In a year that, in my mind, produced not one album worthy of a 10/10 score, I am beginning to worry that maybe I have become too critical and less like a metal fan. But, in my top metal albums of 2006, it is clear I haven't developed genre tunnel vision. There is Doom, Melo-death, death, thrash, power, and classic speed. Here they are, and in particular order, you know, first to last.
1. Place of Skulls - The Black Is Never Far
These doomsters have put out an album full of sweet chords, thought provoking lyrics, and lush melodies. At the six month point this year, this album was hanging in at fourth, but it gained strength with a gigantic second wind, so much to the point I couldn't stop listening to it, and has now become my most spun CD of the year. If I could loosen up and/or go back and change my rating, this would be the one that gets a 10/10.
2. Communic - Waves of Visual Decay
Following up their highly successful debut, laughing at the thought of a sophomore jinx, these Norwegians have produced another near masterpiece of power metal. Lighter and breezier than what usually emits from the cold bitter north, this trio has got "it", and flaunt their talents effectively. This time around, any similarity to Nevermore is gone, which is good, but what they have done is explore the uniqueness of their sound. This has paved the way to their own greatness, which can now be fully achieved and allowed to flourish on future releases.
3. Legion of The Damned - Malevolent Rapture
This album blew me away early in the year, and still gets major spins my CD player to this day. Relentless full scale guitar attack, ear drum pounding beat, all the while built around such infectious grooves that I couldn't stop listening to it for nearly two months. Legion of The Damned is the band formerly known as Occult, changing their name to give themselves a fresh start when they changed labels. Thankfully, they didn't tinker with their sound much, but it is stuffed full of fresh ideas and packed with plenty of new found energy.
4. In Flames - Come Clarity
After the mixed reviews of their last two albums, my favorite metal band comes back with an album resembling the past successes of Colony and Clayman days instrumentally, while keeping the cleaner vocals of their recent outings. Although, they do appear to have progressed past the Jonathan Davis whine that has been so heavily criticized by their old-school fans. I enjoyed the straight forward thrash riffs, and the melody of the dual guitar attack. Sure, it's not the good ole days of Jester Race and Whoracle, but why wish for something that is never coming back. Enjoy In Flames for what they are now, still a great band that haven't yet fully turned to the dark side.