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Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier's Top 30 Albums of 2019.

Added 29 December 2019, 3:19 PM

No. 30:

Band:  Children of Bodom
Album: Hexed
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 1993
Record Label:  Nuclear Blast

Ultimately, “Hexed,” is CHILDREN OF BODOM at the top of their game, a refreshing aspect considering how far along they are into their career now.  If you were a fan that jumped ship many albums ago, you will probably find a lot to like in this one.  As we now know, COB has ended but this is one hell of a swansong.
No. 29:

Band:  A Dream Of Poe
Album: The Wraith Uncrowned
Genre: Gothic Doom Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2005
Record Label:  Independent

A DREAM OF POE is a Portugal Gothic Doom band who infused their riffs with Gothic melancholy. Honestly, when I first heard their music I was immediately reminded of a mixture of TRISTANIA and MY DYING BRIDE.  Their sound is backed by sorrowful keys and the atmospheric itself is filled with a lot of vocals working in unison.  Spoken word, singing, low chants, even some extreme style vocals are all presented.  The guitars have that classic Gothic tinged melody like PARADISE LOST.
No. 28:

Band: Mizmor
Album:  Cairn
Genre:  Black/Doom Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2012
Record Label:  Gilead Media

This one man Blackened Doom band has created an album that is cavernous as it is harrowing.  An eerie fog of mystique and ancient memories we aren’t yet ready for hang over the album’s four lengthy tracks.  The quiet, ambient textures that so often permeate the album are a prelude to the scathing pain and destruction that often follow.  No matter what sounds are presented on the album, however, it will shake you to the core at all times.
No. 27:

Band:  Cities Of Mars
Album:  The Horologist
Genre: Stoner/Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2014
Record Label:  Ripple Music

CITIES OF MARS have really out done themselves here, somehow able to move their sound forward while also keeping the elements that make them so great to begin with. “The Horologist” is an album with many layers and contains a depth most bands can’t even dream of achieving even half of.   Doom is my favorite sub genre of Metal and albums like this are a shining example as to why.
No. 26:

Band:  Grima
Album:  Will of the Primordial
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2014
Record Label: Naturmacht Production

Ultimately, this is one great Atmospheric Black Metal album with no shortage of great song structures that bring about with them exciting elements and changes to the listener, giving them a near nonstop ride of that classic Black Metal energy with more opened minded elements to it.
No. 25:

Band:  Ad Patres
Album: A Brief Introduction To Human Experiments
Genre:  Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2008
Record Label:  XenoKorp

After the brief intro track, I immediately took notice of the impeccable balance these five guys write and play with; their sound is a perfect combination of Technical Death and Brutal Death without going too far into each sub genre.  Their musicianship blew me away but it didn’t overstay its welcome—this album doesn’t have any guitar masturbation, endless solos, or overly complicated passages for the hell of it.   Despite how crushing the album is, it isn’t heavy for the sake of being heavy either—this allows for Death Metal that isn’t confounded by its own problems or trapped so far into its own genre that it can’t get out.  Instead, we get an album and band that is so laser focused on its goals that the reward for the listener is a tight package of unrelentingly balls to the wall Death Metal.
No. 24:

Band: Old Forest
Album: Black Forests Of Eternal Doom
Genre: Black Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 1998
Record Label:  Dusktone

The final track, “Hang’ed Man,” is sort of darkness that comes with different shades—beautiful yet hopeless passages litterthe landscape of the almost nine minute long song. The first two and a half minutes are extremely moving, a wandering landscape where both the dead and alive can find common ground. The riffs wash over the song, pulling everything in around it like a black hole, leaving me the impression this is probably the best mix of Doom and Black Metal I’ve heard all year.  The ending of the song caps off an album,  journey,  that, while harrowing, needs to be taken by anyone who is a fan of extreme Metal.
No. 23:

Band: Esoteric
Album:   A Pyrrhic Existence
Genre: Funereal Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1992
Record Label: Season of Mist

ESOTERIC are the kings of Funereal Doom and after eight long years they return.  Despite being two discs clocking in at 98 minutes, the darkness that comes from within the album wraps around you and never lets you go.  The long journey is a rewarding one, providing you have what it takes to stare at nothingness itself and survive.
No. 22:

