Tales from the Jugular

Staff Year End Awards for 2019!
Our Annual Year End Edition of Metal that Hit Our Radar!

By: Maximum Metal Staff
Published: Friday, January 10, 2020
We've gathered up our thoughts on the hard rock/metal releases of 2019! Even if you really don't give a damn what any of our opinions are, there are so many releases put out in this age of do-it-yourself creation that you may see names you missed, older bands you forgot existed or unknowns to look up and sample. It's all about getting the word out and supporting the music!

Best Of Metal (in no particular order)
Demon Hunter - Peace/War
All That Remains - Shaped by Fire
Wolves at the Gate - Eclipse
Queensryche - The Verdict

Best of Non-Metal (no particular order)
Ian Noe - Between the Country
Chris Knight - Almost Daylight
Billy Strings - Home

Top Hard Rock/Metal Releases (in no particular order)
Overkill - The Wings of War
Queensryche - The Verdict
The Offering - Home
Rival Sons - Feral Roots
Band-Maid - Conqueror
Arch_Matheos - Winter Ethereal

Best of Non-Metal (no particular order)
Lost Dog Street Band - Weight of a Trigger
Ian Noe - Between the Country
Billy Strings - Home

New Rabbit Holes to go Down: Japaneese girl rock/metal.
Best Non-Metal Guilty Pleasure: Vinyl soundtracks.
Video Guilty Pleasures: Music analysis and reaction videos on YouTube.

2019 was a pretty rough year for metal releases. There weren't a lot of impressive releases that really knocked my socks off but 3 albums have the distinction of being in my favorites of the year.

1. The Offering - Home
A killer full length from these trailblazers. An absolutely awesome amalgamation of styles and sounds. Not only does it have something for most every metal head out there musically but it's also an incredibly well written album. Easily the highlight of 2019 for me.

2. Creeping Death - Wretched Illusions
A fantastic slab of old school, flesh ripping death metal. A must for fans of death metal.

3. Queensryche - The Verdict
Another killer album from these veterans. While still proggy at times, these guys can still churn out some bangers too. My favorite album from this band through and through in nearly twenty years.

Top Picks for 2019
Amon Amarth - Berserker
Angel Witch - Angel of Light
Candlemass - The Door to Doom
Creeping Death - Wretched Illusions
Death Angel - Humanicide
Demon Hunter - War and Peace
Exhorder - Mourn the Southern Skies
Flotsam and Jetsam - The End of Chaos
Grand Magus - Wolf God
Overkill - The Wings of War
Queensryche - The Verdict
Rival Sons - Feral Roots
Crobot - Motherbrain
The Raven Age - Conspiracy
Tyr - Hel

Honorable Mention:
Devin Townsend - Empath
Kobra and the Lotus - Evolution
Opeth - In Cauda Venenum

Best EP: Municipal Waste - The Last Rager
Best Live Album - King Diamond - Songs for the Dead Live
Best Compilation - Megadeth -Warheads on Foreheads
Biggest Disappointment - Enforcer - Zenith

Top picks for 2019

MGLA - Age Of Excuse --This is some of the best melodic black metal I've ever heard and the songwriting is absolutely incredible.

Cult Of Luna - A Dawn To Fear --Their finest effort to date and every track is memorable and will certainly stand the test of time.

Stray From The Path - Internal Atomics --Stunningly brutal effort from this band that is a mix between Rage Against The Machine and Hatebreed. The production and mixing quality is unimaginable.

Car Bomb - Mordial --The new king's of discordant metal are back with another sick album. There is more melody this time around but at the same time it's more ferocious than ever.

None - Damp Chill Of Life --Simply put, the best depressive black metal act on the planet right now.

Devin Townsend - Empath --One of the most diverse albums I've ever heard, but then again, it's Hevy Devy! From Disney-like soundtrack anthems to barbaric and brutal death metal, this album has it all and I love it!

Ray Alder - What The Water Wants --After 3 decades of being the frontman for Fates Warning (and stints with various other bands), Ray finally gives us his first solo album. While the music borders the line between rock and metal, the songwriting is pristine and Ray's voice is on fire!

Queensryche - The Verdict --Return to solid mid-period era QR

Moon And Azure Shadow - Age Of Darkness And Frost --Fantastic symphonic Black metal that is heavy on the dungeon/winter synth with compelling songwriting!

Waste Of Space Orchestra - Syntheosis --Superlative psychedelic extreme metal collaboration between Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Hecate Enthroned - Embrace Of The Godless Aeon --This is Hecate Enthroned's best album in over 20 years, since Dark Requiems was released. Renewed my faith in their music again!

Hanging Garden - Into That Good Night --Features their best songwriting since Blackout Whiteout and the addition of female vocals is a nice surprise.

Jinjer - Macro --Ruthless new album that sees the band sprout off in new directions. Heavy as hell and sounds awesome at loud volumes.

Darkthrone - Old Star --My favorite black metal band just gets better and better with age. Less crust punk and more classic old school heavy metal, this is one of their best albums in recent years.

Lothric - Adversarial Light --Brutal and relentless black metal that doesn't let up from start to finish. One of the sleeper metal albums of the year.

Death Angel - Humanicide --One of 2019's thrash metal masterpiece albums. Terrific writing, classic thrash riffs and those vocals are some of the best around!

