In a year worthy of your rage, metal delivered in spades. What with the economy circling the drain and Sarah Palin coming down from the tundra and then refusing to go back, 2008's been the kind of year that really makes you want to smash your head into walls or punch random strangers in the face. Good thing there were so many awesome records available to serve as a soundtrack for exactly that kind of behavior. The ten discs below are just the tip of a very big, very heavy iceberg. Metal seems to grow stronger each year; 2009 will bring new albums by Mastodon, Deftones, Lamb of God and more. In the meantime, check these out.
Opeth's last album, Ghost Reveries, took its progressive black/death-metal sound to its logical endpoint. So the band took a sharp left turn, incorporating a new guitarist and drummer, psychedelic studio trickery, odd rhythms and even a female vocalist on the folky, emotionally affecting opening track, "Coil." Of course, none of this means that Opeth has forgotten how to bring the heavy: "Heir Apparent" is one of the most assaultive songs of its career, including a drum solo that announces its evolution quite capably.
The Gates Of Slumber
These guys play a classicist, fantasy-minded blend of doom metal and biker rock; their album cover depicts Conan holding a sword in one hand and a severed head in the other, and looks like it could have come straight off the side of a custom Chevy van. The riffs are thunderous, the vocals raw-throated and powerful, and the songs epic. Don't sleep on this obscure but deserving album.-- Phil Freeman
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Year in Music By The Numbers