The Kerrang! Staff's Top 10 Albums Of 2019

What have the writers and photographers of Kerrang! been listening to in 2019? Here, we pick our top 10 albums of the year…

The Kerrang! Staff's Top 10 Albums Of 2019

It's been quite the year for rock music. Tool finally embraced Spotify, Bring Me The Horizon became bona fide festival headliners, Slayer retired, My Chemical Romance reformed, Slipknot unveiled their new member and Awsten Knight dyed his hair green.

But what has soundtracked such a mad year? There have been some huge releases from some of the biggest bands on the planet, plus a bunch of kickass debuts from groups deep within the underground. Whether you're a metalhead, punk, emo or 'just like a bit of everything, really', 2019 has had you covered.

Below, some of Kerrang!'s editorial staff, writers and photographers pick their favourite albums of the past 12 months. See something you don't know? Give it a listen! That's what these lists are for, right?

Sam Coare, Editor


"We first put FEVER 333 on the Kerrang! cover before they'd barely released a note of music. STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS is not only vindication of that, but, you sense, only just the beginning for a band who could go on to become anything they want to be."

2. Tool – Fear Inoculum
3. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
4. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue
5. Baroness – Gold & Grey
6. Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
7. Bring Me The Horizon – amo
8. Titus Andronius – An Obelisk
9. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
10. SWMRS – Berkeley's On Fire

Luke Morton, Digital Editor

1. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

“One of the best bands to ever do it have returned to their darker, creepier, more experimental roots. The barbed vocals, the hyperactive drumming, the chainsaw guitars and the odd beer keg, all glued together by the most thick, pitch black tar that oozes and bubbles throughout the record. It’s a cohesive journey, exploring each and every niche that Slipknot have chosen to inhabit over the past two decades, sharpening and refining every edge to make it as dangerous and unpredictable as possible. It gets better with every single listen.”

2. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats’ Nest
3. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
4. FIDLAR – Almost Free
5. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
6. Rammstein – (Untitled)
7. Tool – Fear Inoculum
8. PUP – Morbid Stuff
9. Venom Prison – Samsara
10. Korn – The Nothing

Nick Ruskell, Senior Editor

1. Venom Prison – Samsara

"A vicious onslaught of brutal death metal and flesh-stripping bile, Venom Prison's second album was an explosion of bitterness, anger, hatred, hopelessness, vengeance and, in accordance with the title, suffering. That this band are excellent at death metal is beyond doubt. That they forge it with an emotional fire all of their own is what makes them such a special and unique proposition."

2. Tool – Fear Inoculum
3. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence
4. Baroness – Gold & Grey
5. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
6. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
7. Dawn Ray'd – Behold Sedition Plainsong
8. Esoteric – A Pyrrhic Existence
9. Rammstein – (Untitled)
10. American Football – American Football

David McLaughlin, Associate Editor

1. Tool – Fear Inoculum

“It’s the audacity of it. No other band dares to do anything like this and no other band likely could, even if they had the inkling to try. Amazingly, it’s just four musicians operating at the pinnacle of their powers, casually returning to the fold after a painfully long on-record absence, to school the rest of the metal world on how it’s done. Sadly, it’s near-impossible to discuss Tool without sounding like one, but Fear Inoculum showcases a band bringing the very best of themselves – without apology, without concession and without a single care as to what anyone else thinks.”

2. Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
3. The Menzingers – Hello Exile
4. The Drew Thomson Foundation – The Drew Thomson Foundation
5. FIDLAR – Almost Free
6. Titus Andronicus – An Obelisk
7. Spielbergs – This Is Not The End
8. Supercrush – Never Let You Drift Away
9. Webbed Wing – Bike Ride Across The Moon
10. Heart Attack Man – Fake Blood

Emily Carter, News Editor

1. Waterparks – Fandom

Waterparks have long been the most interesting of the pop-punk bands they’re so often unfairly lumped in with, and Fandom is the most emphatic proof of this yet. Tackling issues of toxic fan expectation and crippling heartbreak over music that dabbles in trippy techno, cinematic rock, bubblegum pop and so much more, this is a career-best songwriting effort from caps-lock-loving frontman Awsten Knight. HUNDREDS OF LISTENS LATER AND I’M STILL NOT BORED OF IT.”

