Gorguts – Colored Sands
This is a trendy pick for best record of the year, but there’s a good reason for that. Gorguts did a great job of making terrifyingly heavy music with a ton of dynamics, backed up by some of the best musicianship I heard all year.
Opul - Personnel
I might be biased because I had the privilege of making music with Matt for many years, but he has such an incredible sense of melody. I find myself going back to this EP over and over again. I just wish it was a full-length.
Zevious - Passing Through The Wall
This record was an incredible step in the band’s evolution. They’ve gotten heavier and more complex since their jazzier early stuff. You could practically headbang to this one.
Tidal Arms - Tidal Arms
These guys pushed their sound in every direction on this one. Perfect tones, tons of melodic depth and just enough of sludginess.
Call of the Void – Dragged Down A Dead End Path
This is one seriously pissed off record and I love it. Violent and tight as all hell.
Sun Woman - Sun Woman
I hope this band gets the attention they deserve soon. Imagine if Nirvana and Converge had a kid.
Ocrilim - Infamin
This might be my favorite thing that Mick Barr has done so far. While I enjoy when he pummels me with shreddy goodness, this album has so much more vibe than a lot of his other stuff. It’s downright creepy at times.
Kayo Dot - Hubardo
Hubardo is one of the most confounding pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. I’m not entirely sure I get it yet. But the parts I do get are some of the best stuff I’ve heard in a while. I have a feeling I’m going to like this even more as time goes on.
Subrosa - More Constant Than The Gods
It took me a lot of listens before I really started to enjoy their last record, but this one hooked me right away. Subrosa makes really beautiful doom with some unique instrumentation.
Intronaut – Habitual Levitations
This record appeals to the King Crimson loving dork in me. Polyrhythms for miles. The rhythmic trade offs in the opening of The Welding make me smile.
Vaura – The Missing
Here’s another record I haven’t fully digested yet, but I love how far these guys have pushed their sound. This one is definitely less metal than their debut and I think that’s a good thing. It’s funny how when you put a shit-ton of amazing musicians in one band good things tend to happen.
Ulcerate – Vermis
It’s another Ulcerate record. You pretty much know what it sounds like before you hear it. But that doesn’t make it any less awesome.
Inter Arma - Sky Burial
There are moments in this album that feel like Pink Floyd decided to make a doom record. I like the pace of this record a lot and I think these guys pick all the right times to step on the accelerator.
Ken Mode - Entrench
It’s not like I didn’t like the first few Ken Mode records. They were all really good, but I just never quite got sucked into what they were doing. This one changes everything. This record doesn’t give you the option of listening passively. It grabs you by the throat.
Meek Is Murder - Everything is Awesome Nothing Matters
Everything Meek Is Murder puts out kills. It’s just always so short! My favorite part about the new one is how much melody Keller fits into his guitar parts. There is some borderline neoclassical shit going on there.
Castevet – Obsian
I feel like this is a tough record to describe. It probably gets lumped in with a lot of the new school American black metal that’s prevalent these days, but this goes pretty far beyond that. Obsian is incredibly dense from a melodic perspective and features tons of jagged rhythmic ideas. I hate using the word epic, but it works here.
Kevin Hufnagel - Ashland
Kevin’s 3rd appearance on this list! These baritone ukelele pieces are beautiful and thought-provoking. I especially enjoy the “prepared” percussive sections.
Big Business - Battlefields Forever
I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’ll probably never like anything these guys do as much as I liked Here Come The Water Works and Mind The Drift. That said, they’re still one of the best bands on the planet. Everything they do is so infectious and fun. This record is no exception.
Revocation – Revocation
This album is the logical extension of what these guys have been doing the last few years. It’s just pushed harder and farther. The musicianship is top notch and it’s fun and shreddy without being goofy. I like to think of what these guys do as a more aggressive version of Rust In Peace era Megadeth. That makes me happy. Also, +1,000,000,000 bonus points for the Dyers Eve cover.
Mutoid Man - Helium Head
This was a pleasant surprise for me. Mutoid Man is heavy and messy and fun. Dig it.
As always, I’m not listing anything I contributed to, but please check out the new El Drugstore record Plague Ship, as well as Redaction Artifacts by East of the Wall. Also be sure to check out all the great stuff we put out through Nefarious Industries this year, including releases from Seven Nines & Tens, A Fucking Elephant, Pigeon, Diego Manuschevich, Jar’d Loose, Maid Myriad and Bangladeafy.