Santtu Pesonen’s Top 10 of 2019

It’s that time of year again – Christmas has arrived, the year is coming to a close in a week, and I share my yearly Top 10 of games I played, albums I listened to, movies I saw and events I had transpire.

Personally, 2019 was a good year. Counting out a brief crisis period, but I won’t waste space going into detail about it here. Perhaps curiously, picking out this year’s Top 10 turned out surprisingly tough. But either way, I hereby present it to you.

Let’s get started.

10. Dragon Dreams: A Taste of Adventure

Okay, I’m admittedly presenting a slight bias here, mainly because I composed a music track inspired by what I’d seen of this game while it was still in development, and the developer – who happens to be an old acquaintance – ended up putting it in the game. But that’s not the only reason I chose it to kick off this year’s Top 10. It was one of my most anticipated game releases in 2019, and the final product turned out to be his best effort yet. Congratulations, Piece of Pie Software.

9. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The conclusion to the new Star Wars trilogy has divided opinions, but I for one enjoyed it. Not quite as much as The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but I still enjoyed it. Without spoiling anything, there was a thing or two about the movie that I found questionable, but on the flipside, I almost cried more than once watching it, which for me has never happened before with a Star Wars movie.

8. Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind

Slipknot’s fifth studio album, while keeping that traditional Slipknot flair, takes a lot of risks, which in my opinion is applause-worthy on its own. People don’t joke when they say this is Slipknot at their most experimental – you can hear it in almost every song on the album. Some of its highlights for me include Nero Forte, Spiders and, of course, Unsainted.

7. Wheel – Moving Backwards

One of the most promising bands I had the pleasure of being introduced to this year is the Finnish prog quartet Wheel. Moving Backwards is a damn solid debut effort – almost shockingly solid. The no-bullshit opening track Vultures is enough indication that this band is something else, and it’s no surprise that they’re enjoying moderate success in the international market. I can easily see them becoming the next torchbearer for Finnish progressive metal.

6. Devin Townsend – Empath

Devin Townsend’s first solo album since 2007’s Ziltoid the Omniscient is a wonderfully diverse celebration of the Canadian mastermind’s career up until this point. While it entails a lot of genres and moods, each song still manages to sound like a cohesive whole. My personal highlights off the album are Genesis and Why?.

5. Haken & Devin Townsend @ The Circus

When your favorite band comes to your country three different times within the same year, you’d be a fool not to seize every opportunity to see them live. That’s what I did when it came to Haken. Deciding upon the best one of those experiences was tough, but ultimately, I went with their performance at The Circus as Devin Townsend’s support act, if only because I also saw Devin Townsend live. Also, Nil by Mouth is an absolute banger live – it was the singular reason for three weeks’ worth of neck pains throughout the year.

4. Rammstein’s new (untitled) album

A decade we waited, but in May of this year, we finally got a new album by Germany’s industrial metal icons. And boy, does it slay. From the ballad-esque Was Ich Liebe and the disco-infused Ausländer to the more driving Deutschland and the absolutely crushing Puppe, Rammstein’s latest studio effort is overall a solid album with a decent offering of guaranteed earworms.

3. Getting my first analog synth

I’d been planning on getting an analog synthesizer for a few years, and this past year, I was finally able to acquire one. As for my choice of synth, I decided to go with the Korg Minilogue. The world of analog synthesis is a very interesting one, and I’m happy to finally have entered it.

2. Leprous – Pitfalls

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I personally enjoyed every second of the Norwegian prog quintet’s latest offering. From the eerie synths that kick off Below all the way to the doubly eerie outro of The Sky Is Red, Pitfalls was a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Props to Leprous for daring to venture into drastically different territory.

1. Provinssirock 2019

In addition to Haken making an appearance at Provinssirock in the summer of the passing year, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Lamb of God live proper. The las time I “saw” them live in Sonisphere Finland 2010, I was only able to catch the last 5 minutes of their set because I missed most of it queuing to get in. But at Provinssirock, that wrong was finally corrected. And they delivered a killer set.

With all that, have a great Christmas and New Year, and I’ll catch you in 2020!

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