We are now at the half way point of a great year for heavy music. The first 6 months of 2010 have given a great assortment of powerhouse releases. If the year was to end right this second, these are my picks for the Top 10 Albums of 2010.
1. Overkill – Ironbound Legendary New Jersey metal mavens, Overkill, deliver an astonishing 15th studio album Ironbound, a delectable thrash frenzy that will kick your teeth through your ass. Overkill is solid, far too underrated, and always unfairly riding in the shadow of East Coast thrash colleague Anthrax. Ironbound is a 10-track blitzkrieg that displays not only the fury, but greater depth than 90% of all thrash and power metal acts out there today.
2. Fear Factory – Mechanize Mechanize is the heaviest and most aggressive record from Fear Factory to date. Vocalist Burton C. Bell offers his ballsiest work ever while keeping his signature melodic grace in balance. The intense seven-string (or is he up to eight now?) rhythmic patterns of Cazares leave the listener with facial blisters and a battered-in skull—surely, you must have heard the first single “Powershifter” by now—exemplified on all ten tracks, but especially prominent on the opening title track, “Oxidizer,” and “Fear Campaign.”
3. Soulfly – Omen The Brazilian god of doom brings the shit on Soulfly’s latest righteous masterpiece, Omen. Max Cavalera’s guerrilla army of guitar hero Marc Rizzo, bassist Bobby Burns, drummer Joe Nunez, and producer Logan Mader (ex-Machine Head/ex-Soulfly guitarist) attacks mercilessly with 11 brutal cuts of earth pounding grooves and virtuosic riffs. Omen’s energy is relentless from the opening assault of “Bloodbath & Beyond” to the closing spiritual instrumental onslaught of “Soulfly VII” Everything in between is fierce and aggressive, and includes dashes of tribalism that never ceases to devastate.
4. Charred Walls of the Damned – Charred Walls of the Damned The sound produced by Charred Walls of the Damned features an exceptional understanding of the classical methodology of heavy metal. By combining and highlighting the best components of thrash, power, and progressive this quasi-supergroup delivers a punishing assortment of songs, such as “Blood on Wood” and the opening track and first single “Ghost Town.” Leading this effort is the percussive talent of Howard Stern personality Richard Christy, providing the band with an ever-important strong backbone. Not to say the vocals of the legendary Tim “Ripper” Owens are second-rate in Charred Walls of the Damned; his operatic range is an absolute necessity and priceless asset to the group.
5. Coheed and Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow Year of the Black Rainbow prominently features impressive rhythmic patterns, striking lead guitars, and tantalizing lyrical melodies. Together the ingredients form a vicious concoction of heavy ear candy…Coheed is one of the few bands capable of saving mainstream hard rock from the one-dimensional Nickelbacks and Linkin Parks that have dominated mainstream charts for the last ten years. Year of the Black Rainbow is an A+ musical effort that goes unmatched by 99% of the rock albums released these days. Album highlights include the single “Here We Are Juggernaut,” “In The Flame of Error,” “World of Lines,” “This Shattered Symphony,” and “The Broken.”
6. Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition Vocalist Rob Dukes really comes into his own here, reverberating with a harsh and menacing tone that sits squarely between former singer’s Steve Souza and Paul Baloff while the rhythm section pound out a flurry of the blistering and brutal tempos that Exodus helped to spawn nearly 30 years ago (“Burn, Hollywood, Burn”). Chock full of neck-snapping fretwork, jackhammer rhythms, and dizzying thrash metal expedience, the latest affair from Exodus portrays what the epitome of thrash metal excellence sounds like and is a must-listen disc for any self-respecting headbanger.
7. Ratt – Infestation With hard rock vibes reminiscent of the Out of the Cellar days, Stephen Pearcy and company invoke the spirit of ’76 Aerosmith. Pearcy’s voice soars on all 11 tracks of Infestation; at 50 years old, he has not lost much of anything. He belts out anthemic melodies and infectious choral lines as if it is still 1984…For the masses that still yearn for blazing riffs, thunderous drums, melodramatic lead guitars, and heavy fist pumping then this record will be a treasured delight. These fundamental and core ingredients converge, forming an undeniable and timeless sense of Sunset Strip debauchery.
8. Airbourne – No Guts No Glory If you dug the tunes from Runnin’ Wild then you will love the latest from Airbourne. AC/DC modeled guitar riffs are combined with stomp rock beats to ensure a head banging good time. However, in order to truly appreciate this band, you must take in one of their live shows. The band’s recorded material consists of great stuff, but like any AC/DC album, can easily be played out
9. Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Heavy metal icon Rob Zombie delivers his fourth solo effort, and first with Roadrunner Records, Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls, and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool. While having its ups and downs, the sequel to his 1998 masterpiece retains much of the ghoulish ambiance and spookshow aura that has catapulted him into a rock and roll legend. The best all-around tracks are “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” and the opener “Jesus Frankenstein.” “Werewolf Women of the S.S.” features an incendiary groove and beat, along with strong lyrical content, while “Jesus Frankenstein” demonstrates the growth of the band’s compositional skills. Compared to the previous album openers “Superbeast,” “Demon Speeding,” and “American Witch,” “Frankenstein” contains less of a straightforward and hard-charging assault, and opts for more musical depth with exciting and explosive changes.
10. Bullet For My Valentine – Fever Well-orchestrated guitar riffs and diligently executed breakdowns don Bullet For My Valentine’s ferocious third album from Jive Records titled Fever. The album starts off with a rush of pure power and adrenaline due to tracks such as the earth pounding “Your Betrayal,” the title track, and “The Last Fight.”…Bullet For My Valentine continues to soar as one of metalcore’s most talented and thrashiest outfits.
Other notables from the first half of 2010 that didn’t quite make the cut include Deth Red Sabaoth from Danzig, Sting in the Tail from the Scorpions, Diamond Eyes from Deftones, and Scream from Ozzy Osbourne. Albums that did not even come close to making the list include the latest releases from Slash and the Stone Temple Pilots.
What are your picks for the best albums of 2010 thus far?