All good things come to an end. And 2019 has been a very good year for music! This year we had some amazing releases, maybe even a bit too many… Needless to say, it wasn’t easy to reduce all the great albums down to just 20, as I have on this list, but after some thinking I managed to do it. This, of course, represents only my opinion, nothing else. As I said, there were way too many great albums to listen to all of them as a single person… So, don’t expect anything objective, this is not what I set out to do with this. These are all the albums that I listened to the most, that I enjoyed the most, that touched me in the most profound way.
Before giving you my 20 best albums, here are 30 more albums that I wanted to at least give a quick shoutout, a few “honorable mentions” as most call it when it comes to rankings such as this. These are just in alphabetical order, not ranked in any way, and will not be commented in the way the top albums will be. Still, you should give all these following releases a try!
ABIGAIL WILLIAMS – “Walk Beyond the Dark”
ALCEST – “Spiritual Instinct”
BATUSHKA – “Panihida”
BRING ME THE HORIZON – “Ludens” [Single]
CATTLE DECAPITATION – “Death Atlas”
CULT OF LUNA – “A Dawn to Fear”
DARKTHRONE – “Old Star”
FALSE – “Portent”
FULL OF HELL – “Weeping Choir”
GAAHLS WYRD – “GastiR – Ghosts Invited”
HAZEMAZE – “Hymns of the Damned”
IMPERIUM DEKADENZ – “When We Are Forgotten”
INFANT ANNIHILATOR – “The Battle of Yaldabaoth”
KADAVAR – “For the Dead Travel Fast”
KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD – “Infest the Rats’ Nest”
MASTER BOOT RECORD – “INTERNET PROTOCOL”
MAYHEM – “Daemon”
MESARTHIM – “Ghost Condensate”
MISERTUS – “Daydream / Coil / Outland”
MISÞYRMING – “Algleymi”
MØRK – “Det Svarte Juv”
MYLINGAR – “Döda Själar”
OLD SORCERY – “Strange and Eternal”
PLEASURE SYMBOLS – “Closer and Closer Apart”
PROFANATICA – “Rotting Incarnation of God”
THE SEAL OF R’LYEH – “Gateways to Yaddith”
TREVOR SOMETHING – “The Ghost” [Single]
TOMB MOLD – “Planetary Clairvoyance”
TORCHE – “Admission”
VASTUM – “Orificial Purge”
Before you start exploring my list, let me tell you this: I included video links for each release. Especially for the albums you don’t know, hit play before starting to read and let the music work. Now… Enjoy reading my Top 20!
20. VOYAGER – “Colours in the Sun”
Season of Mist, released November 1st
“Epic Electro Progressive Pop Power Metal”. That’s quite the elaborate genre description, but listening to “Colours in the Sun”, I quickly realized that the band from Perth, Australia utilized everything that they identify with. From heavy down-tuned guitars and progressive riffs to pop-like melodies, great clean vocals and nostalgic synth-lines. VOYAGER have created something truly unique with the latest release and I do believe that it takes true talent to make such a vast mix of genres work in such a cohesive way. This is not for everyone, but everyone should give this album at least one try, before shrugging it off… you might be positively surprised!
19. MEGA DRIVE – “199XAD”
FiXT Music, released October 4th
One of the pioneers of Synthwave and its heavy subgenre Darksynth returns stronger than ever, with a sequel to the essential album “198XAD”. This latest album is recognizably MEGA DRIVE and brings some of the heaviest and simultaneously best tunes this project has ever released! Dark and heavy, yet extremely catchy at the same time, MEGA DRIVE always delivers, but “199XAD” is an unquestionable career highlight.
18. BRING ME THE HORIZON – “amo”
Sony Music Entertainment / RCA Records, released January 25th
I bet this one will be controversial, huh? BRING ME THE HORIZON have always been polarizing, but lately even more so, since they move away from their original genre, which was Death- & Metalcore, more and more. I am personally a big fan of their newer releases, “That’s the Spirit” was an amazing Alternative Rock record and on “amo” the band experiments with even more genres. They include elements of Metal, Alternative Rock, Pop, Electro and most likely even more I haven’t even realized yet. From the heavier affairs like “wonderful life” to the trippy Trance / Synthpop of “Nihilist Blues”, BMTHs newest album surely has at least one song that will appeal to you, yes, it is that varied.
