Here we are again; the end of another year in metal. And here I am again, trying to put together a list of the albums that I liked the most out of an entire year. This is usually the part where I defend my choices and all that stuff. Honestly, I know some of you are going to outright hate my list, and that’s perfectly fine. I mean who knows, I might hate your lists out of sheer retaliation. But it’s all a matter of opinion. You might even develop an opinion about my opinions.
It’s all in the name of good metal though, and my list is what I believe to be the best metal I have heard in the year 2013. Now, if you’ve ever done one of these yourself, you know how tough it can be. Sometimes it just gets hard trying to find different ways of simply saying, “This album was good.” But I think perhaps the biggest challenge of a task like this is trying to rank them in some sort of numerical order. In doing that, you’re definitively saying, “These albums were good, but this one was better than that one,” and that can sometimes be an impossible call to make.
So, I’ll be taking the low road and just listing my albums in no particular order whatsoever.
I really wish this album got more recognition than it did; it completely blew me away. This was one the smartest albums I heard all year. It had a very diverse style to it; and it brought the focus away on what “kind” of metal it was and just focused on making good metal. It’s melodic, it’s sporadic, it’s progressive, it’s aggressive, it’s just good. I’m still listening to this album every once in a while, and I don’t think I can say that for any of the others in this list, as much as I love the rest as well.
You know when you listen to the first track off of a new album and just…”know”? That’s what happened on Aftershock. Right from the get-go in the opening song “Heartbreaker”, it immediately told you that it meant serious business. It sounded more pleasing to the ears (in comparison to previous albums), it was catchy and it was Lemmy; it’s just Motörhead! Amidst all the health scare stories from Lemmy we got this year, this album still proved that they still deserve all the hype, and that they have no intentions of stopping.
No, it’s not their best album, nor was it even the best metal release this year, but I still loved this album. Granted, I was hyped just to get an all-new Black Sabbath album in my lifetime, with the original members (sans Bill Ward). And it delivered. It didn’t break any new ground or attempt to create a new sound for Sabbath. Rather, it seemed to tread on the hallowed ground they themselves actually created, and did it well at that. The gloomy slow paced rock with tons of memorable guitar riffs and Ozzy’s voice just completely did me in.
Six Feet Under really just seems to get better with every release. I guess it could be because of a number of line-up changes that consequently make their new material seem more fresh. But with Barnes’ always at the helm, it’s always been familiar. Unborn might not sound like their entire library of music, but there’s no questioning this is Six Feet Under. The whole album is a headbanger the whole way through. Brutal, yet groovy, and just completely Six Feet Under.
I had no idea what to expect with Oblivion when I first checked them out. I only knew that Ben Orum from All Shall Perish was their bassist, and I just went from there. What I got was more than just insanely good death metal, but also some of the greatest fusions of metal and classical music I have ever heard. Sure sure, it’s been done before and will continue to be done in the future, but this was different. This was actual metal written as if it were a classical composition, and orchestral instruments performing like a metal band. I was completely floored by how flawlessly this was executed, and I called it the first must-own album of 2013. I still mean it too; if you still don’t have Called To Rise, you need to purchase it immediately. It is seriously THAT good.
This was one of my most anticipated albums this year. The Black Dahlia Murder is one of my all-time favorites, and there isn’t a single release of theirs I dislike. I was honestly a tad bit skeptical having lost Shannon Lucas on drums, but Alan Cassidy did a fantastic job, almost to the point where I wouldn’t have noticed. Everblack is one of the most solid albums ever released by the band. It can be a little different at times (“Every Rope a Noose”), yet it still just has their signature flair to every single track. It has that high emphasis on the melodic, while still giving you punch after punch to the chest with every track. I think there’s just no way prior fans could not have liked Everblack.
This band is easy fodder for metalheads who hate the teen-oriented, pop-punky bands like Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! I mean, if you’re having a go with a band like Suffocation or even Black Sabbath, even fans of C!NCC! might wince a bit at hearing this combination of metalcore and pop-punk. But it doesn’t hide the fact that Pardon My French is simply just good music once you look past some layers. It brought me back to a time where bands like Blink-182 were my life. And the actual metalcore aspect of the album was awesome as well. It was kind of a strange combination, which is probably why I loved it even more.
TesseracT is definitely one of the more well-known names in prog metal right now, and Altered State proves that in every way possible. Every time I listened to it, I had to stop anything else I may have been doing at the time just so I could process all of the complexities and atmospheres Altered State presented. Much like other exceptional prog releases, it just takes you on a journey that you never want to end. To be fair, it doesn’t break new prog ground or anything, but it is just prog done the right way.
This was probably the most musical metal album I heard the entire year. Fans of Pelican will know that they aren’t the ones to turn to when you want something outright heavy. Similar to reasons TesseracT’s Altered State was one of my top choices this year, Forever Becoming forces you to really stop and listen, and take in everything it is conveying. It was energetic at times, but mostly it was just brilliantly atmospheric, colorful and musical. It’s a nice break from other metals where aggression and brutality is rampant. And there’s nothing wrong with that either, it just makes Forever Becoming shine even more in contrast.
I thought it would be best to lump these two as one entry, because after all, these aren’t releases with any actual new content. But I still highly anticipated these albums; perhaps even more than The Black Dahlia Murder this year.
Metallica Through The Never is arguably the best live album Metallica has ever released. It’s definitely of the best audio recording, and isn’t that what you really need in a live album? Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you just feel the raw energy that the band puts forth in every show from fan reactions and the music itself. The track listing is all their standards but who is gonna argue against more “Master of Puppets”?
I think my only grief (which I probably share with others) is why would they bother to title their movie/album after one of their songs, (“Through the Never”, The Black Album), and they don’t even play it during the concert. That was pretty much the only song I absolutely wanted to see on the album. In any case, the album is crisp and vigorous from start to finish. It’s a completely accurate cross-section of their famous live shows.
Even though I loved As The Places Burn as it was when it first came out, I always knew that it just didn’t sound very good. The kick drum was too clicky, the guitars were too raspy, and so on. But it was still an awesome album. And then this remastered version was announced, and I just knew all of the nitpicks I had were going to be addressed and fixed. And it was! Straight away with “Ruin”, there was immediate improvement, especially in the drums for the sake of “Ruin”. It’s obviously much more pleasing to the ears and made an already awesome album even better.