The Metal Gamer best of 2019

Holy moly what a year! When I started this list a few weeks ago I had over 150 albums written down on albums that I really enjoyed, more than any other year since I started this blog. Which is why I am doing a top 50 this time (and years onwards). Even with a limit on 50 it was bloody hard to cut the list down! That speaks volumes on how good year 2019 has been for metal, in my opinion the best in many years with every genre putting out killer albums. 2019 was a quite wild ride for me personally too as I became a father of a beautiful daughter we’ve named Hilde in December. With that it also means The Metal Gamer will slow down some in productivity for a while, as you might have already noticed. The Metal Gamer Community also got created in 2019 and has reached over 400 members in only a few months. Started doing interviews seem to have been a hit too as most of them got a lot of interaction where I got to interview bands such as Visceral Bleeding, Deranged, Enthroned and The Great Old Ones to name a few. Last but not least the first ever The Metal Gamer fanzine got published digitally (hopefully will manage to do one more this year), which was read by over 200 people within the first 48h! Major thanks for the support metal gamers and I hope to bring you more content for many years to come!

The Metal Gamer best of 2019

1. Finsterforst – Zerfall

One of my favorite bands of all time Moonsorrow hasn’t released an album since 2016 but what does that even matter when Finsterforst release their best album to date and in all honesty one of the best albums in the genre ever! Became a clear album of the year for me, no doubt about it. Released August 2nd via Napalm Records.

2. Wormwood – Nattarvet

Wow what beast this turned out to be! I wasn’t all in on Wormwood before but with Nattarvet they really knocked it out of the park and has released the best black metal album of the year. They even topped it off with a great live performance at Månegarm Open Air in August which solidified my love for this band. Very big surprise to me. Released July 26th via Black Lodge Records.

3. Vale of Pnath – Accursed

Wow what a journey Vale of Pnath has had! They’ve always been of my favorite techdeath bands, much do to their black metal influences, but they really knocked this one out of the park! A perfect five in my book and a crown jewel in their already great, and growing, discography. Released May 17th via Willowtip Records.

4. Equipoise – Demiurgus

The best album I heard first quarter of the year was Demiurgus by Equipoise. They’ve done everything right, it’s technical death metal at its peak and it’s not only good but also fun! I mean who just adds in a acoustic flamenco track for the sake of it? Equipoise does and it pays off! The first 5/5 of the year went to Demiurgus. Released March 8th via The Artisan Era.

5. The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism

The Great Old Ones are back with yet another stunning Lovecraftian atmospheric black metal album. They seem to be able to do no wrong and the band has only strengthen what is already a very strong discography. Grown on me throughout the year to eventually land in the top 5! Released October 22nd via Season of Mist.

  1. Finsterforst – Zerfall
  2. Wormwood – Nattarvet
  3. Vale of Pnath – Accursed
  4. Equipoise – Demiurgus
  5. The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism
  6. Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound
  7. Warforged – I: Voice
  8. In Mourning – Garden of Storms
  9. Misþyrming – Algleymi
  10. Shadow of Intent – Melancholy
  11. Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave
  12. A Wake in Providence – The Blvck Sun || The Blood Moon
  13. Mgła – Age of Excuse
  14. AngelMaker – AngelMaker
  15. Vukari – Aevum
  16. Saor – Forgotten Paths
  17. Månegarm – Fornaldarsagor
  18. Organectomy – Existential Disconnect
  19. Panzerfaust – The Suns of Perdition I: War, Horrid War
  20. Sempiternal Dusk – Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation
  21. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
  22. Enterprise Earth – Luciferous
  23. Numenorean – Adore
  24. Rendered Helpless – Suffer, Seraphim
  25. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
  26. Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna
  27. Sargeist – Death Veneration
  28. Necronomicon – Unus
  29. Eternal Storm – Come the Tide
  30. Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms
  31. Ragnarok – Non Debellicata
  32. Misery Index – Rituals of Power
  33. Truth Corroded – Bloodlands
  34. Thy Art is Murder – Human Target
  35. Wretched Fate – Fleshletting
  36. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light
  37. Malist – In the Catacombs of Time
  38. Netherbird – Into the Vast Uncharted
  39. Devourment – Obscene Majesty
  40. Murdryck – Födelsen
  41. Ereb Altor – Järtecken
  42. Shadecrown – Riven
  43. Blood Red Throne – Fit to Kill
  44. Gods Forsaken – Smells of Death
  45. Disentomb – The Decaying Light
  46. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
  47. Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
  48. Amon Amarth – Berserker
  49. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
  50. Hammerfall – Dominion

