THE HYST LIST // The Best Jams of 2019

2019 was another one of those years in heavy music that made you go phwoarrr. All three “r’s” required.


From January to December, the quality jam factory was running at 200% capacity. In every genre imaginable, even ones insufferable bespectacled hipsters make up for kicks, we unearthed gems we’ll all be bopping to well into the summer. triple j’s Hottest 100 will be more like a bloodthirsty rugby scrum instead of a chill af lit fam party vibes chyeah brahhh. The Hysty Goon Squad has worked hard in the Spotify mines and vinyl crate farms to unearth these absolute bangers—some you’ll give a little cheer for, others you’ll be glad you didn’t miss. In the immortal words of an obese yet surprisingly lithe plumber, Letsa go!

She Cries Wolf – Magdalene

There’s something about the coarse opening of Magdalene that sets you up to shiver and shake but also hate. Rage, so much rage, She Cries Wolf take metalcore to a whole other level with luscious tales of forgiveness and sin intertwined with some colossal melodies and rabid rhythms. As metalcore goes, this is a pretty sensual song, picking you up and putting you down frequently and unexpectedly. // Anna Rose

Amyl And The Sniffers – Got You

Amyl and the Sniffers have truly proved themselves to be one of the most divisive punk acts of recent memory. Whether you’re faithful to the Sharpie lifestyle, or can’t get past the homage to post-punk, there’s no denying the now ARIA winning act have unlocked a winning anarchy-driven formula.

Got You off their self-titled debut record sees frontwoman Amy Taylor’s confidence in total display as she professes her admiration for a special someone in total bratty punk glory. The band are in tow, acting as wingmen with every pummelling gang vocal, revolving around a classic post-punk structure of front-seat bass and no bullshit drumming that acts as a vehicle for aggression. // Bianca Davino

Frank Iero and The Future Violents – Young And Doomed

As excited as we are to close the year knowing My Chemical Romance have reunited and emo will again reign supreme, it’s worth noting that the past few years, guitarist Frank Iero has been ripping it up as a punk rocker. Anathemic tracks like Young and Doomed see Iero letting loose, very carefree and unashamedly unkempt—and that’s a sound we can get on board with. // Anna Rose

Void Of Vision – If Only

Back in September this not-so-little banger became a feast for the earholes, as Void Of Vision dropped yet another awesome song from this year’s new album Hyperdaze. If Only is the kind of track that might be as at home being played in 90s cyber-goth bar in Berlin as it would be comfortable in a dive bar in Adelaide today. The anger in the harsh vocals, the volatile grind of plectrum to string in some relentless riffs, and the wonderful sense of resilience in the clean vocals make If Only the epitome of what the Australian metalcore/nu-metal scene produced this year. Stunning song, simply stunning. // Anna Rose

Gravemind – Volgin

We challenge you to find another release this year that hits the same pitch as Dylan Gillies-Parson’s opening scream in Volgin. Add in a bit of a Fit For An Autopsy break and an easily chanted breakdown, it just edges out fellow single Phantom Pain for our pick of the lot. Actually, I’m halfway through writing this and I can’t split the difference. The “Child’ bridge and wall of sound guitars in Phantom Pain deserve your attention too. // Jonty Simmons

Dealer – Crooked

We haven’t had a good beef in a while between local bands; everyone decided it wasn’t worth it. Plus Aidan Holmes’ departure from Alpha Wolf in 2018 seemed like it’d vanished into the ether. That is, until out of nowhere, a particular single dropped.

Dealer, 7 February 2019, Crooked: “But in this dog eat dog world. You’re still the fucking bitch bleeeeegggggggghhhhhhh ARF ARF”

Well well WELL, who could they be talking about? Speculation whirred. People discussed how cringe the aforementioned line was. They were obviously wrong because that line goes HARD. Also Alex Milovic previously from Northlane is in the band so righto, on we bloody go. The rest of the EP doesn’t quite snap like Crooked does. But we are all waiting to see where Dealer manage to take their career next because again, I AM HERE FOR THE ARF ARFS SUE ME FOR BEING A METALCORE DIEHARD. // Jonty Simmons

Alpha Wolf – Sub-Zero 

Oh you read the Dealer paragraph above and wondered what the particular targets may have thought about the new pup in the litter?

Well then: Alpha Wolf, 18 March 2019, Sub-Zero: “You’re barking like a fucken dog but I’m a fucken wolf”

Ooft boys, great return. Look it never really went any further than that but it was a wild time imagining whether we might get our own Escape The Fate/Falling In The Reverse ‘Bury The Hatchet’ type tour in years to come. Both songs have depth charge breakdowns and a fun pit call so pick your poison. On the plus side, first year I haven’t twisted my knee in an Alpha Wolf pit since 2017 so let’s call that a win for the Alpha dogs. If there’s one thing we can’t ever fault, it’s the crunchy guitar tones that Alpha Wolf somehow manage to pummel us with each and every time. On first listen though, the you’re just a pussy in a black hoodie/pushing your luck line sounds like it’ll get old about 10 seconds in but now it’s one of their biggest quotables. Because goddamn do we know some big mouth smoking a cigeratte out the front of the gig that’s always talking trash.

