Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2013

Black Bomb A, Olympic (Nantes) 17/11/2006Initially, I was going to limit my best of 2013 list to just my top 10.  My reasoning was to make my list as tight as I could only highlighting the very best of what moved me during the year.  After looking back at how many albums I listened to or was exposed to, that number hovered around 270 albums.  So, I decided to expand my list to the same standard as previous years. Despite increasing my list to 15, it still only highlights about 5% of all the albums that graced my ear drums this year.  So, what I present to you for the year 2013 my top 15, plus five more honorable mentions that will be posted in the vicinity of this list.

15.  Jungle Rot

This is the first of two American death metal bands on my list.  Wisconsin’s own Jungle Rot entertained my ear drums this year with a brutal set of songs with their 7th studio album, Terror Regime.  My eyes and ears have been opened to music I was unaware existed until this year.  Seems like when I think I have a grasp on metal, bands I should have known about surface in my world.  Jungle Rot are one of several bands on my list this year that I should have heard before, but didn’t until this year.

Album:  Terror Regime; Favorite Song:  I Am Hatred

14.  The Ocean

Of all the albums on my list, this one took the longest to sink in.  I read nearly unanimous (positive) comments about Pelagial and I was left wondering what I was missing out on.  I basically forced myself to listen to the album and after a few spins during a time where I could exclude external distractions, the genius behind the music finally sunk in.  I realized how well-composed these songs were and how the band seamlessly transitions from complicated technical tempos to more refined and pretty harmonies.  To have a double album with one disc being instrumental versions is a really cool addition.

Album:  Pelagial; Favorite Song:  Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny

13.  Havok

I didn’t know Havok existed until I saw them take the stage opening for Testament early in 2013.  As an avid fan of classic thrash metal (Big Four), I certainly appreciate this new thrash breed carrying the torch into the future with a fresh perspective, but retaining that classic, brutal feel.  What appeals to me are their quick riffs, and hard-hitting drums.  They maintain an aggressive cadence without succumbing to anything that might get them more airplay on the radio.  They are doing it their way and I am along for the ride.

Album:  Unnatural Selection; Favorite Song:  Give Me Liberty…Or Give Me Death

12.  Revocation

Boston’s Revocation is another band in my humble Top 15 that I didn’t know much of prior to this year.  I read some ravenous reviews about their 2011 album Chaos of Forms, but never got around to listening to it (this has since been corrected).  I did pick up their Teratogenesis EP and thought it was cool.  I was then blown away by this year’s self-titled album.  I like their blend of technical thrash and death metal.  They have a knack for precision both on CD and in a live setting.

Album:  Revocation; Favorite Song:  Invidious

11.  Biffy Clyro

I wouldn’t say they are actually “metal,” but I didn’t say this was a metal list, just my Top 15. Besides, they are considered alternative and alternative is usually followed by rock or metal.  I got into the Scottish band after hearing about them while I was living in England.  At first, they didn’t really click with me, but after listening to Only Revolutions I began to appreciate their quirky nature (and lyrics) and often hard-hitting melody.  Their 2013 release is a double album and though sometimes that can weaken the package, Biffy Clyro strung together a strong set of quality “quirky” songs I listen to quite often.

Album:  Opposites; Favorite Song:  Accident Without Injury

10.  Queensrÿche

Despite the soap opera drama surrounding Queensrÿche, this epic battle spawned two different versions of the band.  The band that made my list is the one featuring Todd LaTorre on vocals, the one I consider the actual Queensrÿche, but I guess that’s up for debate just not with me.  In my mind it’s settled.  Though I think the album was released in haste after Geoff Tate’s version released a creatively articulated album (cover), this self-titled 13th studio album’s only quandary is that it doesn’t feature enough of LaTorre in my opinion.  But, what they did string together were all quality songs that lead me to believe Queensrÿche is on track for more quality releases that reach back to their roots a bit…which is a good thing.

