Angry Metal LisaThere are children who are starting to be able to lie to their parents pretty convincingly who were born on the first day I posted something at AMG. There have been 130 (+/- 13) generations of mosquitoes who have been hatched, lived, sucked blood, laid eggs and died since I started this humble little blog. Djent became a thing and we all became annoyed with it. Dio and Peter Steele died and Black Sabbath actually reunited. Actually, quite a bit has changed since I started this little blog. Let me wax nostalgic for a minute or three.

Back in 2009, I started Angry Metal Guy. Without getting too biographical, the title of the blog was actually rooted in a joke that I had with my girlfriend about me and how I hate everything. In any case, having just moved to Sweden a year and half prior and finished my bachelors degree a few months before, I was unemployed, bored, and starved for good, quality metal that I could not actually afford. I also had opinions. Lots of them. And really, they were well-formulated opinions that reflected some kind of esoteric truth about metal. So what did I do? I took advantage of full album feeds on MySpace to start reviewing records on my newly purchased website “angrymetalguy.com.” On May 19th, 2009 I produced my first WordPress post entitled “Hello World.” I then changed the name to “Amorphis – Skyforger on MySpace.” Finally, I uploaded some reviews I’d done for my personal blog and backdated them to look like I was productive. No one cared. The website had the theme “Grunge,” which is about as metal as WordPress can even look. It was pretty fugly.

No one cared, that is, but the very kindly lady who had Nuclear Blast and Century Media’s promotional duties in Sweden1. I sent her my glowing review of Amorphis – Skyforger—AMG’s very first 5/5—and I began to get promotional material from her. That’s how easy it was. In some ways, despite the fact that no one cared even the tiniest little bit, those were the days. I was (literally) writing for myself and for no one else with the ‘payment’ of free music. And I wrote quite a bit. My goal was to update three or four times a week, but by the time Steel Druhm posted his first review, my goal was to post five reviews a week. Part of the benefits of being post-bachelors degree and pre-job was an inordinate amount of free time to spend listening to metal and writing about it.

I rode that horse pretty hard, but it really caught up to me in the summer of ’11—when I was wearing an onion on my belt, as was the fashion in those days. That summer when I took my yearly vacation to the north, I realized I was so burned out. I listened to nothing but Camel and Meatloaf‘s track “Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Be Closer than They Appear” repeatedly while detoxing from the intense stress of forcing Steel Druhm to review metalcore and making the website work and grow. Druhm managed to keep the website going, and more importantly when I returned we were able to keep the site growing. Because up has been the trajectory of Angry Metal Guy: constant growth, like some kind of post-communist economy growing on the backs of its newly (or at least differently) exploited workers (in this case those poor schlubs were Steel Druhm and myself). AngryMetalGuy.com became a job, and I became a pretty decent administrator.

AMG's First Blurb!Since then the staff has grown. I have continued to take a back seat in the day-to-day stuff while pursuing a PhD (and writing my Master’s thesis). We have gotten huge in South Africa, have received ironic blurb stickers from a band whose record I panned, been thanked by bands I love (like Wildernessking and The 11th Hour!) in their discs, and we get thousands of visitors every day, many of whom are stumbling on Angry Metal Guy (dot com) for the first time.

I no longer live in the north of Sweden (now I live in the middle of Sweden), and I no longer am unemployed (I got a master’s degree and now a job at a university as a doctoral student); but I do still hate things, I do have really strong opinions, and—contrary to what people think after my most recent Top 10(ish) Records o’ 2013, I still do like metal.

The point of this post isn’t just to wax nostalgic about my time as Angry Metal Guy, though, it’s actually to drop some reflexive knowledge on yo’ asses in the terms of which records really stuck with me from my Top 10(ish) Records posts since 2009. Since there are 55 records on my 5 Top 10(ish) lists, I am giving myself 15(ish) of these as the best o’ the best since starting at AMG. One final thought, though, before I go. Lists like this give the lie to any rating system, and mine is a perfect example of this. The interaction of music with the individual is something personal and strange, and things that hit just that spot at one time might do nothing for you later. There will be things on this list that you didn’t expect to see and other things you really did expect to see in spots you would never have imagined seeing them. That’s the beauty of music and the beauty of taste, and the danger of setting up “measurements” of something as deeply personal as music.

Oh, also, I’m aware that without you, dear reader, this blog wouldn’t be the successful endeavor it is today. So thank you all for coming in the first time, and thank you all for sticking around despite us—most likely—having panned your favorite band’s new record.

Starting now…


 

Turisas - Stand Up and Fight#(ish): Turisas // Stand up and Fight – [#N/A in 2011 – Century Media Records] — This album wasn’t on my Top 10(ish) from 2011, but I have no idea why! Looking at that list, there are certain things that easily could have been dropped from the list and replaced with a record that I gave a 4.5/5.0 for a reason. What Stand up and Fight has managed to do is just to stick around in my playlist since it was released. The unique combination of the stupendously epic sounds, complemented by a beautiful use of orchestration, with Nygård’s obvious ’80s rock influences and progressive tendencies makes for an album that presses all the right buttons. “Take the Day!” has an “Eye of the Tiger” pulse that sticks, while “End of an Empire” and “The Bosphorus Freezes Over” and the Finnish Men’s Epic Choir caress my desire for epic showtunes in my records about Vikings traveling to the Byzantine Empire. Stand up and Fight holds a special place in my heart, and like so many records that grow on the listener, it has set deep roots.

