Every year becomes more difficult to pick the best albums at the end of the year, some are better than others, some are just fantastic, and some are good, but for one reason or another they don’t make the list at the end. This year was a roller-coaster of great bands releasing great records, I already have my hopes high for next year’s new albums. Now, without more introduction. Here are my top 20 albums of 2013.
20) Amaranthe – The Nexus
I can safely say that The Nexus was my summer album, even though the album was released in March, I started to enjoy it a bit later. This album is not extreme metal or super heavy, but is an enjoyable and catchy album. Songs like; Invincible, The Nexus, Burn With Me, The Theory Of Everything & Electroheart are amazing tunes. Their live show is also cool to see, as you will never see a band with three singers, so that makes the live experience more special.
The Danish progressive masters returned this year delivering a powerful album on Through Our Darkest Days. Their style and sound remains untainted, but the way this album feels is a whole new connection to the fresh sound that invade our airwaves daily. Songs like; Generation Hate, A New Dawn, Forever The Unknown, and the title track Through Our Darkest Days are just really heavy and musically speaking really well crafted.
18) Darkane – The Sinister Supremacy
Darkane, one of the original founders of the Gothenburg sound that revolutionized the world of metal back in the 90’s. This year they returned with a revamped line up including original singer Lawrence Mackrory, whose voice in this album remind us to better times. The Sinister Supremacy is a straight up example of Melodic death metal perfection. You can listen that on songs like; Ostracide, The Sinister Supremacy, Existence Is Just A State Of Mind, and Collapse Of Ilusion. These songs are just neck-breaking from beginning to end.
17) Watain – The Wild Hunt
I got the pleasure of listening Watain‘s The Wild Hunt for the first time at the listening party that Century Media set up at their offices in L.A last June. From the very beginning this album felt really dark and almost melancholic, the very essence of darkness and desolation comprised in sixty-one minutes of devastating music. De Profundis, All That Might Bleed, The Child Must Die, The Rode On, and Outlaw are the presentation cards of what Watain really means, and it does represent where the band comes from.
16) Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Symphonic Death Metal? Yes please, oh and please make it Italian style. Fleshgod Apocalypse went above and beyond with Labyrinth from what they did on Agony a couple of years back, their style went from heavy to extreme in the blink of an eye. songs like; Kingborn, Minotaur (Wrath Of Poseidon), Under Black Sails, The Fall Of Asterion, and Pathfinder. This songs rule supreme and their energy and majesty can be experienced live in the form of a ‘eargasm’. Really good album from a great promising band.
15) Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time
Once again Mr. Tobias Sammet surprised us with a great Avantasia album, great line up, enchanting music, and great live production. The Mystery Of Time is an album full of rich melodies and songs, songs like; Black Orchid, Invoke The Machine, Dweller In A Dream, to The Great Dream. Even though is only a project, the music and production value put into it is too great to be far ignored. I really hope this band could tour the US, but because of that same production value, and the lack of interest here, that seems impossible.
14) Serenity – War Of Ages
Following the impacting success of Death & Legacy, Serenity returned with new faces and voices on its line up, and a new album. The band evolved to a more symphonic metal state. Songs like Wings Of Madness, The Art Of War, The Matricide, Shining Oasis & Fairytales show that evolution. Their historic lyrical concept and the quality of the music made of War Of Ages a powerful and epic release.
13) Atrocity – Okkult
One of the most expected returns of 2013 was Atrocity‘s new album Okkult. Not only the album is dark as anything the band have done before, but it is heavier than their last two records. Tracks like; Pandemonium, Death By Metal, March Of The Undying, Masaya, La Voicine, and Murder Blood Assasination are the flagship songs on this album. Okkult is also the first album of a trilogy that intents to be the heaviest work of Atrocity yet.
Ashes Of Ares is the new band of Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth) Freddy Vidales (ex-Iced Earth) and Van Williams (ex-Nevermore). Their self-titled album presents itself as a straight heavy metal album, not big production, not big arrangements or conceptual structures. This album is just a big head banging journey from beginning to end, and a great showcase for the vocal power of frontman Matt Barlow.
11) Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
With Old Mornings Dawn, Summoning takes us back to the dark places of Middle Earth like Caradhas, following their conceptual style based on the world of Tolkien, Summoning‘s Old Morning Dawn is another addition to the collection of good music for lord Sauron. Songs like; The Wandering Fire, The White Tower, and Flammifer are beautiful and dark songs that evoke past events, older than the earth itself.
