Hellbound.ca’s TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2010, Part One

We asked all of the contributing writers here at Hellbound.ca to submit their Top 10 albums of 2010, which we then compiled into a master list, assigning points to all their choices (10 points for #1, down to 1 point for #10). After tabulating the results, we have created Hellbound.ca’s Top 20 Albums of 2010. For part one of our continuing series, here is albums #20 through 16…

20. KATAKLYSM – Heaven’s Venom

(Nuclear Blast)

Every Kataklysm record is a battle cry that rolls with every punch. This year, Maurizio Iacono divided time between Ex Deo and his Montreal- based horde to create Heaven’s Venom – an album based on a struggle-to-gain concept with solid musicality and a signature hyperblast beat. The content on the record is theatrical at best, as the music depicts imagery of successful stage presence to scenes from historical epics, utilizing movie quotes effectively to nearly miss being called a cliché. To call Heaven’s Venom a fresh approach by Kataklysm would be false, but that’s what makes the album great, for the band proves that they don’t need to add obscure elements but rather stick to being themselves to capture the attention of a worldwide metal audience.
Ola Mazzuca

19. DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – Option Paralysis

(Head Smasher/Season Of Mist)

In many ways Dillinger Escape Plan’s fourth full-length release is barely recognizable from its bare-boned initial EPs and the subsequent, groundbreaking debut long player, Calculating Infinity. Option Paralysis—the first Dillinger outing for drummer Billy Rymer, moving in for long-timer Chris Pennie who is now with prog rockers Coheed and Cambria—is a logical extension of 2007’s Ire Works, which was a fine-tuned version of the somewhat sporadic approach of 2004’s Miss Machine. The melodies are infectious and hummable, and they’re integrated ever-so smoothly into their format that’s now broad-based but certainly self-referencing of their early material’s schizophrenic, seizure-inducing madness. Fearless, beautiful and violent, Dillinger Escape Plan shows no sign that they’re turning into boring old men any time soon.
Jay H. Gorania

18. DAWNBRINGER – Nucleus

(Profound Lore)

As much as we love it when bands take metal into new territory, to hear someone use the genre’s most formulaic characteristics to create a fresh-sounding album can be just as thrilling. Best known as a collaborator/lyricist for Nachtmystium, Chris Black delves into as many styles of heavy metal as possible on Dawnbringer‘s fourth album, and instead of coming off as a wildly unfocused mishmash of sounds, it turns out to be a rousing celebration heavy metal itself. Every aspect of Nucleus, from the Maiden gallops, to the thrash palm-mutes, to the blastbeats, to the tremolo picking, would come off as pandering in less capable hands, but Black does so with a sense of joy that’s impossible to dislike.
Adrien Begrand

17. WATAIN – Lawless Darkness

(Season Of Mist)

With Lawless Darkness, Sweden’s Watain have unerringly proved that they are indeed The Real Deal™. 2010 was easily the band’s breakout year; a brief twelve months where Watain stepped beyond both journalistic hype and Dissection’s vast shadow to deliver an LP which definitively marked them as an iconic force within the black metal genre. It’s almost easy to forget how good Lawless Darkness really is, for many reasons. Beyond the fact that it was released so early in the year, it’s also rare to see an album which so succinctly embodies its genre, while doing it with such blatant honesty and devil-may-care delivery. Lawless Darkness had the songs, the atmosphere and an almost religious-like fervor to its cause: true black metal shining bright like the morning star.
Metal George Pacheco

16. SALOME – Terminal

(Profound Lore)

Two of the most important things about Terminal is the sheer physicality and its sincerity. Known for the intensity of their live shows, this album is almost a prototype of what one would expect seeing them in a venue. Vocalist Kat forces the listener to sway and pull with her guttural howls and shrieks, as you can almost feel the pent-up tension slowly rise from her stomach through to her throat. Drummer Aaron Deal pounds away with syncopated emotion, as each fill seems to be well thought-out and filled with meaning. This is a trio with no bassist, but it is not missed, as thanks to guitarist Rob Moore there are no rhythmic voids and the space that is left is purposeful, filled with some of the most tremendous and at times, sensual tension on any extreme music album that was released this year. Even though Terminal was not released until almost the end of 2010, it immediately stood out among its contemporaries, as listeners could clearly feel and appreciate the band’s passion and commitment for doing what they do in a world that, unfortunately, prefers style over substance.
Laina Dawes

Make sure to come back on Wednesday for part two of the Top 20, which will cover albums #15 through to 11. See you then!

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.