My Year in Metal, 2010 – Favorite Albums

These are the albums I listened to and enjoyed the most in 2010. Note that the top 10 was previously published here at Metal Injection in December.

25. Sabre - Sabre (Pact Ink Records)
Sabre's self-titled debut is a solid slab of sludge and a shit-ton of fun. Riffs and rhythm throb with life and energy. Crackling guitars often speak in deathlier tones while the energetic drumming pounds the pavement. This lumbering, pulverizing beast of an LP provides an energizing experience while splashing you repeatedly with waves of muddy goodness.

24. Deafest - Earth Turned Skyward (Ninth Meridian Records)
Deafest return with another amazing exhibition of melodic, instrumental black metal. Earth Turned Skyward harnesses the raw, natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains and focuses it into enthralling, weather-beaten compositions. These tunes crawl into my soul and whisper visions of majestic primeval forests, even as mankind chops them to the ground.

23. Landmine Marathon - Sovereign Descent (Prosthetic)
Landmine Marathon have captured the sound of radiating, scorching heat. Sovereign Descent siphons off my anger and feeds it to a raging inferno. The album's martial grooves and excoriating mid-paced massacre actually grew on me as the year progressed. I made liberal use of the album's scalding immediacy to cauterize life's wounds.

22. Flaming Tusk - Old, Blackened Century (High Water Media)
A curiously cacophonous and utterly unique concoction of lumbering sludge and memorable doomy dementia. Dueling guitars dish out splines of splendid riffage in concert with eruptions of vocal fulmination. Spiced with excellent songwriting and singed with a bit of blackness, the album finishes with a bright, nutty aroma.

21. Vit - - (Self-Released)
This stunning album chronicles the cryptic rituals of a Cthulhuesque cult, refracted through a lens of doom, death, sludge and bottomless blackness. Vit have the uncanny ability to mutate melody and dissonance into unfathomable shapes, creating an engaging and ominous atmosphere. Voracious vocals narrate these occult proceedings while colossal riffs rip you limb from limb; you wouldn't want to get caught in the elder God's throat as he digests your soul.

20. Defeatist - Sixth Extinction (Willowtip)
Driven by a peerless rhythmic assault, Sixth Extinction has been a go-to album this year when my soul is in need of aural violence. Defeatist purvey percussion so stunningly complex that headbanging is not an option; I just have to throw my whole body into it. I didn't expect the album to outclass so much of the year's grindcore, but that's precisely what happened. Defeatist set the bar too high for me.

19. Mutant Supremacy - Infinite Suffering (Self-Released)
Mutant Supremacy remind us of the heights death metal can reach when brutality is subservient to songwriting and repulsive riffage. This will be the album you hear while crouching in a dingy bomb shelter during a nuclear attack. As searing heat melts away your skin and radioactivity rewrites your genetic profile, Infinite Suffering will linger in your ears and memory. Mutant Supremacy have crafted an inimitable testament to death.

18. Humanity Falls - Ordaining the Apocalypse (Self-Released)
An experiment in unrelenting and manic creativity, Humanity Falls have unleashed a beast of an album. Gouging out the eyes of grind and death, Ordaining the Apocalypse roils with an indefatigable rhythmic rage. Cathartic, charismatic and crushing, this album is exploding with ideas I find endlessly listenable. [Out now on The Path Less Traveled Records]

17. Hooded Menace - Never Cross The Dead (Profound Lore)
Erupting from the gurgling depths of doomy death, Never Cross The Dead hooks you with tremendous riffs and mind imploding melodies. Hooded Menace convey their vision via lumbering doom and galloping grooves, maintaining a morbid focus throughout. I continually return to these morose tales when in need of funereal entertainment.

16. Decrepit Birth - Polarity (Nuclear Blast)
Polarity was my only real excursion into proper tech-death for 2010. Bill Robinson narrates a mind-expanding journey through the multiverse, with lyrics worthy of a psychedelic Michael Moorcock yarn. Decrepit Birth successfully put songwriting before technicality on this album, creating a cohesive and memorable near-Death experience. There are, of course, an absurd array of amazing riffs, all tinged with astral melodies that constantly evoke Chuck Schuldiner's legacy. Thoroughly enjoyable.

15. StarGazer - A Great Work of Ages/ A Work of Great Ages (Profound Lore)
It took me ages to comprehend this arcane conundrum of death metal majesty, but it was worth the effort. Full of cerebral riffs and esoteric compositions, the album's momentum tilts constantly. Leaning on the thrashier side of death and often flirting with ethereal melody, there's no shortage of ideas to be found. An absolutely absurd bass performance pushes this into the stratosphere.

