The Year That Was By Jos. von Weinerhaus
This year was full of a lot of great metal and rock releases, as well as a few shitty ones and some that just flat out underwhelmed or disappointed. Rather than ramble on in a paragraph that 4% of anyone who clicked on this will read, let’s just get down to the goods.
Best Metal/Rock Albums of 2013:
10. Gruesome Stuff Relish, Sempiternal Death Grind
When I first heard this album, I thought it was a lot of fun, but never thought I’d come back to it as often as I have throughout the year. Gruesome Stuff Relish revel in the lighter side of their unique brand of groove-oriented grinding death metal. The Giallo horror aspect allows for some playful danceable rhythms as far as extreme metal goes. The vocals sound like a puking zombie, which send this whole package over the top and good enough for the bottom of this list.
9. Ihsahn, Das Seelenbrechen
Ihsahn is one of the musicians who I hold to unreasonably high standards due to his output in Emperor and the first two solo Ihsahn records.
He’s a fascinating musician who always challenges himself and never does the same thing twice.
After two solo albums that bored me, I was beginning to doubt him. Das Seelenbrechen is an experimental album that Ihsahn himself has stated is not indicative of a new direction.
The album can’t be broken down into individual tracks, but is an unpredictable push and pull of progressive mastery.
8. Children of Bodom, Halo of Blood
Sorry, I love this band. I like to have a good time. I enjoyed the last Bodom album, Relentless Reckless Forever, but it was still missing something.
Halo of Blood is the band’s best effort since Hate Crew Deathroll and I’m ecstatic.
These guys sound rejuvenated and, shit, Janne actually has a presence on this one after a lengthy backseat role in the band.
Children of Bodom write songs with a basic song structure, but god damn do these rage harder than anything they’ve done over the last decade.
7. Magic Circle, Magic Circle
So, Magic Circle wrote the best album that wasn’t written 30 years ago.
It reminds me of Pagan Alter in the sense of the production and the time capsule element to the music.
Worshipping Trouble, the best of Ozzy and Dio Sabbath, and Pentagram, Magic Circle’s eponymous debut album kicks the nipples off just about anything else done in traditional doom that I can remember in the stream of consciousness while typing this up.
6. Beastmilk, Climax
My friend described Beastmilk’s sound as if The Smiths and Danzig could coexist in a band. Rather than use my own subpar analogy, I’ll give a shout-out to fellow Jets fan empathizer, John.
I’m a huge fan of New Wave and goth rock, so naturally this appealed to my tastes.
The hooks are similar to Rosetta Stone’s first album, but the music is lost in a decidedly less happy space of nuclear dust and apocalyptic woes.
5. Queensrÿche, Queensrÿche
Any regular reader of the site is probably screaming at their computer right now considering all of the ‘Rÿche coverage I’ve done, only to see this album come in half way through my list.
Honestly, I feel this album is just a teaser for what the band has to offer over the next few years.
I’ve listened to this album more than anything else this year and it will still be in regular rotation heading into 2014.
I’ve talked about Toddrÿche’s new album at length on here before, so I’ll just use this space to say that Geoff Tate’s wife looks about as good as his voice sounds. Go Todd!
4. Steven Wilson, The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Holy. Shit. We all know Steven Wilson is the world’s busiest music nerd (yeah, that includes the Internet, Anthony Fantano) and The Raven is another line on his ever-growing resume.
This was the first album of 2013 that really grabbed me and I wore it out for a while after mind-numbing amounts of listening.
Coming back to it with fresh ears after a hiatus, this album presented everything I loved about it all over again.
There’s so much diversity and every member shines in their own right over the course of these majestic tunes.
3. Gorguts, Colored Sands
One of 2013’s greatest pleasures was getting the advance copy of Colored Sands and listening to it for a month before anyone else could.
While the Internet was a collective circle jerk as new songs came out, I got to tease people that I heard the whole thing and it was even better than they could imagine. Luc Lemay threw us for another twist, bombarding us with dissonance and little technical playing as far as the Gorguts standard was over the last two albums.
I’m writing this paragraph knowing that I missed Gorguts tonight and they played the entire album. I suck, but this album doesn’t.
2. Soror Dolorosa, No More Heroes
Remember when I said I like goth rock and New Wave all the way back at my No. 6 pick? I wasn’t fucking around. Soror Dolorosa might be a little bit of a stretch to fit on this list, but I’m counting it within the rock realm.
If anything, take solace in the fact that singer Andy Julia has been heavily involved in the French black metal scene.
There’s every bit of catchiness as there is depression, making for a striking balance where each side pushes your emotions around throughout the album.
1. Progenie Terrestre Pura, U.M.A.
What disappoints me is that so many people will have no idea who this band is when they read this list. Progenie Terrestre Pura draw comparisons to Darkspace, but it’s just the beginning. Incorporating psybient influences like H.U.V.A. Network and Carbon Based Lifeforms, this duo weaves in the spacey atmosphere with cybernetic black metal that is sure to induce a trance.
Sometimes the more ambient side takes precedent over the black metal, other times black metal is in the foreground, and sometimes they’re both melded together perfectly.
I’ve never heard anything like this band and they’ve brought something so unique to my ears that I can’t help but call it the album of the year.
Motörhead, Aftershock; Autopsy, The Headless Ritual; Satan, Life Sentence; Oranssi Pazuzu, Valonielu; Inquisition, Obscure Verses for the Multiverse; Fates Warning, Darkness In A Different Light; Defeated Sanity, Passages Into Deformity; Purson, The Circle and the Blue Door; Cultes Des Ghoules, Henbane; Watain, The Wild Hunt; Immolation, Kingdom of Conspiracy; Black Boned Angel, The End; Germ, Grief; Jesu, Every Day I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came; Paysage d’Hiver, Das Tor
Worst Album of 2013:
Taterÿche, Frequency Unknown
Everything I’ll ever need to say about this album has been said here. I’d like to give Geoff Tate an oxygen mask from a tank of Rosie O’Donnell’s farts.
Darkthrone, The Underground Resistance
Devourment, Conceived in Sewage
Helloween, Straigh Out Of Hell
Rotting Christ, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy
Suffocation, Pinnacle of Bedlam
Witherscape, The Inheritance
Top 10 Non-Metal/Rock
Listen, nobody wants to be the bald guy at 45 years-old yelling “SLAAAAAYEERRRR!!!!” at an Overkill show. You’ve gotta branch out and prevent yourself from becoming that guy. A lot of metal is complete shit anyways.
10. Bruce Soord with Jonas Renkse, Wisdom of Crowds
9. Ulver, Messe I.X-VI.X
8. Bonobo, The North Borders
7. Chelsea Wolfe, Pain is Beauty
6. Blue Sky Black Death, Glaciers
5. Tim Hecker, Virgins
4. Chvrches, The Bones of What We Believe
3. Lorde, Pure Heroine
2. Au Revoir Simone, Move in Spectrums
1. Umberto, Confrontations
Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest; oOOoO, Without Your Love; Low, The Invisible Way