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 (full review).
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” (full review).
3. Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare Nightmare contains the best studio material from Avenged Sevenfold to date. This is one that you will still be banging a year from now. With the death of drummer The Rev, Avenged Sevenfold hired Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater (who has since quit Dream Theater because of this…err), literally one of the true all-time greats. One would think that this would throw M. Shadows even further out of his league. However, on the latest Avenged Sevenfold album, Nightmare, M. Shadows owns the mic, killing it, proving that he can stand up and lead this powerful beast (full review).
4. 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 (full review).
5. James LaBrie – Static Impulse LaBrie has done something very special here. Static Impulse is comprised of 12 blistering gems, each of them an absolute killer. Here’s the refreshing kicker: this album is not at all taxing on the listener. In fact, it is a refreshing departure from the progressive style of 8-minute plus cuts. You will not find a better LaBrie album than Static Impulse. He assembled one hell of an army and he sounds better than ever—this record destroys (full review).
6. Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier The Final Frontier is skull-crushingly brutal. Maiden is a beastly machine that grows stronger and stronger with every new epic masterpiece. This record certainly brings the thunder, about 76 minutes worth in fact. These 10 new songs contain classic Maiden vibes (“The Alchemist”) as well as dirty conjurations (“Starblind”) heard on more recent releases like Brave New World and Matter of Life and Death. This is another victory for the pioneers and legends of heavy metal. As always with Maiden records, this disc gets better with every listen (full review).
7. 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 a priceless asset to the group (full review).
8. 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 (full review).
9. Accept – Blood of the Nations Despite massive shakeups and the decade-plus long studio layoff, Accept sounds as determined and rejuvenated as ever, retaining their vintage musical bite while exhibiting a hard rock snarl that finds Tornillo formidably projecting an Udo-like presence while interjecting slices of his vocal personality into Accept’s tried and true slabs of concrete hard rock seasoned with the contagious songwriting that puts this troupe squarely in the annals of metal history. This disc truly has everything a fan would want in a comeback album and more (full review).
10. Living Sacrifice – The Infinite Order The riffs of Rocky Gray and Bruce Fitzhugh gallop with the raw power that we used to worship Pantera for, while also offering a speedier as well as a more alternative feel. It is unfortunate that the younger bands these days can’t pull this off correctly, or at least to a satisfactory level. The more sentimental tracks “God is my Home” and “Love Forgives” contain great feel-good tones while tracks like “Overkill Exposure” and “Organized Lie” kick your teeth in without remorse. The Infinite Order was the first solid metal album of 2010 (full review).
Well, those were my favorite albums from 2010. I knocked off a couple from the mid-year edition for lack of staying power and even bumped a couple up. 2010 was a another great year for hard rock music especially in the first few months. There were also notable releases from Ozzy with Firewind shredder Gus G., Rob Zombie and his Hellbilly sequel, and a refreshingly stripped down Korn. Other cool releases include the latest efforts from Soilwork, White Chapel, The Scorpions, and Ratt. Feel free to spew your hatred below.