2013 was an odd year for me. While there were countless amounts of outstanding releases, I found myself extremely burned out with heavy metal overload. That’s not to say I even for a moment slowed down on my heavy metal listening in the slightest, but found myself with lots of difficulty getting into something new unless it was something extra special. Something beyond just a solid death metal/black metal/post metal/doom metal/etc metal album. It had to be absolutely extraordinary to pull me away from my current need of delving back into the thousands of albums already in my collection.
However, within my current disregard throughout the year for actively seeking out the new or checking out new albums from established artists I’m already a fan of I still did find a good amount of time to embrace the new. There were many great releases this year and I gave a listen a lot of them. On the contrary, many albums you would think would objectively be on my list you may not find here (honorable mention post coming in the very near future), as naturally, a top ten list is very subjective and the following albums are the records that really shone through despite my bout of new music burnout and got lot of playtime in between obsessive bouts of the classics. In fact, every record here I would consider a modern classic and recommend taking some time to check it out. So, without further ado, here’s my favorite releases of 2013.
While I’m a really big fan of the first two albums from Canada’s Occult Rock quartet Blood Ceremony, there is no denying that they have a ‘slight’ gimmicky feel to them. The Jethro Tull flute playing paired with the riffage of Black Sabbath’s more bluesy end and a strong presence by a female vocalist who calls influence from Coven and Jefferson Airplane, they were a band that didn’t shy away from wearing their inspiration on their sleeve. That kind of approach can only really get a band so far before the well runs dry and the songs start to sound rehashed and contrived. So, album number three for Blood Ceremony is really a do or die a type of ordeal. Do they take some risks and expand on their sound to elevate to the next level or do they take the safe route and keep on keeping on? Well, for their 3rd, The Eldritch Dark, Blood Ceremony have taken all they learned from their inspirations and experience from their previous efforts and combined them to not only bring their unique style to the next level, but also release the best album of their career and easily one of the best Occult Rock albums of the year.
Lately I’ve found myself rather infatuated with this style of music that I’ve seen go by many names. From Vest Metal to non-cheesy chick vocalist bands to simply Psychedelic Rock it has found a bevy of tags, all work fine, but I prefer to tag it as Occult Metal/Rock in my organization of my music. The theme of the occult, witchcraft, the Devil (note: I am nothing close to a Satanist, heck, I don’t even believe in ‘God’, so his counterpart is null and void. I just really like the mysticism and style of the music), and all that wonderful stuff are the points that tie all these bands together besides a very retro sound highly inspired by the psychedelic rock of the Woodstock generation. Since really taking the dive into Occult Metal over the summer I’ve found myself with a good amount of great bands I’d love to share with you all. If you find yourself a fan of classic rock from bands like Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Coven, and Jefferson Airplane and also have a taste for prog and doom metal/rock, this should be right up your alley. Enjoy and if you know any other bands that would fit into this category, please let me know, this is an area of my collection I’d love to expand further. Peace Love and Metal!!!
For me, the purchase of this record came right out of left field. I was doing some Youtube surfing and stumbled upon a track of theirs off their previous effort and within 10 seconds I was completely hooked and knew I had to have a record by Blood Ceremony as soon as possible. The blend of doom-y Sabbath-ian riffs and rhythms, female vocals that are like a mix of Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane) and Ozzy’s Black Sabbath days lulled me in, and then a heavy kick of jazz flute ala Jethro Tull immediately appeased the side of me that loves great melody and non-standard instruments in metal. Luckily that same evening I was browsing the local record store and lo and behold their latest release, Living With the Ancients, was sitting there just waiting for me to pick it up, which I did post-haste. When I got home and popped the record in I had some very high expectations based off what I heard from the couple of songs I heard on Youtube, and Living With the Ancients delivered flawlessly and lived up to that huge hype I built up in my head in such a short period of time.