It’s that time of year again. A time of reflection, contemplation, deep thought. A time for serious introspection, for critical analysis. This is serious business, and sharing this work is vital to the survival of any self-respecting blog.
Yes, I mean year end lists.
But really, it seems to almost be a tradition at this point. People will reflect on the year gone by and make lists about their favorites. In this case, that would be favorite albums. And since I have been so remiss in writing lately, I felt it would be well for me to appropriate the list-making agenda and do so here. So there you have it, Listmania 2019.
Today, I’ll be starting with the honorable mentions. These are 5 albums that, when making a list for my favorites of the year, appeared on the list, but just didn’t quite make the top 10. No order here, just some really, really good albums that were (narrowly in some cases) beaten out by the competition. Each one of these albums is a staggeringly good work of art, and well worth contemplation and repeat listens.
Second to Sun – Legacy
Having previously written about this album, it should come as no surprise this was a top album of the year. Legacy is just so good. Synthesizing black metal aesthetics with death metal sensibilities, and layering on top of that Russian history and folklore makes for a haunting, captivating listen. The music is heavy, progressive at times, and thoroughly engaging. Second to Sun continue to impress with each new release.
Wilderun – Veil of Imagination
I really, really like what Wilderun are doing. This band from Massachusetts been progressive death metal with folk metal/music in a brilliant manner. After all the superlatives thrown at their previous release from 2015, there was a lot riding on where they would go from there. Well, Veil of Imagination proves they had more to give, as it is better in every way. Honestly, the only reason this album is an honorable mention is I just haven’t been able to give it the time it deserves. Every time I listen I think “I really need to listen to this album more/again”, and every time I don’t. I can tell this is a brilliant album, one that would rank much higher had I given it the time it deserves and requires.
Arch/Matheos – Winter Ethereal
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. John Arch is one of, if not the, very best metal vocalists ever. His vocal lines are brilliant, unusual, lovely, haunting and so unique. And Jim Matheos is one of metal’s greatest songwriters. Having these two together will always make me smile. I love Winter Ethereal, and it was probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year, as previous release Sympathetic Resonance is a masterwork of progressive metal. Winter Ethereal doesn’t quite hit the same highs as predecessor, though, and that is the only reason it ends up here in the honorables, rather than up in the top 10.
Sermon – Birth of the Marvellous
This one came out of nowhere. First release from a one person band (with some help), Birth of the Marvellous is a marvelous album of progressive music. Think somewhere between Soen (who also had a brilliant album this year), Porcupine Tree, with hints of Katatonia. If those comparisons don’t pique your interest, check your pulse, you might be dead. But really, this is a progressive masterpiece and another album that, had I spent more time with it, very likely would rank higher on my list. A concept album, an existential journey, a true work of art.
Slow – VI – Dantalion
Look, this album rules. Okay? It just does. I love everything about it. I even love that it is dense, off-putting, super slow. It takes real effort to get into VI – Dantalion, and that is the only reason it didn’t rank higher. There are plenty of times I have thought “Let’s listen to Slow!” Only to say to myself, “Maybe not today, not sure I’m up to it.” Such is the music of Slow. It is unrelenting in its inexorable march to the murkiest depths of despair. But it is also wonderful, brilliant, and the best funeral doom I have heard all year.