Best Albums of 2008
by: Pedro Azevedo

Without a Primordial album in the running to take a third CoC Album of the Year title to Ireland, the race for the 2008 award was hard to predict. In a very tight finish, Opeth eventually pipped Nachtmystium and Enslaved to the top spot with their _Watershed_, thus finding redemption from the underwhelming eighth place they had achieved with _Ghost Reveries_ in 2005.

Yet even though this was the first time Opeth were in the running for Album of the Year, the biggest surprise has to be Nachtmystium finishing second with their _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_. They had only ever made a relatively anonymous 23rd place in 2004 with _Eulogy IV_, and were hardly hot favourites this year. However, they unexpectedly meddled (ahem) in the race for top spot and pushed Opeth all the way, beating Enslaved in the process.

While the increasingly progressive Enslaved have also achieved their best ever ranking, with _Vertebrae_ nabbing third place close behind the leaders, they are hardly newcomers to our yearly top 10: in 2006 _Ruun_ repeated the fourth place that _Isa_ had also got in 2004. This year the reliable Norwegians finally broke their duck and reached the podium.

It was a remarkably tight top three, due to some very scattered voting, and the next group of albums wasn't far behind. Opeth actually only got one individual Album of the Year nomination (Nikola Shapahzov was the visionary), but the same can be said of Nachtmystium (picked as AotY only by Quentin Kalis), while Enslaved's third placed _Vertebrae_ was nobody's top choice for 2008. It's safe to say that consistency was key this year.

Oddly enough, the only records to get two Album of the Year nominations were Burst's _Lazarus Bird_ and The Amenta's _n0n_. Only a few writers voted for either of them however, which resulted in Burst ending up fifth and The Amenta eighth.

Akerfeldt and Axenrot featured again in fourth place with the Opeth / Katatonia side project Bloodbath and _The Fathomless Mastery_, closely followed by the ex-aequo fifth place trio of the aforementioned _Lazarus Bird_ by Burst, Amon Amarth's best ever ranking with _Twilight of the Thunder God_, and the return of Cynic with _Traced in Air_.

With plenty of genres and styles represented in this year's top 10, albums as vastly different as The Amenta's _n0n_, Anathema's _Hindsight_ and Darkspace's _III_ closed the list. Keep of Kalessin, Meshuggah and Esoteric were not far behind.

No less than eleven different albums were individually chosen as Album of the Year, with the likes of Withered's _Folie Circulaire_, Secret Chiefs 3's _Xaphan_, Asva's _What You Don't Know Is Frontier_ and Woe's _A Spell for the Death of Man_ failing to even make it near the top 10. Take your time browsing the detailed results below, and you will surely find something worth your while.

CoC Writers' Best Albums of 2008

1. Opeth - _Watershed_
2. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_
3. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
4. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
5. Amon Amarth - _Twilight of the Thunder God_
=. Burst - _Lazarus Bird_
=. Cynic - _Traced in Air_
8. The Amenta - _n0n_
9. Anathema - _Hindsight_
=. Darkspace - _III_

Pedro Azevedo's Top 10

1. Withered - _Folie Circulaire_
2. Anathema - _Hindsight_
3. Mourning Beloveth - _A Disease for the Ages_
4. Amon Amarth - _Twilight of the Thunder God_
5. Burst - _Lazarus Bird_
6. Opeth - _Watershed_
7. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
8. Daylight Dies - _Lost to the Living_
9. Skepticism - _Alloy_
10. Septic Flesh - _Communion_

Jackie Smit's Top 10

1. The Amenta - _n0n_
2. Soilent Green - _The Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction_
3. Krisiun - _Southern Storm_
4. Shatter Messiah - _God Burns Like Flesh_
5. Hate Eternal - _Fury & Flames_
6. Testament - _The Formation of Damnation_
7. Cryptopsy - _The Unspoken King_
8. Deicide - _Till Death Do Us Part_
9. Psycroptic - _Ob(Servant_
10. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_

Chris Flaaten's Top 10

1. Darkspace - _III_
2. Cynic - _Traced in Air_
3. Opeth - _Watershed_
4. Meshuggah - _Obzen_
5. Moonsorrow - _Tulimyrsky_
6. Esoteric - _The Maniacal Vale_
7. Funeral - _As the Light Does the Shadow_
8. Testament - _The Formation of Damnation_
9. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
10. Keep of Kalessin - _Kolossus_