Band:  Evergrey
Album: The Atlantic
Genre: Progressive Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1995
Record Label: AFM Records

EVERGREY’s “The Atlantic,” is their most Prog filled album since “The Inner Circle.”  Thankfully, they still use those elements to write catchy songs with heavy riffs.  All of it comes together with front man Tom, whose expressive vocals only get better as the years go by.
No. 21:

Band: Firelink
Album: The Inveterate Fire
Genre:  Melodic Black Metal/Progressive

General Information:

Year of Formation:  Unknown
Record Label: Independent

This album kind of came out of no where and I purchased it on a whim—quite possibly the best musical purchase of the year for me.  Epic, progressive, melodic, frantic…everything that a one man band could possibly do to create such an atmospheric record is presented here and played straight from the heart.
No. 20:

Band: Naga
Album: Void Cult Rising
Genre: Black/Doom Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2013
Record Label:  Spikerot Records

As previously mentioned, “Inanimate” was scary but “Void Cult Rising,” is as cold as the void from which is came. This coldness, this deadly, icy touch, is born out of a hopeless feeling of being completely detached from safety and security.   In addition, “Void Cult Rising,” sees the band expanding their sound.  They didn’t change their style—this is still dark, depressing, Doom but they have built upon what makes them so great.  Post-Metal makes its way into their cold, alien world but don’t think of something like ALCEST.  Here, in this barren world of desperation, you won’t find any clean vocal lines or melodic landscapes.  Here there be demons—demons that are represented in audio format by sludge riffs that drop down from the scarred skies above, tortured vocals, bass that moves like a creature in the night, and a raw but intricate drum performance.  NAGA have crafted an album that is just as good, if not better, than anything they have done.
No. 19:

Band:  Age Of The Wolf
Album: Ouroboric Trances
Genre: Stoner/Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2015
Record Label:  Aural Music

With “Ouroboric Trances,” AGE OF THE WOLF have created a Doom Metal album that, in my opinion, is as near perfect as an album can get.  If you like Doom in any capacity or music that is filled to the brim with amazing ideas and song writing prowess, this album needs to be heard.
No. 18:

Band: Weeping Sores
Album:  False Confession
Genre:  Death/Doom Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2016
Record Label:  I, Voidhanger Records

Even if you don’t care for Death/Doom, this is an album that I think should be on your radar because it is just 56 minutes and 10 seconds of masterfully written Extreme Metal that can, and should, be heard by anyone into the scene. I’m going to go right out and say this:  “False Confession,” is one of the most unique Death/Doom albums I’ve heard this year.  It certainly is a record whose sum is greater than the individual parts that make it up.  After all, every thing has been done….and there isn’t anything here taken separately that you haven’t heard before.  However, it isn’t what you do that matters but how you do it—the approach WEEPING SORES takes is an extreme blast of fresh air to the point that I honestly can’t say there is one other band out there that sounds like them.
No. 17:

Band:  Demiurgon
Album:  The Oblivious Lure
Genre: Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2014
Record Label:  Everlasting Spew Records

DEMIURGON’s “The Oblivious Lure,” is yet another monumental release from the guys at Everlasting Spew, one that has a nonstop intensity that is presented in different ways but always in such a way that pulls you into the harrowing journey.
No. 16:

Band:  Wounds
Album:  Light Eater
Genre:  Technical Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2012
Record Label: Everlasting Spew Records

In essence, “Light Eater” is an album that features mind numbing songs presented in a package that includes passages that I’ll actually care about ten minutes from now and a replay ability that is rare.  I honestly can’t remember how many times I’ve listened to this beast from start to finish….at just under 21 minutes in length, it is the perfect jam session for if you don’t have a lot of time but want to get the most out of that time.