Anyway, a little band called Dregg also managed to drop a sneaky reference in their clip to the short lived hype between Alpha/Dealer and really they’re bang on the money: “everything is meaningless, so why take it so serious?” // Jonty Simmons

Ocean Grove – Ask For The Anthem

Not caught up on the departure of their previous vocalist? (Geez that’s a common thread in these tracks isn’t it?) We had the exclusive scoop prior to the drop of Ask For The Anthem on Ocean Grove swapping Dale Tanner into the frontman role. Shameless self promotion aside, Ask For The Anthem is another turning point for the weirdos that made a career out of proudly shirking the norm and making odd cool again. Heading from the bombastic 90s grungeKoRncore blend to a ‘wait this could be on a So Fresh: Hits of the Summer 00’s’ Dananana riff, how can we keep up? No one has any idea where Ocean Grove are at with their new sound and that is exactly how we bloody like it. Rockstars, not pornstars, forever. // Jonty Simmons

RedHook – Only Bones

What a year for RedHook! The Sydney nu-metal outfit have quite literally dominated the global scene, spreading their static riffs and disdainful vocals on stages shared with Bad Wolves and Skillet, and appearing at festivals like Download UK to highlight just a handful of accolades. Right in the middle of all that, RedHook released Only Bones, a blazing track spitting sentiment of resilience that got tied up in some lovely synthesised nuances. This track acts as a marker for RedHook’s 2019 peak, and with recent single Fake signalling an exciting evolution in the band’s sound, it’s going to be pretty exciting to see what shenanigans RedHook can produce in 2020. // Anna Rose

PUP – Kids 

PUP have proved themselves to be one of alt-rock’s most consistent bands of the 2010’s. Their ethos has been driven by an unrivalled work ethic and a dedication to crafting world-beating punk tunes that lean into chaos without compromising unbeatable hookiness.

On Morbid Stuff the band embraced calamity and a sense of impending doom, eventuating in a collection of their catchiest material to date. Kids is a bittersweet musing on growing up in a world gone mad, a fitting and much needed addition to the 2019 cannon. 

Built off a surf-trip lead line, where other bands would’ve fallen into derivative wallow, frontman Stefan Babok’s distinct vocal delivery and melodic structuring takes the track into quirky-territory. Kids is pure, unfiltered jubilance and certifies that even when life seems most dire, punk rock will always be there to guide you. // Bianca Davino

Fidlar – By Myself

Fidlar returned at the beginning of 2019 with this jaunty summertime jam, hung on a disco beat, upbeat guitars and bare, embarrassing words to guide its tone. The song kicks with a sunny disposition and a grunge irresponsibility that recalls classic Everclear. Scrappy and juvenile, but still somehow thoughtful, By Myself has the recipe of a classic festival floor-filler replete with choppy pop-rock guitars and surf-party-USA vibes for days. Even the loser-driven slacker lyrics can’t stop Fidlar being the happiest band in the room. Revisit this one for your next beach day. // Karl May

Humanity’s Last Breath – Vanda

Swedish deathcore fearmongers Humanity’s Last Breath brought the void with them on the ludicrously heavy single, Vanda, in the leadup to the release of 2019 album Abyssal and there are genuinely few bands so capable and willing to create a noise this inhuman. With rolling, bending, slamming riffs of the most crushing type, glitch-djent trickery and a devastating two-man vocal delivery that covers screeching highs and grotesque lows, this is a band who trade almost exclusively in frightening metal noise. And they do it with aplomb; bringing body-straining breakdowns and schizophrenic orchestration, Humanity’s Last Breath set the tone gutter-level low and goddamn stomp on it. // Karl May

Stacy Gacy – We Never Had It

Sydney punk-rock lunatics Stacy Gacy trade in a particularly noisy, party-starting brand of rock and roll, complete with classic stage antics and an underdeveloped self-preservation instinct. Having refined their deeply unrefined sound over the last few years, the boys came out swinging late in Spring 2019 with latest single We Never Had It. Pairing a bright high-energy punk tone with throaty, violent crust vocals is a plan that could go so terribly wrong in the wrong hands, but when these guys do it the whole thing starts to sound very, very right. // Karl May

Voyager – Colours

Leeeeeeavvveeee….Leaaaaveee noowwwwww….Leeeeeavvveeee alllll…. Sehr schöne Sänger Danny Estrin extends his hand through waves of arpeggiated synth and ethereal guitar, asking us to join him on this kaleidoscopic trip through prog past, present, and future. Colours is prog metal at its finest; when it takes on pop music at its own game and leaves the Top 40 bruised and barely breathing. Inspired leadwork from Simone Dow and a tight, expansive production means Voyager finally sees the velvet rope outside prog stardom unchained for them. Welcome these Western Aussie prodigies, for they have well and truly arrived. // Tom Valcanis