Quentin Kalis' Top 10

1. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_
2. Jex Thoth - _Jex Thoth_
3. Cynic - _Traced in Air_
4. Opeth - _Watershed_
5. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
6. Anathema - _Hindsight_
7. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
8. Celestia - _Frigidiis Apotheosia: Abstinencia Genesis_
9. Krisiun - _Southern Storm_
10. Grand Magus - _Iron Will_

James Montague's Top 10

1. Secret Chiefs 3 - _Xaphan: The Book of Angels, vol. 9_
2. Esoteric - _The Maniacal Vale_
3. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part I_
4. Averse Sefira - _Advent Parallax_
5. Yoshie Fruchter - _Pitom_
6. Darkthrone - _Dark Thrones and Black Flags_
7. Skepticism - _Alloy_
8. Hail of Bullets - _...Of Frost and War_
9. Keep of Kalessin - _Kolossus_
10. Enslaved - _Verterbrae_

Nikola Shahpazov's Top 10

1. Opeth - _Watershed_
2. Sonne Hagal - _Jordansfrost_
3. Taake - _Taake_
4. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
5. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
6. Dornenreich - _In Luft geritzt_
7. Grivf - _Yggdrasil_
8. Septic Flesh - _Communion_
9. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_
10. Hate Eternal - _Fury & Flames_

Kostas Sarampalis' Top 10

1. Burst - _Lazarus Bird_
2. Keep of Kalessin - _Kolossus_
3. Darkspace - _III_
4. Moonsorrow - _Tulimyrsky_
5. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
6. Moonspell - _Night Eternal_
7. Mar de Grises - _Draining the Waterheart_
8. Septic Flesh - _Communion_
9. In Flames - _A Sense of Purpose_
10. Ayreon - _01011001_

Jeremy Ulrey's Top 10

1. Asva - _What You Don't Know Is Frontier_
2. Cynic - _Traced in Air_
3. Earth - _The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull_
4. Dead Man - _Euphoria_
5. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_
6. Bible of the Devil - _Freedom Metal_
7. Anathema - _Hindsight_
8. Intronaut - _Prehistoricisms_
9. Harvey Milk - _Life... The Best Game in Town_
10. Iced Earth - _The Crucible of Man_

Alexandra Erickson's Top 10

1. Amon Amarth - _Twilight of the Thunder God_
2. Isole - _Bliss of Solitude_
3. Mar de Grises - _Draining the Waterheart_
4. Nachtmystium - _Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1_
5. Ereb Altor - _By Honour_
6. Aura Noir - _Hades Rise_
7. Jex Thoth - _Jex Thoth_
8. I Shalt Become - _Requiem_
9. Warbringer - _War Without End_
10. Averse Sefira - _Advent Parallax_

Paul Schwarz's Top 10

1. Burst - _Lazarus Bird_
2. Annihilation Time - _Tales of the Ancient Age_
3. Torche - _Meanderthal_
4. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
5. Victims - _Killer_
6. Darkthrone - _Dark Thrones and Black Flags_
7. Trap Them - _Seizures in Barren Praise_
8. Melvins - _Nude With Boots_
9. Opeth - _Watershed_
10. Meshuggah - _Obzen_

Adam Lineker's Top 10

1. Bloodbath - _The Fathomless Mastery_
2. Amon Amarth - _Twilight of the Thunder God_
3. Alestorm - _Captain Morgan's Revenge_
4. Enslaved - _Vertebrae_
5. Bleeding Through - _Declaration_
6. In Flames - _A Sense of Purpose_
7. Opeth - _Watershed_
8. Metallica - _Death Magnetic_
9. Testament - _The Formation of Damnation_
10. Satyricon - _The Age of Nero_

Yulon Zhu's Top 10

1. Woe - _A Spell for the Death of Man_
2. Ceremonial Castings - _Salem 1692_
3. October Falls - _The Womb of Primordial Nature_
4. Kerbenok - _O_
5. Gojira - _The Way of All Flesh_
6. Keep of Kalessin - _Kolossus_
7. Kampfar - _Heimgang_
8. Urfaust - _Drei Rituale de Jenseits de Kosmos_
9. Decrepitaph - _Condemned Cathedral_
10. Ereb Altor - _By Honour_

Daniel Cairns' Top 10

1. The Amenta - _n0n_
2. Cursed - _III (Architects of Troubled Sleep)_
3. Jucifer - _L'Autrechienne_
4. Meshuggah - _Obzen_
5. Gojira - _The Way of All Flesh_
6. Earth - _The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull_
7. Origin - _Antithesis_
8. Misery Index - _Traitors_
9. Nine Inch Nails - _Ghosts I-IV_
10. Nine Inch Nails - _The Slip_

(article submitted 31/1/2009)


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