Overall, I unfortunately don’t think this was a very strong year for metal when considering how colossal the last few years of the decade have been as far as supplying great and innovative releases. However, there is certainly hope with a number of bands releasing their debuts. Some of these debuts made my top ten (Humo del Cairo, Kvelertak) while some didn’t quite make it, but whose future work is bound to produce “Dredd’s Dreaded Top Ten” results (Castevet, Coffinworm). Speaking of, Profound Lore is hands down the metal record label of the year in this man’s humble opinion. Profound Lore had some great releases from Agalloch, Coffinworm, Castevet, and Dawnbringer among others.

I think the greatest part of the year in metal would be the fact that already established artists were able to push their sound even more and experiment, experiment, experiment. Bands like Nachtmystium, Ihsahn, and The Dillinger Escape Plan pushed the envelope even further than they had in the past with their own music. Bands like Drudkh, Alcest, and Lantlos continue to push the preconceived boundaries of black metal…or even post-black metal. And you know…Deathspell Omega is just Deathspell Omega.

Speaking of (again), the French metal scene continues to go only from strength to strength with new releases from Alcest, Deathspell Omega, Les Discrets…although I suppose the new Blut Aus Nord was a bit disappointing.

The most disappointing aspect of the year for me was the so called resurgence of Southern, sludge-inspired metal-specifically that of the Georgian scene. After absolutely essential releases from both Baroness and Mastodon last year, I had high hopes for that of bands like Kylesa and Black Tusk among many others. However, there seems to be a contrived sound and aesthetic that all these bands are gunning for. Now compare that to the heyday of the NOLA scene when each major player had their very own style, though uniquely “NOLA” all the same (compare Soilent Green to EyeHateGod to Down to Crowbar and you’ll know what I mean…and that’s even when most of those bands shared members ). Furthermore, ALL THESE NEW SOUTHERN METAL BANDS HAVE ARTWORK BY JOHN BAIZLEY THAT LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME, which also makes it at times impossible to aesthetically distinguish the bands.

From my perspective, and despite how inane this may sound, the theme of this year is one of growth. Most of the albums listed below took time to grow on me. It may be my high expectations I’ve honed and developed for metal over the years, or it may just be because of a few bands I adore decided to step out of their comfort zones, which in turn forced me to step out of mine.

So here it is. Judge Dredd’s Dreaded Top 10 of 2010:

1. “Paracletus” by Deathspell Omega
2. “Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2” by Nachtmystium
3. “Axioma Ethica Odini” by Enslaved
4. “s/t” by Kvelertak
5. “Nucleus” by Dawnbringer
6. “s/t” by Humo del Cairo
7. “Option Paralysis” by The Dillinger Escape Plan
8. “The Tenant” by Ludicra
9. “.Neon” by Lantlos
10. “After” by Ihsahn

Honorable Mentions (in order):
“Majesty and Decay” by Immolation
“Mounds of Ash” by Castevet
“Marrow of the Spirit” by Agalloch
“When All Became None” by Coffinworm
“Songs for Singles” by Torche
“Mechanize” by Fear Factory
“Handful of Stars” by Drudkh
“Belus” by Burzum