What a wealth of good records that came online in 2019. This year is – again – proof that the Folk, Metal, and Rock genres are still vibrant and very much alive. This is especially refreshing for rock and metal, where many an antagonist likes to declare the death of them – like every other day or so. But hey, the naysayers were proven wrong.
On the other hand, having lots of goodies to choose from makes our lives a tad more difficult, too. And that’s why we struggled with our choices this Top 10 much more than we ever did in 2018. But then, methinks that this is a good problem to have. So, let’s not hem and haw too much, or not at all.
And as to 2020, we do see loads of exciting new albums already on the horizon. A lot of those dwell in the Symphonic Metal department by the way. Which will make for an interesting metal battle, and – no doubt – some pretty hefty commentaries to be written, too.
And as we wait for all that future goodness to hit our turntables, now is the time to reflect on the last 12 months or so.
So, here’s to the 2019 Top 10. Let’s begin!
Dirty Sound Magnet – Transgenic
It would indeed be easy to push this band off this eclectic list into the bluesy rocky yonder, where they dwell. Because theirs is no easy fare to digest. And indeed, their retro-leaning, very unique style of Psychedelic and Alternative Rock probably won’t stick too well with the mainstream folks. But the RMR crew will forever be fascinated by this hard-working band that so unerringly walks down its very own path. The technically outstanding and very quirky Transgenic is one further step on their thorny road to fame. And they will get there, I am convinced of it. So why not give them a try?
Dark Mirror ov Tragedy – The Lord ov Shadows
If you look for Symphonic Black Metal at its best, look no further than this Korean band. Their artful mix of theatrics that will put Dani Filth to shame with an orchastic brand of Extreme Metal really sold us. Specifically, this mastery to seamlessly showcase ambient and acoustic passages alongside brutal screechy metal continues to fascinate us to this day. But – behold – ’tis nothing for the casual listener. Their penchant towards complex song structures and ridiculously epic soundscapes often takes the upper hand. This crew – however – judged their style pretty much irresistible.
Eternal Storm – Come The Tide
By Jove, we got to Eternal Storm somewhat late but I am glad we did. And boy, these guys truly step on the gas once they get into the thick of things. Their Doom Death Metal pretty much blew us away, out into the tide the record so aptly depicts. This is yet another album, where the power constantly increases. A metal tsunami that will take you into its grip, and won’t let go until the very end.
Fvneral Fvkk – Carnal Confessions
I must confess. Fvneral Fvkk was not slated to be on here. But sometimes we err and must stand corrected. Regardless of its unfortunate name, the band freely dispenses Doom Metal of the first order. Carnal Confessions thus pushed other bands of a much weightier market value out of the way. But hey, quality speaks and mainstream never quite sat well on this blog. And these Germans surely are no mainstream.
Red Cain – Kindred: Act I
Yeah, baby. Red Cain‘s latest was just irresistible for this crew. And this, despite all that good stuff that came our way all over 2019. Really nothing was able to bury the sweet pull Juliet or – again – Wing of the Crow were able to exert. This record offers a quirkiness, a juicy freshness, an almost demonic urge to go against the grain that really talked to our rebel streak. Kindred truly is a scratchy and highly complex piece of work. But one that will be worth every second of your time. Take my word for it.
Aephanemer – Prokopton
In a way, this album was the surprise of the year, one that totally threw me. The pretty stellar technical skills of this band were already on full display on Memento Mori, of course. But here we are talking about taking things up a few stories. With a new-found maturity that is truly refreshing, up and including the well-known guitar fireworks that we grew accustomed to. So, if you hunger for Melodic Death Metal that somehow lives in another dimension, this would be your choice. Have some, and consume without moderation.
Xaon – Solipsis
Here’s to one underrated band that RMR followed pretty much since they released material. They already seriously got on our radar with The Drift. But Solipsis blows everything they did so far out of the water. It is this new-found swagger, this ability to fuse their Death Metal with whatever takes their fancy that continues to captivate us. All of that sprinkled with an inkling of Hollywood and loads of tasty epic bombast. A metal delight, if there ever was one.
Totengeflüster – The Faceless Divine
A few bands on the RMR blog tempted to rearrange the traditional Black Metal soundscape in 2019. And no one did this better than Totengeflüster. It is this weird mix of traditional tremolo madness and opulent chunks of Post Black Metal that drew us to The Faceless Divine. A truly remarkable piece that will continue to play on our mighty music machine.
The Drowning – The Radiant Dark
2019 was the year of Doom Death Metal. From the ton of material we obtained, only a fraction could be shown on the blog. But The Drowning and The Radiant Dark really got center stage. This is one record we could not get enough of. A kick-ass album that just steamrolled over this crew on these mighty waves of metal-laden doom. So much so that we forgot to surf them correctly and almost drowned ourselves. There’s to stellar quality.
Wilderun – Veil of Imagination
I would not have thought that this band would be able to top their last album. One that – in itself – was already pretty stellar. But I stand corrected. Veil of Imagination is the only record with a straight 10/10 in 2019. A ranking that’s exceedingly difficult to obtain, as we tightened the controls to reach such lofty heights something fierce. In short, Wilderun‘s newest record positively shines with its lush and opulent soundscapes, only topped by its outstanding proficiency. A true jewel of metal mastership. A piece that should definitely live in your music collection.
As always, with so much good material in one single year, choices for the top 10 are difficult. It is thus only fair to mention the records that just missed the official list by a truly short margin.
So, here are the honorable mentions of the year 2019.
Tyr – Hel
They do not release albums often. But when they do, things get juicy. Tyr indeed take their sweet time in the Faroes to prepare. But boy things move fast when these Vikings from the lost island lands put the pedal to the metal and release their longships. Hel is one helluva album that took us by storm with its staunch and refreshing brand of metal. And some delightful group chanting that – for once – is powerful and devoid of all cheese that other bands so often include.
Batushka – Panihida
Tasty controversy sells, that’s for sure. And even more so when two fight themselves like peacocks. Hospodi did not really thrill this crew. But this record here did, for sure. We truly enjoyed its meaty airs, its mature Black Metal, and confident style. This is a truly fitting sophomore album to a stellar debut in 2015. And the second album in a row of this band that features on the RockmusicRaider top 10. Chapeau!
Insomnium – Heart Like a Grave
If you look for comfortable Melodic Death Metal, you will never be wrong with Insomnium. Again for this edition, the band got us a pretty hefty dose of their medicine. Well-known patterns, heavy growling, and melodics galore. Only this time, the band increased the energy levels to unknown volt levels. Not something that we have seen before with this band. But we – for sure – hope that they maintain that drive well into the future. It really becomes them.
Lacuna Coil – Black Anima
Their last album Delirium already showed promise. But Black Anima blows all this out of the water. Both vocalists – Cristina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro – knocked themselves out with a pretty atomic vitamin boost. And the outcome is true Lacuna Coil, but at somewhat cosmic energy levels compared to whatever came before Delirium. This is one stellar feat by a band that I thought would not be able to improve. There, another one that we got wrong.
And that’s it again for this Top 10 edition. We are truly looking forward to 2020 and its rocky delights. So, stay with us and stay tuned for upcoming stellar reviews and news from this hard-working crew.