I have compiled a tentative list of albums potentially worthy of the rank, “Best Rock/Metal Album of 2009.” There are still a couple months left in 2009 and many albums still coming out, so this list may be further revised in the near future.
1. Megadeth – ENDGAME
Endgame is a return to form for the thrash titans known as Megadeth. The band sounds as tight as ever on this new release. Endgame is Megadeth’s first release with the newly acquired Chris Broderick sharing guitar duties with the almighty Dave Mustaine. The opening instrumental track, “Dialectic Chaos” is absolutely mesmerizing with the ongoing alternating guitar solos between Dave and Chris. After a solid two and a half minutes of this mouth-watering guitar madness, it breaks right into “This Day We Fight!” This second track is awesome and heavy. The heaviness continues until “The Hardest Part of Letting Go… Sealed With A Kiss,” a ballad which still maintains some heaviness within it. That is the softest track on the eleven song disc. The next three songs keep the listener’s attention. There really is no bad song on this masterpiece. This could very well be Megadeth’s best album of all-time.
2. Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know
It should be common knowledge that the Black Sabbath boys reunited with Ronnie James Dio in 2007 after being separated for fifteen years. After touring for a solid two years, the reunited metal gods decided to create some new tunes. The Devil You Know is the result of the quartet’s re-acquired energy and musical passion. This 2009 release was the fourth release with this Black Sabbath lineup but the first under the name Heaven & Hell. It is a solid album top to bottom. It proves that the metal founders still have it after all these years. Dio’s voice is as strong as ever at sixty-seven years young. Iommi’s deep, heavy riffs and Geezer’s bass lines are very reminiscent of old school Dio-era Sabbath. Actually, The Devil You Know is probably the heaviest release from this unstoppable Sabbath lineup. As with Megadeth’s Endgame, H&H’s The Devil You Know does not contain one unsatisfactory song.
3. Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue
After lead singer Layne Staley died of a drug overdose in April of 2002, Alice In Chains disappeared for several years. The band then rose from the ashes with new singer William DuVall to release a killer record that holds the vintage AiC sound. While the controversy over the band going on without Layne persists, it is and has always been Jerry Cantrell’s band. Also, Jerry paid obvious tribute to his fallen friend in the title track, “Black Gives Way To Blue.” The entire album, though, is basically a tribute to Layne in the sense that it is very reminiscent and reflective of the great work he did while with Alice In Chains.
4. August Burns Red – Constellations
This Christian metalcore band is tight all around, but their 2009 release was just phenomenal. Everything about it screams “Masterpiece.” From the rare bit of clean vocals toward the end of “Indonesia” to the instrumental “Meridian” and everything in between, Constellations just does not stop its astonishment. ABR’s Constellations is highly recommended to all metalheads out there and can be categorized as an album you can’t put down. From top to bottom, this record is just great.
5. Shadows Fall – Retribution
Shadows Fall’s new album is awesome. I have never been a die-hard Shadows Fall fan, but I cannot seem to stop listening to Retribution – it’s just that good! The guitar work is great and Brian Fair’s voice sounds good for a lot of the time. The single off the album, “Still I Rise,” is an awesome track and has everything any fan would want from the band. This 2009 release is a great return to form for the Massachusetts metalcore band and is probably my favorite Shadows Fall CD already.