Album of the year:
Finsterforst – Zerfall
Deathcore album of the year:
Shadow of Intent – Melancholy
Technical death metal album of the year:
Vale of Pnath – Accursed
Death metal album of the year:
Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave
Brutal death metal album of the year:
Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound
Atmospheric black metal album of the year:
The Great Old Ones – Cosmicism
Black metal album of the year:
Wormwood – Nattarvet
Folk metal album of the year:
Finsterforst – Zerfall
Debut full-length album of the year:
Equipoise – Demiurgus
Song of the year:
Finsterforst – Ecce Homo
Best concert I went to in 2019:
Svartidauði, Sinmara and Grand Harvest (Plan B, Malmö, September 27th)
Biggest disappointment:
Carnifex – World War X
Most anticipated album of 2020:
Beneath the Massacre – Fearmonger

The Metal Gamer Community Best of 2019

1. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
2. Wormwood – Nattarvet
3. Mgła – Age of Excuse
4. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
5. Equipoise – Demiurgus
6. In Mourning – Garden of Storms
7. Månegarm – Fornaldarsagor
8. Saor – Forgotten Paths
9. Killswitch Engage – Atonement
10. Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion

Albums of the month: July

July was an interesting month as it had some of the biggest surprises of the year for me. Along with some heavy hitters like Abbath, Wormed and Disentomb also putting out solid albums there has been enough new music to put on when you have a drink in the hot sun. For the first time ever there isn’t a single album I’ve reviewed on the top 5 list. I blame it on not receiving the promos nor have I been all that active on my writing this Summer (will change of course). This time around I’ve also made a Spotify playlist featuring two of my favorite songs from each album mentioned here (including the honorable mentions and if they have Spotify of course). So what are you waiting for, dig in!

Album of the month

Wormwood – Nattarvet

Wow what beast this turned out to be! I wasn’t all in on Wormwood before but with Nattarvet they really knocked it out of the park and has released one of the best black metal albums of the year. Now they are one of the bands I look forward to the most to see live at Månegarm Open Air in August. Very big surprise to me. Released July 26th via Black Lodge Records.

Runners-up

Guttural Slug – Plague of Filth

I’ve read the hate and people wondering where the cricket sounds are but screw that, this is a great album that any fan of brutal death metal slam should give a listen. Guttural Slug changed some of their formula and I think it worked. Released July 14th via Brutal Mind.

Disentomb – The Decaying Light

While I still have a lot of love for the bands first release Sunken Chambers of Nephilim there is no denying the band has grown a lot since then. The Decaying Light is the most varied offering yet that’s both brutal and catchy. Released July 12th via Unique Leader Records.

Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance

The expectations were high and Tomb Mold delivered. Simple as that. One of the best old school death metal records you will hear all year together with the likes of Carnal Tomb, Kingdom, Gods Forsaken and Ossuarium. Will be great to see Tomb Mold live for the first time in Europe at Kill-Town Festival in September. Released July 19th via 20 Buck Spin.

Carnal Tomb – Abhorrent Veneration

Another big surprise in my books. I didn’t really know what to expect from this band as I’d never heard them before but Abhorrent Veneration has put Carnal Tomb on my map at least with one of the best death metal albums of the year. Released July 26th via Testimony Records.

Honorable mentions

Disrupted – The Procrastination of Being
Ecliptic Vision – Ecliptic Vision
Foray Between Ocean – As Serenity Drowned
Decrepit Depravity – Self Enucleation
Brand of Sacrifice – God Hand
Black Passage – The Veil
Thy Art is Murder – Human Target
Abbath – Outsider
Wormed – Metaportal
Gates to the Morning – Return to Earth
HEX – God Has No Name
Jig-Ai – Entrails Tsunami
False – Portent
Vagrant – The Rise Of Norn
Falls of Rauros – Patterns in Mythology

The Metal Gamer songs of the month playlist

Relics Of Humanity – Obscuration (Brutal Death Metal)

The Belarus band Relics of Humanity is back to utterly destroy you with their most relentless release yet! This is their first new material since Ominously Reigning upon the Intangible in 2014 and one major change since then is that they’ve add the legendary vocalist A.J. Magana (ex-Defeated Sanity, ex-Disgorge and ex-Condemned (live)) to their brutal horde. This is no small piece to add to the puzzle and believe me it shows straight from the start this is a piece they have been missing in the past. During the 12 years the band has been going I haven’t really got into them, I mean sure I have a couple tracks on my gym playlist and both their previous releases are solid albums but they aren’t albums I get that feeling I need to take for a spin. That’s the major difference maker as with Obscuration I do, short and sweet as it is with its 16 minute runtime.

