6 jan. 2013, 21h49m
Didn’t make the cut (Good releases that didn't match up to others this year):
Altar of Plagues/Year of No Light split (black metal/post metal)
Behold the Arctopus-Horrorscension (instrumental prog metal)
Burzum-Umskiptar (black metal)
Childish Gambino-Royalty (hip hop/rap)
The Contortionist-Intrinsic (progressive metalcore)
Cradle of Filth-The Manticore and Other Horrors (blackened gothic metal)
Cynic-The Portal Tapes (progressive metal)
Daylight Dies-A Frail Becoming (death/doom metal)
Earth-Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II (doom metal/post rock/experimental)
A Forest of Stars-A Shadowplay for Yesterdays (psychedelic black metal)
High on Fire-De Vermis Mysteriis (doom/stoner metal)
Inverloch-Dusk/Subside (death/doom metal)
Les Discrets-Ariettes oubliées... (shoegaze/post rock)
Marissa Nadler-The Sister (folk)
Melvins-The Bulls & The Bees (sludge metal)
Meshuggah-Koloss (extreme progressive metal)
Municipal Waste-The Fatal Feast /split with Toxic Holocaust (thrash metal)
Obscura-Illegimitation (progressive death metal)
Occultation-Three & Seven(doom metal/prog rock)
Periphery-Periphery II: This Time It's Personal (progressive metalcore)
Serpentine Path-s/t (death/doom metal)
Sigh-In Somniphobia (avant garde/black metal)
Sleigh Bells-Reign of Terror (noise pop)
Storm Corrosion-s/t (progressive rock/ambient)
Swallow the Sun-Emerald Forest and the Blackbird (gothic/doom metal)
Tiamat-The Scarred People (gothic metal)
Honorable mentions (Very good, but not the best of the year IMO):
Arctic Sleep-Arbors (doom metal/post rock): 4 albums in, and this totally independent band crafts yet another solid record. Glad I found this band by pure chance.
Ash Borer-Cold of Ages (atmospheric black metal): A suffocating, atmospheric, enthralling listen.
Chrome Waves-s/t (post-black metal): A solid debut from the new Chicago based band.
Dead Can Dance-Anastasis (world music/folk/gothic rock): The first album in 16 years from the Australian duo provides the ethereal goodness the band is known for, combining ambient texture with unique folk instrumentation.
Death Grips-The Money Store / No Love Deep Web (experimental hip hop/industrial): Two albums full of glitchy beats and schizophrenic psychobabble raps that you can simultaneously vibe to and get weird to.
Drudkh-Eternal Turn of the Wheel (atmospheric black metal): Yet another fine record from the Ukranian band, providing a healthy dose of black metal with folk inflections.
Evoken-Atra Mors (funeral doom metal): A slab of crawling, crushing doom metal laced with mournful synths and crushing guitars.
Frank Ocean-Channel Orange (R&B, hip hop): One of the year’s most hyped albums, full of subtle, well orchestrated beats, and introspective lyrics that give me hope for top 40 music.
Isis-Temporal (post metal): A compilation of mostly demos and rarities, but the song Grey Divide makes me really wish Isis hadn’t broken up.
Kendrick Lamar-Good Kid, MAAD City (hip hop): I don’t listen to much hip hop anymore, but this has got flow and beats for days. Kendrick is the first in a new generation of hip hop heavyweights.
Lana del Rey-Born to Die (pop): Who’d think I’d actually download a pop album? Well this one has a vibe that feels good, and Lana’s aesthetic is intriguing.
The Mars Volta-Nocturniquet (progressive rock): Psychedelic and futuristic sounding, with hints of punk. Quite different from the band’s previous work.
Mono-For My Parents (post rock): Uplifting and peaceful, movie soundtrack quality.
My Dying Bride-A Map of All Our Failures (doom/gothic metal): The UK kings (and queen) of doom and gloom put together yet another violin filled masterpiece.
Overkill-The Electric Age (thrash metal): 30 years in, and this band is still heavier than tons of bands out there. Bobbi Blitz is still one of the best front men in metal.
Split Cranium-s/t (crust punk/hardcore): Aaron Turner collaborating with a bunch of Finnish dudes, putting together a burst of noisy, crusty, crunchy, hardcore.
T.R.A.M.-Lingua Franca (progressive rock/jazz fusion): The guitarists from Animals as Leaders, The Mars Volta’s former saxophone player, and Suicidal Tendencies’ drummer equal a smooth modern jazz experience.
