Metalmance’s Top 20 Albums of the Decade

20 of the best albums from 2010-2019.

Album of the Year lists aren’t enough this year. 2019 heralds the end of one of the best decades of metal. Emerging genres have really come to the fore in the past ten years (blackgaze anyone?) whereas we’re all surprised at how metalcore has survived and evolved. With technology advancing, the decade has also seen different consumer habits as well as advances in music technology as a whole. But that’s enough faff and chat. Without further ado, behold my Top 20 Albums of the Decade!


 

20. ORPHANED LANDAll Is One. Release date: 24 June 2013.

I’ve always enjoyed oriental music but hearing it in a metal context was a phenomenal concept to me. When I finally checked out Israel’s ORPHANED LAND I fell in love immediately. To me, they’re still the best ‘oriental metal’ band out there. They mix traditional instruments, metal elements and heartfelt messages so seamlessly it’s hard not to fall under their spell. All Is One is a superb example of the epic anthems they create to help reunite people of all faiths, race and genders. Tracks such as the title track, Freedom and Children emphasise their mission, all the while keeping tracks catchy and heavy. A must-listen for all.


 

19. SLEEPING WITH SIRENSFeel. Release date: 4 June 2013.

Now before you close this post and avoid my blog forever, hear me out here. Every track on SLEEPING WITH SIREN’s Feel is absolute gold. There’s a song for every occasion and emotion and it beckoned the start of their retreat from poisonous emo-pop-punk to the boring rock music they create today. With Feel they get it just right. Personally for me, this album dropped at a huge transitional period of my life so tracks such as Free Now, Congratulations and Satellites became anthems of this time. It’s not only teenagers who relate to Kellin Quinn and co. and their lyrics are more honest and relatable than many of their peers (FALLING IN REVERSE I’m looking at you).


 

18. TESSERACTOne. Release date: 22 March 2011.

I just had to include something by TESSERACT in this list. It was a tough choice between One and Polaris, but I chose One in the end as it was unlike anything I had heard in the metal world. Yeah there was PERIPHERY as well but for me, TESSERACT had a little something extra…mainly the vocal expertise of Daniel Tompkins. The first track I heard was The Impossible – Concealing Fate Part. 3 and I will never forget its melodies, djent and overwhelming atmosphere. In a way One signifies the innocence of the beginning of the djent genre before it became oversaturated by awful bands and copycats. Today it’s evolved into a whole new progressive metal beast but it’s good to look back on One and see how far metal has come.


 

17. AVASTMother Culture. Release date: 26 October 2018.

This decade saw the rise of blackgaze as a genre and it is one of the best things to have ever happened for metal. Mixing black metal and shoegaze to create highly emotive extreme metal is a dream come true. Only a handful of bands are getting the formula right and Norway’s AVAST is one of those bands. Last year’s debut album Mother Culture is a superb example of the heavier end of the genre. Tracks such as the title track and The Birth Of Man show some of the best that AVAST have to offer, but their instrumental tracks also trigger a strong emotional response. Powerful, climatic and devastating, Mother Culture is an important album.


 

16. MOTIONLESS IN WHITEReincarnate. Release date: 15 September 2014.

reincarnate

Metalcore is alive and well and MOTIONLESS IN WHITE have helped the survival of the gothic strain of it. Reincarnate saw the band at their most industrial, experimental and arguably…their catchiest. The guest features on this album are spot on, with the likes of Dani Filth, Maria Brink and Tim Skold making Reincarnate a goth’s wet dream. There is absolutely no filler on this album like a lot of their others, with tracks Break The Cycle and Wasp being some of the best keyboard-led metalcore for years. Now if only MOTIONLESS IN WHITE took the blueprint for The Final Dictvm for the latest albums…


 

15. TIMES OF GRACEHymn of a Broken Man. Release date: 18 January 2011.

I am one of those fans who think the new Jesse Leach-era KILLSWICTH ENGAGE has never surpassed what Leach and Adam D achieved with Hymn of a Broken Man. Yes, TIMES OF GRACE was always meant to be a more melodic and honest project, and remember Howard Jones was still in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE at this point, but Hymn of a Broken Man is one of the most beautiful albums created this decade and few have surpassed its melodic prowess. Live in Love, Where The Spirit Leads Me and Willing are some of the most stirring metal tracks this decade has seen. It’s just a shame the duo decided to lead the album with one of the weaker tracks, Strength in Numbers. Let’s hope they release a new album next year.


