Thanks to the demands, deadlines and drudgery of my day job, this stocktaking listicle was delayed two weeks past its intended publication date at the half-way point of the year. In the intervening time, additional waves of releases were unleashed, a reminder of the golden era of quantity and quality we are currently living in. It has become increasingly challenging to stay on top of must-hear releases, even with obsessive research and vigilance, but the untold satisfaction of unearthing new records that hit you like a brick in the face, make being a metalhead in this day and age such a thrilling glory ride.
I had a difficult time narrowing the following list (in alphabetical order) down to only ten releases (ultimately, the aforementioned day job dictated its final length) that have made a lasting impact in my heart of hearts during the first six months of this year, thanks to their creativity, vision, emotion, pummeling ferocity, gripping melody, riff mastery, headbangability, confident musicianship and that certain je ne sais quoi that elevates some albums and the whole genre to dizzying artistic heights. Continue reading