The only reason it isn’t higher on the list is that I feel like one or two tracks are filler and the experimentation prevents the album from being 100% cohesive. Still, I see that the band has poured their love into “amo” and it is far from the “sellout”-album some people try to make it. Give this one a chance!
17. HEALTH – “VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR”
Lorna Vista Recordings, released February 8th
I first came into contact with HEALTH through the soundtrack of “Max Payne 3”, one of my favourite games of all time and at the same time one of the greatest soundtracks for any game I’ve played. Knowing this, I was really excited to see what the Noise-Rock band from Los Angeles had created with their latest full-length. On “VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR”, they again really convinced me, offering a compelling mix of Noise-Rock, Industrial influence and some very nice, softer electronic elements as well. HEALTH have a very unique and recognizable sound, the vocals are distinct and the at points noisy, but still beautiful instrumentation stands in stark contrast to them, yet the mix of both just works. This one may have gone under the radar for some, so I urge you to check this out!
16. GOST – “Valediction”
Century Media Records, released October 4th
Another one of my favourite Synthwave artists right here, GOST have always created some of the heaviest music in the genre. With 2018s “Possessor” they took it one step further, opting for a direct crossover with Black Metal of all genres, offering intense blast-beats and screams in a mixture with nostalgic synthesizer and Post-Punk-esque clean vocals. This may sound messy, but it worked extremely well on the album, if needing some maturing over the next releases perhaps. Here is where “Valediction” comes in: The new album brings in even more influences, from genres like Goth etc., while at the same time presenting a more developed and matured sound. From straight up Goth-Electro songs like “Bloody Roses” to Blackened Synthwave, like on “Timeless Turmoil”, “Valediciton” has it all!
15. DEN SORTE DØD – „Undergangen“
Independent, released October 11th
Now we come to the album that grew to be my favourite Dark Ambient album of the year, a lucky find through “The Dungeon Synth Archives” on YouTube. DEN SORTE DØD deliver an amazing release of Berlin-School Electro, Dungeon Synth and Dark Ambient, all depicting some sort of Downfall. The nice Synthesizer sound and amazing composition on this album only grow stronger with each listen, at least for me!
For a more in-depth look at this, please check my review for “Undergangen” right here!
14. KALEIKR – “Heart of Lead”
Debemur Morti, released February 15th
What once was DRAUGSÓL, now lives on in KALEIKR. The two-man group dropped their debut full-length “Heart of Lead” early this year and man does it deliver! The band play Progressive Black Metal at the core I’d say, but also mix in some Death Metal influences. On this album, the project from Reykjavik, Iceland paint an otherworldly image of surrealism and mental deterioration. All of the albums best elements, in my opinion, come together on my favourite track “The Descent”. This is already one of the strongest releases from Debemur Morti this year, but there are some even stronger ones coming up!
13. NONE – “Damp Chill of Life”
Hypnotic Dirge Records, released April 11th
One year after the already quite strong “Life has gone on long enough”, DSBM band NONE release this depressing behemoth of an album, embracing everything that is bleak, cold and hopeless in life. “Damp Chill of Life” received a well deserved 9.5/10 here at BAZ! Melancholic riffs, tortured, heart-wrenching screams, distant yet still impactful drums. There is lots of good things to tell about this record, but to truly grasp what makes it so solid, one must go on this journey of depression and utter despair alone.
“…It’s like dying…”
12. THANATONAUT – „Interstellar“
GS Productions, released December 7th
The cosmic dread, the menial role of humanity in a universe far too big to ever be fully grasped by the human mind. THANATONAUTs Eija Risen has created a truly unique and well developed concept for his debut album. “Interstellar” is taking a bleak, yet when explored in detail, very realist look at the cosmos. He set out to portray space in a horrifically dangerous and hostile way, not in the romanticised / adventurous way so often present in media.