14. The Secret - Solve Et Coagula (Southern Lord)
The Secret make an immediate and oppressive impression with this grinding slab of blackened hardcore madness. Sporting some of my favorite production and guitar tones of the year, Solve Et Coagula unleashes an absolute shitstorm of righteous riffs and rage. In a bleak and blackened landscape there's nowhere to hide from the album's bludgeoning barrage. Certainly one of the heaviest LPs of 2010.

13. Woe - Quietly, Undramatically (Candlelight)
Quietly, Undramatically is a stunningly organic explosion of misery and misanthropy. The album unleashes a rolling wave of black metal might, driven by a gorgeous rhythmic fusillade . Austere but bombastic, it's given to resounding dynamics. Overwhelming emotions are held in abeyance by metal and malice, contained by unadulterated, rancorous riffage.

12.Inquisition - Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (Hells Headbangers)
These icy seas of black metal goodness heave with treble-heavy chords, ringing out in absurd, apoplectic and thrashy cacophony. Dagon surpasses Abbath's froggery and his riffs whip all of Immortal's output in this century. The soundtrack to a northern passage in the service of Satan, the album is filled with peculiar bendy notes and irresistible, exuberant melody. Solos sing out with sweet reverb while a pounding martial bombardment propels you into the night. Almost too good to be true.

11. Triptykon - Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
It took me a good long while to connect with Eparistera Daimones and to comprehend it as an album. Since that epiphany it has wormed into my consciousness, dripping nightmarish visions and monstrous ripping riffage into my soul. Thomas Gabriel Fischer lays bare visceral emotions through these songs, and the album unapologetically mainlines them into your body. Let it consume you.

10. Deathspell Omega - Paracletus (Seasons of Mist)
Although I find Deathspell Omega's music to be fascinating and cerebral, the question for me has always been how much I actually enjoy it. Paracletus affirmatively answers that question for my ears, combining absurd riffs, astral arpeggiations and corkscrew rhythms to create an aesthetically entertaining experience. This is an album to sit and marvel at while your mind tries to untangle its intricacies. Deathspell Omega have risen above their own obfuscation to craft an album of memorable songs.

9. Black Anvil - Triumvirate (Relapse)
Triumvirate is a treatise on movement, with riffs and rhythm that provide propulsion to your ears and body. The album blasts across the soundscape with an ominous and satisfying resonance. Black Anvil give black metal some muscle and show no mercy in beating the genre into submission. The band made good on the promise of their debut album, conjoining songwriting skill with groove, power and wanton speed. I'm still enjoying the hell out of Triumvirate.

8. Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore)
Mike Scalzi will consume you with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse. The man understands that songwriting and riffs form the heart of the metal beast, and The Animal Spirits delivers both in style. As always, Slough Feg craft traditional metal that bangs your head and begs you to sing along. I very nearly killed myself several times while blasting this album in the shower. For an extra challenge, give it a spin in your car; I promise you'll drive better while headbanging and throwing a claw out the window.

7. Weapon - From the Devil's Tomb (The Ajna Offensive)
This dark horse of an album blasted out of nowhere at the end of the year to win over my blackened heart. From The Devil's Tomb is a vile hymn in worship of the mighty riff. Evoking thoughts of Possessed, Kreator, Morbid Angel and especially Dissection, Weapon have crafted an incredible metal monument. Solos are deployed in liberal homage to the Dark Lord, reminding us of bygone glory. Vicious, varied and voracious, From The Devil's Tomb is an album you won't want to miss.

6. Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
Marrow of the Spirit is an album whose dulcet charms I cognitively resisted, but whose masterful execution I could not deny. Filled with alluring melodies, saporous structures and shattering crescendos, Marrow of the Spirit will needle into your consciousness and ultimately expand it. Vast dimensional spaces are bridged by proggy passages whose effulgence I can't resist. Despite my doubts, the album leaves no saccharine aftertaste. I suspect that Marrow of the Spirit will resound in my ears for years to come.

5. Ludicra - The Tenant (Profound Lore)
Astonishingly unique and neck-snappingly catchy, The Tenant drops a megaton of riffage on the constraints of black metal and shatters them convincingly. Vocals are drenched in eviscerating anguish, driving these diverse tracks into transcendent realms. The Tenant romps, thrashes and rages, all the while focusing on righteous riffs and solid songwriting.

