30. This Is Hell - Weight of the Worlds
I’ll admit I was a bit worried when I heard This Is Hell signed to Rise Records but it turns out that was all for nothing since they haven’t lost their touch at all. I wasn’t into a lot of hardcore releases this year, but TIH were one of those bands that’s always stuck with me for whatever reason. This Is Hell haven’t changed much on War of the Worlds but they did make some nice additions to improve their sound; guitar solos, more metal-influenced riffs and even an instrumental interlude. I also think the clean vocals on “Snake Eyes” are a nice touch and it makes me wonder if they can make it work on future albums. We shall see.
29. Off With Their Heads - In Desolation
The production is a lot more polished than From The Bottom and whether or not that’s a good or bad thing is up to you. Personally, I don’t think it hindered their sound too much aside from the effects on Ryan Young’s vocals. One of the things I do enjoy about In Desolation is that it’s more varied than From The Bottom and their lyrics have gotten much better too. This is just another solid pop-punk record with 12 catchy songs about self-loathing, which is really what OWTH are best at.
28. Crime In Stereo - I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone
It’s a real shame they had to call it quits after releasing this. Crime In Stereo had perfected their melodic hardcore sound on The Troubled Stateside so branching out was a smart thing. They did that well on …Is Dead but on this record and continued to build on that with this record. The band really push their limits on this album and made a record that no one really saw coming. It reminds me a lot of Brand New’s Daisy with more post-hardcore and some space rock influences. I appreciate CIS making the record they wanted to make and pushing their boundaries even more. It’s just too bad it had to end on a bad note (the band not the album.).
27. Electric Wizard - Black Masses
The more I listen to Black Masses, the more I feel that it sounds like a continuation of Witchcult Today. Electric Wizard are continuing to expand on their doom metal sound they built on Witchcult Today and take it to new levels. What’s strange is that Electric Wizard were always a band who are best known for their crushing riffs and overall heaviness and that isn’t the strongest part of Black Masses. While every track is definitely heavy, most of the tracks on Black Masses have a pretty solid groove to them, imagine an album full of “Dunwich’s.” Sure, it’s not the wall of noise that was Dopethrone, but I really like what Electric Wizard tried here. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed about this band, it’s their love for weed and Satan.
26. The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever
Franz’ departure didn’t harm the band as much as I thought it would since The Hold Steady didn’t miss a beat on Heaven Is Whenever. Sure, I’ll miss his piano playing but Craig Finn can still tell a story better than no other and his songwriting has always been the best thing about The Hold Steady. There’s a few draggers but the good far outweighs the bad. Plus, I love an album that’s full of awesome hooks and this album is full of them!
25. Alcest - Ecailles De Lune
Alcest play one of the most unique brands of music you’ve heard in awhile. Neige, the mastermind behind the band, has always been one to get creative with his black metal projects created something excellent with Ecallies De Lune. It’s a combination of black metal, post-rock and shoegaze, which you really have to listen to to get a feel for it. This album is more focused on black metal in a lot of areas compared to their first album, which I thought a great direction to go in. The beauty of the mellow parts are a nice contrast to the intensity of the heavier sections. I’d really wish more bands would try this sound because I only know of three and Neige is in two of them.
24. Make Do & Mend - End Measured Mile
These guys won me over with their EP last year and their full-length didn’t disappoint at all. End Measure Mile isn’t terribly different from their EP but they are well on their way to finding their own sound. While their EP was great, there were a lot of moments where I felt they were trying to sound too much like Hot Water Music, that isn’t the case with this record. Make Do and Mend have gotten a lot better at songwriting as you can tell the songs on End Measure Mile are a lot less derevative and their lyrics have greatly improved, as well. I’m not on the hype train as much as other people are but Make Do and Mend still have a ton of potential and I can’t wait to see what they do with future releases.
23. Hammock - Chasing After Shadows…Living With The Ghosts
Post-rock is hit-or-miss with me but when I find a band who does it right, they’re usually something I listen to a ton, Hammock is one of those bands. I didn’t think group featuring only two members could make such relaxing, beautiful music. I think that’s what’s great about Hammock. The music’s foundation is very simple but so enjoyable. Most songs are based on drums, bass and guitar with some effects but not too much layering. It definitely makes them easier to take in and it helps tha ttheir music is very well constructed and enjoyable.
22. Lungs - The Two Chief World Systems
These guys are everything what’s great about A Wilhelm Scream, only with better vocals but a little more emphasis on having songs carried by “shredding” and musicianship rather than songwriting skills. That’s only a minor complaint, though since this is a very enjoyable record that sticks out among other bands who do the same thing. At any rate, I love me some technical skate punk and that’s pretty much what this record is. Lungs have definitely improved a ton as The Two Chiefs World Systems is a lot more memorable than their debut record.
