It’s that time of year again, folks. Let’s don our silly holiday hats, roll up our sleeves, and prepare to duke it out over the best albums of the passing year. It’s been an interesting one, hasn’t it? The heavy metal community saw the passing of one of our greatest champions, bands disbanded, and bands back with a vengeance. There were a few good albums released, even less greats, and, as usual, a ton of crap otherwise.
I didn’t have to spend a terribly long amount of time debating my favorite albums of the year, the top three were no-brainers and the rest just kinda fell comfortably into place. On my list you might be surprised to find a few newcomers, as well as the exclusion of a few (read: most) of this year’s records the critics and metal community in general swooned over. I’ll make no apologies for that.
Of course since I’m not the only person with an opinion in the world, we’ve asked a few other contributors and friends of the site to cook us up their top ten of 2010 lists so you can look forward to that in the coming weeks. And as always we love to hear from you, the readers, what you thought were the best metal albums of 2010 so get your comments in either here or on our forum and let your opinions be heard!
Without further ado I present to you; The Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2010.
Disclaimer: This is my opinion, prepare to disagree.
Released: March 29th
Because fuck you. I love this album, categorize however you want.
Best Tracks: Écailles de Lune - Part 1, Écailles de Lune- Part 2
Released: February 19th
Everything Remains (As It Never Was) wasn’t all that much of anything new from the band, wasn’t better than Eluveitie’s sophomore record, Slania, and yet it still managed to knock most of 2010’s releases out of the park. At just over 47 minutes long Everything... will hold your attention from the first epic intro and, when it’s all over, leave you begging for more. Prepare yourselves for a whole slew of Eluveitie clones in the coming years but pay them no mind, for the kings (and queens) have ascended the throne and it’ll take one hell of a coup to buffet them off their lofty perch.
Best Tracks: Everything Remains as It Never Was, Thousandfold, Quoth the Raven, Lugdūnon
Released: May 24th
What a let down the new Drudkh album was, wasn’t it? What the hell happened there? Luckily, Roman Saenko and mates were able to pull it together for their sophomore release under the moniker Blood of Kingu, The Sun in the House of the Scorpion. Simply put this may very well be Saenko’s best work of his career, and most certainly, without a doubt the best of anything else he’s done this year. I was really disheartened upon listen to Drudkh’s Handful of Stars but The Sun... revived my faith in this legendary group of gentlemen and even as I write this I’m thinking it probably deserves a higher spot on this list.
Best Tracks: Those That Wander Amidst The Stars, Incantation of He Who Sleeps
Released: July 19th
Controversy swirled around these young hopefuls this year in part due to some uh, I guess, taboo comments made in an interview or on a forum or something. I don’t really care about that, I didn’t read it, I couldn't give a damn about the personal opinions of musicians, and if you don’t like Winterfylleth because of it then stop reading now. I’d be amazed if your entire musical collection was made up of artists that shared your exact values. What matters is Winterfylleth’s The Mercian Sphere is amazing. Picture harsh black metal entwined with phenomenal acoustic passages, the occasional violin and cello for good measure, a heathen spirit, and looong epic tracks singing praises to England and you have The Mercian Sphere (as best as I could describe it, anyway). A-maze-ing!
If you dig it, check out their label mates: Wodensthrone.
Best Tracks: The Wayfarer Pt. 2 - Awakens He, Bereft of Kinsmen, A Valley Thick With Oaks
Released: February 26
Do I really even need to explain my choice here? Everyone that knows me, even in passing or just through the site, knows I love this Spanish one-man black metal project and rightfully so. Every album, every one, is spectacular. Why should Frostbitten Pain be any different? It shouldn’t and it isn’t. Clocking in at a little over 45 minutes long with only five tracks, Frostbitten Pain is an atmospheric black metal triumph of epic proportions. Every track is solid, every track stick to the bones, and once again as I’m writing this I’m thinking about the re-structure of my list to scoot Frostbitten Pain a little closer to the top. Prepare yourself to be transported to a cold, medieval, synth heavy world that spills out beyond those 45 minutes and sticks with you (think: Summoning) but trve kvltists beware, Elffor ain’t your grandma’s black metal.
