In alphabetical order:
1. Amon Amarth, Deceiver of the Gods
Not many bands can stay relevant by making the same album over and over again. But as long as the Vikings in Amon Amarth are owning death metal's most energizing riffs and sea shantey choruses, they'll be one of rare those bands.
2. ASG, Blood Drive
The riffs have slowed down, the melodies soar, and yet the sun-baked stoner metal tones that made Win Us Over a keeper radiate through. This year's gateway metal album to beat.
3. The Dillinger Escape Plan, One of Us is the Killer
the Red Hot Chili Peppers or the Replacements, DEP's one consistency
was that they were becoming more streamlined and produced with every
album. Until this year--One of Us is the Killer is a heavy dose of ferocity that both reaches back to and expands on their early sonic furies. You know, from when mathcore was a punchline.
4. Intronaut, Habitual Levitations
"Nimble," "catchy" and "addictive" aren't words usually used to describe prog-rock. Unless someone is doing it better than everyone else.
5. Kvelertak, Meir
Nobody wants to feel the pressure of following up a monster debut, but Kvelertak sound like they love it. Your friends who tell you about DIIV saving punk and Liturgy saving metal are missing out.
6. Nails, Abandon All Life
Wow! Where did these guys come from? Did someone make a bet that they could make Pig Destroyer sound like the Foo Fighters in 17 minutes? Collect.
7. Ramming Speed, Doomed To Destroy, Destined To Die
It takes a lot for me to tolerate neo-thrash. Even the best bands, like Municipal Waste and Skeletonwitch, are hard to listen to when there's already the Big Four and Testament. But Ramming Speed fused it with just enough death metal to make me wonder why no one thought of this before, between headbangs.
8. Shining, One One One
I don't know what made a Swedish avant-jazz band decide that they could save industrial metal, but I hope they keep doing it. No wonder NIN is back this year.
9. Soilwork, The Living Infinite
Outside of Natural Born Chaos, I assumed that Soilwork was a perfectly honorable background metal band. I had no interest in picking up a double album from them, until a friend planted it in my dropbox. Who knew that a 2-CD death metal set, much less one from Soilwork, could rock this hard? Their countrymen in In Flames and Arch Enemy haven't put out anything this potent in ages.
10. Queens of the Stone Age, Like Clockwork
In which Josh Homme forfeits his title as rock's coolest
man to out himself as an emotional wreck. The bravest twist yet in one
of modern rock's most indispensable careers.