2. SWMRS – Berkeley’s On Fire
3. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
4. The Menzingers – Hello Exile
5. PUP – Morbid Stuff
6. FIDLAR – Almost Free
7. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue
8. Rammstein – (Untitled)
9. Frank Iero And The Future Violents – Barriers
10. Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff

Hannah May Kilroy, Production Editor


"While it's not an album I'm popping on every morning to pep me up for the day ahead, LINGUA IGNOTA's CALIGULA is the most impressive release that I've heard in years. I love the religious iconography, the juxtaposition of harsh and dazzling sounds, the insane level of detail – who's that moaning with a mouthful of sandwich on SORROW! SORROW! SORROW!?? – and the fact that it's a dizzyingly creative, completely raw expression of human emotion, as well as a glorious example of how you can turn pain into power."

2. Heilung – Futha
3. Rotting Christ – The Heretics
4. Rosalie Cunningham – Rosalie Cunningham
5. Waste Of Space Orchestra – Syntheosis
6. Rammstein – (Untitled)
7. Baroness – Gold & Grey
8. Hexvessel – All Tree
9. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence
10. Cult Of Luna – A Dawn To Fear

Phil Alexander, Global Creative Director

1. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence

"The sixth album by Californian songwriter Chelsea Wolfe is her most personal and her most accomplished effort to date. The songs are full of the poetry of life. And death. Musically, too, it possesses a rare depth. For maximum impact, listen to it in one sitting without distraction and with the lights out."

2. Amyl And The Sniffers – Amyl And The Sniffers
4. Zig Zags – They’ll Never Take Us Alive
5. Mark Lanegan – Somebody’s Knocking
6. Oh Sees – Facestabber
7. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
8. PUP – Morbid Stuff
9. King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats' Nest
10. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion

Ethan Fixell, U.S. Executive Director

1. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade of Blue

"No hardcore band made bigger waves this year than Knocked Loose, drawing insane crowds at their live shows while touring with acts as varied and outstanding as Terror, Every Time I Die, and Beartooth. And on their highly anticipated sophomore effort, the "sweet boys" from Kentucky (as honorary sixth member, producer Will Putney, calls them) proved why they deserve every bit of the hype. This is an instant metalcore classic that pushed the genre forward with a spinning kick."

2. Pedro The Lion – Phoenix
3. Dead Soft – Big Blue
4. Fit For An Autopsy – The Sea Of Tragic Beasts
5. Shin Guard – 2020
6. Gatecreeper – Deserted
7. Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff
8. Jeromes Dream – LP
9. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
10. State Faults – Clairvoyant

Chris Krovatin, U.S. Editorial Manager

1. He Is Legend – White Bat

"From what I can gather, He Is Legend’s earlier output was more traditional metalcore, but this record sees the North Carolinans channeling a grindhouse romanticism that endears scabby freaks like me on a soul-deep level. Tracks like Burn All The Rock Records, Eye Teeth, and monumental closer Boogiewoman feel like the backing music to getting a killer tattoo of a dripping skull. Contains at least five songs that I just cannot stop listening to."

2. Devil Master – Satan Spits On Children Of Light
3. Gatecreeper – Deserted
4. Bloody Hammers – The Summoning
5. The Budos Band – V
6. GRLwood – I Sold My Soul To The Devil When I Was 12
7. blackQueen – The Destructive Cycle
8. Oozing Wound – High Anxiety
9. Malignant Altar – Retribution Of The Jealous Gods demo
10. Vircolac – Masque

Steve Beebee, Writer

1. The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men

"Not merely a brilliant comeback, but the year’s most vital and on-the-money soundtrack, Renaissance Men brought ferocity and melody into hurricane force focus. This was music as riffed-up as Metallica and as tuneful as The Struts, its dazzling songwriting fuelled by both cynical social commentary and devil-may-care celebration. Decades after their supposed heyday, there’s still nobody that can match Ginger and the gang when it comes to innovative, instantly addictive headrushes, and in a world without Motörhead and Slayer, we’ve never needed The Wildhearts more."

