Yes, this list is pretty short, for a number of reasons.
A) I don’t download music, at all, and therefore I have to either wait until I can afford a record or see if someone is kind enough to toss me an extra scrap.
2) For something to be on my “best of” it needs to be something I can listen to very frequently and still be stoked every time.
D) I get bored very easily.
The Best Metal of 2010
Darkthrone, Circle the Wagons (Peaceville Records)
Punk as fuck. Every time Fenriz and Nocturno Culto isolate themselves in some god forsaken frozen wilderness, amazing things happen. Kind of like certain exiled Russian writers. Most people end up like the Unabomber or Jack Torrance, but not these guys. “I Am The Graves of The 80’s”, “Circle The Wagons”, and “I Am The Working Class” especially stand out.
Ghost, Opus Eponymous (Rise Above)
So it hasn’t seen it’s U.S. release yet, but I’m including it because I haven’t been able to turn it off since its European release. While “Ritual” may be the most recognized track by many thus far, “Elizabeth” and “Stand By Him” own it.
Dax Riggs, Say Goodnight To The World (Fat Possum)
The former Acid Bath frontman’s second solo venture is formulated in a somber vein but possesses enough rhythm to keep you awake and intrigued by his lyrical content and the desperation in his voice. The “Heartbreak Hotel” cover is likewise devastating, and I stole “I Hear Satan” for the name of this blog. Fangirl 2010.
Burzum, Belus (Byelobog Productions)
While talking about remaining awake, this was my favorite album to fall asleep to in 2010, and I mean that in the best possible way. Long gone are Varg’s prison synth tracks, thankfully replaced by his former grating distortion and vocals. Though more drawn out than his earlier works, his overall composure has remained intact throughout the years. It is the perfect churning force for nightfall.
Ceremony, Rohnert Park (Bridge Nine)
“Sick” is probably the best hardcore songs I’ve heard in years. Purely pissed off over everything – similar to the outlook displayed on “Circle The Wagons”. Please do not ignore the equally striking “The Doldrums (Friendly City), “Open Head” and “Terminal Addiction”.
Nails, Unsilent Death (Six Feet Under / Streetcleaner / Southern Lord)
Also pissed. I suppose the formation of this list has exposed my personal theme for 2010. Grinding excellence played by hardcore dudes. If you think the artwork for this record was low-key, check out “Obscene Humanity”. No frills at all – a sticker on a white cardboard sleeve, something like “Program Repeats On Other Side” printed on the record, like some 1950’s propaganda (and it does repeat on the other side). Originally released in very limited quantities between Six Feet Under Records and Streetcleaner Records, Southern Lord took over the task of repressing it for the masses.
Triptykon, Eparistera Daimones (Century Media)
First song is what made this record for me. My understanding is that the intention was to sound like Celtic Frost would have had they continued, and I am not displeased by Tom Gabriel Warrior’s output. Starts off strong enough to overlook the female vocals towards the end of the album. Beautiful to be sure, but I’m just not into it.
Best Packaging of 2010
Watain, Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist)
The packaging and artwork for both the LP and limited CD box set for Lawless Darkness is the most intricate I have come across this year. It's a double LP in a triple gatefold package with a die-cut cover, the inside consisting of an attached 24-page insert roughly the size of a 10-inch with detailed drawings, finely penned lyrics, and grainy photographs on heavy paper, and a massive poster. The deluxe box set was created to look like a leather bound book but is actually wooden with a sliding drawer that contained the special edition CD (Death SS cover!), banner, black wax candle, metal pendant with chain, and small illustrated cards. Watain keeps their artist under wraps, and with good reason. His already phenomenal drawings are further enhanced by the creative housing.
Worst Packaging of 2010
Torche, Songs For Singles
I have to destroy the sleeve to get to the record? Not cool at all.
Dismember, Like An Ever Flowing Stream (Karmageddon)
Bathory, All (Black Mark) (…Even though the sleeves are paper-thin)
Repulsion, Horrified (Relapse)
Shocking Blue, Scorpio’s Dance (Music on Vinyl)