Written by Chuck Loesch.
The toughest diatribe to write every single year recaps all that took place in 2010 in the realm of Metal music. 2010 seemed to blow by quick with the loss of one of our greatest metal vocalists to cancer, a bass player who helped breath life back into metal, the lack of an Ozzfest (at least in Texas), and the mass of live performances which graced my ears. It all seems a blur, and the many of the bands who released albums that were decent faded from my memory.
The loss of Ronnie James Dio defines this year for me. The adolescent discourse of my life flanked by his music sends my memory aloft every time I hear his music. Having to say good bye is not easily accomplished, while Paul Gray’s passing emotes more tragedy than the slow withering of a legend and his list of accomplishments shorter, Gray’s gift to his fans cannot be disputed. Moving on into the New Year will be welcomed if only to put them men to rest, and move on.
However, just when you think the last nail is in the coffin of Ozzfest it gets trotted out like the racehorse with a gimpy leg. Instead of doing the expected once a year fest in turn for the traveling sideshow, the festival did a limited run north of the Mason Dixon and skipped all of the hardcore fans in the good ol’ south. I don’t think anyone knows what next year will hold, other than a tour early in the year with Ozzy and Slash.
Although the big fests seemed hard pressed to get attention, smaller more genre focused ones blossomed in their place. Management driven, label driven, social network driven or just driven by groups of like minded bands joined together for some decent tours at suitably low cost for fans. I have a feeling fans will continue to embrace these more and more, while being used to seeing 3500 bands do their five minutes in one day, but still want to pay fifteen bucks to get in.
Musically, 2010 has been not revolutionary for Metal. No sweeping dynamic style birthed this year, but two types saw the most growth. The southern fried, noise metal, and the blackened death genres had upticks not only in bands, but quality material produced, while metalcore had a severe drop off. Hard to attribute what we owe a change in tastes, but do we ever really know? Here are my top 10 of 2010, and let me just say they reflect my personal enjoyment.
1) High on Fire
Snakes for the Divine
Difficult to think Matt Pike and crew could make their finest record to date. I have seen them more than any other live act this year, burned myself out on this album and went back on my knees to listen to it again.
2) Dillinger Escape Plan
Just when you think the party may be over after starting down a different road on their last album, DEP have come back to the precipice of geekcore and driven home the point that they know wtf it is all about.
3) Black Tusk
Taste the Sin
I would put them in my top 10 simply for one of the best beards in metal of all time, but Savannah, GA’s Black Tusk created this noisy masterpiece, rife with intensity and brutal riffs and pulled off something amazing. All three of these guys sing, and they sound like a five piece live. Incredible.
4) As I Lay Dying
The Powerless Rise
When I said Metalcore dropped off, I made no mention that it was dead, just imitated until you wanted to stomp it to death. AILD are not imitators, they are innovators and The Powerless Rise reaches out yet again and strikes at the heart of any naysayers
5) Iron Maiden
I would not file this under the ‘greatest albums’ section in the Maiden catalog, but The Final Frontier stuck with me due to the bands return to their old form. A little formulaic at times, but overall representative of what they have been and currently are: Legends.
A Cinderella story of sorts, Periphery’s debut album makes the top 10 list. A very impressive release from a bunch of guys with a lot of guts, recording their own material, angling for better label deals and a deep understanding of the business coupled with innovative sound makes me anticipate the next album already.
This record made the world more beautiful. Not a sentence you would typically want about a metal album, but Kylesa somehow pulled it off. Dark riffs in major keys, breeds optimism of thought, while the juxtaposed yell and soft, effortless vocals accent Spiral Shadow perfectly.
Addicts: Black Meddle II
You can never take anything for granted with Nachtmystium. You might want to describe them as black metal, but then they go trance, or punk all in the span of one record. It may seems schizophrenic to some, yet it represents their ability to communicate musically with the underworld…it has to be that.
I still have yet to figure out what Sumerian-Core actually is, but that is how some describe Melechesh. A remarkable record, The Epigenesis exposes the underbelly of black metal to the harsh light or the Arabian Peninsula forming ancient ideas into fresh ones.
10) Black Breath
Kurt Ballou knows who these guys are, and so should you. Reverberating underground blend of hardcore and black metal stands the hair on your neck at attention with every chord.