It’s that time of year again where the Best Of lists start appearing, and Wonderbox Metal is no exception. So here we have my top 15 Metal releases of 2013!
Before we start a couple of notes:
These albums are drawn from ones that I have reviewed only, there are other albums released in 2013 that definitely would have made this list, but as I haven’t reviewed them on this site they don’t get a placing, (bands such as Abyssal, Skagos and Cult of Luna spring to mind off the top of my head).
The order is a bit fluid – due to the subjective nature of music, and depending on mood, these releases could easily be placed in a different order on a different day.
There are some notable mentions also – many others could have been included in this list; the Abominant album Onward to Annihilation for example; I can’t help but feel I should have included this somewhere below, as this is an exemplary Death Metal album. Other notable releases I’ve reviewed this year include the grinding brutality of Plague Widow, the Sludge goldmine of Ilsa and the Death Metal juggernaut that is Amon. All excellent and deserving of a place, but even though I reviewed them this year they were actually released in 2012 they don’t get included sadly. Suffice to say you should hunt them down as they need to be heard!
So, without further ado, here we go!
First up at number 15 we have Black and Blood by Soul Remnants. Definitely a grower this album. A very sexy Thrashy Death Metal album with a hint of Black at the edges, this has a great sound that keeps me returning to it. The songs Dead Black (Heart of Ice) in particular is worthy of mention, although the entire album is very enjoyable. I highly recommend getting a hold of this.
At number 14 is Hesychia by Arfsynd. Majestically evil; the cold melodies are my favourite thing about this album. They are both intricate and expressive and give the album a sense of vitality that’s at odds with the bleak music of Black Metal but feels all the more essential for it.
Edging in at 13 we have Oceans Into Ashes by Maeth. Definitely an album that could easily have been higher up on the list. A long and involving album that is diverse and full of ideas and depth. Definitely something of a Post-Metal classic. As I sit here listening to the album once more I am forced to wonder why I didn’t give this a higher placing? The fact that’s it’s not higher is a testament to how many strong albums I have reviewed this year. That and the fact of mood of course, as mentioned previously. If your tastes bend to the Post- Metal spectrum then this is a must-have.
At 12 we have Funeral Circle with their self-titled album, and what an album this is! Traditional Doom Metal that’s damn near essential for fans of this genre, or just Metal fans in general really. As far as I’m concerned Funeral Circle are genre-leaders at the moment and very few bands come close to touching them for this kind of music. As I said in the album review; a win.
Just outside of the top 10 at number 11 is The Anaesthete by Rosetta. Similar to Maeth in the sense that this is another Post-Metal classic-in-the-making that could easily have been higher on the list. My review summed it up perfectly when I said – If you haven’t heard Rosetta before then you should get this album. If you have heard them before then why haven’t you already got this album?
Into the hallowed top 10, and at number 10 is the split between Non Opus Dei and Morowe – Dziwki Dei. A special release this is – there’s just something about the songs here. Both bands contribute something slightly different from the standard Black Metal template and both I expect big things from in the future. Highly enjoyable and highly recommended.
At number 9 is Canto III by Eye of Solitude. Oppressively heavy Doom Metal with crushing Death Metal vocals. This album keeps giving and is a work of some very talented musicians. I think Eye of Solitude deserve every accolade that has been thrown their way since the release of Canto III. This is an essential release for fans of emotional, depressive and massively heavy Doom Metal.
At number 8 we have ultra-sophisticated Black Metal in the form of Vesper by Entropia. This album is so good and has such depth and longevity it’s hard to stop playing it. They create a blackened landscape combining fiery Black Metal and Post-Metal gems. Interesting and adventurous Black Metal that should be applauded.
Sneaking in at number 7 is Caves of Glass with their self-titled début album. Seemingly from out of nowhere this album appeared and I almost instantly knew I was going to love it. A huge variety of dark Post-Metal sounds taking their cues from elements of Black Metal and Doom to create a masterpiece that gets better the more you listen to it. Great stuff.
Next up at number 6 is the fantastic Gutslit with Skewered in the Sewer. Brutal, slamming Death Metal with high-energy and that quintessential Death Metal factor that causes you to have a massive rictus grin while listening to it. The catchy brutality is great and the band are heirs to the Gorerotted throne. Brutality rarely sounds this fun.
In at number 5 we have the Black Metal masterpiece that is Revel by Mania. The sheer qualiy of these tracks is amazing, and the variety of moods and atmospheres successfully employed by the band is awe-inspiring. Such a massively strong album – my only complaint is that there’s not more of it. A superlative release that every Black Metal fan should have in their collection.
Number 4 brings us Czarna Dzika Czerwień by Thy Worshiper, and this is a work of genius. Unique and utterly absorbing; they meld Folk Black Metal with history and tradition to create a work of art that is alive with the breathing of lost peoples and times. A pleasure to listen to.
At number 3 we have the filthed-up Sludge of Boats by Morality Crisis. An inspired and thoroughly dirty album; this is a great listen when you want something challenging and grimy. No pretentions here, just quality and varied Sludge infused with ideas and dirty songcraft. I love this album and think it deserves a wider audience, (like all of these releases really).
The penultimate release at number 2 brings us the luxurious Tocsin by Year Of No Light. State-of-the-art instrumental Metal that doesn’t put a foot wrong. This is a brilliant album that brings together everything that’s great about the Post-Metal/Sludge/Doom/etc. genres and distils them into 57 minutes of essential listening.
And now, (drum roll!), at the much-coveted number 1 position we have the excellent Nephren-Ka with The Fall of Omnius. Brutality, songwriting and atmosphere perfected. This is the kind of album that repeated listens fortify in your brain as just a great album to listen to. It has that almost indefinable something that elevates it above all of its contemporaries. The interesting songwriting; the variety of tempos; the overall sound and feel of the songs; it’s just a great package.
And there we have it! 2013 has been a great year for Metal, and 2014 is already shaping up for some great-sounding releases. I’ve already heard the début by Corpsessed that’s coming out in January, (review soon!), and I’m already pretty certain that it will have a place in the best of 2014, such a strong album it is.
So exciting times ahead – do your part to keep Metal alive and we’ll look forward to another year of extremity!
Happy New Year!