Blast Beats, Dark Harmonies and Monstrous Melodies

The top nine heavy metal albums of 2006

Sulaco, Tearing Through the Roots(Willowtip)

Sulaco recreates grindcore as a forward-reaching form that will still sound vital and ultra-heavy a hundred years from now. Bandleader Erik Burke has got jaw-dropping guitar chops, but Sulaco's imagination yields song structures so staggeringly complex that your memory will go slack trying to grasp them. The future of grindcore looks promising indeed.

Lamb of God, Sacrament(Epic Records)

Sacrament—which surprised a lot of people by debuting at No. 8 on the Billboard charts this year—is Lamb of God's most technical album to date, favoring atmosphere over aggression. The band still slays with thundering thrash and death metal, but except for a few tracks—"Foot to the Throat" and "Beating on Death's Door," which assail the listener with LoG's usual jackhammer to the head—Sacramentis a step forward for the band, employing more guitar solos, more demonic vocal dubs, and more furious fills that show off Chris Adler's dexterous drumming. Producer Machine (Clutch, King Crimson) cleans up the band's usually raw sound, capturing the group's mind-blowing musical prowess in layers of dark harmonies and monstrous melodies.

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