will be thoroughly entertained for its sub-30-minute run-time. Oh, and the guy with the ridiculous yell owns and I will not hear any objections.
I think this album may be a bit polarizing, but I haven't discussed it with anyone yet. I love the distinct vocal performance, but I can imagine some of you won't. The vocals are evil as fuck but they are also at the forefront of the entire album.
Cows On Hourglass Pond
Another delightful solo project, courtesy of Avey Tare of Animal Collective fame. AC fans will definitely enjoy this one. Lots of slow dreamy folk songs laced with a microdose of psilocybin here, highlight being the lovely Our Little Chapter.
I almost hated this at first. The production sucks. It's tinny, it's hollow, it sounds like it was recorded in janitor's closet. And after I got used to it, it was one of the best parts of this release. Riffs on riffs on riffs that will force you to windmill.
A Flock Slaughtered
Pig's Blood deserves some attention. A Flock Slaughtered is a killer follow-up to 2017's eponymous debut and, I'd say a step above it, making Pig's Blood one of the premiere bands in war metal
Odious Descent Into Decay
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know a lot of people around here think this is just color-by-number 20 Buck Spin OSDM and... well, maybe it is, but man, this hits the spot for me anyway. The only disappointment for me is that it borrows 75% of the content from their debut EP. But, hey, the kick drum tone on this is still the best you'll hear all year.
|32||Whitehorse & The Body|
The Body / Whitehorse
This came out in January, but if I recall correctly, this collaboration was recorded and lost a several years ago. Strange then, that it fits right into the level of quality in which any project involving The Body has been operating. It's the type of terrifying slog I've come to expect from The Body and the brutal sludge influence from Whitehorse is the perfect accompaniment.
Hey! Look at that! A Thom Yorke solo project that I like all the way through. I'm surprised it took so long but what does that matter when your main project is fucking Radiohead? If you're familiar with Thom, you'll have a good idea what to expect, but you might be surprised at how much better this is than his previous work as a solo artist.
|30||Vi Som Alskade Varandra Sa Mycket|
Det Onda. Det Goda. Det Vackra. Det Fula.
This was very popular on this site and for good reason. Finally, a good, new screamo album that feels refreshing. Sure, I have no idea what this guy is crying about since I don't speak French or whatever, but that's probably for the best as his vocals do not distract from, but serve to enhance, the rest of the listening experience. The climax and lead of Men livet går vidare is one of the best moments of 2019.
Love and Affection for Stupid Little Bitches
Honestly, I really thought I was going to hate Black Dresses in the first few minutes listening to them last year, but there is something charming about their style that kept me coming back for more until I was anticipating their next release. Love and Affection for Stupid Little Bitches (lol) is a great step forward for the group's formula of brash, but infectious sex and violence.
41 minutes of filth make up one of the heaviest albums of the year, sure to scare the fuck out of your family and friends. Mylingar's sophomore release may not be AS heavy as their debut, but the songwriting is better and single Giftet has been in constant rotation for me; one of the best metal tracks of the year.
Remove Your Skin Please
This Dungeon Earth
I already wrote a review about this EP, so I'll just talk about the band in general. Sure, on the surface, Chat Pile is just 'dumb guy noise rock' but they are so much more than that. The band managed to capture pure despair with their debut EP, This Dungeon Earth, and followed it up with Remove Your Skin Please, an EP that experiments with new influences to great success.
Wow, a slam album hitting AOTY lists all over the internet. But, how? It's just slam. Devourment have never been anything special. But this LP just hits different. This is the slam album we have all been waiting for.
Oh, no! Not the meme band with the ultra-graphic meme covers! If you already made up your mind about Pissgrave, Posthumous Humiliation probably won't change your mind. But for what it's worth, I'd say this is their best release so far. Get over yourself and get lost in the filth.
Universal Death Church
What a lovely project this turned out to be. And by lovely, I mean fucking disgusting. This has all the sludgy goodness of Lord Mantis' previous work, but the extra helping on black metal elements hear and there, paired with an absolutely terrifying vocal performance makes for the band's greatest release to-date.
Lo-Fi? Check. Sinister vocals? Check. Riffs? Check. More riffs? Check. Now that you know you need to hear this, just go do it. One of the best bm releases of the year and it's a one-man project's debut. Tapes should be coming soon, so don't miss out.