21. Howl - Full of Hell
The album’s title couldn’t be more appropriate because “Hellish” was the first adjective I thought of when I listened to this album. It’s one of the most evil sounding records I’ve heard out of this year. Howl remind me a more aggressive version of early Isis as their sound is focused on heavy, violent riffs and punishing vocals. It’s some of the best elements of stoner and doom metal all in one package. Relapse hit a home run with another artist here.
20. Stephen Egerton - The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton
Definitely a cool concept from one of the forefathers of pop-punk. “She’s Got Everything” is probably the closest thing to a new Descendents song that we’ll hear in awhile. If you don’t know the song, listen to it to find out what I mean or at least look at the tracklisting to see who is featured on it. What I really liked about this was that Stephen sort of worked with the collaborating artists on each track to incorporate the sounds from their bands along with him. The cowpunk sounding “Fire’s On” featuring Jon Snodgrass is a great example of that. Other cameos include Dan Andriano, Tim McIllrath, Chris Demakes and Chad Price. If that’s not enough to convince any pop-punk fan to listen to this then I don’t know what will.
19. The Gamits - Parts
I heard someone describe Gamits as “what pop-punk should sound like” and I agree 100%. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard about them earlier since I’m usually really up-do-date on which pop-punk bands are worth listening to. These guy wear their Descendents and Jawbreaker influences on their sleeves and do so loudly and proudly. Parts has no shortage of great hooks, melodies and has that perfect production for pop-punk records. Still pretty raw but polished enough to let the best elements stick out. It’s definitely one of the catchiest records of the year.
18. Black Tusk - Taste the Sin
Sometimes little variety is a good thing. Black Tusk don’t exactly change things up on Taste The Sin but there’s little need to since it’s a good idea to not tamper with something that isn’t broke. Among this new wave of stoner metal bands who have been coming out of the woodwork lately, I think Black Tusk stand out a lot. They play a faster brand of stoner metal which still hasn’t gotten old for me as Taste The Sin was one of my most listened to albums this year. Imagine older High On Fire with more hardcore influence and sped up a bit, that’s basically what Black Tusk is. Yes, that’s a compliment.
17. The Menzginers - Chamberlain Waits
This is another band who I think play pop-punk the way it’s supposed to sound. If you like punk that’s full of catchy hooks similar to The Lawrence Arms and don’t mind the vocals being a bit rough, then this is the album for you. Chamberlain Waits shows The Menzingers take a few steps forward with their songwriting, as the lyrics on this album really hit home for someone who’s feeling down on theirselves a lot, like me! The Menzingers have taken some influence from The Gaslight Anthem on this record with the stories of the songs tell. I think that’s what the strongest part ofthe album is. Although, the similarities to The Lawrence Arms and Broadway Calls don’t hurt either.
16. The Flatliners - Cavalcade
For the most part, The Flatliners have dumped their ska-punk influences on Cavalcade and it’s definitely for the better. There’s still a few songs with them, but the majority of this record is non-stop skate punk with no shortage of great choruses and wouldn’t be too out of place on Epitaph or Fat Wreck’s roster in the early 90’s. Hell, they aren’t out of place on the latter’s roster right now. Definitely an awesome record for those looking for some straight up punk with no bullshit.
15. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
Best record they’ve done with Greg and this is coming from someone who liked both Miss Machine and Ire Works. One of my favorite things about The Dillinger Escape Plan was that you never really knew what they are going to do next and that’s what Option Paralysis is like. This record is DEP at their heaviest and their softest, sometimes in the same song like the shape-shifting “Farewell, Mona Lisa.” Then you have songs which are among the band’s heaviest like “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings.” There’s also poppy songs a-la Faith No More (“Gold Teeth On A Bum”) and even a piano ballad (“Widower”). Overall, this record reminds me a lot of Miss Machine only a lot more stronger.
14. Jimmy Eat World - Invented
Honestly, Jimmy Eat World haven’t let me down as a band and Invented is no different. This is really just another great album to add to JEW’s discography that has about what you would expect from them. A lot of upbeat, pop-rock songs, a couple of feel-good ballads and a few driving anthems which you’ll usually find on their recors. One thing that makes Invented different from their other records is that there are more tracks which focus on building an atmosphere and have a more mellow vibe, similar to the sound they had on Clarity. The last two tracks are a good example of that sound. I still haven’t determined on where I rank it in JEW’s impressive discography but it’s definitely somewhere in the top half.
