I was going to start this thing off with an additional list of “honorable mentions” so I could add EVERYTHING I wanted to include on this year end list but figured, if you regularly read this blog then you know that whatever gets featured here already has major heart eyes from its’ Editor-In-Chief so without further adieu, here’s the real meat and potatoes (Hyperlinks to our reviews are in the headers where applicable):
19. Tool-Fear Inoculum: This record resides so far up the list because, while it’s undeniably brilliant, Tool made fans wait 13 years for an album that sounds like, well, Tool. I mean, it’s great! It really is. But at the end of the day, it’s Tool being Tool.
18. Skillet-Victorious: 2019, the year I accepted Skillet into my heart. Never mind the fact that this was the first band that Jesse Jr (Not his name) got into sans any kind of influence from Pops or that my newfound love of all things WWE-related gave me a heaping does of “Legendary” force fed into my ears each Monday night as Raw began, Skillet released a kickass new album that combined Alt and Hard Rawk with a healthy helping of Pop sensibilities to forge a bold new path for the band and the genres they dwell in.
17. Dead Girls Corp.-Bloody Noses and Hand Grenades: This is an album that just absolutely stuck with me throughout the year. Released in March, I kept coming back to tracks like “From The Bottom” and the ghoulish wall of noise that Dead Girls Corp. so exquisitely created on their debut.
16. Bones UK-S/T: An absolute triumph and one of the coolest records to come out in 2019, Bones UK is poised for even bigger things in 2020 beginning with an opening slot on the Korn/Breaking Benjamin tour to start the new year right.
15. All Your Sisters-Trust Ruins: I kept coming back to this one all year and every time was a revelation. Despite the seemingly bleak surroundings, Trust Ruins found a warm soul within its’ synthetic surroundings to create the ultimate dichotomy and a truly unique listening experience.
14. Flotsam & Jetsam-The End Of Chaos: Sounding like the group of grizzled veterans they are, Flotsam & Jetsam’s 13th full-length is an incendiary and essential piece of modern Metal. And I have to give credit to Spotify for this as “Control” randomly popped up on a catered playlist and I was immediately hooked by the brutally anthemic heavy coming out of my speakers. If Iron Maiden ever decided to make a Thrash record, they’d use The End Of Chaos as a template.
13. Cold-The Things We Can’t Stop: Not so much a return to form as it is a return to the essence of what made Cold stand out from their peers, The Things We Can’t Stop is a welcome evolution and possibly their most heartfelt and earnest album to date.
12. Ghastly Sound-Have A Nice Day: There’s not enough artists out there today whose music just makes a statement when it drops. And we’re not talking political or social statement, just a statement that’s the intent to Rawk which is the case when it comes to Ghastly Sound’s highly anticipated debut full-length which dropped this year.
11. Life Of Agony-The Sound Of Scars: The comeback album from a band that’s been back for a good 4 or 5 years now, The Sound Of Scars is a defining accomplishment for the Brooklyn quartet. With new drummer Veronica Bellino solidly making her mark on this body of work, Life Of Agony sound like that hungry and energized group that made River Runs Red 26 years ago and listening through the record for the umpteenth time while typing this list up gave this writer the same kinds of chills as when I first put on Ugly.
10. Sacred Reich-Awakening: Forget the fact that it’s been over TWENTY THREE FREAKIN’ YEARS since Sacred Reich put out a new record, they deserve to be on this list because said album is a beast. Nostalgia be damned, Awakening is unrelenting modern Thrash from one of the OG masters.
9. Slipknot-We Are Not Your Kind: The Gray Chapter was a defining moment for the nontet, WANYK is here to prove that moment wasn’t a fluke. Vicious, relevant, and revelatory, album number six from the Iowa natives was both beautiful and brutal and drummer Jay Weinberg’s defining performance since joining the band (Joey who???).
8. Torche-Admission: Was there ever any doubt that Torche couldn’t deliver an album that was even better than what came before when Admission was finally announced? The answer is a resounding no and the resulting epic slab of sonic slaying is everything fans could hope for from their favorite Floridians.
7. Silvertomb-Edge Of Existence: This is everything I wanted A Pale Horse Named Death to be. Scratch that, I wanted both of these bands to stand tall together to honor the legacy of Pete Steele and Type O Negative and while both feature drummer Johhny Kelly, it’s Silvertomb’s Kenny Hickey who acts as the missing link. His voice and iconic guitar work continue the legacy of TON for a whole new generation to appreciate.
6. Cave In-Final Transmission: Years in the making but finally and fully realized after the tragic passing of Caleb Scofield in March of 2018, Cave In’s latest is a tribute and a triumph. From the heartbreaking title track through to the heavy ass conclusion “Led to the Wolves”, Cave In triumphed over tragedy the only way they knew how: with music.
5. Strvngers-Death Is The Only Way Out: Honestly, I was worried about this one. I absolutely fell in love with Strvngers after Amor/Noir and their subsequent mini releases that followed solidified my feelings. But then the title track dropped and I had my doubts. Never judge a book, though, amiright? Because once given a chance, Strvngers’ latest tops all that they’ve accomplished so far to easily make this album one of the most engaging of 2019.
4. Rammstein-Rammstein/Lindemann-F&M: The ultimate cheat! Two albums under one number! The audacity! But in fairness, both bands feature the same singer so it’s not that big of a stretch. That said, the former is an awesome comeback for a band that’s been dormant for over a decade when it comes to new music. And the payoff was spectacular! First single “Deutschland” was an explosive welcome back while the rest of this self-titled Industrial masterpiece played out as a veritable best of with the strength of each song. The latter release was a welcome surprise and leaps and bounds beyond what Til Lindemann and Peter Tägtgren accomplished on their debut. Ditching English, F&M is almost like a companion Rammstein album but embedded in this macabre cabaret.
3. Drab Majesty-Modern Mirror: I struggled to order this and the two albums that follow it because they are all such beautiful opuses in their own right. This record is an electronic behemoth and a sonic rollercoaster. The way that “A Conversation” sashays in like a stream of consciousness and flows into “The Other Side” with such eloquent ease before “Ellipsis” pummels the senses with syncopated beats is divine. As is the rest of the record.
2. White Noise Owl-Condition Critical: The moment White Noise Owl announced that their long teased debut full-length was finally coming up, I knew it was going to place high up on this list. Worth the wait and defying expectations, Condition Critical is a Hard Rawk masterpiece. Vocalist Pete Murray sounds stronger than ever, bassist John Fahnestock provides a solid low end, Will Hunt pounds away religiously, and guitarist Chris Shy shreds as much as he shimmers.
1. Misery Loves Co.-Zero: Forget all the other artists mentioned on this list that haven’t put out new music in a decade and change. The only one that really mattered to us was Sweden’s most prolific Industrial monster Misery Loves Co. On their first full-length in almost two decades they manage to capture the magic of previous releases, continue the evolution started on Your Vision Was Never Mine To Share, and boldly forge a path into the new decade.