The List of 2013 Year-End Lists

Photo Collage - 2013 Shows - by Asya Yanyo

Click for full-sized image

 

Hey folks — a very Happy (Belated) New Year to all of you! 2013 definitely turned out to be an interesting year for me, with lots of big changes, new projects, new responsibilities, etc., but an unfortunate side-effect of some of that was (as you’ve surely noticed) that the amount of time I’d been spending writing really tapered off as the year went on, to the point where I didn’t post
anything here for the last few months! Well, as you may have seen, I’ve started writing reviews of some new 2014 releases — and as time allows I promise I will also be sharing plenty of older stuff I’ve missed writing about, because believe me there has been a TON worth sharing!

But more on that later. As I started doing last year, I’ve once again put together a collection of various people’s “best of” lists from 2013. Admittedly I sort of got a late start on this (I didn’t even put out the open invitation until after most websites had already finished with publishing all their year-end stuff), but several people have answered the call and contributed some really interesting lists that you’ll want to check out…

 

 

First we have a list of the past year’s best albums according to Josh Thieler, vocalist/drummer of Slaves BC (who also participated in the 2012 list):

 

My top 13 albums of 2013. No one cares. This was the hardest year end list I’ve ever made. There were at least 30 records that could have been on here, but here they are… No one cares.

 

 
(*) Josh especially recommended this particular album to me. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. I have a text that I sent to myself from late in the evening (when I would have been far too drunk to remember that name) at a New Year’s Eve party that we both had attended. Anyway, I’m listening to it right now. Interesting: Finnish black metal with equal parts psychedelic and industrial all mixed together. Whoever’s reading this should totally go check it out.

Probably the rest of the list, too.

 

Brian Urban, vocalist for Supervoid, put together the following list of his favorite releases from 2013:

 

  • Alice in ChainsThe Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
  • AnamanaguchiEndless Fantasy
  • ASGBlood Drive
  • Big BusinessBattlefields Forever
  • Bosnian RainbowsBosnian Rainbows
  • Cancer BatsDead Set on Living
  • Cult of LunaVertikal
  • Deltron 3030Event 2
  • EnforcerDeath By Fire
  • GhostInfestissumam
  • KvelertakMeir
  • The OceanPelagial
  • PalmsPalms
  • Queens of the Stone AgeLike Clockwork
  • SkeletonwitchSerpents Unleashed
  • SoilworkThe Living Infinite
  • Steak Number EightThe Hutch
  • SupervoidFilaments (HAHA WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT)
  • TomahawkOddfellows
  • VolbeatOutlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies

 
Honorable Mentions:

  • AnciientsHeart of Oak
  • Dillinger Escape PlanOne of Us is the Killer
  • KalmahSeventh Swamphony
  • Peelander-ZMetalander-Z
  • Protest the HeroVolition
  • Red FangWhales and Leeches
  • The StrokesComedown Machine
  • Toxic HolocaustChemistry of Consciousness
  • WavvesAfraid of Heights
  • White WizzardThe Devil’s Cut

 

Supervoid bassist John Braymer added the following:

 

Here’s my Best of 2013 in no particular order:

 

  • ClutchEarth Rocker
  • KadavarAbra Kadavar
  • Ape MachineMangled By the Machine
  • Blood CeremonyThe Eldritch Dark
  • ClamfightI Versus the Glacier
  • Church of MiseryThy Kingdom Scum
  • IsaakThe Longer the Beard the Harder the Sound
  • KingsnakeOne Eyed King of the Blind
  • EgyptBecome the Sun
  • BrutusBehind the Mountains
  • EarthlessFrom the Ages
  • Red FangWhales and Leeches
  • Big BusinessBattlefields Forever
  • All Them WitchesLightning at the Door
  • UtahUtah
  • Valley of the SunElectric Talons of the Thunderhawk
  • SandriderGodhead
  • Lizzard WizzardLizzard Wizzard
  • KvelertakMeir
  • HorseburnerStrange Giant
  • ASGBlood Drive
  • BorrachoOculus

 

  • SupervoidFilaments (I’m allowed to list my own band, right?)

 

Jason of Ohio bands DeathCrawl and The Gingerdead Men sent me the following summary of the year’s best albums and biggest disappointments, as well as some of the best shows that happened in 2013:

 

I didn’t get into a lot this year, mostly because I’ve been too busy to be the student of music I wish I could be. There were a number of albums I fully intended to check out but failed to – Dillinger Escape Plan, Carcass, Windhand, True Widow, Pelican, Man Man, Russian Circles, Rev. Horton Heat, Melvins, Doomriders, Blues Explosion… the list goes on. So here’s what I did hear.

 
My favorite listens of 2013?

