The people who haven’t seen Animals As Leaders perform live would never stop vomiting if they knew what they were missing. Definitely a Top Ten Metal Concerts performance. Maybe Top 5…
The Irving Theater, Indianapolis IN | 5/26/2014
Not a bad list from my bro, but let me fix it. These are the ones that dominated my Walkman back in the day.
10. Sepultura - Beneath The Remains
9. Overkill - The Years of Decay
8. Forbidden - Twisted Into Form
7. Nuclear Assault - Survive
6. D.R.I. - Dealing With It
5. Flotsam & Jetsam - No Place For Disgrace
4. Sodom - Persecution Mania
3. Destruction - Release From Agony
2. Voivod - Killing Technology
1. Sabbat - Dreamweaver
Some would say any such list without Exodus, Kreator, or Testament on it is dead on arrival. I tend to agree, but just can’t get past the fact that I like the above albums just a little more than anything by those bands. Gwar, Uncle Slam, Acid Reign, Coroner, Indestructible Noise Command, Lääz Rockit, and Artillery also all had albums that I’m sad didn’t make the cut.
Not a bad list at all, but let me fix it:
10. Forbidden - Twisted into Form
9. Destruction - Release from Agony
8. Sodom - Persecution Mania
7. Sepultura - Beneath the Remains
6. Nuclear Assault - Survive
5. Overkill - The Years of Decay
4. Kreator - Extreme Aggression
3. D.R.I. - Dealing With It
2. Testament - The New Order
1. Exodus - Bonded by Blood
And if you consider D.R.I. crossover and not pure thrash, move 4-10 up a spot and add in Death Angel’s The Ultraviolence.
Welcome to part II of my 2013 Rock & Metal Year In Review. It’s all metal from here on out, so get ready to frolic around in a mosh delight with the first half of my top 20 metal albums of the year. But first, let’s get some disappointments out of the way. I’ve created playlists for this list on Spotify, Grooveshark, and Youtube, if you’d like to listen along as you read. Generally, the Youtube playlist will be the most complete.
Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood
I really expected to love this one. The songs are great and the band is on fire, but Mark Osegueda’s vocals killed this one for me. He sounds more shrill then ever, and makes a choice at the end of ‘Detonate’ that I may never forgive.
Destruction - Spiritual Genocide
Meh. Another mediocre Destruction album. Apparently, 2011’s Day of Reckoning was a fluke.
Gwar - Battle Maximus
A serviceable, but mostly forgettable Gwar album.
Revocation - Revocation
Heavy and technically impressive, but lacking the progressive elements that made their previous albums noteworthy. No hooks, and there’s an anti-fracking song. NOT interested.
Sodom - Epitome of Torture
Merely uninspired, but the mispronunciation of the word ‘Epitome’ in the title track makes this one the “epeetoom” of failure.
Ghost B.C. - Infestissumam
Ok, now I think Ghost is a little overrated. Honestly, I’ve been done with these guys since that video with the saggy satanist boobs ruined my life.
Megadeth - Super Collider
I didn’t like a single song on Super Collider.
