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Well the year is winding down, and what a year it has been. This is the all-inclusive topic to discuss the year that was, and will be for another 3 weeks. Favorite album? Favorite song? Favorite new artist? Best news? Worst news? Anything you choose really. I'll begin.

By far, my album of the year has to be Mastodon's "Blood Mountain". Very, very rarely does a band get famous because they are actually incredibly talented and inventive. Mastodon are that band. Sure they won't get as big as Trivium or Avenged Sevenfold, but they will certainly be a big name in this new golden age of metal we seem to be entering (or already in). I heard "Leviathan" about a year ago, and dismissed it after one listen. I wasn't really digging much metal at the time, admittedly. After hearing "Blood Mountain" I went back and listened to "Leviathan" again to find out it, in fact, was absolutely incredible. I've heard Mastodon tossed around as possible for Gigantour or for Ozzfest, either way I'll be seeing them this summer.

Honorable mentions:

Iron Maiden - "A Matter of Life and Death"

Persefone - "Core"

Korpiklaani - "Tales Along This Road"

Tyr - "Ragnarok"

Amon Amarth - "With Oden On Our Side"

Eternal Tears of Sorrow - "Before the Bleeding Sun"

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Top Ten Favorite Albums:

1. UnexpecT - In A Flesh Aquarium

2. Isis - In the Absense of Truth

3. Mirrorthrone - Carriers of Dust

4. Agalloch - Ashes Against the Grain

5. Blind Guardian - A Twist in the Myth

6. Verjnuarmu - Muanpiällinen helevetti

7. TYR - Ragnarok

8. Eluveitie - Spirit

9. Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom

10. The Devin Townsend Band - Synchestra

These albums stayed with me in favoritism for the longest time and had me humming various songs all the time. These are some damn brilliant and well done releases of 2006.

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Belial's Top 6 of '06. (No Order)

Surprise - Paul Simon

Stadium Arcadium - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam

Youth - Matisyahu

Guerolito - Beck

Show Your Bones - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Honorable Mentions:

10,000 Days - Tool

You In Reverse - Built To Spill

The Pick Of Destiny - Tenacious D

Death By Sexy - Eagles of Death Metal

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2006 was pretty ok, if you ask me. It had some insanely huge disappointments, a few unexpected asskickers, and some totally expected asskickers. Awards, top 11 (11!), and all that jazz. I'm obviously very BORED.

Biggest Disappointment

Norther, Til Death Unites Us: I don't know what the hell happened. Day Zero was a cute little song, so I expected Death Unlimited with some clean vox thrown in and some cute rockin' leads. But TDUU is, frankly, a bland melodeath album... which is something I'd never expect from Norther.

Biggest Surprise

Firewind Live: I always make fun of Firewind. Certainly not because of the music, the lyrics have just ALWAYS made me crackup. So when I got to see them live in Munich, I expected to laugh my ass off the whole time. But my lord, it was the most fantastic metal show I've ever seen. I didn't even WANT to see Dragonforce after FW had played.

Biggest ???

Blind Guardian, A Twist in the Myth: I don't dislike the album. Hell, Otherland is one of my favorite BG songs. But the album just confused me. I don't really "get" the direction, and for a BG album, it doesn't FLOW like it should. BG albums are supposed to be one fluid mass of awesomeness, and this album seems like a compilation of individual songs.

Best Songs:

5. Korpiklaani, Midsummer Night: Cool as all hell, humppa humppa humppa. Its hard to describe WHY this song is so awesome if you haven't heard it. But the entire album is pretty much this great. Just thinking about the song makes me want some booooooze.

4. Blind Guardian, Otherland: THEY RULE THE LAND, THEY'RE IN COMMAND. Coolest intro to a song since, well, Blind Guardian's Battlefield. A truly amazing BG song. One of my faves, and the more I listen to it, the more I love it. Feels like it would fit perfectly on A Night at the Opera, though.

3. Carpathian Forest, Shut Up There Is No Excuse to Live: The best lyrics in the history of the world ever. Like a cunt, waiting to be fucked. Not only that, but its a super rockin black metal song.

2. Kalmah, Bitter Metallic Side: Wasn't a huge fan of the album, but finally hearing the full version of this song after almost 2 years was beyond awesome. One of their best tracks, period.