Whitechapel – Hickory Creek      

Well, we certainly didn’t expect a deathcore record to slink it’s way into our AOTY list in 2019, but here we are. On their seventh album, The Valley, Knoxville outfit Whitechapel continue to mutate and evolve into one of the most formidable metal acts on the planet, with Hickory Creek standing as a testament to the band’s staggering versatility. While the instrumentals are equally crushing and captivating, the track definitely belongs to frontman Phil Bozeman, whose vocal prowess is on full display here with arresting and mournful cleans, contrasted by a seething undercurrent of rage and anger. // Owen Morawitz

Astronoid – I Dream in Lines

Do you think that the Internet’s seemingly unending obsession with sub-genre bifurcation and reclassification is outdated, dumb, and pretentious? Well, you better add this one to the shit-list: ‘dream thrash’. Now, despite your well-placed misgivings, in the case of Massachusetts metallers Astronoid, this one actually feels kind of—dare we say it—appropriate. To see what we mean, give their single I Dream in Lines a spin and get ready to be swept away by ethereal shoegaze vocals, throttling percussion and layer upon layer of dizzyingly lush guitar passages. Sure, it’s a little on the ostentatious side of things, but it’s well worth the trip. // Owen Morawitz

Refused – I Wanna Watch The World Burn

Modern hardcore legends Refused are bringing some new noise, and they have never let up the throttle. The stabbing, off-kilter riffing is classic Refused, and the message is as strong as ever here. However, the band have grown from their aggressively anarchist roots and singer Denis Lyxzen’s range has increased dramatically in the years since fronting Swedish rockers The International Noise Conspiracy (amongst numerous other projects–the guy keeps busy). Where his style once consisted largely of shout-sung verses and screamed choruses, here there is melody and a more measured, mature approach. But don’t be fooled, this is still Refused, and there has nigh been more room in the world for more Refused than there is right now. // Karl May

Spirit Adrift – Angel & Abyss      

The sweet spot for any successful metal project of worth and lasting relevance most likely resides somewhere between the heydays of Black Sabbath and Metallica. While they might only be four years old, Arizonian shredders Spirit Adrift appear to have taken the above as their mission statement. One listen to the group’s third album, Darkness Divided, and it’s abundantly clear that they’ve fucking nailed that brief. As the lead single from the record, Angel & Abyss rocks out with doom-laden atmospherics, soaring psychedelic vocals, lightning riffs, thrashing solos and a lyrical detour into Jungian archetypes for good measure. // Owen Morawitz     

In Flames – I Am Above

Taken from their 2019 album I, The Mask, In Flames, like this song, are indeed far above anything they’ve put out in recent years. Equal parts melancholic metal and beautiful rage, In Flames set themselves up the strongest we’ve ever seen with this rampant soon-to-be-classic added to their already extensive and breathtaking discography. // Anna Rose

Sleep Token – Higher

With the release of their debut full-length album Sundowning, the masked, anonymous collective known as Sleep Token have captivated audiences with one of the most polarising and audacious pop-metal releases of 2019. Higher is less a pre-release single and more of an immersive auditory experience, finding the group squarely in the nexus of crossover appeal. In less than six minutes, the listener is exposed to frontman Vessel’s subdued and gut-wrenching vocal delivery, plaintive guitar leads, shimmering synth lines and booming, progressive percussion—all before a gargantuan closing breakdown drops in, sounding less like shameless djent worship and more like continental drift speed up for the destruction of human ears. // Owen Morawitz

Johnny Booth – Bury The Rose

Alright, real talk for a quick minute. If there were any justice in this bat-shit insane world, then Long Island quintet Johnny Booth would be fucking huge. Their second full-length album Firsthand Accounts is undeniably 2019’s metalcore AOTY. But look, please don’t mistake our zeal here for music journo hyperbole. Every single track on the record is a sure-fire banger and Bury The Rose is entirely representative of the group’s penchant for impeccable songwriting. Quality riffs? Check. Chunky bass tone? Yep. Punchy percussion? Totally. Bone-breaking heaviness? Indeed. Sneaky melodies? You bet. Captivating vocal performances? Abso-fucking-lutely. Trust us, DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS. // Owen Morawitz

New Years Day – Come For Me

Quite why this particular song has fewer spins on Spotify than other singles released from New Years Day’s recent album, Unbreakable, is anybody’s guess. This track is by far one of the strongest New Years Day have ever put out. Brutal, brittle, and sonically inspiring, New Years Day takes all the most epic aspects of hard rock, nu-metal, and female vocals, smoosh them all together and smear it all over your face in one epic motion of bad-arsery. // Anna Rose

Eye of the Enemy – Clay

Melbourne’s Eye of the Enemy have eased the throttle on their intensely technical melodeath sound to crushing effect on 2019 single Clay and have delivered one of the heavy anthems of the year. Clever lyrics delivered with feral savagery act as a foil for the ultra-precise riffing and the sweeping Gothenburg-inspired solos. The music pumps with a bestial rage that belies the careful orchestration and smarter-than-thou lyrical punishment, and the epic chorus exalts the song above the dirt where it seems to feel at home. This is classy melodic death metal that deserves your attention if any of those words mean anything to you. // Karl May

