Legendary acts, side hustles, comebacks and game changing upstarts and more… Rushonrock’s extreme music devotee Rich Holmes reveals his top 10 albums of 2019.
Acid Reign – The Age Of Entitlement (Dissonance Productions)
The irrepressible Howard ‘H’ Smith stormed back into the mosh with this acerbic, neck-snapping pit starter, an album that could have changed the fortunes of UK thrash had it been released in the 80s.
Equal parts playful and venomous, The Age Of Entitlement was one of 2019’s greatest comebacks… and one hell of a thrash metal record.
Tanith – In Another Time (Metal Blade)
Boasting the supreme talents of Satan guitarist Russ Tippins, this Anglo-American act crafted a work of wonderous, 70s-style hard rock and proto-metal, an album which balanced phenomenal musicianship with interstellar songcraft.
Tippins and fellow singer Cindy Maynard sparkled as they traded verses, and you could almost feel the warmth of Tanith’s retro amps as the riffs and solos weaved across tracks like Book Of Changes and Under The Stars.
Mayhem – Daemon (Century Media)
The Norwegians’ sixth studio album went straight for the jugular and ripped it clean out, yet retained the rich textures and cerebral darkness that guitarist Teloch has brought to the band in recent years.
They’ll never make another Deathcrush or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, but with albums like Daemon in their locker, Mayhem’s status as black metal royalty will remain firmly intact.
Strigoi – Abandon All Faith (Nuclear Blast)
After calling time on his Vallenfyre project after three crust-caked albums, Paradise Lost guitarist Greg Mackintosh quickly unleashed this blackened behemoth of death, grind, d-beat and gnarly, putrid doom, a collection of songs underscored by his majestic guitarwork and abetted by Extreme Noise Terror’s Chris Casket.
The surprise package of 2019, Abandon All Faith was even darker (if that was possible) than the Yorkshireman’s previous work – and offered a glorious downpour of hate and misery just as winter set in.
Downfall Of Gaia – Ethic Of Radical Finitude (Metal Blade)
Downfall of Gaia’s metamorphosis from sludgy crust punks to post black metal visionaries may have already happened by the time Ethic Of Radical Finitude hit the racks, but this opus crystallised the quartet’s sound – and glowed with emotional intensity.
Powered by blastbeats and cascading guitars, songs like As Our Bones Break To The Dance and We Pursue The Serpent Of Time were excursions into the depths of our souls… and proved once again that Downfall Of Gaia deserve to be a household name in metal circles.
Bewitcher – Under The Witching Cross (Shadow Kingdom Records)
‘Metal heart, metal soul, drink from the chalice of rock and roll’. Speed metal, NWOBHM, Motörhead and Venom all went into the cauldron for the Portland boys’ second opus and out popped this gnarly old beast of a record, ready to sink its teeth into anyone not sporting denim, leather and a bullet belt.
Want a reminder of why you fell in love with heavy metal in the first place? Turn Hexenkrieg or Too Fast For The Flames up to 11 and let them weave their black magic…
Martyrdöd – Hexhammaren (Century Media)
No one does d-beat quite like Martyrdöd and the Swedes, now boasting a re-booted line-up after a period of upheaval, excelled themselves with Hexhammaren.
Weaving intricate melodies into surging metallic crust, but with a sharper song writing approach than we’d heard before, the quartet pushed their trademark sound to new heights… and then brought a firestorm right down on our heads. A discore landmark.
Torche – Admission (Relapse Records)
An XXL size smoothie of soaring pop melodies, bone-shattering heaviness and sharp, alt-rock dynamics, Admission was the perfect distillation of the Floridians’ sound and an album that showed just how mighty Torche can be.
From the cathartic title track to quickfire fuzz-outs such as What Was and From Here, to wistful closer Changes Come, jaw-dropping moments popped up everywhere you cared to look. Admission made you feel glad to be alive.
Memoriam – Requiem For Mankind (Nuclear Blast)
With Russ Russell at the mixing desk, an arsenal of thermonuclear riffs and a heart full of rage, Requiem For Mankind was Memoriam’s finest work since their 2016 inception.
Karl Willetts railed against injustice, inequality and fascism on songs like Austerity Kills and Undefeated, while his bandmates drew on their Bolt Thrower/Benediction heritage to create a fearsome death metal barrage – and a sound that could have only been born in the backstreets of Brum.
Idle Hands – Mana (Eisenwald)
On Idle Hands’ stunning 2018 EP Don’t Waste Your Time, former Spellcaster bassist Gabriel Franco switched to lead vocals and introduced the world to his unique NWOBHM vs Goth Rock vision. Mana, released just a year later, built on that debut record and then some.
With Franco evoking the likes of Robert Smith and Andrew Eldritch over arcing twin guitars, the Portland act conjured an album of ultra-slick, pitch black anthems that marked the band out as one of metal’s most exciting – and addictive – new acts. Missing In Solitude or Type O Negative? This could be your salvation.
Also on heavy rotation…
Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas (Metal Blade)
Haunt – If Icarus Could Fly (Shadow Kingdom Records)
Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong (Prosthetic Records)
Agnostic Front – Get Loud! (Nuclear Blast)
The Old Firm Casuals – Holger Danske (Pirates Press Records)
Waheela – A Wreck So Clean (Cruel Nature Recordings)
Alcest – Spiritual Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue (Pure Noise)
Devourment – Obscene Majesty (Relapse Records)
Vulture – Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves (Metal Blade)