Grouped together for the second straight year, melodic death, goth, and doom metal all had their fair share of great albums. While melodeath occupied most of the list last year, 2008 had a number of great doom metal albums, as well as few great goth metal releases. Whether a fan of melodeath, goth, doom, or even all three, here are ten albums from the past year that I recommend to you.
Twilight of the Thunder God
Amon Amarth is a band that cannot be accurately described. They just simply have their own unique style of metal that must be heard before being judged. If you’re a metalhead, give Amon Amarth a try. They’ve improved and farther polished their sound with each new album, and Twilight of the Thunder God is their best effort yet. It’s a heavy, brutal, oddly melodic, and wonderfully over-the-top album that is one of the best of 2008. Few bands are so unique in their brutality, and Amon Amarth continue to harness a truly unique sound with a ton creativity and some of the tightest and most technical musicianship you’ll ever hear. Twilight of the Thunder God is an essential metal album, and it makes a great gift for metalheads.
Cult of Luna
Cult of Luna is easily one of the most creative bands in modern metal.
Lost to the Living
Daylight Dies is an immensely talented doom metal band that have shown a great deal of potential. Lost to the Living is an example of what this band is capable of doing while at the top of their game. This is a very original melodic doom album that captivates the listener in more ways than one. It’s full of beautiful melodies and brutal riffs, and the combination of the two is simply stunning. Lost to the Living is an album that shows both the talent and emotion of Daylight Dies, and in a year filled with great doom metal albums, this stands out as one of the best. If you’re looking for either a great doom metal album or just an emotional and melodic work of art, Lost to the Living is the album for you.
The Maniacal Vail
If you’re a fan of doom metal, you should already own this album. If you’re a doom fan that somehow hasn’t yet discovered Esoteric, one of the most unique and talented funeral doom bands out there, then put this one at the top of your holiday list. The Maniacal Vail is everything doom metal should be, and it’s simply a brilliant album from start to finish. As the title implies, funeral doom metal is neither the most accessible nor happiest genre of music in the world, but Esoteric’s latest album is one of the most beautiful and artistic albums released in any genre of music all year. It’s certainly depressing, but also wonderfully artistic and ambient, and it comes highly recommended.
In Mourning’s debut album has drawn comparisons to Opeth, both in the style of their music and even the quality. While Shrouded Divine isn’t anywhere near Opeth’s Watershed, it is a strong melodic death metal album with enough progressive elements to please prog fans. Where In Mourning shines is in the melodeath elements of their music, and that’s where the band separates themselves from other heavy prog metal bands, as well as why there included them in the “melodeath” section of this guide. Shrouded Divine sounds like Opeth’s heavier elements mixed with the Gothenburg sound. It’s not necessarily the most original sound out there, but one that works exceptionally well despite its flaws.
Mar de Grises
Draining the Waterheart
Mar de Grises’ Draining the Waterheart is not only one of the best doom metal albums of 2008, but it’s one of the best doom metal albums released in the last decade. This is an album that reaches the same level as Katatonia, My Dying Bride, and Swallow the Sun, and fans of those three bands would be wise to give this album a look. It’s one of the most unique takes on the doom metal genre in some time, and it’s another brilliant album that went mostly unnoticed in 2008. I don’t even know how to describe their sound other than to say it’s the most unique and artistic doom metal this side of Katatonia. If you’re a fan of either doom metal or simply indescribable metal, this is an album well worth seeking.
One of the most famous and most influential goth metal acts, Moonspell continue to evolve with their latest album, Night Eternal. This is a heavy yet beautiful atmospheric album that exemplifies what goth metal should be. The heavy riffs combined with beautifully melodic keyboards is nothing new for Moonspell, but they continue to find ways to mix and match the two to create new atmospheres under which to work. The strength of Night Eternal is definitely its atmosphere, as Moonspell knows how to create atmosphere that is dark, haunting, and surprisingly varied. Within that atmosphere they expertly craft beautiful goth metal than can be appreciated by just about any metalhead. If you’re a fan of goth metal, you should already own this album, and if even if you’re not, Night Eternal is worth checking out.
It’s unfortunate that vocalist Christian Alvestam parted ways with Scar Symmetry over the summer, as his performance on Holographic Universe is one of the best vocal performances of the year. Much of the album stays all too close to 2006’s masterful Pitch Black Progress, which is both a strength and weakness of Holographic Universe, but it’s still an album that stunningly blends melodeath heaviness with beautiful melody. This is found both in Alvestam’s vocals, as well as with the music behind him. If you have yet to become a fan of Scar Symmetry’s unique sound, get Pitch Black Progress first, but any fan that has held out on the new album this long should get it this holiday season. It’s one of the better metal albums released this year.
2008 has been an amazing year for funeral doom metal. Two of the best metal albums of the year are from that genre, and Skepticism’s Alloy is one of those well deserving two. Heavier and even more epic than Esoteric’s The Maniacal Vail, Alloy is a very different yet equally brilliant funeral doom effort. This is an album that takes the typical doom metal sound, and infuses it with new ideas while still executing the formula to perfection. Alloy is epic in scale and beautiful at heart, and it’s an example of doom metal at its finest, nevertheless the epitome of funeral doom.
Fortissimo is the second album in Virgin Black’s Requiem trinity, and it had a lot to live up to. Last year’s Mezzo Forte was a somewhat overlooked masterpiece that established Virgin Black as an elite metal band. It was an album that was as good as any goth metal album out there, and also one of the most unique and beautiful metal offerings released in some time. Fortissimo is another beautifully unique album from Virgin Black, but it’s also a moderate step down from Mezzo Forte. The sequel is a heavier album that features more growling and less classical influences, and in doing so is much closer to a typical doom metal album. Regardless, Requiem- Fortissimo is a great album, and is worth picking alongside the essential Mezzo Forte.