This past year for me was spent quietly tending to personal projects and family concerns. Most of the reviews I wrote were in the first half; the second half I mostly concerned myself with releasing another Domestikwom album, starting a movie podcast with Chris, and a YouTube channel with occasional Nine Circles contributor and Qoheleth noise man Jeremy Hunt.
When I finally lifted my head above ground, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had actually done a good enough job of keeping up with the year’s new releases that I could put together a list I could stand behind.
Top 9 of 2019
1) Alcest – Spiritual Instinct: I wouldn’t have thought Alcest could top Kodama, but then they released Spiritual Instinct. I was wrong.
2) Ithaca – The Language of Injury: The mix of metalcore and shoegaze-y post metal on this album is fucking fresh, and picking this for the Album of the Month podcast back in February was one of my better music choices of the year.
3) Iapetus – The Body Cosmic: The first time I heard this I immediately knew it’d be on my list. If you start with Ne Obliviscaris’s blistering prog black metal, really pare down the vocals to its most essential and glorious bits, and vary the tempos to give the album a sense of pacing, you’ll get this glorious beast.
4) Numenorean – Adore: The amount of progress between Numenorean’s previous album and this one is staggering and not something I would have guessed was possible, even as a fan of their first album. It’s a stunner.
5) Immortal Bird – Thrive on Neglect: From the production to more complex song arrangements that don’t alienate the listener, this album rips.
6) Big Brave – A Gaze Among Them: My feelings on this album have not changed since I wrote my review back in May. This one’s special.
7) Mizmor – Cairn: From the lyrics to the art to the music itself, this is just a powerful and painful album, straight up.
8) Devin Townsend – Empath: You can see the seams almost about to burst, but Devy’s attempt to condense his entire catalog into a single album’s worth of music never collapses, and “Singularity” is worth the price of admission alone.
9) Caïna – Gentle Illness: Of all the music I’ve loved throughout the years, there’s hardly any albums that make me wish I had written it. This might be one of them.
Falls of Rauros – Patterns of Mythology
Schammasch – Hearts of No Light
Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
The Austerity Program – Bible Songs 1
Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
Clouds Collide – They Don’t Sleep Anymore
Opeth – In Cauda Venenum
Violet Cold – kOsmik
Full of Hell – Weeping Choir
Non Metal Releases I Want To Talk About
Minor Pieces – The Heavy Steps of Dreaming: If my end of year list was not a genre specific list, this would be #1 with a bullet. If you can imagine an acoustic folk duo surrounded by waves of experimental noise, you’d get something like this. It is lush and haunting, but the backbone of the duo’s vocals and guitars keep the songs from getting lost.
clipping. – There Existed an Addiction To Blood: On the heels of the sci fi epic Splendor and Misery, clipping takes a turn toward horror music for their follow up. At times referencing 80s synth horror soundtracks and other times terrifying drone, this hip hop group have once again created something skillful and punishing. Like the best horror, you can’t look away.
Ghostwriter – Burial Grounds: In the vein of singer songwriters like Emma Ruth Rundle and Chelsea Wolfe, Ghostwriter similarly deals in gothic folk, though they do put their own stamp on it in a way I find compelling. From the creepy opening samples of evangelical preaching on “Need,” it sets a tone that catches your imagination immediately. You all need this album in your life.