No. 15:

Band:  Mithridatic
Album: Tetanus Mystique
Genre:  Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2007
Record Label:  XenoKorp

MITHRIDATIC is latest band to drop a bomb shell of an album onto the rest of the world, this time in the form of a powerfully raw representation of Blackened Death Metal, that sounds different from a lot of other bands at the moment.  The production is raw but powerful—everything can be heard clearly but still has a classic, dirty sound.  Guitous' vocals are striking and he showcases a surprising range of abilities.  Throaty wails done in an almost spoken word cadence, Death growls, Blackened shrieks…this guy can do a lot and uses everything in his repertoire to belt the lyrics out. 
No. 14:

Band: Haunter
Album: Sacramental Death Qualia
Genre: Black/Death

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2013
Record Label:  I, Voidhanger Records

HAUNTER’s music is a miasma of hectic and moody music that is heads and shoulders above a lot of other extreme Metal bands I’ve heard this year.  If you want some Black/Death Metal with a lot of depth, stunning musicianship, epic songs, and even a little adventure, then HAUNTER’s “Sacramental Death Qualia,” needs to find a way to your wishlist ASAP.
No. 13:

Band: Vintersea
Album:  Illuminated
Genre: Progressive Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2016
Record Label: M-Theory Audio

They have expanded upon their sound while finding a more even footing without sacrificing their core elements.    In the end, “Illuminated,” displays the band growing stronger from their first album and a clear drive to continue to do so—this album has set the stage for the rest of their career.   They are definitely going places and it will be one hell of a ride for them and the fans.
No. 12:

Band:  Marianas Rest
Album: Ruins
Genre: Melodic Death/Doom Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2013
Record Label: Inverse Records

MARIANAS REST is a band I haven’t heard before this promo came to me but I’m so glad it did— “Ruins” is a stellar example of how the depressing atmosphere of Doom can still be epic and melodic by using MDM, without sacrificing any of either sub genre’s tropes in the process.  Highly recommend and no doubt this will land on a lot of Doom and MDM’s “Best of” lists by the end of the year.
No. 11:

Band: Facade
Album: The Eternal Dance
Genre:  Doom/Death Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2011
Record Label: Independent

Metal is an intelligent genre, or at least it can be.  But so often it is quickly dismissed as child’s play or worse.  Even further, Doom Metal is looked as nothing more than morose darkness wrapped in macabre situations.  FACADE and their album, “The Eternal Dance,” challenges and defeats all these notions.  An absolutely incredible, beautiful, dark, scary, hopeful, and sad album. It is an album of life.
No. 10:

Band:  Ashbringer
Album: Absolution
Genre: Black Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2013
Record Label:  Prosthetic Records

The depth and variety to the seven tracks are astounding to say the least.  Passages are made up of moments that shouldn’t work, but do.  When you think you have heard it all, you haven’t.  Take the first track, “Absolution,” for example.  The beginning has a strong country/bluegrass feel to the clean instrumentation.  When I first heard these notes, I wasn’t sure what I was going to be in for.  When the song goes heavy, some of the riffs retain that country twang yet it wholly fits into their sound; I never once thought I was listening to something that wasn’t Metal but ASHBRINGER take non-metal elements and run with them, such as Jazz elements that poke their head from around the corner the deeper you get into the album.
No. 9:

Band:  Halls of Oblivion
Album: Endtime Poetry
Genre: Melodic Death

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2007
Record Label:  Metalapolis Records

For such a young band, they are already hugely impressive.  Melodic Death has seen a resurgence in the last couple of years, especially with the bands that can blend the lighter approach with darker themes. There have been several really great Melo Death albums this year and HALLS OF OBLIVION’s “Endtime Poetry” is another one to add to the group.
No. 8:

Band: Atlases
Album:  Haar
Genre:  Post-Metal

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2017
Record Label:  Rain Without End Records

I just can’t get enough of this album and once again my on going and ever changing top 10 albums of the year find another extremely strong contender to fight with.  If you like Post-Metal, this is probably the best purchase you will make all year. If you don’t care for the genre, I bet this album will change your mind.
No. 7:

Band:  Ataraxie
Album:  Resignes
Genre: Funereal Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2000
Record Label:  XenoKorp

If you haven’t figured it out yet, France’s ATARAXIE play Funeral Doom/Death with an emphasis on every word in the sub genre’s name—all elements come into play, mixing into a harrowing journey through a complete blackness.  A lot of Funeral Doom bands have these long song structures and they fill them up with ambiance or psychedelic textures.   However,  “Resignes,” focuses on pure destruction with the elements of Doom being used as a bludgeoning tool.  The album features three guitarists and I promise you all three are used effectively—this is some of the most crushing Doom/Death I have ever heard.
No. 6:

