In the weeks leading up to the end of 2012and our top 10 list of the year, we decided to give credit to the past couple years too. Here’s the top ten albums of 2009, no shits given about whiny elitist opinions.
   1    
ANIMALS AS LEADERS – SELF TITLED
 
The album that almost didn’t happen is our top album of 2009. Thank the metal gods it did! The Animals as Leaders self-titled debut is nothing short of perfection. Powered by Tosin Abasi’s incredible songwriting and unreal, virtuosic talent level while backed by Misha Mansoor’s superior production skills, this album is pure intellectual ear candy. Boasting solid gold masterpieces such as “CAFO”, “On Impulse”, “Tempting Time”, and so on, this record pushed musical boundaries from beginning to end. There was a lot of amazing music in 2009, but no real comparison to the genius complexities of “Animals As Leaders”.

 

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   2   
CIRCLE OF CONTEMPT – ARTIFACTS IN MOTION 
 
This album is a devastating, ruthless tech storm which ripped minds apart nerve by nerve. Circle Of Contempt emerged from Finland as immediate heavyweights of the metal underground with this absolute genius contribution to heavy music. “Artifacts In Motion” was serious, groundbreaking material for the time. And this record is still scary good, featuring some of the biggest skull cracking segments in metal to date. Songs such as “Color Lines”, “The Pendulum Swing”, “Concealed”, and “Nothing Imminent” among others were responsible for several hospital visits over the years. Complex and solid, “Artifacts in Motion” is a classic.

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   3   
CHIMP SPANNER - AT THE DREAM’S EDGE

Without a doubt, musical genius / producer Paul Ortiz brought his very best on this Chimp Spanner record. “At The Dream’s Edge” sounds like a dream itself. Technically proficient and musically sound with perfect use of ambiance, this album is a treat for the ears from “Galaxy Rise” to the ender, “All Good Things”. In between, the album packs several other classics such as “Supererogation”, “Far From Home”, “Under One Sky” and the three epic parts of “Terminus”. Chimp Spanner’s “At The Dream’s Edge” easily stands out as one of the year’s brightest and is highly recommended for anyone who loves awesome music.

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   4   
BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME – THE GREAT MISDIRECT
 

North Carolina’s Between The Buried And Me always brings an interesting listening experience with their music. “The Great Misdirect” is no exception. One of the best things about this band is they don’t just think outside the box, they live way out there with an unusually high talent level to match. This is an hours worth of incredible, original heavy music. The lengthy tracks found on this record all bring a classic quality with them. In particular, “Obfuscation”, “Disease, Injury, Madness”, “Desert of Song”, and the huge closer “Swim To The Moon” stand out. If you enjoy outgoing, intelligent Progressive Metal, you’ll enjoy this record.

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   5   
CONVERGE – AXE TO FALL
 

Converge’s “Axe To Fall” hits like it already fell. This extremely talented chaotic hardcore four piece pulled off a whirlwind of a record with this one. Absolutely ruthless, energetic, and creative with it’s delivery, this album spread across the heavy music community like wildfire. Most of the songs are very short in the typical hardcore fashion but they all pack one helluva punch. However, there are a few that span up to 4-7 mins of pure original greatness. Tracks such as “Dark Horse”, “Reap What You Sew”, the title track, and the lighter epics such as “Cruel Bloom” stand out. Get chaotic with Converge if you haven’t already.

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   6   
THE ARUSHA ACCORD – THE ECHO VERSES
 

In many ways, this album was before it’s time. Bringing a ridiculously tech heavy sound with an energetic hardcore edge, The Arusha Accord debut is one for the record books. “The Echo Verses” came across with the subtleness of a bomb, striking many listeners off guard with it’s rampant chaos and creativity. Big time stand outs “Dead To Me”, “Night of the Long Knives”, “The Tightrope”, and the epic closer “The Last Rise of the Fallen King” are all reasons why this album is still relevant to this day. There’s no doubt “The Echo Verses” is an explosive heavy listening experience from start to finish. A real classic through and through.

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DREAM THEATER – BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS
 

Dream Theater has been going strong for a long time. Their tenth studio album “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” is an epic musical experience to say the least. It clocks in at well over an hour of absolutely solid Progressive Metal. Not to mention this was back when Mike Portnoy was still drumming in the band. There are so many awesome moments on this record from the edges of “The Shattered Fortress” to the mind blowing closer “The Count of Tuscany”. Even the more accessible tracks such as “A Rite of Passage” and “Wither” are outstanding. All in all, it would be a crime not to include this Dream Theater record among the best of 2009.

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   8   
AUGUST BURNS RED - CONSTELLATIONS

In many ways this was August Burns Red’s transitioning record between the revolutionary “Messengers” and their latest juggernaut “Leveler”. “Constellations” marks when the band began discovering their own unique musical push instead of going for crazy breakdown after breakdown. There’s still plenty of that, but ABR really put their all into this record to grow as musicians. Tracks such as “Marianas Trench”, “Meddler”, “Thirty and Seven”, and “The Escape Artist” showed how far this band stood above the Metalcore pack. And they still do. “Constellations” is an absolutely phenomenal heavy listening experience.

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WITHIN THE RUINS – CREATURE

The Within The Ruins debut full-length emerged to breathe new life into an ever staling sub-genre of metal. The band immediately became top notch innovators with their classic “Creature” feature. Boasting next level talent and technicality to match their intense rhythmic segments and driving riffs, they put themselves on the map with a signature sound. Heavy as hell segments made ears bleed without mercy (in a good way \m/). For example, the intense opener “The Book Of Books”, and stand outs such as “Tractor Pull”, “Arsenal”, and “Extinguish Them” all caused major blood loss. Within The Ruins will satisfy your heavy cravings.

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   10   
STRAY FROM THE PATH – MAKE YOUR OWN HISTORY

Long Island Hardcore giants Stray From The Path certainly made their own history with this stand out album. “Make Your Own History” is pissed off beyond words, but it has a lot to say. In the tried and true hardcore fashion, Stray From The Path packs honest, gritty commentaries while musically pushing the limits of the genre itself with creative off time rhythms and chaotic guitar work. Titles such as “Negative & Violent”, “Fraudulent”, “Black Anchor” and “Lucid Dreaming” all pack a punch. And I have to say there’s nothing like moshing to “Damien”. If you consider yourself a fan of hardcore, this record is a must for your music collection.

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