Trash Talk-119 (hardcore): A blistering SoCal hardcore record for the skater set. Released by Odd Future’s record label, no less.
Trioscapes-Separate Realities (jazz fusion): Dan Briggs from Between the Buried and Me with a drummer and saxophone/flute player in tow making the kind of jazz that metal fans can surely appreciate.
Vaura-Selenelion (post punk/prog rock/etc.): A unique album that combines gothic rock, post punk, black metal, and post rock into an enjoyable listen.
Winterfylleth-The Threnody of Triumph (black metal/folk): The harsh bitterness of black metal combined with British folklore and stories of the homeland.
Wodensthrone-Curse (black metal/folk): Like their countrymen in Winterfylleth,
Wodensthrone combines old English lyrics and folk music of their ancestors with a slightly different take.
Worm Ouroboros-Come the Thaw (doom metal/ambient): Fragile and heartbreaking, with sparse drums and beautiful intertwined female vocals.
Best of the year (ranked):
30. Blut aus Nord- 777: Cosmosophy (black metal): The final album in a trilogy, the mysterious French band offers a cleaner, more melodic album than their previous works, with their industrial and atmospheric vibes still present. Favorite track(s): Epitome XIV, Epitome XVIII
29. Coheed and Cambria-The Afterman: Ascension (progressive rock): I love concept records. Part one of a two part series, still set in the band’s self created Armory Wars universe, this album offers a healthy dose of heavy yet catchy prog rock. Favorite track(s): Domino the Destitute
28. Anathema-Weather Systems (progressive rock/post rock) The band’s metal days long behind them, they now churn out lush Radiohead meets Pink Floyd rock with beautiful female vocals and songs about hope and dreaming that make this cynic a little more hopeful. Favorite track(s): Lightning Song
27. Cloudkicker-Fade (instrumental progressive metal) One man band mastermind Ben Sharp cranks out yet another solid record of progressive riffs, catchy hooks, and chill atmosphere that never disappoints. Favorite track(s): From the Balcony, Seattle
26. Ihsahn-Eremita (extreme progressive metal) The former Emperor frontman’s fourth solo record is full of chugging riffs and powerful vocals. Oh, and the saxophone from After is back and better than ever. An American tour with Opeth would be amazing. Favorite track(s): Paranoid, The Eagle and the Snake
25. Dysrhythmia-Test of Submission (instrumental progressive metal): One of Colin Marston’s other bands, Behold the Arctopus, released an album this year too. While that album is definitely heavier/more brutal, I prefer this one because it offers more jazzy sections and is more relaxed Favorite track(s): In Secrecy, Running Towards the End
24. Paradise Lost-Tragic Idol (gothic metal): Heavy melodic riffs dripping in despair and tastefully well inserted solos, Paradise Lost delivers yet another solid album of gothic goodness. Bands that are churning out music this good after more than 20 years deserve all the props. Favorite track(s): In This We Dwell, Solitary One
23. Minus the Bear-Infinity Overhead (indie/prog rock): Layers of synth, indie rock guitars, and sing along vocals show off the bands maturity while keeping the spirit of their old albums intact. Favorite track(s): Diamond Lightning
22. Pelican-Ataraxia/Taraxis (post metal): It’s been a while since this instrumental powerhouse has put out a full length, but this EP is a good way to tide us over. Heavy and hook filled riffs with some awesome acoustic sections. Seriously, Pelican needs to do an acoustic record. Favorite track(s): Lathe Biosas
21. Baroness-Yellow & Green (progressive sludge metal/psychedelic rock): This album came out a month before the band suffered a devastating bus accident while on tour. Fortunately, everyone survived. That aside, this album was getting rave reviews upon its release, and for good reason. The band’s sound turned towards more radio friendly territory, while still maintaining their heaviness. Favorite track(s): Take My Bones Away, Stretchmarker
20. Downfall of Gaia-Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes (blackened post metal/crust): Keeping their crust sound as a foundation, the German band took Isis’ post metal blueprint and colored it black. Double bass and blast beats over doom and punk influenced riffs equals a winning combination. Favorite track(s): Beneath The Crown of Cranes, In the Rivers Bleak
19. Bosse de Nage-III (post black metal): Militaristic drumming, spoken work sections, and indie rock derived quiet/loud dynamic make this black metal record a unique and engaging listen. Favorite track(s): The Arborist, Cells
18. Deafheaven/Bosse de Nage split (post black metal): In addition to a great album, Bosse de Nage also released a kick ass split with fellow Bay Area black metallers Deafheaven, who’s cover of Mogwai’s Punk Rock/Cody was amazing and kind of a surprise, but makes so much sense upon first listen.