 

14. 65DAYSOFSTATICWe Were Exploding Anyway. Release date: 26 April 2010.

65dos

We Were Exploding Anyway was everything I wanted from 65DAYSOFSTATIC. The Sheffield post-rockers have always pushed the boundaries of the genre and have created the most phenomenal sounds. With this album, the band were their most ‘dancey’ and it even saw the inclusion of vocals on Come to Me, but they were very cleverly sliced and used as samples. Mountainhead, Crash Tactics and Piano Fights are some of the most genius songs 65DOS have written and the album as a whole is a delight from start to finish.


 

13. BLEEDING THROUGHThe Great Fire. Release date: 31 January 2012.

The Great Fire

Before the Orange County crew split up in 2014 (and reformed in 2018) the metalcore darlings dropped one of their finest albums to date, The Great Fire. This glorious slab of brutality incorporates every genre that BLEEDING THROUGH can execute so well, metalcore, hardcore, punk, black metal, melodic death metal…tracks like Goodbye To Death and Everything You Love Is Gone are perfect examples of their melting pot of styles. No metalcore band have achieved this again.


 

12. ABORTEDRetrogore. Release date: 22 April 2016.

retrogore

I must admit I was a bit late to the ABORTED fandom, but once I finally got there I was besotted. Retrogore was my first exposure to the Belgian death metallers and it’s still my favourite. Everything just seems to gel on this record and the blackened elements which play a big part on 2018’s Terrorvision come to the fore on this record. Termination Redux and Divine Impediment are brutal gems, dark death metal at its best. The band aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, constantly evolving to remain one of the most terrifying bands out there.


 

11. NORDIC GIANTSA Séance of Dark Delusions. Release date: 20 April 2015.

nordic giants

NORDIC GIANTS are always best to experience live, but 2015’s masterpiece A Séance of Dark Delusions brilliantly captures the intense material this post-rock duo create. The guest vocalists on this album are all outstanding with standout tracks being Dissolve (with SATURDAY SUN), Rapture (with Beth Cannon) and the superb Futures Dark (with Nadine Wild-Palmer). Each tracks tells its own story and every track with vocals could easily be a radio hit, making NORDIC GIANTS your favourite secret.


 

10. EIGHTEEN VISIONSXVIII. Release date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII

C’mon you knew EIGHTEEN VISIONS were going to make an appearance. This was the comeback of the decade for me. In true 18V fashion, their comeback album XVIII sounded unlike anything they have recorded before. The throwback references to earlier material (film samples, insects buzzing and the objects in the artwork) create a nostalgic record which still bludgeons you with modern, crunchy metal. Songs such as Oath and Live Again are the perfect tributes to the band’s roots and their late bassist Mick Morris (RIP). This is definitely an album for the loyal fans, but any lover of heavy, crushing metal will equally enjoy this album.


 

9. SOILWORKThe Ride Majestic. Release date: 28 August 2015.

soilwork

The kings of melodic death metal, SOILWORK seem to get better with age. The Ride Majestic is a sublime album by the modern version of SOILWORK. This is an absolute belter from start to finish. Some old school fans look down on it for not being Natural Born Chaos 2.0, but this album is the full package. The vocals, lyrics, instrumentation, flow of the album are outstanding. When their peers are crashing and burning, SOILWORK have evolved and grown to be the melodic death metal darlings they are today. The title track, Death In General and the stirring finale Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down are some of my favourite songs of the decade. The fact that the band are still going strong is a blessing.


 

8. BLACK CROWN INITIATE Selves We Cannot Forgive. Release date: 22 July 2016.

blackcrowninitiateselves

Selves We Cannot Forgive was my first ever Album of the Year when I started this blog back in 2016. It has stood the test of time and cemented itself as one of my favourite progressive death metal records of all time. There has been a surge of progressive death metal bands in the past few years and BLACK CROWN INITIATE remain one of the best. This album exhibits the best aspects of the genre, with tracks such as Belie The Machine and For Red Cloud providing the brutality, and the title track and Again providing the soaring melodies. This album has it all.


