The Heavy Metal Review

Best Metal Albums of 2020

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2020 … what a year! Here are the albums that helped get me through it.

10. Black Rainbows – Cosmic Ritual Supertrip

Cosmic Ritual Supertrip album art

This is the first Black Rainbows album I’ve ever listened to and it stuck with me. The band definitely gives off Monster Magnet vibes, but they also deliver their own brand of super catchy, psychedelic rock.

9. Midnight – Rebirth by Blasphemy

Rebirth by Blasphemy album art

I’m a sucker for good black ‘n’ roll music. And Midnight delivers some of the finest black ‘n’ roll around.

8. Terminal Nation – Holocene Extinction

Run the Jewels released the best hip-hop and protest album of the year with Run the Jewels 4. And if you’re looking to stay angry/motivated in 2021 … I highly recommend Terminal Nation. Study these lyrics.

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Written by Eric

December 31, 2020 at 10:58 pm

Best Metal Albums of 2019

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There were a lot of great metal releases in 2019. Here are some of my favorites!

12. Avatarium – The Fire I Long For

Leif Edling of Candlemass founded Avatarium, and here you get the former band’s epic doom riffs mixed with a helping of classic, psychedelic and occult rock influence. Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals are awesome, too.

11. Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings

I did a lot of soul searching to close out 2019 and Obsequiae’s “renaissance fair” metal makes for some epic background music. It’s equal parts atmospheric black metal and medieval-inspired hooks.

10. Astrophobos – Malice of Antiquity

I didn’t know much about Astrophobos going into this record, but I was quickly hooked on their mid-paced black metal groove. The band does the faster tempo stuff well too, if you like your black metal spicy.

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Lost List: Best Metal Albums of 2018

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Blast from the past! Here are my favorite metal albums released back in 2018.

10. Tribulation – Down Below

Tribulation continues to move forward with its on trend, original blend of goth ’n’ roll. Down Below sounds like the album Led Zeppelin would have made if it truly did make a deal with the devil.

9. Soulfly – Ritual

No matter what you think of Soulfly, there’s no doubt that Max Cavalera still has got some tasty riffs up his sleeve. And really, the last couple albums from the band have been solid. Another worthy listen.

8. Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods

It’s Immortal’s big comeback, minus Abbath. Is it good? Yes it is.

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Written by Eric

January 10, 2020 at 9:35 pm

Best Metal Albums of 2018 So Far

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Halfway through 2018! Here are the albums I enjoyed so far!

5. Nervosa – Downfall of Mankind


Nervosa has released the thrash metal album to beat in 2018. The all-female, Brazilian power trio isn’t afraid to get political, but the energetic riffs and pure aggression are what will keep you coming back for more.

4. Exmortus – The Sound of Steel


Between Exmortus, Visigoth and Gatekeeper, the traditional metal banner is still being held high in 2018. The Sound of Steel sees Exmortus stepping up its already stellar shred game to the next level.

3. Tribulation – Down Below


Tribulation continues to move forward with its on trend, original blend of goth ’n’ roll. Down Below sounds like the album Led Zeppelin would have made if it truly did make a deal with the devil.

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Written by Eric

July 1, 2018 at 9:00 pm

Lost List: Best Metal Albums of 2017

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Foiled again! I never actually posted my best of 2017 list here back when I created it, so you’re getting it halfway through 2018. I certainly don’t regret any of the albums I placed on this list.

10. Paradise Lost – Medusa


Paradise Lost is another band that I was late to the hype train on, but Medusa grew on me after repeat listens and its arguably the best doom metal album of 2017. Feeling some Type O influence here too!

9. Myrkur – Mareridt


Myrkur continues to advance her atmospheric extreme metal in a way that is intriguing and also still “true” on Mareridt, despite what the haters may say. Her growls are impressive. I wish there were more.

8. Havok – Conformicide


I debated placing Havok higher on my list, as Conformicide is the closest thing we have to old school Megadeth right now. And the bass playing is stellar on this album. The only real negative here is that certain tracks run noticeably long.

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Written by Eric

July 1, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Best Metal Albums of 2016

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All right! Back on track. Here is my “Top 10” list for 2016.

10. Borknagar – Winter Thrice


I’ll admit I never really even discovered progressive black metal supergroup Borknagar until this year. And I was even late to the game on listening to Winter Thrice, but I was totally on board the minute I hit play on epic opener “The Rhymes of the Mountain.” And if black metal isn’t your thing, this album features a heavy dose of fantastic clean vocals. This is also a great listen in the cold of January and February.

9. Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep of Reason


2012’s Koloss was in my top 10 from that year and 2016’s The Violent Sleep of Reason continues the trend. It’s at times a harsher, less structured listen than Koloss and the music takes a few spins to digest. The album is driven by Dick Lovgren’s bass and Thomas Haake’s drums (the duo get the majority of songwriting credits here), and because of this, Meshuggah’s The Violent Sleep of Reason feels fresh and full of groove.

8. Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake


If you found Metallica’s Hardwired…To Self Destruct to be enjoyable, but a little too long-winded in the back half, then Testament’s Brotherhood of the Snake is the album for you. It’s a 45 minute thrash thrill-ride that demands repeat listens. In the words of Chuck Billy “smoke ’em if ya got ’em.” Preach on, brotha.

