Published Jan 12, 2010Few are in such an enviable position as Exclaim!'s Aggressive Tendencies contributors, who hear virtually every heavy/extreme album released in the turn of a calendar. Not only that, but our opinions occasionally count for something other than lining bird cages.
With such great power comes great responsibility though, namely paring down what we felt were the highlight albums of 2009 to the ten best. With an endless onslaught of hammering, double-time drums, raggedy guitars and shredded throats, last year was an extreme music fan's glorious dream.
When the dust and detritus settled, common sentiment was that metal-influenced hardcore quartet Converge obliterated our metallic eardrums with their relentless seventh full-length, Axe To Fall.
To discern for yourself whether or not our decision is justified or baloney, click here, where the album will be streaming on Exclaim.ca all week.
While many came close, no album matched the tenacity, ferocity and uncompromised musicianship of Axe To Fall. One of the most stunning affairs of their career - let alone the past year - the album successfully unites Converge's ravenous, rabid past with exploratory forays, dynamic mood shifts and an overall sense of completeness, inspiring passion and indelible fortitude. Factor in the addition of outside talent/influences, including members of Genghis Tron, Entombed, Cave In and Neurosis to flesh-out their sound and Axe To Fall easily measures up to Converge's pristine past, as well as making some bold advances.
Giving credit where it's due, many other great acts made our 2009 best-of list. The likes of mathematical metal giants Coalesce redefined the genre's parameters with their first full-length in a decade, Ox. Moreover, British grindcore gurus Napalm Death easily made the list by continuing their winning streak of reinvigorated, vicious albums with Time Waits For No Slave.
Finally, maintaining the dynamic, sludgy side of things, Georgians Mastodon impressed us yet again, as Crack the Skye proved to be a vortex of energy and creativity that ventured even further into the atmospheric, thematic metal established on previous efforts such as Blood Mountain and Leviathan.
For the full list of Aggressive Tendencies' top album of 2009, click here.
Converge's Axe To Fall will be streaming on Exclaim.ca until January 18.