 

7. DYSCARNATEAnd So It Came To Pass. Release date: 27 February 2012.

and so it came to pass

DYSCARNATE’s last album With All Their Might topped my AOTY list back in 2017, but I couldn’t have two of their albums in my top 20 of the decade so I’ve opted for their phenomenal second album And So It Came To Pass. If you’re still unfamiliar with this death metal trio (yes, they’re a trio and still heavier than most bands) then you are seriously missing a trick here. A band haven’t been this brutally groovy since…well…forever. And So It Came To Pass is a tremendous example of this, with The Promethean, In The Face of Armageddon and A Drone In The Hive bringing the hardest bangers of the album. Fingers crossed there will be a new album in the new year!


 

6. DREAMSHADEThe Gift of Life. Release date: 25 January 2013. 

gift of life

DREAMSHADE are always such a treat. These Swiss metalcore lovelies are still relatively unknown yet every album is an absolute blinder. 2013’s album The Gift of Life saw the band hit their stride. Photographs, Your Voice and Consumed Future are some of the best metalcore tracks you haven’t heard yet. Not only do DREAMSHADE write catchy songs but somehow their riffs are hella catchy too. A super slick and polished beast, DREAMSHADE are currently working on a new album and it promises to be another stellar effort.


 

5. DISTORTED HARMONYChain Reaction. Release date: 9 July 2014.

chain reaction

Discovering DISTORTED HARMONY was one of the best things I did in the past few years. Their progressive metal is fuelled by melodies and heart. Their second album Chain Reaction has just the right amount of technicality and melody to make it a beautifully balanced record. The charm and passion oozes out of this record with tracks such as Every Time She Smiles, Hollow and Natural Selection being some of the most stirring. With the ever-growing prog metal scene it takes something special to standout from the rest of the pack these days, these guys have got it.


 

4. MAYBESHEWILLI Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone. Release date: 30 May 2011. 

maybeshewill

So this is my third and final post-rock album in this list. I Was Here For A Moment, Then I Was Gone is my favourite of them all, for a number of reasons. The main one being, the album triggers the biggest emotional response of any album without vocals. It demonstrates the sheer, emotional power that rock instruments have. The melodies and climaxes are sublime, there’s no other post-rock albums quite like this one. Another reason why this ranks so highly is because MAYBESHEWILL were one of the pioneers of British post-rock and they are very sorely missed by fans. Just listen to the song Accolades, Critical Distance and Red Paper Lanterns and you’ll see what I mean.


 

3. EARTHSIDEA Dream In Static. Release date: 23 October 2015.

earthside

There are few bands who make a huge impact with their debut album like EARTHSIDE have. This is modern prog rock at its finest. But the thing that EARTHSIDE has that sets them apart from the rest is their expert musicianship. Each member is an incredibly talented musician and this talent can be heard in the ambition of their tracks. They execute their brilliance without any pretentious fluff and they scored some of the best vocalists in the business to elevate their tracks to new levels (see: Crater, the title track and Mob Mentality). With a new album being recorded as we speak, we can expect big things from the rising proggers.


 

2. MØLJord. Release date: 13 April 2018.

mol

It’s probably no surprise MØL have ranked so highly on this list, considering they were my Album of the Year last year. It’s been warming to see Jord resonating with other people so strongly. Songs such as Storm, Bruma and Penumbra are some of the most striking blackgaze tracks of the past decade. Their shoegaze riffs, black metal vocals and chilling melodies add up to a spectacular album. I’ve already written so many words about this album but I never run out of praise to say about it. Emotion and soul drip from every note and syllable screamed. A phenomenal album by one of the most promising acts around.