He Is Legend – Boogiewoman

Since coming back from the brink of hiatus in the 2010s with three stellar albums, 2019 finds Southern lords He Is Legend turning back the clock by a decade and sounding positively rejuvenated because of it. Always ones for anything goth-adjacent, on Boogiewoman, the band take their well-honed aesthetic dimensions and crank the seduction up to 11. If you listen closely, you can almost hear the devil himself getting a hard-on at the start, right before the quartet kick down the barn door with thundering drums, off-kilter chugs and a stomping Pantera-style groove. It’s heavy, it’s catchy, and goddammit if it isn’t sexy as hell to boot. // Owen Morawitz

Yours Truly – High Hopes

You might have seen this one spinning for some time now, but the magic offered by pop-punk outfit Yours Truly is the kind that doesn’t get old. This track had its official release on this year’s debut EP, After Glow, and is exemplary of what the Sydney outfit set out to achieve when they first formed and of just how good they are. A top-notch tune from a top-notch band! // Anna Rose

Brutus – Fire

Equal parts White Lung and Ihsahn with a bit of shoegaze lain underneath, Belgians Brutus are centred around the ghostly vocals of drummer-singer Stefanie Mannaerts. Following a misdirect plucked intro, Fire plummets listeners down a rabbit hole of eldritch riffs and hardcore blast beats. In the chorus, she takes in a gulp of air, declaring, Fire! Burn them all! Fire! Then, Mannaerts plunges into a flash frost, turning brittle, fragile, and hypnotic: “Spill your water / I need water, hold me now” she implores. A little under four minutes, it’s all over. It’ll turn your brain inside out. The album, Nest, is full of these trips. Get on it. // Tom Valcanis

Blood Incantation – Slave Species of the Gods

Just when you thought death metal couldn’t get any grimier, uglier or more up its own arse with weirdness, along comes Colorado outfit Blood Incantation to fuck up your day in just the right way. As soon as we saw the artwork for their second album, Hidden History of the Human Race, featuring a 70s sci-fi aesthetic from renowned artist Bruce Pennington, we knew we were in for a cosmic mindfuck of stellar proportions. Listen to album opener Slave Species of the Gods and it’s all right there—distorted, guttural vocals clashing against pitched, alien screams, pummelling double-kick barrages punctuated by cleaving blast-beats, and enough manic riff energy to put the listener into low-earth orbit. // Owen Morawitz

Moon Tooth – Musketeers

One of the where the fuck have these guys been hiding all our lives moments of 2019 was unearthing Long Island, NY’s Moon Tooth. This hardcore/metal/prog unit is a heady blend of freewheeling Fair to Midland melodicism, soulful Dug Pinnick (King’s X, KXM) style croon, and crushing extra-dimensional riffery ala Mastodon—and that’s just this song. MT should and will put festival punters worldwide under their psychedelic sway, like an At The Drive-In for the 2020s. Oh wow, that made me sound old. Oh well, fuck it. Musketeers radiates solidarity with and positivity for all people. Now that’s a wagon worth hitching to. // Tom Valcanis

The Hu – The Great Chinggis Khaan

Sorry Amon Amarth, Vikings and shit are sooooo 2013. We now have Mongolian hun metal and it’s spectacular. Can you say, largest contiguous land empire in history? Stick that in your Lothbrok and smoke it. More willed from ancient spirits than composed, The Great Chinggis Khaan is a hordes’ movement set to guitar, violin, and spooky throat singing. Beat your chest and prepare for war – your Khaan commands it! // Tom Valcanis

The Used – Blow Me

Two thousand and nine SCENE [ayyy lmao – ed.] isn’t over just yet as The Used released this track just before the decade comes to a close. Featuring Fever 333’s Jason Aalon Butler, Blow Me is the first release from the band since 2017 and bridges the gap between their older and newer records. Probably not what you expected from The Used but the outburst in the bridge of the song marries the catchy rock n roll to emo perfectly. // Ash Wallace

Disentomb – Indecipherable Sermons of Gloom 

Cutting straight to the jugular, Australian extreme death metallers Disentomb tore 2019 to shreds with The Decaying Light. Indecipherable Sermons of Gloom is a triumph of brutal melodic blackened death metal, laden with hectic fury, edgy harmonics and stately rolling blackened groove in the riffs. This track is as dark as it is heavy, as technically impressive as it is subtly melodic, showcasing all the vying complexities that Disentomb masterfully harnessed on this explosive album. Revel in the intensity. // Audrey Gerrard

Earth Caller – Spit ft. Isaac Black

Like a coiled snake in wait for attack, venom spitter and world-renowned chef Josh Collard doesn’t so much as collab with Isaac Black of DVSR than take him on in kumite lyrical combat. If you were half-asleep at the ‘core wheel this year, Earth Caller took us by the scruff of the neck and shook us awake before we made like Greg and slammed into a stop sign. Damn that’s one spicy fucking meatball. The song, I mean. // Tom Valcanis

