In the past few weeks, all registered users could pick their five favourite djent releases of 2010. Now that the polls have closed, it's time to look at the results. First of all, we wish to thank everyone who participated and shared their favourites with us - for many of you it must not have been an easy task to pick just five! In total, 321 people participated. They voted for 114 different releases, out of 179 that were eligible for voting. The 20 most picked releases are presented below.
The resulting list is quite interesting; some things were pretty easy to predict, but there are also a few surprises. The battle for the first place was particularly fierce, with two albums constantly competing for the spot. One of them won in the end, but only by a few votes!
Without further ado, we present to you the got-djent.com top 20 of 2010, according to our users. The top 10 entries are accompanied by a short review.
What sort of djent list would it be without Meshuggah? The Swedish masters finally get around to releasing a live DVD and boy, is it a doozy. Taking in several concerts from their 2008-2009 obZen tour, the DVD highlights a band who are still utterly relevant and still able to churn out amazing live performances. The setlist contains both classics and new material. Highlights for me would have to be the sludged, crushing rendition of Humiliative (watch in contrast with the older MTV video and struggle to believe its the same song), the intense, pulsing Perpetual Black Second and the duo from Chaosphere, New Millenium Cynaide Christ and The Mouth Licking What You've Bled. The DVD is interspersed with backstage footage, which is short enough not to pull the focus from the music but long enough to be informative and interesting.
Meshuggah - Alive: proving that the band is indeed alive and kicking (ass).
Progessive deathcore may be as hotly contested a tag as djent is but there is no denying Veil Of Maya's unique approach to the modern metal scene. [id] is a more refined, mature album than its predecessor. Guitarist Marc Okubo does the work of three guitarists, imprinting his unique style of angular riffing and intricate melodies, dominating the band and making it what it is. Angular riffs, furious and well placed breakdowns and some impressive basswork make the album a joy to listen to multiple times. The songs are short and to the point, with absolutely no filler. The extremely flat and sterile production however is very grating and only detracts from the album unfortunately.
Veil of Maya - [id]: a very solid album, consolidating the band's sound while venturing into new areas.
Volumes's long awaited six-track debut EP finally saw the light of day in November. Volumes are one of those bands with metalcore roots, setting themselves apart from the rest of the scene by mixing in a tasteful dose of djent. The band regularly make use of ethereal-sounding clean guitar parts, sometimes with a shoegaze-style tremolo effect. These provide a sense of melody to the music that is otherwise absent due to the lack of clean vocals. The Misery Signals influence is sometimes very apparent, particularly on 'Intake'. The hardcore aesthetic shines through the most in 'Through the Trees', which comes to a climax with a breakdown of epic proportions. Overall, 'The Concept of Dreaming' is a solid debut that will appease fans of Misery Signals, Your Memorial, Elitist, Structures and the like.
Volumes - The Concept of Dreaming: solid debut, although those with an aversion of breakdowns should avoid it.
Undoubtedly one of the most controversial albums to come out this year, After The Burial's latest effort was received with mixed reviews. There's no denying that 'In Dreams' sounds different. Some would say the band's sound has matured, whereas others accuse them of dumbing it down. At any rate, After The Burial must have done something right, as their album ended up on this list. As a whole, the album feels more polished and thought-through than 'Rareform', its predecessor. The introduction of clean vocals probably serves to appease a wider audience, but it doesn't take away from the music like it does with so many bands who have gone down this path before. The album is less technical, but despite that the Meshuggah influence is more apparent than ever; decide for yourself whether that's a good or a bad thing. I find the band's new approach to be quite enjoyable, although admittedly for different reasons than I enjoyed their previous efforts.
After The Burial - In Dreams: at least nobody can accuse them of releasing the same album twice. Oh wait...
Exoplanet is an album that takes hold and doesn't let go. Every song is compelling in itself, carefully crafted and perfectly executed. The post/core/jazz/djent hybrid that is Exoplanet makes it a diverse and very interesting listen. The challenge with incorporating so many different genres is of course, coming out with a cohesive, focused effort. The Contortionist manage to meld every element effectively while still managing to make each one stand out. It isn't a muddy cauldron of vague ideas, thrown together nor is it a slideshow of songs that are utterly different from each other. Sure, there are breakdowns but there are also build ups and crescendos, jazzy interludes, technical passages and just to squeeze out one more cliche, good use of melody. Absolutely worth checking out for any fan of heavy music.
The Contortionist - Exoplanet: grabs you, sits you down, amazes you.
When the retrospective supergroup that was Fellsilent (think about it) split, all eyes turned to the two main songwriters' projects; Acle with TesseracT and Browne with Monuments. Could they match the excellent effort that was The Hidden Words? Well, this year we got a taste of what's to come from both bands. Browne teams up with the old Fellsilent vocalist Neema to deliver this fast, punchy and aggressive EP. We Are The Foundation shows Browne's strengths in being able to create massively catchy grooves, big choruses and subtle melodies. While Neema's vocal style may divide opinion, I would consider myself a fan. It certainly isn't the regular vocal approach and though the SikTh influence is strong, it isn't just a carbon copy. The production is above and beyond what one would expect from what is essentially a demo, with suitably djenty guitar, punchy drums and smooth bass.
