2019: A Year in Review

Thumbs up: +1
My top to bottom list of everything from 2019 I've spent time with and have also purchased either physically or digitally (which is why most of them have high ratings). Releases featured on MS only. Whole number ratings out of 10 and my personal opinions included.

NOTE: I am no longer updating this list. 2019 was a monster year for music but I am onto a 2020 list. You can check it out here: http://metalstorm.net/users/list.php?list_id=6056

Created by: ProgVet | 25.06.2019

1. Soen - Lotus
For me this album is just perfect. The overall performance as well as the mixing is just outstanding. Great riffs, great soft passages, outstanding vocals, and also just "poppy" enough to be very catchy and easy to listen to. I find myself coming back to this album more than any other release this year. 10/10
2. Borknagar - True North
A very dynamic release from Borknagar. Great overall flow. Possibly the vocal performance of the year from ICS Vortex. This album is incredibly well put together and very catchy. The blend of black, folk, and progressive styles is seamless. Who would think the frozen north could be so fun? 9/10
3. Alcest - Spiritual Instinct
Another magnificent release from one of my favorite bands. Their last release, Kodama, was AOTY for me in 2016 so I had huge expectations for the new album. I am so happy to say those expectations have been met. Alcest shows a slightly darker side on this album. Just all around high class excellence. 9/10
4. Thank You Scientist - Terraformer
Thank You Scientist is one of my all time favorite bands and while their newest effort is not as good as their previous two releases it is still a truly masterful release. Every member of this band is very talented at what they do and when it all comes together it makes a very impressive and unique experience. Just wow. 9/10
5. Brymir - Wings of Fire
This album rips front to back. Awesome arrangements and the mixing is just phenomenal. An overall stellar performance. I continuously finding myself coming back to this album over and over again. Brymir should write Time II or at least call Jari up and give him some advice. 9/10
6. Insomnium - Heart Like a Grave
It's insane how consistently Insomnium puts out high quality releases. This album is beautifully done from every aspect cover to cover. The production is outstanding. The overall performance is excellent; both hopeful and sorrowful. This album will lay you to rest in frostbite only to awaken in a field of flowers. 9/10
7. Mgła - Age Of Excuse
Mgła have found the secret formula for making consistent black metal at an excellent level. The production is their best to date. The flow of the album progresses heavier and heavier. Everything you would want from a traditional black metal album and much more. Lets hope they keep this up well into the future. 9/10
8. Swallow the Sun - When a Shadow is Forced into the Light
Swallow the Sun is one of the most consistently excellent bands around and their latest release is no exception to that. Heavy, emotional, atmospheric, orchestral, haunting. One of my favorite albums they have ever done. Just stunning. 9/10
9. Devin Townsend - Empath
Who else could put together a release like this? This album is intense, methodical, ambitious, and very well done. Absolutely insanity while being emotional. Complex yet approachable. Not to mention the production is just ridiculously well done. In awe at the size of this lad. An absolute unit of an album. 9/10
10. Abigail Williams - Walk Beyond The Dark
I have been following Abigail Williams since the very beginning. I have always liked their music but it never had that extra something (Becoming was close). This is that album; easily their best to date. Aggressive and atmospheric. The cello is just perfect. Truly an excellent release. 9/10
11. Wormwitch - Heaven That Dwells Within
This album feels like an updated throwback blackened thrash album with modernized production. The performance is excellent; extremely fun cover to cover. Bang your head music right here. After seeing them live I have an extra sense of appreciation for this CD. Huge fan. 9/10
12. Numenorean - Adore
A post/black album that under the surface is so much more. Pulling influences from all over the place this is a meting pot of intensity, heavy, bleak, melodic, and soft that builds as the album goes. Very unique. Gets better each listen. Additionally the production is excellent. 9/10
13. Saor - Forgotten Paths
A truly excellent release from Saor. His most ambitious and best album to date in my opinion. The folk and non traditional metal instrument use blend very well with the more classic black metal sounds. Outstanding atmosphere. Magical stuff. My only criticism is that the album is a bit short in length. 9/10
14. Cân Bardd - The Last Rain
Very epic music right here. For fans of rolling hills, snowy mountains, spring time in the forest, and dying on a battlefield. The black metal elements flow seamlessly with atmospheric and traditional folk passages. Excited to see what these guys do in the future. 8/10
15. Kaleikr - Heart of Lead