Sacramental Death Qualia
This is an easy sell. Solid death metal with a bit of blackening and a cosmic flair. The mid-tempo sections hit the spot and the atmospheric sections give this the character it needs to stand out. (How is this not in the database????)
|20||Seed of the Sorcerer, Womb of the Witch|
Spell Book I: Ceridwen
Not enough buzz going around for this short release, but one look at the artist name, the artwork, and the song titles should be enough to get you excited. Each track is a rewarding listen and since the release is only 24 minutes, there's no time for this to get stale.
I'm just going to group these together (yeah I know there's a comp of both) because I like them equally. But these two demos/ep's are some of the most exciting releases of the year. Keep an eye out for an LP in 2020 and if we don't get one, we riot
A Different Shade of Blue
I guess I'm going to make it a trend to be blown to smithereens by one beatdown core album per year. In 2018, it was Sanction's The Infringement of God's Plan. And in 2019 it is Knocked Loose's A Different Shade of Blue. I liked their debut, Laugh Tracks for what it was, but this follow-up makes that album seem amateurish. This has the same in-your-face vibe, but none of it feels forced and the songwriting is much-improved. Oh, and it absolutely bangs in the whip
|16||Full of Hell|
Full of Hell are one of the hardest working bands in the genre and it's great to hear them at the top of their game. 2017's Trumpeting Ecstasy was pretty good, but Weeping Choir is a sweepingly vicious assault that sees the band pouring all of their collaborative influence into one grand LP. This fucking goes.
This was another great surprise. Bad Books is a project that started out in 2010 as a collaboration between Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra, but in this stripped down iteration Kevin and Andy Hull are the pretty much everything. Bouncing back and forth between acoustic-heavy songs written largely by one or an other, they cap the project off with Army, a duet that makes up one of the best songs of the year and one of the most devastating of either artist's careers.
Canticles of the Sepulchral Deity
This album is a great example for how black metal has grown over the years. It has all the elements we love from the genre- one-man project, mystique in-tact, and a rawness that feels genuine and full of hate. But, the small modern touches here and there make it standout, like the drop in Vibratory Waves Collapsed. Any bm fan should check this one out.
Spiritual Instinct was the release I was most looking forward to this year. At this point, Neige and Winterhalter are must-hear musicians in the blackgaze world so an album announcement early in the year had me licking my lips. Alcest returned with a renewed vigor, offering up a more aggressive take on their trademark sound, combining a quicker step with familiar lush atmospheres. Unfortunately, Alcest set an unrealistic bar with 2017's Kodama and that's okay. While I'm still appreciating this album more every day, the reception was immediately positive and well-deserved.
Hidden History of the Human Race
This was probably the most anticipated metal album of the year for those in the know and it did not disappoint. Denver's Blood Incantation lean so far into the cosmic niche that it's hard to tell if they are doubling down on the galactic theme, mocking pigeon-holers, or both (it's both). The good news is that they didn't flop with their sophomore release. And while I'm still not sold on it being better than the predecessor, Starspawn, there is a reason you've probably been seeing this on AOTY lists a lot already. Don't expect that to change.
Demos and EP's rarely make the cut. It's hard to compare a 4-track, 11-minute release to, well, releases with way more content. But, this demo, much like Undeath, Devoid of Thought, and Malignant Altar could not be denied; it just so happens that this one had me coming back more than the others. It riffs. It pounds. It... FUCKS. Sanguisugabogg has made a (difficult-to-pronounce) name for themselves with very little content and I know I'm not alone in being very very very excited to hear what these guys do next.
Mirror In Darkness
To call this black metal without an asterisk would be both misleading and unfair. While Serpent Column certainly call on black metal roots, they also pull them from the fucking ground with a dizzying abandon of which weirdo contemporaries like Oranssi Pazuzu and Thantifaxath ought to be proud. This is disorienting yet refreshing; inaccessible yet infectious. Serpent Column will pull you down a cacophonous swirl of despair and shoot you straight back out with a riff that shines as clear as day. Bonus points for the killer artwork.
