Hmmmm. We’ve reach the end of the 2010s decade here in the land of metal. Overall, this has been a really good decade for metalheads and the state of the genre is still very healthy. However, 2019 was a bit of a disappointment in general for the state of new music. Sure, there were some strong albums that came out and we’ll be reviewing those in the upcoming weeks, but looking at the entirety of releases spanning the year and the level of quality was a little down in comparison to past years. Once again, the biggest trend for me was the amount of stellar material coming out of bands with debut albums or band that are just two or three albums into their career. This trend towards younger blood bringing solid material provides a hefty dose of optimism for the health of the scene overall. The more established bands are still cranking out decent material, but 2019 found these bands falling a bit behind the younger and hungrier up-and-coming bands.
On the live music scene, for me anyway, this was another jam-packed year of really good musical performances. I got to scratch quite a few bands off of my “never seen” list this year. Riverside, Panopticon (both acoustic and black metal sets), Demons and Wizards, Monolord, Windhand, Voivod, Robin Trower, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Zeal and Ardor, Warforged, Spirit Adrift, The Claypool Lennon Delerium and Arkona were all first time concerts for me this year. Other highlights were getting to seeing Saxon still defying the toll of time by giving one of their more energetic club shows I’ve seen by them, Rivers of Nihil playing last year’s masterpiece Where Owls Know My Name in full along with a touring saxophone player, Plague Vendor and their hyperkinetic vocalist Brandon Blaine making a case for becoming one of the more interesting frontmen going, witnessing Michael Schenker and his merry band of past vocalist joining together for a lovely evening of metal nostalgia, bonding with Panopticon’s Austin Lunn about the Galactic Cowboys, seeing critical darling Spirit Adrift up close and personal in a club the size of a large kitchen, witnessing an acoustic Chelsea Wolfe show in a church, and nearly losing a toe during the massive convergence of two tours consisting of Psycroptic/Voivod/Revocation/Sick of It All/Municipal Waste/Napalm Death. (Flip Flops Forever!)
The 2019 Top 20 Best of Metal album review begins tomorrow. I know this is like the day before Christmas for you little metalheads. Get to bed early tonight and it will be here before you know it.