Best Avante Garde/Psychedelic:
Oranssi Pazuzu (Finland) album - Valonielu (song: Vino Verso (0:28-5:20))
Orannsi Pazuzu does the best job of both being experimental but still being catchy enough to want to listen to them over and over again. They do not alienate. I keep wanting to hear more from them, which is THE sign of great artistry.
Statiqbloom (Brooklyn) album - Mask Visions Poison (song: Vestige Lights (7:17-13:16))
One person project gets the best industrial album of the year. It was a difficult choice between this album and legendary band Skinny Puppy’s offering – which is the best album they have put out for over a decade. Fade from Batillus is a perfectionist, and it shows in the quality of his work. He has put out an industrial album which is nostalgic for when industrial was at its pinnacle. He keeps this album true to its roots: danceable and dark
(Runner-Up:) Skinny Puppy (LA) album - Weapon
Skinny Puppy was my favorite band when I was 13, they influenced my visions of my future. I haven't listened to them for years because I thought they went plastic in their sound, ironic I know, industrial is not organic. Now I heard Weapon, and it takes me right back to the origins of synthesizer and experimental sound in industrial, but in a fun dancey way. This is industrial. And Ogre's voice is unbelievable.
(Runner-up:) Årabrot (Norway) album - Årabrot
Iron Reagan (Virginia) album - Worse than Dead (song: Paycheck (13:52-15:12))
Iron Reagan is not pure punk, but they get close to it. Members of Municipal Waste. I listened to this over and over again this year, it is an easy investment: 25 minutes for the whole album. How punk can you get.
Best Large Sound:
Inter Arma (Virginia) album - Sky Burial (song: Westward (15:57-25:28))
Tons of lead-up to huge massive sound. I akin this to the Body, if the Body had more members.
Runner-Up: Anciients (Vancouver) album - Heart of Oak
Best Rock Sludge:
Phantom Glue (Boston) album - A War of Light Cones (song: Captain Keith Pierce (26:28-29:08))
Produced by a dude from Converge – which is an automatic thumbs up. The sludge is energized with hardcore, and these guys have a great vocalist and tons of tunes that stick in your head after you stop listening.
Runner Up: Black Pyramid (Boston) album - Adversial
Black Pyramid is one of the catchiest albums of the year, I really like these guys, and I think if you like to entertain as much as I do, you would put this album on a lot at the end of each party drinking beer with your best friends.
Best True Sludge:
Fister (St. Louis) album - Gemini (song: III (29:59-34:25))
Fister’s logo is - "if its too slow, you're too young." Sludge makes its drama with its moody thick agonizingly slow beat. Fister makes headway in this genre with their vocals, which are so evil. I love this band, I really do.
Egypt (Fargo) album - Become the Sun (song: Matterhorn (34:50-39:18))
A chick can’t resist a sexy voice crooning bluesy stoner rock. This is a great album to wake up to on the weekend.
Best Grindcore (tie):
Call of the Void (Denver) album - Dragged Down A Dead End Path (song: Breeding Grounds (40:19-44:00))
Colorado grind band that had a very listenable album, even though my ears hurt. Aggressive, and I related.
Best Grindcore (tie):
Rotten Sound (Finland) album - Species at War (song: War (44:21-46:01))
Completely different sound than Call of the Void. Super brutal, very difficult to listen to, which is the point. For weirdos.
Runner-Up: Anorak (France) album - Go Up In Smoke
Best Spin-off Band (tie):
All Pigs Must Die (Boston area) album - Nothing Violates This Nature (song: Chaos Arise (47:11-49:57)
Most brutal and metal of the spin-off contenders.
Best Spin-off Band (tie):
Zozobra (Boston) album - Savage Masters (song: Deathless (50:16-52:55)
Contains most of the members of Cave-In with some guests, this album is catchy, fast, tight, awesome. I couldn’t not pick this, I listened to it too many times.
3. Runner-Up: Doomriders (Boston area) album - Grand Blood
Doomriders come in fast and heavy, I am surprised they didn't get more press, because this album is fantastic. They have so many ideas, and they all work. Brutal experimental hardcore sound, technical and crazed. Grand Blood has awesome catchy riffs too.
4. Runner-Up: Mutoid Man (Boston/California) album - Helium Head
Mutoid Man is influenced by psychedelic rock. The vocals are the Cave-In dude, hence way more accessible. Hoping they play in California since Ben moved here.
Best Heavy/Traditional Metal:
Hell (U.K.) album - Curse and Chapter (song: End Ov Days (53:36-59:06)
This entire album is a blast – let your hair flow into feathered mullet goodness and rise your beer mug high. Make sure you flash your hooters at the lead singer. It won over the others because the lead singer rules.
Runner up: Satan (U.K.) album - Life Sentence
Honorable Mention: Manilla Road (Kansas) album - Mysterium
#1 Band/Best Album of the Year/Best Live Band:
Skeletonwitch (Ohio) album - Serpents Unleashed (song: Unending, Everliving (1:00:17-END!))
One of my favorite bands of all time – a perfect combination of classic and thrash. If you have never seen them live, you must. They are the top live metal act. Super charismatic and ever professional – there is no small show for them. You won’t hear them complain about doing too much coke (Gypsyhawk I am looking at you). This is their fifth studio album, and I think their best. I can’t believe they have yet another album that totally kicks original ass. Super infectious, as they are known to be, and tight as all hell.