5. Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
Avenged Sevenfold, the band that everybody loves to hate… because they are catchy? Personally, I love these guys. Their current sound is a far cry from their metalcore roots (which 14-year-old me fell in love with), yet they have never sounded better.
The Stage once again deftly fuses their diverse influences. Speed metal, funk, groove, and pop all come together to form a distinct voice that can only be described as their own. The musicianship is of course, on top form. And while The Rev will always be missed, Brooks Wackerman is doing a darn good job at the drums.
4. Kaleo – A/B
Let’s slow things down a bit. In comes this bluesy ballad I Can’t Go On Without You from Icelandic band Kaleo. This soulful piece hails right from their brilliant studio album, A/B.
The eclectic mix alternates between classic American roots in Broken Bones, and modern rock n’ roll like No Good. Complete with infectious choruses, it’s no wonder that their music has made it onto Logan, several commercials, talk shows, as well as the freshly cancelled Vinyl off HBO. Still not sold? Check out their live shows, and you will be.
3. Fantastic Negrito – The Last Days of Oakland
On his website, Fantastic Negrito is described as, “Blues with a punk attitude from Oakland, California”. That about sums up the Grammy winner, who deserves every bit of fame he is enjoying now. His story is nothing short of extraordinary. In 2000, a near-fatal accident had rendered permanent damage to his playing hand.
Dropped by Interscope and pressured by creative struggles, he gave up music for a time. It took him 14 years before his triumphant return with his self-titled album, bringing his modern senses to his classic influences from the delta. In the refined sounds of The Last Days of Oakland lies every reason why the wait was worth it.
2. King 810 – La Petite Mort, or a Conversation with God
Nu-metal act King 810 has been the subject of undying controversy since formation. To date, their intense music continues to build their notoriety on and off stage. Some fans have even taken to carving into their own skin. But where there is intensity, there is doubtlessly passion that fuels it.
La Petite Mort continues their tradition of powerful, provocative lyrics built on a history of violence and poverty. And for all that bad reputation, King 810 has done some honest good. With their track We Got to Help Ourselves, the Flint-based band saw significant funds donated towards their hometown’s ongoing water crisis.
1. Exmortus – Ride Forth
There is no way to let Ride Forth slide. Exmortus has delivered yet another tightly wound album, as rich in baroque influences and as it is in beautiful neoclassical guitar work. It is phenomenal. At this point, it is unclear if Jadran ‘Conan’ Gonzalez and David Rivera are at all human, or simply shredding machines that are sentient with souls.
These are without the shadow of a doubt, some of the best working musicians working today. Given their lacklustre genre peers (sorry, Children of Bodom), my allegiance is quickly shifting to these brilliant thrash metal warriors.
Phew, that’s all for now. Don’t miss the original best-of post here. If you would (or would not) like to see more music-related posts, sound off in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and till next time!