Seldom do I feel the need to explain myself but for once in my life I'm considering my goddamn audience. I'm not your typical metal head, in fact I don't even identify as such. Take that as you will but if I had to pick a scene I'm most connected with it'd be grind (not grindcore, we don't need to go and put “core” at the end of every fucking genre). Though that's not to say I've any disrespect for the scene. Quite the opposite, I have the utmost admiration for it. But from here on on out, understand that this probably isn't your typical metal list by any stretch of the imagination.
Now before we get into this, someone or something is bound to have an aneurism about some bullshit on this list. “Blah blah can't possibly be better than this because of some fucking reason or another.” Glad you think so. When you make your list feel free to swap those or eliminate one altogether. I really don't care. As far as I'm concerned these are the essential ten records that belong in anyone's/everyone's collections. Though these honorable mentions should be considered.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Modern Life is War – Fever Hunting
Carcass – Surgical Steel
Impiety – The Impious Crusade
Nocturnal Graves – …From the Bloodline of Cain
Deafheaven – Sunbather
Exhumed – Necrocrasy
Gorguts – Colored Sands
Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
Dead in the Dirt – The Blind Hole
Nails – Abandon All Life
Ramlord – Crippled Minds, Sundered Wisdom
Squash Bowels – Grindcoholism
Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
Hatred Surge – Human Overdose
Okay, a lot of honorable mentions. So sue me, I dig tunes and there was a lot of solid shit released this year. Get it all. Except this next one.
Dishonorable Mention (aka: Worst Album of the Year):
Black Flag – What The…
And now with that out of the way, onto my ten favorite releases of the year:
10. Iron Lung – White Glove Test
The two piece blasting unit Iron Lung have returned with yet another awesome release. It's been almost six years since Sexless/ /No Sex but the band has returned in full form and with a bonus noise album to boot, plus a merged version. Iron Lung has been kicking strong for years now and I've loved them ever since Life. Iron Lung. Death. Iron' Lung's latest assault is fantastic and organic sounding. Songs are often off beat and sporadic, running between sludge and blast beats at unpredictable intervals. Tracks like “Pain Directive” and the vicious “Brutal Supremacy I-III” can easily get stuck in your head. The album flow is uncompromising and power violence simply doesn't get much better than this. Except with the merged version, which adds ambiance to this already brutal display of dominance.
9. Carpe Noctem – In Terra Profugus
This Icelandic ambient black metal unit has gone under a lot of radars but seems to be surfacing a little more in the last month or two. Carpe Noctem is a fantastic band that manages to meld black metal with ambiance and aggression in exceptional ways. In Terra Profugus is an incredible offering that seemingly went unmatched throughout the year. While only five tracks in total length, this album is astounding and constantly interesting. It's aggressive and melodic and never relenting and grabs your ears by the lobes and screams into them. If you missed your chance at hearing this album, now's the time to check it out. If you can somehow get through “Vitriol” without feeling your veins constrict you're probably dead.
8. Fell Voices – Regnum Saturni
Fell Voices is one of the best ambient black metal forces out there today. Favoring more instrumentation over loud, evil vocals, the band has massive presence. They're a band that require your full attention. Much like their first untitled offering, Regnum Saturni is raw. Though this is probably the least destructive album on this list, it is still worth listening to and checking out. Fell Voices are simply fantastic at what they do and while some might call them minimalists, they are still a force to be reckoned with. Don't sleep on this one.
7. Wormed – Exodromos
While death metal isn't usually a genre I listen to, Wormed Exodromos was an album that felt captivating. It's bleak lyricism mixed with Dillinger Escape Plan soundscapes pulled together a mangled and manic experience. Exodromos far surpasses its predecessor Planisphærium in instrumentation, technicality and lyricism. It's assembly is mechanical and destructive and the album is amazingly recognized.
6. Cloud Rat – Moksha
Those of you that don't know the Cloud Rat name have some catching up to do. The grind/punk trio have been making a name for themselves since 2010 and Moksha really brings to light the potential this band holds. Being experimental in grind is a shit and a half since you're going to get hate from all sides of the board; betraying the sound and all that garbage. Cloud Rat manage to avoid the cheese though and deliver an intense and straightforward package that really kills it. If you missed Moksha now's the time to get your ass over to Halo of Flies and pick this excellent release up.
5. Full of Hell – Rudiments of Mutilation
Full of Hell is one of those bands that are incredibly distinctive. They've found their spot in the heavy underworld and they're not doing shit to change what made them great. Dylan Walker's shrill, spastic voice brings all the more intensity when he's screaming about bones cracking and hair burning. The album feels more concentrated than Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home but doesn't by an inch break from its sonic rage. The noise experimentation is present as well adding an air of ambiance and pulling the album in interesting directions without distraction. All in all, a fantastic offering from an incredible band.
4. Weekend Nachos – Still
For me, Weekend Nachos are one of the best bands of the last ten years. And Still continues to solidify all the things that made them great: the sludge, the blasts, the rage, and the desire to fucking kill. The album brims with rage and disgust. Hearing Jon Hoffman challenge people on their bullshit in songs like “You're Not Punk” and “S.C.A.B.” only kick the whole thing up. I would probably have this band's babies if I had ovaries.
3. All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature
Hell yes. Just hell yes. After the seething, burning, hateful, and amazing album that was God Is War, All Pigs Must Die actually managed to up the intensity ante and pull off this amazing record. While I went in having no doubts that Nothing Violates This Nature would rule, I had no idea it would kick this much ass. The album is more metallic and more d-beat and picks up the speed with furious voracity. One of the most intense releases of the year served with a heavy heaping of hate.
2. Noisem – Agony Defined
Did you sleep on this? You fuckin' fool. Noisem is one of the most promising new bands to come out this year. Probably the most promising and they deserve the attention they've been starting to gather. Hell they're touring with Pig Destroyer currently with is fucking awesome. But enough about that. Agony Defined is a fantastic ensemble of death and thrash mishmashed by pros. Every time I listen to this album it absolutely blows me away. These guys sound like they've been doing this for years. The guitars absolutely grind away, dueling solos back and forth and crunching riffs mixed with vicious vocals all make for an incredible package. And yes, I'm aware there's a Japanese noise band by the name "Noism."
1. Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us is the Killer
This album. This fucking album. There's just no equal to the incredible force of Dillinger Escape Plan. This is a band that is absolutely bestial in execution both live and in the studio. Every song sound like its trying to murder the last in terms of intensity. Even when Dillinger slows down they don't relent. “Crossburner,” as an example, is a slower paced but explosive piece that blasts like an atom bomb. However, other tracks like “Prancer” and “When I Lost My Bet” showcase the band in sporadic, unpredictable moods of aggression and melody. 2013 had no equal when measuring up to One of Us is the Killer. Simply put: this album absolutely owns and, as I've said before, they're still some of the best jazz composers of the last century. Get it now.
As a side note, by the time I wrote this list I did not have Completed Exposition'sStructure Space Mankind. If it's as good as I think it's going to be, it probably has a place on this list. An updated, and more expanded edition (complete with vlogs and genres of music that transcend metal/hardcore), can be found at: coffeecupreview.wordpress.com, given a month or so.
You have a top ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty? Post that shit in the comments because yeah, I'd like to know.
And with a heavy glass of Crown Royal Maple (← this shit is fuckin' magic), I raise a toast to 2014, though right now I can hardly see. Take care, folks. See you soon.