4. Immolation - Majesty and Decay (Nuclear Blast)
Immolation simply outclass a great portion of the death metal world in my ears. Majesty and Decay roils and rolls like a frigate's deck in a pitched sea battle. Riffs and rhythm unleash rippling broadsides against hapless enemies, no match for the speed and precision of this seasoned crew. The superlative drumming drives this ship though the water like a gale force wind, leaving only carnage in its wake. Majesty and Decay is a re-affirmation of Immolation's enduring legacy. Along the way it managed to renew my faith in the power of death metal.

3. Withered - Dualitas (Prosthetic)
Dualitas is a ridiculous sonic experience. The album is full of battering beats and amphoric tones that resonate in my ears and in my memory. Strange bits of the album's sludgy blackness constantly appear in my consciousness, as if the album's begging to be blasted. There's a deep melancholy seared into these doomed melodies, and the careful composition and songwriting bear that out. Dualitas will leave you shattered but enlightened.

2. Castevet - Mounds of Ash (Profound Lore)
This album is a riffing and rhythmic wonder, imbued with an oscillating martial gait. The soundtrack to my year's caffeination, Mounds of Ash caused countless beats to be hammered out on any available surface. The album is somber but driving, bleak but brilliant. Dissonant melodies swirl in mutant meter, and their appeal didn't attenuate one bit with time. Castevet have laid down a formula for greatness, and I hope they make good on its promise.

1. Darkthrone - Circle the Wagons (Peaceville)
Cause of innumerable absurd sing-alongs, Circle the Wagons is without a doubt the album I listened to and enjoyed the most this year. Playing on the prototypes of all we hold dear in metal, Darkthrone remind us that this shit is supposed to be fun. Fenriz and Ted accompanied me on many a task that required fortitude, perseverance and strength. We mowed the lawn together, battled midtown tourists together, washed dishes together, lifted weights together and even cleaned the toilet together. Let me ask you one thing, “Does it smell like a bowl of fruit?”


My Year in Metal, 2010 – Favorite Concerts

[The entirety of the year's concert t-shirt haul is pictured above]

10. Flaming Tusk – Legion, Brooklyn, NY
I enjoyed the hell out of Flaming Tusk's debut full-length, and their live show delivered the cacophonous goods. The band made the most of a cozy Brooklyn hole-in-the-wall, pounding our faces into a ripe sludge. It also helps that they're an incredibly nice bunch of guys. Let's hope they regroup in 2011 for some further ass-kickage.

9. Black Anvil, The Absence, Ipsissimus – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
It was great to see Black Anvil getting the attention they deserve with a headlining hometown show. As expected, the Triumvirate tracks showered malevolent annihilation upon the crowd, and a raucous, drunken good time was had by all. This show was my first taste of Ipsissimus' impressive black metal machinations; I eagerly await their Metal Blade debut.

8. Altar of Plagues, Velnias, Castevet, Man's Gin – The Studio At Webster Hall, NYC
No moment of metal in 2010 was as cathartic as Altar of Plagues' first New York appearance. The band's atmospheric black metal was amplified in edge and emotion in person, melting away flesh and bone to leave a crowd of shattered, satisfied souls. Velnias' dark intonations were entirely entertaining, and Castevet delivered an awe inspiring set. Fantastic show.

7. Skeletonwitch, Withered, Landmine Marathon, Ipsissimus – Toad's Place, New Haven, CT
This line-up was well worth a road-trip, turning the tiny upstairs venue into a deathly cachinnating echo chamber. Each band gave a excoriating performance, buoyed by excellent sound and an absurdly intimate atmosphere. Withered made good on the glory of Dualitas, finally clicking for me in a live setting. My first Landmine Marathon experience was well worth the wait, and Skeletonwitch was reliably masterful.

6. Fuck the Facts, Magrudergrind, Defeatist, Atakke - Cake Shop, NYC
My first Cake Shop show was an incredibly fun grind gauntlet. Defeatist blew my mind, providing an absurd rhythmic beating. I finally got to see Magrudergrind do their thing in person, and the pummeling lived up to the hype. Fuck the Facts are quickly becoming one of my favorite bands, and they delivered an excellent set of utterly unique hybrid-grind glory. The Canadian crew capitalized on the crisp catchiness of their recent Unnamed EP; I'm a believer.

