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Best of 2013

Frank's Top 20 Albums of 2013

My Top 5 List of Things You Should Take Away From My Top 20 List

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5. I still believe numerical album lists are silly, competitive, arbitrary, and unnecessary. I'd like to keep music an art, not a sport.
4. My objective in life is to share the bands I love with you, I make this list for no other reason than that.
3. You'll notice this collection has fewer obscure bands than any of my previous lists. I've heard tons of demos this year, I just haven't found many that blew my pants off.
2. I genuinely love every genre of metal, anyone who picks and chooses bands based on sub-genre is a fool.
1. Nothing matters, everything is awesome. Get out of your house, laugh, live, and listen to more music!


Call Of The Void – Dragged Down A Dead End Path

If this album could talk and wrote its own description, it might read something like "… BECAUSE I FUCKING SAID SO!" Honestly, I'd be fine with that.

Listen "Abomination"

Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer

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The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

From the first few notes of this record DEP reminds the world why they are one of the greatest bands on and off stage. Once again tapping into the vein of controlled chaos I would easily say this is my favorite DEP release since the Miss Machine/ Calculating Infinity days. I also had the privilege of following the band for a week this summer, and hanging with them off stage / watching them on stage only fortified my decision that they are all the killer!

Listen "Prancer"

Vattnet Viskar - Sky Swallower

Vattnet Viskar – Sky Swallower
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I've been both a fan and friend of this band since their demo, so when they signed to Century Media I was pretty excited to see where they're heading with the release of their debut. I'm happy to say this is easily one of my favorite records of the year, and excels where most of the Shoegazing Black Metal bands of the last few years have fallen short. It is a truly unique and beautiful album front to back. Good work ya jerks!

Listen "Breath Of The Almighty"


Krimh – Explore

Krimh is the solo project (and sole performance) by Kerim Lechner, the drummer that left my jaw on the floor with his time in Decapitated. If you're a fan of his work with Decapitated then you'll love the record because there is plenty of bad ass death metal moments, but as the name suggests, the album really explores new territory for Lechner that I would have never expected to hear. Taking a page from other solo acts like Cloudkicker, Explore sees moments of extreme dynamics, and shoe gazing riffs that have me hooked.

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Listen "Pieces"


Baptists – Bushcraft

This full-length debut completely re-writes the definition of the word "Fierce". It's crusty, witty, and brutal with a side of punk and hardcore. It also features some of the best drum phrasing I've heard since Converge's Axe To Fall album. If you're a drummer, you owe it to yourself to study this one.

Listen "Think Tank Breed"


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Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy

Since I was a kid Rotting Christ has been that "super evil" band I'd always throw on to scare my mom, and I think they might have out done themselves with Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy. On my first listen I felt like I walked away from a evil hooded clan ritual in the woods, and the only thing I could do was repeat the album because I wanted more. Aside from the dark ritual tones, the album is beautifully moving and melodic. This is easily my favorite RC record of their 20 year career, how often does that happen!?

Listen "P'unchaw kachun – Tuta kachun"


Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed
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Truth be told, when I heard Skeletonwitch would be working with producer Kurt Ballou I just couldn't "see" it. Damn was I wrong! This album is not only a testament to the work of Ballou and his range, but to the true potential of Skeletonwitch in a way we've never heard before. Razor sharp melodic thrash with the clarity of a prog album and punch of a D-beat band makes for a pretty stellar record!

Listen "Burned From Bone"

Wolfheart - Winterborn

Wolfheart – Winterborn

This is the best "Sad Metal" album I've heard since 2009. If you're into beautifully crafted melancholic tones that could only be produced by the coldest of Finnish winters, then this gem belongs in your collection. Featuring ex- main man of Before The Dawn, Tuomas Saukkonen is the sole writer and player on the record. If you're familiar with his earlier work, then you'll be super stoked to hear what is basically now his solo project.

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Listen "Routa Pt.2"


Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth

Imagine Vigo The Carpathian, Lord Voldemort, Sauron, and Lucifer merged into a Bill & Ted station-like creature whose sole purpose is to slaughter the existence of the world with the combined efforts of undeniable evil powers. The only thing that can top this evil son-of-a-bitch is a single copy of Fleshgod Apocalypse's Labyrinth on compact disc. This album is THAT fucking EPIC! I can't wait to watch this band take over the world while slurping their spaghetti.

Listen "Minotaur (The Wrath of Poseidon)"


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In Solitude – Sister

Sister is the record that turned a band I always sort of liked into the band I really love. They're not re-inventing the wheel, hell they're not even re-inventing themselves on this record, they simply just found a sweet spot I hope they never leave. There is a dark old school charm on Sister that is hard to explain, so why bother myself to do so? Listen to the record on a long drive through the forrest and you'll see what I mean.

Listen "Death Knows Where"


Russian Circles – Memorial
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Looking back on the hundreds of bands I've seen live in 2013, Russian Circles has to be one of the best. They can literally play on any size stage, venue, basement, or bathroom and they will captivate you with their unique brand of dynamic musical story telling. Memorial picks up where Empros left off, in that it is equally raw yet sonically impressive. There are very few instrumental bands that could hold the interest of an audience for long, but I dare say Russian Circles are the kings and only getting better with time.

Listen "Deficit"


The Ocean – Pelagial

This album grew on me like a fungus I couldn't get rid of. I didn't learn about the concept of the record until maybe my 15th listen, but it surprisingly did enhance the understanding and appreciation to all the incredible details going on in what I already thought was a beautiful collection of music. When science and music mix, everyone wins!