Best Tracks: All of them.
Released: September 3rd
I only heard about Angantyr this year, in truth a number of the band’s featured on this list I’d only discovered this year (thanks Jake), but after hearing their third studio record, Haeven, I awaited the release of Svig like I’d been a fan since birth. Needless to say it’s inclusion on my list means I was not disappointed. Angantyr continues their (actually his, only one man in this band) tradition of making just good, straight up BM with folk injections and the occasional, tasteful inclusion of non-traditional instrumentals. How this guy manages to pull off an entire record on his own with the skill and proficiency I’m used to seeing in bands with 3-4 members is beyond me. While Svig falls just shy of Haeven’s brilliance, it did not disappoint.
Best Tracks: En Fjendes Død, Svig, Arngrims Armod
Released: January 18
I had a conversation just the other day about how Imperium Dekadenz has probably one of the worst names in black metal and while I’m now inclined to agree, my initial opinion was eclipsed by how awesome this record is. I attempted to defend ID’s honor but eventually gave in, but my opinions of this record still stand. As I said before, it’s awesome but not like Keanu Reeves “awesome, dude” awesome, like fucking awesome. In scope, in size, in it’s general vastness this record is well deserving of a number three spot and if Accept and Blind Guardian didn’t put out such badass records it’d probably be higher. With Procella Vadens, Imperium Dekadenz managed to retain the Burzum worship evident on their earlier recordings but mold and age it with hauntingly beautiful piano passages and moments of melancholy so deep if this wasn’t a black metal record it’d be doom. Imperium Dekadenz is on to something here so don’t be surprised when next year a whole slew of newcomers attempt (and probably fail) to follow suit.
Best Tracks: A Million Moons, An Autumn Serenade, Ocean, Mountain's Mirror
Released: August 20th
Wow. Accept is back in a very big way with Blood of the Nations. All my hesitation about the new vocalist, Mark Tornillo, was laid to rest the moment I heard Teutonic Terror and it’s been hard to put the album down since. Blood of the Nations is classic Accept (sans Udo) and as far as traditional heavy metal releases go, the very best of the year.
Best Tracks: Teutonic Terror
Released: March 26th
Riffs. Hooks. Clean Vocals. Epic. Uit Oude Grond was the first record I’d heard from Dutch folk metallers, Heidevolk, and as far as I’m concerned, the only record anyone could possibly need to get hooked. The hours of enjoyment I’ve derived from this record over the past year is second to only to my pick for #1 album of 2010. If you haven’t already, please treat yourself to this album. You will not be disappointed.
Best Tracks: Nehalennia, Dondergod, Beest bij Nacht
Released: July 30th
Full orchestra? Check. Olbrich and co. on the top of their musical game? Check. Epic, fantasy-inspired tracks that sink their hooks in and never let go? Check. Hansi Kursch’s greatest vocal performance to date? Abso-fuggin’-lutely. 2010’s best metal album of the year could only be Blind Guardian’s At The Edge of Time. There is not a single weak track to be found on this record, not even a single weak moment. This is Blind Guardian’s masterwork, their chef d’oeuvre, the best metal album I’ve heard in years, and nothing less. Listen to this album, seriously, believe the hype.
Best Tracks: All of ‘em, but if I had to pick... Sacred Worlds, Ride Into Obsession, and Wheel of Time.
Anu- Opus Funaerum
Awesome North American Black Metal with lots of ambient moments. Nearly Flawless debut full-length.
Deftones- Diamond Eyes
Limbonic Art- Phantasmagoria
Their first album since 2007 and a glorious return.
Agalloch- Marrow of the Spirit
The kids seem to like it, it’s growing on me.
Gallowbraid- Ashen Eldolon
Local musician. Personal friend. Phenomenal debut.