2. Royal Republic – Club Majesty
3. Evergrey – The Atlantic
4. Within Temptation – Resist
5. Rival Sons – Feral Roots
6. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
7. Starset – Divisions
8. Rammstein – (Untitled)
9. Asomvel – World Shaker
10. The Darkness – Easter Is Cancelled

Dan Slessor, Writer

1. Sacred Reich – Awakening

"Coming back with their first full-length in more than two decades was always going to put a lot of pressure on Sacred Reich, but they killed it. Capturing the elements that made their classics classic but imbuing them with a freshness and vigour that’s right now made for the finest music 2019 had to offer."

2. Rammstein – (Untitled)
3. Norma Jean – All Hail
4. Cult Of Luna – A Dawn To Fear
5. Chon – Chon
6. Misery Index – Rituals Of Power
7. Whitechapel – The Valley
8. Meth. – Mother Of Red Light
9. Pelican – Nighttime Stories
10. Torche – Admission

Kiran Acharya, Writer

1. Tool – Fear Inoculum

"Even if this turns out to be Tool's 'swan song and epilogue', as Maynard James Keenan sings on Descending, Fear Inoculum is the distillation of their bleak, reflective essence. By going long, the songs encourage patience, and make the mood of personal apocalypse more immersive and persuasive than ever. Danny Carey is one of the world's best drummers, but even his ferocious ever-changing attack leads to soothing and peaceful places. Like watching the quietude of a cold night sky explode with blue fireworks, you're left with a sense of depth, wonder and resolution."

2. Girl Band – The Talkies
3. Astronoid – Astronoid
4. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
5. Hey Colossus – Four Bibles
6. Torche – Admission
7. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
8. Cult Of Luna – A Dawn To Fear
9. White Ward – Love Exchange Failure
10. Car Bomb – Mordial

Naomi Sanders, Writer

1. Reason Define – In Memory…

"The greats did great this year, but this small band from North Carolina presented the best with their second album, In Memory…, taking the listener on a heartbreaking journey through the five stages of grief accompanied by ferocious hard rock. This is an album to not skip out on!"

3. Doll Skin – Love Is Dead And We Killed Her
4. Bring Me The Horizon – amo
5. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
6. Goodbye June – Community Inn
7. Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason
8. Bad Wolves – Nation
9. Hollywood Vampires – Rise
10. The Faim – State Of Mind

Jake Richardson, Writer

1. Bring Me The Horizon – amo

"A genre-bending and, at times, mind-boggling affair, amo is the album Bring Me The Horizon have been threatening to make ever since electronic elements began to permeate the former metallers’ music many moons ago. From the anthemic rock of MANTRA to the experimental alt-pop of mother tongue, the Sheffield lads’ sixth album teems with ideas and vision, and it also features some of frontman Oli Sykes’ best lyrics to date."

2. Grayscale – Nella Vita
3. Holding Absence – Holding Absence
4. Dream State – Primrose Path
5. SWMRS – Berkeley’s On Fire
6. YONAKA – Don’t Wait ’Til Tomorrow
7. John Floreani – Sin
8. Tiny Moving Parts – Breathe
9. Free Throw – What’s Past Is Prologue
10. Glitterer – Looking Through The Shades

Mischa Pearlman, Writer

1. PUP – Morbid Stuff

"In a world that feels ever colder and crueller – whether on a personal level or a political one, or both – the self-aware misanthropy of PUP's third record makes it a record that thoroughly sums up 2019. It's bleak yet funny, catchy but challenging, and both the lyrics and music are imbued with a nihilistic despair that, in true PUP fashion, still seems fun. Perhaps the jokes and smiles are just masking a deeper, hidden melancholy, but songs like Scorpion Hill, Kids and Blood Mary, Kate and Ashley are also deranged, violent screams in your face to remind you to make the most of now, because you may just die tomorrow. And the way the world is going, you probably will. So put this on and blast it at maximum volume before you do."

