39. Cannibal Corpse – Torture (2012)
Torture came about in my life when I needed it most. With headphones on, I absorbed this album hard when it was released. Whether it was the crisp production, the insane riffs, or the cacophonous bellowing of Corpsegrinder, I really needed the album in those moments. Since then, I’ve regularly returned to the album with great interest. I also truly appreciate songs like Scourge of Iron which aren’t as fast as traditional death metal, yet come with a brilliant guitar tone and lead.
38. Amorphis – Skyforger (2009)
Becoming more and more melodic, Skyforger was a treat for me. While I have appreciated Amorphis’ music from past to present, Skyforger was yet another one of those albums that were right for me at the right time. With songs like Sampo, From Earth I Rose, and one of my favourite bonus tracks, Godlike Machine, Skyforger is a great mix of heavy and light songs which I absolutely appreciate.
37. Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence (2019)
Admittedly, I’ve only been a few years on the Esoteric bandwagon, but A Pyrrhic Existence is simply gorgeous. The funeral doom band created ebbs and flows of emotions – a slow build and a slow burn. It’s dark, bleak, and exhausting, with the music becoming more philosophical than engaging. This two-disc album is chock full of density and suffering, making it a powerful album in its own right.
36. Arcturus – The Sham Mirrors (2002)
Trying to nail down Arcturus is nearly impossible. They’re whatever they want to be – and The Sham Mirrors is an unapologetic testament to that. Compressed to all hell, it’s avant-garde, black metal, progressive, and at times, lo-fi. The album cohesively swings in various directions, constantly engaging the listener with something wild and new. I find myself regularly absorbed to the strange tones it offers – tones which I can only find on this album.
35. Damon Albarn & Michael Nyman – Ravenous (1999)
Featuring Blur (and Gorillaz) leader Damon Albarn, my all-time favourite soundtrack – I swear I could write a full-blown essay about each song. After watching the movie, I had to grab this album. From the bizarre time signature banjo-twang in Boyd’s Journey to its orchestral reprise in the End Titles, Ravenous has some of the best music I have ever heard in my entire life. No doubt.
34. Strapping Young Lad – City (1997)
While they’d later coin a song called Shitshow, SYL’s City first came across as that. The aggressive, overwhelming nature of the band’s extremity is eye-opening and an absolute shock to the uninitiated. Powerful is an understatement when explaining City. With the Atomic Clock himself, Gene Hoglan on drums, Devin Townsend’s first real foray into aggression made a statement to the heavy metal world which still resonates to this day.
33. Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny (1976)
What a classic. For their second album, Judas Priest cemented themselves into heavy metal. With bluesy guitar riffs and Rob Halford’s now-famous wail, Sad Wings is a joy to jump into time and time again. With so many great tracks, everything stands out. I’ll give it to Island of Domination for that wonderful, raspy growl by Halford though.
32. YOB – Our Raw Heart (2018)
My album of the year in 2018, YOB’s Our Raw Heart certainly affected me in profound ways. The album’s “uplifting doom” so-to-speak was emotionally charged and quite frankly, very sad. Mike Scheidt’s mournful vocals on the album truly encapsulate what the music is trying to do – Beauty in Falling Leaves is a testament to that.
31. Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (2010)
I’ll just say it now: this is the only Agalloch album on my list, folks. I appreciate The Mantle, Pale Folklore, and Of Stone, Wind, and Pillor, but Marrow of the Spirit has to be my favourite Agalloch album. If I went for “best album” list, yeah, maybe the three I listed would be ahead. Alas, Marrow of the Spirit is a favourite of mine due to its heavier shift into black and doom metal. More aggressive than previous releases, the more “natural” sound of the album, as well as the higher production, makes this album really stand out for me. That, and Black Lake Niðstång, of course.
30. Ozric Tentacles – Jurassic Shift (1993)
For their fourth album, Ozric Tentacles gave me what the album title actually was: a Jurassic Shift. Strange, almost-prehistoric feelings are captured on the album. There’s a lot of emotion with the instrumentation and the thought process behind the music is surely acknowledged. Songs like Pteranodon actually feel like the word, while Feng Shui is a brilliantly moody journey I love to go on. This album would be a trip on mind-altering substances.