1. Rival Sons - Feral Roots
2. Alter Bridge - Walk The Sky
3. While She Sleeps - So What?
4. Volbeat - Rewind, Replay, Rebound
5. Dream Theater - Distance Over Time
6. Motionless in White - Disguise
7. Opeth - In Cauda Venenum
8. KoRn - The Nothing
9. Devin Townsend - Empath
10. SlipKnot - We Are Not Your Kind
11. Eclipse - Paradigm
12. Killswitch Engage - Atonement
13. Whitesnake - Flesh and Blood
14. Sabaton - The Great War
15. Sonata Arctica - Talviyo
16. The Magpie Salute - High Water II
17. Vanden Plas - The Ghost Xperiment: Awakening
18. YYNOT - Resonance
19. Queensryche - The Verdict
20. Mark Morton - Anesthetic
21. Dirty Honey - Dirty Honey EP

Really glad to see Rival Sons gain popularity as I have been following them for years. Really goood rock band who made their best album to date this year.

Highlight of the Year: Seeing Rival Sons live at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC
Surprises: Was happy to hear Opeth rocking a bit more. Not back to their true metal days but an excellent album.
Guilty Pleasure: Eclipse - Paradigm. Pop rock from Sweden led by Erik Martensson. Great sing along rock album.
Non-Metal Album of the Year: Beth Hart - War In My Mind. Best female blues/soul/rock performer out there these days.
Likely to Make top 10 for 2020: New albums from Judas Priest and Sons of Apollo.
Best Carryover from 2018: Light The Torch - Revival.
Return to Form: SlipKnot - We Are Not Your Kind. First album in 5 years and a real return to form.
Comeback: TOOL - Fear Inoculum (also have to mention Steve Perry's first new solo material in 20+ years).

Top 20 Metal Albums Of The Year
(Note: this was a particularly hard decision to make this year, as I found more quality metal releases coming out than I could even keep track of. So as usual, this is in VERY rough, potentially shifting order of preference, as of this writing- but even rougher than usual! Despite expanding my list from the usual fifteen albums to twenty, there are several others that didn't quite make it, but could have. See the end of my lists for just one example.)

1. Opeth: In Cauda Venenum
2. Cold In Berlin: Rituals Of Surrender
3. Bask: III
4. Helms Alee: Noctiluca
5. Irata: Tower
6. Dreadnought: Emergence
7. Orchid (India): Miasma
8. Solar Halos: Coiled Light
9. Sabbath Assembly: A Letter Of Red
10. Blackwater Holylight: Veils Of Winter
11. Moon Tooth: Crux
12. Avatarium: The Fire I Long For
13. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard: Yn Ol I Annwn
14. Gold: Why Aren't You Laughing?
15. Doomstress: Sleep Among The Dead
16. Sacred Reich: Awakening
17. Spirit Adrift: Divided By Darkness
18. Baroness: Gold & Grey
19. Dysrhythmia: Terminal Threshold
20. Diamond Head: The Coffin Train

Noteworthy Metal EPs:
Elder: The Gold & Silver Sessions
Concilium: No Sancuary
Sabba: Pentacle

Best Not-So-Metal Albums:
Chelsea Wolfe: Birth Of Violence
Mamiffer: The Brilliant Tabernacle
Bent Knee: You Know What They Mean

Great Shows Seen:
Earth, Helms Alee @ Once Ballroom, Somerville, MA
Yob, Voivod, Amenra @ Royale, Boston, MA
Big Brave, Dreadnought, Glacier @ Hong Kong Restaurant, Cambridge, MA
Warhorse, Witch King, Benthic Realm, Dim @ Dusk, Providence, RI
Thunderpussy, Carissa Johnson @ Once Lounge, Somerville, MA

New Talent To Watch:
Idle Hands, Alunah, Iron Griffin, Smoulder, Coma Hole. And special mention MUST be made of San Francisco's Brume, whose "Rabbits" album would have easily made this list, had I learned of its existence sooner!

Deaths in 2019 (from Wikipedia):
January 1 - Shane Bisnett, former bassist of Ice Nine Kills, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 31.
January 16 - Brian Velasco, drummer of Razorback, died from suicide by jumping from the balcony of a condominium.
January 19 - Ted McKenna, former drummer of Michael Schenker Group and Ian Gillan, died from hemorrhage after hernia surgery at the age of 68.
January 25 - Bruce Corbitt, vocalist of Rigor Mortis, died from esophageal cancer at the age of 56.
January 28 - Paul Whaley, drummer of Blue Cheer, died from heart failure at the age of 72.
March 17 - Bernie Tormé, former guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne and Gillan, died from post-flu complications at the age of 66.
March 17 - Yuya Uchida, former percussionist and producer of Flower Travellin' Band, died from pneumonia at the age of 79.
April 13 - Paul Raymond, keyboardist and guitarist of UFO and Michael Schenker Group, died from a heart attack at the age of 73.
April 26 - Phil McCormack, vocalist of Molly Hatchet, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 58.
June 8 - Andre Matos, vocalist of Angra, Shaman and Viper, died from a heart attack at the age of 47.
June 13 - Nature Ganganbaigal, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of Tengger Cavalry, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 29.
August 4 - Paul Finnie, former bassist of Power Quest, died from a heart attack at the age of 44.
August 5 - Lizzie Grey, vocalist and guitarist of Spiders & Snakes and former guitarist of London, died from Lewy Body disease at the age of 60.
September 16 - Mick Schauer, former keyboardist of Clutch, died from undisclosed reasons.
September 18 - Tony Mills, former vocalist of TNT and Shy, died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.
September 19 - Larry Wallis, former guitarist of Motörhead, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 70.
September 23 - Richard Brunelle, former guitarist of Morbid Angel, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 55.
October 2 - Morten Stützer, guitarist and former bassist of Artillery, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 57.
October 21 - Peter Hobbs, vocalist and guitarist of Hobbs' Angel of Death, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 58.
November 4 - Timi Hansen, former bassist of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, died from cancer at the age of 61.
December 28 - Elijah Nelson, bassist of Black Breath, died from undisclosed reasons at the age of 40.

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