I may have run out of 2019, but I have yet to run out of lists. There remain triumphant musical comebacks to look back on, and new born earworms from veterans and up-and-comers alike. Before yet another year passes me by, here are my favourite rock and metal releases of 2019 in two volumes respectively with no further ado.
10. Goodbye June – Community Inn
Community Inn landed on my radar when Live in the Now dropped last year and has not left my playlist since. Despite the long wait, Goodbye June did not disappoint. Of mega riffs and soul-baring vocal work, the passion they inject in every note is audible. One only has to look to Secrets in the Sunset to fall deeper in love.
While their Zeppelin influence is stronger in this than in their debut, it never overshadows their own unique sound. Flowing between the mellow ballads and spirited bangers effortlessly, the blues-fuelled rockers prove that the brilliance of Magic Valley was no accident.
9. Sum 41 – Order in Decline
All Killer, All Filler has turned 18. In the classic album of our younger days, Sum 41 had let slip their love for heavy metal through their leather-clad alter-ego Pain for Pleasure, yet never quite got as far as I wished they would. Until last year, that is.
Order in Decline features their heaviest sound to date, while taking shots at #45 with cathartic anthems like A Matter of Time and The People Vs. In a time when most others have given into manufactured formulas for profit, it is a solace to see them escape being yet another victim of society’s conformity.
8. Southern Avenue – Keep On
Southern Avenue may have earned a Grammy nomination, but that is barely enough for the phenomenal work they have done with Keep On. Their sophomore album ranks a notch above their self-titled debut, delivering a versatile body of original music that incorporates the best of funk, roots and pop grooves.
Amongst several stunners, the titular track and Saviour are standouts here, characterised by heartfelt emotions and pure vocal prowess. Alongside the perfect instrumental mix, the talent-driven masterwork makes for a deeply soulful addition to the contemporary blues scene.
7. The Defiants – Zokusho
Reuniting three ex-band mates of Danger Danger, The Defiants is all packed for yet another trip into the glam-dominated 1980s. It would not be remiss to mistake their new songs like Falling for You as b-sides of Def Leppard or Bon Jovi circa Slippery When Wet.
Four years since their self-titled debut, Zokusho brings back one more welcome hit of nostalgia, even if light on experimentation and novelty. Sometimes, back to basics is exactly what the rock world needs.
6. Reignwolf – Hear Me Out
Garage rock has just crowned its new royalty. After a slew of sporadic singles, Reignwolf has finally unleashed ten straight-up rockers in one hell of a solid 2019 release. It was worth the wait. From the very first note on Black and Red, Jordan Cook lunges forth with his spirited riffs and never relents.
Of its near-perfect catalogue, I Want You and Wanna Don’t Wanna come up top as strong contenders for best live favourites. As loud as they are catchy, the tracks rev up an impatient audience who cannot wait for on-stage renditions.