Metal Saves Album Of The Year 2019
Can you believe it? It’s that time once again, another year has passed and another decade is in the books. 2019 has been a strong year for metal across all sub-genres with a wealth of great releases.
It’s been a challenge to narrow down the best of the best but we’ve given it a shot, undoubtedly this will differ from others opinions but this is what Metal Saves considers the top ten strongest releases of this year with an overall winner being decided at the end and some honourable mentions. Feel free to disagree, after all, there is no right answer just a matter of personal taste and opinion.
Age of the Wolf - Ouroboric Trances
Costa Rican death-doom outfit Age Of The Wolf released Ouroboric Trances in May and I first heard of it whilst reviewing for an independent magazine. The album is comprised of epic stoner, doom metal that can rival the likes of Baroness and YOB.
For a relatively small band, this album packs a lot of class into its eight tracks worth of music. The excellent Molten Earth features a beautiful change up towards it’s close, to mention just one of the albums standout moments. In short, if you like your stoner doom metal then be sure to take a look at Age of the Wolf and Ouroboric Trances
Amon Amarth - Berserker
Viking death metallers Amon Amarth dropped yet another heavyweight album and one of their best to date with Berserker in early May. The record features a small number of new tricks pulled by the mighty Swedes that really help evolve their sound in subtle ways. The excellent singles Crack The Sky and Raven’s Flight along with Shield Wall and Fafner’s Gold make this a contender for a top spot among this year's big metal releases and with an extremely popular world tour cycle to boot, you better believe Amon Amarth are in the best form of their career.
Rammstein - Rammstein
The excitement was high for German powerhouse Rammstein’s new studio album and it certainly raised a lot of eyebrows when it finally dropped also in May this year. Playing more like a German EDM album with guitars and drums layered on top, the self-titled effort is incredibly listenable and features no filler among its eleven tracks. Nearly every track will lend itself effortlessly to Rammstein’s live set and send crowds into frenzies. This record is yet another example of Rammstein switching things up and keeping their sound fresh, relevant and appealing.
Rotting Christ - The Heretics
One of this year's albums I was most looking forward to, The Heretics from controversial Greek masters Rotting Christ is insanely atmospheric laced with groove, chugging riffs and is heavy in a way only Rotting Christ can really deliver. The Heretics also lives up to its name with lyrical content continuing the band's open criticism and calling out of organised religions through bleak and creeping metal. Put simply, this is one of 2019’s most unique listens and fully deserves a place on this list.
Tomb Mold - Planetary Clairvoyance
One of death metals hardest working bands, Tomb Mold released Planetary Clairvoyance to critical acclaim in July and you can see our review here in full. Cosmic death metal that pushes the genre to new heights in both heaviness and concept. Tomb Mold have released a lot of material in the short span they have been around and this is by far their crowning achievement to date, a preview of what is to come as they continue to dominate their space like the putrid Lovecraftian monstrosities that they conjure with their music.
Life of Agony - Sound Of Scars
We covered this album in depth upon it’s October release, noting the records raw subject material and concept that follows on from the bands 1994 debut effort. Sound of Scars tackles some hefty and uncomfortable subjects but does so with class and damn fine music. Clearly one of the band’s biggest releases of recent years and one that will go on to be a standout example in their back catalogue. Sound Of Scars has put Life of Agony back on the map, it’s a journey and a deep, personal one at that. This is a record that will speak to and provide comfort for many.
Nile - Vile Nilotic Rites
When it comes to big-name death metal releases this year I struggle to think of a better one than Nile’s phenomenal Vile Nilotic Rites. Another highly anticipated record and one I also wrote about outside of Metal Saves. Nile doesn’t seem to run out of material despite their rigid commitment to a subject (That being Ancient Egypt, for the uninitiated). One of the best death metal releases from and old school band since Cannibal Corpse dropped Red Before Black in my opinion and a releases that proved Nile are not only refusing to slow down but continuing to grow and evolve.
Gatecreeper - Deserted
Another hugely anticipated release for me personally, Gatecreeper returned with Deserted in October which detonated like an atom bomb of death metal. A true prospect of a band, Gatecreeper keep going from strength to strength and can seem to do no wrong at the moment, resulting in rapidly growing popularity. Crowds are eager to eat up their rough, brutal death metal in droves and with Deserted the band hit every single mark they laid down for themselves. A really strong release and if this is a taste of things to come then we are in for some real treats in the future from these guys.
Fuming Mouth - The Grand Descent
Another fantastic album of the summer, Fuming Mouth’s debut full length The Grand Descent released in June and offered up some unique death metal blended with elements of hardcore to create an unexpected yet fantastic hybrid record. A rough stripped-down yet no less frantic and brutal album The Grand Descent was a refreshing release packed with heavy track after heavy track. A record deserving of attention and recognition as much as the band that spawned it, The Grand Descent is hard to ignore and earned its place on this list. You can see our full review here.
Blood Incantation - Hidden History Of The Human Race
This release may not look like an album on the surface but don’t let its short tracklist fool you, it clocks in around thirty-five minutes which in many’s eyes makes it an LP rather than an EP. Either way, this is such a superb release it would be on the list no matter what. A cosmic death metal record that sets the bar for all that follow it. Complete with retro sci-fi artwork, weird soundscapes and blistering guitar work this is a record that’s found itself on repeat since it’s November release date. Is this isn’t on your honours list this year it would simply be a tragedy, equally if you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favour and check it out.
That’s the top ten, it was a hard-fought battle to get this whittled down to just ten and the list may not be comprised solely of ten out of ten reviewed albums that’s true. Instead, we wanted to put together a list of albums that lasted, while they may have not scored full marks in reviews they are records that remained spinning or streaming a good while after their release. There were a lot of really great albums that dropped this year, great in their own respects and all different from each other. A score at the time of review is an indicator to the albums strength and all the above scored strong points, ultimately it comes down to taste and we hope you check out all the work we review for yourself and make up your own mind, we’re sure you best-of list will differ from ours and that’s just fine.
With all that said and before we move onto the one album that conquered all, we want to give the following releases a huge shoutout and honourable mentions. These albums are the very reason the top ten list was so hard to put together.
Atlantean Kodex - The Course Of Empire
Jinjer - Macro
Municipal Waste - The Last Rager (EP)
Exhumed - Horror
Venom Prison - Samsara
Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind
Possessed - Revelations Of Oblivion
Fallujah - Undying Light
Lacuna Coil - Black Anima
Destruction - Born To Perish
And the winner is...
GATECREEPER - DESERTED - METAL SAVES ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2019
It was really close but Gatecreeper just beat the others the post, as mentioned this is a truly special death metal release from an exciting band on the rise. Modern death metal is in safe hands with the likes of Gatecreeper.
Here's to 2020 and another year of great metal albums! Happy holidays to one and all no matter how your spending it.