Dream Theater, Dream Theater This is another one that isn't super heavy, but the talent progressive metallers Dream Theater bring to the table deserves the recognition.
It's actually a pretty ballsy move to release a self-titled album this far along in your career, but it also makes sense: This album defines them as a band more than anything else they've put out to date. The massive 22-minute tune "Illumination Theory" is a personal favorite.
Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here Alice in Chains doesn't need much of an introduction. This highly anticipated release--their second since the death of lead singer Layne Staley in 2002--had me doubtful at first, but it's grown on me since its release in May.
It's riff-heavy, velvety, rich and melancholic, and a solid addition to the Alice in Chains' legacy.
Deafheaven, Sunbather This San Francisco band has made a name for the crossover audience it's found outside the heavy metal community, but Deafhaven is clearly dedicated to two things: technically beautiful melodies and their black metal roots.
On Sunbather each song is very different than the last, showing the vast range of talents that the members possess, from spacey atmospherics to double-timed pounding to singer George Clarke's gritty vocals and growls. It borders on romantic black metal and brutal indie-rock, honestly, and can easily evoke a lot of pathos and theatrics from the listener--maybe that's what makes it okay that the album has a pink cover.
Darkthrone, The Underground Resistance As one of the finest black metal acts to emerge from Norway during the genre's peak in the '80s, this album (their 16th, in fact) has Darkthrone reaching back to their heavy, classic roots. The band has made a few genre-defining albums, such as Transilvanian Hunger, and this one is no different.
It's pure metal: jackhammer rhythms, screams and growls, blistering riffs. Take it from me: Play this one really, really loud.