13. Cough - Ritual Abuse
Imagine if Electric Wizard and Eyehategod got together and made a band, that’s what Cough sounds like. Ritual Abuse is 53 minutes of fuzzed out riffs, downtempo guitars and droned-out vocals. Cough are one of those bands who have two sides to their sound. Sometimes, they’ll sound like a wall of heaviness complete with painfully shreiked vocals and some of the most monstrous riffs you’ll hear out of this year. Then sometimes, they do their best Black Sabbath impression with droned out clean vocals, groove-filled riffs and guitar solos which have a psychadelic feel to them. The two sides compliment eachother nicely. Well worth a listen if you’re a fan of stoner, doom or sludge metal.
12. Murder By Death - Good Morning, Magpie
Wasn’t quite the follow-up I was expecting to The Red of Tooth & Claw and I was disappointed there wasn’t a cool background story on this record but I did grow to love it after a few listens. Good Morning, Magpie is probably the most folk-influenced record they’ve done and, oddly enough, their most upbeat sounding record. It’s something new for Murder By Death and I really love the older folk elements they used on this album which gives it a more natural sound. It definitely takes some getting used to though for older fans, I’ll say that.
11. Anathema - We’re Here Because We’re Here
I’ve always had mixed feelings about most of Anathema’s newer records but I was blown away with We’re Here Because We’re Here. Such a beautiful album and one of the most enjoyable progressive rock albums I’ve heard in awhile. It’s hard to pin down what the best thing about this album is; the wonderful piano riffs, the harmonization between vocalists Lee Douglas and Vincent Cavanagh or the Pink Floyd-like atmosphere almost every song has. It’s a great piece of work that was well worth the long wait between albums. Oh, and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree produced it if that interests you.
10. Nachtmystium - Addicts: Black Meddle Part II
Genre debates aside, I think Nachtmystium are one of the best metal bands in America at the moment. They have always been a “Do whatever we want to” band and continue to be that way on Addicts. There are songs on here that stray even further away from the black metal genre than they did on Assassins. In fact, it wouldn’t be stretching things to say that there are a lot more industrial, rock and dark ambient influences on here than black metal. The funny thing is, Nachtmystium can pull off this sound really well and can incorporate some of their black metal roots while doing so. Metal has always been one of the most diverse genres in the world, which is why I love bands like Nachtmystium who push their sound into unmarked territory and make it work like they’ve been doing for years now.
9. High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine
This is High On Fire’s attempt at a “classic heavy metal” album and while I don’t think it will be remembered as such, they made a pretty damn awesome album. The production is noticably cleaner than their past records and thankfully, it doesn’t hinder HOF’s sound at all as they’ve embraced this change well. Matt Pike can still shred but I hear a lot more influence from Iron Maiden and Metallica in his guitar work than I have on past records. Snakes For The Divine is also a lot more melodic than any of their other albums as well and it makes for a very fun listen. Don’t get me wrong, HOF are still heavier than most bands even on this record but this is probably their most accessible record to date. I will say that I don’t think it’s a better record than Death Is This Communion but it’s hard to live up to that record, at least for me. I was hoping this record would get HOF some more recognition outside the metal community since it was released on a bigger label but no dice.
8. The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
I was bound to like this no matter what but objectively speaking, I think American Slang it’s a better record than The ‘59 Sound and a solid album in general. Brian Fallon’s vocals are one thing that’s improved a lot and he really showcases his voice on this album. The record also feels a lot less “gimmicky” than it’s prodecessor if that makes sense. Brian writing more personal songs instead of lyrics longing for the older times had a lot to do with that. American Slang is also a lot more rock influenced, as well and while Gaslight’s Springsteen influences are well on display, they aren’t as overwhelming as they were on past albums. One thing I’m wondeirng is what direction they’ll go in after this record.
7. None More Black - Icons
This was one of my most anticipated records of the year and it took a few spins to click with me but I’ve grown to love it. To me, this sounds a perfect combination of their first two records. The speed of File Under Black is there and the experiementation of This Is Satire is also present. Also of note is that guitarist Colin McGinniss stands out a lot more here than on their previous releases. His riffs and hooks on the record are wonderful and beyond catchy. He also has a couple solos thrown here and there. Also, can anyone think of a better melodic hardcore vocalist than Jason Shevchuk? One thing I do wish is that there were more slower songs in vein of “Here Comes Devereux” since that is the album’s clear standout but there aren’t too many other tracks like it. Then again, that’s also the track which reminds me the most of This Is Satire so yeah… Anyway, None More Black delivered with Icons for sure.