Amon Amarth – Shield Wall

This ferocious song is Amon Amarth doing what they do best–inciting battle frenzy likely to demolish mosh pits and office cubicles, whichever comes first. Bold and militant in the warrior sense, Shield Wall is uncompromising, and offers one of the most enduring Amon Amarth chants: VIKINGS! RAISE THE SHIELD WALL! HOLD THE FRONT LINE! FIGHT TIL DEATH!!!  The difference could be split between any of the tracks on Berserker for which is the best, and certainly Ironside and Valkyria deserve very honourable mention. // Audrey Gerrard

La Dispute – Fulton Street 1

Fulton Street 1 is an introduction to the grief felt in Panorama, La Dispute’s fourth studio album. Haunting, melodic and thematically dark, it’s an intense listen—exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Michigan natives. Soft, nuanced chords lead the listener on a journey through life and death. To call it anything but one hell of a ride would be an understatement. // Chanel Issa

John Floreani – Oh Brother

Sad songs from John Floreani? Groundbreaking. As honest and unabashed as anything we’ve come to expect from the Trophy Eyes frontman, Oh Brother delves into Floreani’s turbulent relationship with his brother and surprisingly, it sounds pretty damn upbeat while doing so. Another stellar example of his heart on the sleeve lyricism, we’ll be tearing up to this track for years to come. // Chanel Issa

Borknagar – Up North

A curtain of Hammond organ drops and we’re not listening to our Pep-Pep’s Borknagar any more. ICS Vortex manhandles the mic, inducing Vintersorg amnesia in long-time fans. Unashamed in rolling around 70s blues muck, Up North is worth it for Vortex’ bellowing like a moustachioed longhair busting epic nuts inside his lady on a filthy patch of shag carpet. Up North blooms Borknagar reinvigorated – fuck that, black metal in general renewed. Sitting pretty in that pocket of super-serious blast beat merchantry and old arena rock fun, prepare to lose yourself Up North all winter (or summer) long. // Tom Valcanis

Black Rheno – Human

Coming in hot with stabs of acerbic noise and a good helping of neck-busting groove, Sydney’s Black Rheno let loose good-and-proper on Human from their 2019 album Noise Smasher. Always bringing a master-class in genre-blending heaviness, the fellas layer frenetic drums and a sweaty, overpowered guitar-bass combo with a deranged vocal presence. With staccato riffs building into full-body blowouts, the song captures neatly a no-holds-barred kind of vibe and will provide an ample soundtrack to whatever deeply irresponsible thing this sort of music inspires you to do. // Karl May

SeeYouSpaceCowboy – Late December

Don’t let the Cowboy Bebop reference fool you, because Jupiter Jazz this is not my friends. While the third-wave metalcore revival (yes, that’s what we’re calling it) has had its fair share of up-and-comers, Cali crew SeeYouSpaceCowboy are our pick for 2019’s latest and greatest. A far cry from their early, spaz-core grind days, Late December is a raw, cathartic blast of affective and emotionally resonant mosh in the vein of genre mainstays like Poison The Well, Misery Signals and 7 Angels 7 Plagues. 3-2-1, let’s jam. // Owen Morawitz

Carnifex ft. Alissa White-Gluz – No Light Shall Save Us

No Light Shall Save Us was one of the unexpected gems of 2019, and a collaboration single that heralded an intensification of Carnifex’s sound in all the profound ways. The album World War X was a turning point for Carnifex that deepened the plot and elevated their severity to new realms. If the degeneration of humankind is your thing, the chaotic majesty of No Light Shall Save Us will have you screaming into the lamplight. Listen for White-Gluz’s clean vocals too, hauntingly beautiful and not so often heard these days. // Audrey Gerrard

Issues – Flexin

They’ve come a long way from the Black Diamonds days, haven’t they? Flexin may well be Issues most polarising song, but damn is it their funkiest. In embracing their pop side, the band did ditch the screams, pissing off a lot of fans in the process. It was a bold move, and it’s one we still applaud. // Chanel Issa

Bare Bones – Rust

Hysty Halloween alumni Sydney’s Bare Bones are no frills rockers; they show up with guitars and distortion in all black and rock the fuck out. Rust is a meat and potatoes rock ‘n’ roll show that explodes inside Marshall stacks any time you care to stick a dollar in. It has everything that makes rock great; fat n’ fuzzy riffs, diamond-in-the-rough vocals, and a finger lickin’ solo before we’re throwing horns up in a call-and-return middle-8. If you haven’t seen Bare Bones, you have no real excuse. // Tom Valcanis

The Gloom In The Corner – Misanthropic

In their previous single Villain, we welcomed Sherlock Bones, the catalyst of their concept EP, Flesh And Bones. Misanthropic is a follow up track and we are guided through his twisted and narcissistic mind via Mikey Arthur’s lyrics and touches of manic spoken word. Featuring brutal riffs, intense melodic hooks with a deranged laugh to close the track. // Ash Wallace

