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Metal Crypt Staff Top Picks of 2005

Metal Crypt Staff Top Picks of 2005

by Michel Renaud

Second year in a row for the staff top picks. I myself decided not to do one (mostly because I didn't feel like it, so there.) My minions however absolutely wanted one, so here it is. ;) The reviewers are listed in descending order of number of reviews they did in 2005.

Note that the reason why there is no "site-wide" compilation of the results due to the low number of staff and also due to the fact that the content of the lists vary so much - the compiled results would make no sense whatsoever.

Sargon The Terrible

Top 10… er.. 13

1. Kamelot - The Black Halo
Simply the best album of 2005, or 2004 for that matter. Kamelot keep getting better and better, and they continue to redefine what Power Metal is and what it can do. I called this the album of the year waaaaay back in February, and I was right.

2. Battleroar - Age of Chaos
Even in a year when the mighty Manilla Road released and album, I'm still going to call this the Epic Metal album to beat this year. Huge, sprawling, and impossible to forget. Songs like "Siegecraft" and "Dyvim Tvar" are as good as True Metal gets.

3. Hibria - Defying the Rules
This came out in 2004 some places, but it was released in North America in 2005, and it's just too good to skip. It is almost unbelievable how much fire and passion these guys pour into their music, and this album doesn't just come blasting out, it fucking explodes. This band is going to be huge, and they play metal that runs over you like a turbocharged motorcycle.

4. Manilla Road - Gates of Fire
Anytime this band releases an album, it goes on the top list for the year, no question. "Gates Of Fire" is an epic so huge it borders on the ridiculous, and yet Mark Shelton is too good a songwriter to let his compositions run away with him. Heavy, complex, and monumental.

5. Nile - Annihilation of the Wicked
Big surprise here, as Nile are about the best Death Metal band in the world. But even though their rep assures them plenty of press, they refuse to rest on their laurels. "Annihilation" may be an obvious pick, but that doesn't mean it isn't the best damned album this band has ever done.

6. Skumring - De Glemte Tider
Surprise of the year for me, as this is a new band I had never heard of, but this is just the most haunting, moving, affecting Funeral Doom album I have heard in ages, maybe ever. Magnificent.

7. Himinbjorg - Europa
Long revered in the French underground, this band has finally released an album worthy of the name 'Masterpiece'. Not only the best Black Metal release I heard all year, but certainly the best Viking Metal since Bathory.

8. Candlemass - Candlemass
It is amazing that after all the bullshit, Candlemass managed to produce a new album. It is even more amazing how good it is. A huge, stomping riff-monster of an album.

9. Black Majesty - Silent Company
Fulfilling all the promise of their debut, Australia's best Power Metal band come back with this: catchier, deeper, and sharper than their last. A great album from a band just hitting their stride.

10. Kreator - Enemy of God
I was never a fan of classic Kreator, but damn it, I can’t argue with an album as catchy and riffy as this one. Even after twenty years, Mille still sounds pissed-off, and he proves that even though Thrash may be dead, if you run enough volts through it, it will still get up and kick your ass.

11. Icarus Witch - Roses on White Lace
A tough call, with their full-length also released in '05, but I think this gem of an EP is a better, more concentrated taste of this great band, who will do great things. If songs like "Dragon Ryder" don’t put a smile on your face, then you can just fuck off.

12. Novembers Doom - The Pale Haunt Departure
An album that impressed and oppressed me with heaviness, brutal despair, and enough melancholy atmosphere to make suicide look pretty good. In this blasted landscape, death is the beginning of your pain.

13. Dark Haven - Your Darkest Hour
The best damned debut ever from a young band, these kids are going places. Dark Haven are a Gothenburg-styled melodeath band, and their debut EP is so good it will make your Dark Tranquility CD's whimper in fear. Not to be missed.

Honorable Mentions Almost on the list, but not quite enough room.

Aes Dana - Formors
Excellent Folk/Black metal from France.

Crystal Eyes - Confessions of the Maker
Rock-solid Power Metal with Daniel Heiman on vocals.