 

1 . ANAAL NATHRAKHVanitas. Release date: 23 October 2012.

vanitas

Behold, my album of the decade! ANAAL NATHRAKH have always been one of the best extreme metal acts from Britain, but 2012’s Vanitas shows the band at their most ambitious and polished. These songs are huge! I honestly don’t know where to start with this album. A lot of their albums prior (and after) have a few standout tracks and the rest are forgettable. Vanitas has banger after banger, with every track being its own individual beast you’ll remember for a long time to come. Yes, Forging Towards The Sunset and To Spite The Face are incredible, but can we just talk about album finale A Metaphor For The Dead? With one of the most climatic choruses the band have ever written, along with some of the most devastating riffs, it has gone down in history as my favourite album closer of all time. A strong statement I know but once you hear it for yourself, you may agree! Every great album needs a powerful closer and Vanitas concludes in such a roaring fashion, you feel compelled to start over again. After seven years no album has topped this for me.

Roundup – Oct & Nov 2019

The top releases of the past two months and soundbite reviews

So life got in the way and I didn’t manage to publish my October roundup. Instead I’m mixing both October and November ahead of my Album of the Year list which is in progress. This roundup also sees some ‘Soundbite Reviews’ of albums I wanted to review when I was on my blogging hiatus, but they’re too good to completely forget so I’m happy to share them with you now! Also featured is one of my favourite discoveries since the last roundup. Keep reading for a gem from the archive and see you for my AOTY!


 

Metalmance’s Discovery of October/November

DEVOTION

I have to be honest here, I’ve been aware of German post-hardcore group DEVOTION for a couple of years but never really followed them after the release of single Hiraeth in 2017. September saw the release of new EP Your Love Never Found A Home In Me and it is a collection of five heart-felt and emotionally stirring songs. From the powerful Apnea to the melodic Discordance, this EP blasts and shimmers its way through the realms of post-hardcore. The thing I enjoy most about DEVOTION is the sheer passion dripping from every screamed word and every note. This is one appealing feature of the genre anyway but DEVOTION get the balance of passion and power just right. Stunning and stirring stuff.


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of October and November

October and November have been absolutely mad for releases! There have been some disappointments along the way (LEPROUS for me) as well as some absolute bangers (IVY CROWN, LACUNA COIL, DESPISED ICON and VOYAGER I’m looking at you) so it’s been hard to pick just three across the two months.

1

HOUR OF PENANCEMisotheism. Release date: 25 October.

Even though I’ve been a fan of Rome’s death metal troupe HOUR OF PENANCE for a number of years now, I somehow forgot their eighth album Misotheism was being released this year. This only meant their album knocked me for six when it did drop in October, and I’ve felt sorry ever since. Easily their best body of work to date, Misotheism is everything HOUR OF PENANCE stands for, and more. Beastly riffs for days mate, but songs such as The Second Babel and Lamb Of The Seven Sins threatened to rip my face off with their sheer savagery. This is exactly how I imagine a DECAPITATED and ABORTED lovechild would sound like, but HOUR OF PENANCE makes everything sound more evil and brutal. Absolutely incredible, this is one album of the year contender for sure.

 

2

ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – Walk Beyond The Dark. Release date: 15 November.

The announcement earlier in the year of a new ABIGAIL WILLIAMS album sent me into a bit of a frenzy! Having been besotted since debut EP Legend, ABIGAIL WILLIAMS have always been one of my favourite black metal bands. They have never quite fitted into the scene which is probably one of the main appeals of them. Later down the line their sound ended up more expansive and experimental and new album Walk Beyond The Dark continues on this thread but with added vigour. The break has done the band good as tracks such as I Will Depart and Sun and Moon sound as ambitious and as devastating as ever. ABIGAIL WILLIAMS sound more focussed and ferocious than before. It’s so nice and refreshing that a comeback album doesn’t suck nor resort on nostalgia. All hail ABIGAIL WILLIAMS.

 

3

SIGNS OF THE SWARMVital Deprivation. Release date: 11 October.

I’ve always enjoyed SIGNS OF THE SWARM but I REALLY enjoy Vital Deprivation. Their slamming deathcore is up there with WITHIN DESTRUCTION for me and this new album exposes the band at their fastest, filthiest, most unforgiving and most punishing. An absolutely brutal ride from start to finish, it is another quality release from Unique Leader Records. Songs such as Malformed Dissonance and Tempting Death show some of the best material the scene has to offer. Now with a solidified line-up and quality albums under their belts, there’s no reason as to why SIGNS OF THE SWARM can’t invade the wider metal world.


