November 26, 2010

Top 10 Metal Albums of 2010

Brutal Tunes

Eluveitie - Everything Remains as it Never Was

Back in June, I wrote a list of my choice of the Top 10 Metal Albums of 2010 … so far. I said I’d be revising the list at the end of the year, so here it is.

Accept – Blood of the Nation

Accept - Blood of the nation

Accept – Blood of the Nation

If I had to choose, from all these brilliant albums, my absolute favorite of 2010, Blood of the Nation would be it. A comeback album for the German metal terrors, and what a fucking comeback. Mark Tomillo’s gruff, Brian-Johnsonesque vocals gel so perfectly with the rest of the band, you’d hardly believe he hadn’t been there from the start. To replace a singer as charismatic as Udo and pull off an album THIS good? Millions have tried. Only the Germans could pull it off.

Balls to the Wall and Restless and Wild were such classic albums, you automatically expect any comeback to be mediocre. What Accept have done, and a brilliant job they’ve done too, is recreate the magic of those 80s albums for those of us who missed out. This will be a classic, an album I’ll play to my children and say “You should have been there”.

If you’re staring at the screen in doubt and sauing “Fuck off. It’s a comeback album. It’s Accept without Udo. It can’t be that good,” then go and listen to “Teutonic Terror” and tell me it’s not fucking brilliant. Did you hear the backing vocals? Who does killer backing vocals like Accept? No one, that’s who.

Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time

Blind Guardian - At the Edge of TIme

Blind Guardian – At the Edge of TIme

After A Twist in the Myth, over four years ago (and a mediocre album by BG standards) fans expected to be blown away, and, of course the bards don’t disappoint. There’s not much to say, except that every element – vocals, guitar, bass, drums, choirs, orchestration, composition – come together in a feast of musical delight so typical of Blind Guardian. “Sacred Worlds” and “Tanelorn” will be festival classics, for sure. I love the classic speed metal sound of “Ride Into Obsession” and the classic, unforgettable Blind Guardian sound of “Wheel of Time.”

In terms of lyrical themes (always important with BG) you’ve got a smorgesboard of literary genius, from George R R Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (“War of the Thrones” and “A Voice in the Dark”) to Michael Moorcock (“Tanelorn”) to Milton (“Curse My Name”, “Control Divine”) and Robert Jordan’s wordy epic (“Ride into Obsession”, “Wheel of Time”).

I’ve never read the Wheel of Time books, and don’t intend to begin (I look at them all lined up, and think of everyone I know who’s read them saying “Oh, they’re good until the sixth one …” and I just can’t be bothered) but Blind Guardian make them sound cool.

Blind Guardian – making book nerds awesome since 1986.

Shining – Blackjazz

Shining - Blackjazz

Shining – Blackjazz

I wrote about this album extensively on my previous list. I still think it’s incredible, and worthy to remain. Essentially, you’ve got some avant-garde Norwegians with a keen interest in seeing what happens when you mix black metal and free jazz.

Here’s what I said in June:

It’s like the soundtrack from some future science-fiction jungle jazzhall, space-junkie Fear and Loathing in Los Vagas. It’s not headbanging music .. it’s almost fit for a dance club. A dance club of your nightmares. Vocalist Jørgen Munkeby channels Frank Zappa. There’s a saxaphone. There’s a cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schitzoid Man” that you won’t believe. You’ll either love Blackjazz or hate it, but you can’t argue – it’s bloody unique.

Ihsahn - After

Ihsahn – After

Ihsahn – After

I’ve never really been a Ihsahn fan. Not sure why. Emperor has never been one of my favorite BM bands, and the only solo album I heard was Prometheus, which was, quite frankly, bland. I’m told it’s one of his weaker efforts, and now I see that’s true.

Not so After, an album that reminds us why the word “metal” is in prog metal. Maybe it’s the 8 string – deep and thundering. Maybe it’s the drums, carrying these songs in great charges. Maybe it’s the dark jazz infusion from that ever present saxaphone, sounding like no sax you’d ever known. Maybe it’s the fact this sounds like an Opeth album if Opeth grew some giant testicles. His growls sound so natural, so focused. His clean vocals draw you in, leave you spinning, and that sax … what is it doing there? It’s being awesome, is what.

