Kodeks – More bands should write lyrics in their own language, it’s something I really appreciate. Especially if they, like this Norwegian band, have a vocalist with a forceful and intriguing voice, infusing the music with powerful energy and mysterious words. His singing often reminded me of Vintersorg’s dark, emotional voice. During their set, all the members in Kodeks performs with confidence and joy and it’s highly entertaining to watch them play their hard-hitting, melodic style of progressive metal with big smiles on their faces. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before. The electronic noises in the background is a fun contrast to the catchy riffs and harsh vocals, it’s clear that this is a band with huge potential and I hope they continue to write music of the same style. Debut EP is downloaded and paid for, the gloriously infectious chorus from the first track now stuck in my head forever!
Aeolist – I’ve had this proggy jazz-core band recommended to me before and I’ve heard only good things about them. Unfortunately the songs on their EP failed to catch my interest. Despite this, I still wanted to hear them live, and much to my surprise I became completely and utterly absorbed by their music. It made a huge difference to actually see the band members lose themselves to the passion and dynamics in the flowing songs, to feel the sincere atmosphere created by stellar musicians and an exceptionally good vocalist who wasn’t afraid to dance, with the help of a big, appreciative crowd. The sound mix and the acoustics of the building wasn’t the best, but it didn’t matter much. I love that they played their songs without breaks, as the experience becomes so much more powerful. After the last song had ended I left the place with tears in my eyes. So. Damn. Beautiful.
Alaya – My cheering didn’t know any limits when I saw that Alaya had been added to the line up! I fell hopelessly in love while reviewing their thrilling debut album earlier this year, but had no idea I would get to see them live so soon, considering they are from far away (Chicago). A large number of Tech Fest-goers mentioned Alaya as the band they were most looking forward to this year and the crowd during their set grew to an impressive size. The songs sounded notably heavier and more beefy live than on album, with the same irresistibly energetic and emotional vibe. It was an incredibly tight performance, if there’s anything to complain about it was the vocals being a bit too low in the mix during most of the set, which is a shame when you have a singer with such an outstanding voice belting out soaring melodies and spine-chilling screams over the wonderfully complex drums and intricate riffing. They played through their material with great ease and enthusiasm, the crowd giving them excessive amounts of love throughout the show. I was standing in the front row smiling from ear to ear; to see these three handsome guys play my favourite tracks “White Noise”, “Day Of The Dead” (that scream!) and “Haunted Pt. III” was just amazing. “I haven’t seen you this happy since Skyharbor last year”, said my friend. I think he might be right about that! Alaya ended up in my top 3 of Tech Fest 2014, together with SikTh and Jon Gomm. It was a “transdimensional space goat”- moment for me and now I appreciate their album even more.
The Ocean – Last time, and also my first, seeing The Ocean was at Euroblast last year. That night it didn’t matter how much I love and adore their albums, their performance failed to impress me. Which I think was mainly due to them playing directly after the happy-crazy band Twelve Foot Ninja and the transition between the styles didn’t work for me, so I was excited to get another chance to see The Ocean live this summer. Their album Pelagial placed itself in my top 5 albums of 2013 and I consider it one of the most interesting concept albums ever made. It pleased me greatly that the band chose to play Pelagial from beginning to end, despite it being on a small festival stage with the sun still shining through the roof. It didn’t take many minutes until I was completely immersed in the hypnotizing and majestic listening experience provided by five very skilled and passionate musicians. It makes it difficult to write about, I felt like I was in a trance and didn’t pay attention to anything but the drummer’s dazzling movements enveloped in waves of blue light. Everything feels incredibly beautiful, unlike anything I’ve felt before. Towards the end of the set the songs become increasingly darker, slower, heavier.. it’s quiet, the crowd mesmerized… slower… on the floor… even slower… crushing my mind into pieces… deeper down into the dark… the last beat of the drum… and I start to cry. Unforgettable.