Cloud Rat is a dumb band name. Thankfully, Pollinator makes you forget that almost immediately. Really, with their second LP, Cloud Rat (lol) offers up a furious buffet of atmospheric brood. Drawing influence from an array of genre tags and often taking each of them to their extreme with glorious results, Pollinator moves from love to hate expertly. Just consider the transition between tracks Wonder and The Mad and how it is only noticeable because I just told you about it and maybe you will understand the level on which Cloud Rat (lol) is operating in 2019
Sometimes you play with fire and burn everything other than yourself. And that's what Weeping Sores did with their debut LP, False Confession. Progressive death doom? Get the fuck out of here. That sounds awful, on paper. Fully realized, though, it sounds amazing. The progressive elements are NOT theatrical, over-dramatic vocals or self-indulgent wank like someone of my ilk would both expect and cringe over. Nah, the progressive elements here are the kind that really make you wonder whether extreme metal will ever find its ceiling. The use of strings to make this already-gorgeous piece of work is done with remarkable taste and the perfectly paced songwriting will make you wonder how a 56-minute album can fly by so quickly.
I gushed about this record in a full review already (which I will list below if you haven't read it and would like to) so I'll save you some of the repetition and just reinforce the idea that fringe bands are often the most interesting by stating plainly that it is artists like Otrebor and Botanist that continue to keep things interesting. There is work being done in this project that will undoubtedly influence one of the most stubborn sub-genres in metal whether listeners are taking immediate notice or not.
These guys have been sewing up some rather large pants over the last couple of years with their debut Primordial Malignity becoming an underground favorite in 2017 and the follow-up Manor of Infinite Forms absolutely taking the scene by storm in 2018. Fortunately, Planetary Clairvoyance has those pants (and mine) bursting at the seams as Tomb Mold, somehow, managed to get better- releasing the best material in their short but stellar career. Fans of previous releases can expect more of the same, but with a better use of atmosphere and improved songwriting. With this release, Tomb Mold moves beyond being a band to watch into being a band in elite territory.
Seitō: In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun
With full confidence, I can say I have never included a compilation in any AOTY list, but this one just hits different. The album title comes from an underground feminist magazine that circulated in early 20th century Japan. This is appropriate, as the compilation is a platform set up specifically to highlight some very creative female Japanese musicians active today. Pinning down a genre here was tough, but expect a fantastic display of psych, drone, folk, and ambient tracks ranging from the very fun and accessible Dewbow to the more challenging and bleak Blood Moon.
Steeping Corporeal Mess
I understand there is some serious competition and many an argument to be had when narrowing down the best death metal (metal in general, really) album of the year, with both Tomb Mold and Blood Incantation releasing superb LP's this year. However, I have to give that designation to the least seasoned of the bunch. Contrary to their aforementioned competition, there weren't huge expectations for Fetid; they were just one more death metal band being released by the busiest label in death metal, 20 Buck Spin. And with that lack of attention, they took full advantage, releasing the filthiest metal album of the year- a slow, pulsing, bucket of vile fit only to hydrate the lowest of intestines, sure to please fans of doomy death metal everywhere.
|3||Uniform and The Body|
Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back
The Body is on a hot streak, my friends. Well, mostly. Interestingly enough, the first collaboration between The Body and Uniform (2018) was the only weak link in a busy string of releases involving Chip and Lee (all hail) dating back to 2016. I was so indifferent to their first project that I can't even tell you what I didn't like about it. But, whatever was missing when these artists first collaborated is here times 1,000. Just listen to the wail of Chip King masterfully buried behind a crisp and terrifying storm of bass on Day of Atonement or the wonderfully manic, shifting, urgency of Patron Saint of Regret to get a taste of the creative juices manning this spooky ship.
Looking back, I'm somewhat surprised I even listened to this. I don't even remember why I did. My experience with pop, let alone in this vein, is very limited. But, this hits the spot. If you aren't familiar, imagine The XX but without any male vocals. The two people involved in Two People were once romantically connected and now just write songs together and that resolve alone is not only admirable, but the lyrical content on First Body will make you wonder how much of these musings are about the other member. In any event, First Body maintains a lush and nonchalant, yet intimate vibe throughout. Very interested to see how they follow it up, considering the direction of their latest single.
O Cão de Toda Noite
What a great surprise this was. You should largely ignore the post-rock tag, because I know what that can do. Their first album? Sure. This one? Not exactly. I admit O cão de toda noite was my first experience from the band, but their leap from typical post-rock to... this... is extraordinary. 'This' is a sexy, jazzy, walk in the rain under the type of buzz and glow that only neon can provide. Of all my favorite albums of the year, this one takes the cake when it comes to creating the type of atmosphere in which one will find themselves lost, yet it keeps you guessing all the way through; eschewing traditional builds and crescendos for a variety of instruments and adventure à la Do Make Say Think.