Opeth rules. This is not a matter of opinion. Metal fan or not, you have to give it up for any band that has covered as much ground, with as much bold artistry and attention to detail, as this Swedish quintet without coming out the other end sounding like Sun Ra or Throbbing Gristle (no offense to either and props to both, by the way). Considering that Opeth has continually pushed the proverbial envelope despite ongoing major roster changes commands even deeper reverence.
Autopsy "The Tomb Within" (Peaceville, 2010)
Old-skool in tha house! When it comes to classic grind, no one did a more Fangora-worthy job back in the day than Autopsy. There were equals, forebearers and even bands like Napalm Death, Carcass, Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation that eclipsed the California trio both technically and stylistically, but in terms of unabashed bloody gore fests, no one pulled it off time and time again with Autopsy’s sublime dedication to good old-fashioned splatter.
Behemoth Evangelion (Metal Blade)
One thing Gdańsk-based black metal master Behemoth has never suffered from is a lack of vision. Evangelion, the latest in a masterful BM triumvirate that began in 2004 with Demigod and continued with 2007’s The Apostasy, underscores the difference between real conviction and the poorly hewn philosophical drivel that plagues too many of the genre’s releases from a lyrical standpoint. On the contrary, Adam “Nergal” Darski and co. don’t dish out anything they haven’t thoroughly chewed. Rather than trade in dime-store Satanism and eye-rolling ritual, Behemoth takes gnosticism and hammers it into a cohesive lyrical fabric that glistens like fine tinwork. It all sits atop angular riffage rivaling just about everything available in a genre that continues to expand exponentially.