Every day between now and Xmas I’m running down my top 50 albums of the decade, for nobody’s amusement but my own. However, please enjoy watching me pleasure myself.
No, wait! Not like that!
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.
30. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe: At this point, Fu Manchu could have hung up their spurs and retired to some Californian Stone Rock Nursing Home. But no, they’re still releasing new albums, still kicking the arses of all the young pretenders, and somehow, having not changed their sound one iota in a quarter of a century, releasing albums every bit as good as when they began. Incredible.
29. Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance: It’s quite typical to see a lot of snobbery in the British scene about the success of Idles, a band now able to command huge crowds and TV coverage at Glastonbury and on Jools Holland. When you look across the pond ant the embrace they get from the likes of Converge and ETiD, you see none of that, and I fall well into that camp. Ridiculously catchy modern punk with a social conscience. The lyrics may be more yeets than Yeats, but who gives a fuck? It’s punk. As fuck.
28. Black Peaks – All That Divides: It’s been a very long time since Britain produced a really good metal band capable of breaking out of the underground to the biggest stages of all, but in Black Peaks they might finally have just that. They’ve got the proggy excellence of Mastodon, the precision and clean lines of Muse, and melodies that would drink the Nu Metal crowd under the table and stand on it, belting out a hearty tune. Seems like singer Will Gardner has been having a few issues with illness recently, we can only hope he comes back strong, because Black Peaks could be the biggest thing to happen to British metal in over a decade.
27. Conjurer – Mire: Yet another incredible modern British metal masterpiece, Conjurer bring together the best of black, death, and post-metal, throwing bits of grind in there for good measure. If you haven’t yet, check out their Audiotree session to marvel at how ridiculously good they are and how ludicrously young they are at the same time.
26. Ufomammut – Oro: This isn’t just low-end rupturing Italian space doom, this is Ufomammut. Sounding quite unlike any other band in the history of anything, this three-piece make the most spaced-out psychedelic soundscapes and then smother them in the dirtiest, bassiest sound in existence. Every one of the four albums they’ve released this decade probably earns a place on this list, but this gets the nod because it’s actually two albums in one, and it makes the earth shudder if you play it loud enough.
25. Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay: Neurosis may be a band whose greatness seems to diminish with every passing album like a bear taking constant arrow fire as it takes down an encampment, but, like the bear, they’ve still got a mean southpaw on them. This is the pick of their output from this decade, where their briefly rekindle their powers enough to land them on this list.
24. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway: I hated this on first listen, too poppy, too dancy, too far away from the 65dos I’d loved over their earlier albums. But in the intervening years, this has really grown on me, and in the excellent Robert Smith-guesting Come To Me it holds one of my absolute favourite songs of all time.
23. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell: Limiting myself to one album per artist (except for collaborations) was really tough in this case, not just because I love this and The Age of Adz both so much, but because they sound like almost completely different artists, and choosing between them is almost too much. A kind of futile device, if you will. I ended up going for the stripped-down, minimalist heartbreak of Carrie and Lowell, because I think this list would be incomplete without the fragile beauty contained within.
22. Giles Corey – Giles Corey: This might just be the saddest album ever recorded, an exploration of death, suicide, and depression howled through a cloth hood over a minimalist dirge. It’s also utterly compelling, as with all of Dan Barrett’s work. A difficult but essential listen.
21. Black Wing – …is doomed: Which puts it very much at odds with Barrett’s Black Wing project, which goes so far as to almost sound upbeat at times. Well, that might be a stretch, but it’s certainly not the tough listen of Giles Corey or even Have A Nice Life. Leaning more on electronics than anything else, this is the sound of Barrett cutting loose and having something that vaguely approaches a bit of fun, and the end result is a bleakly understated pop gem.
Back tomorrow, when we’re into the top 20!
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?