SikTh – The front row spot I secured before The Ocean’s set was still mine for SikTh, who came in fashionably late to take the stage (after a reprise of the famous, huge group hug from last year). The crowd was chanting, the excitement was through the roof, never have I felt an atmosphere so thick of anticipation and joy before a concert!
No one expected anything less, this was the mighty SikTh – the uncrowned kings and founders of tech metal in the UK, very recently reunited after seven year long break. They have certainly been missed and during their inactive years the tech metal scene has grown with incredible force, now being the home of many of the most impressive, upcoming bands in the world of metal. As the vocalist Mikee Goodman said, they had not expected such a development and were humbly blown away by this and the festival as a whole, bringing so many extremely devoted bands and fans together. This was the perfect audience for them to play for, this is where they belong and have their most passionate fans. Which was proven many times during the show; the venue was packed out, happy faces everywhere, friendly moshing, surfing, dancing… we were having the time of our lives. This was us saying “Thank you for all the inspiration and welcome back!”
Fucking hell, it was insane. I had so much fun, I can’t even describe it in words. It was my first time seeing them live, but certainly not the last, and SikTh sounded like they haven’t been away for more than a couple of months, engaging the lively crowd in highlights like “Bland Street Bloom”, the spoken words in “When Will The Forest Speak”, the brilliant “Pussyfoot” and “Skies Of Millennium Night”. I can’t wait to see them again at Euroblast later this year. Such a great band, giving an unbelievably fun show.
The best ending to the best festival.
And I haven’t even mentioned the after parties, the tech metal karaoke, the many workshops held by different musicians from the bands who were playing, the fact that they served lots of vegetarian food and Strongbow cider… I will save up money and book my tickets for next year as soon as they are released, without even knowing the line-up. I already know it will have fun bands, be well organized and overall absolutely fantastic.
Label: Scarlet Records
Release Date: 21 January 2014
Songs: 8 Length: 55:40
Genre: Progressive/Experimental/Post metal
Studio Albums: Ordinary Days, 2008
Location: Toulouse, France
For fans of: The Ocean, ISIS, Nami, Tool, Katatonia
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.
Posted by Reggie
Initially, 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.
Tags: Alternative, amon amarth, Biffy Clyro, carcass, Clutch, Death Angel, Death Metal, Deceiver of the Gods, Earth Rocker, Exhumed, Ghost, Havok, Helloween, Intestissumam, Jungle Rot, metal, Necrocrasy, Opposites, Pelagial, Queensryche, Revocation, Rock, Self Titled, Sleepers Awake, Soilwork, Straight out of Hell, Surgical Steel, Terror Regime, The Dream Calls for Blood, the living infinite, The Ocean, Thrash, Top 15 of 2013, Transcension, Unnatural Selection
#10 Soilwork – The Living Infinite Review
Soilwork is back, better and more inspired than ever before. With their speedy guitars, brutal drums and blasting choruses this double album is an uplifting and energizing and most of all a VERY FUN listening experience. Listen here.
Straightforward, heartfelt post-hardcore. The songs are very powerful, much thanks to the strong, captivating melodies and the vocalist with his charismatic attitude and emotional voice. Listening to this album gives me energy and strength and it’s perfect for a good, loud, headbanging sing-along. Listen here.
I know this is not the most accessible album. But once I took the time to understand it, it was very rewarding. I love the dark, murky atmosphere and the underlying, unsettling mood. The eeriness of the bass lines and the unconventional, complex drumming. I’m a big fan of their previous albums too, but this one gave me even more of a challenge and really hit the spot for me. Listen here.
I loved their previous album and was very happy to find that ‘Possession’ is just as good and many times even better. The songs are unexpected and unique in their nature, the songwriting is creative and organic and the singer is definitely an important piece in this; he performs a wide range of styles with confidence and power. Listen here.
