Anyone who has ever read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity or watched the film adaptation starring none other than the delectable John Cusack understands the blood, sweat, tears, and constant indecision of making any sort of “Top 5” or “Top 10” list. When my wonderful editor approached me and asked if I would be interested in declaring MY Top Ten Heavy Metal/Rock/Hardcore Albums of 2009 I practically began to foam at the mouth. Had he forgotten with whom he was speaking?! Of course I was interested!

Then I began to think about which albums were great enough to make such a comprehensive list and, I admit, I was a little overwhelmed. I then locked myself into my bedroom, forsaking roommates, boyfriend, family, and my beloved Blackberry Curve and buckled down to the task at hand, stopping only for coffee and candy breaks and to ask my Boxer’s opinion. Laugh if you must but she can sniff out a goody from a mile away.

After many harrowing hours, about a thousand neglected text messages, and more ounces of Thomas Hammer coffee than I care to admit, I emerged from my cave like a Phoenix from the ash with a sore back, the beginnings of carpel tunnel syndrome, and my little slice of heaven—and before you ask, no, Five Finger Death Punch will NOT be appearing on this list.

So take notes, then bust out your debit card and go purchase the albums that you do not own. And for the sake of all things holy, don’t jump right to the Number One album. Savor the list like I hope you will savor the brilliance contained within each album.

I’ve worked in the music industry for almost ten years now, and I will be the first to admit that in my profession it is rare to come across something that is as visually stimulating as it is as pleasing to your auditory regions. GWAR has been providing us with both of these elements for the past 21 years. Every chance I get to hear something new from these boys, and especially when I get to see something new from them, I get a little giddy. So it’s no surprise to me that this little gem made it in my list. Ever talented in the art of combining complete insanity into some of the most intricate and impressive music I’ve ever heard, GWAR never fails to put a little pep in my step. And they’re just fun to look at! If you see them live you might want to stand towards the back of the venue…unless you’re into the whole “bloody shower” thing. Just a suggestion.

Gwar - Lust in Space

I am known for my love of all things obscure. Sweet Cyanide came across my inbox a few months ago, and I knew literally nothing about them, so of course I was intrigued. After delving into their self-titled debut album I was instantly hooked. They might not be well known right now, but I see big things in their future and expect them to be around for many years to come. Check out my Sweet Cyanide ALBUM REVIEW here!

Sweet Cyanide - Self Titled

These fellows were quite literally dropped into my lap. Hailing from New Zealand I had never heard of them until they came waltzing into my venue with their colorful hair and utterly precious baby faces. I admit, I was apprehensive, but after watching their performance I KNEW I had to hear more. Getting my dirty little paws onto their debut album was an easy task and loving it was even easier. It’s full of catchy and melodic tones that you would be hard-pressed to duplicate.

Like A Storm - The end of the Beginning

I have been a fan of Mudvayne since I was in high school. I have seen them live and worked with them more times than I can even count. Their album L.D. 50 is still in my top rotation and will forever remain in my Most Epic Albums of All Time playlist. That said, this new slice of deliciousness that they have given us is the best album that they’ve delivered since the EPIC, and I do mean epic in every possible sense of the word, L.D. 50. The boys are birthing more than ever now and I, personally, am very excited to see what else they have in store for us. Catch their live show if you get the chance. We recently had a chance to interview Greg of Mudvayne check out the INTERVIEW here.

Mudvayne - Self Titled

Part of the beauty of Rammstein is that you don’t have to understand what they are saying to feel their brilliance vibrate and course through your body when you have the stereo turned up or your ear buds firmly in place in your ear canals. But for those of us who want to understand exactly what they are purring about, the boys do release English versions of their albums. Every album that they have released since their birth in the mid-90s has been nothing short of spectacular. Lieb Ist Fur Alle Da stays with that promise.

Rammstein - Lieb Ist Fur Alle Da

There is a “curse” in the industry that the sophomore album is never as good as the freshman, and I’ve found that to be a lot of malarkey. Especially as far as In This Moment is concerned. They eased their way into mainstream music and then exploded and forced the world to sit up and pay attention to something other than Ms. Brink’s beautiful face and physique. Since they grabbed my pointy little ears they have continued to wow and impress me and have made a fan for life.

In This Moment - The Dream

Often when bands change their lineup multiple times they lose a little bit of the magic that they begin with. Killswitch Engage seems to be immune from this tendency. Gaining the most notoriety with the masses with their 2004 album, The End of Heartache, they’ve been wowing people with their live performances, chock full of energy, and working their money makers to the bone to bring us something just as refreshing and delicious and never stale.

Killswitch Engage - Self Titled

It’s Marilyn Manson. That alone should be reason enough, but I understand that there are some of you out there that want validation as to why Mr. Mason is on this list. The reasons are simple. No matter what he does, no matter how much time or money he spends on something, no matter who he gets to make an appearance, it comes out as gold and that, my friends, is a VERY rare find. Since Day One when he was working as a lowly rock journalist in Florida and gluing together the pieces that would one day emerge as Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids, he has been hemorrhaging talent and smiling about it the whole way. Then again, if I had a smile like that, I probably would too. This album is a little more heartfelt, if you will, than his previous albums. It has varied elements of just about everything from the traditional Manson sound to Cash-sounding influences. The only time in my career that I have ever been star struck is in the presence of this man and the presence of Mr. Elvis Costello*.

* Costello is hardcore and I will throw down with anyone who chooses to dispute this fact with me.

Marilyn Manson - The High End of Low

You might notice that this is the second female-fronted band on my list, and I would like to dispel any ideas that these bands are on this list just because they are fronted by two very beautiful female vocalists. The ladies of these two bands can hold their own against anyone who chooses to challenge them. In the case of Otep, I have actually seen this happen on many occasions. I have seen them on many different bills with some VERY large and intimidating names, and they steal the show every time. It doesn’t matter who you came to see, you will leave talking about Otep. They are a VERY talented group of individuals who hold up a very large and very clear mirror reflecting the decaying parts of humanity and force the rest of us to acknowledge the not-so-pretty and shiny. They do it poetically and intricately and I respect the hell out of that.

Otep - Smash the Control Machine

This is not a decision that came easily to me, and it is not something that I drew out of a hat. This took hours of my life and lots of deliberation. Now I know there are some of you little gremlins out there sitting behind your monitors saying, “What the hell is this girl thinking? Who the hell is Bury Your Dead?” Much the same as Like a Storm, I was introduced to these boys in my other profession. They took over my ears instantly and have refused to give up their territory. Fairly well known to the underground hardcore folks, these boys are breaking out of their constraints and will soon be knocking on your door, demanding the attention that they so deserve. Much like Killswitch Engage, they have had many lineup changes over their years. Having thoroughly dissected their previous albums and the current release, I feel that they have the strongest and best line-up to date and the one that will put these boys on the map. I would bet my tattoo money on it, and they have this album to thank for it. Check out my INTERVIEW/ALBUM REVIEW with Bury Your Dead here.

Bury Your Dead - It's Nothing Personal