 

Soundbite Reviews

Below are independent releases which I’ve been enjoying but haven’t had the time to dedicate a full review to. One thing I want to include more in my blog is coverage of independent releases. Over time due to receiving bigger promos I’ve lost sight of what I originally wanted Metalmance to be a platform for; underground and unsigned bands. Each release below deserves your attention. Take the plunge!

 

ISBJÖRGIridescent. Release date: 26 April 2019.

The Danes are leading the way in all sub-genres of heavy music it seems! What about piano prog you may be asking? Well, ISBJÖRG have you covered. Back in April, this talented group released their debut album Iridescent and it is an incredible effort. Emotionally stirring and ambitious, their songs are full of emotion and progressive drama. Vocalist Niklas Jespersen sounds like he was made to sing alongside Mathias Bro Jørgensen’s piano playing. Songs such as Stockholm Reversed are poppy and piano-heavy whereas While The Sunlight Grace The Mourning has a dark undertone and NORDIC GIANTS vibes. Sometimes not all the instruments and vocals quite gel, but the music is so honest and natural, it ends up being a part of the charm. Once ISBJÖRG have refined their sound, they’ll give the melodic prog-rock bands a run for their money.

 

GHOST ON MARSLost Signals. Release date: 9 October 2019.

Italian dark metallers GHOST ON MARS have unleashed their debut EP Lost Signals and it’s a bold and polished effort. Channelling the dark melodies and ballsy riffs of their fellow countrymen LACUNA COIL, GHOST ON MARS still sound like a band trying to figure out their sound but the songs are hugely enjoyable to listen to. Songs like The Black Rose and That Time I Saw The Moon feature huge MUSE-esque melodies, with the latter sounding more ‘genuine’ and therefore more easily digestible. For a debut release, it’s a really solid EP. It might be best if the vocalist avoided growling but the clean vocals are top notch. It’s clear all the band are talented musicians and the chemistry is flawless, each component merging into one. With a bit more experience and nurturing of their songwriting, GHOST ON MARS might prove to be a stellar band. 

 

MOON AND AZURE SHADOWAge of Darkness and Frost. Release date: 26 August 2019.

I do get a lot of emails from solo black metallers asking me to review their project and the majority of the time the music is almost too painful to listen to. Sean Yoshioka on the other hand has produced some absolute gold with MOON AND AZURE SHADOW. Seeking to combine aspects of Japanese soundtracks with atmospheric black metal, latest album Age of Darkness and Frost is definitely an interesting and different beast. The title track is a perfect example of this unique hybrid of styles and sounds like IHSAHN atop a Japanese mountain. It’s almost as if the word ‘ethereal’ was invented for this album alone. This is one solo project that you wish would expand to a full band, just to flesh out the sound to its full potential. Promising stuff from a talented and passionate black metal musician. More please.


 

From The Archive

If you follow American proggers EARTHSIDE on social media you will have seen the band are FINALLY underway with album number two. After their spectacular debut album A Dream In Static was released way back in 2015 I’ve been an avid fan and eagerly anticipating their next release! Back in early 2017 I caught up with guitarist/mastermind Jamie Van Dyck about the release of their video for the title track, featuring TESSERACT’s Daniel Tompkins. You can read a snippet of the interview below and follow the link to the original post:

I think music videos are inherently somewhat of an abstract art form, given the lack of dialogue and how the plot cut-ins are interspersed with band performance shots[…]A lot of our A Dream In Static album deals with the internal struggle of having these lofty seemingly unattainable dreams and then a self-doubt that sets in. Our character confronts the manifestation of her self that is a shell of herself, a fear of what she may become. But when you let that fear consume you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Earthside – A Dream In Static Video, an interview with Jamie Van Dyck

Earthside – A Dream In Static Video

A quick chat with Earthside’s Jamie van Dyck about their spellbinding new video.

