Albums of the Year- 2019

Moderate Rock’s 2019 was, apparently, a mood. Because while previous Album of the Year lists have been peppered with a variety of music from across the alternative (ergh) spectrum, this year’s list sits under a storm cloud. Here there is doom, gloom, big riffs, nasty noise, and a record that sounds like it wants to pull you through a portal into a nightmare dimension. I don’t mean to be a downer, that’s just the way the apparently rancid cookie crumbled.

The list does however comes from a place of love. Out of the thousands worthy of further mention- the return of the The Shaking Sensations, Outlander’s ambitious post-rock, Altarage’s scorched earth sounds- these are the records that have stuck with us this year. These are the albums I want to rave about, to share, to show off. Some you will know, others you might not. I hope you find something to love. Here’s to 2020!

11 because Spinal Tap.

11. CULT OF LUNA- ‘A Dawn to Fear’
A record to revere.

10. PSOTY- ‘Sunless’
A post-metal treasure that’s a rare balance of power and emotion, depth and darkness.

9. AMERICAN FOOTBALL- ‘American Football’
Like moss on the walls of an old house, the third self-titled effort from these emo pioneers is a slow grower. Much better than the previous album, it benefits from not caring so much about their seminal debut while striving for something new.

8. INFINITY SHRED- ‘Forever, a Fast Life’
It’s rare that a band can stick to their formula and still receive the highest possible praise. But while Infinity Shred pretty much repeat themselves here, ‘Forever, a Fast Life’ is outstanding.

7. CLOUDKICKER- ‘Unending
Nobody does this better.

6. PELICAN- ‘Nighttime Stories’
Pelican return to the more aggressive tones that made their name without once feeling like they’re treading old ground or going through the motions.

5. 65DAYSOFSTATIC- ‘Replicr, 2019’
Rather than point to any standout tracks, this is instead best experienced as a whole album. It’s occasionally a cold and distant one, yes, but what better soundtrack for times like these.

4. LINGUA IGNOTA- ‘CALIGULA
A hot-to-touch melting pot of ominous doom, intense noise rock, banshee screams and summons for Satan, ‘CALIGULA’ is not an easy listen. It is, however, impossible to ignore. An instant classic.

3. SPOTLIGHTS- ‘Love & Decay
The third Spotlights album is a bold, brilliant effort that doesn’t just encourage comparisons to the band’s doom and gloom-enthused peers but the likes of Isis, Jesu, and Deftones too. Anyone that has already fallen under Spotlights’ spell will only fall deeper. Everyone else should prepare to be converted.

2. BLACK TO COMM- ‘Seven Horses for Seven Kings
It feels incredibly safe to say that Seven Horses for Seven Kings won’t be for everyone. For some, just the haunting, harrowing drones of the opening track will be too much noise terror to handle. This latest record from sound designer Marc Richter feels like anxiety turned into song. It feels like an exorcism gone wrong. And it’s definitely coming to get you.

1. HER NAME IS CALLA- ‘Animal Choir
After a decade of making increasingly stirring, striking and special sounds, Her Name Is Calla called it quits. But they did not go quietly. Their final record is a dense, epic, adventurous effort mixing post-rock thunder with the finest indie ingredients and hints of neo-classical, dark ambience, and electronica too. It’s akin to the best work of The Antlers, Arcade Fire, and Animal Collective, but feels like an album alone, a remote island of a record. What a fine and fearsome hurrah it is.

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