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It's nice to stop and smell the flowers every so often… or, alternatively, your favorite metal albums so far this year. And while I do not personally recommend sniffing your vinyl/CDs/whathaveyou, I do recommend reflecting on what makes your favorite albums so special. Remember, think not about what your music says about you, but what you have to say about yourself in context of your favorite music. Did you learn anything new about your tastes? Did you discover something that you'd have hated just a year ago? Are you changing? Is the world changing?

Big questions, but we have some big albums to answer them. Before we get into the lists, check out this roundup of Invisible Oranges articles from earlier this year -- we had covered many of the albums that our contributors/writers selected. As always, stay metal, and let us know in the comments what your personal top picks are for halfway through 2019.

-- Andrew Rothmund

Warforged (video interview)
Gomorrah (album premiere)
Dead to a Dying World (song premiere + interview)
Numenorean (song premiere)
Big|Brave (full review)
Cosmic Putrefaction (song premiere)
Primitive Man + Hell (full review)
Shabti (album premiere)
Inter Arma (interview) + Inter Arma (full review)
Dreadnought (interview)
Town Portal (song premiere)
Pound (song premiere)
Kaleikr (album premiere)
Hath (song premiere)
Violet Cold (full review)
Full of Hell (interview)
Oozing Wound (interview)
Herod (song premiere)
Aoratos (song premiere)
Pinkish Black (full review)
Spirit Adrift (interview)
Venom Prison (interview)
Candlemass (interview)
The Lord Weird Slough Feg (interview)
Waste of Space Orchestra (full review)

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Andrew Rothmund

What a year (so far). Personally, it's been tough as a concrete turd already. Music-wise, we've been graced with some of the hottest, most wicked metal ever laid to tape. It's my very honest opinion that metal keeps getting even better (especially as the world around us continues to decay). This doesn't mean that more prosperous times (for everyone, not just the rich) in the world's history didn't result in great metal. It just means that when people struggle, fight, and sometimes perish due to unfair structures in the world around us, that extreme music gets a concomitant boost. Metal is life, metal is pain, metal is suffering, but metal is the ultimate catharsis. Let's hope (and work) for a better world in the future; for now, let's enjoy better music for all.

Warforged -- I: Voice
Gomorrah -- Gomorrah
Dawn of Nil -- Culminating Ruins
Wolvennest -- Vortex EP
Dead to a Dying World -- Elegy
Numenorean -- Adore
Nusquama -- Horizon Ontheemt
Big|Brave -- A Gaze Among Them
Defacement -- Deviant
Cosmic Putrefaction -- At the Threshold of the Greatest Chasm

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Thomas Hinds

The year 2019, at least thus far, has been the year of revitalized sludge. It seems that across the full gamut of metal’s countless subgenres, a grimy, unforgivingly course demeanor now casts a shadow of angst and catharsis upon all new material. The past sixth months has seen the proliferation of a primordial, destructive energy that has spurred a stylistic convergence between styles once considered dissimilar; from the otherworldly death metal dungeon slime of Nucleus and Fetid, to the crunch-heavy mathematics of Pound and Town Portal, to the psychedelic tribal doom of Zaum and Numidia, it’s safe to say that this new wave of dark introspection and unbridled rage has thoroughly engulfed heavy metal culture worldwide.

Primitive Man + Hell -- Split
Shabti -- Trembling and Shorn
Fetid -- Steeping Corporeal Mess
Nucleus -- Entity
Inter Arma -- Sulphur English
Dreadnought -- Awakening
Town Portal -- Town Portal
Pound -- ••
Numidia -- Numidia
Zaum -- Divination

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Ivan Belcic

I haven’t been the most active music writer this year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention. As early as the opening weeks of January, the underground once again proved itself replete with inspired brutality. The albums which stood out most intensely to me over the past six months are united in their plaintiveness, whether tinged with hope or smothered by withering despair, testaments to metal’s enduring ability to both channel and provoke the emotions.

Murmur -- The Boundless Black
Ithaca -- The Language of Injury
Wristmeetrazor -- Misery Never Forgets
Waldgeflüster -- Mondscheinsonaten
Numenorean -- Adore
Friendship -- Undercurrent
Kaleikr -- Heart of Lead
Hath -- Of Rot and Ruin
Krzysztof Drabikowski -- Панихида
Violet Cold -- kOsmik

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Aaron Maltz

Give me hooks or give me silence. Throw me all the genres you’ve got, but if you don’t provide that crystallizing moment where pleasure and intellect shake hands, I’ll probably forget your name. Looking over my mid-year favorites, I almost feel like I don’t qualify as a metalhead anymore but rather an art-rock dude with some heavier leanings. Considering that I gave up booze for kombucha, I’ll proudly wear the tag.

PUP -- Morbid Stuff
Moon Tooth -- Crux
Pixvae -- Cali
Helium Horse Fly -- Hollowed
Big Business -- The Beast You Are
Skryptor -- Luminous Volumes
Helms Alee -- Noctiluca
Deathspell Omega -- The Furnaces of Palingenesia
Ooozing Wound -- High Anxiety
Mord'A'Stigmata -- Dreams of Quiet Places

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Chris Rowella

This collection of albums surprises me, in ways I cannot quite articulate yet. The year 2019 has been a haphazard, lurching, and eye-opening year so far -- is there a similar theme buried in the desert rock, filthy death metal, and Lynchian crooner country on display here? Perhaps. If not, at least the tunes are good.