Icarus Witch - Capture the Magic
Maybe not as good as I'd hoped, but still a marvelous album from a great new band.

Svartsyn - Bloodline
A Black Metal gem, unreleased since 1998.

Epica - Consign to Oblivion
Symphonic Metal done right.

Destinity - Synthetic Existence
A Death/Thrash shred machine.

Pagan's Mind - Enigmatic Calling
The best Prog band alive does it again.

Best album of 2004 that I somehow missed

The Ruins Of Beverast - Unlock the Shrine
The Ruins Of Beverast

Disappointments of 2005

The Lord Weird Slough Feg - Atavism
A bit of a let-down from the brilliance of their last few works.

Paragon - Revenge
The same. Good, but a step back.

Opeth - Ghost Reveries
I'm not let down by the album: I knew it would suck. I'm disappointed in all the critics who would line up to suck its dick.

Wizard - Magic Circle
Odin wept, what a letdown this was.

4th Horseman

Top 10

1. Morgana Lefay - Grand Materia
17 years of existence and this band can still crank out an album that can overshadow its classics. Dark and doomy, Heavy, powerful and simply genius from beginning to end. Nothing could compare. It is doubtful that any other album even had a better booklet and artwork than this one. Dominated everything in all aspects.

2. Isole - Forevermore
Epic doom metal written and played flawlessly. Crafting their own sound, Isole demonstrate why they call it doom in the first place! Definite classic!

3. Candlemass - Candlemass
Marcolin and the crew have still 'got it'.

4. Grand Magus - Wolf's Return
Swedes again! Although more of a traditional metal album than a doom one, Grand Magus certainly know how to hook the listener and deliver some storming anthems of heavy metal.

5. Nile - Annihilation of the Wicked
Whether you are big on technical death metal or not, a force so vicious and powerful just cannot be ignored. Nile have slightly updated their sound, and quite frankly, they have not sounded better.

6. Imagika - Devils On Both Sides
One of the few thrash bands out there that knows exactly how to take thrash metal into the future. Imagika are not stuck in 1987, but they do know precisely what to maintain from that era and add something new.

7. Kamelot - The Black Halo
From the first listen, one could not dispute the fact that this album stands out from the rest. Great power metal.

8. Novembers Doom - The Pale Haunt Departure
American melodic doom metal. Certainly a surprise and a damn good one.

9. Thee Plague of Gentlemen - Primula Pestis
A bizarre album that will perhaps only appeal to those who are into unusual experimentations. The Gentlemen offer us a very unique doom album that does not shy away when it comes to being extreme or heavy. Plenty of strong riffs and vocal variation to go around that deliver a kick like you haven’t received yet.

10. Manilla Road - Gates of Fire
Epic metal that is 100% Manilla Road. Slightly catchier than past efforts but still true to their style.

Honourable Mentions

Mournful Congregation – The Monad Of Creation

Dark Tranquillity – Character

The Belonging – Setting The Scene


The fact that Sodom, along with fellow Germans Angel Dust could not finish and/or release their scheduled albums was perhaps the biggest disappointment of 2005 for me as far as metal is concerned.

Arcturus – Sideshow Symphonies
Complete change in direction for this band and it points nowhere but to the very bottom!

Tristania - Ashes
Just an overall disappointment in the song writing quality. Nothing actively 'bad' about this album however.

Hallows Eve – Evil Never Dies
Evil may never die, but good bands certainly do. What a horrible reason to reunite. Without Stacey Anderson, don't even bother…

Falconer – Grime vs. Grandeur
I can't seem to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but this album is definitely the weakest link in Falconer's discography.

Mourning Beloveth – A Murderous Circus
Doom/Death of decent quality, but noting the reputation that these guys have acquired, this album feels long and very repetitive.

Annihilator – Schizo Deluxe
Much better than last year, but some of the mallcore touches are still there.

Brainstorm – Liquid Monster
Been there, done that, heard it a million times before. Nothing too exciting at all.