Shining - VII: Född förlorare#15: Shining // VII: Född förlorare – [#3 in 2011 – Spinefarm] — While Shining obviously peaked with V: HalmstadFödd förlorare was a return to form after a weird and uncomfortable movement into shreddy territory and not-so-hot writing on VI. Unlike its predecessor, the record just works. Kvarforth sounds tortured enough and the composition sparks with passion and tension. And, I’ll be honest, there isn’t an album I’ve heard in my time at Angry Metal Guy that annoys my girlfriend more than this one, which definitely gives it the bonus of being music in a weaponized form. In any case, Född förlorare was a return to form that I’ve come back to time and again. It added some detail to the fine blade that Kvarforth had crafted through V, and deserves a hat-tip if nothing else. The Landberk cover shines, and the album ranks as the best Opeth record I’ve heard since starting at the blog.

Sigh - Scenes from Hell#14: Sigh // Scenes from Hell – [#3 in 2010 – The End Records] — When Scenes from Hell dropped in 2010, I really had no idea what to expect. The scene had flipped a collective titty over 2007’s Hangman’s Hymn, but I had never really gotten into the record. Still, from the very opening strains of Scenes from Hell it was obvious to me that I was listening to an extraordinarily special record. One of the things that might turn people off to it is that it’s produced in a weird and claustrophobic way, but I like that. The orchestra and the band sound like they’re competing for air, and it gives it such a different feel from the over-produced classical black metal bands like Dimmu Borgir or Septicflesh. There’s something that still feels raw about Scenes from Hell, and the orchestrations on the album are a league above what everyone else had done. This record could have been done without the distorted guitars and it still would have been metal as fuck. I still can’t get over the “bridge” in “L’art de Mourir.” Scenes from Hell is just an elite record, and you’ll never quite hear anything like it ever again.

demiurg_slakthus-gamleby_300dpi#13: Demiurg // Slakthus Gamleby [#7 in 2010 – Cyclone Empire] — After the release of The 11th Hour‘s excellent Burden of Grief I did an interview with the band’s mainman Ed Warby. During that conversation he told me that he was working on a record that was Rogga Johansson’s “Cadillac” project—that is, the one that wasn’t specifically about gutting nuns or anything. So when I got my greedy little paws on Slakthus Gamleby, the band’s 2010 release, I was stoked. This album features not just Johansson and Warby, but one Dan Swanö (you might have heard of him) and Johan Berglund from The Grotesquery and Marjen Welman of Autumn. The result is a death metal project with doomy tones but a really Bloodbath/Vorum feel when one isn’t being serenaded with haunting female vocals or Warby’s awesome doom tones. This is one of the classiest, coolest, and most underrated records I’ve heard while reviewing here. I urge everyone to give it a shot, because it’s fucking great.

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Oracles#12: Flesghod Apocalypse // Oracles [#3 in 2009 – Willowtip] — For once I have a little scene cred, ’cause I got in on the ground floor with Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s first album, and let me tell you a secret—it’s their best. Oh, I know, that’s what we say about all the bands, but with Fleshgod Apocalypse it’s definitely true. First, while the production on this record is nothing to write home about, it’s definitely better than the follow-ups. Second, what Fleshgod was doing on Oracles was something that was new, fascinating, and remarkably entertaining in a way that can’t be overstated. Like their Italian brethren in [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire], these sons of the culture capital of the world draw upon their cultural heritage to create metal, much like all the Scandinavians who have done similar things. The thing is, Italian culture is way more tied up in opera and classical music than folkvisor and excessive drinking. At least when they did their excessive drinking it was done with fine, powdered wigs on. In any case, Oracles is the perfect distillation of this classical tradition into stunning technical death metal. It’s hard to get into this record because the DRUMS ARE SO FUCKING LOUD but give it some time and compartmentalize the guitars, and you can’t help walking away from this record impressed.

Riverside - ADHD#11: Riverside // Anno Domini High Definition [#6 in 2009 – InsideOut Recordings] — Poland’s Riverside was a band that I knew nothing about when I first popped in their newest record back in 2009. One of the benefits of walking into a record totally clueless is the propensity of getting floored by what you hear. ADHD (ugh) floored me. While I was a bit nervous at first about Mariusz Duda’s vocal approach and lyrics, but all I needed was to get into the record and begin experiencing the layers. While heavy—a drive that betrays the band’s background in metal—it was uncompromisingly progressive and unabashedly modern. In fact, Riverside nailed the sound I want from modern prog so well that I have a difficulty getting over ADHD. When they released their new album, it was ADHD I compared it to, and every time I hear a band that sounds like Fates Warning or Dream Theater, I think “man, I want to listen to Riverside.” ADHD has amazing songwriting and performances, the production is excellent and it has that “full-length x factor” that makes it extremely difficult to turn off once it’s started. So, I’ll write the next entry in 45 minutes…

The Human Abstract - Digital Veil#10: The Human Abstract // The Digital Veil [#4 in 2011 – E1 Records] — The Human Abstract is a hyper-modern American metal band that many would call “metalcore.” I guess I don’t care so much what they’re called, so long as they produce elite music, and I can definitely say that The Digital Veil was elite—if overproduced as fuck. Still, what The Human Abstract was trying to do—blending the modern technical metalcore/techy melodeath sound with neo-classical guitar skills, with a Muse-like vocal approach—was an awesome idea and worked perfectly. I was pretty much hooked form the opening of “Elegiac,” but “Faust” and “Antebellum” and the very cool and epic “Patterns” all kept me guessing and firmly infatuated in these kids’ vision for the metal they wanted to produce. The only thing that makes the record worse than anything else I’ve heard since I’ve been reviewing is the way that it was produced with such dated sounds and techniques. A remastering is in order, but  it was good of these guys to produce their magnum opus before calling it quits.