2. Frank Iero And The Future Violents – Barriers
3. Spielbergs – This Is Not The End
5. Strung Out – Songs Of Armor And Devotion
6. Refused – War Music
7. Press Club – Wasted Energy
8. Tiny Moving Parts – breathe
9. Petrol Girls – Cut & Stitch
10. The Menzingers – Hello Exile

James MacKinnon, Writer


"I’m not sure that I heard any voice as vital this year as Kristin Hayter. CALIGULA is an audacious work, full of longing, hurt, violent noise, biblical reckonings and bacchanalian excess. Yet within its twisted recesses there is tenderness, possibly even hope, with the stopping power of a punch to the throat. Simply, it is a beautiful monster."

2. Baroness – Gold & Grey
3. The Menzingers – Hello Exile
4. Elizabeth Colour Wheel – Nocebo
5. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence
6. Mannequin Pussy – Patience
7. Venom Prison – Samsara
8. PUP – Morbid Stuff
9. Press Club – Wasted Energy
10. Fury – Total Entertainment

Paul Harries, Photographer

1. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

"After working with Slipknot for 20 years, they will always be the band to beat. An awesome return backed up with a stunning show at Download this year."

2. Rammstein – (Untitled)
3. Bring Me The Horizon – amo
4. Biffy Clyro – Balance, Not Symmetry
5. Tool – Fear Inoculum
6. Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross – Watchmen: Volume 1
8. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – End Of Suffering
9. Korn – The Nothing
10. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion

Sam Law, Writer

1. Baroness – Gold & Grey

"Gold & Grey isn’t just the end of the rainbow for Baroness; it’s a culmination of everything leading up to this point. Walking the line between virtuoso musicianship and unhinged fervour, this is less a collection of songs than a chronicle of frontman John Baizley’s journey: from hurt to hope, from despair to defiance. Often strange and experimental, strident and unwieldy, but always overloaded with real, potent feeling it is by far the most intellectually and emotionally exhilarating record of 2019."

2. The Menzingers – Hello Exile
3. Dinosaur Pile-Up – Celebrity Mansions
4. Sabaton – The Great War
5. While She Sleeps – SO WHAT?
6. Gatecreeper – Deserted
7. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
8. Jimmy Eat World – Surviving
9. Insomnium – Heart Like A Grave
10. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue

George Garner, Writer

1. Tool – Fear Inoculum

“I’ve had a good few attempts now where I’ve tried – and failed! – to put my thoughts about this album into words. The reason, I would stress, is not just because of my own deficiencies as a writer. Despite listening to it nonstop for months and months now, I still don’t feel like I’ve even remotely scratched the surface of this remarkable Tool record. A comeback for the ages.”

2. Life Of Agony – Sound Of Scars
3. Sleater-Kinney – The Centre Won’t Hold
4. Defeater – Defeater
5. Hawk Eyes – Advice
6. Biffy Clyro – Balance, Not Symmetry
7. Refused – War Music
8. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind
9. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
10. Jimmy Eat World – Surviving

Simon Young, Writer

1. Biffy Clyro – Balance, Not Symmetry

"Although this is not the official follow-up to 2016's Ellipsis, their soundtrack to Balance, Not Symmetry – a full-length film co-written by Simon Neil and director Jamie Adams – is a 17-track grab bag of everything that makes the Scottish trio great in the first place: crushing riffs, discordancy, shiny pop, and bold experimentation. As stop-gap releases go, this is compelling stuff."

