This year was a pretty excellent for metal, as my esteemed fellow contributors Sean, Jos. von, and Xander have pointed out in their respective Top Albums lists. I am really glad that we all seem to gravitate towards somewhat different sectors of the genre, so there’s not a terrible amount of overlap. That being said, prepare to jot some more albums down on your “to listen” list as we start off with:
10. Primitive Man’s Scorn
On a scale of one to ten, how much do you hate humanity? If you answered in the negatives, you have something in common with Primitive Man. Primitive Man is a blackened doom band from Denver, Colorado, and boast members of Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, a superb grind outfit, and Reproacher, a sick hardcore band we have mentioned before.
Scorn is instant depression. The riffs creep through you like late-night nausea brought on by the cruel tedium of modern life. If you enjoy haunting ambience, there are a few tracks that will tickle your Willy. Or your Wilhemina. Whatever you got.
9. Toxic Holocaust’s Chemistry of Consciousness
There were a lot of snakes on album covers this year, weren’t there? One of the coolest ones was on the new Toxic Holocaust release. That cobra is vicious, with its syringe teeth and the DNA neck tat. Speaking of neck tats, I wonder why DevilDriver didn’t make the GSA Worst of 2013 list? I apparently wrongly assumed that Chris was going to devote at least a few words to mocking Dez Alfalfa.
This album, though, is crossover thrash done right. Joel Grind’s snarl is ferociously gravelly and those punk-infused riffs make you sew patches onto denim jackets. Dig it.
8. Revocation’s self-titled album
As far as I’m concerned, Revocation have established themselves as one of the best bands in heavy metal history. Their unique interpretation of death and thrash metal mixed with the technicality, jazziness, and even funkiness that they pervade is a very identifiable rung on the evolutionary ladder of metal, and I hope they continue crushing our ears for many more releases.
Also, Dave Davidson and I write for the same site, so I’ve got major fanboy points.
7. Fuck the Facts’ Amer
Amer is something different from what Fuck the Facts have done in the past. Of course, that is something that you could say about every album of theirs. They understand how to evolve and keep their soul consistent.
This EP is very angry, like most metal should be. The anger that comes out of this album hits you in the stomach. It’s a guttural rage, something inherent that you know you won’t be able to get rid of for your entire life. So put a proper amount of padding on your walls before blasting this record or else holes will be punched in them. It’s a bleak album and a must listen for fans of the grindcore.
6. Nails’ Abandon All Life
Were Amer and Scorn not angry enough for you? Lucky for you, there is a remedy. It’s called Abandon All Life and it’s by Californian straddlers-of-the-demarcation-between-grindcore-and-hardcore Nails. There is so much condensed fury on this release that you may need to listen to Enya afterwards to chill out.
The snare hits on this record are nothing short of authoritative, almost saying “YOU WILL BE ANGRY AND AT THIS INTENSE SPEED.” Even though it’s not even eighteen minutes long, this album wears you out if you can tap into the energy Nails cranks into the atmosphere.
5. Doublestone’s self-titled album
You probably don’t have any Enya, so but you can acquire some Doublestone very easily and for free from their Bandcamp. All three of their albums are free, and they released two of them this year.
If you like Black Sabbath, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and similar psychedelic doom metal and rock bands, you will dig Doublestone. For one thing, they are from Denmark, and their singer has a kick ass accent. Second, they have one of the fuzziest guitar tones I have ever heard and it just makes me want to say words like “far out” and “gnarly.”
Steady bass lines and drum beats make it easy to nod your head along with the music, which focuses on the apocalyptic repercussions of humanity’s treatment of the earth. In that respect, they are sort of like what Gojira would sound like if they played music in 1968, I suppose. Check ‘em out, ya dirty hippy.
4. Red Fang’s Whales and Leeches
Speaking of dirty hippies, Red Fang released an album this year and it is so groovy. Another album where the snare has a distinct voice, Red Fang’s drummer proves that you can make an old rusty trash can sound really cool, too. Also, when you listen to this band, you need to make sure you have plenty of beer on hand. Red Fang is one of those bands that subconsciously makes you want to drink a shitload of beer, light something on fire at a party you weren’t invited to, and then disappoint your girlfriend in bed later because you can’t get your defendant to stand up to address the court.
I would like to take this opportunity to give you my three favorite beers of the year within this review of Red Fang. Although Red Fang makes you think, “I need cheap shitty beer,” quell this nagging inner monologue by partaking in Rogue Dead Guy Ale or some Red Banshee by Fort Collins Brewery. Tasty stuff.
3. Lord Dying’s Summon the Faithless
Do you want to hear all the riffs that Matt Pike forgot because he was too stoned to remember? Then get Summon the Faithless within your nasty clutches and allow the High on Fire and Electric Wizard worship commence.
The tone is really crunchy and fat, throughout the entire album. It sounds like thundering possessed elephants started a band. The songs on this album are solid and, at points, transcend to that doom nirvana point where the listener is hypnotized by the sheer heaviness of the music. Also, the album art is friggin’ wild to stare at. That color scheme is beyond cool.
This is Lord Dying’s first release. It better not be their last.
2. All Pigs Must Die’s Nothing Violates This Nature
Back to the grindcore. All Pigs Must Die really get this genre and I dig everything they’ve been kind enough to allow us to listen to. Like, Fuck the Facts’ Amer, though, this album is an evolution album for the band, adding substantial doom influences to the mix. Luckily, we aren’t dealing with idiots, and none of their signature aggression is sacrificed. If anything, the doominess of this album allows for the bass to slog through the mix more, and, in my opinion, makes the experience of this album heavier than their already gargantuanly, onerously, densely heavy previous release God Is War.
I really like this band and if they ever play a show with Wormrot and Pig Destroyer, and I miss it, I will be severely disappointed. Not disappointed enough to do anything drastic, but I’ll probably curse a lot.
1. Skeletonwitch’s Serpents Unleashed
It was hard to beat All Pigs Must Die, but Skeletonwitch released a truly iconic album this year. From insane album art to the immaculate production to the masterful music, Serpents Unleashed just exudes everything that a metal album should be.
Meat cleaver sharp riffs weave together with otherworldly harmonies at breakneck speeds. Lyrics of demonic rejection of the status quo are screamed with darkly passionate hatred. If the Witch has not cast its spell on you yet, listen to this record and you will find yourself immediately cursed with an unfulfillable desire to thrash.