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata#9: Diablo Swing Orchestra // Pandora’s Piñata [#3 in 2012 – Candlelight Records] — Angry Metal Guy shouldn’t be such a playful guy, but one of the things you may have noticed about me is that over time I’ve been getting more and more interested in playful and interesting metal. While the metal world gets stupid over the new true thing—be it more extreme or more “techy” or whatever—I find myself drawn to bands that are more creative, more melodic, more eclectic. Diablo Swing Orchestra‘s 2012 opus Pandora’s Piñata is the perfect example of how music in the metal genre can be made swinging, fascinating, entertaining and still have a bit of a heavy side and the darkness we all long for. The record is epic, but this ensemble doesn’t take itself too damned seriously, which—similar to Solefald or Finntroll—gives them a leg up on the competition. This is one of the coolest and most fun records I own and it still makes me nod my head and drops a good groove riff from time-to-time. DSO does the Swedish scene credit by not sounding like Entombed. Hurra!

The Ocean - Pelagial#8: The Ocean // Pelagial [#1 in 2013 – Metal Blade] — For a list of the five year anniversary, it’s actually kind of an interesting statement that The Ocean is the only 2013 thing on this list. That’s not to say that the albums on my Top 10(ish) from this year aren’t great, but it illustrates just how strong other years were. In any case, Pelagial—as I’m sure you’re all aware—is a monster record from a really cool band who’s doing really unique and interesting stuff. While it needs to be given some time to ripen to see where it would land in 5 years time, Pelagial is simply a cool record. I’ve written so many blurbs about it that I really am not sure what more to say at this case that I haven’t already said here or here. Just look at the albums that it’s surrounded by and you’ll see that it’s a compliment to The Ocean to be in this group. Let me just say that I hope these guys can really continue to produce albums that are as truly epic as Pelagial is. This is going to be a hard standard to meet.

Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa#7: Moonsorrow // Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa [#1 in 2011 – Spinefarm] — For some people Varjoinna kuljemme kuolleiden maassa was a disappointment. Many of my friends who are big Moonsorrow fans didn’t “feel” Vkkm in the way that I apparently did. But for me, Moonsorrow‘s 2011 slab of extraordinarily epic metal is a standing testament to the fact that 17 minute songs can be just as entertaining as 3 minute songs. While it’s true that V: Hävittety might be a stronger album, Vkkm threads the needle of being extremely epic and ponderous, but also melodic and emotional. After the 6 minute mark of “Tähdetön” it’s hard to turn away from the aural experience you’re being subjected to. These guys blend black metal and the Scandinavian style of epic black metal into something entirely unique and world-changing. They take the epic scope of a story and turn it into something immense, ridiculously hard to swallow in a single bite, and then they dare you to sit down for the ride. Varjoina kuljemme kuolleiden maassa is still one of the finest albums I’ve heard in my time at Angry Metal Guy. There may be more accessible albums that I come back to more frequently, but there’s something to be said for treating the album format like Russian writers treated the novel.

Rhapsody_Of_Fire_-_The_Frozen_Tears_Of_Angels_artwork#6: Rhapsody of Fire // The Frozen Tears of Angels [#2 in 2010 – Nuclear Blast] — I don’t think you can underestimate just how important The Frozen Tears of Angels really was when given how lost to metal Rhapsody had seemed until it dropped. After being embroiled in some kind of weird legal battle with eminent poseur, functional psychopath, and old guy Joey DeMaio—who subsequently stole their sound but didn’t have the talent to make it work—it was like a blast of fresh air when The Frozen Tears of Angels came barreling out of my speakers. Sure, it’s mastered to death, but the music speaks for itself. There is an energy from this record that simply pops, it’s in the songwriting, and the performances, but especially the guitar work. Turilli topped his best work ever on The Frozen Tears of Angels and created some of the most memorable guitar solos I’ve ever heard throughout the whole record. This album also opened the floodgates for a series of releases, all of which ranged between pretty good and amazing, so it’s safe to say that they really did rise a bit like a phoenix from the flames. The Frozen Tears of Angels is power metal done right. Take that, DeMaio.

Sabaton - Carolus Rex (Svenskt omslag)#5: Sabaton // Carolus Rex (Swedish) [#1 in 2012 – Nuclear Blast] — Sabaton is not my favorite band. They’re not even close. Their specific brand of dude metal hasn’t ever thrilled me before. But Carolus Rex just pressed every single button I had. It was catchy, melodic, heavy and—most importantly—it was in Swedish about Swedish history. To say that this one was in some ways a bit of a shoe-in is probably true. Still, that I’m a nerd doesn’t change what this album does so well. Firstly, the songs are well-written, they’re fun to listen to, and the melodies are catchy. Secondly, hearing a band actually sing power metal in Swedish is nice for a change, because bands are so limited by their English language skills. Sabaton are no poets in English, and they’re not going to win a Nobel Prize for their Swedish lyrics, either, but Carolus Rex isn’t hampered by cheesy, unlistenable lyrics that get in the way of the band’s otherwise interesting ideas. Songs like “En livstid i krig,” “Carolus Rex,” and “Ruina imperii” are successful because of the use of Swedish and it bolsters my theory that bands should do what they’re good at, not what they think they should do. This is a record I’ll be listening to for a very, very long time.

