I'm drawn back to this empty screen each year to secrete my opinion on what I enjoyed this year. I've been doing it since at least 2009, back when I thought writing about music conferred some kind of numinous insight into music. I listen to a lot of bullshit and I'm cynical as hell. Sometimes, I leap out of my chair and whip my (no) hair back and forth in ecstacy. Some of those discs did that to me this year. Here's a numbered list of them.
1. Gazpacho - Molok
These guys are out of this world. Prog rock that's actually progressive and actually rock. It runs from ancient esoterics to futurist wanderings. This is such a trip. At the end there's this code that might blow the world up. For a second there, I tensed up and clenched my eyes tight...
2. Ghost - Meliora
It's pop music painted black. If metal had something close to Pet Sounds, this might be it.
3. Melechesh - Enki
Invoking ancient evil never sounded so badass.
4. Four Year Strong - Four Year Strong
Pop-punk? Fuck off, Tom. This can't be good. Actually no, fuck you. It's brilliant.
5. Hellions - Indian Summer
Saviours of Australian heavy music. Get into them before they burn out in a haze of cocaine dust.
6. Baroness - Purple
Sublime and surreal sounds from Savannah, again. John Baizley is a true artist in every sense.
7. Steven Wilson - Hand.Cannot.Erase
The concept reads like a Hugo winner and sounds like a stoner's dream.
8. Trials - This Ruined World
Thrash done with brains and heart. Riffs born with destinies deeper than "must imitate Metallica" are winners.
9. Soilwork - The Ride Majestic
I never thought Soilwork would make one of these lists again. Boy, I was wrong. Hard.
10. Pyramaze - Disciples of the Sun
lol Power metal. I thought these guys were just a cheap, clean version of Mercenary. Nope. Crisp production and brain-worming hooks do justice to the genre. Finally.
The Honourable Mentions
Gold Award - Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death
Silver Award - Sigh - Graveward
Bronze Award - Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards
14. The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal
15. Deafheaven - New Bermuda
16. My Dying Bride - Feel The Misery
17. Killing Joke - Pylon
18. Cancer Bats - Searching for Zero
19. Earth Caller - Degenerate
20. Born Lion - Final Words