  • Queens of the Stone AgeLike Clockwork
    Homme and company nailed a tone of desolation and heartsick on this record, and I love it. More people should almost die on the operating table if the results are always going to be this good. I don’t care if QOTSA are “selling out,” this is great rock and roll.
  • Red FangWhales and Leeches
    I’m not usually a fan of guest vocalists, but the Yob vox on “Dawn Rising” raised the little hairs at the base of my skull. Awesome. The rest of the album has all the riffs and humor I’ve come to expect from Red Fang. Consistent and dependable throughout, with a fun design/layout in the liner notes.
  • ClutchEarth Rocker
    After being collectively let down by both From Beale St. to Oblivion and Strange Cousins from the West, I really needed Clutch to come through with an album that had both piss and vinegar. Earth Rocker delivered when it needed to. The songs have a sense of urgency and don’t overstay their welcome. Sure, Fallon‘s lyrics aren’t as great as they once were, but all in all, really solid effort here. …I just have to skip “Crucial Velocity”.
  • BridesmaidBreakfast at Riffany’s
    These dudes rule and so does their record. A drum and bass behemoth with snark and sass, this album is catchy, fun, and HEAVY.
  • LumbarThe First and Last Days of Unwelcome
    This album feels short, and it is, at only 24 minutes. There’s one track that is kinda phoned in, but the other six are rad. Their Facebook band posts are stupid, though. While I like the album I don’t think I like the man behind it. I get it, MS sucks and you’ve been in a lot of bands.
  • Man…or Astro-Man?Defcon 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
    Exactly what one would expect from MOAM. I might be giving too much credit for this record, but I missed them and felt this was a good come-back effort. We’ll see if it has staying power, but for now it stands out above other new stuff I did hear this year.
  • BloodnstuffBloodnstuff
    This album actually came out in 2012, but I didn’t know about this band until they opened for Fu Manchu in 2013. This is a great release with fantastic guitar work and vocals. It’s also uncharacteristically thick considering this band is only a two-piece. The guitarist’s use of some custom pickup wiring and separate outputs pays dividends here.
  • Pistols at DawnPistols at Dawn
    This album was recorded years ago, but finally saw a complete release via Bandcamp in 2013. Dave and Damon from DeathCrawl, plus Joe Melnyk on drums. Post-something-or-other riff rock. This EP is right up my alley – heavy, hooky, groovy. Good.
  • The MofosSupercharged on Alcohol
    This record came out in 2003 and I just discovered it the last weekend of 2013. Ten Years later, this album still smokes and has made an instant fan in me. Also cool to note that Will and Aaron from Keelhaul were handling drum and bass respectively when I saw them on 12/28/13. Rad. Awesome heavy-noisy-surf rock. Seek this out.

 
Biggest let-downs of 2013?

  • TomahawkOddfellows
    Very little of this record gets me excited. Admittedly, Mit Gas is the only Tomahawk album I really like, so I shouldn’t have expected much, but still a letdown when I first listened to it. The album feels really undeveloped – like demos or something. I expected better from the people involved.
  • KylesaUltraViolet
    Everyone needs to stop saying how awesome this record is, because it just isn’t. 😉 Mediocre has negative connotations, so I’ll say it is average. Half the record is decent, the other half is boring. The lyrics aren’t that hot, the riffs aren’t that hot (save a few). I just don’t get it. I don’t mind that they are evolving their sound, but the evolution appears to be aping Torche and Baroness too much for my tastes. This used to be my favorite band, not so sure about that these days.

 
The Best Live shows I saw this year (considering I didn’t make it out much)?

  • Man…or Astro-Man? at the Beachland Ballroom (Cleveland OH)
    I never thought I would get to see MOAM live, and am I ever glad I did. A career-spanning set of high-energy, intergalactic rock and roll with a cathartic amp-smashing end.
  • Ace & the Ragers Reunion at the Grog Shop (Cleveland OH)
    Throwback rockers Ace & the Ragers get back together every three years or so to play a single reunion show in their hometown. Three years ago was okay, but this year was great. The band was tighter, the set list more varied, and they didn’t get completely hammered too early in the set to keep it together. Win. They play two-minute songs and held the stage for 1.5+ hours, all while making the crowd dance. Impressive reunion. The Mofos opened and threw down with authority.
  • Blackout Cookout IV
    Solid day of meat and music. All the bands ruled and everyone kept it cool. Highlights for me: Rebreather crushing everyone to death under the weight of their riffs, and Vulture‘s last appearance in Ohio.

 

Quercus of Dendritic Arbor (whom you may recall I did a brief interview with, last February) sent this list of his favorite new band discoveries from Bandcamp this year. If anyone is familiar with this whole list, please let me know, and I will personally send you a gold star:

 

Top 10 bands found while procrastinating at work.