The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual#4: The Black Dahlia Murder // Ritual [#6 in 2011 – Metal Blade] — The Black Dahlia Murder is one of those bands that I thought was on a decline—which, let’s be frank—is inevitable. So when Ritual dropped in 2011 I was not ready for it all. I like the band, I love their brand of post-At the Gates melodeath with a blasty side and a dynamic vocalist. But they’d gotten a little tired. Ritual changed that by adding Ryan “Motherfuckin'” Knight to the lineup and adding dynamic writing and new ideas to their repertoire. Add amazing cover art, and the best production job of their career, and Ritual is just the beastly record that I as a fan was waiting for. Every song is a victory, the guitar solos are life-changing, and—as bands are wont to do from time to time—they broke the barrier of their sound and, according to an interview that I did with Trevor that never got published2, finally broke them into the upper echelon of metal bands touring and recording music today. What’s cool about that is that tracks like “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood” and “Blood in the Ink” saw the band moving away from their bread and butter sound for something newer, epicer, awesomer, and—honestly—stupefying. This was not my Record o’ the Year, but I actually listen to it a hell of a lot 3 years later. Take that for what it is.

The 11th Hour - Burden of Grief#3: The 11th Hour // Burden of Grief [#7 in 2009 – Napalm Records] — Ed Warby’s vision seems to be a vision I share. His influence on the Demiurg stuff helped to bring it to the fore in my mind and rank on this list; but his true genius is seen in the deeply personal and ponderously heavy Burden of Grief which dropped in 2009. Burden of Grief was one of those watermarked promos I got back in the day from Napalm Records, and I knew that I liked Ed pretty well when I received this one, and he had made the watermarks as unobtrusive as possible. This helped me focus on the music—and holy shit, was it some music to focus on. I have never been a big fan of doom, but Warby’s haunting voice is only matched by his haunting use of melody and intuitive understanding for song construction. Burden of Grief shows off not only the man’s feel for melody, but his death metal credentials. While the record isn’t “riffy” like more traditional death metal fare, it is heavy and the use of Rogga’s beastly growls to punctuate these tracks helps to make the record feel simultaneously depressing and deadly. The production on this record is thick and loud, but the feel is simply leaden. When I got a new pair of speakers the first thing I did was pop in Burden of Grief and just sit in front of them in awe. So, so good.

guiltmachine_onthisperfectday#2: Guilt Machine // On this Perfect Day [#4 in 2009 – Mascot Records] — The astute reader has noticed that when I rank Arjen Lucassen’s material, I rate it as “X/Guilt Machine.” That’s because On this Perfect Day is, well, a perfect record. True, it’s not a heavy record, but the tones are dark and mysterious and the writing is epic. The tracks never get shorter than 6 minutes and the production tones are layered with clean tones and synthesizer—frankly, much like Arjen’s post-Guilt Machine material. What makes On this Perfect Day such a phenomenal record is its completeness. I hear a lot of people say that the iPod changed the way they listened to music, but On this Perfect Day is a record that needs time, patience, space, and excellent equipment to really appreciate. Though some things about On this Perfect Day were immediate: Belgian pop-singer Jasper Steverlinck’s performance is a true stand-out in the Arjen Lucassen tradition of finding the best vocalists available. At times, I’m amazed at how much he reminds me of Freddie Mercury. And, of course, the melodies and composition here are outstanding. Put the concept, the emotional feel, the amazing writing, production and the outstanding vocal performances together and you have one of the best records ever written. That this album didn’t go over with Arjen’s fans is a mystery. Guilt Machine made me an Arjen fan.

#1: Orphaned Land // The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR [#1 in 2010 – Century Media Records] — I write this blurb after having heard the news that guitarist Yossi has left Orphaned Land. His sound is integral to the band, and to this album. The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR was a record that literally raised the bar for everything that I heard after it. I had discovered Mabool a few years earlier in the “new releases” of a CD store after having heard of the band by word of mouth from a German friend of mine. I picked it up and loved it, though I had some minor critiques—I didn’t think Kobi was a great death metal vocalist and he had some tone issues at times—I still gave it a 10/10 and eagerly awaited their next record. When ORwarriOR was announced the anticipation for me cannot be overstated. I had been looking forward to this album forever, and then I found out that Steven Wilson was working on it with the band. When I received a copy of the album it would have been easy for me to be disappointed—instead, I was blown away. I hadn’t even expected anything to ever be this good. ORwarriOR was easily the best record I’d listened to since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

It should come as no surprise that this is still the best album I’ve heard in the 5 years that I’ve been reviewing here at Angry Metal Guy. In fact, it’s basically among my favorite albums ever. There is nothing to critique here—the songwriting is epic, it flows, the performances are amazing and the production is ridiculously good, especially given that Wilson’s skills were then squashed into a DR6 record. This is what a band sounds like when they are firing on all cylinders. Orphaned Land was a finely tuned machine and ORwarriOR is a masterpiece. I mean this literally—it not only is the best work the band ever did, but it expanded the heavy metal genre in directions no one saw coming.

OrphanedLandCoverArt

Pile o’ Shame / Things that Probably Belonged on Year End Lists that I Missed: 

The Dear Hunter - Act IIIThe Dear Hunter // Act III: Life and Death [2009 – Triple Crown Records] — Yeah, this ain’t metal. But man it’s fucking good. The Dear Hunter is essentially a progressive rock band in the most traditional sense—they’re experimental, they don’t find themselves kept in line by a set of constrictive genre rules and even when they write poppy stuff, it sure ain’t boilerplate crap. It’s epic, it’s fun, it’s cool. Act III is a ride that shows off everything you need to know about this band and it’s an immensely entertaining ride—orchestras, Queen harmonies, and a 40 genre-style-changes later, you’ll just want to start the disc over again. The downside for a lot of metal dudes is going to be the vocals, which wander the “indie rock” lines a bit much at times—but if you like prog, you’ll love Act III: Life and Death. 