This album is a riff-heavy banger. Easy to draw comparisons to Opeth, In Mourning, and Ne Obliviscaris but in the same breath, Kaleikr is different enough to stand alone. Very solid aggressive progressive metal. Debut album of the year for me; I look forward to their future. 8/10
16. In Mourning - Garden Of Storms
Another very solid release from the "new Opeth" that is In Mourning. An improvement from 2016's Afterglow, but missing the hooks that their first three albums were filled with, Garden Of Storms falls in the middle. That being said it is in no way disappointing but rather one of the best progressive metal releases of 2019. 8/10
17. Wilderun - Veil Of Imagination
Cinematic progressive death metal. Wilderun have lost the folk elements on this album and possibly for the better. Major Opeth and Xanthochroid influences/vibes but in no way is it a cookie cutter copy. Almost overwhelming at times but never to the point of feeling busy or chaotic. Very good release. 8/10
18. Wormwood - Nattarvet
Wormwood's sophomore album is very, very solid. Black at the roots but there is enough blend of other genera to give it a unique profile. The final track, "The Isolationist," is in my opinion a step above the rest of the album and one of the best black metal songs of the year. 8/10
19. Tool - Fear Inoculum
So it finally happened?! This album took me a couple listens to get a handle on but I dig it. It's like a prog-metal slow jam. The whole album feels very familiar and easily accessible but with a lot of layers. Also is Danny Carey even human? One of the best drumming performances in recent memory. 8/10
20. Bent Knee - You Know What They Mean
This is a weird one... but also quite good. Bent Knee is very much so experimental and are difficult to describe. Not sure how they managed to make such an off beat, aggressive album that is filled with happiness and joy all at the same time but I sure hope they keep it up. 8/10
21. Allegaeon - Apoptosis
This is a tight piece of death metal. The performance and production are overall just great. This is my first experience with Allegaeon (some how) and I am looking forward to delving into their back catalog. This is probably my favorite death metal release of the year. 8/10
22. Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
As a fan of 70's prog I do enjoy the "new" Opeth overall. Their fourth venture into this sound is a very solid and enjoyable effort. It feels like a natural progression from 2016's disappointing Sorceress but much darker, more sinister, and more importantly significantly more cohesive. I prefer the English version. 8/10
23. Belzebubs - Pantheon of the Nightside Gods
Impossible not to bring up Insomnium when discussing this release. This album feels very much like an Insomnium album but more blackened with Dimmu Borgir and Emperor influences. All together makes a very enjoyable listen cover to cover. 8/10
24. Nile - Vile Nilotic Rites
After a couple of sub-par releases Nile have taken a step back towards what made them so unique to begin with. A technical death album at it's core but with atmospheric elements that help capture the Egyptian theme. The classic Karl Sanders sound and riffs are ever present. An overall great release for me. 8/10
25. Eluveitie - Ategnatos
A very consistent release from a very consistent folk metal band. Was apprehensive going into this one with all of the drama from the last few years but in my opinion this is Eluveitie's best release since Helvetios and certainty one of their heavier ones overall. 8/10
26. Aephanemer - Prokopton
Epic, aggressive, very well made melodic death metal. Getting loads of Insommnium vibes from this one. A truly excellent release. Many people are saying this album is too homogeneous and that may be the truth, however it really doesn't bother me at all. 8/10
27. Fleshgod Apocalypse - Veleno
Yet another very solid release from Fleshgod. The orchestral and death metal mix is a seamless flow. Was apprehensive of this going in with the personnel change however this may be my favorite album of their's to date. This album crushes. 8/10
28. Children of Bodom - Hexed
Bodom is one of the bands that got me into metal in the early 2000's. Since 2003 they have been up and down with the quality of their releases with mostly downs. Hexed, I am happy to say, is a nice surprise and a bit of a come back album. Easily one of their best, recent releases (along with Halo of Blood). 8/10
29. The Great Old Ones - Cosmicism
Just a really nicely done piece of atmospheric/ambient black metal. Not overly original but when it's done this well it doesn't necessarily need to be. Sometimes this genera can get a bit monotonous but this album does not feel that way. Great performance and great production. 8/10
30. Cattle Decapitation - Death Atlas
Fifty minutes of insanity. Brutal, melodic, and pounding the whole way through. This is my first approach to Cattle Decapitation and I'm excited to explore their previous 2 albums. Those shrieked clean vocals are killer. My criticism is it's a little same-y and one note, but that doesn't bother me all that much. 8/10
31. Schammasch - Hearts Of No Light
