1- Watershed by Opeth
Oh, yeah, after multiple listens I can safely declare without any hesitation that the latest by the Swedish band is the best album released in 2008. Like its predecessor, this album has a million brilliant ideas, yet it manages to be anything but convoluted. It will take a few more months to see if this is actually even better than Ghost Reveries (2006). Best song: "Hessian Peel"
2- Death Magnetic by Metallica
I was considering making this the album of the year, but I realized that there was a little bit of a hype on my part that got me a little carried away. However, if Opeth had released their album in another year, Death Magnetic would have been a shoo-in. Best song: "Broken, Beat & Scarred"
3- A Sense of Purpose by In Flames
Despite the fanboy backlash against their new sound, the second best Swedish album of the year is a collection of ferocious, infectious, and brilliant tracks. Yes, it sounds even more polished than Come Clarity (2006), but after giving it a couple of spins, it is endlessly rewarding. Best song: "Alias"
4- The Formation of Damnation by Testament
Let's get this statement out of the way first: Testament were/are the most underrated thrash metal band of all time. Fact. This is a comeback album unlike Death Magnetic in the sense that this is definitely a back-to-roots effort - it could have easily come out in mid-80s. Best song: "More Than Meets the Eye"
5- Nil Recurring by Porcupine Tree
More of a companion piece to last year's Fear of a Blank Planet, this 4-song mini-album manages to be more cohesive and affecting than the said album. With "Normal" - itself a companion to the song "Sentimental" - Steve Wilson and his company released, in my opinion, the best song of the year. Listen and weep. Best song: "Normal"
6- Rock and Awe by Young Heart Attack
Here comes my fanboy attack: it is a lot slower and more polished than their debut. However, there is no denying the quality of the songwriting on offer here. The vocals are somewhat subdued, but now in a world without Wolfmother, we desperately need this band. Best song: "Munki"
7- Twilight of the Thunder God by Amon Amarth
Continuing with my Swedish obsession, this true-to-blood Viking metal band is coming up with a better album every other year. Could it be another Opeth incident? How they manage to be catchy and this heavy without resorting to DragonForce cheese is an amazing feat in itself. Best song: "Twilight of the Thunder God"
8- Bedlam in Goliath by The Mars Volta
Perhaps their most down-to-Earth album. This time the infusion of rock and jazz is not as traditionally progressive sounding as before, but the album is still a rocking good listen overall. However it lacks a killer tune. Hence its lower position. Best song: "Ilyena"
9- Folklore & Superstition by Black Stone Cherry
Another solid effort by the Kentucky rockers. It has the energy and production value to be comparable to any great Rock'n'Roll album of the last decade. What lacks, though, is a song that defines the album. Best song: "Reverend Wrinkle"
10- ObZen by Meshuggah
What's with all the Swedes? I can assure you that the Swedish Recording Artists Industry (if such a thing exists) is not paying me for this list! If you're looking for insanely talented musicians with a sick sense of song arrangements, look no further. Also, if you really like your drumming, then this is definitely for you too. Best song: "Bleed"
And the rest:
Inflikted by Cavalera Conspiracy
Slania by Eluveitie
Hymns in the Key of 666 by Hellsongs
XV by King's X
Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace by The Offspring