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Written by Eric

December 31, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Lost List: Best Metal Albums of 2015

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Once you get a paying gig as a writer and editor your blogs tend to go by the wayside—at least that was the case for me in 2015 and 2016. However, before posting my Best of 2016 list, I thought I’d dig up the list for 2015 that I actually did put together last year, but somehow never managed to actually post on here.

As usual, let’s start it up with No. 10!

10. Gama Bomb – Untouchable Glory


I’ve been a casual fan of Irish thrash revivalists Gama Bomb ever since listening to Citizen Brain and Tales from the Grave in Space (I think I discovered both in 2009 or so). The band is very comparable to Municipal Waste in terms of lyrics/style, but Gama Bomb delivers that extra “oomph!” of pure thrash with less hardcore styling in the vocals. And its those same vocals that catapulted Untouchable Glory to the No. 10 spot.

9. Black Breath – Slaves Beyond Death


I got real into Black Breath’s Sentenced to Life back in 2012. The album pulled a lot of inspiration from Entombed. In 2015 Black Breath released Slaves Beyond Death, which wins the band some originality points and also ups the ante with the riffs. Riffs that’ll make you say “ugh.” And then get into the pit.

8. Lamb of God – VII: Sturm and Drang


VII: Sturm Und Drang is Lamb of God’s comeback album in two ways—it is the band’s best front-to-back album since 2006’s Sacrament and it also is the first to be released following vocalist Randy Blythe’s Czech Republic prison ordeal (in which he was eventually found not criminally liable for a fan’s death). Perhaps because of this tragedy—or in spite of it—the band delivers its most inspired performance in years.

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Written by Eric

December 31, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Posted in Best Of

The Heavy Metal Review’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2014

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Yes, it’s now well into 2015 and I haven’t posted on this blog since my ‘Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013’ list. Life happened. However, still like putting these lists together for my own personal review of the year in metal.

Here’s my list starting with No. 10!

10. Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed


Most musical “supergroups” tend to sound better on paper than in actual practice. And while Killer Be Killed’s debut, featuring The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, Soulfly’s Max Cavalera, Mastodon’s Troy Saunders and former Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch, does have a few filler tracks, it provides a mostly consistent listen, where the “supergroup” star of the show is the vocal efforts from the three frontmen.

9. Skull Fist – Chasing the Dream


I’ll admit I was late to the game in checking out Skull Fist’s Chasing the Dream (and it was actually my point of entry for the band’s music). The follow-up to the group’s 2011 debut, Head of the Pack, is an infectious blend of unadulterated speed metal, combined with all the guilty pleasures of the ’80’s glam scene. This album quickly catapulted into my top 10 on first listen. Skull Fist delivers.

8. Opeth – Pale Communion


While Opeth surprised many longtime fans by going “full prog” (you never go full prog) on 2011’s Heritage, the band dialed things back just a tad on Pale Communion, returning with some heavy moments, while still embracing the new sound. This is the effort of a band perfecting its musical direction and fans that haven’t fully rejected the new Opeth flavor can rest assured there is plenty more awesomeness still to come.

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Written by Eric

April 19, 2015 at 6:57 pm

Bonus List: Top 2 Rock Albums of 2013

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Mark 2013 as the year I became a fan of Clutch with Earth Rocker and the year Alice in Chains continued to keep radio rock tolerable with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (seriously, this disc gets a ton of play on the radio in these parts at least). While both albums could fall under the category of metal – and were reviewed on this very site – they are more rock than metal.

Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here


Alice in Chains is on a roll with its post-Layne Staley era releases. In fact, my biggest complaint for The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here was it felt like William Duvall wasn’t allowed to take charge as often as I would like to see (check out “Phantom Limb”/”Hung on a Hook” I want more of this!). Jerry Cantrell continues to deliver as always though in a proper balancing of trademark grooves and melancholic acoustic numbers.

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Written by Eric

January 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm

The Heavy Metal Review’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013

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Another year down and a pretty memorable one in terms of music released. While I haven’t been keeping up-to-date with the reviews, it still feels right to once again share the albums that stuck with me the most.

10. Chimaira – Crown of Phantoms

Crown of Phantoms

Chimaira is one of those bands metal elitists (and the review section of Decibel magazine) always seems to hate on year after year, passing them off as somewhat generic tough-guy music that spawns the macho crowd you don’t need at a metal show. However, I was a big fan of 2009’s The Infection and now 2013’s Crown of Phantoms. Mark Hunter delivers his usual brand of guttural vocals which you probably know whether or not you like at this point, but it’s guitarist Emil Werstler who gets weird on each track to keep things feeling fresh with fun riffs, fills and squeals. And hey, it’s also a great weight-lifting album!

9. Evile – Skull


Wild card! I have followed UK thrashers Evile’s music over the years and always thought they were the closest thing we have to the good ‘ol days of Metallica, but the band’s music just seemed to be missing that lasting power the Bay Area thrashers had in their heyday. So when I purchased Skull via Amazon MP3 I was expecting sometime highly listenable, but not all that memorable. This is not the case at all. If you are looking for an example, go on YouTube and listen to the song “Head of the Demon.” The entire album is like a mix of Slayer meets Testament meets Metallica thrash goodness. Give it a spin!

8. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed

Serpents Unleashed

Skeletonwitch puts on a mean live show, but the band has never fully managed to capture the full experience of the blackened thrash stage goodness in a studio recording – until now. Serpents Unleashed is a quick and fierce album that never outstays it’s welcome. It also has some of the best metal bass production of the year, with every galloping rhythm and slide played by Evan Linger coming in through the speakers.

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