So over the next few days I will be putting up my top 20 albums of the year. I initially had a shortlist of 65 albums, so cutting it down to 20 was incredibly hard. I will maybe put a few honourable mentions at the end, but we shall see how we get along. As usual, all my own opinion, don’t bother telling me I’m wrong, blah blah blah.
Winterfylleth are quickly becoming the best black metal band to hail from the UK and The Divination of Antiquity is a fantastic example of just why that is. I can never claim to be the biggest fan of extreme metal, I more dip my toes into occasionally, but this album easily crosses over into my interests and it’s swirling music manages to merge the emotion that lies at it’s centre with the kind of ferocious metal that any lover of all things heavy can get behind. Winterfylleth make black metal that pays tribute to what has come before, but also manages to be incredibly British and The Divination of Antiquity is a great example of that.
Number 19: Candy Hearts – All the Ways You Let Me Down
Even as a self-confessed pop fan, Candy Hearts are somewhat of a surprise addition to this list. They were also a late addition, but All the Ways You Let Me Down hits all the sweet spots in all the right ways. Don’t get me wrong, if you are one of those true metal folk, you should stay far far away. However, if you occasionally like to dip your toes in the candy filled world of pop rock, then this band needs to get on your radar now.
14 tracks coming in at under forty minutes long, Enabler know how to grab your attention and as a band who claim that ‘the world is fucked and we are the soundtrack to it’s demise’ it’s maybe not surprising to find out that they are kind of angry. They also have the ability to write short sharp blasts of music that catch you off guard and overwhelm your senses, such as the conveniently titled “Information Overload”, but yet are also not afraid to write songs that are actually songs and will get crowds singing along and bouncing. If you are at all into heavy, gnarly hardcore, then make sure you give these guys a chance before they leave you behind.
Joe Bonamassa has slowly gone about building the kind of fan base that allows you to play places like the Royal Albert Hall (strangely he is not the only person on this list to have done so) and is by now well enough known that I probably don’t need to state that this boy can play guitar. But fuck can he play guitar. Different Shades of Blue is his first album of entirely original material and it shows that he can also write a song or two. The title is also a good indication of what the album contains, as Bonamassa uses it to explore all kinds of blues music and also his own playing. It’s a potted history of a genre that has so much to give to the world and which people like Bonamassa are making cool again. Did I mention he is really good at playing guitar?
It feels like Empress AD have been around for a long time, anyone who is a regular attendee of gigs in the UK will have probably seen them at least once, lending their support to one of the other young British bands making their way in the last few years, therefore, it is no surprise that there was quite a bit of interest in just what their debut album would sound like. Well it sounds damn good. Their heavy prog brings in everyone from Mastodon to Pink Floyd and while my initial review worried that they still lacked that song to make them stand out, it doesn’t take away from the fact that these guys are special and are just going to keep getting better.