My annual review of what I’ve most enjoyed listening to during the last 12 months, and my albums of the year. Finally published the wrong end of January, but better late than never.
- Krysthla—Worldwide Negative
- Opeth — In Cauda Venenum (Swedish and English versions)
- Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
- Latitudes — Part Island
- Tool — Fear Inoculum
- Damn Teeth — Real Men
- Megadeth — Warheads on Foreheads
- Flotsam and Jetsam — The End of Chaos
- Outright Resistance — Cargo Cult
- Cybernetic Witch Cult — Absurdum ad Nauseam
This year I added 25 new releases to my collection, compared with 58 last year (my third lowest year since records began in 1986). While most of these were promos from bands, record companies or promotion agencies, with a change of job plus various rather intense personal issues that I had to deal with, disappointingly I had to de-prioritise my 195 metal CDs project.
Top 15 artists (Last.fm)
Before launching into my top 10 though, I’ve just taken a look at my Last.fm top 15 artists over the last 12 months. This reflects what I’ve actually been listening to over the last year: at home, at work, and on my Android phone.
In 2019, I listened to the following:
- 213 artists (compared with 314 in 2018), down 33%
- 527 albums (compared with 515 in 2018), up 3%
- 4,289 tracks (compared with 3,687 in 2018), up 17%
These were my top 15 artists listened to throughout the year. I get to listen to music less now during the day at work and I’m limited to the artists on my USB drive which represents my best of collection that I have in the car.
There were no artists from my 195 metal CDs featured but then I listen to them mostly in the car now during my hour-long commute.
10. Cybernetic Witch Cult — Absurdum ad Nauseam
Cybernetic Witch Cult are a stoner metal/psychedelic rock trio from the south west of England, with clear influences from 70s rock, stoner, sludge, prog rock, and doom metal. Their songs twist and turn with a head-nodding groove. Their sound is deep, broad and heavy.
9. Outright Resistance — Cargo Cult
Outright Resistance—a metalcore tour de force that thankfully isn’t the stereotypical assembly of loud guitars and shouting. Tight riffs, growling vocals and some pleasing melodies.
8. Flotsam and Jetsam — The End of Chaos
My appreciate of Flotsam and Jetsam is very much caught up in my emotional attachment to their first two albums. 1986 was the year I first properly got into metal and embraced thrash with a passion. The music made sense to me, it helped me make sense of the world around me. It helped me deal with the aftermath of my dad’s triple brain haemorrhage. 1986 was the year of Master of Puppets (Metallica), Reign in Blood (Slayer), Among the Living (Anthrax) and Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying (Megadeth), Game Over (Nuclear Assault) and Rrröööaaarrr (Voïvod). What a time to get into heavy music!
It must have been hard growing up in the shadow of Metallica and Newsted’s departure. But this is an album from a band who are clearly comfortable with who they are and who own their heritage. I’m glad I persevered with this album. It’s a killer.
7. Megadeth — Warheads on Foreheads
I don’t often include compilation albums in my end of year round-up but I will make an exception for this three-disc jaunt through Megadeth’s more-than-impressive back catalogue. If you’ve never given Dave Mustaine’s post-Metallica rebound act a change check out this collection.
6. Damn Teeth — Real Men
What you get when you throw together a bunch of Scottish musicians with a penchant for 80s electronica and rock. This is somewhere between Depeche Mode and Senser. It’s delicate and fragile, it bounces, it drives. Fabulous!
5. Tool — Fear Inoculum
After a 13-year wait following 10,000 Days (2006), I’m not sure Fear Inoculum was the album everyone was waiting for but maybe the hype and expectation was a little too much. It’s good though, and I expect will grow on me more as I explore it more deeply.
4. Latitudes — Part Island
I really like this album. It wasn’t at all what I suspected and that’s often a good thing for me. I love the vulnerability and openness of this music and these vocals. Both are heartfelt and stunningly beautiful.
This is definitely an album I would reach for to listen to as the haar descends on Crail and the sunlight is dissipated through the fog.
3. Slipknot — We Are Not Your Kind
Slipknot’s sixth studio album, released 20 years after their self-titled debut. There is a maturity and diversity in their song writing now which I really appreciate. But don’t worry, the album is just as disturbing as all the others.
2. Opeth — In Cauda Venenum (Swedish and English versions)
Opeth’s fourth studio album since they dropped their death metal vocals and delved deeply into their 70s prog influences. Their music is still heavy but in a different way now. This album was released in two formats: Swedish vocals and English vocals. To be honest, I prefer the original, it seems to flow better.
I miss Opeth’s death metal offerings, the way they swung between clean and Cookie Monster vocals, distorted and jangly guitars. But these songs are beautiful and I’ll take them over no new Opeth any day.
1. Krysthla—Worldwide Negative
There are some bands whose music just speaks to you on some fundamental level, as though they are somehow tapping into your psyche and expressing something fundamental about yourself through the music.
“We always push ourselves to the limit when producing new music,” says guitarist and producer Neil Hudson, “but this upcoming release exceeded what we thought we had in the tank. It’s been an exhaustive but exhilarating process.”
He continues, “Worldwide Negative is an album with more of an introspective view towards ourselves as the human race, how we impact the world and each other. In the pursuit of happiness, safety and security we’re slowly destroying our sense of empathy and giving in to a darker way of life that ultimately can only end in misery.”
“Inspiration favours the industrious,” wrote Neville Brody. Krysthla have worked hard and been blessed with inspiration.
This is an outstanding record of incredible strength, heaviness, depth, emotion, and with lyrics that hold a mirror to the world and invite reflection and a change of path.