 

  1. Christ Ape
  2. Seizures
  3. Timeghoul
  4. Suprpression
  5. Luror
  6. Addaura
  7. Klabautamann
  8. Unquintessence
  9. Lithome
  10. Sokushinbutu

 

Jorge Orsovay, a manager at one of my favorite local venues, Mr. Smalls Theatre, wanted to share a few lists with you all:

 

Hi there! Here are my lists of stuff I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy in 2013 along with some other randomness:

 
Top 10 albums of the year:

  • AeternusAnd the Seventh His Soul Detesteth
  • ArgusBeyond the Martyrs
  • CarouselJeweler’s Daughter
  • Dream DeathSomnium Excessum
  • DarkthroneThe Underground Resistance
  • InquisitionObscure Verses for the Multiverse
  • Monster MagnetLast Patrol
  • NailsAbandon All Life
  • PortalVexovoid
  • WindhandSoma

 
Top 5 albums where the music just didn’t live up to the hype and failed to capture my interest despite repeated listens:

  • Black Sabbath13
  • CarcassSurgical Steel
  • DeafheavenSunbather
  • GhostInfestissumam
  • WatainThe Wild Hunt

 
Top 5 shows in no order whatsoever:

  • Clutch/Orange Goblin @ Stage AE
  • St. Vitus/Pallbearer/Hookers/Lady Beast @ Rex Theatre
  • Pentagram/Carousel/Doctor Smoke/Brimstone Coven @ Mr. Smalls
  • Marduk/Moonspell/Inquisition/The Foreshadowing/Death Wolf @ Mr. Smalls
  • Today is the Day/Black Tusk/KEN Mode/Fight Amp @ Mr. Smalls

 
Top 5 music-related books purchased and read (several times) in the past year:

  • Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975) by Ken Sharp, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley
  • Behind the Stage Door by Rich Engler
  • Dirty Deeds: My Life Inside and Outside of AC/DC by Mark Evans
  • Louder than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Heavy Metal by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman
  • Everybody Loves our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm

 
Top 5 bands that got the most play time on my iPod:

  • Anathema
  • The Gathering
  • Iron Maiden
  • Judas Priest
  • KISS

 
Top 5 bands that I look forward to hearing new music from in 2014:

  • Behemoth
  • Brimstone Coven
  • Derkéta
  • Doctor Smoke
  • Liquified Guts

 

Joshua Gibson, vocalist for Black Plastic Caskets seemed to have a bit of fun putting his list together:

 

Ten Best Albums Of 2013 That I Just Made Up:

  • Tomato GravyBreffuss Buffet
  • Pneumatic PoonSplinterdick
  • Pork Abortion MortuaryThe Devils Say, “BLURRG”
  • The Armpit ScarBlinded by Blindness
  • Cousin Buzz and the VaporizersBland Incantation
  • Meticulous DisregardMy Uncle Never Fucked Me
  • Scorch the LordTinctures & Poultices
  • Insidious DiddlerPope Choker
  • …And We Call Ourselves PussiesDude, How’s My Hair Look?
  • Black Plastic CasketsBlack Plastic Caskets

 

Kelly Gabany, formerly the drummer for the sadly recently-terminated band Vulture (who was also a list participant last year, and whom I’ve also interviewed, twice) contributed the following:

 

My top favs of 2013 (in no particular order). Some metal, some reeeally not so metal. A ton of great releases this year, but I capped it at 20. Cheers!

 

  • ColiseumSister Faith
  • Russian CirclesMemorial
  • ExxasensSatellites
  • PelicanForever Becoming
  • ArchitectMine
  • God is an AstronautOrigins
  • Johnny MarrThe Messenger
  • SavagesSilence Yourself
  • CzarNo One is Alone if No One is Alive
  • Autoclav1.1Portents Call
  • NailsAbandon All Life
  • Storm KingEverything That’s Meaningful in Your Life Will Be Destroyed
  • DeafheavenSunbather
  • Uncle Acid & the DeadbeatsMind Control
  • ComadusterHollow Worlds
  • Traitors Return to EarthBetting on a Full Collapse
  • Vattnet ViskarSky Swallower
  • Meth QuarryIrreverence
  • SuperVoidFilaments
  • Ghost BikeSun of the Dead

 

Fellow blogger Prof. Grover XIII has compiled a whole list of his own year-end lists, which was recently published by No Clean Singing, but given the epic nature of his list, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to share it with more people — which is why he has graciously volunteered to allow it to be reproduced here.

 

Greetings and salutations, friends. It’s your Honorable Professor returning to bestow upon you the ever-expansive list of my favorite releases of the year. Due to increased responsibilities from my new employment and my newborn son (the handsome little devil you see pictured here), I will be keeping the descriptions of most of these releases brief, briefer than usual, but I will still give my best attempt to justify just why you should listen to them anyway.

Also, and I realize that this list is being published at No Clean Singing, but this list is in no way, shape, or form a list dedicated solely to metal. I listen to a wide variety of music, and to omit everything that’s not metal would be to do myself and all of you a great disservice.

 

EPs/DEMOS/SINGLES –

This is everything that wasn’t long enough to be considered an album. In a few circumstances, it’s only a song or two. A number of these are available for free, and I’ve attempted to include links of some sort for each regardless of price.

 

20 – PantherRide the Ice
The surest sign that my taste in music has shifted a great deal: I like Panther. A few years ago, I would have hated the poorly-recorded, poorly-produced thrash-punk of Madison, WI’s Panther, but there’s something oddly compelling about it.

 

19 – BAT Primitive Age
Speaking of poorly-produced thrash-punk… BAT have better riffs and better production than Panther, and are damn entertaining as well.

 

18 – BonesDemo 2013
Blistering old-school death metal still lives, and Bones are living proof.