Vorum - Grim Death AwaitsVorum // Grim Death Awaits [2009 – Woodcut Records] — Retro-death done right. These Ålanders produced one of the most uncompromising records of 2009 and it flew right under my radar until 2010. The riffs on Grim Death Awaits are sharp, the song-writing is absolutely no bullshit—tracks clocking in at 4:20 at the very top, and that’s double the average song. Grim Death Awaits is a brutal, extreme, and entertaining listening experience that will knock death metal fans out of the park.

Claws - Absorbed in the NethervoidClaws // Absorbed in the Nethervoid [2009 – Razorback Records] — Finnish death metal from 2009? Why, yes! More of it! Absorbed in the Nethervoid and Grim Death Awaits both landed on my lists because they’re good at very similar things and they’re both standout. Absorbed in the Nethervoid has more of the old Entombed feel, and that rawness works so good. Again, these songs aren’t long, most of them are about 3:20 and the riffs and groove are sick. Ain’t no denyin’, Claws is good shit.

Beyond Creation - The AuraBeyond Creation // The Aura [2011 – PRC Music] — Just when I was wrapping up the 2011 lists, someone pointed out Beyond Creation‘s epic opus The Aura which had dropped that year with little to-do (and was later re-released by Seasons of MIst because it’s awesome). I tried to get a hold of the CD from the label, but they kindly informed me that they were closed for vacation—for the next 3 months. That’s how fucking independent this release was. All that aside, Beyond Creation does tech death metal right, with amazing feats of fretless bass that put Cynic to shame. This record is heavy, it’s brutal, it’s technical, and if the drums didn’t sound so canned it’d be even better. Still, worth checking if you never got around to it. It belonged on that list.

Crimfall - As the Path Unfolds...Crimfall // As the Path Unfolds… [2009 – Napalm Records] — I was pretty dismissive of Crimfall when I first heard them, and they never made my list for 2009. But they definitely stuck around, like those really excellent records do. At some point I pulled it back out and realized what a terrible mistake I’d made. While I’d given the album a good score, it was a much more interesting and innovative record than I’d really thought at the time. It boiled down the Finnish metal scene down into its various parts and built a sound that really worked well with all of them. Helena Haaparanta’s vocal performance is excellent and the writing just works. This was a grower and unfortunately, the reviewing business doesn’t give you much time to let growers grow.

Mors Principium Est - ...and Death Said LiveMors Principium Est // …and Death Said Live [2012 – AFM] — Never release your album in December. Mors got released on December 5th of 2012 and basically ended up a footnote in my Best of list. The problem with that? The record is a beast of melodic death metal prowess. It’s gotta be one of the best melodeath albums to be released since the huge rush on melodeath in the late 90s and early 2000s. It’s a sound that a lot of people are tired of, but Mors does it right—heavy, fast, melodic, and very little navel-gazing. This should never have been overlooked.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. And the guys at Napalm Records. But to be fair, I did promotional work for one of their bands, so they were scratching my back a bit when I started getting their irritating, watermarked promos.
  2. Sorry! Read the introduction for a better understanding of why!
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  • Madam__X

    Stoked to see quite a few of my favorites on your list. Turisas, Shining, The Human Abstract, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Sabaton, Sigh and Moonsorrow – they’ve all been exciting finds on AMG :) I’ll need to check out the stuff I missed!!

  • The Metal Pigeon

    Really interesting to get a retrospective on the site’s history, and its cool to see that many of your number ones over the years have held up all this time for you.

  • Link D. LeonhⒶrt V.

    awesome list, bro.. been reading AMG from a couple of months ago and I discovered some nice albums here.. thanks! cheers from Venezuela

  • Shahir Chagan

    I don’t know what I’d do without your blog. Ever since I started reading it (circa 2011) I’ve always loved the reviews and lists, even if I didn’t hear every album that came out. I’ve been introduced to SO many good bands from reading this site and the reviews have been a delight to read.
    So yeah, I appreciate it a ton. Hope this blog continues to grow!
    Hails from South Africa! :P

  • Guilt Machine! I think I’ve commented before on how awesome a record that is, and how under-appreciated. “Perfection?” is literally one of my top 5 favorite songs of all time.

    Also loved: Pandora’s Pinata.

    Awesome list, makes me want to go check out a couple of things I have missed.

  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve not yet heard some of the albums on this list. I’m on it.

    I know you’re busy as hell with life, AMG, but I hope you’ll be doing an occasional article now and then. We really need you for the cause regarding loudness mastering.

    • Oh AMG is behind it 100% percent. Trust me on that, there is more to come!

  • That guy

    Nice to see that you’ve picked the correct Fleshgod album to put on here. Great list, I’m somewhat surprised and quite happy to see a lot of records on here that I really love.

  • Kyungmi Nam

    Happy to say, I discovered this site this summer and it has introduced me to so many new bands that I love (thank you, by the way), so I’ll stick around and lurk here as long as I’m into metal. Here’s to five more years for AMG!

  • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

    Always loved your top 10 (or 15), since I stumbled on this site searching for a good review of Skyforger… We have different tastes, but the way we feel music is very much alike. That said, I totally agree about “ORwarriOR”, and I have to thank your repeated elegies of the album. It didn’t catch me early on, and I deemed it worthless. I came back to it after reading one of your praises and it fucking blew me away.

  • I ve been reading this place since 2011 I think. Man i have a lot to cover! And being spanish my main language, the sabaton album was quite intertaining for me (in swedish. didn’t get a word out of it) and yes, I agrree. OrWarrior is about one of the best things that had come from metal in years past.