Best tracks – if I had to pick them (it’s one of those albums that’s particularly good in one, solid chunk) – would be “Undercurrent” and “Frozen Lakes on Mars”.

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR

Orphaned Land – The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR

This is an album that grows on you, month after month. I pull it out now and I still discover new facets of it. You’ll notice most albums on this list utelize instruments outside of the usual “vocals, guitar, bass, drums” metal standard, and Orphaned Land take this a step further with the use of a bunch of traditional Jewish instruments I can’t even pronounce!

If you’re still not sure, listen to “Codeword: Uprising”. I particularly love the drums in this track.

Cynic – Retraced (EP)

Cynic - RE-Traced

Cynic – RE-Traced

Yep, still love this. The US-prog-death dudes we all know and love showed us how one can reinterpret one’s own songs without losing the essence of the song itself. Considerably mellower than most Cynic records, and probably not a favorite of a die-hard Cynic fan out of loyalty for Traced to Air, but yeah, 6 months on and I still love it.

Burzum – Belus

Burzum - Belus

Burzum – Belus

Still one of the best three Burzum albums to date.

Eluveitie – Everything Remains as it Never Was

Eluveitie - Everything Remains as it Never Was

Eluveitie – Everything Remains as it Never Was

Another album that’s really been growing on me in recent months. Yes, Everything Remains ... cannot compete with the ferocity of Slania and Spirit, but I think that’s because we know what to expect from Eluveitie now. They haven’t broken any formulas, forged any new territory here, but they’re still rocking on with their same “Dark Tranquility meets Celtic rock” sound. “Thousandfold” is the standout track here (which yours truly can now nearly play on the whistle).

Krokus – Hoodoo

Krokus - Hoodoo

Krokus – Hoodoo

Here’s what I said last time:

nt with a group of friends to a metal tribute night and a bunch of guys in the pit started heckling the band. “Play some Krokus!” they would yell over and over. Of course, the chant was taken up by most of the venue, since Krokus is such a silly name, and of course the band didn’t know any Krokus, so after every song they would say “and that was Krokus’ ‘Enter Sandman’”, and “From Krokus’ seminal record Chaos AD …” It was great fun, and I had to look up Krokus when I got home.
I own a couple of albums, and they are mediocre. I think that was the joke. I expected Hoodoo to be the same, but it’s actually quite good. The original lineup are back after a 20 year hiatus and are kicking the ass of the Swiss music charts. If you’re looking for a record blazing with pure old-school rock’n’roll, ala ACDC, with a little metal thrown in, Hoodoo is it for 2010. They cover “Born to be Wild”, which I think is a little overdone – especially when they don’t exactly wow you with their rendition, but ignore it and listen to the rest of the album. The best song is definitely “Hoodoo Woman” with a little jungle vibe with the drums and sliding guitars. Yeah, its an AC/DC knock-off, but don’t let that spoil an otherwise enjoyable album.

“Hoodoo Woman” is still on my gym playlist, so I’m keeping Krokus on my top ten list.

Angantyr – Svig

Angantyr - Svig

Angantyr – Svig

I’ll say right up front that Svig (“fraud” in Danish) is not a perfect album. But for me, it still remains one of my favorites of the year. I think it’s the way so many elements have been thrown together, swirled around, cut and chopped and layered to create six compositions of glorious folk-infused black metal. You might know Angantyr from Holmgang, Make a Change … Kill Yourself, and Zahrim, but you’ll know him a lot better after listening to Svig, an album as fraught with emotion as it is with overblown violin sequences.

Six beautiful, haunting compositions, the elements layered one atop the other in a veritable cacophony of melody and counter-melody. Not a guaranteed classic, but an interesting and unique black metal album.

