Here it is! The long-awaited continuation to this.
Overkill - Ironbound
Whenever older bands arrive with a killer album, reviewers always say the band "has returned to show the kids how it's done". Well in this case, Overkill has returned to rip the kids' heads off their shoulders and crap down their necks. Those kids left alive get a lesson in exactly how it's done: mix one part each of talent, technical ability, craft, production and professionalism, chill and serve. Not just one of my favorite thrash albums of the year, but perhaps my favorite Overkill album since Under the Influence.
Ihsahn - After
What's so impressive about this album, besides the fact that it moves metal into new and interesting directions, is the total commitment this band demonstrates in crafting tracks that all contribute to its singular, brilliant vision. Also, After features the most metal saxophone you'll ever hear outside of an old Mr. Bungle album, but that's just icing on this deliriously dark treat.
Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Part II
It's no surprise that a metal album about addiction is dark. But how about danceable? Yes, there's a full-fledged early '90s industrial-inspired dance track in the middle of this album and that's is just one of the many influences and surprises you'll hear in this atmospheric set. There's also a smattering of black metal, speed, thrash, and just plain old heavy metal in here, which mesh to form an arresting sound that marks a step forward for heavy music in general. Look for my full review soon!
Witchery - Witchkrieg
Another album I'm surprised to not see on other Top Ten lists. Is there some kind of blacklist I'm not privy to? Or perhaps the fifth album from this Swedish supergroup kicks so much ass that weaker listeners just drop dead and can lend it neither praise nor damnation from the grave. This is just a nasty little piece of a record, which moves mercilessly from one brutal track to the next, not leaving a lot of time for reflection.
Orphaned Land - The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR
This is not an easy album to get into. I'm still not sure whether the challenge comes from my own impatience or my misunderstanding of the band's intention, but either way it did not sit comfortably with me. I listened to it in fits and starts when I first got it, and even let it sit unappreciated for about a month, but once I just let go, it all made sense and found regular rotation in my list. This lengthy concept album (expertly produced by the Steven Wilson) is a sublime blend of gorgeous middle-eastern tinged melodies, progressive ideas and harsher passages that rewards repeated listens. There is no overstating the kind of talent and commitment it takes to create something like this.
What did you like in 2010? What are you looking forward to in 2011? Personally, I'm waiting for a progressive band to go completely black metal, reversing the trend we've seen these last few years.