 

17 – Fantasy PantherFantasy Panther
If the Napalm Death font in the logo wasn’t a dead giveaway, Fantasy Panther play grindcore, and actually had one of the best grind releases of the year.

 

16 – BölzerAura
Aura wound up being one of the more interesting black/death releases of the year, with a distinctively odd guitar tone that helped set it apart.

 

15 – Pig DestroyerThe Octagonal Stairway
Pig Destroyer’s only real grind release of the year (their Mass/Volume EP was Natasha-style doom), this lone track was released through Adult Swim, and it will destroy your very soul.

 

14 – Steel Bearing HandDemo
Holy balls. Steel Bearing Hand emerged from nowhere (well, technically they emerged from Dallas) to blow me away with their 2013 demo (as well as their self-titled 2012 demo). Some of the best death metal riffs of the year are contained within these two songs.

 

13 – Jess and the Ancient OnesAstral Sabbat
The retro-occult-rock fad has hit its breaking point in a short period of time, it seems, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t quality releases to be had. Astral Sabbat is a perfect example, as Jess and the Ancient Ones evoke the likes of Coven and Jefferson Starship without feeling overly derivative of either.

 

12 – The Grammar ClubBioavailable
A collaboration between nerdcore rapper Beefy and singer/songwriter/remixer Shael Riley may not sound like your cup of tea, but it most certainly is mine. Throw in guest appearances from MC Frontalot, Kabuto the Python, Jesse Dangerously, Wordburglar, Adam WarRock, and Wheelie Cyberman, and you’ve got a recipe for brilliance.

 

11 – InfiltratorInfiltrator
This might be cheating, because I’m pretty sure Infiltrator’s demo made my list last year, but they re-recorded it and added both a new tune and a Bathory cover, and fuck it, they’re great.

 

10 – War MasterBlood Dawn
The tags on Bandcamp include “Bolt Thrower” for a reason. This is pure Bolt Thrower worship, and if you’re not already headed over to their Bandcamp page to listen then you’re probably not going to understand.

 

9 – Jesse DangerouslyA More Blessed Perfection
This is the only real release from Jesse Dangerously, aka Canada’s finest rapper and one of my personal favorites, and it’s only a single track, but it’s incredible and features a beast-mode cameo from The Mighty Rhino, a rapper whose style is made all the more impressive given that he has cerebral palsy. The accompanying video will appeal to rap-lovers and bear-lovers alike.

 

8 – Total Fucking DestructionMonsters
One of my favorite grind tunes of the year, the title track from Monsters actually has a guitar solo (something of a rarity in the grind world), and it’s a beauty.

 

7 – Four Fists6666
The combination of P.O.S. (of the Doomtree crew) and Minneapolis alt-rapper Astronautalis proves a potent one, as 6666 features two brilliant, moody, unforgettable tunes. There is a full-length release coming at some point from these two, and I cannot wait.

 

6 – Rotten SoundSpecies at War
It’s Rotten Sound, condensed into 6 tracks of HM-2-laden grindcore madness. That should be all you need to know.

 

5 – ScandroidSalvation Code
Klayton from Celldweller joins forces with Varien to create a retro-futuristic electronic track that simply lodged itself in my mind and refused to leave. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to this track, waiting for them to release more, but I can’t get enough for some reason.

 

4 – RangerKnights of Darkness/Combat Metal
Helsinki-based Ranger appear to have come straight from the 80s in their approach to speed metal, and the end result is perfection. I list both their Knights of Darkness EP and their Combat Metal demo here because both were released this year and both are excellent.

 

3 – I’ll Eat Your FaceThe Life and Work of Jean Vauvais
The laser-shooting-swan-song of my favorite Irish oddballs, The Life and Work of Jean Vauvais is something that I’ve discussed on NCS already, but it remains worth mentioning because it’s so weird that we may never see the likes of this sort of music again, and that’s a pity.

 

2 – House of AtreusInto the Brazen Bull
There is no doubt in my mind that these are the finest death metal riffs of the year. It’s a bit like Arghoslent minus all the racism. Now, if they’d only sell the damn thing on their Bandcamp page.

 

1 – K.FlayWest Ghost/What if it Is
My favorite EP of the year is actually a pair of mixtapes from K.Flay, who is not only one of the best female rappers out there, but one of the best rappers out there period. She also consistently comes up with consistently brilliant beats, insightful and brutally honest lyrics, and delivers it all with a distinctive vocal style that I love. It’s an odd choice, but given how much I love both of these releases, it was an easy one to make when the time came.

 

ALBUMS –

You know what albums are. This year there are 40 of them, because it was very difficult for me to narrow things down, and so I decided not to. I went through and kept picking the albums that affected me the most this year until I had a nice round number.

 

40 – Altar of PlaguesTeethed Glory and Injury
Altar of Plagues deviated from their atmospheric past style in an entirely new direction, occasionally bordering on industrial, and the end result is one of the most harrowing listens of the year.