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Listen "Bathyalpelagic II: The Wish in Dreams"


Tesseract – Altered State

I received this record before their press cycle even began, so it was one of the first records I listened to this year and continues to be part of my weekly playlist. I was happily surprised how serious the tone of the record is having hung out with my buddy James Monteith a number of times (dude is a riot), but how serious they are about music is probably the reason they made such a great album that walks the thread between emotion and intellect.

Listen "Nocturne"

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Shining – One One One

I consider this my "fun" record of the year. Combining elements of Jazz, Metal, Alternative, Industrial, and Math-core it is impossible not to have a good time listening to One One One. Shining is truly a unique band that dances to the beat of their own drums, and for that I have nothing but respect. If you're looking for something adventurous I recommend checking out the band, they're even a unique band to watch live.

Listen "My Dying Drive"


Týr – Valkyrja
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If you didn't already know, TYR is probably the only tr00 Viking/ Folk metal band that ever existed. When most of the genre's bands head back to their European Condos at the end of tour, Tyr has to fly, boat, and pack-mule back to a side of a cliff off the steepest mountain that they call home. Living on what looks like the set of Lord Of The Rings is going to find its way into just about everything you do in life, and I'm sure glad they chose music as their path. Although Valkyrja might be the band's most Americanized effort (complete with awesome covers of Pantera and Iron Maiden), there is still something so TYR about it, and having a signature sound is such a hard thing to have in today's music.

Listen "Grindavísan"

Video thumbnail for youtube video Album Review: NAILS <em>Abandon All Life</em> - Metal Injection

Nails – Abandon All Life

If you're ever in the mood to be completely pummeled in under 18 mins flat, then this is the record for you. Raw angst, overloaded distortion, disgusting tones… what more could a grind fan possibly want out of life?

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Listen "Abandon All Life"

October Tide - Tunnel-Of-No-Light-Cover

October Tide – Tunnel of No Light

It is impossible to listen to this record all the way through without getting claw cramp! Filled with melodic melancholy, Tunnel of No Light is the perfect doom album to set as a soundtrack to a cold snowy day. Although founding member Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) is no longer in the band, I'm sort of glad things worked out the way they did, because now we have a heavier/ more direct version of one of the sad metal greats.

Listen "Of Wounds To Come"


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Norma Jean – Wrongdoers

Norma Jean completely slayed the Metal Sucks SXSW showcase in March, we were still talking about how good they were weeks later. Since then I anticipated the release of their new album, but with a new guitarist, bassist, and drummer on board, it was impossible to speculate what we'd get from Wrongdoers. What I didn't expect was the most mature and evolved release from the band to date. Also if you're a fan of great guitar feedback like me, you'll definitely appreciate this one. I could listen to a compilation of guitar farts from this album all day long. Of course the pummeling, unapologetic breakdowns are no slouch either.

Listen "If You Got It At Five, You Got It At Fifty"


Castevet – Obsian
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If there is a fine line between genius and insanity, then I'd call Castevet the line. The phrasing of their instruments are unlike any band out there today, to the point when asked to describe them I often just say "they sound like… Castevet!". Since the release of their debut, Mounds Of Ash, I've been dripping with anticipation for a follow up. Obsian not only fills my quench, but confirms my belief this band is way ahead of their planet.

Listen "Fathomed By Beggars And Victims"


Dream Theater – Dream Theater

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a private listening party of the record with the band, label and producer in attendance. My immediate response was "This is the best Dream Theater album since 2003's Train of Thought" and honestly my opinion has not changed since that day. A killer album deserving of the name Dream Theater.

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Listen "The Enemy Inside"


Cloudkicker – Subsume

When Ben Sharp took Cloudkicker into lighter territory the last couple years I didn't mind one bit, in fact Let Yourself Be Huge is one of my personal favorites, but I definitely rejoiced over the return of heavy Cloudkicker jams on Subsume. Naturally the album is incredible and reminiscent of everything we love about Cloudkicker in the first place.

Listen "A weather front was stalled out in the Pacific"

Wormed - Exodromos

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Wormed – Exodromos

Simply put, Exodromos is absolutely punishing in every way imaginable. If technical death metal is your thing, then you owe it to yourself to witness the insanity of Spain's Wormed. As MetalSucks commenter "CyberneticOrganism" put it *head, cock and ass all explode*

Listen "The Nonlocality Trilemma" Exodromos"


Leprous – Coal
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If you're a fan of Ihsahn's solo career, there is no reason you've been sleeping on Leprous, especially since the two acts make their connection well known. Unlike the last killer Leprous album Bilateral, this one credits Ihsahn as a co-producer. While I'm not sure how much impact that had on the record, I can say with confidence that this band is doing a fantastic job at making killer prog records.

Listen "Chronic"

Awesome Bands That Were Disqualified Because They Released an EP
White Widows Pact – White Widows Pact
Insomnium – Ephemeral
Grayceon – Pearl and the End of Days
Enabler – Flies

Awesome Bands That Are On My Top 40 List
Noctum – Final Sacrifice
Deicide – In The Minds Of Evil
Antigama – Meteor
East Of The Wall – Redaction Artifacts
Cleanteeth – Pushing Rope
So Hideous – Last Poem / First Light
Tiger Flowers – Dead Hymns
Karnivool – Asymmetry
Carcass – Surgical Steel
Fuck The Facts – Amer
Chthonic – Bu-Tik
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control
Ministry – From Beer To Eternity
Ulcerate – Vermis
O' Brother – Disillusion
Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness
Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack
Gorguts – Colored Sands
Dead In The Dirt – The Blind Hole
All Pigs Must Die – Nothing Violates This Nature

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Best Non-Metal Albums Of 2013

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