Devin Townsend – Spirits Will Collide

I am convinced that Devin Townsend is the incarnation of the collective unconsciousness, a conduit through which grand unified field that binds energy and matter together in the ultimate expression we call the universe manifests. “Ok, settle the fuck down,” you’re probably thinking. He’s kind of a prophet/musical mad scientist at the very least, though. Spirits Will Collide isn’t so much about the lush hymnals, mountain-high riffs, and trans-galactic melodies as it is the message. “Don’t you forget that you are perfect / Don’t you forget just who we are / We’re strong enough!”  I say this a lot, but thanks Devin. Thanks for making us feel this insane ride called life isn’t so scary after all. // Tom Valcanis

Fallujah – Ultraviolet

The cliché “ambitious” translates into “a band that doesn’t have the chops aims for the chops and doesn’t quite get there.” One could accuse Californian art-death metal outfit Fallujah of ambition, though in the oldest parlance of the term: they want to do it all, because they can. “Superior chops breeds superior ambition,” and Ultraviolet is a microcosm of their nose-thumbing attitude. They take on menacing black metal blasts, atmospherics reserved for genres far proggier afield, and despairing theatrical vocals that tear apart notions of death metal vocalist as “just another instrument.” Calling Ultraviolet large is an insult to mass itself. // Tom Valcanis

DZ Deathrays – Still No Change 

DZ Deathrays have had a massive decade. With countless stages conquered, multiple awards won and three full-length albums in tow, the band could very well have rested on their laurels in 2019. However, the Brisbane natives decided to send out a triumphant ten years with a bang, releasing a conceptual double album.

On Positive Rising: Part 1 the garage-punk purveyors tested uncharted musical territory and it paid off in the form of some of their most far-reaching, realised tracks of their career. Single Still No Change makes subtle hints at the bands origins, borrowing tastefully from the noisey-punk of Dinosaur Jr and the raw-garage abandon of Black Lips. It’s hefty instrumental and emotive melodic drawls proves the band have evolved their raucous into a universal formula, primed for huge festival stages and arm-swinging IG-story worthy moments for years to come. // Bianca Davino

Thornhill –  Where We Go When We Die 

There’s a reason why 2019 was the year we were all Horny for Thorny. Where We Go When We Die, lifted off The Dark Pool, is Thornhill at their best. We could go on and on about this track (and the entire album for that matter), but put simply, it is a masterpiece. There’s no doubt we’ll still be spinning it 20 years from now. // Chanel Issa

Fever 333 – Animal

Animal by California body-rockers Fever 333 is the frantic third single from their 2019 album Strength In Numb333rs, giving fans of full-flight crowd-baiting hardcore a potential new leading light for the year. Featuring Jason Aaron Butler (ex-Letlive) providing the screeching, sneering rap-metal focus over the heavily trap-influenced rhythms of the music. This music is riot music, with crunching metalcore guitars and shamelessly aggressive delivery. Like a hooligan with an improvised weapon, Fever 333 aim to produce maximum damage with the tools at their disposal and fail pretty gloriously to stand on polite ceremony while they careen through three and a half minutes of sweat and destruction. Eyes closed, head first, can’t lose. That’s the expression, right? // Karl May

Sabaton – Great War 

Sabaton levelled one of their most ambitious and important albums in 2019, The Great War and it was as massive in sonic scale as it was in its concept, being to commemorate WWI. The Great War was stacked with some of the band’s finest such as Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, and 82nd All The Way, but the semi-title track Great War brought all the themes of the album together, in an epic power metal display, and posed the powerful question at its core: what is so ‘great’ about war?  // Audrey Gerrard

Polaris – Masochist

Deviating ever so slightly from their djent/metalcore roots, Polaris took influence from the pop-punk and emo sounds they grew up with on Masochist. Mix that with some of the bleakest lyrical material they’ve ever experimented with and you’ve got a tune that was absolutely worth the two-year wait. With the release of their second LP, The Death of Me, just around the corner we’re anticipating more heavy-hitting goodness from these Sydneysiders. // Chanel Issa

Knocked Loose – Mistakes Like Fractures 

Vocalist Bryan Garris has a super well known sound; manic high vocals fans know and love. There was a huge build-up for Knocked Loose’s Mistakes Like Fractures and boy did it live up to the hype. It’s heavy, it’s dark, and it inspires the urge to headbang like crazy. About not being able to let go and being stuck in the deranged whirlwind that is your own mind. The track allows for each musical component to take the spotlight, bringing it all with an overpowering sinister tone. // Ash Wallace

Private Function – Talking To Myself

Our very own garage rockers Private Function’s 2019 track Talking To Myself is a blatant classic meat and potatoes, tongue in cheek punk track. Driving the song with high intensity and punk rock attitude. Talking To Myself is one of those super catchy and chaotic tracks to listen at full volume whilst taking in the essence of punk rock. // Ash Wallace