 

39 – SkeletonwitchSerpents Unleashed
What can I say? Skeletonwitch know how to write riffs, and they bring it on every release. Serpents Unleashed is no different, and in a year where I found myself listening to a lot of blackened thrash, they stood out more than a lot of others.

 

38 – P.L.F.Devious Persecution and Wholesale Slaughter
The irony of a band calling themselves Pretty Little Flower, then going out and making one of the year’s finest grindcore releases is not lost on me.

 

37 – Uncle Acid & the DeadbeatsMind Control
Mind Control may have been an uneven album, with the second half bogging down in spots, but the rest of the album more than makes up for it. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats once again deliver hazy, fuzzed-out stoner riffing goodness.

 

36 – ShiningOne One One
After the impenetrable oddness of Blackjazz, for Shining to release an album as straightforward as One One One is either brilliant or foolhardy, and I’m inclined to go with the former. There’s still plenty of the Blackjazz sound to be found, but it’s streamlined into something more closely resembling a rock record, and the resulting combination works extremely well.

 

35 – VerminousThe Unholy Communion
At this point, there are a lot of bands rehashing the various branches of old school death metal, but that doesn’t mean that bands like Verminous aren’t worth a listen. The Unholy Communion is Swedeath that is surprisingly light on the HM-2 usage, but it’s still bludgeoningly heavy.

 

34 – BlockheadsThis World is Dead
The auditory equivalent of a nailbat to the head, This World is Dead is a cathartic release of utter rage.

 

33 – Cnoc An TursaThe Giants of Auld
The world needs more Scottish black/folk metal. Fortunately, Cnoc An Tursa are here to help. The music here feels distinctly Scottish, with an epic feel to the entire thing that defines the best folk metal releases.

 

32 – Brent A. PetrieThe Void
I forget occasionally that The Void is a 2013 release, because I’ve actually been listening to it since 2012, but this criminally underrated album combines instrumental metal, post-rock, and electronic experimentation to create a varied, engrossing sound.

 

31 – Jex ThothBlood Moon Rise Jex Thoth left the retro-occult stylings of Sabbath Assembly behind to return to her eponymous doom project, but Blood Moon Rise certainly bears some of Sabbath Assembly within. Jex’s old-soul vocals are absolutely perfect.

 

30 – LanternBelow
In spite of the intentionally flat, low-budget production, Lantern turned in one of the year’s most harrowing death metal experiences with Below, a murky, twisting descent into some Lovecraftian subterranean world.

 

29 – Death GripsGovernment Plates
By now, everyone knows about Death Grips, and yet somehow they still manage to surprise everyone by doing things like releasing Government Plates for free with no warning. The sound is an amalgamation of everything Death Grips has done before, mixing the utter atonal brutality of No Love Deep Web, the more accessible danceability of The Money Store, and the sheer rage of Ex-Military into another unpredictable album.

 

28 – DessaParts of Speech
Doomtree member Dessa, one of my favorite female MCs (actually, one of my favorite MCs regardless of gender) showed her more contemplative side on Parts of Speech, an album featuring more singing and less rapping than its predecessor, but given her skill at both and her utterly poetic lyrical genius, the end result is still a release that hooked me from the first moment I heard it.

 

27 – Dropkick MurphysSigned and Sealed in Blood
Boston’s kings of Celtic punk returned and delivered another quality release. There aren’t a lot of surprises on Signed and Sealed in Blood, but if you’re looking for surprises with Dropkick Murphys, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

 

26 – TribulationThe Formulas of Death
I had never heard Tribulation prior to Formulas of Death, and in listening to their past work I can see just how much of a shift in sound Tribulation represents, with death metal sliding over to make room for prog much like Enslaved did with black metal. I do know that Tribulation definitely got my attention and held it.

 

25 – CondorCondor
Koboltn thrash duo Condor put out the best black-thrash album of the year with its self-titled release, a blistering riffstravaganza that packs most of its 32 minute runtime (intro and outro notwithstanding) with balls-out thrash metal destruction.

 

24 – The UncludedHokey Fright
The combination of rap genius Aesop Rock and folk oddity Kimya Dawson is a strange one, and Hokey Fright can be a bit uneven, but it’s also gloriously weird and incredibly entertaining. Aes’s non-sequitur lyrics and dense flow don’t always mesh with Dawson’s anti-folk leanings, but more often than not the result is brilliant.

 

23 – Control Human DeleteThe Prime Mover
There’s something I find indescribably compelling about Control Human Delete and their heavily electronic approach to black metal (although to be fair, The Prime Mover is an album that is only tangentially black metal). The synths and programmed drums, interspersed with jagged guitars, appeal to my very soul in a way I can’t explain.

 

22 – Polkadot CadaverLast Call in Jonestown
With the news that a new Dog Fashion Disco album is coming in 2014, Polkadot Cadaver may be relegated back to being a mere remnant of the DFD sound, but Last Call in Jonestown still bears the best elements of the DFD sound (which is to say that they borrow heavily from the likes of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, with a much more psychotic bent).

