Top 20 Albums of 2009

So here it is! I’ve thought long and hard about this list, and it’s been changed many times, which is testament to the high standard of many great records released in 2009.

These are the 20 albums that really stood out for me though:

20. Darkest Hour – The Eternal Return

The sixth album from DH saw the band revert to the heavier sounds of their early material. The Eternal Return lacked the melodic prowess of 2007’s Deliver Us, but the technical ability and songwriting skill of the band was as impressive as ever, making for pulsating listening.
Best tracks: No God, The Tides.

19. The Plight – Winds of Osiris

The debut album from the Leeds hardcore five-piece was deservedly met with rapturous critical acclaim. The Plight’s unique hybrid of classic rock ‘n’ roll and powerful hardcore is now instantly recognisable, and pretty much every riff on Winds of Osiris was impossible to resist.
Best tracks: Tied to the Tracks, Sick of the Dreaming.

18. Malefice – Dawn of Reprisal

Dawn of Reprisal was a far more diverse offering than anyone had anticipated. The blistering death metal style of the Reading metallers’ previous record was still integral, but a vast array of textures and layers unravelled in each song, culminating in a savage yet beautiful display.
Best tracks: End of Days, Hatred Justified.

17. DevilDriver – Pray For Villains

Fans of DevilDriver’s previous three albums found plenty to treasure on what was surely the heaviest record to date from Dez Fafara and co. The opening title track allows for no respite whatsoever, and this level of brutality is relentlessly maintained throughout this colossal work.
Best tracks: I’ve Been Sober, Pure Sincerity.

16. Blackhole – Dead Hearts

Both the standard and the style of Dead Hearts pleasantly surprised some and justified the faith in the band of others. Blackhole’s debut was an epic combination of well-written anthems, unrelenting energy and face-melting riffs that Cancer Bats would be proud of.
Best tracks: Forever, My Lord.

15. The Fall of Troy – In the Unlikely Event

The Fall of Troy’s first album with new bassist Frank Ene signalled the introduction of a more chilled, stripped-bare approach, which allowed guitarist Thomas Erak to explore new territory in terms of both melody and style. The results were brilliant, and at times mesmerising.
Best tracks: Battleship Graveyard, Dirty Pillow Talk.

14. Your Demise – Ignorance Never Dies

With a vicious guitar tone, frantic drumming and hatred-fuelled vocals, Your Demise’s brutal second album was implemented with the true mindset of hardcore as the hub of the chaos. An in-your-face statement of intent that old and new fans of hardcore must check out.
Best tracks: Black Veins, Burnt Tongues.

13. Converge – Axe To Fall

Unquestionably the heaviest album of 2009, Converge’s seventh album seemed so much more destructive than their previous work. Axe To Fall did contain moments of respite amongst the havoc, but even these calm moments had an almost disturbing dimension.
Best tracks: Dark Horse, Reap What You Sow.

12. Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect

The greatest strength of The Great Misdirect was the way in which BTBAM moved out of their comfort zone more than ever before, without leaving behind the core elements of their own individual style. It is clear that these guys possess some of the finest musical brains around.
Best tracks: Disease, Injury, Madness, Obfuscation.

11. Paramore – Brand New Eyes

Each of the eleven tracks on Brand New Eyes were expertly crafted pop-rock gems of the finest order, with Hayley Williams providing one of the most superb vocal performances of 2009. Only a fool would begrudge Paramore of their phenomenal global success.
Best tracks: All I Wanted, Brick By Boring Brick.

10. Gallows – Grey Britain

The second album from the UK’s biggest hardcore band was a bleak, damning indictment on life in Britain. Each track was executed with such vibrancy and vigour, and Frank Carter’s almost animalistic vocals contributed immensely to what was a stunning major label debut.
Best tracks: Death Voices, The Great Forgiver.