1. Into Eternity, Nothing: The whole album is fantastic (Surrounded by NIGHT!!!), so it was hard to pick one song to represent my love for the whole album. But this is one of the COOLEST death metal songs I've heard in forever, with a cute little chorus to boot. The Halfordesque vocals MAKE this song.

Best Albums:

Honorable Mentions:

Elvenking, Winterwake

Pyorrhoea, The Eleventh: Thou Shalt Be My Slave

Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Before the Bleeding Sun

Tyr, Ragnarok

12. Novembre, Materia: It's Novembre. A band impossible to describe, the new album is a Novembre album (frankly). Dark, melodic, and progressive without being pretentious. That's a fairly impossible combination of adjectives, but as usual Novembre pulls it off.

11. Jesu, Silver: I really wasn't a fan of the self-titled, but this is one damned atmospherically amazing romp. Dark dark dark, and some of the best late night driving music out there.

10. Dark Fortress, Seance: Tales, Profane, and Stab are three of my favorite black metal albums ever... so Seance kind of threw me for a loop. As you may know, I love plodding dark black metal, but I never expected that from DF. But hell, they did it well. Not quite what I wanted from a new DF, but amazing in its own right.

9. Insomnium, Above the Weeping World: A fantastic followup to another one of my favorite albums (Since...) The direction Opeth SHOULD have gone, this is some fantastic shit (even if they did cut down the acoustic sections ALOT from Since). Such a mature and amazing release from such a young band.

8. Ahab, The Call of the Wretched: My favorite doom release since Swallow the Sun's Morning Never Came... but keep in mind I'm not a big DOOM fan. Epic length, epic songwriting, and epic artwork. Also, best "new" band (since it IS their first full-length).

7. Rhapsody (...of Fire), Triumph or Agony: I love Rhapsody. They were one of my first metal bands and they are so damned bombastic and hilarious, I find it hard to believe anyone REALLY dislikes them. A big step above Symphony II, Triumph is epic beyond words... and actually takes a break from their insane pace that every Rhapsody album has.

6. The Bronx, II: The coolest rock n roll band around. Haters can throw "core" tags at them all they want, but they are one of the few legitimate rock bands out that aren't TRYING to be a throwback. A great followup to one of my favorite non-metal albums in the last few years.

5. Psycroptic, Symbols of Failure: The favorite tech-death band on the planet takes yet another step into the land of awesome. Let alone the new vocals are SUCH a big improvement.

4. Korpiklaani, Tales Along the Road: One of the most entertaining bands on the damned planet. Finntroll-lite (which is a GOOD thing), these guys somehow put out great shit with some very fast turn around. And the BEST DRINKING MUSIC IN THE WORLD.

3. Dragonland, Astronomy: While not coming near the glory of Starfall (my favorite "power" metal album ever), DL still put out some amazing material this year. They always throw a curveball, and this time it was a a super slow curveball dipped in melancholy. Fab, yo.

2. Carpathian Forest, Fuck You All: My reigning lords of Black Metal kill again, and further the perfect blend of Motorhead and Khold. I love plodding black metal, especially when tossed with a healthy dose of straight up rock and roll. Their best release yet, which is saying ALOT.

1. Into Eternity, The Scattering of Ashes: I have no idea how they managed to put out a worthy successor to one of my favorite albums of all time (Bured in Oblivion), but this is some fantastic progression. Sounds of Perseverance meets Halford... its going to take a behemoth of a record to pull this one out of my car stereo.

Ya, that was long. Hahaha. Luckily I'm posting this at multiple places, so it was worth wasting time on.

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Album of the Year

Amon Amarth - "With Oden on Our Side"

Honorable mentions

ETOS - "Before the Bleeding Sun"

Decapitated - "Organic Halluciations"

Into Eternity - "Scattering the Ashes"

Neglected Fields - "Splenetic"

Dark Sun - "El Lado Oscuro"

Zyklon - "Disintegrate"

The Gathering - "Home"

unExpect - "In A Flesh Aquarium"

Agalloch - "Ashes against the Grain"

Suffocation - "Suffocation"

SYL - "The New Black"

Angtoria - "God has a Plan for Us All"

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