#6 White Moth Black Butterfly – One Thousand Wings Review
Yay, I get to include my favourite singer on another best of the year-list, third year in a row now! Even though it’s far from metal, this album is very special to me in many ways. It’s dark, personal, honest and incredibly beautiful and not only because of the outstanding vocals. The lyrics are thought-provoking and ‘Ties Of Grace’ might be the best song ever created. Listen here.
#5 The Ocean – Pelagial Review
This is not a band that has interested me much before. But the effort of a concept album with meaningful, philosophical lyrics where every song is named after the different layers of the ocean, the much more proggy sound made me want to check it out. The massive, constantly changing and flowing sound grew on me, slowly. Very slowly. Until the whole album finally ended up in my top 5 of the year. Listen here.
There are many bands that were new to me this year on my list, Earthtone9 is one of them. It didn’t take long for me to start to love their progressive, almost sludgy feeling, the effortlessly executed melodic hooks and the huge attitude. They have an intelligent, bass-y sound and together with the confident, edgy singing they have given me many unforgettable tunes this year. Listen here.
#3 Altar Of Plagues – Teethed Glory And Injury Review
Thrilling. Challenging. Intense. And extremely rewarding. This is an album packed with depth, darkness and tortured pain executed in the most beautiful way. Primitive and intimate music with a forceful and disturbing atmosphere. ‘Teethed Glory and Injury’ is very addictive and has been my number one choice all year when it comes to really dark, heavy music. Listen here.
#2 TesseracT – Altered State Review
‘Altered State’ is my most played album this year and I love it to bits, both the instrumental version and the original one. This is TesseracT forging their own unique path; this is a confirmation of their remarkable talent when it comes to creating strong, layered musical structures combined with an intense, emotional atmosphere. These songs are magical. Listen here.
#1 Caligula’s Horse – The Tide, The Thief & River’s End Review
To place higher than TesseracT on my list, that’s quite the achievement! Caligula’s Horse managed to craft and put together a collection of songs that meets all my requirements for The Perfect Album. I have never heard songs that feel so honest and alive, amazing guitar solos with so much emotion and incredible vocals with equal amounts of mighty power and fragile beauty. I have never before owned an album that touched me so deeply. This was my big mindblowing surprise of the year. Listen here.
Pelagial – adj. \pə̇ˈlājēəl\ : 1. of or pertaining to the open seas or oceans. 2. living at or near the surface of the open seas.
If the album title or tracks separated into suites named Epipelagic, Mesopelagic, Bathalpelagic, etc didn’t cue you off to deducing that The Ocean are really putting their namesake at the forefront on their new album, a good listen will. On the Epipelagic level (surface level) this seems like it could end up being a corny and pretentious idea. “Oh, The Ocean are writing a concept album about the ocean. How very clever. snark snark snark”. Coming off of their less than well received Anthropocentric and many fans not too happy about the bands change to a more ‘lighter’ mood, attempting to take on such a project filled with pretense is a risky and daring move that could make or break this German quintet. Would they rise above the waves into the fresh and salty air or be cast down to Hadopelagic level (deepest part of the ocean) to be crushed by the freezing waters which exert 2 tons per square inch? Well, given that I have now listened to Pelagial about 20 times over the course of a few days, the answer on whether the record is a success or not is pretty obvious. But just how good is it?
Please excuse the few words I have for today’s entry. My ears and mind are currently in awe of this masterpiece of an album I just got my hands on. Pelagial by The Ocean, just wow, buy it, listen to it, revel in its genius. It’s like traveling to the bottom of the sea (if the song names didn’t already give that away) as each track gets heavier and more crushing.
I also have to join the choir and say that the instrumental CD that comes included is the strongest part of the package and gives quite a unique experience. I still think the vocals CD is fucking great, but the instrumental is where it’s at. Anywho, just go check this record out. Now excuse me while I go back to trying to wrap my feeble mind around what it has just heard. Mind=Blown. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!