Album:  Queensrÿche; Favorite Song:  In This Light

9.  Clutch

I have had an on and off relationship with Clutch.  Looking back at their discography, they can be really diverse from album to album.  Like some other bands, Clutch is a band you can appreciate greatly even if you only like a few of their albums.  Chances are, those albums you’ll like a lot.  This is the case with Earth Rocker.  It’s more aggressive than some of their older albums, but still boasts a wide assortment of songs such Gone Cold.  It’s a great song, I gravitate to some of the other more aggressive songs.  Overall, this was a surprise that pretty much knocked my socks off on the first listen.

Album:  Earth Rocker; Favorite Song:  Crucial Velocity

8.  Exhumed

Exhumed is a band that has been creating death metal for a long time.  For some reason, Necrocrasy was my first taste of the band which leaves me wondering which rock I have been living under.  I have always been an advocate for death metal and hate to miss out on good quality death.  There are many ways to concoct a brutal death metal album and Exhumed does it precisely with appropriate amounts of grit, gore, melody, and ferocity; no characteristic over or under-utilized.  I have some Exhumed albums now on my backlog.

Album:  Necrocrasy; Favorite Song:  Dysmorphic

7.  Helloween

This is the oldest album on the list. I placed it on my Top 15 list when it was released…I think it was the first album to sit there and it held its weight for a long time.  These metal veterans crafted a strong album full of harmony, speed, and humor as they always do…some things do get better with age.  For me, this album was solid from beginning to end with varying degrees of speed and aggression to keep the album interesting.  It’s a solid power metal album.

Album:  Straight Out Of Hell; Favorite Song:  Church Breaks Down

6.  Death Angel

Not the first band on my list this year that are strangers of the (partial) reunion.  Death Angel released a few albums after a long absence prior to The Dream Calls For Blood.  All of which were pretty good, but this 2013 release took the band to a new, more aggressive level in my humble opinion.  It’s not like they were too soft prior to The Dream…, but the intensity has risen on this album which is solid through and through – quality thrash metal.  The addition of Ted Aguilar (guitar), Damien Sisson (bass), and Will Carroll (drums) hasn’t depleted the core Death Angel sound – only helped refine it now and for future Death Angel releases.

Album:  The Dream Calls For Blood; Favorite Song:   Caster of Shame

5.  Ghost

Ghost caught on quickly with their release of Opus Eponymous in 2011 and made my Top 15 list that year.  After relentless touring, their sophomore effort proved a bit more diverse and showed growth for the satanic Swedes.  I have to admit; I wasn’t overly impressed with the release of their first single, Secular Haze, but the rest of the album more than made up for it and is one that I turn to regularly.  To put it simply, it’s groovy and fun and I think that’s the overall intent.

Album:  Infestissumam; Favorite Song:  Year Zero

4.  Soilwork

I think what attracts me most to Soilwork is their ability to be heavy and then harmonize without sounding like a tacky metalcore band.  I guess that is what makes them a quality melodic death metal band.  I first got into them during the release of The Panic Broadcast (2010) and enjoyed what I heard.  I have been looking for this new release and it didn’t disappoint when it hit the digital banks.  In fact, the double album meant that there was more of it to listen to and absorb.  I have since gone back and listened to a few Soilwork albums and can see how the band has evolved over the years.

Album:  The Living Infinite; Favorite Song:  The Windswept Mercy

3.  Amon Amarth

I think a lot of people were expecting a rehash of Surtur Rising, but Amon Amarth returned with their familiar battle hymn rhythm and added a bevy of diversity to their songs.  Johan Hegg reached new levels of death metal growls on some songs and the addition of guest vocals (Messiah) made Hel a bad-ass song.  Overall, the album didn’t melt together like some Amon Amarth albums do…not that it’s a bad thing.  Their 2013 release was heavy, fast, slow, and everything in between…probably my biggest surprise of the year since my expectation was essentially Surtur Rising II.   I’ll admit I didn’t give them enough credit.  I look forward to hearing what is in store on the next album.