Satyricon - Satyricon
Evile - Skull
Iron Reagan - Worse Than Dead
Extol - Extol
Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
Gama Bomb - The Terror Tapes
Quest of Aidance - Misanthropic Propaganda
Intronaut - Habitual Levitations
All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates This Nature
Mutoid Man - Helium Head
Philip H. Anselmo - Walk Through Exits Only
DevilDriver - Winter Kills
Mammoth Grinder - Underworlds
20. Terra Tenebrosa - The Purging
Scary, atmospheric, blackened noise metal. Perhaps trying just a little too hard to be creepy, and it would be nice to see the band focus more on songwriting. But when The Purging works, it really works. Check out 'Black Pearl In A Crystalline Shell'
19. Noisem - Agony Defined
These guys might be a little overhyped, but considering how young they are (the oldest member is 18), a little overexcitement is understandable. The songs are ridiculously same-y, but energetic enough that I’m eager to see what the future brings for Noisem. Check out 'Split From The Inside Out'
18. Kvelertak - Meir
I like this exactly as much as I liked Kvelertak’s last one, because it’s damn near the exact same album. Disappointing in one sense, but Meir is definitely a fun listen. Check out 'Evig Vandrar'
17. Black Fast - Starving Out The Light
Early Havok meets Vektor (except with memorable songs). Didn’t change my life, but I listened to it a lot and enjoyed every minute of it. Check out 'Colony Collapse'
16. Czar - No One is Alone If No One Is Alive
A Storm of Light’s Nations to Flames got a lot of attention this year, but my industrial metal dollar went a little further with Czar. Now I regret not catching them when they opened for Killing Joke earlier this year. Check out 'Fuming Rotter'
15. Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head And Hand Must Be The Heart
None of these songs are blockbusters, but they’re all pretty damn solid. And kudos to Derrick Green for delivering his best vocal performance yet. Max who? Check out 'Trauma of War'
14. Havok - Unnatural Selection
Havok take some chances here with both the songwriting and lyrics (refreshing to hear a band get political and not be raging Marxists), and it pays off with a sound that’s uniquely their own rather than just an imitation of their thrash forefathers. Check out 'Under The Gun'
13. Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness
Blackened thrash doesn’t get much cooler than Toxic Holocaust…well, actually it does, but Goatwhore didn’t put out an album this year. This might be the best Toxic Holocaust album yet. Check out 'Rat Eater'
12. Oranssi Pazuzu - Valonielu
Badass Finnish blackened space metal. Occasionally gets a little too spacey for its own good, but there’s generally enough cool stuff happening to make Valonielu worth the effort. If ‘Vino Verso’, doesn’t do it for you, then you hate riffs. Check out 'Vino Verso'
11. Tribulation - The Formulas of Death
Tribulation’s The Formulas of Death is the perfect example of a band sounding both progressive and “cvlt”. Expansive and moody without being a snoozefest, Tribulation starts with a base of dirty black metal and then punctuates it with bursts of Enslaved-level riffs, relenting at just the right moments with spooky atmospheric interludes. If you like black(ened) metal but are tired of the status quo, check this one out. Check out 'Spectres'
Stay tuned for my Top Ten metal albums of 2013!
Sorry, I’m going to have to go all Peter Jackson on you this year and split my list into three parts. I just heard too much good music in 2013, and I won’t be able to enjoy 2014 until I get these words out of my head and onto the internets.
I’ve created playlists for this list on Spotify, Grooveshark, and Youtube, if you’d like to listen along as you read. Generally, the Youtube playlist will be the most complete.
The Only Not-Metal Albums I Liked in 2013
10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Specter at the Feast
Definitely the best BRMC album we’ve had in a while. Pretty much every song on it is a solid 7, with nothing in particular jumping out as a blockbuster hit. Still, the cumulative effect of one good song after another made this album better than the sum of its parts.
Check out 'Lullaby'
9. The Black Angels - Indigo Metal
I’ve been a bit bored by The Black Angels since Passover (which was the best Vietnam War protest album ever written by people who weren’t even sperm and eggs during the 60’s). Even if you’re not a fan of The Black Angels or the psychedelic rock genre, this one’s got enough hooks that anyone with functioning ears should enjoy it.
Check out 'Don't Play With Guns'
8. Division of Laura Lee - Tree
Maybe my least favorite Division of Laura Lee album, but it did end up growing on me. My daughter also frequently requested we listen to it, and she’s usually a pretty good judge of quality. This album was produced by Jason Lytle, and unsurprisingly, sounds quite a bit like Division of Laura Lee channeling Grandaddy.
