15. Darkthrone, 'Arctic Thunder'
Once a shadowy figure in corpsepaint, Darkthrone's Gylve "Fenriz" Nagell has settled comfortably into his role of affable metal DJ, historian and tastemaker. But the drummer's strongest statements still come in musical form. On Arctic Thunder, he and vocalist/co-writer Ted "Nocturno Culto" Skjellum delivered their latest jolt of triumphant retro bliss, a record that evokes Heavy Metal Parking Lot as much the cult black-metal aesthetic the duo helped define in the early Nineties. No blastbeats here, just sinister, skull-rattling riffs – recalling legends such as Motörhead and Celtic Frost as well as more obscure Fenriz favorites like Dream Death – delivered in gloriously crunchy boombox fidelity and topped by Skjellum's cold rasp. No other metal album this year rocked harder – or gave less of a fuck. H.S.