  • RU63

    OMG, just this morning our 4.5 year old was lying to us convincingly. Great article, I hope you don’t totally disappear over the next year like you alluded to in your last article; but working on your career is also important.

  • Christofer

    Very interesting read. Hope you carry on for at least five more years. And awesome to see Guilt Machine on the list, it’s my second favourite from the mind of Arjen, only Into The Electric Castle is better.

  • Chorchs

    Congratulations AMG!!!

    …and thank you and all the staff for all the amazing bands I discovered in this site…

    I hope too that you’ll be able and in the mood to do occasional articles despite you job and other interests…

    PD: That list is very useful for me, ha ha, I have to check some…

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Ever since I started regularly coming here regularly (about 1 year and a half ago) the number of albums I have listened to has grown exponentially and I’m actually kind of proud to say that I’ve heard about half of the listed records and they were some of the best musical experiences I’ve had. If I had never come here I would’ve missed on a lot of them.

    To AMG and all the contributors, thanks for exposing and promoting such a huge ammount of great music! Now, to listen to the other half…

    • Thanks André. You comment a lot, and those comments are always appreciated, as well as your readership—of course. Cheers!

      • André Snyde Lopes

        That Sophicide background is what got me hooked into this place! It’s actually the only metal blog I comment on. Cheers!

  • Piet

    “…And Death Said Live” is soooooo good. Fuck those riffs are tight. I listened to a few seconds of a couple songs (bad habbit I know) when the album first came out but didn’t find it very interesting for some reason.
    Then I went to a The Agonist concert with Arsis as support only they cancelled last minute and all of a sudden Mors Principium Est was standing there.
    Absolutely blown away by their performance, I immediately looked them up again when I got home and have been hooked since and bought this album along with liberation=termination.

    I like Sabaton although I don’t listen to them that often anymore but Carolus Rex was quite a bore for me to be honest. There are one or two good songs but that’s it for me.

    I’ve never been into Orphaned Land but the last time I listened to them was two years ago I believe. I should probably check them out again. My taste has grown a lot since then so who knows.

    Lastly I hope you do an occasional review or article from time to time. I’ll still be checking the site daily and I guess Steel Druhm isn’t that bad of a writer ;)

    • Two week wall ban for not praising Lord Steel in more emphatic terms.

      • Piet

        My sincerest apologies Mr. Ste- uh LORD Steel.Your reviews are majestic.

      • Kalsten

        After sucking balls last ManOwaR album, I would not like to be associated with the Lord of Steel words at all…

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    I know most albums in this list (likely due to the fact that I’ve been following this website since 2011-ish) but the ones I don’t I will most definitely check out. Thanks for the many amazing articles and reviews; and the fact that after 5 years this site is still running! :)

  • Carlos_Marrickvillian

    The Moonsorrow vkkm review was the first thing I read on AMG, picked up the record as a result. Big fan of both since!

    ‘ORwarriOR was easily the best record I’d listened to since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.’ I think I need to get this record straight away!
    Curious if you were putting an all time favourite list would SSOSS and ORwarriOR be #1 and #2?

    • SSoaSS is the finest heavy metal record ever crafted. ORwarriOR is two or three on that list because Ride the Lightning exists… ;)

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Word!
        RtL is a distant second to MoP for me…that said, generally theres still a lot of daylight after both…
        The Demiurg record is another joyous find! An unherald classic, been hammering it and ORwarriOR the lest few days

  • Tanuki

    great to see Arjen and Riverside in your list. Riverside blew me away back in the day with their debut. funny that your highlight is my lowlight of their career. I’ve always thought that the 1st album you hear of a good band invariably holds special standing as you explore the rest of their catalog. I can’t count how many times that’s happened to me anyway.

    • Kalsten

      It happened to me too very often. I even opened a post in the metal-archives forums, but after that I though I was the only one. For me, the first Iron Maiden album I heard was “Brave New World”, and even when it is not their best, it holds a special place in my steel ears since then.

    • I definitely think that’s true (though not always the case, I think it’s important that it really be the record you _fall for_, not just a record you like. As an example, think of Orphaned Land. I loved Mabool, but I think ORwarriOR is the band’s strongest. But for a band like Maiden whose records started a decades long obsession, Seventh Son is clearly the best record they wrote – and it’s the one I fell for.), but I should note that Riverside’s other material isn’t quite as good for stylistic reasons. I like ADHD because it’s a heavier album than their other stuff. It’s less prog, more metal and hard rock in my opinion.

  • ADHD was the first review I read here, I had never heard Riverside before and after a friend urged me to get it, I took to the ever trusty interwebs to help me create a sane expectation while it was illegally downloading to my PC. Yup, those were the days. I did not comment much back then. Maybe not at all. But you remained one of the few trusted voices about this genre that resonated with my own. Thanks for all that hard and unpaid work, I think I speak on behalf of many people who comes here regularly, we love you and hope you stick around to whip the errors of our un-metal ways into submission.

  • basenjibrian

    Congrats on the Anniversary! AMG has been a great resource for finding fantastic new music for me!

  • René Proietti

    Thanks man! Now I have to listen to ADHD!! It’s soooo good! :)

  • Ian

    Sometimes I forget that if I devote some time to seeking out good bands like I did in my teens, I wouldn’t be angry as fuck at all the terrible music polluting the airwaves and society as a whole. This list is full of a lot of great metal, but what’s blowing my mind at the current moment is The Dear Hunter. Finding bands that can stand toe-to-toe with Porcupine Tree or Opeth is tough, but these guys, despite their clear Muse influence, have blazed a unique trail through…whatever the hell genre you call their music. I have nothing but the utmost respect for bands who aren’t afraid to tread into pop territory when it fits their artistic vision (Blackfield, Porcupine Tree, Travis, Guster, People in Planes to name a few).

