This time of year historically has been the strongest for new releases, and that’s the case again in 2019. There were a ton of outstanding albums, and narrowing the list down was a challenge. Here are our picks for the best new metal albums released in October 2019.
1. Mayhem – Daemon (Century Media)
Black metal legends Mayhem are back with a new salvo in Daemon. It is certainly well within the mold of classic De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas with a much cleaner production quality. Attila sounds great as ever with his demonic delivery and Teloch and Ghul finally get to soar on an album that revitalizes Mayhem’s ability to produce quality black metal in 2019. There is nary a clunker on the entire album, which flows from start to finish and is an excellent and cohesive effort overall.
Mayhem continue to influence the scene in many ways, through their music, through their actions and just by continuing to thrive in a scene that they helped to create. If Mayhem can deliver near career highs after all this time has passed, then we are certainly in their debt. One of the best black metal albums of the year, a highlight of the band’s discography.
2. Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave (Century Media)
Melodeath act Insomnium are veterans of the Finnish metal scene, having been around for more than two decades. Heart Like a Grave is their eighth album. Arrangements are a big part of Heart Like a Grave’s appeal. Combining the band’s stellar songwriting with their increasingly progressive tendencies and the talents of veteran producer Jens Bogren has resulted in an album where each song has been painstakingly crafted, with appropriate symphonic and electronic flourishes augmenting most of the material but never overpowering it.
Insomnium have delivered a top-notch platter of progressive melodeath, loaded with great songs both fast and slow. Heart Like a Grave is a dynamic, well-paced, stunningly-produced record that should find its way onto many year-end lists, and will appeal even to those who are not usually fans of melodeath.
3. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct (Nuclear Blast)
France’s Alcest (a duo comprised of drummer Winterhalter and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Neige) return with their sixth album, Spiritual Instinct, the follow-up to 2016’s Kodama. It is also the band’s first release on Nuclear Blast, which sometimes signals a shift in sound or style for bands joining the label.
In the case of Spiritual Instinct, we see the band not so much shifting as evolving their glistening take on shoegaze-y post-black metal to stunning effect. At a mere six songs and 42 minutes, this is not an album with any fat to be trimmed, and each song stands strongly on its own as a compelling and emotional journey. Spiritual Instinct is Alcest at their most engaging, and is quite possibly their strongest, most complete record.
4. 1349 – The Infernal Pathway (Season Of Mist)
More than 20 years into their career, Norwegian black metal veterans 1349 still maintain plenty of edge and intensity, evident from their seventh studio album The Infernal Pathway. It’s their first new record in five years.
From regal, midtempo parts to crushing black metal, 1349 run the gamut of extremity. Drummer Frost (Satyricon) is the engine that powers the mighty beast, sometimes bludgeoning other times creative and dexterous. Tracks like “Enter Cold Void Dreaming” and “Deeper Still” are packed with riffs, and Archaon delivers a variety of solos throughout the album. It’s topped by Ravn’s harsh but understandable vocals. The brief “Tunnel Of Set” instrumentals from Demonoir return with installments VIII, IX and X that offer mellow respites before the brutality resumes. They aren’t breaking new ground, but fans of old school black metal will appreciate the album.
5. Dawn Ray’d – Behold Sedition Plainsong (Prosthetic)
Anti-fascist black metal with a folksy underbelly remains the focus for Dawn Ray’d on their second album, Behold Sedition Plainsong. The technique — glimpses of violin and acoustic guitars breaking through the screeching riffs and contemptuous vocals — hasn’t received a major upgrade since 2017’s The Unlawful Assembly. The refinement comes with the incorporation of the folk with the black metal; a far more fruitful collaboration on this go-around that includes a wonderful acoustic-led jaunt in “A Stone’s Throw.”
Though the violin work may get attention, the core of Dawn Ray’d is rebellious and ready to revolt against oppression at every turn. The band asks tough questions like “Can you imagine the horror/Of a fence they won’t let you through?/Another country refusing help/What if that was you?” with no clear-cut answers. That’s up to those rightfully enamored by Dawn Ray’d to discover for themselves.
6. In Mourning – Garden of Storms (Agonia)
Sweden’s In Mourning were in tough when they released their fifth album, Garden of Storms, earlier this month. Going up against melodeath titans Insomnium is no easy task, but In Mourning’s brand of melodeath isn’t quite the same: theirs is a more varied, progressive sound, and trust me, you can scratch two itches at once with both these bands.
Garden of Storms is a svelte 51 minutes, and In Mourning pack in a ton of variety, with many clean passages, a wide range of vocals, and still the occasional bits of brutality. There’s still some old Opeth influence, but at times one can also hear hints of Porcupine Tree’s heavier moments. All told, Garden of Storms is a fantastic progressive metal album with just enough death metal injected to keep the more brutally-inclined happy.
Other 2019 Monthly Best Heavy Metal Album Lists
January 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
February 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
March 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
April 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
May 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
June 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
July 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
August 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums
September 2019 Best Heavy Metal Albums