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: November

The year is soon over and with that we only got one last albums of the month article to go after this one and of course the album of the year list. The competition is fierce yet another month with heavy weights such as Nile, Ragnarok, Cattle Decapitation and Despised Icon releasing killer albums. However they got bands like Iapetus, Sentient Horror, Avslut, Immanifest and Unfathomable Ruination breathing down their necks. We’ve been blessed with a very good year for metal, with the album of the year list going to be really hard to finalize but that’s a good problem…. Don’t forget to give the bands a like and check out the labels too. The Spotify playlist is updated with music from November so get following, discover all the best new extreme metal music! New for this month is that The Metal Gamer Community has also been voting for the best albums in November and the poll has been running for a week. At the end of this segment you can see who got voted into the top 5. Don’t forget to join the growing community which is now close to 300 metal gamers! Thanks for your support!

Album of the month:

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound

What can I say when a band release the best brutal death metal album since Defeated Sanity put out Passages into Deformity in 2013 then I’m totally spellbound. Any fan of the heavy meaty sounds will love this. You can read the review here.

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound was released November 22nd via Willowtip Records.

Runners-up:

Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites

Nile is definitely a band I consider one of the best ever created for extreme metal. Their discography is vast and full of groundbreaking music. Vile Nilotic Rites is a great follow-up to What Should Not Be Unearthed and possibly their best album since Annihilation of the Wicked. Pure gold.

Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites was released November 1st via Nuclear Blast.

Ragnarok – Non Debellicata

I know there are a few doubters out there when it comes to Ragnarok since Jontho switched his drumkit to a microphone. I for one see it as a new era and I still have a lot of love for a band who I see being in my personal “the great four” of Norwegian black metal (along with Tsjuder, Emperor and Immortal). Non Debellicata is an album I spin regularly, its fury and speed might be something some see as one-sided but I see it as hellfire fuel that gets me up in the mornings.

Ragnarok – Non Debellicata was released November 15th via Agonia Records.

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light

I enjoy myself some Schammasch but I honestly didn’t think they would release one of the best black metal albums of the year and what possibly might be their crown jewel when they look back at their career. Hearts of No Light blew me away on the very first spin and it’s a big positive surprise.

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light was released November 8th via Prosthetic Records.

Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms

Sentient Horror is a very young band but they prove they are here to stay with yet another killer death metal album heavy influences in the Swedish school. Morbid Realms is one of my most listened albums during November with catchy hooks that will grab a hold of you, never to let go. A rather complete swe-death experience for modern times. You can read the review here.

Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms was released November 29th via Testimony Records (Europe) & Redefining Darkness Records (North America).

More great albums of November:

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas
Iapetus – The Body Cosmic
Paganizer – The Tower of the Morbid
Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Mara – RÖK
Immanifest – Macrobial
Krater – Venenare
Mesmur – Terrene
Midnight Odyssey – Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains
Sarke – Gastwerso
Aeons Abyss – Impenitent
Blind Guardian – Twilight Orchestra: Legacy of the Dark Lands
Second To Sun – Legacy
Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence
Cannabis Corpse – Nug So Vile
Kaamos Warriors – Shadows of Northern Chaos
Obscure – Darkness Must Prevail
Ganondorf – Ancient Ruins
Guru of Darkness – Ararat
Nordic Frost – Ov Blasphemy and Other Rites
Depressed – Into the Putrid Fiction
Ashen Crown – Obsolescence
Mourned – Devoured Humanity
The Drowning – The Radiant Dark
Third Chamber – Harvesting Our Decay
Despised Icon – Purgatory
Cryptic Brood – Outcome Of Obnoxious Science
Bednja – Doline Su Ostale Iza Nas
Zarraza – Rotten Remains
Crusadist – The Unholy Grail
Nerbrus – Dark Forces Reign
Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
Celtefog – Outlands
Avslut – Tyranni
Hideous Divinity- Simulacrum

The Metal Gamer Community albums of the month: November

Album of the month:

Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation took the first place in style and there was no doubt who The Metal Gamer Community saw as their favorite of the month. Personally I’ve never really fallen in love with their sound which is why you don’t see it in my top 5 but I can’t deny their impact on the scene and that they got no fear of doing their own thing.

Cattle Decapitation – Death Atlas was released November 29th via Metal Blade Records.

Runners-up:

2/3. Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound & Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites

A two-way tie with Nile and Unfathomable Ruination proving to be high on everyones lists just like mine. Brutality prevails!

4. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark

This was an album that went in and out of my top 5 all month. Prior Walk Beyond the Dark I wasn’t that big of a Abigail Williams fan but this is by far their best release yet and absolute killer. Who knows, given time, it might be higher up my end of the year list than some of the albums that were above it this month.

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark was released November 15th via Blood Music.

5. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light / Ragnarok – Non Debellicata / Avslut – Tyranni / Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings

Here there was a bundle of bands with two of them finding their way into my top 5 as well. Other than that I can say that Obsequiae were actually recommended to me by a member of The Metal Gamer Community and it’s one of the best atmospheric black metal albums of the year. Avslut I know has a lot of fans, especially in Sweden, but again it’s a band that I’ve never really connected to and I even personally think their full-length debut from last year was slightly better.

Avslut – Tyranni was released November 29th via Osmose Productions.
Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings was released November 22nd via 20 Buck Spin.

The Metal Gamer songs of the month playlist

Contrarian – Their Worm Never Dies (Progressive Death Metal)

The American five-piece Contrarian has since it’s formation in 2014 been very active. Despite a few changes in the line-up they haven’t showed any signs on slowing down and Their Worm Never Dies is the bands third full-length and fourth album overall in only five years. Talk about active! The band also feature a very familiar name, namely George Kollias who is also the drummer in Nile (who has even done some vocals in Contrarian). There has been a lot of change ongoing during the years, that if you compared Predestined, Polemic and To Perceive is to Suffer with each other you can notice Contrarian has taken very different routes on all three albums. Which makes it very interesting to review Their Worm Never Dies, because I got no idea on what to expect!

When it comes to Contrarian’s releases my personal favorite is actually their first one Predestined. Especially the vocals clicks a lot more to me there, and it was a faster more techdeath less progdeath approach than the full-length debut Polemic which took the band into a more late Death direction. That being said they all got their own sound and with To Perceive is to Suffer they became even close to Death and especially The Sound of Preserverence album. Contrarian continue on that route with Their Worm Never Dies.

If Death had continued on as a band this is the way I think they would sound. Contrarian are, just like Gruesome, a great example on how you can continue to build on the legacy from a band that defined a whole genre albeit the two bands focus on different Death eras. Whereas To Perceive is to Suffer was a good album I think Contrarian has done an even better job with Their Worm Never Dies. Everything here is slightly better, despite a snoozer opener with “Vaskania (The Evil Eye)”, where I think they pick it up fast again and the guitar-work especially excels, something “My Curse” and “The Petition” showcase very well.

In the end Their Worm Never Dies is a good album in all its rights, but it’s not something I will remember when I think about the best of the year lists. For many I am sure this will be, especially if you’re a big fan of the last Death albums. Me however I am one of those who basically only listen to Scream Bloody Gore, Spiritual Healing and Human when I want some Death magic. Contrarian keeps on pushing themselves and I would say this is their best progdeath effort yet. Production is great, riffs are very technical, drums spot on, it just doesn’t get my motor running at full speed. Also has to be said the artwork is absolute killer!

Written by J.B.

Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Death and Cynic
Release date: March 15th, 2019
Favorite song: My Curse
Score: 3/5 Good

Arallu – Desert Battles (Black/Death Metal)

front cover

Originally released in 2009 Desert Battles became another piece in Arallu’s long history of well received albums (they’ve been going for over 20 years!). However the band was never satisfied with the sound of Desert Battles and now, nine years later, they re-release Desert Battles with new cover art, vocals recording and mix. Of course I had to have a listen to the old version before jumping into this as I hadn’t heard the original album before but had heard both Geniewar and Six from 2015 and 2017 respectively. Both solid releases and it became clear both were a lot stronger outputs than Desert Battles was in 2009 when comparing them.

Desert Battles 2018 version is however a cleaner journey set to the mixing and the vocals. Personally I enjoy this more as the old version was a bit too rough compared to how I’d heard the other material from Arallu. This definitely suits their newer sound a lot more. For those unfamiliar with Arallu their style of metal is black metal with elements of death, middle eastern music and thrash. Making it easy to draw parallels to bands such as Orphaned Land, Al-Namrood and Melechesh, even Nile at some places. From what I understand on reading the bands history Desert Battles is the album that put them on the map and where they took their sound to the level they have today. It’s always nice to hear how a bands sound has evolved during their career and while some remasters can sometime destroy what was once good with the album I think this only improved it.

I don’t think Desert Battles at its very core is as good as neither Geniewar nor Six but this is the way Desert Battles was meant to sound. A really good way to get an introduction to the band with songs like “The Keeper of Jerusalem” being some of the better songs Arallu have written. I do miss the consistency Six had though and a “Possessed by the Sleep” or “Philosophers” standout track to really make it for me. It’s just not as memorable and easily over-looked in the sea of good metal out there. Also I can’t let the fact go that I enjoy the more evil sounding Al-Namrood or Melechesh a lot more when I compare Arallu with other middle eastern influenced bands I know of, they are a lot more towards black metal than Arallu though and who’s to say there can’t be several? They are rather different sounding all of them to be fair. If you haven’t heard Arallu before this could be a good start to hear where they kicked off before going to, in my opinion, their better releases Geniewar and Six.