6. Agalloch - Marrow of the Spirit
Agalloch has always been a band who like to change their approach with every album and they do just that on Marrow of the Spirit. Here we see Agalloch make what is their most black metal sounding record to date as it’s evidenced by the lo-fi production, chainsaw guitar riffs and blast beats which fill sections of the album. They have always had heavier sections in their music but this is definitely Agalloch’s most intense and most evil sounding album to date. These moments are balanced with folk based interludes and dark ambient passages relying a lot on orechestral instruments, all of which are nice touches. They also incorprated some field recordings they experimented with on their last EP, The White, to add ambience to some tracks. Agalloch are a band who don’t like to re-create the same album but whatever style they play, they make sure to do it with perfection. While I wouldn’t call this perfect yet, it’s an excellent record and another addition to the already fantastic discography of Agalloch. It’s not for people with short attention spans, though. Six tracks, 65 minutes is what the album clocks in as.
5. Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man
Here we see what is sort of a “retrospective” album for Bad Religion, only with new songs instead of a compilation of older favorites. The Dissent of Man sounds much more similar to Recipe For Hate and Generator than any of their other recent albums and that’s a very good thing as mid-90’s Bad Religion has always been an overlooked gem. Some of the lyrics leave a lot to be desired but overall, there’s not much to complain about with this album. The Oozin’ Ahh’s are as strong as ever and so are Greg Graffin’s vocal melodies. It’s the best album they’ve released since Process of Belief. Hard to believe they’ve been active for 30 years now, it’s been quite a career for them.
4. Intronaut - Valley of Smoke
Now here’s one band I didn’t expect to be impressed at the beginning of the year. I always thought Intronaut didn’t stick out among the many “progressive metal” bands out there but they’ve won me over with Valley of Smoke. This record is full of some very creative atmospheric melodies and post-rock overtones which their last album didn’t have much of. Also, the clean singing has gotten a lot better as the singers have gone with a more choral singing style similar to Baroness’ later albums. The bass playing on the record is also very impressive. It’s on this record where I think they’ve created something that’s characteristic to themselves rather than being Isis or Neurosis-lite.
3. Deftones - Diamond Eyes
One of the few bands I liked in middle school who are still making music that interests me. Diamond Eyes takes the best moments of White Pony and mixes it with the elements they experimented with on Saturday Night Wrist. They are another band where you don’t know what they’ll bring to the table next and on Diamond Eyes, there are some of their heaviest songs to date (“Royal”) and beautiful songs like “Sextape” as well. It’s basically Deftones giving everything they have and holding nothing back on this release and it comes forth with fantastic results.
2. Alkaline Trio - This Addiction
I fully understand that this is a huge biased pick but I probably listened to This Addiction a lot more than other records this year and that’s not just because Alkaline Trio are my favorite band, it’s a damn awesome record. You could say that this is a “return to form” for them which is pretty accurate. The Trio definitely took a more “back-to-basics” approach with this record and it’s evident with the stripped down production and returning to more of the methods which made From Here To Infirmary and Good Mourning so great. That’s not to say they still aren’t thinking outside of box since This Addiction has some surprises on it but they come off as way less awkward than they did on the last two albums. I’m very glad they decided to go in this direction seeing how middle-era Trio is some of my favorite music ever and that’s what this record reminds me of. Just one complaint; needs more Dan! Though his bonus tracks on the deluxe edition make up for it a little.
1. Kvelertak - Kvelertak
It’s weird how some of my favorite records from this year have come from nowhere. I had no idea who Kvelertak were when I first found out about them and decided to check them out because I liked the album’s artwork. Shallow reason yes, but I found out about one of the best records of the year that way. Kvelertak’s style of black metal mixed with hardcore punk may sound like a mess on paper but once you listen to it, you’ll find yourself loving it too. This is probably the catchiest stuff with black metal influence I’ve heard that doesn’t suck. This is one of the most enjoyable records I’ve listened to this year and you’ll keep coming back from more after you’re done listening to it. Plus, all of their lyrics are in Norweigan and about Norse Mythology. What’s not to love about that if you’re a metal fan?
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - The Brutalist of Bricks
Darkthrone - Circle The Wagons
Comeback Kid - Symptoms + Cures
Thou - Summit
Cathedral - The Guessing Game
RVIVR - RVIVR
Ceremony - Rohnert Park
Band of Horses - Infinite Arms
Melechesh - Epigenesis
Top 5 EP’s Of 2010
5. Torche - Songs For Singles
More of Torche being themselves here. It’s the same catchy metal that they’ve always played and they haven’t strayed from the path at all. The last two tracks were definitely interesting and make me look forward to their future releases, though.