Back in 2015 New Haven’s EARTHSIDE released their stunning debut album A Dream In Static and 2016 saw the band tour Europe and North America, sharing stages with the likes of LEPROUS, VOYAGER and VOLA. They have now kicked off 2017 with a spellbinding music video for the breath-taking track featuring none other than TESSERACT’s Daniel Tompkins. An emotionally compelling song such as this needs a strong visual accompaniment to do the song justice. Luckily, with the amazing filmmaking talent of Silent Flight Productions, EARTHSIDE have created such a video which is set to attract new fans for this ridiculously talented band. Guitarist Jamie van Dyck kindly let Metalmance pick his brains about the new video. You can read the interview after you give yourself a new year treat by watching A Dream In Static below!

 

 

Firstly, I just want to congratulate you on how visually powerful the video is. An emotionally strong song like A Dream In Static deserved an equally compelling video and you guys have achieved this. A Dream In Static has always seemed to be a fan favourite, has a video accompaniment for the song always been in mind?

Jamie: Thank you! Yes, we’ve always wanted to do a video for this song. Since the album’s release, we’d been lamenting not having had the proper opportunity to give this song its time in the spotlight, and we’re thrilled that we can now give A Dream In Static its due.

I’m sure it will be well received! My interpretation of the video is how unobtained dreams can haunt to affect the present, how personal battles show both the light and dark of the human psyche. Is the video concept along these lines?

Jamie: I think music videos are inherently somewhat of an abstract art form, given the lack of dialogue and how the plot cut-ins are interspersed with band performance shots. You’re thematically on with what we’re hoping to evoke. A lot of our A Dream In Static album deals with the internal struggle of having these lofty seemingly unattainable dreams and then a self-doubt that sets in. Our character confronts the manifestation of her self that is a shell of herself, a fear of what she may become. But when you let that fear consume you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Speaking of music videos being an abstract art form, your previous video for Mob Mentality was very theatrical. There is a strong cinematic feel to your music, is composing for film something EARTHSIDE would like to venture into?

Jamie: Absolutely. We aren’t music journalists, but when pressed to editorialize ourselves, we describe our music as Cinematic. Composing for film/TV and for video games poses a unique challenge where the music serves to heighten the medium its accompanying. As a composer, I often find creative constraints to be inspiring rather than limiting, so I would really enjoy that opportunity assuming that I was collaborating with a filmmaker/game designer whose aesthetic and way of communicating meshed well with mine, and I think my bandmates would feel similarly. We feel that our debut album paints many emotions and aspects of the human experience, a breadth that I think is necessary to accompany something as dynamic as a full-length feature film.

Have you collaborated with Silent Flight Productions before? Or do you try and work with new people each time?

Jamie: This is our first time working with Silent Flight. Erez is a 21-year old rising film maker who’s made several prominent videos in our genre. He reached out to us many months ago about wanting to do a video, and over time, this opportunity evolved and came together to involve him as our collaborator. Over the next few years, he’ll be primarily shifting his focus to a feature film so I don’t know how available he’ll be to take on more music video projects. But perhaps one day he will be our foray into film scoring!

Thanks for your insight Jamie! Last question, what would you like EARTHSIDE to achieve in 2017?

Jamie: With this video as a jumping-off point to 2017, we hope that our music will reach more people and continue to move those who have already found us. We also want to cultivate more of our individual interests within music, with Frank doing more producing, me offering rock/metal theory tutorials and composition lessons over Skype, Ben more actively pursuing drumming as far as session work and Skype lessons, and Ryan streaming online more with his gaming.

As a collective, a successful 2017 will mean foremost finding that creative space and gaining that momentum where we’re on a hot streak where ideas are flowing and the excitement about the music that we’re making together is palpable. Those group creative rolls come and go so we just have to get at it, let ourselves have the time to find that groove, and then ride those waves as far as each one will take us. For me as a musician, the mystery of having no idea what we will compose and just having faith that it will pour out of us is at once exhilarating and anxiety-inducing, and I love it more than anything.

Happy 2017!

——–

If you want to read more what Metalmance had to say about the album A Dream In Static, then you can follow the link below.

Weekly Roundup #10 feat. EARTHSIDE

But if you’re more interested in learning about the story behind the actual song, then you can watch the video below when EARTHSIDE discusses A Dream In Static.