Overkill – ReliXIV
Overkill continue their downward slump and drag on with their groove thrash experimentations. This album gets worse and worse with every listen I swear.

Exodus – Shovel Headed Kill Machine
Groove thrash, groove thrash, groove fucking thrash! These idiots have completely forgotten what it means to have the name "Exodus" on your CD. The chops! Where are the bloody chops? Where's the mighty Exodus riff? In retrospect, this should not have been a surprise at all as this is not even the same legendary band. Silly me!


Top 10

1. Antiquus - Ramayana
Now this is a gem. Progressive/Melodic metal from Vancouver. It's not the most technical album you'll ever hear (in fact it's pretty simple), catchy guitar lines, crispy production (for melodic metal), and the vocalist rules too.

2. Boris - Pink
Mix of stoner and sludge. Definitely wins.

3. Marblebog - Forestheart
Mid-paced and sometimes upbeat, unbeatable atmosphere etc etc. Hungarian madness.

4. Witchcraft - Firewood
Memorable as fuck doom metal from Sweden, catchy, melodic, etc. Some people say they were born 30 years too late, they sound like early Black Sabbath or 70's rock. I think I listened to it twice a day for about a month when it leaked (around April).

5. Drudkh - The Swan Road
Soothing, relaxing, beautiful.

6. Code - Nouveau Gloaming
UKBM that rules. Yeah, I know that's rare, but some members are from Norway. Very original and different black metal without 'breaking the rules'.

7. Legion of Doom - God Is Dead
This is sort of a return for this Greece NSBM band (they made an excellent EP in 2004, but their two previous albums date from '95 and '95 IIRC). This time around the production is much better. It's not like this album is the best BM album of 2005, it's just all-around BM, but I really like it for some reason.

8. Deathspell Omega - Kénôse
These French guys just keep releasing masterpiece after masterpiece...dirty, heavy, and to-the-point, despite having quite long tracks.

9. Skaur - Fullmanesang
Demo of the year. Raw, yet clean hateful black metal from Norway.

10. Grey - The First Shades Of...
One of the best french BM albums this year. The dark ambient tracks are also amazing.

Honourable Mentions

Arsis - A Diamond for Disease

Nachtfalke - As The Wolves Died


Top 10

1. Belphegor - Goatreich Fleshcult
The Austrian sickos focus their death metal leanings into an all-out killing machine. Sick, sick music for evil people.

2. Kaamos - Lucifer Rising
The spirit of Sunlight circa 1991 dragged kicking and screaming into the 00's.

3. Taake - Hordaland Doedskvad
Bombastic, epic folk metal with a vicious blackened streak. Amazing stuff.

4. Deeds of Flesh - Crown of Souls
They just keep killing.

5. Martial Barrage - Call of the Serapeum
Bestial, violent death metal chaos that takes no prisoners and shows no mercy.

6. Nile - Annihilation of the Wicked
Every great idea they've ever had compressed into 50 minutes of genius. Quite possibly their best album ever.

7. Dawn of Azazel - Sedition
NZ's masters of violent kick your ass all over again. A huge change from the old material, but brilliant anyway.

8. Origin - Echoes of Decimation
A hyper-fast mindfuck of an album. Despite the evil muppet on the cover.

9. Shining - The Eerie Cold
Prog-rock meets suicidal black metal. An album which blows your mind and crushes your spirit, all at once.

10. Judas Priest - Angel of Retribution
Fuck the naysayers, this is Priest at the top of their game, with their highest ratio of great material since Defenders of the Faith.

Honourable Mentions

Disgorge - Parallels of Infinite Torture

Ingurgitating Oblivion - Voyage Towards Abhorrance

Vile - The New Age of Chaos

Odious Mortem - Devouring the Prophecy

Misantropical Painforest - Winds Saturate With Inhumane Longing

Christian Renner

Top 10

1. Exodus - Shovel Headed Kill Machine
I didn't think it could get better than Tempo of the Damned but I guess I was wrong. This album KILLS! Extremely happy to see one of the best thrash bands of all time not only come back but come back this incredibly strong.