 

21 – Five Horse JohnsonThe Taking of Blackheart
Toledo’s finest returned with their first album in seven years, and I was happy to see that their take on blues-rock is still wonderfully intact. Their influence on Clutch’s recent albums is still obvious (and for the second album in a row, Clutch drummer JP Gaster handled kit duties for FHJ), and the concept of the album (about an outlaw on the run) is wonderfully carried in the lyrics.

 

20 – The CreepshowLife After Death
Replacing a singer like Sarah Blackwood is no easy task, and yet The Creepshow, Canada’s finest psychobilly band, did just that with Kenda Legaspi, who has a similar enough style to pull off the old songs while adding her own touch. The songs may not be as strong as the classic Creepshow tunes, but the album is still excellent.

 

19 – CagePilots
For a gimmick band (grindcore based on Nicolas Cage’s movies, featuring plenty of soundclips), Cage managed to make some incredibly entertaining music. I found myself returning to Pilots well after the amusement factor should have worn off.

 

18 – Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks
Trent Reznor has mellowed in his old age, and at times Hesitation Marks feels a lot like How To Destroy Angels, as opposed to a return to The Downward Spiral-era NIN (which was something I kind of was hoping for when I saw the album art). That said, it’s still Nine Inch Nails, and Trent Reznor still knows how to make amazing music.

 

17 – Amon AmarthDeceiver of the Gods
It’s an Amon Amarth album, but it’s also probably their best since With Oden on Our Side, and that should be enough of an explanation.

 

16 – Mindless Self IndulgenceHow I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence
Mindless Self Indulgence is an old guilty pleasure for me, and while they have yet to reach the sheer demented brilliance of Frankenstein Girls will Seem Strangely Sexy, they actually came closer with How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence than they ever have. Simultaneously courting the Hot Topic crowd and savaging them, as they’ve done with their last few releases, MSI remembered how to write good, weird songs, and I was pleasantly surprised with how good this album ended up being.

 

15 – AntigamaMeteor
Easily the best grind album of the year. Antigama throw in some curveballs with their sci-fi-influenced death/grind. The final product is relentlessly brutal, a little groovy (in a Napalm Death sort of way), and just weird enough to keep the listener guessing.

 

14 – MotörheadAftershock
I did not see this coming. Motörhead released what turned out to be their best album in at least twenty years, and they accomplished that by going back to basics, writing straightforward, hard-hitting songs, and just kicking ass. Lemmy and co. sound better than they have in a long time, and Aftershock turned out to be a welcome surprise.

 

13 – Koffin KatsBorn of the Motor
My other favorite psychobilly band, Detroit’s Koffin Kats, continue to churn out quality releases. Born of the Motor takes some of the road-weary lyrical content of their last release and reintroduces a lot of the horror-based imagery to the mix. The album art is once again basic and terrible, but the music is the key, and it’s a worthy addition to their respectable discography.

 

12 – FinntrollBlodsvept
This album fell off for me a bit since its release, and perhaps it didn’t strike quite the same chords as its predecessor, Nifelvind, but maybe I’m just spoiled by my love of Finntroll. On its own, Blodsvept is a great album and a perfect encapsulation of what Finntroll do, but it blends into their back catalog a little too seamlessly and lacked a few standout moments. And yet, here it is at #12 on my list.

 

11 – Tyrant GoatgaldrakonaHorns in the Dark
Here’s another album that came out of nowhere (well, Hungary) and blew me away. On the surface, I can’t really identify anything in particular that sets Tyrant Goatgaldrakona apart from the legions of other old-school death metal bands out there, and yet, somehow, I keep coming back to Horns in the Dark. I can’t really put my finger on it. It just draws you in and pulls you under.

 

10 – SatanLife Sentence
The classic lineup from Court in the Act got back together after a long, long time, and it was like nothing changed. Life Sentence is a brilliant bit of NWOBHM, frozen in time and as vital as Court in the Act, and it represents firm proof that not all musical reunions are a bad idea.

 

9 – How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion
Of Trent Reznor’s two projects to release music this year, this was not the one I expected to take the higher spot on my list. Still, here it sits, based on the hypnotic power of the decidedly more atmospheric tracks and the haunting vocals of Reznor’s wife Mariqueen. The entire mood of the album is one of beauty with a hint of foreboding, and strong emotional currents flow and eddy throughout.

 

8 – Black FastStarving out the Light
Revocation may get all the hype, but Black Fast easily have the best thrash riffs of the year, and for me it’s not even close. Starving out the Light is actually closer to Vektor than Revocation, with a strong technical flair that really elevates the entire album, and the instrumentation is top notch, with some nicely audible bass complementing the razor-sharp riffs and solos. If there is one album on this list that you haven’t listened to and decide to check out, this should be the one.

 

7 – Rotting ChristΚατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού
The brilliance of Rotting Christ continues, as they follow up AEALO with another powerful, expansive, and yes, epic album. These Greeks have long ago transcended mere black metal and have instead become something that is entirely their own, symphonic and engrossing.

