Rather than focus on only albums that came out in 2010, I’ve decided this year to focus on those that were consistently a part of my musical playlist. Most are new, but there is one standout from a few years back that I only discovered in 2010, so I included it anyway.
As you can see, metal is still a dominant part of my musical day, but I also had a few other things get playtime this year that didn’t make the list like Girl Talk’s new mash-up album, some Phish bootlegs, the new Widespread Panic album and some classic 80s metal and prog.
So in no particular order, here are my top 10:
Opeth - In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (2010)
One of my favorite albums of the last few years is Opeth’s second live album, The Roundhouse Tapes (2007), so when I heard they’d made a recording of their recent tour, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. “In Live at the Royal Albert Hall” is their third live album and takes the listener through the band’s full history, playing at least one song from each studio album. In addition to the historical review, it is also nice to get a chance to hear Fredrik ├àkesson playing that older material.
Mikael Åkerfeldt has said that he is working on their next studio album and the band hoped to release in in late 2011.
Allegaeon - Fragments of Form and Function (2010)
I was very excited when I was referred to this Colorado band earlier in the year. The talent in this band is immense. I haven’t had a chance to see them live yet, but since they’re based here, I’m hoping this year I will get a chance. Melodic technical death metal at its finest. If you enjoy this, be sure to check out their previous work: 2008 Ep (2008).
Solution .45 - For Aeons Past (2010)
Near the end of 2008, Scar Symmetry parted ways with vocalist Christian Älvestam, then in 2009 released a new album (which I reviewed last year). This year, I was referred to Solution .45 by a friend who was also a Scar Symmetry fan with the note, “It sounds a lot like older Scar.” And he was right. Vocally you really would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Not that that is bad, and in fact, this album got a lot of play this year. But I wonder sometimes if the departure of band founder Jani Stefanovic was due to this band sounding so much like Scar Symmetry despite Jani’s public statements to the contrary.
Dark Tranquility - We Are The Void (2010)
Dark Tranquility is one of the originators of melodic death metal, and is one of the only remaining members of the original Gothenburg metal scene. I somehow missed out discovering them until this year and was happy to find a great new album to get me started.
Yakuza - Of Seismic Consequence (2010)
I’ve always loved fusion forms, which is why prog-rock and prog-metal have always interested me. Yakuza is one of those hard to classify bands that brings together jazz, prog and metal into something that can only be called goodness.
Between the Buried and Me - Colors (2007)
This is the one this year that isn’t a 2010 release, but for me it was a 2010 discovery. I still have no idea how I missed this band until now. I found it playing Rock Band at Brad Wilson’s house and now I can’t stop listening to it. AMAZING.
Intronaut - Valley of Smoke (2010)
Intronaut is from California, and their style is progressive or experimental metal with some sludge tendencies. Very nice stuff for listening to while working. Odd-time rhythms, trance-y, drone-y all mixed up with some killer sludge metal thrash. These guys mix everything together in a way that is great to listen to.
Kvelertak - Kvelertak (2010)
Kvelertak is a Norwegian band from Stavanger who’s style is something like a cross between hardcore punk, black metal and sludge. All of their songs are in Norwegian, but from what I’ve read, they’re all about Norse and Viking mythology, which might also get them assigned to the folk-metal category. Whatever… these guys are very hardcore.
Pantera - Cowboys from Hell 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (2010)
It may be a stretch to call this a 2010 album, but this classic metal album from all-time greats Pantera was re-released last year as a 20th anniversary special deluxe edition. The original Cowboys from Hell was released in July 1990 and was Pantera’s fifth album. This special release comes in three flavors: Ultimate, Deluxe and Expanded, including live and demo bonus tracks.
Red Sparowes - The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer
Red Sparowes is another project by Isis guitarist Bryant Clifford Meyer, and has an instrumental, post-metal, sludgy sound that is killer work music. It just sits back there and grinds. Great stuff. If you like bands like Isis, Pelican, you will love these guys.