1. Goatwhore, "Blood for the Master"
This album deserved the number one spot just for being what it is and landing on Valentine’s Day. Lucky for Goatwhore, "Blood for the Master" deserves mention on its own merits. Not quite as groove-heavy as their last record, "Master" is nonetheless equal parts rollicking, blasphemous, and pummeling. Bliss.
2. Meshuggah, "Koloss"
Meshuggah have been specializing in making heads spin for years now, and "Koloss" was no exception. This time around, the brainy/brawny Swedes take their own sweet time, slowing things up relative to the hyperactive extremes they reached on recent albums. Still dense and complex, "Koloss" came across as a slightly more brooding version of the band, without abandoning their trademark sound. Still riveting.
3. Lamb of God, "Resolution"
This year, Lamb of God could have gotten a nod simply for the sympathy vote, even though "Resolution" proved they don’t need it. Lead growler Randy Blythe languished for months on end in a Czech prison for charges stemming from an incident at a concert and is now returning to face trial, but fans of the band were treated to yet another jaw dropping panoply of blitzkrieg riffs. There’s even a song with Blythe delivering clean vocals. Some complain that Lamb of God keeps turning in variations on the same album over and over again, but once "Resolution" starts up, it doesn’t let up until the very end. Awesome.
4. Testament, "Dark Roots of Earth"
Still firing on all cylinders, classic thrashers Testament deliver yet another surprisingly fiery set of originals. And this time around, the band made sure to go heavy on substance, centering on the band and its members identity, philosophy, and heritage. There were a couple of misfires on their slower songs, which sounded unusually stilted by Testament’s standards, but the album overall stands with their best material.
5. Aerosmith, "Music from Another Dimension"
Did anyone expect this one? At this point, Aerosmith have had so many comebacks it almost seems intentional. No matter. Despite internal band rifts, rumors of permanent breakups, and some relatively lackluster albums in recent years, **Music** delivers their most solid and groovy set of songs in aeons. Not quite the return to the hard edged raunch of their earlier years many fans would like, the album plays a little bit closer to their late 80s revival updated for the now. Groovy, guitary, heartfelt and compelling.
The Best of the Rest: 6. Down, "The Purple EP;" 7. Pig Destroyer, "Book Burner;" 8. Municipal Waste, "Waste in Space;" 9. Soundgarden, "King Animal;" 10. Deftones, "Koi No Yokan."
Best Song: “Been Away Too Long,” Soundgarden – Sure, Chris Cornell’s voice sounded depressingly cracked and weary, the lyrics were a little obvious, and the band didn’t sound quite as definitive as it once did. Didn’t matter. When this single dropped it served as a reminder of how little genuine rock has penetrated the airwaves since the band’s heydey. It was a healthy and needed shock to the system.
Next Best Songs: 2. “Hit Me Like a Man,” the Pretty Reckless; 3. “You’re Cut Off,” Municipal Waste; 4. “Native Blood,” Testament; 5. “Blood,” In This Moment; 6. “Witchtripper,” Down; 7. “Desolation” Lamb of God; 8. “Love Bites,” Halestorm; 9. “Madness of an Architect,” High on Fire; 10. “Drink Drank Drunk,” Hellyeah.
A previous version of this article appeared in whatzup.