Monuments - We Are The Foundation: heavy, catchy and a worthy successor to Fellsilent.
Is it cheating to have it on here? Does anyone even care? At the Dream's Edge is still one of the finest instrumental albums to come out in quite a while. Paul Ortiz runs the whole gamut of genres. From the standby polyrhythmic grooves, to quiet jazzy jams to full on blues solos, At the Dream's Edge keeps its listener on their toes. Production is unbelievable for something produced completely at home, with beautiful chunky drums (mostly recorded on a keyboard!) to the present and correct bass and of course the big guitars, heavy and clean. Ortiz shows an uncanny knack for creating entertaining and extremely listenable instrumental metal, a very difficult thing to do indeed.
Chimp Spanner - At the Dream's Edge: an engrossing journey through the medium of Mr. Ortiz's own guitar, bass and drums.
With his latest release, Ben Sharp managed to get to a new level of popularity and fans' appraisals. He mixes in his music seemingly incompatible elements of post- and math-metal, richly flavoring them with different progressive features. This results in an unusual sound where abrupt, heavy riffs are combined with a slightly monotonous basis, creating a pretty powerful and at the same time atmospheric sound. Ben isn't afraid to use complex song structures, tempo changes and other interesting features, not forgetting about thoughtful atmosphere. All this makes "Beacons" one of the most interesting releases of 2010 for me.
Cloudkicker - Beacons: Ben Sharp proving his consistent genius.
Pulling itself out of the searing agony of the void that it was trapped in, Periphery stands atop a gleaming new summit of metal, gazing out at all that lays before it. Bulb and company hath wrought what will invariably become a touchstone for the djent scene for years to come. In exploring every avenue of modern metal and incorporating all that is good in it, the djentlemen of Periphery have under their belts one of the most talked about and listened to albums of 2010. A veritable epic, spanning 72 minutes of pristine guitars, soaring vocals and thousands upon thousands of little good ideas melded into one singular unit of musical bliss. Of course there are the negatives. Vocalist Spencer Sotelo continues to divide fans on every singular youtube video, forum topic and casual chat about the band. The length of the album also hinders full listens. However, make no mistake: this is a big one. This one will be around for a while. And it's only the beginning.
Periphery - Periphery: the start of something beautiful.
There is something Shakespearean about Concealing Fate. TesseracT, once the darlings of the embryonic scene, constantly displaying unlimited potential, constantly teasing, constantly evoking amazement. After time wore on however, their name became synonymous with hype, a lack of results. The potential would seemingly never be realized, their teasing became wearisome, the initial amazement wore off. They became somewhat of an enigma; an extremely visible and present engima. There was always something going on behind the scenes. A tour here, some new merch there. An announcement, an interview, each one accompanied by shouts from jaded fans: "Release the album!". Abi left, Fellsilent broke up; still, nothing. Mutters of "nothing of value lost" began to infect the conversation on TesseracT, they were "Waiting for Meshuggah to release their next album so they can steal some more riffs". The silent fans just sat there and devoured every piece of news about the band. The announcements and interviews became slightly more regular. Murmurs of record deals, whispers of hope. Then, they pulled out of Euroblast festival... to tour with Devin Townsend in North America. All engineered by Century Media, Townsend's old label and at long last, TesseracT's new one.
It is the 8th of October, I am walking to the Rickshaw Theater in Vancouver with some buddies. I am going to see my hero, Devy. There is something else as well, something important. I am going to see a man about a CD. After an hour of fidgety, shuffling waiting, we pour into the venue. I calmly walk down to the TesseracT merch table. Dan, the singer is there. He is conversing with two young guys. They leave, one tall, one with gauged ears. I move towards Dan. "Hey man, love what the band is doing, your vocals are absolutely amazing" "Thanks man, it means a lot". A breath, as I collect my thoughts. "Hey Dan, are you selling the CD tonight, I know its not out till the 12th...". He looks at me for an instant. I'm expecting him to give the usual story about labels this and logistics that. "Yeah sure man, just let me get it for you". A quick exchange of currency for a CD. "Thanks". "And you". I walk away. Later that evening, after one of the best concerts of my life, I put the CD into my stereo.
As the music plays, all the sins are forgiven. "This is AMAZING" I say out loud, to an empty house at 3AM. The production was strange at first but the music was so incredible I couldn't care less. I listened to it once. And once more until the clock by my bedside displayed the worrying time of 5AM. I sank into bed and dreamt happy, djenty, ambient dreams.
A band redeemed and justified and a release that is an experience in itself.
Tesseract - Concealing Fate: painstakingly put together, perfectly executed.
Unique to the djent scene is the DIY spirit. A lot of artists choose to make their music available for free. In fact, 25% of all releases in our database are available for free, which is quite an impressive number when you think about it. That's why we thought it would be interesting to have a look at the 10 best djent releases of 2010 that are available for free download. You can find the top 10 below - each entry is accompanied by a download link. If there's any of these that you haven't heard yet, do yourself a favour and download them now. It won't cost you anything!
So there you have it: our users' favourite albums of 2010. What do you think about this list? Does it match your expectations? What were your picks? What do you think about TesseracT's EP surpassing Periphery's debut album by a narrow margin? Let us know in the comments!