With just about two months left before the end of the decade, it’s time to look back at the past ten years in metal. Over the coming weeks, this series of posts will highlight the best of the best. The most influential, genre-bending, mold-breaking, overlooked, or underrated releases of this decade. The format of choice for this is to advance through the years chronologically, picking releases from each year, limited to one per artist. This way, the rest of 2019 can play out and this year’s picks will be my best of the year. The final conclusion to this decade for Noise Vortex will be a ranked, all-genres list of the best releases of this decade. In addition, I also have some surprises planned for the rest of this year that will hopefully make it in time.
With its inception in 2014, the various iterations of Noise Vortex have been around for most of this decade. However 10 years ago, I wasn’t even legally considered an adult and my expertise in music was similarly juvenile. As such the lists for the first half of the decade will be a shorter than those for recent years. Enough with the formalities, let’s dive right in.
Conan – Horseback Battle Hammer
In 2010 UK doom trio Conan came crashing down onto the scene with their debut album Horseback Battle Hammer. Hulking monstrosities crafted from riffs that are too heavy, too thick and too crushing to be called riffs. Conan have since expanded to a more dynamic sound as opposed to the monolithic drones of their earlier days but Horseback Battle Hammer remains unparalleled in its oppressive slowness.
Der Weg einer Freiheit – Der Weg einer Freiheit
Originally a 2009 release, drummer Christian Bass joined Der Weg einer Freiheit in 2010 to replace the drum machine tracks of the original. Titled the “new hope for german black metal”, Der Weg einer Freiheit were among the first bands to play an introspective, modern variation of black metal in the german scene. In the following years, the band worked their way towards becoming a well-loved and acknowledged entity in modern black metal, with their most recent album Finisterre being their blackest so far.
Cynic – Re-Traced
Another re-release of sorts is Re-Traced by progressive metal legends Cynic. Two years after the controversial Traced in Air, this reinterpretation of parts of that album divided fans even further. Re-Traced abolishes the metallic edge of the original completely and translates it into a much more laid-back progressive rock style. The result is a mellow EP that scores with the same charm that the softer side of Cynic always had. Melody, virtuosity and Masvidal’s intimate performance make Re-Traced a wonderful experience to lose yourself in.
Gallowbraid – Ashen Eidolon
Before fronting some of the best heavy metal of this decade, Jake Rogers of Visigoth released the Ashen Eidolon EP for his solo-project Gallowbraid. As the band’s sole release, fans have since been pining for more. Ashen Eidolon is a magic moment among the atmospheric black metal releases of this decade. Flawless songwriting unites black metal and folk influences on tracks that break the mold of the genre. Autumnal atmospheres are a staple of cascadian black metal and Ashen Eidolon is the perfect soundtrack for the harvest season.
Urfaust – Der freiwillige Bettler
In 2010 dutch Urfaust came out with the most compelling manifestation of their vision to date. Der freiwillige Bettler is solitary and antique ambient black metal. Swirling, hypnotic riffs and haunting synths weave the meditative backdrop to the operatic vocal delivery of IX. The tangible melancholy and passion make Der freiwillige Bettler a highlight of minimalist black metal that is only matched by the band’s previous Einsiedler EP.