Staff Picks: Top Hard Rock and Metal Albums of 2019

Every year, many of our staff writers put together their Top 10 albums lists, and every year our Radio Show Hosts write up their lists as well. Since our DJs are known more for their gift of gab than their knack for the written word, their lists tend to get overlooked or dismissed. This year we wanted to make sure their lists are represented as well. Below you’ll find a series of Top 10 lists from many of our non-writing staff, which gives you a wonderful variety of new metal to check out as well as an idea of what you might hear when you check out their weekly shows. If you haven’t tuned into yet, you’re truly missing out. Enjoy the lists below, and add your own Top albums lists in the comments below. Metal is all about community and every voice counts!

Ivø Tenebris – Music Submissions Manager

1. AgarwaenDottore I
2. Dawn of DemiseInto the Depths of Veracity
3. DarkwaterHuman
4. Mortal InfinityIn Cold Blood
5. Minority SoundToxin
6. OkkultistReinventing Evil
7. LionheartValley of Death
8. ScarlethVortex
9. Symphony of HorrorGekommende Aus Abaddon
10. NecroticGoreBeastNecroticGoreBeast

Stephen LeBlanc – Host of “Maximum 110”

Live Sundays at 9pm ET

1. AephanemerProkopton
2. M.I .God.Spectors on Parade
3. Voice of RuinAcheron
4. KavaraWithered and Lost
5. Mortal Infinity In Cold Blood
6. CellThe Ancient Incantations of Xarbos
7. SkelatorCyber Metal
8. Spreading the DiseaseMind Cells
9. HellboreHoly Sadist
10. Overt Enemy Possession

The reason I have chosen Aephanemer for my 2019 Album of the Year is it being the best release they have definitely done to date. This project is done up heavy in vocals and performances. The story with what they sing about and put forth in technically orchestrated highs and lows keeps me banging my head with each play. In the independent industry I have watched this group grow from their first album Memento Mori in 2016 and their single ‘Path of the Wolf’ in 2017. Founded in 2014, Aephanemer broke into the Metal scene with their debut EP Know Thyself. I consider this one of the fastest growing Indie bands Worldwide and Prokopton topped my chart. Aephanemer are from the city of Toulouse in France where in France not as many Heavy Metal Bands originate from. Cheers!

Lady Strange – Host of “The Insanitarium” show

Live Saturdays at 2pm ET

1. AvantasiaMoonglow
2. SabatonThe Great War
3. HammerfallDominion
4. Vintersea Illuminated
5. QueensrycheThe Verdict
6. EvergreyThe Atlantic
7. Opeth In Cauda Venenum
8. Amon AmarthBerserker
9. Sacred Reich Awakening
10. Dream TheaterDistance Over Time

Diablo – Host of “Welcome to the Darkness” show

Live Saturdays at 4pm ET

1. Outstandifold and the WettygrippersGo Fourth
2 . Dead End FinlandInter Vivos
3. Motorjesus Live Resurrection
4. FreterniaThe Gathering
5. Casket RobberyThe Ascension
6. Oculum DeiDreams of Desire and Torment
7. War CurseEradication
8. MonolithVermin Among Us
9. Three Dead FingersBreed Of The Devil
10. Forged In BlackDescent Of The Serpent

Jon Dallaire – Host of the “Metal Foundations” show

Live Sundays at 5pm ET

1. SoilworkVerkligheten
I was a bit concerned for Soilwork after the departure of drummer Dirk Verbeuren to Megadeth. Despite this loss (and immense talent) Soilwork delivers an extreme metal record carefully woven with intricate playing and soaring melodies. This to me encompasses all that is great in metal, and by far takes my #1 spot.

2. Dream TheaterDistance Over Time
This is the best Dream Theater record to me since Train Of Thought. Shorter songs, heavier licks, and less doodling and noodling attracted me to this record. It’s a “grower” of a record that takes up more and more time in my regular rotation.

3. ExhumedHorror
Exhumed takes a few steps (and years back) with this nod to old school death metal. For those who love the “Morrisound” crushing sound – it is on full display in a masterful piece of extreme music

4. OpethIn Cauda Venenum
Progressive metal fans should delight at this technical yet very palatable masterpiece – written almost solely by Michael Akerfeldt . The album totes both English and Swedish versions (the record was originally only to be released in Swedish). Word of warning, their are no growls in this record – but those hunger pains are satisfied with virtuoso musicianship.

5. ExhorderMourn The Southern Skies
Risen from the grave, southern USA based band Exhorder blew me away with this release. Exhorder existed only as legends during my formative years. Seeing them return full force with such a strong record is a site (and sound) to behold.