17. Pig Destroyer-Book Burner (grindcore): It’s been a while, but the grindcore kings deliver yet another slab of short and heavy songs full of monster drumming, insane riffs, and poetic lyrics screamed by a mad man. Favorite track(s): The Diplomat, The Bug, Baltimore Strangler
16. Katatonia-Dead End Kings (gothic metal/rock): Katatonia really needs a full time keyboard player. This album has lots of great synth sections slathered on top off their headbang worthy riffs and powerful singing that would be so much better if they had someone playing them live instead of resorting to using a backing track. Favorite track(s): Buildings, Dead Letters
15. Abigail Williams-Becoming (black metal): The band’s EP and first album were straight up Emperor worship. The second album was definitely more influenced by thrash and bands like Dissection. This album forgoes all that, and delves into atmospheric Wolves in the Throne Room territory. Favorite track(s): Ascension Sickness, Beyond the Veil
14. Nachtmystium-Silencing Machine (black metal): After two albums of psychedelic and industrial/new wave influenced songs, the band’s old school black metal past comes back on this record. Fortunately, the droning synthesizers stayed, providing a more menacing atmosphere. Favorite track(s): Silencing Machine, Borrowed Hopes and Broken Dreams, Dawn Over the Ruins of Jerusalem
13. Gojira-L'Enfant Sauvage (progressive death metal): Bands that play in crazy time signatures are always more interesting to me for some reason. Instead of following the safe and boring 4/4, stuttering guitar riffs and off beat drums create a certain effect that resonates with me. Gojira execute this really well, and top it off with intelligent lyrics. People that don’t like metal because of harsh vocals need to read the lyrics that these bands write before they dismiss it as unrefined garbage. Favorite track(s): L’Enfant Sauvage, Liquid Fire, Mouth of Kala
12. Pallbearer-Sorrow and Extinction (doom metal): I’ll admit that I slept on this album for a long time. I heard the hype, and thought “whatever”. But then I decided to check it out, and I’ve been kicking myself for it ever since. For a debut album, this is some damn fine songwriting. 5 songs full of heavy, downtrodden guitars, great old school solos, with an awesome clean vocalist, whose voice soars the way Dio and Bruce Dickinson’s voices do. Favorite track(s): Foreigner
11. Enslaved-RIITIIR (progressive black metal): The progressive influences are becoming more and more prevalent on Enslaved’s records. The riffs and solos sound like a twisted version of Rush, and the keyboards/clean singing bring it home with the old school vibe. As always, the influence of their Norse background is at the forefront of their image. Favorite track(s): Thoughts Like Hammers, Death in the Eyes of Dawn, Roots of the Mountain, Storm of Memories, Materal
10. Deftones-Koi No Yokan (hard rock/shoegaze): While the heaviness of the band’s early days has never left their sound, Deftones’ softer moments are where they truly shine. They could never have screaming vocals or super heavy guitars in their sound again, and I’d be OK with it. Softly sung vocals with a ton of atmosphere behind them is all I need from this band. Favorite track(s): Tempest, Leathers, Romantic Dreams, Swerve City, Entombed
9. Godspeed You Black Emperor-'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (post rock): There had been talk of new music when GYBE reunited after 8 years apart. No one expected for them to start quietly selling the album at shows, only to fully release it a few weeks later. A surprise in its release and a surprise in its sound, Godspeed crafted an elegant album full of orchestra quality strings, metallic guitars and distortion, and unique melodies that yet another surprise to come out of this masterpiece. Two 20 minute epics serve as the bulk of the album’s sound, but the shorter ambient pieces offer a dose of the more restrained side of the band that is a welcome change of pace. Favorite track(s): Mladic, We Drift Like Worried Fire
8. Agalloch-Faustian Echoes (black metal/folk/post rock): An EP comprised of a single song clocking in at over 21 minutes, this is Agalloch’s most ferocious and ambitious track to date. Influenced by the German play Fasut, and using choice samples from a film adaptation, this track is entirely comprised of harsh vocals, melodic leads, and a bleak atmosphere throughout. Despite its length, the track feels short, despite how much is going on within it. Favorite track(s): Only one song, so…
7. Krallice-Years Past Matter (progressive black metal): The band’s decision to self release the record rather than through their usual label had no effect on the album whatsoever. Krallice has built a solid fanbase, and they were as eager to hear the album as Krallice was to release it. With 4 albums under their belt since 2008, people might think their sound is starting to stagnate, but Krallice always offers talented songwriting and playing to prove detractors wrong. Like some metal bands, they refused to release the lyrics (much to my chagrin) and named the song using Roman numerals (the number I repeated 7-12 times), preferring to let the music speak for itself. The band’s tight and technical sound, blackened as the night sky, pushes itself outwards and upwards, experimenting with atmosphere and post rock like melodies. Favorite track(s): IIIIIII, IIIIIIII, IIIIIIIIIIII