Very comparable to Behemoth's recent releases, however this blackened death album has more layers than you'd think from the comparison alone. At times ambient and atmospheric. A great blend of styles. This is the kind of music you summon something from the depths with. 8/10
32. Ellende - Lebensnehmer
Ellende's latest effort is is a very solid, above average one. I'm particularly fond of the acoustic and clean passages which displace the atmospheric and blast/melodic moments very well. Overall a very well put together album that I would recommend to anyone a fan of the style. 8/10
33. Violet Cold - kOsmik
This album is great. Excellent mix between aggressive instrumentation, melodies, and atmosphere. Really can't express how well this guy creates atmosphere. I don't dive into shoegaze very often but when I do, I find myself coming back to Violet Cold almost every time. 8/10
34. Leprous - Pitfalls
A new album from one of my favorite bands. Overall a very different style that was a bit unexpected. Leprous shifts away from metal on this album and more towards dark/synth-wave. Almost feels like Einar's first solo album. Not a bad release by any means, and not disappointing either, but easily their weakest to date. 7/10
35. Temple Koludra - Seven! Sirens! To A Lost Archetype
This album feels sinister and evil. Very heavy passages intertwined with atmospheric moments. The whole listens builds on itself. Some passages feel clumsy and repetitive but it doesn't take away too much. Additionally the production is solid. Fun fact: it was recorded somewhere near the center of the earth. 7/10
36. Mizmor - Cairn
Taking bleak, drone-filled doom and meshing it with heavy, melodic, blasting black metal is no easy task but Mizmor pulls it off. Harrowing, depressive, and melancholic while at the same atmospheric and almost hopeful. My main criticism is that at times this album feels a bit tedious, especially the second track. 7/10
37. Mesarthim - Ghost Condensate
This is some solid atmospheric black metal. The electronic/keyboard elements really makes this release stand out from what can sometimes feel like an over saturated genera. My slight criticism is that at two, 20 minute tracks it makes it difficult to listen to in pieces; definitely a one-shot listen release. 7/10
38. Vanum - Ageless Fire
This is a very solid black metal album. Is it overly original? Not really. Does that matter? Absolutely not. The execution is spot on. The mixing is great. Just an overall well put together piece of black metal that only lacks a bit of imagination. 7/10
39. Gloryhammer - Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex
This is such a fun band and this is a solid junior album however it feels a bit repetitive to me and leaves me searching for more. Good over-the-top tongue-in-cheek style power metal. Overall enjoyable album but I do prefer their first two releases more. 7/10
40. Fen - The Dead Light
Fen's last release, Winter, was one of my favorites of 2017. This most recent release is a good atmospheric/post album but not anything more than that. Unfortunately, The Dead Light, didn't excite me all that much. That being said this is no way a bad release or even a disappointing one. 7/10
41. Equipoise - Demiurgus
This album is a technical piece of mastery. At sometimes it's honestly overwhelming how much stuff is going on at the same time and that may hinder the album from being better. But damn this is very impressive. The fretless bass really adds a unique element. 7/10
42. Ghost - Seven Inches Of Satanic Panic
A surprise two song, seven minute EP released on Friday the 13th... very fitting. A bit of a different sound from Ghost on this one. Definitely enjoy the heavy 60's vibe. Will be interested to see if they flush this sound out for their next full length, especially after the disappointing Prequelle release last year. 7/10
43. Dreadnought - Emergence
This is my first experience with this band and it is not what I was expecting. After a few play throughs there are parts I really enjoy but for the most part it falls a bit flat to me. Great concept but the execution left something to be desired. In the end just OK for me. 6/10
44. Born of Osiris - The Simulation
I've admittedly never been a giant Born of Osiris fan however this album is mostly fine. Don't have any glaring issues with it but at the same time it doesn't really grab my attention at all. Very average overall. I will add these guys are fun live, gave me a little more appreciation for the album. 6/10
45. Amon Amarth - Berserker
Oh how the mighty have fallen... A very uninspired, repetitive, less than mediocre release. Pains me to say this as Amon Amarth is one of my favorites but this album is just not good. Weakest of their entire discography by far and my most disappointing release of 2019. 5/10
46. Fallujah - Undying Light
I'm not super familiar with Fallujah's back catalog but I do know The Flesh Prevails is a solid album. After a change at vocals and a major change of sound, Fallujah's new release is not so solid. In fact it's a bit of a mess. They went from interesting to boring, repetitive "progressive" core-style music. Yawn. 5/10

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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