The end of the year is coming up, and that means I have to start picking albums for my Top 10 Albums of 2008 list. I can already tell you right now, that this year's list is going to be one of the toughest I have ever made. I already know my Album of the Year - which is Holographic Universe by Scar Symmetry - but beyond that, I don't know much else.
Here is the current set of albums that I'm considering for the list, and why I like them so much:
In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns by Abigail Williams - Masterful melodic black metal, especially for a debut album from a band that broke up for two years after releasing one EP.
Continent by The Acacia Strain - Finally, this band has branched out lyrically and maximized their potential!
Overcome by All That Remains - Once again, Phil and ATR have proven that they are one of the most diverse, brutal, and skillful bands to come out of the Massachusetts scene.
Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth - Viking metal at its finest. There is simply nobody better in the genre.
We Are the Nightmare by Arsis - James Malone finally has a band behind him that can match his genius with equally good musicianship.
Total Brutal by Austrian Death Machine - I don't care what anyone else says, because this album is EPIC AS FUCK!
Murder the Dance by Bleed the Sky - Metalcore with groove influences that catches your ear and rips it right off your head.
Declaration by Bleeding Through - Another band that excelled by doing away with old lyrical models and expanding their territory. The band was nearly unable to put this record out, but now that it is out, everyone will agree that it was well worth the struggle.
The Fathomless Mastery by Bloodbath - I don't know what the spleen does, but I need a new one, because this album ripped mine out when I listened to it.
Oblivion Beckons by Byzantine - This band should not have broken up, because this album sets a new standard in groove metal. Masterful balance between songwriting technique and sheer fierceness.
Inflikted by Cavalera Conspiracy - The triumphant return of the Cavalera brothers mixes the best parts of old Sepultura and new Soulfly to create the most brutal thrash album of the year.
Blooddrunk by Children of Bodom - Contrary to popular belief, Alexi Laiho is NOT losing his touch, he's just refining it - from a double-bladed war axe into the sharpest hatchet ever. Finesse and technicality will beat sheer speed every time.
Indestructible by Disturbed - There is not a single hard rock act that can compete with this band now - they are too damn good and everyone knows it.
Ultra Beatdown by Dragonforce - They've combined the old with the new to create an unstoppable speed metal sledgehammer to the skull.
The Premonition by Firewind - This band does with one guitarist what Dragonforce does with two, and they do it better and without all the wankery.
Float by Flogging Molly - Modern punk has been put on notice - do it like this, because nothing else is going to sound good anymore.
Versus by The Haunted - Doing away with the progressive melodic elements from their last album was actually a good thing, as was using a more raw, live-sounding production.
Iconoclast (Part 1: The Final Resistance) by Heaven Shall Burn - They are now the best German band on the scene, and nobody can dispute that after the release of this masterpiece.
The Incurable Tragedy by Into Eternity - Stu Block has taken this band by the horns since joining, and his vocals are what make this band one of the best progressive death metal acts out today.
For the Revolution by Kalmah - Another band that has combined the old and the new to create their best sound yet. The one thing that sets them apart? Kalmah was always good - now they're among the best.
Prevail by Kataklysm - If this band keeps getting better, death metal will just be renamed entirely as a genre to "Kataklysmetal."
Kolossus by Keep of Kalessin - The new standard by which epic black metal will be judged. They've earned all their accolades and deserve many more.
Architect of Lies by Mercenary - René Pedersen's return to the band gives them the death metal element they lacked on their previous album, both vocally and on bass guitar.
obZen by Meshuggah - Technical metal has never seen an album like this, simply because no one ever thought it could be done. Tomas Haake, though, is a master at proving people wrong.
Night Eternal by Moonspell - Gothic metal needed a male-fronted band to take the reigns of the genre. Moonspell stepped up beautifully and gave us this wonderful release.
Motörizer by Motörhead - At 62 years old, Lemmy still rocks harder than everyone else put together, and this album is one more boulder on the mountain of proof for that statement.
Armamentarium by Neaera - Rising from obscurity to fame in just two years, this band is one of Germany's rising stars.
N by Norther - A perfect fusion of melody and brutality, Petri Lindroos continues to match Alexi Laiho step for step in both songwriting and skill level.
The Redshift by Omnium Gatherum - This band finally found their sound, and managed to perfect it, all on the same album.
Watershed by Opeth - When will Mikael Akerfeldt hit his peak? After this album, the answer to that question is, "Probably never."
Wasteland Discotheque by Raunchy - This band is one of many that is trying to make metal fun again. They're also one of the few who are doing a good job at it.
Chapter VII: Hope and Sorrow by Sevendust - Clint Lowery's return provided the breath of fresh air that Sevendust needed. They sound more innovative and exciting than ever before.
All Hope is Gone by Slipknot - Slipknot's triumphant return is even better than everyone expected. This album is just plain better, all around, than all three of their previous albums.
Love and Other Disasters by Sonic Syndicate - This band fuses metalcore and melodic death metal better than every other crossover band out today. Also, "Jack of Diamonds" is the catchiest song this year not written by Scar Symmetry.
Conquer by Soulfly - Soulfly continue to improve on this latest release, and guest appearances by Dave Peters (Throwdown) and David Vincent (Morbid Angel) add even more power to the album.
The Formation of Damnation by Testament - The marriage of death and thrash that Testament performed in 1994 just keeps bearing more and more strong, intelligent children. This latest one is the Zeus of the bunch.
The American Dream by Walls of Jericho - The best hardcore album of the year, hands down. This band is taking over hardcore and no one is even trying to stop them.
Decimate the Weak by Winds of Plague - An injection of fresh blood and new ideas into the deathcore genre that was sorely needed.
Albums I have not yet listened to but could make the list once I've listened:
Isolation by Fear My Thoughts
The Way of All Flesh by Gojira
Incubus: Chapter Seven by Metalium
Death Magnetic by Metallica
Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1 by Nachtmystium
Conclusion of an Age by Sylosis
The Tide Will Swallow Us Whole by Trenches
Shogun by Trivium
The Cancer Empire by Zonaria
Albums that have not yet been released but could make the list once they are:
Godspeed on the Devil's Thunder by Cradle of Filth
Dreamer by Haste the Day
The Dream by In This Moment
Stormchaser by Light This City
The March by Unearth
So yeah, I have some serious choices to make. Only nine of the albums listed above are going to make the list. It might not even be nine - something else might come along and blow me away. Who knows?
So, I'm going to ask now for anyone who's feeling adventurous to give me reasons why I should pick certain albums over others. Feel free to make any comments you wish. I could use the help in clearing my brain and narrowing my choices. Thanks in advance!