Hails and greetings from the world of MSRcast. This is one of your hosts, Cary G, the artist formerly known as Evil C. I wanted to take a few minutes and join in on the Best of 2013 for Metal Injection. I have never been a huge proponent of Top lists, which is why on MSRcast, we always do our yearly rewind episode, but I am going to give it the ‘ol college try.
My tastes might differ from some of the other writers that I can see so far, as I tend to love a lot of Power Metal, but there were some surprises for me this year as well. And just to be different, I present you my top 14 albums of 2013, in no particular order, of course.
14. Queensryche – Queensryche
Who would have ever thought that a band as legendary as Queensryche could replace their vocalist with someone new and then compete with ex-vocalist and kick their ass in every sense of the way. Todd La Torre, formerly of Crimson Glory amazingly sounds more than what Geoff Tate can muster these days. This has caused a new found resurgence of fondness for the band for me, and I believe the band themselves have been reinvigorated. This is AOR rock/metal at it’s finest. Hopefully the legal problems will all end soon, and this new and real Queensryche will rise above any other imitators. Seriously, listen to something off this release and then try to listen to Geoff Tate’s version of the band. Night and day!
Check out: Fallout
13. Exhumed – Necrocracy
I just can’t get enough of the brand new Exhumed platter of new music. Taking a little bit of different approach this time as going a little more straight forward Death Metal, but dammit, it works! And Matt Harvey is one of the coolest dudes in the business. We spent hours talking about comic books on my other show recently. How much more metal can you get?
Check out: Dysmorphic
12. Leprous – Coal
This is the band that Ihsahn has chosen to be his backing band, so there is that. Leprous are an avante garde progressive metal band in every sense of the word. Hauntingly beautiful, heavy, progressive, and memorable. I can’t recommend this album enough. This album is darker and more melancholic, and deserves to be heard!
Check out: The Cloak
Check out: Chronic Featuring Ihsahn
11. Oliva – Raise The Curtains
This album is very eclectic with a lot of styles that are represented. The traditional sounding Jon Oliva riffage is here, and this album features some of the last songs written by Criss Oliva to ever be recorded. If you are a fan of Jon Oliva penned music, this is definitely a no brainer, and the songs will get stuck in your head for weeks! This is the Savatage album you have been waiting for. There are some epic Beatles like moments as well in the song ”Can’t Get Away”.
Check out the MSRcast interview episode.
MSRcast 142: Jon Oliva Interview
Check out: Can’t Get Away
10. Ayreon – The Theory Of Everything
Anything that mastermind Arjen Lucassen touches is absolute gold to these ears, I was excited by the new Ayreon album. Production is again top notch, and if you lke your prog on the heavier side, look no further. Featuring a stable of artists including JB from Grand Magus, Cristiana Scabbia from Lacuna Coil, Marco Hietela from Nightwish, and Tommy Karevik from Kamelot. Although a little bit harder to digest than previous releases, as this album is divided into multiple mini tracks, and a little hard to put your mind around, but this is one of those albums where you put on and divest time into, and read the lyrics, and get into the narrative that has been created. Don’t put it on in the background. It’s genius!
Check out: The Theory Of Everything
9. Carcass – Surgical Steel
I really feel like I am just jumping on the bandwagon with this pick, but dammit, it is so good. A comeback album that actually does right. Carcass have returned with a “killer” new album that combines the best of their grindage era and their “Rot N’ Roll” era. Highly recommended. And the packaging is aces! The riffage is just so good!
Check out: Captive Bolt Pistol
8. Gorguts – Colored Sands
Oh my! This is comeback album of the decade for me! Gorguts have returned to reclaim the throne of technical Death Metal done to the Nth degree. This is everything I love about this form of Death Metal, the technicality, the hooks, the drums, the melodic nature of the riffing. Luc Lemay and the crew from Canada bring forth one of my favorite albums of the year. Sad it took 12 years to get a new album from them. Hopefully it won’t be that long until the next one.
Check out: Forgotten Arrows
7. Trouble – the Distortion Field
I am a huge nerd when it comes to the band Trouble, and Eric Wagner is one of my all time favorite vocalists, so it was a little trepidation that I went into the new album. I will say this, Kyle Thomas fits this version of Trouble extremely well. His soulful vocal delivery is a perfect marriage with the new batch of songs that still have the same patented traditonal, Trouble sound, but there are some songs included here that might just surprise you in the style, and in a perfectly good way. One of my favorite bands has found new life, and I couldn’t be more happier! This is Doom metal taken to a new direction.