2. Hawk Eyes – Advice
3. Dub Trio – The Shape Of Dub To Come
4. Rainbow Grave – No You
5. The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men
6. Baroness – Gold & Grey
7. Oh Sees – Face Stabber
8. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
9. Refused – War Music
10. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

Jenn Five, Photographer

1. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

"Slipknot the way I like Slipknot: dark, experimental, provocative – the perfect 'fuck you' album that I love. Legit one of the best albums I’ve heard in ages."

3. Baroness – Gold & Grey
4. Korn – The Nothing
5. 3TEETH – Metawar
6. The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
7. Rammstein – (Untitled)
8. Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
9. Bring Me The Horizon – amo
10. PUP – Morbid Stuff

Ian Winwood, Writer

1. Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason

"Bad Religion remain America’s most significant punk group, as this collection shows. What’s more, they speak of the parlous state of their home country with a rare sophistication and a sense of moral outrage that is a wonder to behold. 'Now in the last second of our December, tell me how do you want to be remembered? For generosity, or a fucking monstrosity?' they sing of President Number 45."

2. The Regrettes – How Do You Love?
3. Rammstein – (Untitled)
4. Tool – Fear Inoculum
5. Frank Turner – No Man’s Land
6. The Wildhearts – Renaissance Men
7. American Football – American Football
8. Feeder – Tallulah
9. Biffy Clyro – Balance, Not Symmetry
10. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Paul Travers, Writer

1. Chelsea Wolfe – Birth Of Violence

"Chelsea Wolfe has frequently brought metallic elements and sweeping gothic rock into her work. Birth Of Violence takes a windswept trip back to her folk roots but it’s no less dark, engrossing or effecting for that lack of distortion. This is a stunningly emotive and beautiful album from a singer-songwriter who’s able to effortlessly embrace different genres and moods."

2. Sabbath Assembly – A Letter Of Red
3. Amon Amarth – Berserker
4. The Hu – The Gereg
5. Amyl And The Sniffers – Amyl And The Sniffers
6. Alcest – Spiritual Instinct
7. Baroness – Gold & Grey
8. Abbath – Outstrider
9. The Damned Things – High Crimes
10. Rammstein – (Untitled)

John Longbottom, Writer

1. The Menzingers – Hello Exile

“In 2019 it has become glaringly obvious to me that there are very few truths in life. Everything is temporary. Friendships are to be cherished. Good times are to be sought out and savoured. Whiskey is to be enjoyed on ice, often with bitters, sugar and orange peel. And The Menzingers will continue to release albums so loaded with sentiment, tenderness and nostalgia, it will make me pull a muscle in my soul.”

2. Bad Religion – The Age Of Unreason
3. Bring Me The Horizon – amo
4. Tool – Fear Inoculum
5. FIDLAR – Almost Free
6. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – End Of Suffering
7. Employed To Serve – Eternal Forward Motion
8. Baroness – Gold & Grey
9. Millencolin – SOS
10. Frank Iero And The Future Violents – Barriers

Alistair Lawrence, Writer

1. The Drew Thompson Foundation – The Drew Thompson Foundation

"…or, Drew Thompson’s Redemption Songs. When the erstwhile Single Mothers frontman opened up to Kerrang! back in January about getting sober, it was the first inkling that this soul-searching collection might be in the offing. Completing a journey that began with 2018’s Stay EP, this album is a clear-eyed example of how to pause, reflect and battle back against the odds. A Little More Time and Barbed Wire practically soar out of the speakers, while L.A. Lately wears its words of wisdom like a badge of honour – to name but three highlights. A record full of bright spots for dark of days."

2. The Menzingers – Hello Exile
3. Knocked Loose – A Different Shade Of Blue
4. Defeater – Defeater
5. PUP – Morbid Stuff
6. Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason
7. Tool – Fear Inoculum
8. FIDLAR – Almost Free
9. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – End Of Suffering
10. Frank Iero And The Future Violents – Barriers

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