Posted by: Rites of Patches | January 6, 2011

10 Best Albums of 2010 (To Which I Listened)

Before I begin, let me tell you how messed up this list is going to be. It’s going to be wrong. I promise. I started these at the end of 2008. I know music and I thought that would be enough to dazzle the masses with my musical know-how. Unfortunately, I underestimated my objectivity and have allowed for some criminally good albums to slip out of the top ten. Last year, I had Between the Buried and Me’s The Great Misdirect at 13 or 14 when it clearly deserved 4 or 5. Basically, I’m telling you that I screwed this up again.

That said, I still know music, and thus, boldly and confidently, I butcher the 10 Best Albums of 2010 to which I listened.

10. Tepetricy – The Intangibles of Tomorrow

It’s with pleasure that I introduce all four of you reading this to a band you’ve never heard of. Tepetricy is an indie Minneapolis progressive metal band. They specialize in big, keyboard-laden epics, with fantastic lyrics to boot. Their guitarist is incredible live, despite some rather eccentric mannerisms. As my friend Dylan said, “That guitarist is either knee deep in dude or knee deep in poon.” Either way, good for him. He earns it.

9. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles (II)

This should be your first indication that something has changed since last year. Looking at the last two years, I mentioned art rock bands, alternative rock bands, progressive rock bands, metal bands, alternative metal bands, metalcore bands, progressive metal bands, and progressive death metal bands. Notice the common words “rock” and “metal” in those genres. Electronic duo Crystal Castles managed to capture my attention last year with a dramatic, diverse, and sonically dense album. A couple of the brasher songs are worth skipping, but it’s tough to find a miss on this album.

8. Pretty Lights – Glowing in the Darkest Night or Making Up a Changing Mind or Spilling Over Every Side

This should be your second indication. I had a tough time picking out one of Pretty Lights’ album-length EPs from this year, so I am sticking them together. Cop out? Yes. Give a shit? Nope. I tend to enjoy focused eclecticism, if that happens to be a thing. I love diverse albums, but not if they wander all over the place for no reason. Pretty Lights pulls you in with an up-tempo, electronic hip-hop song, gets funky in the next, slows it down for the next, and continues until you get an hour of music that flows together, but never gets stale *COUGH*DISTURBED* COUGH*. If you can listen to any of these albums without bouncing around in your seat, I will give you twenty dollars. Although I will require video evidence. Hot, naked, female evidence… Where was I?…

7. Hephystus – Burn the Page

Back to the Metal! Hephystus is an indie Progressive Rock band from North Carolina. Despite their progressive label, they tend to stay away from all the pomp and bombast of the progressive genre and focus creating slabs of hard rock that happen to have the occasional odd time signature. Although they have some fantastically corny song titles, such as “Burn the Page” and “Malice in Wonderland,” they are good songwriters and their lyrics are better than their titles indicate.

6. All That Remains – For We Are Many

For We Are Many
isn’t terribly different from their last album, Overcome. It is better, though. Their lyrics and songwriting skills have matured with every album and Mike Martin and Oli Herbert are the best guitar soloists in metal today.

5. Soilwork – The Panic Broadcast

Here come the albums this year that hit me deeper than the “Hey, this is good music” level. Soilwork returned to form this year, coinciding with the return of original guitarist Peter Wichers. The Panic Broadcast has a few frantic mashers but mostly consists of the screamed/shouted/growled verses and beautifully sung choruses. The fact is that Soilwork does it better than most bands out there. Their lyrics are above the curve, their guitarists can shred or play emotively, and lead singer Bjorn Strid can change from brutal to beautiful in the blink of an eye.

4. The National – High Violet

Even putting this album here makes me feel dirty inside. For a very long time, I wrote The National off as yet another “hot indie band” that the pretentious assholes (Like Me!) at Rolling Stone or Pitchfork or Paste constantly pimped to maintain their credibility with the bicycle-riding, ironic mustache-sporting, Pabst-swilling hipsters. I was absolutely correct about all of that. However, I was wrong in that I believed that The National didn’t deserve it. I listened to their entire discography in 2010 and Matt Berninger, lead singer and lyricist, is that good. If you want more info, go to any of the abovementioned National-fluffing websites. Let’s face it though, if High Violet is the fifth best album on a metal guy’s list, it’s probably worth checking out.

3. Sevendust – Cold Day Memory

Sevendust was another metal stalwart that saw the return of an original guitarist. Their last album won high praise from me, but there is no doubt that Sevendust got better when Clint Lowery returned. The album isn’t as adventurous as their last outing, but it contains some great lyrics, Lowery’s best guitarwork, and a whole slew of songs that simultaneously kick your physical ass and your emotional ass.

2. Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are to find this album here. Somewhere around the 9th single from Meteora, I got bored with Linkin Park. It took me until January 2010 to listen to 2007’s Minutes to Midnight. I dreaded sonic boredom that much. When I listened to Minutes, I noticed how much more mature that album felt compared to their previous two. A Thousand Suns continues this progression. It’s a concept album with most songs thematically linked to atomic weapons and war. It’s nowhere near as heavy as previous albums, but it is better. Significantly better. I never thought I would use Linkin Park as an example of how a band should evolve and push themselves for better or worse, but here I am. Take notes, Breaking Benjamin. And Disturbed. And Godsmack. And Avenged Sevenfold. And, ahhh, screw it. I’ll quit there.

1. Sully Erna – Avalon

Speaking of Godsmack, I have been perpetually disappointed by their work. They will have two incredible songs on every album. And they will just be great. So good that it makes you optimistic that this was finally the time they constructed a whole album, rather than a vehicle for their singles. IT NEVER HAPPENED! NEVER! In fact, it’s never been close. But, I’ve always been a fan of Sully’s voice, so I grabbed his debut solo album. And it is beautiful. Beautiful beyond description. Beautiful beyond anything I’ve heard in the last three years. It’s completely stripped down. It’s folksy. It’s tribal. It’s Middle Eastern. It’s instrumentally varied. It’s full of deeply personal lyrics. It’s everything that Godsmack is not, namely, something that must be listened to at all costs.

As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything I got wrong or anything that I left out. Remember though, that I’m right. Unless you are that person that is always right. Then, I might be wrong.

Honorable Mention
Lostprophets – The Betrayed
10 Years – Feeding the Wolves
Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Sour- Audio Secrecy
James LaBrie – Static Impulse
Coheed & Cambria – Year of the Black Rainbow

Dishonorable Mention
Disturbed – Asylum – Started with promise, but quickly became the last two albums
Avenged Sevenfold – Nightmare – Ditto, except for the “started with promise” part
Godsmack – The Oracle – Ugh…
Ozzy Osbourne – Scream – /Starts “Bring Back, Zakk” Chant

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