2019 Album of the Year: Idle Hands’ Mana

Tuesday, 31st December 2019

We’ve reached the end of yet another year (let alone a decade – more to come on that idea soon) in 2019, so let’s take a look back through some of the strongest that the genre had to give through all of our collective lists. Below are all of the personal lists, just in case you missed one:

David E. Gehlke
Kyle McGinn
Matt Coe
Matthew Bowling
Sifting Through Bandcamp

As per the usual rules with this area, the releases below all found their way onto at least two staff writer’s personal lists in order to be eligible. While there was a bit less crossing over in 2019, that also means that there was just more of an abundance of excellent releases to check out. Here’s to a fantastic 2020!


1. Idle Hands – Mana (Eisenwald)
Last year’s Don’t Waste Your Time was an excellent set-up and introduction, and Mana really knocked it out of the park with style. A triumphant blend of genres, boasting maximum accessibility while showcasing potent songwriting, each track will stick in your head for days as you continue to switch which one is your ‘favorite.’ Righteously celebrated by many at this point, Idle Hands is clearly onto something big. – Kyle McGinn


2. Soilwork – Verkligheten (Nuclear Blast)
Ever the reliable act, one of 2019’s first releases was also one of its strongest. Continuing to build on the last few equally impressive efforts, few can match what Soilwork does in the modern metal department. The blend of darkness and melancholy coupled with usual knack for grooves and speed makes Verkligheten feel like one of the band’s most diverse and mature offerings to date. – Kyle McGinn


3. Allegaeon – Apoptosis (Metal Blade)
Colorado’s Allegaeon are at the top of their game when it comes to technical, melodic death metal for Apoptosis. Aware of that see-saw balance between intricacy and catchy passages on both the music and vocal fronts, these musicians create songs of a multi-dimensional capacity that you can latch onto something new and fresh every time you press play. Proof that both styles can sustain value for the consumer and produce a kinetic, frantic energy release. – Matt Coe