5. Wormrot, Defeatist, Mutant Supremacy, Psychic Limb and Curandera – The Acheron, Brooklyn, NY
Wormrot's second swing through NYC brought an absurd line-up. Mutant Supremacy, although theoretically out of place, dispensed the old school death with panache and drove home the excellence of Infinite Suffering. Defeatist's shock and awe grind attack left us with slack-jawed looks of amazement. Wormrot brought the precision and skill, translating a month on the road into a perfect execution of demented riffs and rage. By this point Arif had also perfected his barefoot, interpretive grind-dances. Goddamn, that was fun.

4. Gorguts, Portal and Krallice – The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
The reunited Gorguts blanketed Brooklyn with tech death ecstasy on this fetid, schweatty night, fulfilling my hopeless dream of ever seeing the band live. Portal sweat out an ocean of bodily fluids, ably embodying the whirling, otherworldly malevolence of Swarth. Krallice again rose to the occasion, proving they belong amongst the elite of extreme metal.

3. Immolation, Arsis, Disma – The Studio at Webster Hall, NYC
Ross Dolan and Bob Vigna are still the same incredibly nice guys I first met 15 years ago, and Immolation are still capable of churning out the finest death metal the world has to offer. This manic, intimate show produced equal parts unabashed smiles and uncontrolled headbanging. The Majesty and Decay tracks stood up with Immolation classics for a Christ-crushing experience. Propelled by the filthy cassette-borne death of The Vault of Membros, Disma's performance intensified the anticipation for their upcoming debut full-length.

2. Ludicra, Krallice, Castevet and Atakke – Europa, Brooklyn, NY
Nobody sounds quite like Ludicra, and nobody can match the unhinged insanity of this band on stage. Surrounded by her team of all-star musicians, Laurie Sue Shanaman ripped demons from her soul and flung them into the adoring pit of writhing bodies. This was the most absorbing live performance I witnessed all year, drawing me into a thoroughly engrossing vortex of catharsis and headbanging bliss. I got my first taste of Castevet on this night, and it was also my favorite Krallice show of the year; the excellent sound teased out all the intricacy and intensity I could desire from their music.

1. Wormrot – The Bowery Electric, NYC
Wormrot's first, impromptu show in the United States is a thing of legend. Fresh off a battle with visa issues, jet-lagged and unceremoniously added to an incongruous concert, the trio laid utter waste to New York City. This was the kind of show where everyone was smiling from ear to ear for one neck-snapping half hour of grind. Having my wife on hand added to the entertainment; the show offered her a brief and blinding insight into the meaning of grindcore. Wormrot proved that they are the real deal; purveyors of the mighty riff, spewers of psychotic gurgles, horsemen of rhythmic destruction, saviors of grind. Thank you for a night I'll never forget.


My Year in Metal, 2010 - Favorite EPs and Splits

6. Grave Miasma - Realm of Evoked Doom (Nuclear Winter Records)
This year produced a veritable plague of black/death/doom hybrids. Grave Miasma survive this pestilence via volcanic riffs and a clear conviction that rhythm should not be subservient to atmosphere. Realm of Evoked Doom is a leviathan of unhallowed guitars, propelled by an incendiary drumming. I'll be shocked if Grave Miasma don't use this EP as a stepping stone to greatness.

5. Autopsy – The Tomb Within (Peaceville)
Autopsy return with a glorious goblet of flippy floppy gore. Not a part of my formative death metal years, Autopsy was a taste acquired much later in life. Despite my tardy start, Severed Survival and Mental Funeral have achieved a lofty perch in the ye olde album collection. The Tomb Within strikes my ears with all of the shambling, mangled glory of those classic albums. Autopsy remind us that when death approaches it will not be a precise and clean affair; your end will be a messy spasm of blunt force trauma. Death metal should resemble that final, explosive moment.

4. Fuck the Facts – Unnamed (Self Released)
A perfect encapsulation of the band's brand of melodic mutant grind mayhem in ten and a half minutes. Unnamed showcases the impossible ability to blend riffs, rhythmic diversity, melody and manic memorability into a cohesive package. 2010 was the year Fuck the Facts finally clicked for me. I'm waiting impatiently for the impending Die Miserable, as well as the band's tenth anniversary tour.

3. Wormrot/I Abhor - Split (Scrotum Jus Records)
Wormrot served up my favorite grind album in 2009, and they return to dish out my favorite grind morsel of 2010. I Abhor join the frenzy and admirably lay waste to our ears on their half of this split. Wormrot certify that their astronomical rise is no fluke, spewing an absurdly venomous set of near perfect tracks. Long live the riff, long live Wormrot. The imminent Dirge will most certainly dominate 2011.