 

6 – Rob SonicAlice in Thunderdome (Leaked Demos)
I confess, this album isn’t even out yet. I downloaded the leaked demos for Alice in Thunderdome quite some time ago, and when the final tracks do see the light of day they may not really resemble the tracks on this demo. What I do know, however, is that Rob Sonic is an utterly brilliant rapper and a perfect counterpart to Aesop Rock, and that if the final tracks sound exactly like these demos I will have absolutely no complaints whatsoever.

 

5 – Protest the HeroVolition
I have an abiding love for Protest the Hero, and I was even surprised at how good Volition turned out. Maybe it was the presence of Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler, who handled studio drumming, but there was an added sense of heaviness to the entire album. Rody Walker’s vocals, an acquired taste for some, are on point here, and the usual technical instrumentation is ratcheted up a notch. They may not be the most tr00 kvlt band out there, but I don’t care.

 

4 – Bad ReligionTrue North
Much like Motörhead, Bad Religion released their best album since Against the Grain by going back to basics. In this case, basics means two-minute songs, fast punk riffing, and of course, the usual intelligent Greg Graffin lyrics combined with layers of vocal harmonies. Bad Religion reminded me just why they are my favorite punk band of all time, and they showed that after 30 years, they’ve still got it.

 

3 – Run the JewelsRun the Jewels
The combination of El-P and Killer Mike, already proven to be solid on Mike’s album R.A.P. Music due to El’s production, gets elevated to a whole new level on Run the Jewels, a true collaboration. Stripped down and meaner than El-P’s brilliant Cancer 4 Cure, the resulting tracks dwarf pretty much every other rap release of the year (Eminem and Kanye West only wish they could come up with something this good). Killer Mike’s lyrical bluntness proves a perfect foil for El-P’s more off-kilter wordsmithing, and the beats are sheer perfection.

 

2 – PryapismeHyperblast Super Collider
OK, so this is definitely my biggest surprise of the year. Hyperblast Super Collider is an absolute musical clusterfuck of metal, jazz, 8-bit chiptunes, programmed drums, and brain-melting avant-gardeness, the auditory equivalent of a mixture of LSD and PCP. And yet, somehow, there is beautiful method to Pryapisme’s madness, from the spastic opening moments of “Un druide est giboyeux lorsqu’il se prend pour un neutrino” to the utterly jaw-dropping finale, a 9-minute electro-metal version of Mussorgsky‘s “Night on Bald Mountain”. It’s not at all an accessible album, but it is incredibly rewarding if you take the time to decipher its mysteries.

 

1 – ClutchEarth Rocker
This was all but a foregone conclusion. Like Bad Religion and Motörhead, Clutch stripped things down and got back to basics on Earth Rocker, as appropriate an album title as I’ve heard in quite some time, and the end result is not only the best album of the year, but possibly one of the best albums of Clutch’s nigh flawless discography. I would put Earth Rocker on a similar tier as Blast Tyrant, which I view both as Clutch’s best album and an all-time top-5 album as far as I’m concerned. It’s really that good. It blasts out of the gate, rarely relents, and is simply perfect from beginning to end, with some of the year’s most infectious riffs and massive grooves. I had a lot of internal debate about the rest of this list, but with Earth Rocker, there was no doubt.

 

SOME RANDOM OTHER FAVORITES –

 
Because this list should comprise a little bit more than just music.

 
Video of the Year:
Five Iron Frenzy – “Zen and the Art of Xenophobia”
Five Iron Frenzy are a relic from my distant past, a time when I listened to Christian music and more ska and punk than metal. They were always more than just a Christian band, with intelligent lyrics and a mischievous streak that I always loved. When I discovered that they had a new album out, I was excited, and while on the whole it was a bit of a disappointment compared to my memories (aside from the horns, the ska elements are all but gone), “Zen and the Art of Xenophobia” is easily the best tune, and the video is hilarious good fun at the expense of American attitudes. Also, it has Abraham Lincoln with Wolverine claws.

 
Runner up:
How to Destroy Angels – “Ice Age”
which brings us a sinister darkness that is never quite revealed and perfectly complements its moody, folky accompaniment.

 
TV Series of the Year (Established):
Breaking Bad
 
If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad by now, I don’t really know what your excuse is, but it wrapped its fifth season in typically brilliant, heart-wrenching fashion. The best episode, easily, was “Asmodeus”, which featured the year’s best acting.

 
Runner-up:
Person of Interest
which continues to establish itself as head and shoulders above the rest of network television by introducing fascinating plot points and supporting characters while slowly fleshing out the mysterious backstories of its heroes, and:
 
The Walking Dead
which showed with its new season that less is more when it comes to dialog in its best season yet.

 
TV Series of the Year (New):
Orphan Black
 
I cannot recommend Orphan Black strongly enough. I don’t want to explain what the show is about, because it ruins some of the mystery in the exposition if you don’t go in blind, but I will say that lead actress Tatiana Maslany is utterly, devastatingly brilliant and deserves to win every major award there is that doesn’t go to Breaking Bad.

 
Most Disappointing Album of the Year:
LeprousCoal
 
It’s not that Coal was a bad album, per se, it’s just that, after the brilliance of Bilateral, I found Coal to be almost painfully boring. Repeated listens alleviated things somewhat, but at that point, it was too late; I had moved on.