For a more in-depth look, you can check out my full review of this album right here!
11. BETHLEHEM – „Lebe dich leer“
Prophecy Productions, released May 17th
Arguably, BETHLEHEM have been a major influence in the development of the subgenre we know today as DSBM, or Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. With albums as essential as “Dictius Te Necare”, mainly for mix of maniacally fast and slow, lethargic riffs in combination with Rainer Landfermanns crazed vocal performance, in my opinion unbeaten ‘til this day, the band had a big impact on the scene. However, their later day output never reached the heights of their biggest work, at least when it comes to the attention these releases got…
After the already really good self-titled album from 2016, where they recruited DARKENED NOCTURN SLAUGHTERCULTs Onielar on vocals, their 2019 album “Lebe dich leer” (“Live Yourself Empty”) is even better. Bringing in crazed vocals good enough to rival Landfermann, yet not trying to be a “Dictius Te Necare” copy like the 2016 album did (my opinion of course), but instead also embracing the later day industrial influences, this album is possibly the best BETHLEHEM has released since the godly second album!
ATTENTION: We are now moving into the top 10 best albums of 2019, according to the trve Medvson!
10. TREVOR SOMETHING – “Bots Don’t Cry”
Independent, released February 15th
A unique one-man project, TREVOR SOMETHING started off in 2014 as one of the main stars of the emerging Synthwave movement. The unique aspect of his music was that he also included vocals, where other bands mostly made instrumental music. TREVORs voice is recognizable and I always enjoy listening to his slightly trippy singing. Over the last years, he has released multiple albums that each brought unique elements into the mix, like 2015s depressing Artrock / Post-Punk album “Die With You”.
Only four months after the strong late 2018 album “ULTRAPARANOIA”, TREVOR, to the surprise of his fans, dropped another full album in February of this year. At first “Bots Don’t Cry” seemed like a fun little album with a more classic Synthwave sound, but with each listen I grew to like it more and slowly but surely it snuck up to become not only one of my most played, but also one of my favourite releases of the year. With themes of love and heartbreak, nostalgic synthesizer and TREVORs familiar solid vocal work “Bots Don’t Cry” comes in as my tenth favourite album of 2019!
9. BÖLZER – “Lese Majesty” [EP]
Lightning & Sons, released November 29th
Swiss two-man outfit BÖLZER continue to impress with their unique brand of Death & Black Metal, it’s actually not easy to really define, as they bring in multiple influences from various subgenres of Metal. What I can assure though is that their music always hits the right spot… and hits hard! After 2016s “Hero”, “Lese Majesty” marks the first solo release by the band in three years, though the wait was worth it in my opinion!
HzRs thunderous drums and KzRs heavy guitars along with his brutal vocals, mixed with some chanted singing, make for a great listening experience. After recently experiencing them live, I grew to appreciate the band even more, but even on album, BÖLZER are as heavy as ever. The closing track “Ave Fluvius! Danus Be Praised!”, which is over 12 minutes long, comes in as my favourite, as it constantly keeps you on edge with shifts in sound and overall really great musicianship. The extremely atmospheric interlude track “Æstivation” also deserves to be mentioned, as it carries a feeling of some nocturnal, earth-worshiping ritual. “Lese Majesty” ends up my ninth favourite release of 2019!
8. TENEBRAE IN PERPETUUM – “Anorexia Obscura”
Debemur Morti Productions, released August 30th
The best way to describe this album hasn’t changed since I wrote my review. “Anorexia Obscura” is an aural lobotomy, it is the sonic embodiment of pure insanity and absolute misanthropy! Atratus has created one of the most intense records of the year. Cold guitar riffs, pummelling blast-beats, eerie electronics and insane vocals are only a few of the many strong elements of this album. The performance of the vocals in Italian really adds to the effect in my opinion, it somehow gives them quite the uncanny, crazed feeling. This is one of these albums which are hard to put into words, as the demented soundscapes created by TENEBRAE IN PERPETUUM can only be experienced by delving into them yourself… I feel like this record may have gone under the radar for many, so I urge everyone who has missed this to give “Anorexia Obscura” a spin, you will not be disappointed. This outstanding album comes in as my eighth favourite album of 2019!
