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10. Liturgy, The Ark Work[Thrill Jockey Records]
This year, grumpy old man Bret Easton Ellis repeatedly cautioned against against what he calls the “Cult of Likeability.” Although he sometimes misused the phrases “political correctness” and “being less of an asshole” interchangeably, he rightly denounced a culture in which content exists solely to compete for clicks and shares — collectively living in paralyzed terror of ever offending anyone. Hunter-Hunt Hendrix’s Liturgy didn’t submit The Ark Work to win a popularity contest. Instead, their nimbly monolithic everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach risks offending everyone, even and especially metal’s ever-so-fussy constituency. In a year we all spent soliciting each other’s approval, we needed at least a little bit of music that was self-consciously, unabashedly, really fucking ugly.