Ryan's Favorite Albums of 2009
by Ryan Buege
Some people might have qualms with the amount of hardcore and punk that shows up in my list – I am contributing to "Metal" Injection after all. Whatever. These albums that were chosen were the ones from 2009 that impressed me the most, regardless of genre. If you don't like it, make your own list.
1. Gallows – Grey Britain
Modern punk rock hasn't sounded this snarky, callous, pissed off and downright rude in a long time. It's also rarely this catchy, melodic, progressive, and able to presented in such a cohesive and thoroughly enjoyable full length. Gallows may be signed by Warner Brothers, but don't let that fool you. Grey Britain is the real fucking deal. It is an incredibly crafted expression of disenchantment – from its orchestral opening to its grandiose conclusion – and its got an attitude that is completely unforgiving and authentic. All in all, I think I've come back to it more than any album this year.
2. Kylesa – Static Tensions
After 10 years of ambling in the underground, Static Tensions is the sound of Kylesa finally ascending to their rightful throne. While their earlier output has been always been alluring, this time they harnessed some incredible momentum and masterful psychedelic sludge riffage to create a bonafide classic.
3. Converge – Axe to Fall
As a longtime disciple of Converge, I'm quite proud to say that this is the band's finest yet. Axe To Fall sacrifices none of what I've come to love about the band, yet it exhibits a honest and successful effort by the band to continue to venture into uncharted territory. 20 years in, they've yet to slip up; that's quality I'll continue to stand by.
4. Condominium – Barricade 7"
Short but destructive; this 7" is one of the best I've heard in many years. Condominium ventured farther away from their hardcore roots into the noise territory, and the result is equal parts Black Flag, The Jesus Lizard, and Neurosis. It's an extremely complex and clever little album of deconstructed-and-reconstructed punk rock, exercising tension and haunting atmosphere as much as powerful riffs and straightforward aggression, and it shows a ton a promise for the future to come.
5. Tombs – Winterhours
After first catching wind of these guys on their self-titled vinyl and their short split release, I was extremely psyched to see that Relapse picked them up for a full-length debut. Glad to say they delivered with flying colors and then some. Winterhours is thick with layers upon layers of crunching doom, visceral hardcore, and sheer suffocating mass. Each listen becomes more fulfilling as time goes on.
6. Absu – Absu
Absu are rebirthed into the the world of blackened thrash eight years after their departure, now surrounded by like likes of Cobalt, Krallice, and Skeletonwitch. While it would be easy for the legendary innovators to simply fade into the pack, Prosciptor is not content to let the band's legacy speak to its good name. Instead, the revamped band has made good on their hype and unleashed the best, most unrelenting thrash album of the year. Massive, shredding leads, rapid fire drums, melodic grooves, blackened atmospherics, dirty tones, frenzied death/thrash riffs, hints of prog rock, eye-brow raising song titles; this record has everything you could want from quality extreme metal.
7. Sonic Youth – The Eternal
Having moved back onto an independent label after their Geffen era, The Eternal finds Sonic Youth reigniting a youthful flame. It is a tight meld of the bands noisy, avant garde tendencies with their inventive punk rock accessibility, but most importantly it's aggressive and exhilarating. They may have mellowed throughout their career, but on this album we find these aging experimentalists are reinvigorated, back with teeth sharpened and gnashing.
8. Dark Castle – Spirited Migration
It's pretty easy for lo-fi doom metal to slip under the radar these days, but this album was definitely impressive enough to climb to the top of the pile. Colossal tides of low-end chugs and virtuous twisting guitar fuzz ride high on a thick cloud of hazy bellows, bitter shrieks, proggy psychedlia, and delicately restrained percussion. For slow-paced, sludged out death metal riffing, it has some very refreshingly melodic undertones, and although slow and minimalistic, Spirited Migration is a dynamic and colorful listen that has stayed fresh from front-to-back on many repeated listens.
9. Agoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalypse
Maybe you noticed it, but this is last of 5 releases to make my top 10 this year that feature a female within their ranks. Typically, I've never had any proclivity to having a feminine touch on my aggressive music, but this year there were simply too many impressive albums of the sort to ignore. Still, I'll make no bones about it, Scott Hull's gritty thrash 'n death/grind riffmasterage is why I love this one from ANb. Agorapocalypse is still more chaotic than anything out there, but it's the first time ANb have truly sounded listenable, and with the refreshing tri-vocal combination in place, they've never sounded this lethal either.
10. Nile – Those Whom the Gods Detest
Blaspheming has never been this enjoyable. If you haven't heard it, take a listen to "Kafir!" and you'll instantly get my drift. Nile have followed up Ithyphallic with their most massive, headbanging inducing album of the decade, and simply put, I'm very psyched for the band's headlining tour this January. Those Whom the Gods Detest is colossal, and it proves that there's still plenty of groundbreaking work to be done by the most creative unit in death metal.
11. Napalm Death – Time Waits For No Slave
12. Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive
13. Clutch – Strange Cousins From the West
14. Anaal Nathrakh – In the Constellation of the Black Widow
15. Skeletonwitch – Breathing the Fire
16. Mono – Hymn to the Immortal Wind
17. Baroness – Blue Record
18. Mastodon – Crack the Skye
19. Sunn O)) – Monoliths and Dimensions
20. Isis – Wavering Radiant
21. Cattle Decapitation – The Harvest Floor
22. William Elliott Whitmore – Animals in the Dark
23. Slayer – World Painted Blood
24. Irepress – Sol Eye Sea I
25. Coalesce – OX
26. Krallice – Dimensional Bleedthrough
27. Ambassador Gun – When In Hell
28. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
29. Immortal – All Shall Fall
30. P.O.S. – Never Better