    So thanks for this – if it wasn’t for your site I also would not have discovered Pelagial, which is god damn magical. keep up the good work.

    • Thanks for reading!

      I’d say, in The Dear Hunter’s defense, that their influences are probably much broader than Muse. I think they’re coming up around the same time.

  • Mike Eckman

    Awesome article. I discovered this site late 2012, so I didnt read some of these older reviews. I will definitely have to check some of them out!

    • Happy hunting. There were a lot of good things on my old lists.

  • Feytalist

    I’ve picked up so many new bands thanks to this site.

    Like Crimfall! Good to see it’s got a place in the article. Just a shame Helena Haaparanta has left the band now. Probably won’t be the same without her :/

    • Her voice will surely be missed. It’s hard to replace a vocalist as dynamic as she.

  • Innit Bartender

    Congrats AMG, one of the best metal sites out here. Despite Steel Dhrum. ;-P

    • Watch your ass, Innit!

      • Innit is a man of taste, I see. And Steel Druhm a man of the vulgar argot.

      • Kalsten

        That sounded like a sexual intercourse offering haha!

  • Zadion

    Oh man, there’s still a couple or three albums here I haven’t heard.

    Some albums here bore the hell out of me – The 11th Hour, The Black Dahlia Murder, Fleshgod Apocalypse (those drums just ruin the album), but some here are among my all time favorites. ORwarriOR is straight up my all time favorite album.

    But man, although I do love Scenes from Hell, In Somniphobia is definitely better. In Somniphobia is right along ORwarriOR in my favorites list. Sigh’s only true masterpiece right there.

    • Well, there’s no accounting for your taste. My taste, however, there is full accounting for. It’s why I started a website.

      I do think Scenes from Hell is better than In Somniphobia, though that’s funny ’cause I rated them oppositely of how I feel about them now, and they’re both genius records. Scenes from Hell is just a record that will never be done again. It’s perfect in a weird way.

      I think I feel about Scenes from Hell like a lot of people feel about Burzum or early Emperor—an attachment to a shitty production job that somehow adds to the sound as opposed to subtracting from it.

      • Zadion

        Yeah, the production definitely adds to the album. I hope you don’t quit the biz altogether and can at least make a bit of time to review Sigh’s new album later this year!

    • doom-erik

      Oh no, Sigh’s TRUE masterpiece is obviously Infidel Art.

  • The Lascivious Snape

    Love this site, even if you were so, so wrong about The Ocean’s Anthropocentric. Definitely a great call with DSO.

    I know you keep things fairly review-minded, but I’d love to see more editorial pieces. Those are always my favorite to read. Keep up the awesome work.

    • Anthropocentric is a sleepy record.

      More editorial commentary may yet come.

  • Excentric_1307

    Holy crap Demiurg! This album is so good! This is why I love this review site above all others; the recommendations are spot on! Bravo!

  • Dave

    I’ve been a fan of Mors since Inhumanity, and so I get no joy in saying that their comeback record was WEAK sauce. Those guys are capable of way more than that. Same with Noumena – that one in particular really hit me in the gut as I love that band.

    The production made no sense. Noumena said “we’re not going to do the loudness war thing” and then they made a new record just as loud as everything else they’ve ever done, and that sounded WAY worse than Anatomy of Life. Mors was similarly horribly produced.

    • I disagree, obviously, with your assessment of Mors. The production is bad—of course, it’s AFM in 2012—but the songwriting is too good to downgrade based on a shitty production job.

      • Dave

        Go back and listen to The Unborn or even Liberation = Termination. The new one is just nowhere near as good as those. Other than a select few tracks, most of it is just uninspired IMO, and that has nothing to do with the production. Their new guitarists are obviously talented guys, but the writing was severely lacking.

        In terms of songwriting Noumena was a lot more solid, but the production was *so bad* and as I said I just don’t get it. They did it themselves on their own label.

  • David Perry

    Thanks for your work! Over the last two or three years this blog has totally changed my music world. By which I mean I used to listen to things other than metal… Also, the team you’ve got in place is fantastic!

    • Very cool! What’s your favorite thing you’ve discovered since starting to read?

      • David Perry

        Favorite? Impossible. Some albums that have been in consistent rotation include Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I, Satan – Life Sentence, Lumsk – Asmund Fraegahfkacneawe, and Moonsorrow — you know the one. But that neglects Hellwell, Skeletonwitch, and Witherscape…jeez this is harder than I thought.

  • only 5 years? It feels like it’s been longer. I found this site googling for a review of some specific album, I don’t even remember. I checked the site a few times a month. Then around the time you guys did the top 50 metal songs lists (And I discovered Steel and I have the same favorite song! m/ ) I got into the habit of checking back daily.

    This site has really helped me as a music listener, I’d say it’s doubled my metal knowledge. I can now understand pretty easily why I love or hate a piece of music. Also, as a wanna-be musician it’s made me think more about what I’m writing. Long live AMG!

    • In spirit I’ve always been around. Every time you meet an angry metal guy I am there in spirit…

      • That’s strangely comforting. I guess there’s a little bit of AMG in all of our metal hearts.

  • Kalsten

    I didn’t like Pandora Piñata at all. I really enjoyed their previous record, and my expectations were quite high, but for some reason (and at the contrary or almost all reviews I have heard) I didn’t like it.

