Wow, it’s December already? Time flies when you’re living a fast-paced, money-and-bitches lifestyle. I mean, I would imagine. I pretty much sit around all day drawing shit and then I go to the gym. Anyway, 2013 was an amazing year for heavy metal, so here comes my Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013!
10. Arsis – Unwelcome
Arsis is pretty much one of the best technical death metal bands out there and Unwelcome is a welcome (get it? Welcome? UN-welcome???!!?!) addition to the Arsis catalogue. Plus there’s a great album cover courtesy of Mark Riddick, who is pretty much death metal’s greatest illustrator. Unwelcome might’ve scored higher on the list, except the album reminds me of this nut job girl I dated at the beginning of the summer. Now every time I hear Arsis’ cover of Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses At Night” I think, “I’m never dating a salsa-dancing vegetarian with ten thousand orbiters again.” Dem bishes be cray.
9. Portal – Vexovoid
I have no idea why I like Portal. It isn’t catchy or really “good” in any definable way. As my brother is fond of pointing out, “This shit is basically noise. Play something else.” He’s pretty much right. It’s white-noisy enough that I put Vexovoid on at a low volume when I sleep. When played at a proper volume, Vexovoid is an incredibly bleak auditory descent into darkness. Plus the singer wears a clock on his head. If that isn’t evil, I don’t know what is.
8. The Ocean – Pelagial
The Ocean released two versions of Pelagial – one with singing and one without. Luckily they released the vocal-free version, because the singing on this album is cringeworthy enough to conjure up a fedora out of thin air and place it directly atop the listener’s unsuspecting noggin. Despite the fact that instrumental albums are typically boring (see: Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky), the vocal-free version of Pelagial is a rockin’ descent into the watery depths of (you guessed it) the ocean! On top of being a really catchy album, each song represents a different oceanic depth zone. Yeah science!
Killer jam: “Mesopelagic: Into The Uncanny” (This is the version with vocals. Seriously, the singing sucks)
Purchase it now using your hard-earned cash (should come with both vocal and instrumental versions)
7. Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
I pretty much ignored Inquisition because their last album had the ugliest album cover known to man. Seriously, that shit is embarrassingly hideous. I checked out Obscure Verses for the Multiverse based on a couple of reviews saying how weird the vocals are. Lesson learned, don’t judge a book by its cover. Obscure Verses is an excellent slab of black metal from space with weird, wobbly guitar riffs that sound like they were recorded through a fan or something. The croaky, monotone vocals might not be your jam, but it’s different enough to be interesting. If you like long song titles, addictive riffs and cosmic Satan space lyrics, you’ll love Obscure Verses for the Multiverse.
6. Ghost – Infestissumam
First off, I refuse to call this band “Ghost B.C.” It’s just Ghost. Second, Ghost isn’t exactly metal. However, they do sing about Satan. Also the singer is Swedish, fakes an Italian accent and speaks English, and he dresses like the Evil Pope. That’s pretty cool. Some of the songs on this album are pretty strange. For instance, “Secular Haze” kind of sounds like circus music and the video looks all cheesy and 60s. Despite the weirdness, Ghost is awesome and they’re one of the best live shows out there. Except for that one kid who tried to steal my wallet during the show and I almost broke his arm getting it back. Stupid Portland junkies. Oh yeah, back to Ghost. Much like leprosy, Infestissumam will grow on you after repeated listens. Plus their art is pretty sweet. Check it out!
5. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed
Booyah! Skeletonwitch finally got another album cover done by John Dyer Baizley, who produces some incredible artwork filled with skulls, animals and drippy weirdness. Skeletonwitch cranked out a ripping blackened thrash album to go along with the art – their best since 2007’s Beyond The Permafrost. BTP featured Baizley’s art and was a good album. Serpents Unleashed features Baizley’s art and also rules. Alien/Illuminati conspiracy?
4. Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack
I had the misfortune of entering a Hot Topic the other day. Hot Topic is a good place to check out which bands are no longer cool, and my first thought was “Thank god, they aren’t selling Black Dahlia shit any more.” Actually my first thought was, “I am not angsty enough to be in the mall.” Why do mall metal kids love The Black Dahlia Murder, anyway? Maybe because of the bright neon merch? Who knows. Anyway, Black Dahlia Murder consistently cranks out killer albums and Everblack is no exception. Love the purple cave tornado grave artwork too.
Song that will make you rebel against your parents and stay at the mall past curfew: “Goat of Departure”
Spend your allowance money by purchasing this album
3. Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam
Whoa, Suffocation! Remember them? I had a copy of Pierced From Within on tape back in the mid 90s as a fledgeling death metal maniac. Pierced From Within is a great album, but I really haven’t thought about Suffocation since. Here we are completely out of left field with Pinnacle of Bedlam as one of the best albums of the year. Everything about this album rules – brutal vocals, lighting-fast blast beats and blazing solos. Somehow they even merge technicality with catchiness. I caught Suffocation live back in March or so, and they have great stage presence as well as hilarious New York accents. Great to see an old school band bringing the destruction this late in their career.
2. Gorguts – Colored Sands
I got a copy of Gorguts’ Obscura a few years back and I wasn’t terribly impressed despite the fact that Obscura is held up as one of the most influential albums in death metal. The ubiquitous, noisy finger tapping riffs are way too annoying and weird and there isn’t much flow. Obscura has its moments, but the obnoxious riffs outweigh the cool parts. When I heard Gorguts had a comeback album, my first thought was “eh.” Luckily I gave Colored Sands a spin, because this album is simply massive. The songs are intense and technical without being as inaccessible as older albums. The only thing that kept Gorguts from capturing the coveted Best Album Ever Of The Year was the weak instrumental “The Battle of Chamdo” that they kind of threw in for no reason. Fire up some Colored Sands!
1. Carcass – Surgical Steel
I intended to write way more music reviews this year, but honestly reviews are a big pain in the ass so it didn’t happen. The only one I actually wrote was a review of Surgical Steel. This is another shockingly good comeback album, especially considering Carcass’ last effort Swansong was mediocre at best. Surgical Steel is exactly what I wanted out of Carcass – fast, shredding, catchy riffs and lyrics that require a medical dictionary to decipher. Check out dem harmonies! How about those blast beats, huh? Album of the Year!
Other good albums that didn’t quite make the cut:
Revocation – S/T – This album is better than either Arsis or Portal, but after two weeks I never really picked up Revocation again so it doesn’t make the top 10. It’s a solid album that shreds, but considerably weaker than last year’s Teratogenesis EP.
Wormed – Exodromos – Might’ve scored higher but I didn’t have a chance to really get into this album. Good stuff.
Havok – Unnatural Selection – Not as good as Time Is Up but still fun. One of my favorite live bands.
Katatonia – Dethroned & Uncrowned – None of the songs are new but D&U is a great reimagining of Dead End Kings.
Heaven Shall Burn – VETO – Pretty solid for metalcore. Awesome cover of Blind Guardian’s “Valhalla.”
Beaten To Death – Dødsfest! – Love this album but it’s too short to make the top 10. One of the best and most fun grindcore albums I’ve heard in ages.
Scale The Summit – The Migration – Not quite as solid as The Collective but still pretty good for instrumental metal.
Omnium Gatherum – Beyond – A great album but it sounds like b-sides from New World Shadows.
Amorphis – Circle – I was hoping for a stronger effort based on Amorphis’ last two albums. Circle doesn’t quite make the cut but is still a worthy listen.
Album that could’ve been way better if it weren’t for the lyrics:
Protest The Hero – Volition – I like Protest The Hero’s riffs but I need to lift weights just to clean the wuss lyrical topics out of my system. Completely unlistenable.
Band That Should’ve Been On The List But Isn’t:
Kvelertak – Meir – The definition of “sophomore slump.” Really sad Kvelertak didn’t cut it since their debut was so great. The album art (more Baizley work) may be the only cover with bird turds all over it.
Since it’s “cool” to have a non-metal band on the list:
Limousines – Hush – Catchy, fun dance/pop. Hipster music that’s actually good!