6. Sacred ReichAwakening
Sacred Reich snapped up their former drummer Dave Mcclain after his departure from Machine Head. The intricacy of his playing has reshaped their music in a way that appeals to both thrash heads and the technical enthusiasts.

7. Amon AmarthBerserker
Everyone likes vikings, and everyone loves metal. If you don’t… please seek help. This album is hard hitting, melodic, and easily the best album to row a boat to from 2019.

8. OverkillThe Wings Of War
Overkill has been proudly flying the flag of balls to the wall thrash, and continue to do so even at this stage in their career. A definite must have for the thrash lover.

9. Flotsam and JetsamThe End Of Chaos
For a band that in its career has stayed buried in the underground “The End Of Chaos” is probably the strongest record in their catalog (in my opinion) and a true return to form.

10. ToolFear Inoculum
This one made the list due to my dry spell of Tool. A band who’s influence (particular drumming wise) is important to me as a musician. Drummer Danny Carey is again the high point of this record for me.

2019 was a great year for metal. It was a REALLY hard decision on these choices. I hope 2020 brings us THE BEST metal has to offer !

Honorable mentions for 2019

ExmortusLegions Of The Dead (EP)
Cannabis CorpseNug So Vile
Cattle DecapitationDeath Atlas

Scott McMahon – Host ot the “Metal Zone” show

Live Thursdays at 4am ET

1. King –  Coldest of the Cold
Aussie Black metallers King have unleashed their sophomore sophomore album, Coldest Of Cold and what an album it is. An epic journey of black melodic aggression, this album just has to be heard. If you’re a fan of Melodic Black Metal this is a must.

2. Malevolent CreationThe 13th Beast
A vicious blugeoning of Death Metal. The 13th Beast is one hell of a Death Metal release from Malevolent Creation.

3. Candlemass –  The Door To Doom
The return of Johan Langquist after 32 years, this is Candlemass at their very best.

4. Herman Frank –  Fight the Fear
Herman Frank is best known for his role in Accept. He has produced another great album with Fight The Fear with catchy classic heavy metal that will get stuck in you head.

5. Children of BodomHexed
Hexed is a great return to the classic Children Of Bodom sound of old, but it also has some interesting elements that separate it from other COB albums.

6. PossessedRevelations of Oblivion
WOW… Just Wow! Possessed haven’t released a full length album since Beyond the Gates in 1986. The band still sound like the classic Possessed we know and love.

7. MemoriamRequiem for Mankind 
I loved Memoriam‘s debut album For the Fallen, but unfortunately I thought their sophomore release The Silent Vigil fell somewhat flat. I was hoping that their 3rd release would deliver the goods, and it sure did. Memoriam are back in good form with Requiem For Mankind.

8. Suicidal AngelsYears of Aggression
If there was a band that were to fill the void that Slayer have left, Greek thrashers would be serious contenders. This album is just pure thrash with a very old school sound.

9. Crystal Viper Tales of Fire and Ice 
Crystal Viper have released an interesting album with Tales of Fire and Ice. It’s not a concept album per se, but the tracks tell stories of strange occurrences and phenomenons around the world an throughout history. It is definitely the heaviest album they have released so far, but still maintains the band’s catchy melodies.

10. Cattle DecapitationDeath Atlas
One of the most unique releases of 2019 is Death Atlas by Cattle Decapitation. This band continue to push the boundaries of Tech Death Metal on this album.

RJ Bayley – Host of “The Metal Empire” show

Live Wednesdays at 8am ET

1. BabymetalMetal Galaxy
Do you know the sonic equivalent of pouring a sack of sugar directly into your gullet and going bonkers on the fireworks of dopamine and pure sucrose energy but with none of the adverse health effects? Well now you do! It’s called Metal Galaxy By Babymetal, and it’s pure joy!

2. Ice Nine KillsThe Silver Scream: The Final Cut
Originally released in 2018, the extended Final Cut version of The Silver Scream arrived around Halloween a year later and makes the original masterpiece even… masterpiecier… INK’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” puts their own spin on it while wisely not trying to reinvent the wheel, while ode to Scream, “Your Number’s Up,” is stronger than some of the tracks on the original LP. Overall The Silver Scream: The Final Cut is a dream for horror movie fans, with each tune taking one franchise as its topic, using a combination of brutal metalcore and cinematic strings to bring the iconic films to life through music.

