My Top Albums of 2023

And starting off at number fifteen. . .

15. Midnight Betrothed – Death… My Faithful Bride (Australia – Northern Silence Productions)

Haunting and tremendously mournful, Midnight Betrothed second album is one of the more unique albums I’ve heard this year. While the uninitiated may hear the traditional low-production quality that is signature to early black metal, the album is intrinsically layered with textures that sets the perfect ambience that is Death… My Faithful Bride.

14. Dream Unending/Worm – Starpath (Canada/United States – 20 Buck Spin)

A split has never made my Top 15 before – so congratulations to Dream Unending and Worm with Starpath. Dream Unending’s melancholic atmosphere matches surprisingly well with Worm’s blackened death tones. While the two bands have two distinct sounds, they are coherent when side-by-side – something I never would’ve expected when I initially learned these two were releasing Starpath.

13. Ozric Tentacles – Lotus Unfolding (England – Kscope)

Ozric Tentacles sixteenth album shows the band has no signs of fatigue or that they’re running out of ideas. Always absorbing and utilizing musical technology around them, the psychedelic/fusion prog rock band reinvigorates listeners by providing them something different-yet-familiar to their listeners. In my opinion, this album is definitely best enjoyed with headphones.

12. Taake – Et Hav av Avstand (Norway – Dark Essence Records)

In their eighth release, the legendary black metal band – or Hoest from Taake – still wows. With four songs sprawling 42 minutes, Taake rips into some of very dark and progressive music. With dauntingly powerful ebbing movements along with some very epic peaks, Et Hav av Avstand is a true and brilliant accomplishment.

11. Ahab – The Coral Tombs (Germany – Napalm Records)

I’ve always felt Ahab’s been chasing The Call of the Wretched Sea since its release. While The Coral Tombs took some warming up to, I’ve felt this is the closest the band has ever come. Drenched with with mood and various shining moments through the darkness, The Coral Tombs stands out, not only as one of Ahab’s best albums, but one of my favourites this year.

10. Riverside – ID.Entity (Poland – InsideOut)

Riverside always seems to be reinventing their selves while still feeling like Riverside. It’s truly remarkable how they accomplish it. With Id.Entity, Riverside explores new and seemingly familiar musical territory – touching in a bit of Depeche Mode and 80s-aesthetic. This prog rock/metal band seems to always be on the move – and it’s working out!

9. Isafjørd – Hjartastjaki (Iceland – Svart Records)

Featuring singer Aðalbjörn Addi Tryggvason from Sólstafir and ex-Pain of Salvation member, Ragnar Zolberg, Hjartastjaki presents one of the most moody, if not spiritual albums I’ve listened to this year. With songs feeling like they came straight from the heart, the duo create a painfully beautiful soundscape. While melancholic, the album is still surprisingly uplifting.

8. Afksy – Om hundrede år (Denmark – Vendetta Records)

Afsky’s Om hundrede år shows how black metal can be more than just “noise” to the casual listener. Epic and glorious, the album showcases moods and both wailing guitars and vocals. Its utter rawness is majestic and expressive – letting the listener really understand the feeling of loss through music.

7. Aara – Triade III: Nyx (Switzerland – Debemur Morti Productions)

Aara astounds in the conclusion of their musical trilogy with Triade III: Nyx. With its grand and monumental scope, the story’s music is as intense as it is beautiful. With incredible blast beats and screeching vocals and guitar, there’s a simplistic notion behind it all that captures the listener’s attention amongst the frenzy.

6. Voyager – Fearless in Love (Australia – Season of Mist)

In the world of progressive rock/metal, it’s hard to stand out amongst all of the musical wankery and pretentiousness that comes with the genre. Voyager however wipes it all away with incredibly catchy songs, hooks, and guitar solos. Reminding me of Threshold’s Dead Reckoning (in the sense that it was such a refreshing “new” sound for the band), Fearless in Love will be on my playlist for years to come.

5. Gridlink – Coronet Juniper (United States – Willowtip Records)

I thought Gridlink was done for – especially given guitarist Takefumi Matsubara suffered a brain infection leaving his left hand paralyzed. Yet here we are! Matsubara recovered and holy hell, we have Coronet Juniper! Grindcore at its finest, the blazingly fast and catchy album suffers only for being too short! I’m so glad Gridlink is back and I can’t wait for their next adventure.

4. Ulthar – Anthronomicon (United States – 20 Buck Spin)

Releasing two albums at the same time, Anthronomicon and Helionomicon shows Ulthar can continue to pump out quality albums. While Helionomicon I felt suffered from being too experimental, Anthronomicon astounds with everything that makes Ulthar great. Awesome guitar hooks pair with instrumental technical prowess makes it one of the best death metal albums I’ve heard this year.

