The Best Alternative Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2019





Reaching album #3 is no mean feat for a project that was probably never supposed to move beyond the beginning stages of an idle fantasy; Metal Galaxy takes the stylistic experimentation broached by Metal Resistance and moves one step further, reaching out to other countries and new genres for inspiration to craft yet another unique album in the metalsphere. Su-metal and Moametal have truly grown up as a part of this band over the last ten years, and it stands to reason that Metal Galaxy is their most mature recording to date; Su-metal has really come into her own as a lead vocalist, spinning a lot of the J-pop elements that remain into something more closely resembling familiar power metal. Babymetal has really come to embrace its metal side more and more over the years, with Metal Galaxy as an easily marketable result, but the idol roots remain for those who enjoy the bizarre concept behind this band.

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What would've been Cave In's first album in seven years now has the tragedy of Caleb Scofield's unexpected death forever attached to it. The album is built around demos that Caleb sent the band during the album's development phases, including the very first track, which actually is the "final transmission", and due to that the sound is a bit rough around the edges, but it keeps its authenticity. Though traces of metallic hardcore do exist, the album floats mostly in the spacey, progressive-alternative side with almost exclusively clean vocals, but that doesn't mean it doesn't deliver some damn muscular riffs.

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Artifacts is the difficult third album from Mother Of Millions, a Greek alt/prog band that combines the melancholy of acts like Katatonia with elements of modern prog/djent acts such as Karnivool and Caligula's Horse (particularly on "Rite"), and moments of dramatic flair, including the shimmering organs and choirs in the climax of "Amber". Elevated by the charisma and depth of vocalist George Prokopiou, who can range from powerful, heartfelt climaxes to more pop/indie-oriented vocal melodies, Artifacts announces Mother Of Millions as a band to keep your eye on.

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Returning to their roots as the angst-driven, heavy-hitting, chest-thumping band so many '90s teens grew up with, Slipknot aimed to capture the primitive emotion of their back catalog this time around. We Are Not Your Kind may not come across as quite as heavy as implied, but it is their most mature and rounded output to date. With its groovy riffs, mosh anthems, electro-tinged soundscapes, and the ever-captivating allure of Corey Taylor's unique vocal style, it's safe to say Slipknot's latest shows them at the top of their game.

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A band that wore their Tool influences perhaps a bit too nakedly on their debut album, Soen have since grown impressively record by record, to the extent that Martin Lopez is now arguably outshining his former Opeth bandmates. Joel Ekelöf's vocal approach has continued to develop, with the frontman delivering some of his finest and most stirring work yet on Lotus, a more emotive, cohesive, and confident record than its predecessors pretty much across the board. Capped by a fine production job that provides depth to the softer moments and power to the riffier songs, Lotus sees Soen continue to move away from the shadows cast by Tool and Opeth and come into their own as a force to be reckoned with in the alt/prog scene.

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Rob Halford once famously said, "Judas Priest is cool and all, but what I really want to do is join Slipknot and kick out some groovy jams with my crunchy nu metal bros." Then he did, and The Offering was the result: a fusion of styles traditional and modern that has rarely been attempted by other bands. The Offering is more than just an original sound, of course - songs free of cliché and full of adventure make this band worth returning to, not just checking out. The time when Nevermore showed up to pump iron with Allegaeon will forever be memorialized by Home.

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Fredrik Norrmann, whom you may know from his past work with Katatonia and current work with October Tide, graced us not only with a new album by the latter, but also a new album from his alt/prog rock outfit, Thenighttimeproject. Pale Season is definitely a very moody record, sounding akin to a more morose A Perfect Circle or a less metal Katatonia, benefiting greatly from Alexander Backlund's amazing vocals, and on one track even from Draconian's Heike Langhans. It is certainly an album whose progressive tendencies tend to thread in the emotion rather than just display versatility.

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The collective anticipation for the release of this album that had built up during the 13-year wait for Tool's fifth full-length album, and the accompanying jokes about the improbability of its completion, might have even surpassed Chinese Democracy's troubled production; however, whilst opinions were somewhat split upon its eventual release, Fear Inoculum was a more critically successful comeback than Guns N' Roses's effort, beating Taylor Swift of all people to number 1 on the Billboard album chart in the process. Breaking the 80-minute barrier, the brief interludes aside, Fear Inoculum is composed solely of songs running over 10 minutes, a sextet of patient, predominantly mellow sojourns in the vein of Lateralus and 10,000 Days that offer ample opportunity to bear witness to the reliable excellence of Danny Carey's drumming and Maynard Keenan's haunting vocals.

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What was initially a side project of Converge's Jacob Bannon evolved on this album to be a five-piece, full-fledged band with the inclusion of members from The Red Chord, Cave In, Hatebreed, and Trap Them. But don't let the hardcore origins of these members fool you into thinking you can mosh to it (though you are free to try), as Wear Your Wounds's Rust On The Gates Of Heaven sits more on the border between post- and alt, metal and rock, being both very mellow and very heavy, knowing when to wallow and when to crush, and very melancholic all throughout. And obviously it's produced by Jacob's bandmate, Kurt Ballou, so you know you'll get the most of its sound.

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It's quite a bit ironic to nominate Wheel in the same category to run against the band whose influence they wear most obviously on their sleeve. But just like another band in this same category who was also really influenced by the aforementioned, Wheel also have a lot of potential to grow into their own, and if on Moving Backwards they can write such convincingly great songs, who knows how great they'll be once they find a sound of their own? Just one peek should be enough to instantly tell which bands I'm talking about.

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