My favorites from last year in no particular order.
Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
Cattle Decapitation returns in top form, somehow eclipsing their last record and making one of the most intense metal albums of the year. Travis Ryan’s vocals continue to impress, and the melodic gutturals on this release are mind-blowing. Tight songwriting and great performances by the rest of the band are the foundation for this terrific album.
Lone - Galaxy Garden
UK producer Lone impresses with one of the most happy, bubbly, well-produced electronic albums I have heard in a while. Melodies are always interesting and fairly long, and the beats are catchy. The music matches the album art exactly; this album is pure fun.
TRAM - Lingua Franca
Jazz fusion group TRAM joins members of Animals as Leaders, The Mars Volta, and Suicidal Tendencies to bring you some awesome jazz-fusion on Lingua Franca. The improvisation on this EP is very impressive, especially with some of the drum work. Nothing ground breaking here, but still very well done and enjoyable.
Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence
BTBAM takes the sound they established in their preceding EP and refine it for the second half of the Parallax story. This is everything you expect from a BTBAM album (great musicianship, stream-of-consciousness writing, sporadic goofy segments) on a much grander scale and some great choruses. No, they’re not the same band as on Colors, but they’re still releasing quality material.
Car Bomb - w^w^^w^w
Finally, Car Bomb returns! And this album is guaranteed to rip your face off; this is the most intense, technical release this year. As impressive as it is pummeling, Car Bomb does not disappoint.
Cerce - Tour Sampler CD-R
You haven’t heard emotional until you’ve heard Cerce. This is some of the most insane hardcore punk I’ve heard, fueled by an incredible female vocal performance unlike I’ve ever heard. The instrumentals, the tone, the lyrics, everything contributes to the intensity.
The Faceless - Autotheism
The Faceless leaps ahead of their previous work once again with the stellar Autotheism. They are much more progressive with their share of mellow segments this time around, refining what they already know while adding many new sounds. At times you can really hear the influences here (Cynic, Devin Townsend, Extol), but for the most part they are able to craft a style enough their own that it is not distracting.
Death Grips - The Money Store
This is what rap should be. Dirty, dangerous, violent, unpredictable, but unlike most artists Death Grips can actually capture this in their music. Noisy synths, stuttering beats, and yelled vocals really sets the tone; it immerses you into this horrifying world of theirs that feels very real. On top of that, these songs have such catchy hooks it’s incredible.
Navene K - Human Design
Dubstep done right. This is all you could want with any well-produced drum
'n bass/dubstep with a progressive tinge to it. Navene may no longer be in Animals as Leaders but keeps that mentality with this release to make interesting, forward-thinking music.
Revocation - Tetratogenesis
Revocation releases some of their best material yet with their free EP Tetratogenesis. The riffs are killer and the songwriting is great; these guys prove once again why they are one of the top death/thrash bands around.
Sirah - CULT
Another album that is just plain fun, Sirah proves she’s more than just ‘that girl in that Skrillex song’. Addictive choruses, impressive rapping and great production, this free mixtape has it all.