by Anthony Abboreno

At the end of 2009, I find myself older, fatter, and poorer: a flabby member of a short-lived species in a dying empire. Metal, on the other hand, is doing fine. Yes, depending on who you listen to, the best metal albums of the decade are actually hardcore albums. I care, but only in the abstract. The whatness of metal — loud guitar, misanthropy, beauty in ugliness, take your pick — is too primal to die. Ears will be listening to this stuff long after cities have crumbled and men have turned into beasts.

This is my first attempt at a year-end recap and top-ten list for any reason. It makes me wish I had taken better notes along the way. With the sheer quantity of releases, what I enjoyed this year was probably determined by what I didn't listen to as much as what I actually did. Some things I gave a pass out of apathy — maybe I would have loved Blue Record, but I wanted to listen to the King Diamond reissues more (reviewed here) — and some things, shamefully, I just haven't gotten around to yet. Ape Uprising should probably be on my list. So should the new Asphyx. I could drive myself crazy worrying about this, but it's too late to do anything about it.

So, this list is frighteningly arbitrary. I don't think metal saw any game-changers this year — nothing as influential as Si Monumentum Requieres, Circumspice (discussion here), for example. But maybe as soon as next week I'll think I was an idiot for saying that. Somewhere there might be an ur-top-ten, where each album on this list is replaced by something similar and a dozen times as good. In any case, I tried to pick albums based on what I actually liked and listened to (no masterpieces I only played twice), and also intuit what I'll be listening to in the future. A repulsively egotistical process, certainly, but pleasing, like recounting a list of bodily maladies.

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The Ruins of Beverast - Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite
Weapon - Drakonian Paradigm
Villains - Lifecode of Decadence
Gates of Slumber - Hymns of Blood and Thunder
Kylesa - Static Tensions
The Chasm - Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm
Teitanblood - Seven Chalices
Absu - Absu
Wodensthrone - Loss
Funeral Mist - Maranatha