Label: Raven Music
For fans of: Al-Namrood and Melechesh
Release date: June 6th, 2018
Favorite song: The Keeper of Jerusalem
Score: 2.5/5

tmg_2.5

Archspire – Relentless Mutation (Technical Death Metal)

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Archspire is a band which first got me into techdeath together with Revocation, Beyond Creation, Nile and the likes only a couple years ago. With that said I’ve never truly got into them, not as much as with Beyond Creation for example who I rate as the best techdeath band there is. However Relentless Mutation has changed me. This album alone have made me go from liking the band as they were one of the first bands I heard from the genre, to a band I know will call myself a fan of.

I already knew I would change my view on them as the singles they released were all top class techdeath. The opener Involuntary Doppelgänger I’ve heard countless of times by now and when it kickstarted this album I still find myself enjoying it. The album keeps on blasting me with sheer force, world class riffs and a trip around the universe unlike any other. Any song on this album would be a good pick for my favorite song section, because in all fairness they are all of insanely high techdeath quality but they are a couple songs that sticks out. It’s the albums title track Relentless Mutation that wins it for me in the end. The tempo-changes and musicianship shown on that track makes every single hormone in my body that produces happiness.

Archspire have blown me away and as someone who haven’t really seen the greatness in them before this is a big surprise. It will be really hard for me to pick the best techdeath album this year between Decrepit Birth’s Axis Mundi and Archspire’s Relentless Mutation. Both masterpieces in their own rights that should be in any metalheads collection.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Archspireband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Archspireband
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Beyond Creation and Spawn of Possession
Favorite song: Relentless Mutation
Score: 5/5

Suffocation – …of the Dark Light (Technical Brutal Death Metal)

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Another album I’ve been waiting far too long to review. Suffocation started same year I was born in 1988 and I’ve always had soft spot for them due to them being a major influence in what we hear in brutal and technical death metal today. When I saw them on tour last year in Sweden with Cattle Decapitation, Exuviated, Infernal Tenebra it was fucking sweet to finally get to see them live and I just hope they come here again for a EU tour on their new release.

Just like with Dying Fetus album Wrong One to Fuck With Suffocation are back with a message: …of the Dark Light is hell of a lot better than their latest releases. Even though I thought Pinnacle of Bedlam might have got too much shit I understand it didn’t live up to the expectations one might have on the band (just like me with Origins latest release). On this album no one can say Suffocation are done and dusted though. In many ways this album stands for exactly who they are, creators of the fine balance on technical and brutal death metal. I am quite happy to hear they have found their ways once again and while I still enjoy their first albums the most this might be their best release since Pierced from Within.

What a fine year for the more brutal ways of death metal this is turning out to be. Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Broken Hope and Origin (yes I know I’ve givem them some harsh words but it’s still good) all having released top notch records and the year isn’t even over yet! So far I hold Dying Fetus as my favorite release out of those but hell, anyone would be a good pick and it’s the small things and my personal preference that makes the difference in this case. All I know is Suffocation is back in action for real this time and I am sure they want to retake that crown!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/suffocation
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/suffocation
Label: Nuclear Blast
For fans of: Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy
Favorite song: Your Last Breaths
Score: 4/5

Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (Brutal Death Metal)

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Brutality, its not just something you can do when you win in Mortal Kombat but also the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dying Fetus. The brutal death metal kings have been slaying the shit out of mankind since they formed in 1991. Since then a lot has happened though, only original member still standing is John Callagher, but that’s more than enough as they haven’t slown down ever since the start. Granted there has been a few releases which might not be up to the level they can produce but that’s when Dying Fetus says we are the Wrong One to Fuck With.

This is brutal, as you could expect. Want your head smashed by a sledgehammer and put in a blender, then this is for you! I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t been a big fan of Dying Fetus but Wrong One to Fuck With is one of the best releases this year. Everything is just working for them on this album, which I can’t say it have on all their releases. Within their vast discography I would definitely put this as a contender for the best one. Just listening to the first three songs was enough for me to know this is an album when they are on form. One thing that usually puts me off brutal death metal genre is that all the songs on an album tend to sound the same, just sheer force with little thought behind it. There is a lot of crap coming out of it is what I mean. That’s not the case here though, sure it’s a brutal force with lyrics to go with it but Dying Fetus also got some variation on the songs and I can enjoy the whole album over and over again. Not just a song here and there when I work out or want to get fucking mental (although it works for that too!).

Songs like Panic Amongst the Herd, Die with Integrity, Ideological Subjugation and Weaken the Structure are sure to be on my playlist for years to come. Wrong One to Fuck With is Dying Fetus best album in years and fans of the band will love it. As far as brutal death metal goes it doesn’t get much better than this.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DyingFetus
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DyingFetusBand
Label: Relapse Records
For fans of: Suffocation and Misery Index
Favorite song: Ideological Subjugation
Score: 4.5/5