*DISCLAIMER! All rankings are based on 3 major factors. 1. I actually have to like the album. Nothing is included because it's on everyone else's list or because I think it would make my list look better. 2. I can listen to it no matter what I am in the mood for. 3. Overall play count/I actually paid money for it. Remember, this is my opinion. It's not overly analytical. Most, if not all, rankings are VERY fluid. Don't get your panties in a bunch because your favourite band is lower than "that fucking piece of shit band!"*
#30. Misery Index - Heirs to Thievery (USA, Relapse): It's kind of hard to describe Misery Index other than to say it's high-fucking-quality deathgrind. It's a vicious, high intensity aural assault. Wikipedia says "Misery Index's lyrical subject matter is left-wing, often coinciding with radical and anarchic aesthetics and focusing mostly on the ills of modern society." So basically, while having your eardrums pounded with a hammerdrill, the barely intelligible lyrics might actually make you think. How often does that happen? Standout track: "A Carrion Call"
#29. Early Man - Death Potion (USA, The End): From the moment I heard Early Man back in early '06 I knew I loved this band. They became part of the upper echelon (IMO) of the thrash revival with '05s Closing In. The Beware the Circling Fin EP was a bit disappointing but Death Potion more than makes up for it. It's got loads of catchy riffs, Mike Conte's unique vocal delivery and speed to spare. I'd recommend it for a great driving record but it's way too easy to get really caught up in it and that could be dangerous. It could also make it..... (Standout track) "Someone Else's Nightmare"
#28. Exhale - Blind (SWE, Dark Balance): This Swedish grind outfit is vicious, vicious, vicious! It's like getting peppered with machine gun fire. But it feels good. Every year there is an album that I describe as "sounding like what happens in my head". Usually it's something like Gridlink (New album 2011!) or ASRA. This year it's Exhale. I'm in a massively different head space this past year than I have been in a long time but I still love a record that sounds like all the pent up rage inside me just explodes for about a half hour or less. Don't forget to Exhale. Standout track: "Sick Addiction"
#27. Black Breath - Heavy Breathing (USA, Southern Lord): Southern Lord seems like an odd label for Black Breath to be on. I associate Southern Lord more with stoner/doom bands than bands like Black Breath. What are they like? Well, would D-beat Swe-death Thrashcore be an accurate descriptor? Hardcore style vocals, thrash speed, D-beat groove, and Swedish Death Metal buzzsaw guitars. If that doesn't sound like a recipe for awesome, nothing does. I think what I like best about Heavy Breathing is that it's intense, high energy and serious fun. Not goofy fun. It's the kind of album that makes me want to stomp around my living room moshing with an imaginary pit. A real pit would be great too but this way I keep all my teeth. Standout track: "Virus"
#26. Exodus - Exhibit B: The Human Condition (USA, Nuclear Blast): Bay Area thrashers Exodus have shown me that I missed a LOT of great music in the last 30 years. My thrash world consisted of the Big 4 and that's it. If any of Exodus' previous 8 albums were any bit as good as 9th effort Exhibit B: The Human Condition, I really missed out. This follow-up to 2007's The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A is so good that it made me question my very existence. Just kidding. But it did reaffirm my conviction that the best music is not always (barely ever) the most popular music. Modern day Metallica and Anthrax have nothing on what I consider 2010's Thrashterpiece. I wonder how many times Kirk Hammet thinks "Would they have taken me back after Metallica?" (as he rolls in money) Standout track: "Beyond the Pale"
#25. Kingdom of Sorrow - Behind the Blackest Tears (USA, Relapse): Some things in life are constant. Such as, the speed of light (well, that's what they teach in school anyway), the inevitability of death, and that quality music follows anything that is touched by Kirk Windstein. It may not be Down or Crowbar (New album out now!) but his second KoS collaboration with Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta finds itself worthy of inclusion in my Top 25. It's pretty much what you would expect. It combines the heft and doom-crunch of Crowbar with the intensity of Hatebreed. Also, Kirk and Jamey's voices are a very good compliment to each other. A stellar album from two of the biggest names in metal who have both influenced me in a huge way. Standout track: "From Heroes To Dust"
#24. Hail of Bullets - On Divine Winds (NED, Metal Blade): The second full length from these Dutch death metal heavyweights sees the focus shift from WWII's Eastern Front to the Pacific Theater. The change of location does nothing to change the brutality of the output of the Martin Van Drunen lead affair. He has one of, if not the, best vocals in all of death metal. On Divine Winds is war metal of the highest caliber and Van Drunen is the General calling the shots. Knowing what to expect, I didn't have that same "HOLY FUCK!" reaction as I did with ...Of Frost and War, but On Divine Winds is an incredible album nonetheless. It will be interesting to see where Hail of Bullets goes with their next one. Northern Africa perhaps? Standout track: "The Mukden Incident"
#23. Malevolent Creation - Invidious Dominion (USA, Nuclear Blast): Remind me again why it took til Malevolent Creation's 11th album for me to "discover" them? I guess the only answer would be that I don't have many friends that like the same kinds of metal that I actually get to talk to much. Because there is no other reason why these old school Floridian death metal vets should have flown under my radar for so many years. This is relentless old school death metal. It wears you down under its pummelling assault. Women and children flee upon hearing the viciously demonic, scathing cries of vocalist Brett Hoffman. Why couldn't Malevolent Creation have been my introduction to death metal instead of Six Feet Under? Maybe I would have been in to DM before high school instead of during/after it. (and not really in to it until after university) Standout track: "Slaughterhouse" (and I'm a vegetarian!)
#22. Aeon - Path of Fire (SWE, Metal Blade): This is one sick death metal record! Aeon get better and better with every release. Third album, Path of Fire should be the album that makes people realize that Aeon are quickly establishing themselves as one of the classic-style death metal elite. This album reminds me a lot of Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. In fact, I had to double check that vocalist Tommy Dahlstom wasn't in fact CC's George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher. Yeah, he's that good. His throat-shredding lung blasts are the highlight of an album without any weak spots at all. I love this fucking album. Standout track: "Liar In The Name Of God" (Death Metal Track of the Year?)
#21. Rotting Christ - Aealo (GRE, Season of Mist): I don't usually associate Greece with black metal (any metal at all really) but Rotting Christ have been at this a long time. Another example of how tremendous bands have eluded me for far too long. Aealo is a very textured album. One level is black metal fury and another is very marching/galloping militaristic and yet another is quite melodic. Sometimes those melodic guitar parts remind me off Paradise Lost. The whole thing makes me think of ancient Greek battles. Like a soundtrack to a really great period movie. Female backing vocals give some extra depth to the record and at times create a very haunting mood. Especially on album closer "Orders From The Dead". The spoken word recitation by Diamanda Galas is actually frightening at times. It was freaking my daughter out enough she made me turn it off. It's a shame this album didn't crack my Top 20. It's more than deserving. Standout track: "Demonon Vrosis"