Hey’ it’s nearly Christmas. And what says the birth of baby Yoda better than listening to a bloke the wrong side of forty waxing lyrical about a half-forgotten Sweet Cobra album like it is itself the second coming?
Let’s crack on, shall we?
DISCLAIMER: These choices are presented as exactly that. I am not claiming this to be the definitive list of the 50 best albums of the decade. Although, you know, they are. If you disagree, please let me know below the line, on one of those social media channels, or go howl into the wind. Thanks.
20. KEN mode – Success: With a low end that could shatter time, howling feral rage focused on the tyrannies of work and futilities of modernity, KEN mode apparently lost a lot of fans (and picked up some decidedly lukewarm reviews) with this departure from their frenetic hardcore roots. Frankly, all those people are idiots because this is an absolute beast of an album, like a cat scratch down the arm.
19. Blis – No One Loves You: So nineties it’s amazing it doesn’t come with a time machine. A heartrending tale of broken relationships and familial strife scored by grungy emo so tonally perfect that looking at a calendar while listening to it will create cognitive dissonance.
18. Causa Sui – Return To Sky: Far more focused than their sprawling Summer Sessions albums, this continued the more restrained, groove-laden majesty of Euporie Tide. Sun-drenched Danish drugs rock that plays with jazz and psychedelia but never forgets to bring the riffs.
17. Haken – Affinity: Not really much of a prog fan, and the whole djent scene left me colder than the British public’s disdain for the NHS, but for some reason this hit me right in the sweet spot. Marrying technical trickery that makes me laugh out loud with an almost 80’s pop sensibility (and the keys to go with it) this is an album that always takes me right to happy place, which is probably just what I need after being hit in the sweet spot.
16. The Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis: Sure, Dissociation was an incredible way to cap their two decades of absolute brilliance, but to me Option Paralysis is the absolute high point of the brilliant oddity that was the career of Dillinger. Every genre of music, all at the same time. It should never have worked, but it really, really did.
15. Royal Thunder – Wick: I adore Mlny Parsonz’s voice. It’s like someone took Janis Joplin and stuck her in a stone rock band, which as ideas go is definitely not the worst. Over the two albums and one EP leading up to this Royal Thunder showed a lot of potential, but it was on Wick that they realised it. Just a damn fine rock album.
14. Sweet Cobra – Earth: Morphing from a decent mid-tier sludge band with a grungy edge to a full-on alt-rock band after three albums is a bold move but it paid off hugely here (if maybe not in financial terms, this seemed to sink without a trace and the band haven’t been heard of since). An album that would absolutely stand up against any of the mid-90’s Seattle lot if it had come at the right time, it certainly has enough about it to stand up next to the likes of Torche and Helms Alee. I really hope they come back with another one, because I loved this.
13. Blacklisted – When People Grow, People Go: Sometimes you just need some pummelling hardcore in your life, and Blacklisted do that better than anyone else around, in my humble opinion. This is an absolute barnstormer from start to finish.
12. Norma Jean – Wrongdoers: Muscular melodic metalcore from a band so consistently brilliant I’m willing to overlook the Christian gubbins in their lyrics, which is not an easy ask who hates the Jesus as much as I do. Just kidding, I don’t hate him, I just want… do you know what, that’s not the point of this review. Sorry. Listen to Norma Jean.
11. The Black Queen – Fever Daydream: If you’d have told me Dillinger Escape Plan’s insanely dextrous vocalist Greg Puciato would form a side project of goth-tinged 80’s electro-pop with some of the NIN chaps, I honestly wouldn’t have batted a solitary eyelid. If you’d have also told me that I would have fallen head over heels in love with it, I’d have been somewhat more shocked. But fall in love I did, so much so that it had me re-evaluating my entire dismissal of 80’s pop. That was pretty shot lived, though, most of it is as guff as I remember.
Hey, look, we’re nearly there. Come back tomorrow as we finish this really weird advent calendar.
Paul Stephenson is an author and blogger. His first series, the post-apocalyptic thriller trilogy Blood on the Motorway, is available now in ebook and print from Amazon, and free to read for Kindle Unlimited members. Get Short Sharp Shocks, a collection of three exclusive free short stories when you join the reader’s group. Subscribe to the blog to get a weekly roundup of all posts sent directly to your inbox. Also you can share using the buttons below, or why not buy Paul a coffee?