The Curiouser Top Ten Albums of 2019

Once Swervedriver drove over the horizon again, nothing else was going to top it, but after so many black metal big hitters last year, I was properly surprised by the strength of what emerged again this year. Special mention to some incredible deluxe rereleases by The Doors and Prince’s 1999 too – that transition from the title track into Little Red Corvette is still one of the most thrilling musical moments ever!

1. Swervedriver: Future Ruins

Close your eyes and it’s 1991 again. One of my favourite bands ever, still creating the best adrenaline-injected grungy shoegaze rock of any decade. Never buy your dad one of those cringeworthy driving anthem CD’s for Father’s Day – get him this instead. On vinyl and not CD of course – it ain’t really ‘91.

2. Gaahls Wyrd: GastiR – Ghosts Invited

Hugely innovative, experimental black metal from one of its masters that oozes evil and manages to invoke a mental and physical feeling of darkness and foreboding from start to finish. It really is deeply affecting! And Carving the Voices is one of the most mesmerising, haunting tracks you will hear this year. Incredible.

3. King Diamond: Songs for the Dead

Fantastic set of two live albums comprising two shows, Live at the Fillmore in Philadelphia and Live at Graspop Metal Meeting. And both feature one of my top ten albums of all time, Abigail, in full, as well as a bunch of other King and Mercyful Fate classics that never sounded better than they do live here. Awesome and essential.

4. Mayhem: Daemon

Punishing and hypnotic in equal measure, this is essential listening for any fan of black metal – even those that thought Mayhem might have been the original, but haven’t been the best for a long time. Composition, performance and production are all as good as it gets through the entire unrelentingly intense experience. This is proper, evil, nasty black metal, and proper Mayhem!

5. Slayer: The Repentless Killogy

Career-spanning live farewell from the greatest metal band of them all. And one of the most powerful live bands in history, which is why it’s not further up this list. Let me explain! Watching Slayer live is (was) like being pummelled by a wall of energy from the stage. There’s no experience like it, including trying to capture it on record, so as good as this sounds and as wonderful as Slayer’s greatest hits live might be, it’s not the full story. However, stick on some noise-cancelling headphones and whack up the volume on Raining Blood, and when the drums properly kick in you’ll feel like you’re getting a pretty good hint at what you’re missing.

6. Bob Mould: Sunshine Rock

Whether in Husker Du, Sugar or solo, Bob Mould has always been an unbelievable but often overlooked songwriting talent, and this reaffirms that’s never likely to change. Soaring guitars, huge melodies and great production make for one of the best alternative rock albums since his last one.

7. Enthroned: Cold Black Suns

Everyone was happier when it was alright to be offensive. Enthroned are a beacon of light in this regard, without a care for wrapping this assault on the senses and sensibilities in cotton wool. This is a masterpiece of contemporary satanic black metal, with layer upon layer of sonic brilliance demanding your full attention and more. Oh yeah, closing track Son of Man is one of the most epic black metal songs ever written too!

8. Darkthrone: Old Star

Another Darkthrone album that (predictably, now) takes us in all kinds of new directions that all still have that distinct, sinister Darkthrone sound at their heart. This time there’s an aggressive doom-like quality, nods to old school thrash, and a generally epic feel to proceedings. Everything sounds really great too. And some of those riffs…

9. Dawn of Ashes: The Crypt Injection II (Non Serviam)

Heretical blackened industrial metal, full of signature electro bombast and massive blast-beats over some very competent melodic black metal guitars and horror-laced vocals. Its more of the same from Dawn of Ashes, and it’s exactly why I’m such a big fan!

10. Abbath: Outstrider

This man knows what he’s good at, and he’s better at it than almost everyone else. And I’m not just talking about corpse paint and wearing suits of armour! Fantastic collection of very, very good Norwegian black metal with the odd frill, but mostly it’s just the great songwriting that made him so influential, harkening back to his later work with Immortal, the odd hint of Slayer around Hell Awaits, and the kind of epic pacing Bathory would have been proud of.

About stvnorman

Lead singer of black punk poster boys Robed in Desire, published poet and author, horror freak and part-time nerd with a penchant for retro gaming, Nintendo Switch and PS4.

Posted on December 28, 2019, in Media, Music Reviews, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Curiouser Top Ten Albums of 2019.

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