Check out 'Rudderless'
7. Karnivool - Asymmetry
The second half of this album is an aimless, boring dud. But the first half is really brilliant - slowly building and releasing tension, juxtaposing moments of serenity with bursts of muscular emo-prog. I found myself returning to the first 20 minutes of this album over and over again this year, despite my total disinterest in the second half.
Check out 'We Are'
6. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
This is an undeniably great album, but it falls well short of their masterpiece, Black Gives Way To Blue. How much you like this album might ultimately depend on how you feel about the title track. It’s a potentially epic song, ruined by lyrics that are only brave enough to take a cheap shot at an easy target, while pulling punches where it matters most. Fortunately, there are enough other solid songs on TDPDH to make it worth your time. And if you still haven’t checked them out with William DuVall singing, you’re dead to me.
Check out 'Phantom Limb'
5. Vista Chino - Peace
Not even Josh Homme can hold back John Garcia and his magical camo shorts. While this might not be the album Kyuss fans were hoping for, it’s still pretty damn killer. Fans of early QOTSA and Garcia’s subsequent work in Unida and Hermano will be in heaven.
Check out 'Sweet Remain'
4. Shining - One One One
My expectations were low for this album, as I was not initially impressed with the single, ‘I Won’t Forget’, which is more of a straightforward rocker than their previous work. Fortunately that track is just the tip of what turns out to be a massive iceberg of buzzing, catchy-as-hell, electro-acid-jazz, saxophone-slinging insanity. And unlike Blackjazz, One One One kicks your ass right ‘til the end. I actually think this qualifies as a metal album, but Kristi says no, and she’s the boss.
Check out 'Blackjazz Rebels'
3. Beastmilk - Climax
This is the best indie/post-punk album I’ve heard in years. Comparisons to Joy Division and Sisters of Mercy are well-earned, though vocalist Kvohst adds just a touch of Misfits-era Glenn Danzig to the mix, which is pretty much catnip for dudes like me. The end result would be original enough to warrant attention even if the songs weren’t uniformly excellent (lucky for you, they are). Check out 'Genocidal Crush'
2. Mutation - The Frankenstein Effect
The best Wildhearts album since 2003’s The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed. No one writes riffs or hooks as well as Ginger Wildheart when he’s on fire, and he’s definitely on fire here. Check out 'Schadenfreude'
1. Harem Scarem - Mood Swings II
Re-recordings of classic albums rarely work, but Harem Scarem’s 2013 re-recording of Mood Swings is a triumphant exception to that rule. If you’re not familiar with this band, you’re in for a treat. Do you like Journey, Foreigner, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi (we all have our guilty pleasures)? Well they’re like all of those bands rolled into one, with songs that any of them would kill to have in their greatest hits collections. This was my four-year-old daughter’s favorite album of the year, and I’m right there with her.
Check out 'Saviors Never Cry'
Tomahawk - Oddfellows
Deerhunter - Monomania
Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day
Blinker the Star - Songs From Laniakea
Next up, the first ten of my Top 20 Metal albums of 2013 >
Paw - ‘Hope I Die Tonight’ from Death to Traitors
It’s hard to believe that Mark Hennessy and Grant Fitch were only in their mid twenties when they wrote the songs on their excellent sophomore album, Death To Traitors. The lyrics seem to come from men with much more life experience than would be possible at such a young age. I was 18 when I first heard these songs, and they made a lot less sense to me at that age than they do now, 18 years later. I wish these guys were still making music.
Ten Required Metal Records for October
9. Leviathan - “Made as the Stale Wine of Wrath”, from Massive Conspiracy against All Life
Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of one-man black metal, but this record from Leviathan is as good a representation of the genre as any. Utterly devoid of melody (or hope, for that matter), Massive Conspiracy against All Life mixes sparse traditional black metal with dark ambient passages to create a work that is about as bleak as it comes. Perfect on a chilly, foggy night in the dark.
Also sounds great in November, December, January, February, and sometimes early March depending on your local climate.