3. EluveitieAtegnatos
Few bands sound like Eluveitie, and those smattering of celtic metal bands that sprung up in their wake have yet to sound anywhere near as good. Ategnatos is their biggest album yet, having a sweeping, awe-inspiring feel that sounds exactly like the dramatic, moody, raven-orbited waterfall depicted on its cover. Ategnatos covers a lot of territory on its musical voyage, from the thunderous Mine is the Fury to the profoundly catchy and uplifting Ambiramus. The celtic instruments melt together beautifully with the traditional metal kind and singer Fabienne Erni’s voice is that of an actual celtic angel.

4. Within TemptationResist (Extended Deluxe)
Specifically Extended Deluxe. Resist is a fine album in its own right, and hangs together well, but it does rather fall off a bit in the second half after the invigorating first impact of sharp drums, stirring orchestrals, prominent electronic experimentation, and symphonic metal’s foremost operatic-belter, Sharon den Adel. When you hear the album again as purely instrumental however, you really begin to appreciate the musical nuances and unusual sounds Withy Tithy have managed to wring out of said electronic experimentation. Songs previously overpowered by den Adel’s voice come into their own and ascend to a series of rousing soundscapes.

5. Wind RoseWintersaga
Epic dwarven power metal solely concerned with dwarves, dwarves drinking, dwarves fighting, and dwarves digging holes. To objectively describe it is also to give it the highest praise. Catchy, soaring, satisfying and bound to pound a grin to your visage with its rune carved stone hammer.

6. Lacuna CoilBlack Anima
By this point, Lacuna Coil has fully completed their transformation from gothic metal to full-blown alt metal, and their ninth album, Black Anima is all the better for it. Best listened to in one sitting, the album fits together very well, with even the tracks not as good as standouts “Veneficium,” “Reckless,” and the title song still making worthwhile contributions to form an album greater than the sum of its parts. New drummer Richard Meiz makes his presence felt with thudding satisfaction and Cristina Scabbia has never sounded better than on their darkest album yet.

7. NemeseaWhite Flag
Thank heaven for bands like Nemesea, showing the lighter side of metal should be warmly embraced and that there’s nothing wrong with throwing a few slow ones on an album after several years of bands’ LPs sounding like roughly the same song nine times. Nemesea’s White Flag is a textbook example of this, delivering an album so well balanced it’s actually worth remarking upon. Lyrically one of the best of the year, “Kids with Guns” addresses America’s horrendous firearm addiction with exasperation, while “The Storms” feminist anthem is a very welcome one.

8. GloryhammerLegends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex
I wasn’t initially sold on Gloryhammer’s magnificently titled latest offering. It’s a testament to their inventiveness, musical ability and wit that after only two albums the Gloryhammer saga had already become a beloved franchise. But with that comes the second edge of that sword: expectations of what the next installment ‘should’ be. However, going back and appreciating the album on its own terms, Legends from Beyond the Galactic Terrorvortex proves to be a funny and exciting (definitely not) final chapter of the story. With the best plotline and sharpest lyrics of the trilogy, you’ll be chanting “LASER, POWERED, GOBLIN, SMA-SHER!” in no time.

9. Bastion’s WakeSea Creatures and Sky Pirates
You’d be forgiven for thinking Bastion’s Wake are an army given the colossal sound of their music, but it is in fact just the duo of ėVė and Derelith October. Billing themselves as “cinematic metal” the pair certainly live up to that on their debut album. Sonically capturing a tempestuous sea rife with all manner of Lovecraftian creatures and piping it directly into your earholes, the album appropriately drowns you in mournful melodies, haunting vocals and stormy storytelling.

10. Cold KingdomInto the Black Sky
2019 songs haven’t come much more enjoyably catchy than “A New Disaster,” the standout tune on Cold Kingdom’s latest LP. Playing with synthesized sounds, which seems to be all the rage in 2019’s metal, but in an understated way, “Into the Black Sky” is bouncy, poppy metal of the kind you want to drive around the countryside on a summer’s day with the windows down to. Singer Elissa Pearson’s debut album with the band is a potent one with a relatable authenticity, and while she’s no Lzzy Hale, she’s definitely on her way to being so. Having said that, Into the Black Sky is the album Halestorm’s last record wishes it was.

AephanemerAgarwaenAvantasiaOutstandifoldOutstandifold and the WettygrippersSoilwork
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  • Pauli Hodju

    First of all, thanks for the honors!!!

    My top 10:

    1. Agarwaen – Dottore I
    2. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
    3. Rammstein – Rammstein
    4. King Diamond – Songs For The Dead Live
    5. Batushka – Hospodi
    6. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Veleno
    7. Lindeman – F&M
    8. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
    9. Tool – Fear Inocolum
    10. Mayhem – Daemon