Band:  Black Therapy
Album:  Echoes of Dying Memories
Genre: Melodic Death

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2009
Record Label: Black Lion

 BLACK THERAPY’s “Echoes Of Dying Memories,” is one of the most impressive Melodic Death Metal albums I’ve heard in some time.  Not only does it honor the style but it pushes it forward in terms of song writing.  If you gave up on the genre, this will probably pull you back in.  If you haven’t listened to the style before, prepare to have your musical life changed.  If you already enjoy the genre, you just found one of its future royalties.  A modern day Melodic Death Metal classic.
No. 5:

Band:  Borknagar
Album: True North
Genre:  Progressive

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1995
Record Label:  Century Media Records

BORKNAGAR’s unique brand of Progressive/Black Metal has never failed them and “True North,” adds yet another layer to an already tall mountain of music.  With Icx Vortex at the helm once again, the band expands and stretches their sound while still retaining their core appeal.
No. 4:

Band: Vessel of Light
Album: Thy Serpent Rise
Genre: Doom/Sludge/Metal/Groove/Thrash

General Information:

Year of Formation: 2017
Record Label:  Independent

It is an important album for VESSEL OF LIGHT. Now the duo have expanded into a full fledged band, adding Ron Lipnicki and Jimmy Schulman on drums and bass, respectively.  Dan and Nathan did a great job taking on all the duties but having a full set up of members definitely gets the album a richer, more full sound as we are getting playing styles from four different people.  Of course, the albums production also helps on this front: it is loud and clear but not overly so and every instrument shines through equally. Nathan's vocals are explosive and exciting but the mix doesn’t push them too far in front—without a doubt, this album features a band that is very cohesive in the studio.
No. 3:

Band: October Tide
Album:  In Splendor Below
Genre:  Melodic Death/Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1994
Record Label: Agonia Records

"In Splendor Below,” is very focused—not one second is wasted and each idea has a place within the structure, allowing them to get the songs at a decent length without stretching them out with excess bloat.  That makes this album a brisk 44 minutes and 51 seconds in length, allowing for multiple listens in a short amount of time.   Fortunately, the songs are more than well done enough to allow for that to happen. This is no doubt one of the most anticipated Doom releases of the year and it is worth the hype.  I don’t think it quite reaches the heights of their first two releases but no doubt it is their best since 2010’s “A Thin Shell.”
No. 2:

Band:  Novembers Doom
Album: Nephilim Grove
Genre: Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  1992
Record Label: Prophecy Productions

As much as I like the first four tracks, I’m happy to report the album kicks into high gear at track five—and stays there.  So many albums are front loaded these days but “Nephilim Grove,” just gets better as it goes.  “Adagio,” is easily one of their best tracks ever. Garry's drums straight up destroy this song, complimenting the track while forging its own path of destruction.  His entire performance on this album is one for the ages.  The band may be drenched in melancholy but his drumming is infectious and energetic.  This song has it all: moments of melodic touches, harrowing growls, soaring cleans, and enough riffs to satisfy even the most jaded Doom fan.With “Nephilim Grove,” NOVEMBERS DOOM have joined the small ranks of bands who have never put out a bad album.  It is an album that is an ode to the band’s past, a sterling example of their present, a look at their still bright future.
No. 1 (Album of the Year 2019):

Band: Swallow The Sun
Album: W hen A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light
Genre:  Doom

General Information:

Year of Formation:  2000
Record Label: Century Media Records

SWALLOW THE SUN’s “When A Shadow Is Forced Into The Light,” is the most emotionally heavy album of 2019.  After suffering through the death of his partner, and important friend to the band, Juha Raivio and company crafted this album that takes you to the edge and back.  Despite the pain that permeates throughout it, a sense of acceptance and hope also finds a way through.  This album is a potent journey through the depth of the human spirit and cannot be missed by any fans of Doom, melodic music in general, or fans of the band.  An album this good, one that can leave you both broken and lifted up, deserves the spot for my number one album of the year 2019.

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