4. Brendan Kelly/Joe McMahon - Wasted Potential
Brendan playing acoustic versions of some of my favorite Lawrence Arms songs..what could be better than that? I also liked Joe’s side of the EP well enough even though I’m not a huge Smoke or Fire fan.
3. Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon
If someone disguised this as the new Agalloch, it would fool a lot of people. That’s not to say that it’s a complete Agalloch rip-off because Gallowbraid does have their own sound. It’s good to know there’s more artists out there playing this brand of “dark metal” since it’s a very interesting concept.
2. Banquets - This Is Our Concern, Dude
From the remains of Let Me Run, The Stand In and The Banner come Banquets, a band with only one 7” on their resume but boy is it an impressive one. Fans of melodic punk should be able to get into this band easy, which is why this was a big hit with me.
1. Let Me Run - Broken Strings
Let Me Run’s gone through more member changes than I can keep track of but they really hit it home with this EP. It’s one great hook and chorus after another. Just listen to “Brocomotive” to find out what I mean. Dumb song title, aside. After I heard that track, I needed to hear more and kept coming back. Like Banquets, if bands like The Loved Ones are you’re thing than this is right up your alley.
Bands to look out for
Born To Lose
Most Disappointing Albums
Fireball Ministry - Fireball Ministry
Remember how I said Anathema was well worth the wait? Unfortunately, this wasn’t worth the five year gap between records. It’s not a bad record but I was definitely expecting more from them.
Four Year Strong - Enemy of the World
I don’t know if I’m just over this style of pop-punk or what but I couldn’t get into this it all no matter how many people tell me how good it is. I’m sure it’s still fun as hell ot see live at the very least.
Melvins - The Bride Screamed Murder
I really got into Melvins the last couple of years, unfortunately this wasn’t one of the albums I digged. Maybe my problem is I haven’t listened to much of their later stuff so this came off a shock compared to their older material? That’s my theory at least,
Dark Tranquillity - We Are The Void
Solid Dark Tranqullity album but not much more than that. DT haven’t broken their mold that much in their careers but they have consistently released excellent albums and I thought Fiction was no different. Unfortunately, We Are The Void didn’t exactly live up to my standards even if I do think it’s a solid effort. At least I still have most of their catalog.
Against Me! - White Crosses
I got into this later but this is hands down the biggest disappointment of the year for me and I really liked New Wave, too. I honestly think it wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the terrible production. Butch Vig, what in the world were you thinking when you produced this album? I also thought the record sounded very sloppy and lazily done, especially after listening to a lot of the guitar-work. I’m willing to let Tom and company slide here though since most bands have that one album I like to forget existed.
Bleeding Through - Bleeding Through
So, I really thought Declaration was a step in the right direction for them and thought they would continue to build on that with this record…..shit was I wrong.
Corey’s Favorite Songs of 2010
15. Banquets - Eleanor, I Need A Garden
14. Darkthrone - I Am The Graves of the 80’s
13. Deftones - Beauty School
12. Sara Bareilles - King of Anything
11. The Dillinger Escape Plan - Farewell, Mona Lisa
10. Sundowner - As The Crow Flies
9. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - One Polaroid A Day
8. Anathema - Summernight Horizon
7. Kvelertak - Fossegrim
6. Let Me Run - Brocomotive
5. Alkaline Trio - Dead On The Floor
4. The Gaslight Anthem - Bring It On
3. Bad Religion - The Pride and the Pallor
2. Stephen Egerton feat. Jon Snodgrass - Fire’s On
1. High On Fire - Frost Hammer
Other favorite songs:
Intronaut - Miasma
Nachtmystium - Addicts
None More Black - Here Comes Deveruex
Agalloch - Black Lake Nidstang
The Flatliners - Bleed
Jimmy Eat World - Stop
Murder By Death - Foxglove
The Menzingers - I Was Born
The Hold Steady - Hurricane J
Street Dogs - Bobby Powers
Gallowbraid - Ashen Eidolon
Drive-By Truckers - Drag The Lake, Charlie
Crime In Stereo - Not Dead
Black Tusk - Red Eyes, Black Skies
Records and Things That Surprised Me This Year
The Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits
Kvelertak - self/titled
I actually liked the new Yeasayer album
Finally getting new music from Blake Schwarzenbach!
Intronaut - Valley of Smoke
Descendents playing shows again……in Australia
Albums I should have heard last year
Frank Turner - Poetry of the Deed
Teenage Bottlerocket - They Came From The Shadows
Amesoeurs - self/titled
Immortal - All Shall Fall
Om - God Is Good
Pulling Teeth - Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions
Shrinebuilder - self/titled
Originally written for: http://gamedaysoundtracks.tumblr.com/