Nemesis of Stratovarius represents a new age on Stratovarius‘s career. Their music indeed is different and more connected with today’s power metal sound. The line up changes in the last years also brought fresh ideas to the band. You can notice that on tracks like Abandon, Halcyon Days, and Unbreakable. Not doubt Nemesis is among of the best power metal albums of 2013.
9) Sirenia – Perils Of The Deep Blue
Sirenia is a band that had grown up so much as time changes and new styles emerged. The voice of Aylin Gimenez has reached a total new level, opening a sea of musical opportunities for Sirenia. With Perils Of The Deep Blue, Sirenia gets back to their symphonic metal roots, with a more dynamic approach. Songs like Seven Widows Weep, Ditt Endelikt, Darkling & A Blizzard Is Storming are the perfect example of that new sounds based on the traditional approach that Sirenia had developed since the 13th Floor album.
8) Hell – Curse & Chapter
Since their return to the scene in 2011 with Human Remains, Hell has caused a deep impression on me, as they not only embraced the whole demonic thing on their music, their esthetics, and of course their live performances. With a stray forward heavy metal formula Hell has reached a total different level on Curse & Chapter, and it’s not that they have created something new. No, they just grab really amazing music and put it back where it belongs, at the service of the devil.
7) Hypocrisy – End Of Disclosure
Hypocrisy was one of my anticipated releases of 2013, since their previous album A Taste Of Extreme Divinity this band has embrace a new kind of sound that break apart from what they had done in the past. If their sound back in Penetralia or Into The Abyss was amazing, their new material is good as well, just in a different level. Songs like End Of Disclosure, 44 Double Zero, Tales Of Thy Spinless, Hell Is Where I Stay, and United We Fall. are powerful and dark songs that showcase the momentum of Hypocrisy, and where they could go from there.
6) Carcass – Surgical Steel
Without question Carcass‘s Surgical Steel is the death metal album of the year, after 16 years of absence they just not returned empty-handed, they came back with an album that literally picked up where Heartwork left of. Songs like, A Coagealed Clot Of Blood, Unfit For Human Consumption, 316L Grade Surgical Steel, & Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard are just some of the best examples of how amazing this album is.
5) Leaves Eyes – Symphonies Of The Night
Leaves Eyes returned with a more epic album, than Meredead was. First, the voice of Alex Krull in this album is more powerful than before, and definitely it is an extension from the type of voice he added to the Atrocity album early this year. Liv Kristine, will never stop to surprise me, her voice get better and diverse with the time, songs like; Hell To The Heavens, Fading Earth, Maid Of Lorraine, Saint Cecelia, Symphony of The Night, and Eleonore De Provence are the perfect examples of why this album has so much energy, and musically are the leaders on symphonic folk metal.
Revamp‘s new album Wild Card comes as one of the musical surprises of 2013. They had grown their own definition of gothic metal since their self-titled debut album a couple of years back. Not only that, but the lyrics are a complex description of what vocalist Floor Jansen went through went she burned out in 2011. This album is as deep as it can, and it digs deep into the psyche and emotional journey of Floor during that time. Songs like; Nothing, the trilogy The Anatomy Of A Nervious Breakdown, & Distorted Lullabies are an account of those times.
3) Chthonic – Bú-Tik
The Taiwanese demons of Chthonic surprised again with Bú-Tik, which steps ahead of what they did on their latest album Takasago Army. The mix between extreme metal and oriental folk music continues working on their favor. Songs like, Supreme Pain For The Tyrant, Sail Into The Sunset’s Fire, Set Fire To The Island, and Defenders Of Bu Tik Palace are just heavy & well crafted songs. Really a great album that shows why Chthonic is one of the best bands out there.
2) Orphaned Land – All Is One
Orphaned Land‘s All Is One encompass everything a great album should have. From powerful music, great production value, to amazing and meaningful lyrics. The combination of progressive melodies, and Middle Eastern folk music is perfect on this record. Orphaned Land‘s lyrics on songs like; All Is One, The Simple Man, Brother, Fail & Shama’im are just breath-taking. I still don’t understand why they have not received the Nobel Prize of Peace yet, as their musical message is just pure truth.
1) Ayreon – The Theory Of Everything
Since I listened to Ayreon‘s The Theory Of Everything the first time, I have not be able to put it down yet. Amazing music, great story, and the talent showcased of the musicians selected by Arjen Lucassen is just way over the top. Cristina Scabbia, Tommy Kaverik, Marco Hietala, Sara Squadrani, John Wetton, and JB put an amazing vocal work to tell the story on this album. The guest musicians on the album are also high quality, from members of Yes, Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Dream Theater. Not matter how you see it, this album is a masterpiece on all the extension, from music, concept, production & lyrics. Not doubt the best album this year, and a must have if you love well crafted music.