20 Best Albums of 2019 So Far | Revolver

20 Best Albums of 2019 So Far

From Amon Amarth to Venom Prison
best albums of 2019 so far

2019 is set to be one of the biggest years in heavy music in a long, long time. We've already gotten Rammstein's first new album in a decade, and right around the corner we have Slipknot's first new album in five years (We Are Not Your Kind, due August 9th) and Tool's first new album in 13 years (title TBA, due August 30th) ready to detonate. Amid those earth-shattering releases, a slew of lower profile but no less dedicated, creative and forward-thinking artists have offered up stellar new records already, here at the halfway point of 2019. Below are 20 of our favorites from this year so far.

Amon Amarth - Berserker

Amon Amarth aren't so much a death-metal wrecking crew as they are a circle of bloodthirsty bards: armed to the teeth with insidious melodies, ferocious riffs and, of course, tons of Viking lore. The group's 11th album, Berserker, ranks among their most triumphant melees yet, as evinced by fantastical firestorms like "Raven's Flight." Post–Game of Thrones depression is real; this album's a damn good cure. ZC

Angel Du$t - Pretty Buff

It's rare to see a rock or punk album manage to be both overwhelmingly positive and not totally corny, but Angel Du$t make pulling off that trick look easy as hell. Pretty Buff features a slew of infectious songs that stem from a hardcore frame of mind, but incorporate straight-up power-pop singing and Violent Femmes-esque acoustic guitar work to keep things light and lively. It will make you want to dance, love life and hug your dog. JH

Baroness - Gold & Grey

When longtime Baroness guitar-slinger Pete Adams split in 2017, it was unclear how his departure would affect the band's unique brand of soaring post-metal. Luckily, heroic shredder Gina Gleason stepped in to help propel main man John Baizley's dizzying double-album vision into the stratosphere. The result is pure gold. JB

Brutus - Nest

Belgian trio Brutus took the heavy music world by the balls when a live video for their song "War" was released, showcasing off their practiced yet intuitive skill and chemistry as a band. Potent and haunting, the dueling beauty of singer-drummer Stefanie Mannaerts' evocative voice with the layered distortion of her stringed counterparts makes for not only a gorgeous album, but also a unique one — perhaps no one else so far this year has achieved such a refreshing sound. KC

Cave In - Final Transmission

That this album even exists is a miracle. Originally intended as demos for the follow-up to the Boston post-hardcore stars' ripping 2011 LP, White Silence, production was cut brutally short when bassist Caleb Scofield was killed in an auto accident. Somehow, his bandmates managed to salvage his performances and transform personal tragedy into musical triumph: Final Transmission is one of Cave In's finest records to date. JB

Devil Master - Satan Spits on Children of Light

Philadelphia's Devil Master conjure many influences — from Christian Death to G.I.S.M. to Mayhem to your favorite NWOBHM heroes — on their debut LP, all while engaging in some of the most spooky-fun cosplay we've seen in a while, and doing so without an ironic wink. Indeed, on Satan Spits on Children of Light, Devil Master display an air of confidence and sincerity that doesn't exist in many bands with 10 times the output. FP

Employed to Serve - Eternal Forward Motion

On Eternal Forward Motion, U.K. outfit Employed to Serve galvanize the paranoid disconnect of the social-media age into some of the year's most aggressive, and relatable, metalcore. Songs like "Force Fed" and "Harsh Truth" unfold like psychotherapy sessions conducted from a burning room, the band's collective angst billowing forth in noxious nervous breakdowns redolent of Slipknot and Code Orange. ZC

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes - End of Suffering

Despite their frontman's venerable history with hardcore rabble-rousers Gallows, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes' latest offering hardly feels like a punk record at all, but more a soulful lounge-meets-Brit-pop collection that still bristles with snotty attitude, akin to Nick Cave's move from the Birthday Party into the Bad Seeds. End of Suffering's emotional depth and sonic expansiveness mark an impressive growth for the U.K. group, and make for a compulsive listen going into summer and beyond. KC

Full of Hell - Weeping Choir

If ever there was a lesson to be learned from this long-running death-grind-noise crew, it's that Full of Hell will always defy expectations and deliver one of the most well-crafted efforts of any year (the prolific outfit seemingly releases a record, solo or collaborative, every few months), somehow improving leaps and bounds from their previous work. So, of course,Weeping Choir is FoH's best yet, but that's only to say that we don't know where they're headed next — other than upward. FP