2. Altar of Plagues - Tides (Burning World)
Altar of Plagues present a soaring, sonorous and somber evolution of their sound. Tides sails through and beyond the seas of black metal, drifting into uncharted ambient waters. Entrancing, engaging and transformative, Tides has been in rotation ever since I picked it up at the band's victorious NYC show. Their upcoming LP, Mammal, is certainly amongst my most anticipated albums of 2011.

1. Flourishing – A Momentary Sense of the Immediate World (The Path Less Traveled Records)
Nothing this year blew me clear out of my socks like Flourishing's debut EP. Propelled by shattering rhythms and gusts of discordant grinding death, Flourishing batter you with the force of everything from Immolation to Discordance Axis to Gorguts to Gojira. Experimental but entirely cohesive, the EP is packed with brain tickling riffs and memorable songwriting. I can't wait to hear their upcoming full-length. Don't miss out on this one.


Imbroglio - Sleep Deprivation (The Path Less Traveled Records, 2011)

I posted a review of Imbroglio's new album over here at Metal Injection. It's an apocalyptic sludgenoise catharsis.


Sabre - Sabre (Pact Ink Records, 2010)

Sludge metal in its purest forms rarely appeals to me. Sabre, however, rise above the mire and capture my attention with prodigious riffs, elephantine grooves, diverse velocities, and a curiously jubilant atmosphere. Sabre feels like a guiltless pleasure; when I hit play my neck instantly hooks itself up to the album's drive-train. Sabre convey a cleansing combustion, inciting a comforting metal bliss and unabashed headbanging.

“Astral Convergence” starts the proceedings with some laid back drumming and a lumbering but memorable riff. As this tank revs up its engine, the satisfying, rumbling guitar tone will commandeer your consciousness. The instrumental track is a solid warm-up for the bombardment to follow.
“Unearthly Body” cuts you down with a spray of shrapnel and a sweet stuttering rhythm. Brian Ross's howl makes its first of several brief appearances on the album; he is not a man of many words. It's not long before we're seized by the first shockwave of groove, powered by Tyler Jameson's tectonic drumming. Yes, you'll be motoring through the filthy slop of muddy trenches, but this is a victorious advance. Before you know it, we'll be tearing across cratered battlefields and driving the enemy before us.

The guitar tone on “Condescension” crackles like electrical discharge from high-tension wires and brings to mind glorious visions of Autopsy. Tyler Jameson's thunderous, tribal percussion evokes Chris Reifert's ecstatic rhythmic wreckage. The track registers high on the headbang-o-meter as riffs slip and slop like a mudslide. “Black Water” sounds a bit more somber; we've taken this battle to sea and the drumming is pushing us to row for dear life. Having reached the open water, the track settles into a heaving tempest of riffs. Brian Ross's voice sinks to deathlier depths, matching the track's descent into death metal motifs.

The production here is unassuming and organic, giving ample space to the album's fathomless bottom end. Neal Hunter's bass playing shines brightest during the album's more absurd rhythmic expositions. Although the bass frequently competes for space with Brian Ross's molten guitar tone, its force is critical to the album's ear rupturing nature.

“Josiah” launches with a jocular punk vibe, moving with the killer swing of a Discharge jaunt. The sentiment is brief; it's not long before we return to a lurching dirge. Chords ring out with a satisfying distortion and hang in the air like a fetid cloud, paving the way for the oddity to come. “Automaton” breaks ranks with the spirited proceedings by way of an extended ambient/doom instrumental. The song is dipped in outré arpeggiations and smothered in sepia tones. It could easily serve as a soundtrack to a Lon Chaney silent film (“The Phantom of the Opera” comes to mind.) It's the kind of long-winded indulgence that would normally cause my attention to wander, but the track keeps me strangely transfixed.

“WhoreInstinctsDefined” caps off the album with style. I adore the guitar tone here as the thing stumbles through a drunken cascade of ear-razing riffs. The track then rips into another ode to Autopsy, tearing along at a brisk trample. The careening penultimate riff will induce incredible headbanging that might just burst your skull. To finish you off, the band unleash an absurd, gargantuan swing before fading into the distance.

Sabre have put together a rampaging debut, showcasing keen riffs and a knack for substantive composition. I think I put on a couple of pounds of muscle with each listen.


You can stream the entire album below or purchase a CD from the record label here.

Sabre: Facebook | Official | Encyclopaedia Metallum

Full disclosure: The record label provided me with a copy of the album.



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