Since Hellbound.ca is a Canadian-owned and operated metal publication, we do things a little bit different than most. As 2010 quickly is coming to a close, we asked all of our contributors to pick their Top Canadian metal albums of the year. We then tabulated up their responses and have created our second annual Top 10 Canadian Metal Albums writers poll.
The response was pretty much positive across the board as to participating in the poll. A few writers did politely back out from submitting, feeling they hadn’t heard enough Canadian albums released this year, fair enough, and some submitted only one album for their list. However, the final outcome of this list has not been tampered with, changed, fucked with, etc. etc. by anyone – the bands are listed in the order they were voted by our great contributors. So, without further adieu, here are the Top 10 Canadian Metal Albums of 2010, counted down from #10 to #1 with a brief write up on each. Please enjoy.
#10: RUSTED DAWN – The Black Tides Of War
Cold, endless rain, stark, rocky terrain and more snow than the polar ice caps seem to have lately? Canada’s East Coast is the perfect breeding ground for berserk metal, a mission accomplished with New Brunswick beasts Rusted Dawn on this full-length debut. Blending thrash classics like Testament‘s The New Order and Nuclear Assault‘s Handle With Care makes for a vicious explosion amplified by the guttural drive of Motörhead and Discharge. Yet when they hone in on aspects of Mayhem and Obituary, The Black Tides Of War‘s ravenous bleakness, sinister chug riffs and overall rabidity makes even the friendliest of metallians feel like swallowing a fistful of razorblades, washing it down with a fifth of whiskey and getting into a fistfight.
#9: STRIKER – Eyes In The Night
Striker are really leading the pack in Canada for traditional heavy metal. There have been a slew of bands coming out with a lot of love for NWOBHM but none of them impress as much as Striker’s Eyes In The Night. Like a slab from ’83 with modern production and catchy as hell song writing, this is a fist pumping, head banging classic. What you hear on this album, they can pull off live as well: vocalist Dan Cleary is an absolute monster and blew me away. Pick this album up and keep your eyes on this band!
#8: DIVINITY – The Singularity
Released here in Canada by Candlelight Records late in the summer, Divinity‘s The Singularity layers just the right amount of progressive elements on top of a solid base of crunchy technical death metal. The food metaphor is apt; it’s an album that is heavier and more substantial than an initial taste might suggest. The Calgarians’ many tempo shifts, occasional more-or-less-clean-vocals, and ambient fills are anchored down by their heavy grooves. Any moment of quieter contemplation is soon squashed by the next wave of riffs, many of which invoke fellow Canadians Into Eternity on steroids. Proving once again that the best albums often demand to be savoured before their true flavours are revealed, The Singularity has moved from being just another summer offering to becoming one of this reviewer’s favourite Canadian albums of the year.
#7: ANNIHILATOR – Annihilator
In a time when we’ve got new thrash wannabes popping up and getting famous every 20 minutes, Annihilator has created an album that can easily be set beside classics like Alice In Hell and Never Neverland. Annihilator highlights not only the underrated guitar playing of Jeff Waters but, his consistently catchy song writing as well. Dave Padden returns for album number four (a record for a vocalist in this band) fitting like a glove and bringing out all the authentic anger, frustration and rage that most of the new wave of thrash bands have to fake.
#6: ION DISSONANCE – Cursed
In all honesty, I lost most of any faith I had in these Montreal tech bruisers ‘n abusers about half-an-hour after the release of their second album, Solace. In fact, I was taken by surprise when news hit they were coming back after a self-imposed, 18-month hiatus; I didn’t even noticed they were gone. But shit, what a way to return! Cursed hearkens back to the late-90s when bands exploded with equal amounts of head-shaking complexity and violent fury. This album is irascible, sarcastic, bitter, utterly relentless and a great accompaniment to those nights spent holed up in a windowless room hating the fucking world.
#5: BISON B.C. – Dark Ages
As I wrote in my postcard review of this album, what impressed me the most was the weight of it. Dark Ages handles suffocatingly heavy sections and eloquently nimble passages with equal panache. Bison BC are just as skilled at crushing their listeners, leaving them screaming “more weight!” like a victim of peine forte et dure, as they are pouring supple phrases of molten gold into our ears. There’s a great deal of menace to this album, a disquiet in the guitar work and an eerie quality to the brass section, but no matter how uncomfortable this album makes me I always deeply enjoy listening to it. Dark Ages is both deeply challenging and profoundly enjoyable, and that makes it extraordinary.
#4: WEAPON – From The Devil’s Tomb
After impressing us last year with their debut full-length, Drakonian Paradigm, Edmonton black metal quartet Weapon returned this year with an even better sophomore album. Tighter playing and much better production propel this new album far beyond what they accomplished before. Weapon has progressed dramatically as a band. The four musicians play together in perfect sync. The songs on this album have hooks, nuances and tempo changes that require tight musicianship, which they have in abundance. The upgraded studio quality makes the band sound even more menacing, more threatening than on previous releases. The sonics are better, and this makes the songs that much heavier. Weapon also gets the award for the best song title by a Canadian band in 2010 for “Lefthandpathyoga.” Nicely done.
#3: BLOOD REVOLT – Indoctrine
Today, via Catherine Owen (possibly Canada’s most metal poet), I came across the quote “Poetry is the art that responds to the anxiety of living.” I think Blood Revolt does the same with Indoctrine. Their response to the anxiety of living is first to distill and magnify our most visceral fears, and then to tear straight into them for 42 nerve-rattling minutes. This Irish-Canadian collaboration is about pushing the limits, both musically, with C Ross and J Read’s chaotic onslaught, and thematically, via vocalist AA Nemtheanga’s chilling first-person portrayal of fanaticism and martyrdom. The trio’s fearlessness makes for one of the most extreme—and best—releases of the year.
#2: KATAKLYSM – Heaven’s Venom
Every Kataklysm record is a battle cry that rolls with every punch. This year, Maurizio Iacono divided time between Ex Deo and his Montreal- based horde to create Heaven’s Venom – an album based on a struggle-to-gain concept with solid musicality and a signature hyperblast beat. The content on the record is theatrical at best, as the music depicts imagery of successful stage presence to scenes from historical epics, utilizing movie quotes effectively to nearly miss being called a cliché. To call Heaven’s Venom a fresh approach by Kataklysm would be false, but that’s what makes the album great, for the band proves that they don’t need to add obscure elements but rather stick to being themselves to capture the attention of a worldwide metal audience.
#1: MARES OF THRACE – The Moulting
All it took to inject some welcome new life into Canadian metal was a blast of brutality from a band comprised of two talented women from Calgary. Who knew? But we’re sure as hell glad that Mares of Thrace gave us The Moulting, an unrelenting noise/doom hybrid that turned out to be heavier than most male bands with twice as many members. Fitting neatly between the styles of Unsane and Neurosis, not only is this record a punishing one, with Thérèse Lanz‘s churning baritone guitar riffs punctuated byStefani MacKichan‘s massive, jazz-influenced drumming, but it’s plenty accessible, as well. The duo displays tremendous restraint at times, creating palpable tension, only to completely shatter it with cathartic payoffs, Lanz spewing her eloquent, darkly poetic lyrics. Factor in a formidable live presence that turns more heads with each performance and you’ve got one of the most promising Canadian metal bands to come around in a long time.
Check back on Friday for the individual writers lists.