Friendship -- Undercurrent
Ringworm -- Death Becomes My Voice
Esoctrilihum -- The Telluric Ashes...
Pinkish Black -- Concept Unification
Nebula -- Holy Shit
Spirit Adrift -- Divided by Darkness
Ossuarium -- Living Tomb
My Diligence -- Sun Rose
Inter Arma -- Sulphur English
Orville Peck -- Pony

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Tom Campagna

This year has been a very diverse year for heavy music listeners. Classic bands finally hitting the ground running after years by the sidelines or others just powering through their discographies with sonic aplomb. In six months, I may look back at this list and wonder what in the world I was thinking. Let me save myself the time, 2019 is a powerful precursor for a year that is still a primordial pool of yet undiscovered variety.

Sanhedrin -- The Poisoner
Spirit Adrift -- Divided By Darkness
Darkthrone -- Old Star
Saint Vitus -- Saint Vitus
Candlemass -- The Door To Doom
Possessed -- Revelations of Oblivion
Magic Circle -- Departed Souls
Eye of the Destroyer -- Baptized In Pain
Devil Master -- Satan Spits On Children of Light
Bellrope -- You Must Relax

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Brian O'Neill

There are a lot of hotly tipped albums by bigger bands coming out the second half of the year, but for quality and diversity, it's not impossible that the best albums of 2019 have already been released. Which isn't to say I'll stop listening.

Big|Brave -- A Gaze Among Them
Brutus -- Nest
The Coathangers -- The Devil You Know
Darkthrone -- Old Star
Dead to a Dying World -- Elegy
Die Klute -- Planet Fear
The Lord Weird Slough Feg -- New Organon
Magic Circle -- Departed Souls
Petrol Girls -- Cut & Stitch
Venom Prison -- Samsara

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Joseph Aprill

Long time reader of Invisible Oranges here (and sometimes comment section scribe) who you’ll soon see some contributions from in the near future. The year 2019 has already been a headrush of a year with great albums from young bloods and old bastards alike. Such abundance of music became far too apparent in how much I had to cut to make this a lean ten. All of which will be thrown into further disarray soon enough by the return of looming giants and hidden surprises on the horizon.

Candlemass -- The Door to Doom
Darkthrone -- Old Star
Devil Master -- Satan Spits on Children of Light
Funereal Presence -- Achatius
Haunt -- If Icarus Could Fly
Idle Hands -- Mana
Misþyrming -- Algleymi
Mork -- Det Svarte Juv
The Lord Weird Slough Feg -- New Organon
Vircolac -- Masque

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Langdon Hickman

This list doesn't mention the phenomenal new electronic/country album from Lambchop, the brilliant Americana of both Josh Ritter and Bruce Springsteen, the searing and necessary rage of the new Brutus record, and so many more. I picked 13 records instead of ten both because it's fucking metal and it also felt like the only fair way to highlight how incredible this year has been for music. There is of course some metal in here (have to know your audience!) but I would be dishonest if I didn't highlight some of the experimental electronic records that have not only comprised a large portion of my auditory diet this year but also greatly inform my writing in general. Conspicuous absence: Baroness, who released a record I love but admittedly came out too soon to muscle its way past some of these heavy hitters, at least for now. Check back with me at year's end.

Inter Arma -- Sulphur English
Holly Herndon -- PROTO
Tyler, the Creator -- IGOR
Tengger -- Spirituality 2
Big|Brave -- A Gaze Among Them
Karyyn -- The Quanta Series
Wand -- Laughing Matter
Mary Lattimore and Mac McCaughan -- New Rain Duets
Tomb Mold -- Planetary Clairvoyance
Black to Comm -- Seven Horses for Seven Kings
Health -- Vol 4.: Slaves to Fear
Dolphin Midwives -- Liminal Garden
Waste of Space Orchestra -- Syntheosis

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Chris Butler

Krzysztof Drabikowski -- Панихида
Véhémence -- Par le Sang Versé
Wormwitch -- Heaven That Dwells Within
Herod -- Sombre Dessein
Pulchra Morte -- Divina Autem Et Aniles
Hath -- Of Rot and Ruin
Black Crucifixion -- Lightless Violent Chaos
Unurnment -- Spiritual Penury EP
Aoratos -- Gods Without Name
Pile -- Green and Gray

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Emily Marty

Misþyrming -- Algleymi
Full of Hell -- Weeping Choir
Andavald -- Undir skyggðarhaldi
Esoctrilihum -- The Telluric Ashes of the Ö Vrth Immemorial Gods
Gaahl's Wyrd -- GastiR (Ghosts Invited)
Krzysztof Drabikowski -- Панихида
Kvelgeyst -- Alkahest
Sinmara -- Hvísl stjarnanna
Ossuary -- Supreme Degradation
Helheim -- Rignir

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Andrew Sacher

Dead to a Dying World - Elegy
Brutus -- Nest
Inter Arma -- Sulphur English
Judiciary -- Surface Noise
Noisem -- Cease To Exist
Fuming Mouth -- The Grand Descent
Martyrdod -- Hexhammaren
Helms Alee -- Noctiluca
Big|Brave -- A Gaze Among Them
Ithaca -- The Language of Injury

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