Check out: When The Sky Comes Down
6. Amorphis – Circle
Call me a fan when it comes to deep and clear guttural vocals, and this one has it in spades. I have always been a fan of Amorphis, but it wasn’t until new vocalist (Joined band in 2005),Tomi Joutsen joined that I became a diehard fan. His contrasting haunting clean vocals and brutal growls blend perfectly with the heavy and catchy metal these Finnish stalwarts have been producing for many years. I know some people are not a fan of their new style, but I defy you to find someone who does it better than Amorphis.
Check Out: Hopeless Days
5. Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time
Edguy and Avantasia mastermind Tobias Sammet has created another brilliant Metal and Rock opera. Epicness just oozes from the album, whether it is a heavy proggy song, power metal in nature, or yes, even delves into pop music territory with “Sleepwalking”. With another batch of artists including Bruce Kulick, Arjen Lucassen, Joe Lynn Turner, Michael Kiske, Biff Byford and yes, even Eric Martin from Mr. Big.
Listen to the MSRcast interview with Michael Kiske where he discusses Avantasia.
MSRcast 147: Interview with Michael Kiske
Check out: The Watchmaker’s Dream
Check out: Sleepwalking
4. Stratovarius – Nemesis
After a not so great release, Stratovarius have stepped back up into the forefront of melodic metal. This album blends all of the best known traits that the bad is known for including sweeping vocals, melodic guitar riffage, power, and technicality. Keyboards have always played a big part of this band’s style, and are as important to the sound of the band as the guitars. Just listen to the track, “Halcyon Days”, and the dark overtones of the keyboards that play against the bouncy guitar riffs. This album is reason why Stratovarius has become one of my new favorite bands.
Check out: Halcyon Days
3. Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell
What can you say about Helloween that hasn’t been said before? They continually put out quality and memorable albums that will be stuck in your head for months and years. Straight Out Of Hell is no different. Hell, just trying to pick out one song to give you a sample of is a hard feat in itself. This is album kicks off with a band, and never relents or the duration. Except for the haunting ballad-y “Hold Me In Your Arms”. German power metal at it’s finest. Plus there is a hidden Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas hidden in the artwork.
Check Out: Nabataea
2. Oceans Of Slumber – Aetherial
Oceans Of Slumber might just be the best band you have never heard. Hailing right here from Houston, and featuring in their ranks members of some underground stalwarts including Demoniacal Genuflection, Infernal Dominion and Insect Warfare. This is a band full of extremely talented members, and every note and musical change shines through. Dobber Beverly is one of my all time favorite drummers of any musical genre. You will find a plethora of metal genre thrown into a blender, but don’t fret, it all works flawlessly. Don’t try to classify, because they simply don’t care. They just play and write what they like. Do yourself a favor, I urge you to check out this band.
Check out the MSRcast interview episode with the entire band
MSRcast 136: Oceans Of Slumber Interview
Check out: Remedy
1. Witherscape – The Inheritance
I am a huge fan of Mr. Dan Swano, and was awaiting this brand new release from the mastermind, and it does not disappoint. His deep yet cohesive growls, clear and concise, play well with his clean singing voice which he uses to great effect on this release. The production is top notch, proggish in nature, but still uber heavy in parts, and all of it very catchy. Plus, all the lyrics for this concept style record are done by Novembers Doom’s Paul Kuhr.
Check out our interview with Dan Swano on episode 140 of MSRcast.
MSRcast 140: Dan Swano Interview
Check out: Astrid Falls
I will be the first to admit that there are lots of albums that slipped under the cracks for me this year, including some that I was not able to fully devote enough time to completely appreciate. So, there you have it. I told you I had eclectic tastes in music, and this list hopefully proves it.
Stay tuned to MSRcast right here on Metal Injection as Jon-Michael and myself, along with special guest Iann Robinson from Crave Online, and former MTV VJ bring you our 2013 rewind!
I am putting a single song as an honorable mention that everyone needs to listen to. This is from Revolution Harmony, which benefits Buskaid, and features Ihsahn with Serj Tankian, with guitar work by Devin Towsend! Such an amazing song!
Check Out: Revolution Harmony – We Are
Devin Townsend – The Retinal Circus – Hey, I can put a live release in here if only it is Hevy Devy himself, Right?
Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Warbeast – Destroy
Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
Orphaned Land – All Is One
Omnium Gatherum – Beyond
Hypocrisy – End Of Disclosure
Suicidal Tendencies – 13
Fates Warning – Darkness In A Different Light
Broken Hope – Omen Of Disease