3. Minenwerfer – Feuerwalze (United States – Osmose Productions)

Upon first listen, I felt like I was listening to Panzer Division Marduk again – which I feel is an incredibly high praise to give a black metal album. Feuerwalze is so in-your-face and absolutely relentless with its attack. For their fourth album, Minenwerfer doesn’t hold back. Powerful and persistent – this is my favourite black metal album of the year.

2. Fossilization – Leprous Daylight (Brazil – Everlasting Spew Records)

“Portal but better,” is how I would recommend this album. Featuring terrifying atmosphere and a pounding snare, Leprous Daylight encapsulates brutality and fury in an incredible 36 minutes that doesn’t come close to overstaying its welcome. With filthy riffs and tones from the guitars and bass, the listener can easily become entranced with the album’s ferocity.

1. Horrendous – Ontological Mysterium (United States – Season of Mist)

Astounding progressive death metal riddled with thrash is how I’d categorize Horrendous’ Ontological Mysterium.

With each song standing out as an achievement on their own, it’s obvious why this album is on the top of my list. Songs such as “Neon Leviathan” showcase traditional thrash with it’s drum/bass opening only to turn into a technical foray of death and prog. “Cult of Shaad’oah” shows off how much variety Horrendous offers with clean riffs which emphasize off-beats and finger-tapping goodness. Every song is off of the album is one banger after the other.

Then there’s stranger moments like in “Exeg(en)esis” where repetitive instrumentals perform behind layered vocals – feeling something reminiscent from Cynic’s Focus. Yet the song progresses and explores different avenues than what the listener would have expected it to go. Every song feels like it has something creative to show – and it all flows naturally without jarring interruptions.

The album is dark. The album is blackened. It’s riddled with death metal, progressive metal, and thrash metal – and it all comes together coherently . For those reasons and more is why Horrendous’ Ontological Mysterium is my favourite album of the year.

Honourable Mentions:

Pustilence – Beliefs of Dead Stargazers and Soothsayers

Cannibal Corpse – Chaos Horrific

Blaze of Sorrow – Vultus Fati

Ulthar – Helionomicon

Cryptopsy – As Gomorrah Burns

Tomb Mold – The Enduring Spirit

Bell Witch – Future’s Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate

Lunar Chamber – Shambhallic Vibrations EP

Most Disappointed:

Metallica – 72 Seasons

Overkill – Scorched

Steven Wilson – The Harmony Codex

Blink 182 – One More Time…

The Flower Kings – Look at You Now

Top 20 Albums of the Decade (2010-2019)

As 2019 comes to a close, I decided to go back and think about what really impressed me over the last ten years. There was so much new music this decade, one may think it was difficult to come up with a list.

You know what? It was!

On average, I listen to about 50 new albums every year. Times that by a decade and holy smokes – that’s a lot of music!

Initially I had started this list with thirty albums that really impressed me. However, I felt that was a bit too long. Cutting down to twenty was surprisingly easy. It was the painstaking task of sorting the top twenty which really took time.

I only put one album from 2019 in my list as I felt most of the albums released this year are still too “fresh” for me to make a decent judgement call on. You’ll notice what I mean when you see songs that were #1 from 20XX suddenly not holding their own – or even on the list at all!

Albums that are labelled “DNR” means they “Did Not Rank.” This may mean they were in my Honorable Mentions from that year, or maybe missed getting recognized entirely!

Starting off at number twenty. . .

20. Ozric Tentacles – Technicians of the Sacred (2015 – #3)
Fav. song: Changa Masala

This all instrumental double album from these psychedelic English prog rockers is some of their best work in their over thirty year career. Grooving, atmospheric, and just downright fun – it’s definitely their most accessible album for all listeners.

19. Gridlink – Longhena (2014 – #5)
Fav. song: Island Sun

It’s still something I like to call “beautiful grindcore” – there’s something very angelic to Gridlink’s Longhena. Intense as it may be, there’s a sense of beauty and poetry behind all of the chaos.

18. Riverside – Love, Fear, and the Time Machine (2015 – #1)
Fav. song: Lost (Why Should I Be Frightened By a Hat?)

While not all #1 albums can make it to #1 again, in 2015, Riverside’s LF&tTM hit me in the right spot at the right time. Still melancholic, this prog rock album is most peaceful when listened to in the right mood.