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – Tyrant Lizard King

In our review for End of Suffering, we described the third album from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes as “the perfect soundtrack for soul-searching, fighting demons and staring down the abyss.” And on Tyrant Lizard King, you can hear all this and much, much more. Guitarist Dean Richardson is on some straight-up QOTSA shit, and it sounds superb. Meanwhile, Carter slithers and slides all over the track, hitting peak vocal charisma at every turn. Even guitar-god Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine fame swings by to slay a guest solo with his trademark talents. All hail the king/s! // Owen Morawitz

Deadlights – Bathed In Venom

Deadlights have found a new gear and an epic new way of delivering their message with their 2019 single Bathed In Venom. The metalcore guitars roar and ring while the vocals elevate this above the stock metal/hardcore formula and lend the track a nihilist menace that so few bands harness without losing grip of the music. A call to arms with crowd-ready choruses and a deliberate bouncing pace, this is clearly a moment for the band to show their command of their sound and they have risen to the challenge with effortless professionalism. Deadlights have been trekking the mountain toward the peaks of the Australian heavy music scene and with Bathed In Venom they’re clearly picking up pace. // Karl May

WAAX  – I Am

After stirring hysterics throughout Australia’s rock scene during the second half of the decade, WAAX exploded with feistiness and ferocity on their excellent 2019 debut Big Grief. Packed with sticky, dissonant riff-work and driving drumming that harkens equally to the off-kilter indie punk of both Bloc Party and Refused, I Am is a bonafide no-fuck-around rock banger. The track shines brightest in its confessional lyricism that feels both painfully intimate and universal, propelled by iconic frontwoman Maz DeVita’s gruff, melodic rally cries of empowerment and freedom. // Bianca Davino

Dune Rats – No Plans

In a world gone mad, the unadulterated youthful jubilance Dune Rats radiate is always welcome. After taking a quick break from appearances at every Australian festival on the calendar, (from Splendour In The Grass to Summernats, yep) the beloved Dunies returned earlier this year with No Plans.

Showcasing a shift from their signature surfy, washed out fuzz punk, the track pays homage to the early-00’s offerings from pop punk favourites The Offspring, Unwritten Law and of course, blink-182. Painting an epic, carefree picture of life on the road, this acoustic track is drenched in nostalgia, a huge hook and of course, fun. // Bianca Davino

Black Sites – Coal City

Arising from the ashes of stellar thrashers Trials, Black Sites take on traditional heavy metal with a bit of prog thrown in—think Queensrÿche or Fates Warning—is a real breath of fresh air. The title of the track notwithstanding. Infusing a Latin vibe like Marty Friedman would all those decades ago, Coal City has the soul of a beer soaked denim jacketer inhabiting the body of a soul-patched Zappa aficionado making sweet love to his guitar. The Mustaine-schooled vocals of Mark Sugar chanting there’s no hope/repentance/emotion in Cold City as guitars storm overhead is nothing short of breathtaking. // Tom Valcanis

Clowns – I Wanna Feel Again

Aussie punk kings Clowns let loose the emotional reigns on I Wanna Feel Again, producing a sincere and frankly stadium-ready punk-rock anthem brimming with hardcore energy and bittersweet melody. Clowns prove once again why they have emerged as one of the most exciting bands in Australia. Featuring high-tempo two-step rhythms and an urgency to the music that sounds like desperation, the single lays a blueprint for a newer, more necessary Clowns. Not to be ignored. // Karl May

Violent Soho – Vacation Forever

Violent Soho have never shied away from wearing their influences on their sleeves. The band ascended to the heights of Aus-rock stardom introducing Gen Z kids to the wonders of 90’s fuzz (outside of Nirvana’s biggest hits, of course) with a distinct modern take. After a 3-year break, the band returned with Vacation Forever, a late addition to 2019’s overwhelming roster of bangers. 

Luke Boerdam’s Pixies-Esque whine has never sounded more surly and its surfy-groove drenched chorus could send a 1994 Rage episode into bleary eyed disarray. The song riffs in and out of slacker glory and reminds us why Violent Soho amassed such acclaim in the first place.

Paranoia strikes as Boerdam bellows, “There’s a baby boomer across the street and it won’t stop looking at me” proving their angst is still front and centre. // Bianca Davino

Thy Art Is Murder – New Gods

Looking back on the 2010s, it’s clear that Thy Art Is Murder utterly dominated the deathcore landscape. Albums like Hate, Holy War and Dear Desolation all served to advance the group’s potent sound, while also incorporating just enough sonic variation and lyrical commentary to keep things interesting. And, on their latest record, Human Target, that trend continues in earnest. On ragers like New Gods, Thy Art sound as pissed off and volatile as ever, dealing damage left and right with serpentine lead riffs, destructive blast-beats, savage breakdowns and the indomitable presence of frontman CJ McMahon. // Owen Morawitz

Freedom Of Fear – Purgatorium

Undeniably one of the strongest emerging bands in Australia, Freedom Of Fear launched their debut album Nocturnal Gates in 2019 and it hit like thunder. With a sound developed to a level of complexity and intensity well beyond their mileage, Freedom Of Fear epitomise the technicality and emotionally immersive experience that witnessing extreme metal can be. Splitting hairs on the best track on Nocturnal Gates, Purgatorium is one of the more blackened and biting tracks, which sees vocalist Jade Monserrat unleash a passionate performance while guitarists Matt Walters and Corey Davis tear out some of the most soul-searing strains of the year. Phenomenal debut in the heavy music scene, get all around it. // Audrey Gerrard

blink-182 – No Heart To Speak Of

The 2010’s saw blink-182 finally grow up. It was difficult for some, amidst controversy and lineup changes to witness their heroes evolve into what their early ethos promised they’d never become – adults.

