This year has been one of the best for music in a long time, for me personally. All of my favorite artists but one (RIP Peter Steele) dropped new music, and all of it was good.
Each week when I prepare the Weekly Injection I get to listen to dozens of bands to narrow down just who I will be telling all of you beautiful people about. The downside to that awesome job is that in hearing so much music it becomes harder to remember albums from weeks past. While I'm sure there were amazing records I hear that I didn't mention, the ones I am mentioning made a bigger impact. I felt the need to come back to them over and over.
Some folks dislike quantifying their likes and dislikes, but not I. I love making lists and useless rankings, so without further rambling, these are my 15 favorite albums from 2013.
15. Secrets of the Sky – To Sail Black Waters
This album is an epic journey unlike anything else out there. This is blackened, progressive, and oh so doomy. Here is a mini-review of it I wrote a while back. This record still deserves more of my time.
Check out: "Decline"
14. Dethklok – The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera
While only about 40% metal, this is one of the most fun records released this year. Brenden Small seemingly can do no wrong, and the success of this insane experiment makes me curious what other things he has up his sleeve both in and out of Dethklok.
Check out: "The Duel"
13. Purson – The Circle and The Blue Door
If you have missed this gem, I’d like to introduce you to the world’s best (and perhaps only) “Baroque ‘n’ roll” band. The band creates something that lies between Sweden’s stoner throwbackers Graveyard and the 1988 metal Grammy winner Jethro Tull, while remaining Incredible and unlike anything else out there.
Check out: "The Contract"
12. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
I am in a minority of people that loved Year Zero, so when Trent Reznor revived his barely cold Nine Inch Nails, I was happy to hear a return to the YZ form. This one even gives the listener more to dance too.
Check out: "I Would For You"
11. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is the Killer
This is actually the album that made me “get” The Dillinger Escape Plan. Since the release I’ve gone back to older material and have found that this one is the perfect blend of everything this band is.
Check out: "When I Lost My Bet"
10. East of the Wall – Redaction Artifacts
I gushed about this album at length here, and since them my love for it has only grown. This is the perfect East of the Wall album. Sludgy, progressive, melodic, chaotic, and so much more.
Check out: "Noir Filter"
9. Protest the Hero – Volition
This is the album that made me fall in love with Protest The Hero all over again. Easily their best work. My full review here.
Check out: "A Life Embossed"
8. Scale the Summit – The Migration
Scale the Summit manage to find the balance between classy instrumental music and guitar wankery, and I love them for it. This was my only perfect score review since I started at Metal Injection.
Check out: "Atlas Novus"
7. Leprous – Coal
I realize that I could start all of these reviews with this phrase but still, I fucking love this band. This record is everything I’ve been into lately without falling into the clichés. Rhythmic without being djent, ambient without being droning, grand without being silly, catchy without relying on tropes make a record catchy. Having Ihsahn make a few appearances didn’t hurt either.
Check out: "The Valley"
6. Grayceon – Pearl & the End of Days
Yes, this is an EP of two songs (two long ass songs, mind you), and both those songs are unbelievable. Female-fronted cello progressive sludge…or something.
Check out: "Pearl"
5. The Ocean – Pelagial
Much like Secrets of the Sky this album is a mighty journey, although this one is to the depths of the sea. I adore this band’s constant growth and this is their finest step in their evolution.
Check Out: "Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams"
4. Clutch – Earth Rocker
Clutch isn’t a band I see becoming Motorhead-like in that they release the same album over and over, but they are certainly an old faithful. You usually know what to expect with these guys. At the same time, the album feels like a return to form. The band’s other directions were just as great, so it’s hard to say if I like this more than the band’s foray into bluesville. Regardless, the band created another collection of addictive track.
Check Out: "Crucial Velocity"
3. Cloudkicker – Subsume
Ben Sharp is a fucking god. He is the Devin Townsend of instrumental, one-man musical projects. He can do just about anything and it will rule.
Check Out: "A weather front was stalled out in the Pacific–like a lonely person, lost in thought, oblivious of time."
2. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
I was so nervous for this album. I was someone that liked Era Vulgaris, but didn’t love it (a fact one of you lovely readers rightfully called me a cunt for), so anticipation plus expectations were working against Josh Homme this round, and he didn’t disappoint one bit with this much moodier album. I reviewed a few releases on this list and while …Like Clockwork didn’t get a perfect score, I’ve come back to it more than almost any album, and my enjoyment of it grew with every listen. I’d call it a 10/10 now.
Check Out: "I Appear Missing"
1. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)
I don’t even remember where I streamed it, but I heard an early leak of this album on January first of this year and from the first listen, I knew It would be a hard one to beat. I enjoyed Grace in Drowning so much (it was my number 1 for 2011, in fact) and honestly didn’t see Steven Wilson topping himself. With even more jazz fusion and experimental progressive rock touches, he absolutely did. It didn’t hurt that his band was a borderline dream-team of musicians either with Guthrie Govan, Marco Minnemann, Nick Beggs, Adam Holzman and Theo Travis playing alongside Wilson. This album cemented Wilson as one of my favorite artists of all time, and marked two back-to-back favorite albums of all time for me. Is it metal? Technically no I suppose, but the spirit is there and Wilson’s overall work in the genre has certainly earned him a place. I think I’ll go listen to it for the 1000th time now…
Check Out: "The Watchmaker" or any track really
Honorable Mentions for what it's worth
Kadavar – Abra Kadavar
Cult of Luna – Vertikal
Soilwork – The Living Infinite
Anciients – Heart of Oak
Cleanteeth – Pushing Rope
Great non-Metal Albums
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
O'Brother – Disillusion
Jimmy Pardo – Sprezzatura
The Dear Hunter – Migrant
Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
See y’all in 2014.