Best of 2019: Marika Zorzi’s Top 25 Best Heavy Albums

25. Storm{O} – Finis Terrae
Borders can be mental, existing only in our heads, and yet feel as powerful as though they were made of barbed wire and guarded with guns. And then there are the borders that are very much physical, which can have quite visceral emotional ramifications. I’m from Italy, and I love the hardcore/punk heritage of my country. These guys are the worthy successors of Negazione, Wretched, and Raw Power.

24. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
For principal songwriter and frontman Neige, Alcest have always been a gateway to the otherworldly, a means of exploring his spirituality. An elemental two-piece completed by his long-serving drummer and creative confidante, their forthcoming sixth album Spiritual Instinct finds Neige at his most personal. 

23. Cult Of Luna – A Dawn To Fear
Cult Of Luna’s A Dawn To Fear is a monster of a record. An album comprised of eight tracks running 79 minutes, it embodies everything the band’s faithful have come to expect while still covering new ground.

22. Black Water Holylight – Veils Of Winter
Blackwater Holylight have honed their sound and identity into a powerfully captivating beast. Their songs aren’t anchored to riffs, but rather riffs come and go in waves that surface throughout the band’s meditative, entrancing songs. It’s a hypnotic sound with orchestral structures that often build tension and intrigue before turning the song on its head—not by simply getting louder or heavier, nor by just layering elements. They expertly subvert the implied heaviness of a part, dissecting it and splaying the song’s guts out to seep across the sonic spectrum.

21. Borus – LØVE& EVØL
Boris continue their huge discography of great music with LØVE& EVØL. This album is a good mixture of several styles of rock they have mastered all while retaining their signature sound. From psychedelic rock, shoegaze, fuzzed-out, heavy drone, to heavy, sludgy doom, this album has it all. 

20. Have A Nice Life – Sea of Worry
Sea of Worry is Have A Nice Life at the peak of their powers; Dan and Tim’s unmistakable chemistry coupled with a propulsive backing band catapults them into stratosphere. These seven tracks ebb and flow with noise and melody and are so well-crafted it’s near impossible to get them out of your head.  

19. Dawn Rayd – “Behold Sedition Plainsong”
Two years after the release of their debut album The Unlawful Assembly, British anarchist black metal trio Dawn Ray’d return with Behold Sedition Plainsong. Serving as a call to arms and a potential catalyst for positive, radical change, the album is an anthology of incandescence manifesting in an unrelenting 45 minutes, aerated only by the comparatively gentle interludes courtesy of poignant, violin-led passages.

18. Brutus – Nest
Nest is about finding a place to belong or making sense of a darkness that we can’t always shake. Brutus find their places of comfort to be very different to the ones previously held dear: the nest they started out with is not quite the same one as they stand in today.

17. Gatecreeper – Deserted
Gatecreeper return with their highly anticipated new album Deserted. The record is a furious mix of snarling guitars and driving, rhythmic pummeling that takes death metal from its 80s Floridian roots and 90s Swedish expansion straight into the here and now. In fact, the vanguard of death metal in 2019 can be found under Arizona’s searing sun. 

16. Cave In – Final Transmission
Final Transmission marks the first Cave In album in eight years and the band’s last with Caleb, who performs on all of the songs. Caleb’s voice is everywhere on Final Transmission. The opening, title track is a voice memo of a song idea he sent to his bandmates the last time they saw each other. Heartbreaking.

15. Hide – Hell Is Here
The band remind the listener that feelings of anxiety, pain, and discomfort are equally as important as those of resolution. Perhaps the strongest tool utilized here is the material’s dichotomy between the abrasive and the sterile. Beneath the crushing, noisy exterior, sparks the familiar, human voice.

14. Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation
Posthumous Humiliation is an album even more dark, surreal, violent, and perverted than its infamous predecessor. This record is a disturbing and intense listen, a sonic skullfucking devoid of amusement and pleasure and a celebration of pure torment and misery.

13. Darktrhone – Old Star
Darkthrone, the Norwegian black metal legends, mark their 2019 return with a sublime slab of relentless riffing in the true spirit of the underground. Old Star displays a mastery of the art of the riff, with its six epic tracks taking in the best of the old school of heavy and extreme metal combined with a large dose of doom channelled through the grime of the underground.

12. Devil Master – Satan Spits on Children of Light
Devil Master conjure an unholy trinity of death rock, punk, and black metal that manages to transcend all three. Commanding the steel of Venom, the fury of Bathory’s earliest years, and the raw, uncompromising nature of the notorious GISM, Satan Spits on Children of Light sees the band emerge from the grave and reach new, blasphemous heights. 

11. Nick Cave – Gosteen
Not heavy for the music, but for the lyrics. Nick Cave emerges with one of his most powerful albums yet, an endlessly giving and complex meditation on mortality and our collective grief.

10. Endon – Boy Meets Girl
Boy Meets Girl finds Endon relishing in the unexpected and shifting with relentless force from pounding sludge to off-kilter hardcore to synth-driven dance to utter oblivion. 

9. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence
Chelsea Wolfe has always been a conduit for a powerful energy, and while she has demonstrated a capacity to channel that somber beauty into a variety of forms, her gift as a songwriter is never more apparent than when she strips her songs down to a few key components. As a result, her solemn majesty and ominous elegance are more potent than ever on Birth of Violence.

8. BIG | BRAVE – A Gaze Among Them
BIG | BRAVE have boldly evolved, emerging with a thrilling body of work that is all at once refreshingly new, explosively heavy, dynamically loud, beautifully minimal, carefully repetitive, and totally and utterly cathartic.  

7. Sunn O)) – Life Metal
There is breadth and luminosity of color in this new album. Sunn O))) evolve their production methods into stronger, more confident, performance-based music with a more logical executive process.

6. Full Of Hell – Weeping Choir
Full Of Hell make their Relapse debut with their most explosive album to date, Weeping Choir. Dynamic, pissed, and wholly urgent, the highly anticipated Weeping Choir is a definitive statement of intent by one of the underground’s most dynamic and virulent entities.

5. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
Recorded completely analogue at World Famous Studios in Denver, CO, Hidden History of the Human Race expands the sonic cosmos explored on Blood Incantation’s critically acclaimed debut Starspawn (Dark Descent Records).

4. Gold – Why Aren’t You Laughing?
GOLD wonderfully blends the confidence of post-metal with the fragility of goth rock—with electrifying results. Recalling the experimentalism of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the dark and sweet beauty of Kristin Hersh and Throwing Muses, but firmly rooted in a powerful-yet-artsy rock vibe, GOLD have tapped into something truly unique. 

3. Cloud Rat – Pollinator
Emerging from the space where hardcore punk spirals into grindcore, Cloud Rat are that and so much more. The band know no limits and incorporates influences from across the map (black metal, noise, doom, goth, folk, and beyond) all while retaining its realness and urgency. 

2. Mizmor – Cairn
Over the four tracks (spanning almost 60 minutes), A.L.N.’s ability to effortlessly intertwine black metal, doom, and drone—all while retaining pummeling emotional power and momentum—proves Mizmor are an unstoppable force than span across genres of heavy metal.

1. Lingua Ingnota – Caligula
Succeeding her self-released 2017 All Bitches Die opus (re-released by Profound Lore Records in 2018), CALIGULA sees Hayter design her most ambitious work to date, displaying the full force of her talent as a vocalist, composer, and storyteller. 

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