Blistering.com Staff Picks For 2009 - Part Deux
By: Blistering Staff
Tom Findlay Top 10 of 2009
The final year of metal like its recent predecessors has been a very productive one, and so much so that one cannot sample the delights of all the best releases of the period. Gems from across many genres have peaked interest of fans and critics alike. Converge, The Black Dahlia Murder, Dream Theater, Marduk, Insomnium, Destroyer 666, Mastodon and Nile have all released albums worthy of a top ten list of 2009, but alas the list is a top TEN, so here the ones that made this list...
1. Ensiferum – From Afar (Spinefarm)
By (a)far the most exciting and powerful album of 2009, this album traverses valleys, scales mountains and is back in time for hog roast and mead to tell it's tales of glorious adventures. What 2007’s Victory Songs never really delivered, From Afar finally has and then some.
2. Amorphis – Skyforger (Nuclear Blast)
The ninth album from Finnish genre-pioneers is decidedly upbeat, yet remains fantastically Elegy-esque. Large bold leads, soaring keyboard wig-outs and the occasional and good old fashioned heavy parts. Base ingredients + a bowlful of charm = winner.
3. Napalm Death – Time Waits For No Slave (Century Media)
Keeping the aggression while continually moving forward. Laying down some viscerally violent grind riffs and still know how to balance things well with their own time-tested mid tempo mosh sections. Here's to 20 more years in the driving seat!
4. Devin Townsend Project – Addicted (HevyDevy)
Simultaneously a curve-ball and a totally expected album from Devin Townsend. Doesn't make sense? Well, when has it really? The distinctly sobering Euro-pop lustre of ”Bend It Like Bender!” is probably the only thing that will be hard to digest for outsiders new to the craziness of this man, but the rest remains a pompous, outrageous and romping rock beast.
5. Anaal Nathrakh – In The Constellation Of The Black Widow (Candlelight)
Maintained their perfect mix between slamming and rolling deathly brutality with ice cold and punky black metal riffs, topped off with their own take on some Empyrean highs. Still as malignant as ever, the development of AN from their sub-zero blackened skeleton to the nosebleed inducing rush of extreme metal has been a joy from start to present. Plus it contains an essential rerecording of one of their gems of old, “Satanarchist.”
6. Månegarm – Nattväsen (Regain)
From Wolfstone to Night Creatures, Månegarm have an organic feel, hewn of stone, borne of soil – feeding on tradition, legacy and legend. The focus into clearer and heavier as opposed to raw and fast is an undeniable process in action with this band, but the still offer a great alternative to the heavily polished exploits of certain bands from another Scandinavian land.
7. Behemoth – Evangelion (Nuclear Blast/Metal Blade)
Taking the best elements of already strong albums such as Demigod and The Apostasy, the poignant Poles raise their ante once again. Behemoth have attracted a lot of media attention and a lot of apathy and elitism directed at them also, but this does not deter Nergal and co from putting out continually strong material.
8. Immortal – All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast)
A lot thought another Immortal album would not be in the best interests of the band after going out in the blaze of glory that was Sons of Northern Darkness (2002). Obviously not happy to fade into the night and memory happily as the legends they are, the band have raised their game by fathoming another killer album!
9. Absu – Absu (Candlelight Records)
The claims of Absu doing their own The Unspoken King and betraying their roots are preposterous and fall flat when the likes of “Sceptre Command” and “Ye Uttuku Spells'”are demonstrating their brilliance and kicking your ass at the same time. Admittedly, doesn't quite rasp and rave with the bitter evil of previous efforts, but is still an essential listen in its own intrinsic way.
10. Portal – Swarth (Profound Lore Records)
Not losing a inch of their abstract and entirely esoteric take on death metal, the obscure Australian affiliates of antiquities have drawn praise for this latest album of aural assault known as Swarth. The album is essentially death metal, but lost at sea on an ancient ship in a swirling storm of distorted time and reality, but leaving in its wake an addictive and compelling listen.