Obscuration showcase just about every great element you need for a top tier brutal death metal release. The songwriting is their best yet, which I thought was even their strong side before. Drumming is tighter and have more room than before, guitars sounds meaner and nastier than ever and then we have the insane gutturals from Magana. Can he even do a bad performance? The production is right where I want it to be for this genre, not over-produced gnarly sounding, giving each instrument the right sound (I would like to put the volume up a tiny bit on the guitars though) and in general just making the album feel alive.

As I mentioned before this is a short album, an EP, and the 16 minutes does fly by rather quick. Quality over quantity though and when Relics of Humanity can produce such an evil old school sounding brutal death metal album like this then I will take it every day of the week. One thing is certain, this is the most brutal album you will hear this month and it’s a now looking bright for brutal death metal after a slow January. They even packed this deadly piece of EP in a sweet package on top with covert art from Dan Seagrave (Suffocation, Decrepit Birth, Morbid Angel). I can definitely recommend Obscuration to fans of Defeated Sanity, Unfathomable Ruination, Disgorge, Condemned and Disentomb. Relics of Humanity have now found a sound that works really well for them and I can only hope we don’t have to wait long for a full-length when they are on form.

Written by J.B.

Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Defeated Sanity and Condemned
Release date: February 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Legions of the Unbowed
Score: 4/5 Incredible

Organectomy – Domain of the Wretched (Brutal Death Metal)

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New Zealand, a country that not only has beautiful scenery and was where my favorite movies were filmed Lord of the Rings but it’s also the home of Organectomy. The band was totally unknown to me until one day I got a single called “Beckoning the Horrors of the Depths” and since then I was hyped for their debut Domain of the Wretched. I am perfectly aware though that a good single and a good album are two completely different things so where does this leave Organectomy?

Well hell this is one sweet domain they got there. From the get-go this is kickass brutal death metal that’s everything I hoped it would be. This is the music your mother has warned you about and it reeks of filthy death metal gore. It’s heavy as hell and once the album got its claws in you it never let go. Domain of the Wretched honestly got it all going from what I want in a brutal death metal album. There are the breakdowns, got a lot of technical aspects, insane gutterals, some slam in there and heck even a couple classic filthy old school death metal riffs here and there too (like on Beckoning the Horrors of the Depths). It’s a complete package. For me this is a mix of Disentomb, Analepsy and Bloodbath getting mixed in a blender to produce this retched filth, and it’s glorious. Actually it’s not just those band getting put in a blender, so is your brain as this will leave it in a muss from all the brutality. It may not be as heavy as Pathology, it may not be as technial as Defeated Sanity or whatever but they use all the elements I enjoy and perfected the mix with just the right amount of each part.

It’s been some time now since I had so much fun with a brutal death metal album. Domain of the Wretched does just about everything right on their debut and I am glad it wasn’t just the single I heard before being good, it’s the whole album. Anything from Sanctum of Deceit, Carnal Bloodlust to the epic, closing in on eight minute long, instrumental track Cascading into Despair (how many BDM songs you heard being that long before?) with an acoustic intro are of high quality. The best brutal death metal album I’ve heard all year which uses all the tools available.

Label: Unique Leader Records
For fans of: Disentomb and Rendered Helpless
Release date: April 6th, 2018
Favorite song: Beckoning the Horrors of the Depths
Score: 4/5

Ingested – The Level Above Human (Slamming Deathcore/Death Metal)

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Lets talk some about what I think of Ingested. The UK band almost single-handedly acted as a sort of gateway to slam, together with Disentomb. When The Architect of Extinction came out in 2014 it blew my mind and I was sold on the whole slam scene, even though some say *cough* the slam police *cough* it’s more deathcore than slam (or slamming deathcore) I don’t care I liked it and it opened up a new genre for me. Granted I am not a diehard fan and my knowledge of the scene bar said bands and some others like Devourment, Pathology, Abominable Putridity and Katalepsy is very limited. With that in mind I was surprised with The Level Above Human and the direction Ingested went with it.

“Sovereign” starts off hard, really hard, and I am here thinking “damn this is going to be one of my favorite albums of the year”. The album has some good highs but also lows for me though. The production quality is almost too clear and while some tracks like “Sovereign”, “Invidious”, “Better off Dead” are of top notch Ingested quality and are in some ways a development from the bands past release. Mainly since they flirt with heavy hitters from brutal death metal like Dying Fetus and others creating a, perhaps, less slam sound but more of a death metal fused together with slam. Then you have “Last Rites”, a song that switches tempo well and is by far their most technical and well written track to date. Songs like that can make me see this as an evolution of their sound and slam in general, The Level Above Human will surely bring in more fans to the fray due to this. While “the slam police” will surely say this isn’t true slam but slamming deathcore/brutal death metal or whatever I can understand why Ingested takes this road, just like Thy Art is Murder with their latest release took more inspiration from death metal to change it up some. It’s bound to happen to some of the bigger bands in such underground or even hated scenes from the general metal community.