On NINE, the band’s second full-length offering featuring Matt Skiba on vocal/guitar duties blink undeniably offered up some of their most emotionally heavy and forward thinking rock tunes to date. No Heart To Speak Of is the utmost example of this. With a moody saccharine melody propelling the track into recent-era All Time Low territory, the track bellows with angst and explodes in a dynamic emo feast. Peppered with a cacophony of Travis Barker’s schizophrenic drum fills, the track see’s Skiba’s unique punk vocal abilities take to the forefront with confidence. // Bianca Davino

The Amity Affliction – All My Friends Are Dead

Oh you want to make jokes about Amity going pop do you? Here’s some blast beats and a ripping scream right off the bat to shut you right up. There’s been a seismic shift in the Amity camp and their second single for 2019 is a stark contrast to Drag The Lake. The way that breakdown and the double kicks hit is almost indescribable; it’s like coming home for a diehard Amity fan. AMFAD is a love letter to the old crackers like Fire Or Knife and Chasing Ghosts with the hook-y sensibility they’ve learnt over the past decade. If this is the future, it’s time to jump off your keyboards and into the pit. // Jonty Simmons

SKYND – Tyler Hadley

SKYND tells a story with this one, a deep, dark story. Tyler Hadley is tale of contemptuous observations of all that is sick in society, upheld by some excitingly fluid industrial rhythms and cyber metal melodies. Tyler Hadley excites, incites, and blends SKYND’s unique persona with some intense surveillances of themes like violence, authoritarian societies and suppression with an exciting and quirky structure. It’s the kind of song that makes you think and fear, but still leaves room for you to enjoy the music, even if that enjoyment, and indeed much of the lyrics, is laced with irony. // Anna Rose

Slipknot – Solway Firth

Slipknot are not a band who need much introduction or context at this point. They make and release genre-breaking albums that straddle the delicate line between obtuse art-project and hyper-personal catharsis, and became one of the biggest bands on earth doing it. You could easily think they’d start running out of ideas. Stop that shit now. Solway Firth is yet more proof that Slipknot know, without question, that nobody else sounds like they do. They are willing to push what that means ever further each time they step to a studio. Even with that standard met, this is the smartest music the band has written in a decade. Never count Slipknot out. // Karl May

Bring Me The Horizon – Ludens

Well this came out of nowhere didn’t it? Songs written for video games hardly ever make the ‘must see’ part of a band’s catalogue. Throw that rule book out the window (just like Bring Me have been doing for the better part of their career) because Ludens is arguably one of the best songs they’ve written this decade, let alone as a standalone single. The song was written in a week in hotel rooms by Oli and Jordan. A week. So effortlessly catchy for the most part, and a breakdown that’s light enough for Triple M but heavy enough to suit a mammoth stadium pit. Cop the live version for a twisted take on the ‘sticks and stones’ line, plus a healthy blegh from Oli for good measure. // Jonty Simmons

Northlane – Bloodline

It feels like Northlane have been in constant ‘make or break’ mode since the departure of Adrian Fitipaldes in 2014. That means Marcus Bridge has had to shoulder the weight of their demanding fan base and prove himself again and again and again. Every album brings the question “Are Northlane going to finally break through?” Mesmer had the potential (and is a personal favourite) but it didn’t catch on as it should have. Enter Alien and mindblowing first single Bloodline. Rightfully our number one jam of the year, on the best album of the year, in the melting pot we call the alternative music industry. The pulsating and downright threatening energy of Bloodline could only have come from a place of genuine fear and bristling anger.

Not to be overshadowed by the lyrical content, the ‘electronic backing that Korn wishes they were producing nowadays’ can be put down to Jonathan Deiley and Josh Smith’s ever-whirring creativity. Alien is the most impressive work that Northlane have ever created, and deserves each and every plaudit it receives. If they could package Bridge’s elongated “I” vocal complete with whatever magic dust effects the band threw on it at the beginning of the chorus, Northlane would be millionaires. Bloodline stands atop of the pack as the perfect introduction to the grimy underbelly of Bridge’s childhood that Alien exposes. It’s the most accessible of the singles and is our favourite jam of the year. Salvation is received from the suffering of one; Australia’s metal industry has Marcus Bridge and Northlane to thank for reaching it in 2019. // Jonty Simmons

Did your favourite make the list? What are your top jams for 2019? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

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