Metalunderground.com's Best of 2009 Awards Announced
Band Photo: Dark Tranquillity (?)
Here we are, more than one month into 2010, the Super Bowl past, as we've yet to post our staff picks for 2009. Nevertheless, I polled our staff here at Metalunderground.com at the end of last year to obtain their picks in several categories in metal for 2009 and will now present those results.
The outlook for 2009 in metal was perhaps positive, but not phenomenal before the year began, having seen a number of landmark releases and tours in the two years prior. But when the year was over, I'd have to say I was pleasantly surprised at what a good year in metal 2009 turned out to be. As the metalcore trend fades further into horizon, we had hardly a mention of metalcore bands in this year's poll. Sure, the stalwarts will still have success, but the novelty has worn off and the genre as a whole does not generate as much buzz anymore. The only noticable trend was the growth of the thrash resurgence, which is hard to fault, giving the year a very solid metal feeling.
That said, let's get down to the details and talk about those bands that made 2009 such a solid year for heavy metal by announcing the Metalunderground.com staff picks for 2009. Here are the Metalunderground.com staff picks for the following categories: Best Metal Album of 2009, Best Metal DVD of 2009, Best Metal Newcomer of 2009, Best Live Act of 2009, and Most Anticipated Release for 2010.
Best Metal Album of 2009
There were definitely some highly anticipated followups in 2009, and there was quite a bit of agreement on the best releases this year, even moreso than other years. While not landmark releases necessarily, albums like Between The Buried And Me's "The Great Misdirect," Behemoth's "Evangelion," Amorphis' "Skyforger," Cannibal Corpse's "Evisceration Plague," Heaven & Hell's "The Devil You Know," Shadows Fall's "Retribution," Lamb of God's "Wrath," Devildriver's "Pray For Villains," and even Scar Symmetry's "Dark Matter Dimensions" all had multiple nominations.
I think there were a few albums everyone expected to be good. But the real surprise was the eventual winner of our "Best Metal Album of 2009:"
Alice In Chain's "Black Gives Way To Blue"
In retrospect, it's not such a big surprise I supposed, as Alice in Chains turned in a masterpiece in the face of skepticism and naysayers even claiming the band should have to change their name with the addition of a new singer replacing the late Layne Staley. While one cannot deny that "Black Gives Way To Blue" is a superb album, it may leave an uneasy feeling winning this category, as it is not exactly a metal album. The early favorite, Mastodon's "Crack the Skye" garnered a massive amount of votes as well to secure a close second place, with Slayer's "World Painted Blood" and Medadeth's "Endgame" earning distant thrid and fourth rankings respectively.
Interestingly, we've developed sort of a "curse" here with our annual awards. Those bands that get voted most anticipated in the prior year have never been voted "Best Metal Album" the following year. Such was the case with Lamb of God's "Wrath," snapping the band's dominance over this category over the years.
Best Metal DVD of 2009
The category of Best Metal DVD is always hard to gain a consensus on, as most people don't watch DVDs nearly as much as well listen to music. But this year had several contenders getting multiple nods, with a clear winner of:
"Anvil: The Story of Anvil"
Given all the buzz "Anvil: The Story of Anvil" generated, it's really no surprise. Other metal DVDs that got multiple mentions included Iron Maiden's "Flight 666," "Global Metal," and Dark Tranquillity's "Where Death is Most Alive."
Best Metal Newcomer of 2009
2009 saw a number of good new metal bands emerge from the underground. But if anything was clear in this year's staff poll, it was the resounding winner in this category, doing their best to spearhead the thrash revival:
What's impressive is that not only did Lazarus A.D. win this category decisively, but they decisively beat out a number of bands riding the momentum of previous members, some arguably could even claim "super group" status. Aside from Czar, who garnered a perfect 5/5 rating for their debut, self-titled EP and The Binary Code, the rest of the bands with multiple nominations featuring musicians from existing bands include Ex Deo, The Empire Shall Fall, Dirge Within, Steel Panther, and Them Crooked Vultures.
Best Live Act of 2009
As far as getting out and seeing shows, there is often added diversity to voting on this category due to differences in regional lineups. But the anticipation, growing discography, and participation in some big tours and obviously putting on a good show, secured this band the category of "Best Live Act of 2009":
The only other band that had multiple mentions was Exodus, who released a DVD and toured the world with many thrash greats as well as up-and-comers. Obviously, there are plenty of bands that are enjoyable to see live - and we encourage you to get out and support your favorite bands - our staff just had trouble agreeing on which were the best!
Most Anticipated Release of 2010
2010 looks fairly promising and has seen some of those anticipated releases out already. But having won our "Best Metal Album of 2007" award for "Fiction," the most anticipated release for 2010 was a no-brainer, scoring the most votes and total points:
Dark Tranquillity's "We Are the Void"
Will Dark Tranquillity deliver and overcome the curse to earn "Best Metal Album" for 2010?
Other highly anticipated releases include Fear Factory's "Mechanized," Dimmu Borgir's yet titled album, Living Sacrifice's "The Infinite Order," Burzum's "Belus," Borknagar's "Universal," Ihsahn's "After," Rob Zombie's "Hellbilly Deluxe 2," Orphaned Land's "The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR," Fozzy's "Chasing The Grail," and Iron Maiden's yet titled album.
2009 was a solid year in metal with some interesting twists. It should be interesting to see if the thrash revival trend continues to grow in 2010. While it seems like a good thing now, hopefully it will not reach detrimental levels.
As per tradition, we'll share with you the complete list of "Best Metal Newcomer" nominees, to give you a good place to start for investigating new bands and discovering new metal music.
Armed for Apocalypse
Blood of the Tyrant
Mile Marker Zero
Of Raven & Ruins
Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky
The Atlas Moth
The Binary Code
The Empire Shall Fall
Them Crooked Vultures
No doubt there are others worth checking out, but these were our staff picks, limited to five bands per person. Feel free to share your suggestions, comments, and predictions below.
For more end of year goodness, also check out our Decade of Metal in Review article.
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