I know each and every one of you will have a completely different list in mind, so throw it up in the comments and let’s debate! Last time I did this list I learned about so many other amazing releases of 2010, so lets here your favorites.

Live long and Metal On

25 Comments on “Top 10 Metal Albums of 2010

Ben 'Eddie' Hobson
June 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm


June 27, 2011 at 7:46 pm

@Ben – keep in mind this list is MY OPINION, and my opinion only. And in “my” opinion, Final Frontier was OK, but nowhere near the calibre of some of my favorite maiden releases. It didn’t wow me like these albums did, and so it doesn’t go on the list. You might feel different, and that’s cool. That’s why there are so many metal bands out there – so we can all pick and choose what we like and no one has to listen to boring shit :)

February 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

i agree with you steff, the final frontier album is just a piece of shit, and i think you move that Blind Guardians album at the 1st place. They realy rock man. \m/

February 21, 2011 at 1:36 am

gonna taste these, already heard Eluveities album. Can anyone gimme a link where can i download high quality black metal s0ngs?? For free of course. ::P

January 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm

The new Blind Guardian was especially good. I kind of wrote them off after hearing an album from them years ago. The orchestration on this album really helps.

January 10, 2011 at 1:01 am

@Jason – I think it’s one of their best in a few years. Which album did you hear? Their first couple of releases are a big turn-off, but “Imaginations from the Other Side”, “Nightfall on Middle Earth” and “Tales of a Twilight World” are their best. And, for me, it’s live where they really stand out.

December 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

K wtf?????? how come ironbound by overkill isn’t on here?? and where is the final frontier by iron maiden???? This list fucking blows

December 30, 2010 at 12:38 pm

@Collin. Remember this list is my personal opinion, and I’m not some kind of world-famous, industry-connected music writer. I’m just a chick from New Zealand. Also, I found Final Frontier really disappointing, which is why it’s not on this list. As for Overkill … ten places, too many good albums. It happens.

December 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Um, MrPolek, I listened to every one of the albums you mentioned…exactly once…then they got used as coasters, frisbees, chew toys, etc.

1. Throes of Dawn – The Great Fleet of Echoes
2. Enslaved – Axioma Ethica Odini
3. Mar de Grisis – Streams Inwards
4. Watain – Lawless Darkness
5. Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
6. Weapon – From the Devil’s Tomb
7. Dawnbringer – Nucleus
8. Blut Aus Nord – What Once Was…Liber I
9. An Autumn for Crippled Children – Lost
10.Procession – Destroyers of the Faith
11. October Tide – A Thin Shell
12. Anathema – We’re Here Because We’re Here
13. Celestiial – Where Life Springs Eternal
14. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones
15. A Forest of Stars – Opportunistic Thieves of Spring
16. Alcest – Ecailles de Lune
17. Withered – Dualitas
18. Martriden – Encounter the Monolith
19. Impureza – La Iglesia Del Odio
20. Vasaeleth – Crypt Born and Tethered to Ruin

December 26, 2010 at 7:01 pm

@Bob I too was very disappointed by the new Iron Maiden album which I have, also, listened to exactly once. I did really enjoy “At War and Pieces” though.

I’ve GOT to hear this Triptykon album, since it’s turned up on practically every other top ten list on the internet. I’ve never liked them, so I never thought to listen to it. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

“Axioma Ethica Odini” is another excellent Enslaved album, which was in my unofficial top twenty. I also really enjoyed Celestial’s release, but I’ve only really heard snippets of a lot of the stuff you listed. I’ve been going off death/black/blackened death over the last year, which has majorly influenced my choices. If I were to make an extreme metal top ten, rest assured I’d probably have chosen 10 albums that appear on your list :)

November 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Completely agree with your No.1. Blood Of The Nations is the best metal album of the year by a long way, in my opinion.

Also nice to say Krokus get a mention. Used to like them, back in the good old days, they always had the reputation of being AC/Dc imitators. The new album is the best thing they’ve doen for years. Shame about the cover version thing, it’s a Krokus trademark, they seem to put a cover version on every album, and most of them aren’t particularly good!