7. SADNESS – “I want to be there”
Independent, released April 7th
“I want to be there” is a truly special album. I once sat alone in my room, in the dark, just sitting on my bed and playing this album on headphones. It was quite an experience, I felt full of sadness, yet strangely hopeful at the same time… SADNESS is one of the bands who have mastered the oxymoronic sound of simultaneous hope and melancholy. Truth be told, and I’m not ashamed to tell you this, “I want to be there” is among the very few albums that ever managed to touch me in such a profound and deep emotional way that I was close to crying while listening. Combining elements of Black Metal with lots of Shoegaze influence, SADNESS created beautiful, dreamlike soundscapes on this album, sounding like no other album I’ve ever heard. “I want to be there” is my seventh favourite record of 2019!
6. VALBORG – “Zentrum”
Lupus Lounge, released May 17th
“Sophisticated Primitivism” is what VALBORG regularly use to describe their music… and it’s true! Their music isn’t complex in the classic sense, yet there is no band that quite sounds like them. Often called one of Germanies biggest underground recommendations and even earning praise from Tom G. Warrior himself, all of their albums had a unique twist, none of them sounding the same. On “Zentrum” (“Center”), the band combines the strengths of their two previous albums into something familiar, yet new. Intensity is the first thing that comes into my mind when thinking of this new record. VALBORG create songs with such efficiency, reducing the tracks to the bare minimum and thus grinding a rough diamond into perfection. Again, I can say that the only way to get an accurate representation of the sound in your head is to go check this album out yourself, as I can’t find words really fitting to describe it. Not only is it one of the best albums of the year, but I also believe that the band doesn’t get nearly enough attention. They deserve it though, and that’s why “Zentrum” ends up as my sixth favourite album of 2019!
5. MINENWERFER – “Alpenpässe”
Purity Through Fire, released October 31st
Now this one really surprised me. I first listened to the new MINENWERFER album expecting simple, but brutal War / Black Metal, but what I got was something much better! The band from Sacramento, California thematize World War I in a much more interesting and varied way. While still mainly being a Black Metal album, “Alpenpässe” has some compelling progressive elements as well as aspects of Neofolk on offer, overall making for an extraordinary album experience that no one should miss out on, thus it comes in as my fifth favourite album of 2019!
For a more in-depth look, you can check out my full review of this album right here!
4. BLOOD INCANTATION – “Hidden History of the Human Race”
Century Media / Dark Descent Records, released November 22nd
“The next big thing in Death Metal”, while some bands have been described like that in the last couple of years, I believe no band deserves it more than BLOOD INCANTATION. After the already monumental “Starspawn” in 2016, the band returns even stronger and with a more developed sound than before on “Hidden History of the Human Race”. Brutal blast-beats, heavy Death Metal riffs and growls are enriched by otherworldly psychedelia, the occasionally prominent synth-passage and odd progressive edges to the sound, giving you the satisfactory feel of an Old-School Death Metal record while also sounding new and fresh at the same time.
I do believe that this album is only the next step towards an even greater development for the band and I’m stoked to see where BLOOD INCANTATION go next after this. “Hidden History of the Human Race” comes in as my fourth favourite album of 2019!
3. ELLENDE – „Lebensnehmer“
Art of Propaganda, released March 29th
Austrian Atmospheric / Post-Black Metal band ELLENDE, since its inception in 2011, has released strong release after strong release, maturing the sound with each new output. The band name comes from an old Germanic word for “exiled” and today is comparable the most with the German “Elend”, meaning “misery”, the melancholy carried by the band name also transferring to the sound of each album. After 2016s excellent “Todbringer” (“Deathbringer”), an album for another list very soon (*wink, wink*), its sister-album “Lebensnehmer” (“Lifetaker”) followed this year. As the name suggests, it takes a more hostile approach to the theme of death as the depressing, yet oddly peaceful act of bringing death is replaced with more aggressive act of taking a life. This thematic shift in perspective is also reflected in the albums sound, as it leaves out some of the recognizable elements of its predecessor, such as the heavy use of acoustics and very high, pained screams, and in exchange builds upon others.
