It’s been a great year for metal. I mean, it always is. There’s so much new music being released (and we all have so much access to it) nowadays that the biggest problem is being spoiled for choice.
But now, it’s Top Tens season. Mine was a close call in the lower reaches of the charts and a ton of great albums didn’t make the final cut but here are the ones that did! Enjoy! And feel free to share your own to the This Day In Metal social accounts!
10) Battle Beast – Circus of Doom
While not their most musically diverse album, Circus Of Doom is a lean collection of massive power metal anthems whose energy levels have two settings: “high” and “sky high”. Choirs, bells, strings, layers of guitars, relentless 16-beat drumming, retro synths and Noora Louhimo’s gigantic Halford-esque screams all come together in a wall of sound guaranteed to send any melodic metal lover into a pulse-pounding, fist-pumping reverie.
9) Jungle Rot – A Call To Arms
Grizzled veterans Jungle Rot return with an absolute no-nonsense pure OSDM album that shows there’s life in these old dogs yet. Every track is a super-catchy onslaught of brutal riffing, growlalong choruses and powerhouse drumming. It’s unashamedly retro but if you like your death metal served raw and bloody, with no dressing, no frills and nothing on the side, A Call To Arms will sate your appetite.
8) Defacing God – The Resurrection of Lilith
This astonishing debut from Danish blackened deathsters Defacing God is a concept album that maybe plays a little fast and loose with its theology (although who am I to argue when the lead vocalist believes she is channeling the spirit of Lilith herself?) but goes hard enough that you won’t care. The sheer level of drama and brutality on this is off-the-scale, as the band raise their unique brand of symphonic Hell. With a production the size of Babylon and screams that’ll rupture bowels, The Resurrection of Lilith is a collection of memorable and accomplished songs wrenched from the darkest gloom. Best of all is the implicit threat underpinning all of it – if this is their debut, what on earth will they do NEXT?
7) Arch Enemy – Deceivers
With their insanely catchy riffs for days, Arch Enemy are – with each album – slowly morphing into a power metal band with death metal vocals but that’s no bad thing at all. Every song on Deceivers is instantly catchy, tight as Hell and brilliantly constructed. I wrote at length about this back in August but, if anything, it’s only got more addictive since then.
6) She Must Burn – Umbra Mortis
U.K. deathcore outfit She Must Burn have hit a whole new level with Umbra Mortis. Playing up its gothic influences more than their previous albums, this sounds like a brawl between Cradle Of Filth and Lorna Shore, in the grounds of an ancient Romanian castle, rolling around in coffin dirt. Blending Kyle Lamb’s gale force growls with Valis Volkova’s formidable clean vocals, She Must Burn deliver a set of surprisingly accessible songs that, despite the big hooks, never lose their dense, complex brutality. The lyrics are great spooky fun too. It gave me the same kind of gothic gutpunch I had when I first heard Dusk & Her Embrace, but with an added deathcore knuckleduster.
5) Nocturna – Daughters of the Night
An Italian symphonic power metal band with two singers, one named Grace Darkling and the other Ren Stillnight? I think you know what this is going to sound like and, if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna love it. Unashamedly gothic and melodramatic, this also brings the shred, the soprano and the symphonies like bats out of Hell (or at least Milan). It’s the kind of album that will utterly alienate anyone who doesn’t like power metal because it leans so hard and heavily into the genre’s tropes, but if you want some vampiric lyrics and macabre melodies that’ll make your broken heart weep tears of obsidian joy, look no further than this magnificent debut.
4) Atomic Guava – Peasants of the Future
Describing Peasants of the Future is not an easy brief. It’s… kind of everything, chopped to pieces, stuffed in a blender, poured out, set on fire, shot into space and plunged into the ocean. They take in pirate metal, deathcore, hardcore, death metal, rap, J-pop, melodic metal, prog, and end on a sea shanty because why not? But this is far from a novelty record, it’s packed with gut-wrenching, emotive lyrics, clever concepts and musical complexity that you’d never expect from a band who all look like they’re about 12 years old. Atomic Guava are a group of genuine prodigies and I swear you’ll hear their name a lot more over the next few years. Peasants of the Future is frankly amazing.
3) BRIDEAR – Aegis of Athena
One of Japan’s premier melodic metal outfits celebrate their 10 year anniversary with the release of their best album yet, Aegis of Athena. Opening with 9 minutes of progressive power metal perfection – Side Of A Bullet – the rest of the album just bombards the listener with hook after hook after hook. Every song is catchy and you can sing the chorus by heart after the first play, but if you listen deeper, you’ll hear the richness of the songwriting and the quality of the musicianship. BRIDEAR weave beautiful, elaborate sonic tapestries.
2) Ghost – Impera
I really thought I’d lost interest in Ghost after Prequelle turned them into a full-blown novelty band and yet here I am with Impera at #2. I don’t quite know what happened. I guess it was the monumental Watcher In The Sky that brought me back in but then the rest of this aggressively addictive album is pretty hard to resist too. It’s unashamed pop-metal in an era where melody is uncool and no one really writes big singalong stadium choruses any more. I get why there’s a lot of hate towards it, but damn, Impera blew down my walls of defence like the trumpets of Jericho (although, thankfully, they left the brass section at home this time). There’s not a bad track on here. Nor one that you won’t find yourself spontaneously singing around the house (or crypt) when you least expect it.
1) Visions of Atlantis – Pirates
I already said all I needed to say about Pirates here in a very rare 10/10 review but my opinion hasn’t shifted at all. There was such a huge gap between this and the other 9 on the list for me. It’s pretty much my idea of a perfect album. Go read the review then get a ticket for the sublime symphonic metal pirate cruise they’re offering you. You won’t regret it.
YESTERDAY, TODAY, EVERYDAY HEAVY METAL!! 🤘🏻👍👊
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CJ Lines is a metalhead, writer, podcaster, ninja historian, master of K-pop, and award-winning pie-maker. He’s written two books. He lives in Sheffield, U.K. Follow him on Twitter at @cjlines