The gravity of a decade ending is kind of lost on me at this age. Is it because I lived through Y2K and got used to disappointment before half of the people reading this could shit without supervision? Possibly. But the last few weeks have kind of changed my way of thinking, or at least pushed me to fucking try to think differently and take stock of things. And the last 10 years have been pretty transformative, especially if you read any of my Facebook posts before 2011 in which, Jesus Christ, you really learn to be glad to leave your past in the rearview. Granted, 10 years should be transformative for anyone unless you’re somehow already perfect, in which case, go fuck yourself.
Oh, and lists! Everyone loves making these fucking things and I’m no different. When I was initially in the e-mail chain about the Top 100 Greatest Metal Album of the Decade I really could only submit a handful and then about 15 really solid jokes Albert didn’t laugh at. I couldn’t come up with a few dozen records off the top of my head (pre-’11 Facebook posts also showcase a drug problem, so that’s a potential clue) but I could think of 10 records from the last 10 years that have stayed with me as the most important (to me—it’s fucking subjective, save your bitching) records of the decade. Now if you’ll indulge me a bit more:
Disgusting Blasphemies Against God
Sure, Profanatica had a “comeback” full length a year or two earlier but DBAG is the first fully realized record of this second chapter of the band (you can count the early 00’s brief resurrection as a footnote if we’re going to run with this metaphor). This was also the production I always wanted to hear them utilize: heavy but still extremely filthy. Each subsequent album has shown greater reach and maturity, an idea you might not associate with the band if you were around in the 90’s but for me, this is where they truly found their stride.
As I’ve said before Sonic Mass isn’t a perfect album, but it might just be Amebix’s best. More of a conceptual journey than collection of songs you can definitely hear the maturation that a few decades off can help provide. And while this marks the end of the Amebix story it helped open the doors for Stig Miller’s captivating solo work and (please don’t call the fucking police) two excellent Tau Cross records later in the decade. A study in a band not giving a fucking about preconception and the “easy way” of remaking their traditional style to milk fans of their money.
Aut Caesar Aut Nihil
I mean sure there’s that video where some dude gets fucked in a restroom wearing a Mutiilation shirt and some controversial-for-the-sake-of-controversy imagery mixed with the handful of French people who still talk to me telling me this project is some kind of fashion joke but if you ever wanted to hear Willy’s rancid corpse vocals over a well-produced record of constantly memorable black-n-roll riffs then this album is a fucking must. Fun fact: I drove home to New Jersey from a wedding in Pittsburgh and listened to this record on repeat the entire time. One of Osmose’s best decisions in years.
Suicide Black Snake
I could have chosen any of Integrity’s full lengths from the last decade so this was a tough decision. I chose Suicide Black Snake because of its visceral, jet black sonic aesthetic. Nothing sounds like this record, it’s claustrophobic and raw as an open wound. In some aspects it’s Integrity’s Danzig IV, just really unique in feeling and darker than most black metal. While I really enjoy the direction Dwid continues to go in, this record continues to have a lot of meaning to me.
All Pigs Must Die
God is War
Another tough choice because all three full lengths All Pigs Must Die have released are fucking flawless from start to finish but for personal importance their 2011 debut “God is War” edges the others out by a dick hair. Alongside Nails Unsilent Death, this record helped keep my head up through a period of homelessness and cleaning myself up after a decade of neglect. It was also one of the records that caused me to look into more hardcore records and without it a few of the records on this list would’ve never been on my radar. Devastating fucking live band, too.
I checked out Withdrawal solely on the cover of their Faith, Flesh and Blood EP agitating my ex at the record store we worked at, which I guess is as good a reason as any. Instantly I was fucking hooked on the assault of riffs and punishing vocals so anticipation was pretty high for this record for me (not as high as their longtime suffering fans who waited fucking forever for it) and it hit every nerve it needed to. Violent riff for days that blended a few of the metal subgenres you guys like to debate so much and, most importantly, that quality that embeds earworms even years after it was released. Perfect from beginning to end.
The Veil of Darkness
I’ve pontificated on how wildly underrated this French band is for probably the better part of twenty years but I wasn’t expecting their first record in years to be this fucking savage. Once the intro abruptly cuts off there’s not a second of space wasted on this record. Punk fueled black metal with a raw yet heavy production that perfectly suits the music and one of those rare instances, like Beherit with Engram where a band comes back not only stronger than before but with their best record to date.
Rise of the Specter
This was the record that reminded me that ambient (now dungeon synth since everyone loves new sub genre labels) wasn’t just overly dramatic keyboard with someone’s bored girlfriend talking over it thus facilitating a new abundance of cassettes in my collection and a new hatred for people who flip records online. Truly morbid synth soundscapes that really prove to be much more than just background music but rather tend to be more interesting than a lot of guitar-driven bands these days. Shame I’ll never own the LP.
Proving that New Jersey punk is more than a bunch of assholes singing about their towns and prowling Junior High, The Banner have been an institution for years, releasing well received records before taking a few years off. Or so I’d been told. I never honestly gave them a chance until a chance meeting with JSS, their vocalist and a night that will end up in my memoirs that began with me picking up “Greying” at Vintage Vinyl on the strength of that conversation. Few records over the years have spoken directly to me in the way this one does. Beyond mixing hardcore with black metal and goth, or having incredible songs it’s the lyrics that do it. I don’t know if I’ve ever related with a record so much, definitely not in my middle age, and they age incredibly well because the refrain of “it never gets better” ringers truer now than when I first heard it five years ago.
One of the benefits of not being a journalist is that I can show extreme bias and while people can complain about it, it doesn’t really do much. So I can make claims like Jef Whitehead is probably the most talented person I know and understand that it’s the truth. But a claim like that still wasn’t enough to prepare me for Scar Sighted. True Traitor… is a great album but you can hear that it’s not as tight as it could be, which as a fan of black metal, is fucking fine. You don’t expect polish or precision. So I guess expect the unexpected because polish and precision and a fucking deathly sharp focus permeate this entire record. I can’t think of another record that is this strong in its intent, just a malicious masterpiece from start to finish and is the one record on this list that if you asked me was the most important and psychologically moving would be my choice.
This was one of those kinds of undertakings that is both incredibly taxing and also exceptionally self-indulgent. But then again, so are most things at the end of the year/beginning of the new. And unlike the promises we make to improve ourselves that we’ll all inevitably fail by (optimistically) March these records aren’t going anywhere and hopefully this list will introduce some of you to some things you never gave a chance to. Or, at the very least, gave you something to read on the shitter. Wash you fucking hands, though.