    I don’t remember how I first stumble on this web, but I have to say that it is my reference site for reviews. Some of my current favourite bands I have known of them because of your reviews. It would be really a pity if AMG did not continue here. I know that PhD are tough, as I am also a PhD student in Denmark (btw, which field are you?). However, I would not like to see you departing :(

    • Well, there’s no account for you being Danish. Or your taste. :P

      I’m working on my PhD in Sociology. What field are you in?

      • Kalsten

        I’m a southerner who moved to Denmark in reality :P

        I’m doing my PhD in Microbiology, working with electric bacteria :)

  • The_Martus

    I’d echo a lot of other people’s thoughts here. I discovered this site some years ago searching for reviews for a particular album – and never left.
    Personally, I don’t want my metal to be more extreme or more brootal than everything else – an aspect a lot of other sites seem to press. Instead,this site covers a huge range of genres and has expanded my knowledge and appreciation of all of them. Now, at least I know what I like and what I don’t like. And why.
    The reviews are always balanced, informative and entertaining (take a bow here, SD).
    So I say ‘Thank you for the music’

  • TminusEight

    I agree that music is a temporal (as well as a personal) experience.
    Most of the records I play on a regular basis took me months to get into.
    And, my musical interest has changed a lot over the years.

    Oh, and like everybody says – thanks, AMG! The writing on this site is amazing, and it has introduced me to some music I really really like :)

    • Thanks a lot for reading and, of course, you’re quite welcome!

  • Excentric_1307

    I can’t stop listening to Scenes From Hell. It is weird in the best way possible. Demiurg is also amazing. Most the stuff on this list is right in line with my tastes, but I guess the bassist for the album ORwarriOR got lost on the way to the recording studio.

    • Ha! I know, right? Another part that I absolutely adore that I didn’t mention in the piece is from 1:34 in “Scenes from Hell.” That melody.

  • Juular

    Not much to add here, but I knew Guilt Machine was gonna be on here. :)

    Happy Anniversary

    • Thanks Juular! Of course Guilt Machine was on this. It’s brilliant.

  • Mr.CustodialArts

    Hey man, thanks for turning me onto RABBITS!

  • Robotron2084

    I’ve been reading here since I can’t remember when, but it usually ends with me forking out cash to some great musicians that deserve it.
    This website is the only metal site I come to now and it is a breath of fresh air in a world of metal music.

    There is a “less ego – more honesty” side to this website that cuts through the bullshit and I appreciate that. I find your tastes very similar to mine so most times when you recommend something I just buy it. Thanks for everything you (and the other monsters) here on AMG do.

    I hope you continue to haunt these halls from time to time even though I know how busy life can be.

    • Sordid Bass

      Before I discovered AMG: excess cash that I never spent on music.
      After I discovered AMD: consistently broke because I keep buying CDs!

  • sathriel

    Thanks to your blog I have learned about some great bands and found a lot of music to be appreciated. Even if you’ll be unable to contribute your hard work and love for music is commendable.

    P.s. Re Shining blurb – it is not a music in a weaponised form rather a weapon in a musicised form. Unless you annoy your girlfriend by throwing the CD at her ;)

  • Jonas

    Great list! Moonsorrow and Guilt Machine are so good. The Ocean is starting to grow on me. I am ashamed to say as an Opeth and Porcupine Tree fan that i have never heard Riverside. The power metal thing has never catched me though, I find Rhapsody and Sabatons themes a bit too pretentious..

  • Kalsten

    I don’t remember how I found this website. What I know is what it meant to me. Since AMG entered in my “list of websites I check everyday during my morning coffee”, I learnt very much about bands I never heard before. Seriously, I was having problems at the moment to find new sounds and experiences in metal, and everything I was getting was euro-power metal and repetitive death metal. AMG showed me so many cool and interesting stuff, I cannot make less than recommend it to my friends.

    Also, I like a lot the small community in the comment section. While other metal webs seem to be filled with trolls and haters, in here I always enjoy the comment section, with new references to bands that I should check, different opinions and the like.

    For me, AMG is my favourite metal website on the internet. Thank you for all your work, guys :)

    Btw, I am surprised that AMG did not mention anything about the “famous people” commenting in the web sometimes, and the hilarious answers to them. Also, in relation to that, no mention to Tim Ripper Owens? tsk tsk.

  • Siege Bantayan

    I discovered AMG back in 2012 as I was also always looking for new metal to digest, and before then I depended on sites like ultimate-guitar (shivers) and blabbermouth for new metal blood.

    I live in a mostly conservative country where metal is very niche so when I stumbled on AMG it was a godsend for me. And since I started following AMG, my playlist now almost entirely consists of music that I found out because if you guys.

    Cheers to 5 years of AMG and cheers to more! I hope one day I will take my future child, show him/her AMG and say: Lo and behold, my child; this is the standard to which we hold our metal to.

  • Antoine Roth

    It always makes me so sad that Fleshgod Apocalypse decided to go in the direction they did after Oracle (and hired one of the worst producers ever) :(. What remains of the great guitare work in their last two records is just drowned in the muddle of over symphonyism and drumming soup…

    And I couldn’t agree more, ORwarriOR is a masterpiece without equal, and my personal favorite record of all time without a sliver of doubt.

    Anyway, thank you for founding this great website thanks to which I discovered so so many bands I wouldn’t have known about but now am a huge fan of… I hope we’ll continue to have the pleasure to read you despite your busy life! I, like many other people, would sorely miss your beautiful prose :).

  • SegaGenitals

    NICE retrospective. I’d love to see more album revisits.