17. Spaceslug – Eye the Tide (2018 – #4)
Fav. song: Spaced by One

This is one heck of a dirty album. Sludge/doom/stoner – whatever the genre you wish to call it, Spaceslug’s Eye the Tide delivers. A couple of years later, I still have a bit of the spaceslug in me.

16. Barenaked Ladies – Fake Nudes (2017 – DNR)
Fav. song: The Township of King

Not everything needs to be metal, y’know. The first album on this list which eluded getting ranked before. When one removes the obvious pop-fueled “singles” from the album, what is left is an incredible mix of musicianship and production. Fake Nudes is a relaxing joy to listen to.

15. Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper (2017 – #5)
Fav. song: Mirror Reaper

One of the bleakest albums on the list, Bell Witch’s funeral doom album stretches over an hour and twenty minutes. Foreboding and crushing in darkness, Mirror Reaper is something I play for introspection rather than entertainment.

14. Cannibal Corpse – Torture (2012 – DNR)
Fav. song: Scourge of Iron

One of a few albums that originally had not ranked before, Torture turned around on me. Impacting, aggressive, intense, great production – all these things and more is why I’ve listened to Torture more than any other Cannibal Corpse album this decade.

13. Khôrada – Salt (2018 – #2)
Fav. song: Seasons Of Salt

Salt is still an album that weirds me out – I still haven’t heard anything like it before. With the strangest of production, composition, and sounds, I feel Khôrada will keep me interested for years to come.

12. Marillion – Fuck Everyone and Run (FEAR) (2016 – #10)
Fav. song: Living in F E A R

FEAR has grown on me a lot over the few years it has been out. I spin it regularly and each time I feel something truly historic and beautiful about it. Marillion created an album which continues to give. It’s a wonderful album.

11. Ulver – The Assassination of Julius Caesar (2017 – #2)
Fav. song: So Falls the World

The production on this album won me over, as did the enchanting journey it provided. It’s a producers delight and brilliant fun with headphones on.

10. Aborted – Retrogore (2016 – #7)
Fav. song: Retrogore

In your face and direct, Retrogore ranks high for being self aware and ridiculously good death metal. It’s fast, brutal, and something I spin regularly for having a good time. It has easily became my favourite album of theirs.

9. YOB – Our Raw Heart (2018 – #1)
Fav. song: Beauty in Falling Leaves

An emotional thrill ride, Our Raw Heart delivers with the slow burns of intensity. It’s still one of the most beautiful doom metal albums I’ve ever heard, and most certainly their best sounding release this decade.

8. Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust (2016 – #3)
Fav. song: Pleiades’ Dust

A modern-day epic, Pleiades’ Dust is a monument to songwriting. As the song/album ebbs and flows, one can really pick out the instrumentation and true “orchestral” beauty that Gorguts puts into their music.

7. Vektor – Terminal Redux (2016 – #1)
Fav. song: Recharging the Void

Bringing me chills by the end of it, Terminal Redux may be one of the best thrash albums I’ve ever heard. With a great story to boot, Vektor knocked it out of the park with such an impactful piece of art.

6. Devin Townsend – Empath (2019 – #1)
Fav. song: Singularity

The only album from 2019 on my list, Empath ranks so high because it certainly deserves it. Much like Khôrada’s Salt, Empath brings something new to the table. For that, it must be recognized.

5. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata (2014 – #1)
Fav. song: Tree of Suffocating Souls

Where would I be without Triptykon? Some of the most extreme and honest music on the list; this album sings right from the depth of the soul. Melana Chasmata something I spin regularly.

4. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015 – #2)
Fav. song: Happy Returns

Initially getting beat out by Rivierside in 2015, Steven Wilson now jumps ahead of the pack. The metaphorical lyrics, the subtle musical moments and technical prowess – Hand. Cannot. Erase. is truly one of the best concept albums of the decade.

3. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (2010 – DNR)
Fav. song: Black Lake Nidstang

This Agalloch album is VERY closely contended with my #1 and 2. I’ve been going back and forth for a couple of weeks debating and choosing one over the other. Alas, I had to decide. But first: Marrow of the Spirit, I believe is the best Agalloch album. Not The Mantle and not Pale Folklore. Don’t @ me. Marrow of the Spirit has something rustic, intense, and intrinsically beautiful lingering among all of the chaos.

2. Anathema – Weather Systems (2012 – #1)
Fav. song: Untouchable, Part 1 & 2

Anathema’s Weather Systems may be one of the most beautiful, yet surprisingly sad albums to have ever graced this planet. Musically, it’s genius. Lyrically, it’s poetic and sincere. Weather Systems is a triumph for both the mind and ears.

