01 Virgin Black
: Requiem – Mezzo Forte
Virgin Black has been my favorite band since the very first time I heard them in 2002. This is actually the second installment of a three part series entitled Requiem, however The End records chose to release this first, as it’s the closest to previous releases out of the three. Mezzo Forte was recorded, along with Pianissimo and Fortissimo, with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, making this at once the most ambitious, dense and multi-faceted Virgin Black release to date. With soaring operatic vocals (both male and female) and crushing growls, the album takes you for a tumultuous and emotional ride. The orchestration meshes seamlessly with Virgin Black’s brand of gothic doom metal, which comes as no surprise if you’re familiar with past releases. It’s no less than you would expect. Listening to this album, for me at least, is an experience I find difficult to put in to words. To put it simply, Virgin Black resonates within my soul.
02 Swallow the Sun
I had heard of this band several years back, but their music was always so hard to track down that I finally gave up. Well 2007 changed that, with hope being one of the first albums I acquired in January. In a few short months of listening, Swallow the Sun has joined the ranks of artists such as Virgin Black, Opeth, Ulver and Meshuggah as one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re unique blend of death and doom make for some of the most destroyingly catchy music I’ve ever heard. I have no complaints, not a single one. Brutal growls and beautiful cleans at all the right moments, perfectly fitting every arrangement. Do yourself a favor and get in to this band, you will not regret it.
03 Blotted Science
: Machinations of Dementia
As a testament to it’s greatness, I didn’t hear this album until October, and it was almost immediately not just in my favorites of the year, but counted as one of the best instrumental albums I’ve ever heard. If I had to make a comparison, I would describe this album as the result of James Malone from Arsis suffering from extreme sleep deprivation and listening to nothing but Meshuggah for days until finally passing out. If you are familiar with Spastic Ink and other Jarzombeck projects, you probably already know about this record, and it’s probably in your headphones right now.
04 Between the Buried and Me
Colors is a huge step forward in the evolution of this band. As polarizing as it is addicting. You still have intense technicality, but it’s more mature, seasoned. This album is like an eight piece puzzle that fits together perfectly, with dozens of smaller puzzles contained within the songs themselves, going from beautiful piano parts, to blistering guitar-work, to off kilter Patton-esque vocal parts overtop honky-tonk piano, to a drunken bar sing-along. It will take you by surprise, it might make you a bit uneasy, but it all fits together. However, my favorite part of the whole production is the song transitions. They’re perfect. Seamless. A Work of Art. I was not prepared for the transition from Informal Gluttony into Sun of Nothing, and I almost wrecked my car when I heard it. One of my favorite parts of music ever written. Also, Blake Richardson deserves a special mention, because the drumming on this album is spectacular, far beyond any expectations. This album will age much better than any of their previous albums, I can already tell.
: Voices of Omen
I just discovered this band in 2007, even though they’ve released four albums previous to this one. That’s alright with me though, because they’ve hit their stride here, with crushingly heavy riffs, vocals ranging from terrifying screams to brutal yells, and so much groove you don’t know what to do with it all. This is southern sludge at it’s nastiest. At it’s finest.
06 The Psyke Project
Another new blip on my radar. I avoided listening to this album for months and months, because I couldn’t get over their dumb moniker and cheesy artwork. But when I finally did, I regretted my shallow behavior immensely. Because these guys kill. Hailing from Denmark, they rise above the some-what muddled slew of mediocre sludge bands spawned over the past few years. This is an easy band to get in to, because they really convey emotion well, and also their songs are short compared to many in the genre. With most songs being between 3 and 7 minutes long, they’re a good choice for someone who likes the sound of bands such as ISIS and Neurosis, but doesn’t care to invest so much time per listen.
07 The Ocean
Another “sludge metal” album, but with a twist. These Germans utilize an array of instruments not usually found on such an album. This variance allows them to step beyond the bounds of what you might expect. The xylophone, violin, piano, bells, et cetera add dynamic and beautiful textures layered above and beneath some of the heaviest tracks I heard all year. Albums with themes have always attracted me for the extra depth involved, and this two disc set is a timeline of sorts, with each track title coinciding with a different prehistoric age, delivers. And delivers. And delivers.
: Counting Heartbeats
Another late in the year discovery for me. A beautifully crafted disc, with five epic tracks containing some seriously groovy sludge-laden doom goodness. Not sure what else to say. Not sure what else needs to be said.
: Ritual Fires of Abandonment
A lot of thought went into the making of this record, that’s very evident. A Very deep album, with many many layers to dig into. Very satisfying to listen to when you’re alone and can just sit, listen, and let your mind play over the sound waves crashing over you. Crushingly heavy.
: A Caress of the Void
Funeral doom has never been a more applicable description. Seared of hope, bereft of light, this disc has nothing to offer but hopelessness. You feel it in your soul. If you don’t see the beauty in that, steer clear of this album. It holds nothing for you but despair.Best Metal EP
:A Swarm of the Sun
: The King of Everything
The first release from this band, and it's very promising. Very heavy, and very accessible simultaneously. Good clean vocals backed up with good yells round it out. Looking forward to future releases.Biggest Metal Disappointment
:The Dillinger Escape Plan
: Ire Works
After an album of such magnitude as Miss Machine, I was very nervous about how they would fare with their next go at things. And rightly so. Ire Works is a bizarre mash-up of their previous two albums (with, it seems, riffs lifted directly from both), and an odd new style that I would honestly love if it were a side-project of some sort. But it’s dirty pop flavor simply does not mesh well at all. I expect Dillinger to be inventive and fresh, and I expect Dillinger to do new things and piss people off. But with this effort they have left me wanting. I feel they’ve fallen flat on their collective faces, and i truly hope they do not drown in a pool of their own urine from the piss-take they called Ire Works
. Apparently, it dosen’t.Biggest Metal Surprise
:Wolves in the Throne Room
: Two Hunters
Having never been a fan of black metal, I was completely blown away by this release. It’s atmospheric, dark, brooding and strangely enough, beautiful. I checked this band out because of their amazing moniker, and also because I read one of the coolest interviews ever, that intrigued me to no end. These guys are the real deal, living on, and working, a farm in the wilderness of Washington State. They’ve opened my eyes to the realm of black metal that I actually enjoy, and will be actively searching for this year.Honorable Mentions (A-Z)
: FictionTHE END
: ElementaryHORSE the band
: A Natural DeathIon Dissonance
: Minus the HeardMiddian
: Age EternalNadja
: Radiance of ShadowsNadja
: Given to the RisingRosetta
: Wake/LiftSun of Nothing
: ...In the Weak and WoundedTerhen
: Eyes UnfoldedYear of No Light