Best of 2019: Angela’s List

Best of 2019

Most of us are eager to dart into 2020 and leave 2019 in our wakes.  While I’m ready for a fresh start and a new year, I want to linger in 2019 a little longer to savor the musical releases.  Many wonderful albums were released this year which made narrowing down and ranking my top picks a challenge.  The albums that ended up on this list are albums that resonated with me—albums that I kept revisiting, I kept blasting through headphones, and kept giving me goosebumps.

I decided to pick 9 albums in honor of Nine Circles and this wonderful community that welcomed me in this year.  Let’s dive in!

9.  Full of Hell Weeping Choir

Full of Hell - Weeping Choir

This is a rapid-fire album consisting of 11 urgent tracks full of growls, distorted guitars, and electronic grinding and static.  The tracks average one to two minutes with one six-minute track around the middle—and the result is a high-intensity, well-blended album. 

— 

8.  Mizmor Cairn

Mizmor - Cairn

Heavy with sorrow and full of beauty, Cairn delves into deep emotions.  Mizmor is a one-man act built from the manifestation of long-felt depression.  This album consists of cathartic yells and growls as well as heavy guitars and lingering riffs.  The four tracks on the album are equally powerful and moving.

7.  Immortal Bird Thrive on Neglect

Immortal Bird - Thrive On Neglect

Immortal Bird describes their style of music as “crusty blackened proggy deathgrind”—this feels right.  The hybrid genre is exemplified in this unique album.  The movement of the album is unpredictable as there are mixed tempos in each track and a lot of instrumental variety.  Yet, the album has a flow that works, and the talents of the quartet are given a platform to impress.

6.  Blood Incantation Hidden History of the Human Race

Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race

This album is entrancing.  It mostly consists of fast-paced, high-energy guitars, drumming, and growls—but it also includes some psychedelic interludes and downright spacey melodies.  I love the variety to each track and the overall otherworldly vibe to this album.

5.  Cattle Decapitation Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation - Death Atlas

Cattle Decapitation slaps us in the face with the hard to accept truth that one day we’ll all be dead, and we are causing our own demise.  Fun, right?  There are several grim interludes (mostly consisting of eerie instrumentation and spoken word) mixed into the album that really drive these themes in hard.  I love activism for a good cause and raising awareness through a death metal album is brilliant.  This album is full of passion and emotion and is perfectly produced.  

4.  Батюшка Панихида

Батюшка – Панихида

Batushka (Батюшка) is a band that I’ve really liked since their debut in 2015.  Unfortunately, they split and released two separate albums this year.  This album was created by Krzysztof “Derph” Drabikowski who contributed guitars, bass, drums, and vocals in the band before the split.  This version is known as “Ba-true-shka” and rightfully so.  The album has the same feel as the band’s first release Litourgiya.  I was lucky enough to see them perform in Chicago in August of 2018 (prior to the split) and this puts me back in the audience breathing in incense and worshiping at the altar of black metal.

3.  FALSE Portent

False - Portent

FALSE is a black metal band that incorporates synths and creates something unique and powerful.  There is an energy and an urgency in this album that pulls me in every time.  It’s furious and fascinating. 

2.  Falls of Rauros Patterns in Mythology

Falls of Rauros - Patterns in Mythology

This album has a delicious rise and fall that caters to my every mood.  I had this album on repeat for days when it was released and I keep going back to it.  It’s delicate yet heavy, intricate yet vast, and leaves me craving more.

— 

1.  Alcest Spiritual Instinct

alcest spiritual instinct

Alcest never disappoints me.  Yes, I even like ShelterSpiritual Instinct is the album that I was looking forward to the most this year and Alcest really delivered! It’s beautiful and is built with ethereal melodies, enchanting harmonic vocals perfectly mixed with growls, and instrumentation that mesmerizes and captivates.  

Additional amazing albums:

Russian Circles – Blood Year

Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites

Violet Cold – Kosmik

Inter Arma – Sulfur English

Baroness – Gold & Grey

Pelican – Nighttime Stories

Astronoid – Astronoid

Schammasch – Hearts of No Light

Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark

– Angela

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