Album:  Deceiver of the Gods; Favorite Song:  Shape Shifter

2.  Carcass

I have to say this album was a huge surprise.  It’s not a surprise that carcass made a good album, just that after such a long absence they came back and tore us a new ass.  Sometimes band (partial or full) reunions can start off on shaky ground, but Carcass came back with an absolutely killer album that sounds like Carcass never took an 18 year leave of absence from the studio.  The digipak bonus track comes with one extra song and the Japanese bonus tracks have one more additional song; probably worth it if you can find it.  I haven’t checked it out yet, I just keep listening to this over and over.

Album:  Surgical Steel; Favorite Song:  The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills

1.  Sleepers Awake

For the second year in a row a progressive band landed as my #1 choice for the year.  That’s pretty interesting since I would say my specialty is thrash and death metal.  I guess my musical tastes are evolving.  Sleepers Awake (no pun intended) was also a sleeper hit of the year as Transcension appeared in our inbox asking to be reviewed.  I never heard of the band, yet this album has cemented itself on my iTouch since it was first loaded there.  The album is a whopping 70 minutes and worth every second.  Sleepers Awake encompasses nearly every characteristic of metal and they do it seamlessly.  The vocals are strong and occasionally belt out a death metal growl, but mostly they are pretty clean.  It was easy putting this album at #1; it has been sitting there tentatively for quite some time.  The hardest thing, actually, was deciding which of these songs my favorite is.  It damn near changes every time I listen to the album.

Album:  Transcension; Favorite Song:  Throat of Winter

About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on January 7, 2014, in Best of 2013, Metal Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Great, great list 🙂

    As you know, I had the same experience with The Ocean, it took me months to really get into it, many listens where I had to pay full attention to the music. I’m pretty sure there are still plenty of things left to be revealed on that album. It’s an impressive work, for sure.

    Revocation is good too, the song Archfiend is a favourite of mine. Queensryche is a band I haven’t paid much attention to in the past, but I find this new album to be highly enjoyable. I’m happy they found new inspiration and a better frontman. Exhumed is new to me as well, and that album is great fun (as fun as death metal can be).

    Carcass seem to be one of those bands everyone should know about.. but I’ve never really listened to them until last night. I was immediately hooked by “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”, such a fun song! That made me want to hear the rest of Surgical Steel, so today I’ve been spending some time on studying Carcass, both new and old. I love the vocals and how he uses his voice in the songs. “Unfit For Human Consumption” is pretty awesome too.

    Nice to see Sleepers Awake at the top 🙂

    • Cool, you are appreciating Carcass. That album is still on heavy rotation with no signs of slowing down. If you are going to sample more of Queensryhe I recommend Operation Mindcrime if you think you will like a concept.

  2. Great list!! If the album didn’t make my top list, it’s most likely on my honorable mentions one. That Queensryche was one hell of a comeback and I liked the short and to the point approach the the record. Exhumed and Soilwork were very close to spots on my list, but missed the cut by mere inches.
    Great to see Sleepers Awake at your #1. I need to revisit that album asap. I liked it a lot when I first listened and then due to a couple other albums that came out around the same time I kind of overlooked it.

    • I think this year I am going to focus a bit less on new music unless it’s just really good stuff that I will want to hear repeatedly. I missed out a lot on listening to the bands I really love. I have I think one on my honorable mentions that made your list which I will probably post tomorrow.

  3. ChristopherMammal

    Neat list, Warpy. (Warpy! Yes.) Nice mix.

  4. Hey man cool blog and list. I don’t agree about Jungle Rot and Ghost but liking the rest of it. Revocation are one of the most competent bands out there right now, so yeah. Exhumed would be maybe 2# for me, it’s my favorite album on this list, it’s just awesome.

    The last band is really interesting..never heard of ’em and they remind me of another group, I forgot who, especially on the chorus(?), it has a familiar “taste” to it or something. Thanx for this recommendation !

    • To me Sleepers Awake sound so much like Pearl Jam, especially the vocals. Welcome to the blog 🙂

    • Thanks for coming by. I guess the coolest thing about lists is that you may get introduced to something new. Exhumed does kick ass! Sleepers Awake was a big surprise to me especially never hearing of them and then being my favorite album of the year. There is much to check out on that album.

  1. Pingback: Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2014 | A Metal State of Mind

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