2013 marked another fantastic year for metal music. This was definitely the year of surprising releases from bands I thought were over making music. But some of the most vigorous, technical and mind-blowing albums I’ve heard were released. Compiling a list of only fifteen albums to mention was a pain in the ass. But nonetheless I did it and I hope you enjoy the albums I picked.
#15 Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness
This is an album that stood out to me over a lot of the albums I reviewed this year. It is rough and coarse, yet contains the brain-gripping feel that metal has on me. The thematic of a drug-induced mind-control state really makes this album even more spine-tingling. I really respect a younger band such as Toxic Holocaust for combining the elements of old school metal and punk, and truly making it work to appeal to all ages of metal fans. In my opinion I think we need less of djent/math/core/whatever and more of this.
#14 The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack
I was really surprised by this new release from The Black Dahlia Murder. With the departure of bassist Ryan Williams and friggin awesome drummer Shannon Lucas, I figured this band was over with. Well, after listening to their newest release Everblack I can say they are definitely doing well. This album is aggressive and catchy, and overall I’m able to listen to it more than once. I mean I’m not those TBDM fans who are all like, AHH INTO THE EVERBLACK YAYAYA, but I will definitely acknowledge that this album is pretty swell. But nothing will ever surmount 2009’s Deflorate soooooo this album is kind of at the end of the list.
#13 The Safety Fire – Mouth of Swords
The first time I heard this band, I would not expect this album to end up on my Top Albums of 2013 list. But their catchiness, skilled musicianship, and incredible stage presence (okay that’s not on the album, but it won me over) really allowed this band to stick with me. Okay I should also add after interviewing guitarist Dez Nagle, his sweet English accent also stuck with me. But back to the album itself, the combination of various influences (including non-metal ones like jazz and pop) allows the listener to experience a blend of harmonic chords and metal energy. In short, a couple of listens will leave the listener completely captured. And even if you’re like me and not the biggest proggy-metal enthusiast (as you can tell I’m a death metal chick) then you will not be any exception to this band’s grip on their listener.
#12 Immolation – Kingdom of Conspiracy
So Immolation is one of the several bands you will find on this list that have been around forever, yet release material that is better than any band today will release. Is that opinion completely biased and makes me look like a metal elitist who has no regard for the modern-day music scene? Well, what is a journalist gonna do? But this album is just a disorder of vitality and pugnacious musicianship. So Immolation, keep writing albums.
#11 Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light
So I’m going to be one of the many media peoples jumping on the Rivers of Nihil promoting bandwagon. But hey, this band is pretty cool. I mean, have you listened to the song Soil & Seed? I will admit the whole album didn’t strike me as hard as that one song did. I will say, I suggested this band to some of my friends so that also goes to show their dexterous musicianship and catchy riffs really got me. I’m just looking forward to what this band releases in the future.
#10 Exhumed – Necrocracy
I’ll admit it took me awhile to get into this album. I’m the Anatomy is Destiny-era of Exhumed fan, and not so much the Slaughtercult-era. But this album offers some gnarly solos and aggressive parts. I feel this album more than previous Exhumed albums shows off the band’s technical side. But overall this is an Exhumed release, so bottom-line it’s pretty damn belligerent. But in short, if Exhumed releases anything ever I’m all about it.
#9 Ghost – Infestissumam
Can I elaborate on how much I love this band? I mean, yeah they’re getting an insane amount of hype, but whatever. This album is pretty damn catchy, and it’s lighthearted and not-metal-at-all feel just makes them that much better. The only thing I have to say against this album is the ridiculous song title (which is Latin for “hostile,” and used in reference to the Antichrist) which I still to this day have not gotten the hang of spelling out, and pronouncing. Sad thing is I always wanted to learn Latin. But frankly I’m glad the whole Mercyful Fate/Power Rock feel is coming back. A breath of fresh air from the chug-chug-breakdown equation I was used to hearing for years.
#8 Evan Brewer – Your Itinerary
So Evan Brewer has to be one of my favorite bassists. Ever. And when I first about Your Itinerary, I figured it would be another funky-bassy album that corresponded with his solo debut Alone. Well was I wrong. It comprises of funky-bassy riffs, but also of keyboards and guitars and drummer Alex Rudinger, which is totally worth mentioning his name. Pretty much, Brewer took it a step farther with this one, and we’re all happy he did.
#7 Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth
Holy mother of Fleshgod. Did they do better than Agony? Oh yes. And how? By incorporating far more theatrics, more involvement from opera singer Veronica Bordacchini, and overall by being Italian and being way better than your band. But seriously, after several months of listening to this album I still get goosebumps. They successfully wrote the soundtrack to what the Labyrinth of Knossos would probably have sounded like.
#6 Havok – Unnatural Selection
So remember when I mentioned the younger-band-doing-older-music stuff? Yeah this band does it the best. Thrash titans Havok never fail to impress me, and I swear this album gets better with every listen. You should see me when I’m driving listening to this album. I’m headbanging and screaming the lyrics and all that fun stuff. But believe it or not, the first time I heard this band was when I reviewed this album, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This album is vigorous enough to get you banging your head, but catchy to where each riff and bassline sticks with you. So if you successfully completed the first step in your Havok-listening experience and checked out this or one of their previous albums, you shall now advance to step two and go to one of their shows. That’s where the real fun happens.
#5 Revocation – Revocation
I’m surprised Revocation doesn’t promote their new albums saying something like, “hey remember that album we put out last time? Well this one is way better!” I mean seriously, it’s true. How can a band obtain this ridiculous musical talent, play with insane rapidity, write some of the most genius songs in metal, and still remain one of the most singular metal bands? We will never know. But I never had anything bad to say about this album when I first listened to it, and still don’t even now that I’m writing this blurb and listening to this album. Each track is full of vitality and encompasses an enormous amount of strength. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, I have no idea what you’ve been doing in 2013.
#4 – Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed
Well Skeletonwitch receives the headbang-thrashing-extravaganza award for the albums released in 2013. It’s rare these days that I listen to an album for the first time and find myself banging my head to it, and then run around screaming to my brother about how awesome I think this album is and then post something on Facebook about it. But Skeletonwitch has come a long way, going above what is expected from a thrash metal band. I hear more melody in this album than their previous releases. But overall this is just as insane as any of their other albums. But, I think we all expected that new Skeletonwitch would be nothing short of awesome, right?
#3 Carcass – Surgical Steel
“Hi we’re Carcass, and after seventeen years of not making any albums we’re going to release a mind-blowing collection of songs that will make you shit bricks” is probably what they were thinking when writing this album. I personally like it because it combines Carcass’s gore-grind days perfectly with their melodic sound they eventually coined perfectly. But I can never get the hang of the song titles; they’re too damn long. I’m just like, “oh yes that Noncompliance one! That’s my favorite song!” But pretty much, I believe Carcass and every other band that made a comeback this year thought, these poor metal fans are only getting this –core and breakdown bands so let’s come in and rip them to shreds. And for that — older metal bands who made a comeback — we will forever salute you.
#2 Deicide – In the Minds of Evil
Gotta represent my hometown in this list. Deicide is the embodiment old school Tampa death metal. The fact that they can be so legendary, yet continue to write exhilarating music is beyond me. In the Minds of Evil got me headbanging as much as Legion. That’s why Tampa does it the best.
#1 Gorguts – Colored Sands
So I wasn’t expecting a new Gorguts album. Ever. And guess what? This chaotic sphere of riffing madness ends up in my album review folder. It literally took me to a different dimension. And it still does take me to some nightmare place that you can only find in a Lovecraft story. I think all metal fans can agree that this is the album of 2013.