Very fittingly described in the albums review here at BAZ, “The eight tracks will keep you enrapt with a blend of catchy melodies, gorgeous ambience, and raw aggression. Each song is teeming with unique and innovative elements that are so masterfully delivered that everything fits perfectly in its place, like some kind of grim auditory jigsaw puzzle.”
I hold L.G.’s project very close to my heart, as the music touches me deeply with each release, and “Lebensnehmer” isn’t an exception, coming in as my third favourite album of 2019!
2. MIZMOR – „Cairn“
Gilead Media, released September 6th
Monolithic. Is this word even enough to be a worthy description of “Cairn”? A.L.N., the creator of MIZMOR, has crafted a monumental release, dealing with themes of depression, nihilism, loss of faith and certainly weaving in his very own experiences with these topics, the biographic aspect making it even more touching. Fitting to the immense weight of the subject matter, the crushing and intense Black Doom Metal is a sure means to affect anyone. Constantly shifting between faster Black Metal sections with hauntingly beautiful and extremely recognizable riffs and slow, lethargic Doom Metal passages constantly, this album never loses the listener once. A.L.N.’s vocals are also truly distinct, hard to put it into words… Raspy, ghoulish screams and high, inhuman screeching really convey the tremendous amount of emotion that was put into the creation of “Cairn”.
MIZMORs new album is a genuinely immersive experience, a record that needs your full attention, demands it, really takes you into its melancholic embrace. All elements of the record fit together into an organic monolith of an album, merging polar opposites into a cohesive piece of music. Crushing, unrelenting, powerful, profoundly emotional, moving… This album will be remembered.
“Cairn” ends up as my second favourite album of 2019!
1. BLUT AUS NORD – „Hallucinogen“
Debemur Morti Productions, released September 20th
BLUT AUS NORD, a name to behold, one of the most varied, unique projects out there, each release monumental in its very own way, from the transcendental “777” albums to the “Memoria Vatusta” works. The Avantgarde / Black Metal masters around creative cerebrum Vindsval returned this year and bring forth the next step in the ever-progressing development of BLUT AUS NORD.
“Hallucinogen” is equal parts recognizable as it is revolutionary, the band has managed to develop a new sound for this album that still carries the very essence of what makes them great. On this record, we leave the boundaries of earth behind, we embark on an astral journey through the vast, unimaginably spectacular reaches of the cosmos. Each second of this album keeps you on edge for what will happen next, each new addition to the sound, each new riff, each new drum-pattern, everything comes together to a grandiose work of art, a creation of an epic scale. I still stand by my conclusion from my review: “The band created something really special, the new album is experimental to its core, offering many new elements never before seen in the bands releases, yet it still sounds recognizably like BLUT AUS NORD! This really demonstrates the competence and masterful musicianship Vindsval and his companions possess, their new album is transcendental, hallucinogenic, psychedelic, avant-garde, progressive and so many things more, it’s hard to count… As far as I’m concerned, it is a flawless album, not often before have I listened to an album that was this perfect through and through, so I am very glad to give this record my first ever 10/10 here on BAZ!”
From my personal perspective, BLUT AUS NORDs “Hallucinogen” is the very best music has to offer this year, thus it ends up as my #AlbumOfTheYear!
This is it, here we are at the end of my list. I hope you enjoyed reading it and maybe even stumbled upon some albums that you didn’t even know up until now! As always, I’m very interested in hearing your opinion, so gladly share it with me on my Twitter.
The end of the year and decade comes closer with each passing second, here’s for an even better 2020, there are already some releases I have my eyes on coming next year!
Before that, there might be another list coming, I bet you can guess what it will be. See you very soon!
the trve Medvson
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