Change or no change you have your mid-tempo slams, Jason Evans on form (as always), angry hard hitting metal with that Ingested stamp on it. It’s a rather big change from The Architect of Extinction, less deathcore, more brutal death metal added to the mix, less monotone and it’s definitely got more technical aspects to it than any of their older releases. I should be all over this because of those elements but I can’t help but to say I personally liked The Architect of Extinction a lot more than I did with The Level Above Human, maybe even because of the more straight forward and monotone approach even. I can not deny however that this is probably the right step for the band to take in order to leap forward. Ingested are not afraid to change it up and I respect them for that and while some were scared that they would lose their slam when joining Unique Leader Records this was definitely not case. They simply evolved and while I may not be completely down with this change as of yet (give me time guys) I am sure many will.

Label: Unique Leader Records
For fans of: Acrania and Cerebral Bore
Release date: April 27th, 2018
Favorite song: Sovereign
Score: 3/5

Enragement – Burned, Barren, Bloodstained (Brutal Death Metal)

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I usually review albums that are already out or soon to be out. However this time I got a promo from Inverse Records on a Finnish band called Enragement and their sophomore album Burned, Barren, Bloodstained which isn’t out until June 9th. When I get an album that’s not released until so far away in the future I usually wait for the release date to be closer but this time I couldn’t, the album is simply too good and I couldn’t wait! Lets start with some background on Enragement. The band was formed in 2006 by Lasse Sannikka (drums), Erkka Järvinen (guitars) and Jouni Mäkelä (vocals), Erkka left to focus on hockey, Jouni later on left to focus on his other band Reflection Dies. Left with no members, nor any album releases, Lasse rebuild Enragement and the band is now a four-piece, featuring three vocalists (!). It took just a bit more than a year for Lasse to assemble the new group together and release their debut album Omnimalevolence of Man. Now three years later they are active with Burned, Barren, Bloodstained.

I did mention Enragement consists of three vocalists. That’s the part that makes this band really stick out. Jarkko Niemi (Brymir), Atte Ojanne and Tuomas Iivanainen all got different types of growling, all from classic death metal, brutal death metal and shrieks as taken from a black metal band. And it’s not just the vocals that differs, the music overall also demonstrates a wide range of musical influences all from old school death metal to grindcore. One song can lean towards black metal (Ashen Unity), just to on the next track, As the Acid Burns, become a groovy riff-fest classic death metal type of song. What makes it all jell together in harmony is the intense heavyness and brutality that never stops. Burned, Barren, Bloodstained is an album that will go down as a hidden gem in Finnish metal scene and I hope many of you out there will notice this rare display of brutal death metal from a country that hardly dabbles in the scene. I am actually quite stunned to find such rare talent with a unique sound and never heard of them before. Being half Finnish I try to give that market an extra ear (just like with the Swedish scene) but this has simply went by me. For that I am sorry but I am now a true believe of Enragement’s quest to create the ultimate song to capture the human condition at its darkest.

Enragement now got a new fan, this is one of the best releases of the year. Burned, Barren, Bloodstained is out June 9th. I suggest you mark it down on your calendars and get it from Inverse Records for your own salvation. This is Extreme Death Metal, this is Enragement!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Enragement
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EnragementMetal
For fans of: Beheaded and Immolation
Favorite song: Dead Flesh Treasury

Katalepsy – Gravenous Hour (Brutal Death Metal)

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Ah Katalepsy, one of the two Moscow giants of slam together with Abominable Putridity. Both who recently signed with Unique Leader Records, a label known for their quality brutal death metal. Saying that the stakes have been high for Katalepsy to perform after their latest brutal hit Autopsychosis.

With Gravenous Hour you can see the band move away a bit from the slam, leaning a bit more towards technical death metal. I am sure a few of the older fans will see this as a bad step and that it isn’t brutal enough anymore and I can get that. I however really like this new direction. Blindead Sultan and Critical Black Mass are freaking great and even though they are not on par with the bands monster of a song Cold Flesh Citadel (one of the best brutal songs ever made in my opinion and got me into the band) they do add something different to Katalepsy’s releases and there is no denying that it’s good brutal death metal.

So to sum it I think it’s a good album, a bit different from what I expected but still a really good listen. Katalepsy consists of some very talented musicians and I like they changed it up a bit, but didn’t do it too much. A great buy for any fan of the brutal metal school. Katalepsy – Gravenous Hour is out now by Unique Leader Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Katalepsymoscow
For fans of: Abominable Putridity and Pathology
Favorite song: Blindead Sultan