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Greekbastard: My Top Five Albums Of 2019 And Festivals I Attended Ranked

My Top Five (Actually Six…) Albums Of The Year

5. Imperium Dekandenz – When We Are Forgotten

I actually reviewed this album for another blog I write for, The Sludgelord, a stoner/sludge related blog of all things. The band’s PR rep requested an album review, I was really pleasantly surprised because I usually never review bands I’ve never heard of before. While listening to the opening track, I was already preordering a vinyl version for my collection. This two-piece black metal band from Germany fills out their sound to perfection. I stated in my review that I would make sure this album ended up on any end-of-year list of mine, and here it is. Take a chance on this album as I did, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Batushka – Hospodi & Krzysztof Drabikowski - Панихида

Both versions of this band in included in this list by design. I was a fan of Batushka way before the onset of the ridiculously messy, never ending divorce. I’ve read the clickbait articles and watched a bunch of the YouTube videos showcasing the soap opera like drama. I refuse to pick a side because in the end, it’s the music that’s important to me. Krzysztof dropped his album first and I have to say that this sounds closest to the legendary Litourgiya album of the two. However; the production is lacking just a little. Bart’s version was released a short time after Krzysztof’s and had the better overall sound, but fell a little short on the trademark Orthodox feel. In short, both albums garnered a lot of listening time from me and I’m happy I didn’t fall for the drama about which version was the “true” Batushka.

3. Mgla – Age of Excuse

The Force is strong with Poland this year! The follow-up to 2015’s “Exercises in Futility” did not disappoint at all! This band continues to grow and master their unique black metal prowess. If I had to pick my favorite song overall for 2019, Age of Excuse III would be the winner by a mile. It may even be their best song ever, but that’s a subjective argument because of Exercises in Futility V. I foresee Mgla touring extensively during the “Age of Excuse” album cycle and landing on a shit ton of festival bills next summer. A well-deserved accomplishment indeed.

2. Gaahl’s Wyrd – Gastir – Ghosts Invited

I waffled back and forth between my top two picks for the better part of a day, it was really that close of a call. This album was in a constant rotation on my turntable for the greater part of a few months, never getting old. This isn’t black metal, and it’s definitely not Gorgoroth…It’s so much better than that. Gaahl has found his true voice with this album and his gothic ways are the strength of it. Don’t get me wrong, there are black metal passages, but with the Peter Murphy style vocal phrasings on top of them, it takes it to another level. Trust me, it works.

1. Possessed – Revelations of Oblivion

It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but this was the best album of 2019 for me. Possessed is one of my favorite bands of all time by a mile, but there is no favoritism here. This overall number one pick is well deserved. When I initially heard that they were recording a new album after a 20+ years absence, I braced for impact. In my experience these coming out of retirement albums usually don’t go over too well. “Revelations of Oblivion” was unequivocally the exception.

Possessed obviously took note of the sound that made them a favorite among death metal fans in the first place and IMPROVED ON IT! Jeff Becerra’s vocals have never been so brutal, and he never lost the harshness that was a Possessed trademark among the cacophony of death metal vocal styles out there. In my humble opinion, his vocals are even better now! Even the guitars on this album have the Possessed style riffing from yesteryear. Everything is improved and most importantly, the overall sound and clarity of the album is spectacular. Only if “Seven Churches” had this production…

Overall, I thought this was a great year for metal releases, here are a few honorable mentions that I silently debated with myself while coming up with my top five:

Abbath – “Outstrider”
Rotting Christ – “The Heretics”
Sorxe – “The Ark Burner”
Tomb Mold – “Planetary Clairvoyance”
Wormwood – “Nattarvet”

Festivals I Attended in 2019 Ranked:

1. Brutal Assault – First and foremost, the lineup was incredible this year with such heavyweights as Anthrax, Meshuggah, Carcass, Triumph of Death (Hellhammer) and Rotting Christ being a handful of the great bands that played this legendary festival. This was my 2nd Brutal Assault and just like last time, it was incredibly well organized. The organizers really go out of their way to make this a fun time for the attendees and they’ve nailed it both times that I’ve been. Check out some photos of this year’s Brutal Assault within Metalunderground.com’s photo galleries.

2. Metal and Beers (Philadelphia) – This is the most genius idea for a metal festival EVER. A metal festival and a craft beer festival combined? Truly a match made in hell... Both Testament and Enslaved played exclusive sets and that was just part of the allure of this delicious festival on top of all the tasty brews that surround you while the bands destroy your ears. Read my road report about it here!

3. Psycho Las Vegas – After Psycho Las Vegas was unceremoniously booted from what felt like a natural home at The Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, I wondered if it would lose some of its magic at the new digs of Mandalay Bay. Not at all. In fact, this festival will continue to grow in popularity and in lore. Power Trip playing the beach stage this year is probably my favorite set from this festival throughout its entire existence.

Greekbastard's avatar

Metal isn't just a type of music, it's a lifestyle for Nikos Mixas. In addition to playing guitar for the Phoenix's own Mosara, he's a contributing writer for V13 and The Sludgelord. And when he's taking a break from it all and on vacation, you can almost be certain he's banging his head at a metal festival somewhere interesting.

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