Fury - Failed Entertainment

The title of Fury's latest effort, Failed Entertainment, wins ironic album title of the year. Far from anything resembling a failure, the latest LP from the OCHC (Orange County hardcore) team sees the band breaking out of hardcore clichés and defining their own niche, mining Supertouch, Quicksand, Seaweed and all manner of post-hardcore to create a groove-laden, hook-heavy record of wall-to-wall bangers. FP


L.A.'s HEALTH have been at the noise-rock and experimental-music game for a while now, and their latest record, VOL 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR, is a testament to where unrelenting exploration can lead you. Tracks like "FEEL NOTHING" offer a new perspective on industrial metal, with a focus on loud-as-fuck guitars and dense production, while "GOD BOTHERER" augments the LP's mostly aggro assault with nuanced moodiness to convey a range of emotion much vaster than that of your average "heavy" band. JH

Ithaca - The Language of Injury

Ithaca have been tearing up the U.K. hardcore scene for a few years now on the strength of a pair of EPs, but their breakout record The Language of Injury put them on the map at home and abroad with equal fervor. A tempestuous gut-punch from moment one, the band's dynamic expression and fearless treading of old ground with the force of new ideas is a refreshing statement as to what metallic hardcore can sound like in the modern day. KC

Misery Index - Rituals of Power

Misery Index might be purveyors of typically relentless grinding death metal, but the utterly crushing despair heard on the opener of their newest record, Rituals of Power, is painstakingly measured to draw you in close before they explode into a violent fury over the next 36 minutes. One of the most vile, eye-gouging, gut-wrenching releases of the year, this is a must-hear for anyone who considers themselves a death-metal fan. KC

Periphery - Periphery IV: Hail Stan

For the band's first album released on their own label 3DOT, Periphery gave themselves a full year to write and record, and the result is the most complex, dynamic and fully realized LP of the djent progenitors' trailblazing 14-year career. From the progressive tour de force that is 17-minute album opener "Reptile" to the lush ballad turned metallic beatdown of "Satellite," IV is no joke, despite what it's subtitle might suggest. Hail Periphery. WN

Puppy - The Goat

Listening to Puppy's debut long-player is like riding a time machine to an alternate-universe version of 1995, where Kurt Cobain is still alive, happy and jamming on his favorite Black Sabbath and AC/DC riffs with members of Weezer, Helmet and Oasis. Too heavy to be alt-rock, too gloriously poppy to qualify as doom, and too smart to ever take themselves too seriously, these young Londoners are cheerfully blasting out a hook-filled niche of their own. DE

Rammstein - Rammstein

A decade between records doesn't generally bode well — for a band or their fans. Leave it to German industrial masters Rammstein to defy all such conventional wisdom. Their new self-titled — or untitled, as they would have it — opus is every bit as incendiary, infectious and controversial (scope the killer video for opener "Deutschland") as, well, just about any Rammstein album you'd care to name. JB

Seeyouspacecowboy - Songs for the Firing Squad

Ten years later we were destined to see a reinterpretation of mid-Aughts "scenecore." Enter Seeyouspacecowboy, who gloriously amplify what worked the first time round and add their own spin to everything. Their compilation full-length Songs for the Firing Squad show off spazzy, buzzsaw guitars à la Blood Brothers or the Locust, mixed in with aggressive and emotive screams that recall Drop Dead, Gorgeous for a totally visceral new sound. JH

Spirit Adrift - Divided by Darkness

Spirit Adrift's Curse of Conception was a clear indication of what the band could accomplish: gripping, melodic, retro-leaning but forward-looking heavy metal. With its follow-up, Divided by Darkness, Spirit Adrift have somehow taken another leap forward in songwriting; classic NWOBHM influences mix with thrash, doom and more to make a melodic yet ripping amalgam of it all, and one of the best records of the year. FP

Sunn O))) - Life Metal

On their long-awaited eighth studio album — and first since 2015's Kannon — Sunn O))) carve out yet another awe-inspiring cluster of sonic monoliths, this time with the help of co-producer Steve Albini. While still heavy as fuck, Life Metal's music has a brightness to it that sets it apart from the duo's doomier forays; listening to the album unfold is an uplifting and almost meditative experience, like watching the rays of the morning sun slowly ascending a gold-flecked obelisk. DE

Venom Prison - Samsara

Led by firebrand vocalist Larissa Stupar, Venom Prison's Samsara is a sharpened, direct attack on forces of social and political oppression and regression, done up nicely in an alternately biting and unrelenting package of guttural fury. Pausing only briefly for the occasional squealing solo, the all-out death-metal fusillade barely leaves any room to breathe before assaulting once more with its coiled, winding frenzy. KC