1. Triptykon – Eparistera Daimones (2010 – DNR)
Fav. song: The Prolonging

From the incredible album cover created by the late and great H.R. Giger, Eparistera Daimones encapsulates all I love in the heavy metal genre. From start to finish, this album absolutely dominates the listener and refuses to let them breathe. Its lyrical content is brutally honest and the music properly reflects that. Songs like Abyss Within My Soul are heavy in both sound and content. My Pain is hypnotically ethereal yet devastating at the same time. It being the segue into the nineteen minute epic, The Prolonging, is absolute genius.

I debated putting both Triptykon albums in my list. It may seem like both albums in my list here are the same: but they’re most certainly not. Eparistera Daimones, coming out of the ashes of Celtic Frost, has a unique quality and sincerity about it. There’s purposeful cracks in the armor. There’s noticeable pain, bleakness, anger, and darkness. I really cannot stress the honesty of this album enough. It’s a masterpiece and work of art wrapped around in doom, aggression, terror, atmosphere, and chaos. The album is non-apologetic for what it is and proudly wears its wounds.

For those reasons and a ton more, is why Eparistera Daimones is truly one of the greatest albums of the decade.


Questions, concerns, thoughts? Did I miss something? Let me know! And let’s see what the next decade will bring us! If you’d like, you can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Top 15 Albums of 2015

I have been doing this annually since 2005, but I rarely mention it publically. I usually post these things on Facebook for friends, but I had a few people tell me they wish to see this on my website. So here we go!

15. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Iron Maiden

With the band’s first double album, The Book of Souls explores many progressive concepts that really seem to harken back to 1984’s Powerslave. With three songs over ten minutes, the album expands on Maiden’s already great musicianship shows off their compositions. Save for the single, the rest of the album has a lot more technical prowess to it.

Watch the music video for the single, “Speed of Light”:

14. Himinbjorg – Wyrd


Folk black metal band Himinbjorg have always been rather absent from the music scene. Featuring the somewhat lackluster albums in the past, their newest release, Wyrd, steps up their songwriting and production game to a new level. With a vast array of song styles within the rather moody album, I have to say I was super impressed of the band’s change.

Listen to “The World of Men Without Virture”:

13. Symphony X – Underworld

Symphony X

Breaking new ground with 2002’s release, The Odyssey, the band now had to live up to certain expectations. With 2007’s Paradise Lost, they really pushed it to the limit. 2011’s Iconoclast fell flat. Now in 2015, Underworld brings them back up – not to previous standards, but pushing different standards and setting a new precedent for themselves. Unlike traditional SX fashion, the first few songs – while impressive – are not nearly as good as the last half of the album. Underworld mixes with new sounds and shows the listener that the old progressive metal band they once were is gone. With Underworld, we hear SX aren’t afraid to try something new and experiment again.

Listen to the opening track “Nevermore”:

12. Frank Zappa – Dance Me This

Frank Zappa

Even though he passed away in 1993, he had enough music recorded to be released up until now. Dance Me This, both Zappa’s 100th and final album, features Frank predominately performing with a Synclavier – a digital sampling device – along with Siberian throat singers. While the album is definitely an acquired taste, I can honestly say that even twenty-plus years after his death, Frank is still pushing the musical envelope with this album – making me hear things I’ve never heard before. This rings especially true with the final track, Calculus.

Listen to the opening title track and what is considered Frank’s final guitar solo, “Dance Me This”:

11. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud


Another year and unsurprisingly another Amorphis album makes my list. Can this band do no wrong? They have a formula and they stick to it. However, unlike previous albums, Under the Red Cloud plays around with more musical themes outside of their traditional Finnish roots. Always impressing and improving on their sound, there’s no wonder why this band still dominates in the music world.

Listen to the single, “Sacrifice”:

10. Venom – From The Very Depths


Where did this come from? Never did I expect to see new Venom in a top fifteen list of mine, and yet here we are! While credited as one of the originators of the black metal genre, Venom has grown far away from that to the point. Fom the Very Depths sounds like a cross between bands like Testament, Overkill, and Motörhead. Pulse-pounding and relentlessly heavy, this new release breathes fresh air in the band and excites me for their next release.

Listen to the single, “Long Haired Punks”:

9. Sigh – Graveward


As expected, this Japanese band gives the listener more than they could ever expect. From the far-extreme to the slow-mellow, Sigh have always gone with the strange, purposeful “under produced” sound with incredible quality in their music. Graveward never ceases to impress throughout the entire album.