6. Ne Obliviscaris-Portal of I (progressive black metal): 5 years. 5 long years. That’s how long it took for this Australian band to release a proper full length after their critically acclaimed demo, The Aurora Veil. The 3 songs from TAV appear here with bumped up production, plus 4 new songs that ebb and flow with harsh black metal screams and clean singing, lush acoustic sections, jazzy fretless bass, furious double bass, and glorious violin. Favorite track(s): Xenoflux, Forget Not, And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope
5. Alcest-Les Voyages De L'Âme (black metal/shoegaze/post rock): It might’ve been easy to forget this album since it came out so early in the year, but it certainly left an impression on me. Pushing forward with the sound they had on Ecailles de Lune, shoegazey guitars flow under black metal screams and beautiful clean vocals. The lyrics are all in French, but you certainly don’t need to understand the language to get lost in the sound. Favorite track(s): Autre Temps, Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles, Faiseurs de Mondes
4. Swans-The Seer (post punk/post rock/folk): A warning: This album is not for beginners. 2 discs with a grand total of 11 songs clocking in at 119 minutes total is enough to make most people say no thanks. It takes a band with as much ambition and daring as Swans to put together an album like this with such reckless abandon, and it takes a band with enormous talent to make it work, which they do. Long removed from their brutal days as industrial no wave noisemakers, their second album since reuniting in 2010 is everything that Swans has aspired to be in their career. The album shifts and pulses with shuffling rhythms and stuttering percussion, drones on for minutes of tension, and Michael Gira is a poet as he ever was. The variety of instruments and guests like former member Jarboe only add to this beast of an album. Each song, slowly but surely, lurches forward towards a massive climax and collapses into the next. Favorite track(s): Mother of the World, The Seer, Avatar, The Apostate
3. Converge-All We Love We Leave Behind (hardcore/metalcore): Hardcore tends to be a young person’s game, with many older bands struggling to capture the glory of their early days. Converge only seems to get better with age. Since their landmark album Jane Doe, Converge has pushed forward, breathing new life into extreme music with each release. Unlike Axe to Fall, which was full of guest spots, this time it was just the 4 main members doing what they do. Screamed and shouted vocals over dissonant riffs, bombastic drumming, and driving bass push the momentum forward. Like on previous records, Converge slows things down on some songs, giving themselves and the listener a brief respite before plunging back into the chaos. Favorite track(s): Aimless Arrow, Trespasses, Tender Abuse, A Glacial Pace, Coral Blue, All We Love We Leave Behind
2. Neurosis-Honor Found in Decay (sludge/post metal): Some bands like taking their sweet time to release an album (Tool *coughcough*). Neurosis normally never took this long to release an album before, but it was well worth the wait. Something about this album feels stripped down, yet there is so much going on in terms of musical scope and layers of sound. Keyboard player Noah Landis’ contributions are very audible on this record, sampling violins and bagpipes over and under the band’s trademark heavy guitars and dual vocalist attack. Quieter moments remind one of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till’s solo records, and the drumming on All is Found in Time is reminiscent of the band’s hardcore days. Favorite track(s): We All Rage in Gold, At the Well, My Heart for Deliverance.
1. Between the Buried and Me-The Parallax II: Future Sequence (progressive metal/metalcore): If you know me, you know I love Between the Buried and Me. This band has been blowing me away for years, and the day I don’t like a record they do might signal the apocalypse. Continuing with the lyrical concept of last year’s Hypersleep Dialogues EP, the band’s trademark extreme riffs and progressive leaning sound go places they haven’t gone before. Tommy Roger’s heavy growls and soaring clean singing tell a futuristic story of two entities involved in a complicated relationship. Heavy part in to soft acoustic part into jazzy bass part into another heavy part into quirky weird circus part into guitar solo into lush keyboard filled madness craziness sums up a lot of Between the Buried and Me songs, but I never seem to get tired of what they do, and I hope they continue to get better. Favorite track(s): Astral Body, Extremeophile Elite, Telos, Bloom