2. Kreator - Enemy of God
This could easily be in the top spot as well. More powerful and stronger all the way through than Violent Revolution. All these 80's thrash bands are really showing the newbies what the fuck is up.

3. Primal Fear - Seven Seals
This band just keeps delivering album after album. Another stellar release that will snap your damn neck.

4. Rob Rock - Holy Hell
I don't think this album got near the attention it deserved. So what if it is a christian album that doesn't change the fact that it is simply an amazing album.

5. Demons & Wizards - Touched By The Crimson King
Jon Shaeffer on guitar and Hansi Kursch on vocals...enough said.

6. Gamma Ray - Majestic
In the glut of the power metal genre this band still retains the heavyweight title. If you look up power metal in the dictionary you will see a picture Kai Hansen.

7. Kamelot - The Black Halo
The rise and overall strength of this band is just staggering. Easily one of the most talented bands out there right now.

8. Communic - Conspiracy in Mind
This band was the biggest surprise for me this year. A band doing something a little different...what a concept. I can't wait for the next album.

9. Dark Tranquillity - Character
Although I didn't like this album as much as I did Damage Done it was still my favorite melodic death metal album of the year. It's Dark Tranquility for fuck sake which means it has to be good.

10. Brainstorm - Liquid Monster
This band has yet to release a weak album. There is certainly something to be said for consistancy.

Honourable Mentions

Sentenced - The Funeral Album

Opeth - Ghost Reveries

Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny of Souls

Scar Symmetry-Symetric In Design

Usurper- Cryptobeast

Hammerfall - Chapter V


Top 10

1. Manilla Road - Gates of Fire
This band can do no wrong. Epic metal without peer.

2. Pentacle - Under The Black Cross
One of the greatest Death Metal concept albums ever. Old school Dutch DM of the highest order, with little reliance on blasturbation.

3. Battleroar - Age of Chaos
Ballsy, epic, traditional metal from Greece. A slight step down from their debut, but that's more of a testament to the debut's greatness, rather than highlighting any sort of weakness on this one.

4. Witchcraft - Firewood
30 years too late..bah!

5. Filii Nigrantium Infernalium - Fellatrix Discordia Pantokrator
Insanely long band name…insanely, insane band. Mindfucking old school Black Metal from Portugal..

6. Apocalyptic Raids - The Third Storm - World War III
Care to guess who these Brazilians worship? HELLHAMMER for the new millennium.

7. Gama Bomb – Survival of the Fastest
'Norn Iron' makes it onto the metal map with GAMA BOMB's slab of thraaaaaaaaaaash.

8. Burning Saviours - Burning Saviours
JETHRO TULL and COMUS live! Essential old school doom.

9. Thralldom - Black Sun Resistance
As much as they do not wish to be associated with the BM scene, they are one of the best Black Metal band in the US.

10. Bolt Thrower - Those Once Loyal
Vintage BT, with possibly their best production to date.

Top 5 Demos

1. Assaulter - Proselytiser

2. Doomraiser - Heavy Drunken Doom

3. Dark Legions - Awakening of the Legions

4. Hangman - Thrash From The Dead

5. Harbinger - Rock Your Face In

Honourable Mentions

Some of these albums would have cracked my top ten, were it not for the fact that I do not own them (for reasons largely beyond my control).

Countess - Spawn of Steel

Mortem - De Natura Daemonum

Misanthropical Painforest - Winds Saturate With Inhumane Longing

Vore - Maleficus

Obituary - Frozen In Time

The Gates of Slumber - Like A Plague Upon The Land

Desaster - Angelwhore

Thee Plague of Gentlemen – Primula Pestis

Incriminated - A Promise of Worse to Come

Cianide – Hell's Rebirth

Debris Inc. - s/t

Dantesco - De la Mano de la Muerte

Gun Barrel – Bombard Your Soul

Wall Of Sleep – Sun Faced Apostles

Goddess of Desire – Awaken Pagan Gods

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