So we heard your favorite band didn’t make it on to Decibel‘s Top 40 albums of 2019. What more could you possibly want? More underground bands? More diverse genres? Shit that barely even counts as metal?
To make it an even hundred, here are 60 albums (well, one or two are EPs, but who cares?) that didn’t make the cut for print, but still absolutely deserve your attention. To sweeten the deal, we’ve omitted any records that came out on what passes as an above-ground label according to my (totally subjective, arbitrary ant not up for discussion) standards. Hell, some were self-released, and several didn’t even get reviewed in the magazine at all.
Tuck in, and make sure you’ve got plenty of cash on your Bandcamp-associated credit card. Expect a few impulse purchases in the near future.
1914 – The Bind Leading the Blind
Yes, it’s technically a reissue of an independent 2018 release, but these Ukrainians channel the ol Bolt Thrower determination better than almost anyone.
Agenda – Apocalyptic Wasteland Blues
Nordic metallic D-beat par excellence, for those wishing newer At the Gates records had more bite.
Aggressive Perfector – Havoc at the Midnight Hour
Because we have to wait until next year for a new Midnight record, here’s most of Wode doing the same thing – really well – with a Hammer Horror vibe.
Atlantean Kodex – The Course of Empire
Another fine slice of historic melodic riffage in the best year for epic doom in … forever?
Bethlehem – Lebe Dich Leer
The depressive black metal OGs still sound great after a lead singer change.
Bewitcher – Under the Witching Cross
Black rock and roll that doubles down on the occult swagger.
Cloak – The Burning Dawn
Gothic rock meets second wave black metal in these Atlanta outlaws’ assured sophomore record.
Cloud Rat – Pollinator / Do Not Let Me off the Cliff
Still maybe the best grind act in the United States, Cloud Rat delivered a twofer.
Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong
Haters leave the hall, the U.K.’s Antifascist black metal bruisers got meaner on their second record.
Dead to a Dying World – Elegy
Do you want your crust incredibly sad, breathtakingly slow and super beautiful? Sure you do.
The Deathtrip – Demon Solar Totem
Psychedelic black metal that bends minds without losing itself in prog.
Diamond Head – The Coffin Train
What if I told you Diamond Head’s new singer might be the best vocalist in trad metal and their new record is their best since Lightning to the Nations? Click the play button and see for yourself.
Disentomb – The Decaying Light
Deathcore that masters blackened dissonance while it drags your face over a cheese grater.
Dreadnaught – Emergence
Denver’s prog-doom prodigies do no wrong, ever.
Exulansis – Sequestered Sympathy
Elegiac post-crust with a touch of chamber music atmosphere.
Fetid – Steeping Corporeal Mess
These OSDM dealers love the sounds of Pungent Stench and early Carcass, especially played at half speed.
Foscor – Els Sepulcres Blancs
Catalonia’s finest black metal export continues their streak of thought-provoking excellence.
Fuming Mouth – The Grand Descent
Close your eyes and you might just imagine this band came from New York’s crossover incubator in 1990 – then bought a bunch of very modern gear.
Fvneral Fvkk – Carnal Confessions
Ignore the cringey band name, clean singing doom doesn’t get much better than this.
Haunter – Sacramental Death Qualia
Texan progressive black metal futurists Haunter mastered space and melody this year.
Helheim – Rignir
Folky black metal played without the silly beer hall melodies.
High Command – Beyond the Wall of Desolation
The year’s best thrash record is a full-on sword and sorcery concept album – who knew?
Howling Giant – The Space Between Worlds
Fuzzy doom with an intergalactic mindset and old-school prog chops.
Immortal Bird – Thrive on Neglect
Black. Grind. Crust. Death. Who cares? Immortal bird surpass subgenre in search of the perfect neck-snapping riff and hit the mark over and over again.
Ithaca – The language of Injury
Why on earth Holy Roar records refused to promote this awesome slice of melodic hardcore in America is beyond me.
Kayo Dot – Blasphemy
Kayo Dot come to goth-pop Jesus, and boy does it suit them well.
The Lord Weird Slough Feg – New Organon
Mike Scalzi’s folky trad metal outfit still has some of the Thin Lizzy magic.
Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fires
Epic heavy metal, meet ’80s goth rock, and may make-out sessions ensue.
Mortiferum – Disgorged from Psychotic Depths
Faithful old-school death metal with just enough filth to feel dangerous, but not enough to cover up the actual riffs.