Be surprised! Listen to the single, “Kaedit Nos Pestis”:

8. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed


This American tech-death band features a return-to-form after the disappointing 2012 release, At the Gate of Sethu. With crushing riffs and pulse-pounding drum beats, Nile’s newest release is perfect for the listener who’s looking to be blown away from the intensity the album provides. As usual, expect lengthy write ups about each song’s meaning in the linear notes.

Listen to the single/opening track, “Call to Destruction”:

7. Nordic Giants – A Séance of Dark Delusions

Nordic Giants

The debut full-length album from this English duo is nothing short of impressive. Almost as if each song is a soundtrack from a movie, it is difficult to explain what Nordic Giants are. With each song different from the other, featuring keys, trumpets, drums, guitar, operatic vocals – they are a rock band but with unconventional instruments. An absolutely breathtaking album. I’m confident it will impress.

Watch the music video to “Rapture”:

6. Torche – Restarter


After 2012’s lovely Harmonicraft, Restarter ups the ante and gets heavier, dirtier, and sludgier (new word) with overdriven bass, pounding kicks, and gruff vocals. Still keeping true to their song-writing roots, Torche simply makes the same music they always have, but they made it heavier. While that defaults as a bonus in my books, the band does so naturally without losing who they are. That alone speaks volumes to both the quality of the band and of this album.

Watch the music video to “Annihilation Affair”:

5. Arcturus – Arcturian


As a band known for helping change the sound of black metal, some would say their newest, Arcturian, is far from it. And you know, it certainly doesn’t sound like it would be considered black metal – yet it still is. Always different and never boring, Arcturian is the band’s first album in ten years and still sounds as if they never stopped being themselves along the way.

Listen to the first track/single, “The Arcturian Sign”:

4. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery

My Dying Bride

As expected with a band name like this, My Dying Bride pushes your chest in and holds you there as you experience the sheer brutal sorrow of this album. From the gothic, poetic lyrics and dark sounds, Feel the Misery absorbs you into it and refuses to let go. Hands-down, one of the band’s – if not the band’s – best release.

Watch the video of the title track, “Feel the Misery”:

3. Ozric Tentacles – Technicians of the Sacred

Ozric Tentacles

Another first double album for a band in this list, the instrumental band Ozric Tentacles, release their fifteenth album in spectacular fashion. As a band that always seems to do something stranger than the last, Technicians of the Sacred still manages to pull some punches with the hefty variety of music it brings. Spoiler alert: I’m a big Ozric fan. I can say that this is their best album since 1993’s Jurassic Shift.

Listen to the full album:

2. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Steven Wilson

What Steven Wilson does for music is like what the sun does to plants for Earth. His newest release, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is bold, touching, emotional, driven, brilliant, moody, intense, beautiful, and oh-so much more. Blending both pop music and progressive rock, the album still features a concept, unlike most pop albums: and the concept of the album is remarkable, if not a bit depressing. Guest vocalist, Ninet Tayeb, provides a balanced contrast and freshness to both the album and Wilson’s production.

Watch the gorgeous music video to “Perfect Life”:

Watch the heart-breaking music video for “Routine”:

1. Riverside – Love, Fear, and the Time Machine


After the release of 2005’s Second Life Syndrome, the Polish band, Riverside (much like Symphony X), seemed to lose themselves in a couple of stale albums. Love, Fear, and the Time Machine changes everything and puts the band up on a pedestal that surpasses everything they’ve done.

Never slowing down, but hardly ever breaking the precedent set by the first track, Riverside finds their stride with the opening notes and continues through to the end. LF&tTM keeps a constant sublime and melancholic feeling throughout the album – right up until the final note is played. The album is calming, yet still intricate enough to satisfy the listener with the layers of beauty within each song.

Often upbeat, despite the rather relaxed mix and mastering of the album, LF&tTM features a variety of tunes that all share familiarity to each other while still being completely different in structure and theme.

For these reasons, and because it’s my most listened to album this year, does Riverside take the top spot on my list.

Watch the music video to “Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)” – which pretty much captures the feeling of the album:

Listen to the single, “Discard Your Fear”:

Honourable Mentions:

Lonely Robot – Please Come Home

Kamelot – Haven

Moonspell – Extinct

George Kollias – Invictus

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

Faith No More – Sol Invictus

Kylsea – Exhausting Fire

Spectral Lore – Gnosis

Most Disappointed:

Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror

Annihilator – Suicide Society

Royal Hunt – Devil’s Dozen

Questions? Comments? Agree? Disagree? What have you?