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Monday, September 20, 2010

Best Album of the year so far

With the end of September about to bring Earth past the three-quarter mark in its orbit, I figured now would be a good time to reflect on my favorite rock and metal albums of the year so far and try to pick a favorite.  I'll give those bands releasing albums in the next three months the benefit of the doubt, however, and I'll hold off on declaring any album "the best of the year" until the year's actually over.

High on Fire's "Snakes for the Divine" certainly deserves a mention in this list.  Released back in the spring, this groovy, super-heavy, angry stoner metal album is still without a doubt one of the best albums of the year so far.  The title track is epic, "Bastard Samurai" features the best "son of a bitch" utterance in the history of music, and the rest are all tracks of very high quality.  Matt Pike has one of the most awesomely shredded voices in metal, and he gives High on Fire a sound unlike any other.  If you're not headbanging listening to this album, you're deaf.

Slash's self-titled solo album is also on my list.  The legendary guitarist shows off a ridiculous amount of versatility on this album, from the more metal "Nothing to Say" feat. M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold to the soft-rock "Gotten" with Maroon 5's Adam Levine, Slash proved on this album that he doesn't need Axl Rose to produce a hit.  He got over a dozen guest vocalists for this album, and each of them conduct themselves admirably, with my favorite performance coming from Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.  A solid outing - not every track is gold, but most are good.

Eluveitie's "Everything Remains (As It Never Was)" has really surprised me with how many plays its gotten in my music library.  Both heavy and folksy-melodic, "As It Never Was" seems to have no real low point.  The energy is high throughout, and dynamic, interesting musical moments such as the spoken-word section of "Quoth the Raven" happen just frequently enough to keep things from getting monotonous.  This album is a respectable entry in their catalog, and proves that they deserve the "Best New Band" nomination they got at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards this year.

Iron Maiden has once again delivered a fantastic album.  "The Final Frontier" is full of great tracks that will become singalong classics at future Maiden live shows.  With three songs over 11 minutes long, they have shown they're not afraid of writing epics, nor performing them.  Bruce Dickinson's vocals are still surprisingly powerful for his age, and the guitars are spot-on as usual.  It's no Powerslave, but it's still a superb album.

The Sword's "Warp Riders" came out last month and has quickly become one of my favorites.  The concept album is effortlessly heavy and full of killer hooks that you can't help but nod your head or tap a foot along with.  At times sounding like Mastodon, at others KISS, The Sword draw on the previous 40 years of heavy metal styles and sounds in order to produce an album that is classic and unique at the same time.  Really good stuff that flows straight through with 10 excellent songs on a 10 track album.

While these albums have all been well above average in quality, Blind Guardian's "At the Edge of Time" stands head and shoulders above the rest as my favorite album of the year so far.  Whenever I put on a song from this album, I have to listen to it the whole way through, and then find another to follow it with.  If one comes up on shuffle, I have to pause shuffle and just play the album, it's that damn good.  Powerful vocals, fast and powerful guitars, and an epic orchestra drive the music to heights I've never heard Blind Guardian reach.  I enjoyed their last few releases, but this one blows them away.  It's going to be really hard for anyone to top "At the Edge of Time" this year, but if anyone does, I'd love to hear it.  

Any suggestions for stuff I may have missed or failed to pick up in 2010 so far?  Anything coming out in the next three months that's gonna kick ass? Think I'm full of shit? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Just wanted to let you know that there aren't any tracks on The Final Frontier that are over 11 minutes (Well WTWWB is 10:59). I think you meant 9 minutes. Sorry to be nit picking lol.

    I'm not familiar with any of the other albums you listed but I'll try and check em out.

  2. My bad, meant 9 minutes! You caught me there, but the intent is the same.