Necropanther – The Doomed City
A concept album about Logan’s Run by a band that does a really good impression of early Skeletonwitch.
The Neptune Power Federation – Memoirs of a Rat Queen
Looking for a little of the faithful rocking power of the first Ghost album with a little Queen bombast and impeccable hooks? Inquire with the Rat Queen.
Noisem – Cease to Exist
Have you read Decibel magazine in the past five years? Come on. It’s Noisem. They grind hard.
Nucleus – Entity
Fit to fulfill your darkest Finnish death metal fetishes (by way of Chicago), this time with actually distinct riffs.
Quayde Lahue – Love Out of Darkness
Members of Mortiferum and Christian Mistress deliver some NWOBHM-single goodness with a side of feminist revenge fantasy.
Rimfrost – Expedition: Darkness
Immortal and Dissection worship spiced with a little glam swagger.
Sabbath Assembly – A Letter of Red
David Nuss and his merry band of occult believers find the Blue Öyster Cult sweet spot.
Sadistic Ritual – Visionaire of Death
Death thrash from Atlanta with a gigantic attitude problem – in the best way.
Sanhedrin – The Poisoner
Black Anvil and Amber Asylum alums engage in old school heavy metal ecstasy, good and catchy. Don’t skip “The Getaway,” whatever you do.
Saor – Forgotten Paths
Scotland’s premiere folkloric black metal mastermind Andy Marshall still has the ol’ magic.
Sect – Blood of the Beasts
Metallic hardcore’s meanest supergroup execute a savage bombing raid in less than 20 minutes. Perfect for a gotta-do-it-fast workout soundtrack.
Serial Hawk – Static Apnea
Seattle’s glacial doom trio explore psychedelia and prog on their best record yet.
Sermon – Birth of the Marvellous
Imagine if Steven Wilson reformed Porcupine Tree and then tried to write a black-and-roll album.
Spotlights – Love & Decay
Emotive doom for those lusting after Smashing Pumpkins and Failure’s flawless ’90s tones.
Suffering Hour – Dwell
Blood Incantation weren’t the only death metal band to write a cosmic 20-minute odyssey, but this one’s just an EP.
Valborg – Zentrum
German oddballs continue down their martial, pseudo-industrial path to their pitch-black and molten core.
Vale – Burden of Sight
Ferocious blackened crust for our blackened and encrusted times
Vanum – Ageless Fires
Sweeping black metal with a little of the ol’ Bathory majesty and a ferocious snarl.
Varaha – A Passage for Lost Years
This Chicago band’s first record is heart-wrenching gothic doom with a penchant for epic length and engaging melodies.
Vinsta – Drei Deita
Austria’s best-kept secret is also the best Opeth clone I’ve ever heard.
Wandering Oak – Passage Elemental
Cormorant hung it up this year, leaving Wandering Oak as America’s premiere pastoral prog meets black metal outfit. Those hungry for the Hammers of Misfortune’s Mike Scalzi years will find joy here.
Weeping Sores – False Confession
Pyrrhon members do their best My Dying Bride impression, complete with violin, and deliver the doldrums without sacrificing their eccentricities.
Witch Vomit – Buried Deep in a Bottomless Grave
Sounds like Morbid Angel doing bench presses in a mausoleum, what more do you want?
White Ward – Love Exchange Failure
Smooth-jazz inflected black metal for the whitewashed horror of urban living. The best record on this list in my opinion.
The Wraith – Absolute Power
Furious black thrash with a hard-on for nasty NWOBHM licks. Stick around for the Misfits cover at the end.
Wolfbrigade – The Enemy: Reality
Sweden’s most consistent D-beat defenders still know how to clean your clock and slam a gin and tonic right afterward.
Wormwitch – Heaven That Dwells Within
Melodic death metal isn’t supposed so be this good in 2019, but Wormwitch has the juice.
Xoth – Interdimensional Invocations
Picture Chuck Schuldiner and Proscriptor McGovern starting a project together. No other band shreds this hard without sounding noodly.
Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling
New York black metal (read: dry and knotty with an insane guitar tone) from a talented pair of brothers.
Yerûšelem – The Sublime
Sure, the new Blut Aus Nord was good, but if you’re like me, you miss their poppy industrial period, which is now all released as Yerûšelem for some inscrutable reason.