9. Lamb of God – Wrath

LOG’s fifth album defied all who believed that a metal band must lose its brutal edge in order to gain substantial global success. Perhaps Randy Blythe and co’s heaviest outing since As the Palaces Burn, Wrath cemented the band’s status as the 21st century’s answer to Pantera.
Best tracks: Grace, Reclamation.

8. And So I Watch You From Afar – And So I Watch You From Afar

An absolutely jaw-dropping piece of work from the Belfast band. Moments of intricate post-rock effortlessly evolved into euphoric bursts of mind-consuming punk-fuelled prog on an album that took the listener through a remarkable variety of emotions. Quite incredible.
Best tracks: A Little Bit of Solidarity Goes a Long Way, Set Guitars To Kill.

7. Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions

Simon Neil and the Johnston brothers returned with yet another classic. The quirkiness of Infinity Land and the more accessible sounds of Puzzle were triumphantly brought together on this collection of unrelentingly impassioned, unmistakably beautiful songs.
Best tracks: Bubbles, Whorses.

6. Alexisonfire – Old Crows / Young Cardinals

Old Crows / Young Cardinals signalled the implementation of a more refined, more mature approach from the Canadian kings of post-hardcore. AOF’s ability to write infectious anthems was as evident as ever, and the vocal trinity of Green, Pettit and McNeil reigned supreme.
Best tracks: Midnight Regulations, Sons of Privilege.

5. The Ghost of a Thousand – New Hopes, New Demonstrations

What the Brighton hardcore crew achieved with their second full-length deserves enormous credit. The ferocity of their 2007 debut was combined with elements of southern rock, desert rock and even pop to build an ambitious, unparalleled sound. A truly amazing album.
Best tracks: Running on Empty, Bright Lights.

4. Every Time I Die – New Junk Aesthetic

ETID’s fifth album was regarded by many as their finest, and it was certainly their most diverse and most inclusive record yet. Southern rock, hardcore and metal blended together seamlessly, and Keith Buckley proved why he is the most gifted lyricist of our generation.
Best tracks: The Sweet Life, The Marvelous Slut.

3. BaronessBlue Record

With Blue Record, Baroness created one of the most gorgeous albums of recent years, featuring everything from devastating stoner metal to moments of melodic tranquillity via pulsating progressive climaxes. This will remain a firm favourite for years to come.
Best tracks: A Horse Called Golgotha, The Gnashing.

2. Architects – Hollow Crown

It’s been a monumental 2009 for the Brighton metalcore band, largely down to the release of this thunderous, epic piece of work. One of the most focused and dynamic albums of the decade, Hollow Crown stunned all who dared to listen. This has to be heard to be believed.
Best tracks: Early Grave, Follow the Water.

1. Mastodon – Crack the Skye

It’s rare to come across an album that is unanimously loved and revered by everyone who has had the good fortune to hear it, but that was the case when the heavily anticipated Crack the Skye was unleashed upon the world in March. Ever since the release of Call of the Mastodon in 2000, Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor have been renowned for their unwavering desire to push the boundaries not only of metal but of music. Therefore, when one states that Crack the Skye is an ambitious album by Mastodon’s standards, it almost goes without saying that it is surely one of the most challenging and most elaborate records of all time. With lyrical themes more extravagant than one may have thought possible, seemingly never-ending song progressions, visionary guitar solos and inconceivably complex drumming, Mastodon essentially formed a genre of their own. If anyone had previously cast doubt on this band’s abilities, Crack the Skye surely proved that Mastodon are a class apart from the rest. Words do not do this album, or this band, justice.
Best tracks: The Czar, Quintessence.

Hope you all enjoyed this list. The standard of all 20 of these albums is remarkably high, so I would therefore highly recommend each record. 2010 is shaping up to be just as exciting, with new albums on the way from The Dillinger Escape Plan, Cancer Bats, Rolo Tomassi and High on Fire to name a few, so here’s hoping the year ahead will live up to all expectations!


About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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