Also liked the Halford and Iron Maiden albums this year. The new Motorhead album is supposed to be out in December, so maybe that will sneak into the best of the year reckoning?!?

November 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Hmm. Some Albums I dont see here:

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
Sodom – In War and Pieces
Helloween – 7 Sinners
or the new Airbourne or Sabaton.

One thing you can say for sure: 2010 was a great year with metal albums.

November 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Hey Gunnar, Im not trying to be THAT guy, but Insomnium – Across the dark, Katatonia – Night is the new day, and Ghost Brigade – Isolation songs all came out in 2009

November 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm

It’s been a great year for metal. Death Metal in particular has had some awesome releases. My end of the year list

Hail of Bullets – On Divine Winds
Coprolith – Cold Grief Relief
Beyond Hell – The Sleeper Awakens
Byfrost – Black Earth
Burial Invocation – Rituals of the Grotesque EP
Cemetery Urn – The Conquered are Burned
Hooded Menace – Never Cross the Dead
Immolation – Majesty and Decay
Interment – Into the Crypts of Blasphemy
King of Asgard – Fi’mbulvintr
Mandatory – Adrift Beyond
Norse – Hellstorm (despite it being a b**** to track down a actual copy here in the states)
Sectioned – Purulent Reality
The Wakedead Gathering – Tenements Of Ephemera
Winterfylleth – The Mercian Sphere
Vasaeleth – Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin

November 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

Godsmack – the oracle
Ghost Brigade – Isolation songs
Katatonia – Night is the new day
Insomnium – Across the dark
Varg – Blutaar
Unheilig – Grosse Freiheit ; )

Emily Bleak
November 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

OMG I can’t believe I forgot about Agalloch, too!

November 26, 2010 at 11:13 am

Damn — I forgot to mention that the latest Burzum is another stand-out for me this year, too.

November 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

Really well-written descriptions Steff, and kudos for making this list. One advantage of reading other people’s lists is discovering (and getting the motivation to listen to) music we might otherwise overlook. So far, I’ve only heard a few of the albums on your list — Shining, Cynic, Eluveitie, all of which I really enjoyed. Of the others, the one that looks the most interesting to me (given my tastes) is Angantyr’s, and I will find it. I saw Orphaned Land play live earlier this year, and just couldn’t get into the music; otherwise, I’d be tracking down that one, too.

November 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

Burzum will make my list. My number one will be Triptykon.

November 26, 2010 at 8:31 am

Agreed about Orphaned Land’s latest. Hell, Mabool had the same characteristics, being able to pick up on stuff you hadn’t heard the first couple dozen times listening to it. ORwarriOR is an even more complex album and I’m sure I’ll find more bits and pieces over time that I didn’t catch the first time. Yet, it doesn’t really sound too busy to me. I wasn’t expecting Mabool Part Two and that’s not what they did.

I can’t really comment on any of your other picks. The new Blind Guardian has been on my “to get” list, but other stuff has taken priority. Out of what I have added to the collection this year, I think I may have to go with:

The Man-Eating Tree – Vine
Canopy – Menhir
Incarnia – Proclamation
Dreyelands – Rooms Of Revelation
Barren Earth – Curse Of The Red River
Orden Ogan – Easton Hope
Proghma-C – Bar-do Travel
Borknagar – Universal

Honorable mention:

Amorphis – Magic And Mayhem
Mastercastle – Last Desire
Levi/Werstler – Avalanche Of Worms
Magica – Dark Diary

Of course, there are some glaring omissions, but I gotta stick with what I have and what I liked best.

Emily Bleak
November 26, 2010 at 6:11 am

The new Waitain and Drudkh albums are definitely on my list this year, and if splits count then the awesome Scaphism/Boarcorpse/Composted split that just came out last week…Gwar’s Bloody Pit of Horror is up there, too. :)

With you on Agantyr, and the new Burzum is getting sooo much play in my house. I’ve never checked out Krokus, but I love cheese, so I’ll step to!

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