 
Runner up:
IhsahnDas Seelenbrechen
which (like Eremita) started with a couple of strong songs before devolving into a lot of boring experimentation.

 

Local music producer/recorder Joshua Bowers put together a list of some of his favorite records of the year…

 

Best 13 of 2013 That You Can’t Buy at Wal-Mart
(in no order)

 

  • Royal ThunderCVI
  • Bonedust & the Bloodstained BastardsBonedust & the Bloodstained Bastards
  • Solarburn#
  • Pig DestroyerBook Burner
  • Red FangWhales and Leeches
  • Polkadot CadaverLast Call in Jonestown
  • ClutchEarthrocker
  • Mouth of the ArchitectDawning
  • CloudkickerSubsume
  • NailsAbandon All Life
  • Weekend NachosStill
  • Dream DeathSomnium Excessum
  • ACXDCTo the Point

 

This next list comes from my wife, Asya Yanyo, who has been very instrumental in helping out with all of the photography and videos we’ve gotten at the dozens of shows we’ve attended this year. Most of the work for the photos on Facebook and the videos on YouTube, and everything involving the VOS Instagram account, has been because of her. Anyway, she chose to put together a list of her favorite videos from the year. (Also, she assembled the collage of photos at the top of this page.)

 

Slaves BC – “Everything Under the Sun”

 
This video has sentimental value to me because it was a show in Rick’s basement basically just for us. I won’t go into detail on as to why it worked out that way but I am happy that it did. This is also the first video I ever shot using my camera, which sound quality and picture quality blew my flip cam out of the water, hence why I stopped using it and we eventually gave it to Aaron from Meth Quarry to use. Slaves BC are great; Valley of Steel probably has a video of every song they’ve done live so far, but I don’t mind giving special attention to people as special as Sean, Rick, Jason and Josh are — it’s always well deserved.

 
Pallbearer – *NEW SONG*

 
Second time of the year seeing Pallbearer, they opened for St. Vitus this time. They did not disappoint; they were just as amazing as the first time, I would even say better. This night was crazy events, mostly everyone wanting to fight or getting beat up, but it’s the South Side. By South Side standards we probably had a very tame evening.

 
Sleepers Awake – “Equa Mortuorum” / “Under Hoof and Gavel”

 
I went into this show not really knowing what to expect from this band. I did hear that I probably would like them from Eric. “Like them” may have been an understatement, as I probably have listened to this CD about 100 times since this show. This is a great band, and as I said before I have a musical crush on them. I hope they return to Pittsburgh soon!

 
Fister – “Deaf Wish”

 
Oh Fister, how amazing you were/are and how sad it is for most of Pittsburgh that they missed this show. Mr. Roboto not being packed is never a bad thing, but it was a shame that no one saw all the talent that was in that room that night — besides the 10 people that showed up for Bear Skull then left before Fister even played. I dedicate this video to Jason Cantu for booking and bringing one of my favorite band finds of 2013 to Pittsburgh, thank you for a wonderful evening of fucking awesome music.

Also thank you to Kenny for wearing those glasses with that hair.

 
“Liquified Meth Slaves” (Impromptu Jam Session #1)

 
Still easily one of the best nights of my life, even though I was pretty angry for weeks after this show. Slaves BC has a free show, at the now-defunct Kopec’s; we promote the heck out of it, and no one shows up (sounds like a pattern, doesn’t it?). Well, at least Jim of Liquified Guts showed, along with Adam, Aaron, and Chris of Meth Quarry. What happened next was a wonderful jam session between friends, you should be sorry you missed it.

 
Vulture – “Apathetic Life”

 
As much as I love this video, it really should be the video we shot from the final Vulture show [in November at Garfield Artworks in Pittsburgh].

Being the procrastinator I am, I still haven’t gotten around to editing it — part of me thinks this is just a ploy not to really deal with the fact that Vulture is gone. So enjoy this video instead, from the Blackout Cookout. What an amazing night that was!

 
The Gates of Slumber – “Bastards Born”

 
Uh yeah, here’s another band I shouldn’t have had to say good-bye to in 2013, would you asshole bands quit making me cry already???

I love TGOS as does Eric, so getting to hear them play this show literally gave me goosebumps the entire time — at the start of the video you can hear me scream; I have no shame about this.

 
Supervoid – “Ride the Snake”

 
This band is filled with the best of everything: talent, heart and humor. These are the best kinds of dudes making some of the best music, not only in Pittsburgh, but the best music out there right now.

If you haven’t heard the new release by them, I’d suggest you had better go do something about that right now.

 
LAST – “Choke” / “Sludge Surf” / “50 Cents”

 
Ah… Eric’s band LAST. I am not going to into lots of mushy details, but lets just say I am very proud of my husband. I hear this music every week in my house as they practice and I never get tired of it.

This was the first show as “LAST“, at Mr. Roboto, in front of lots of our friends. Eric was pretty nervous but you can’t really tell because he and Brock did a great job.

 
Solarburn – (Full Set)

 
First video of the year, and the first and last time we ever recorded a full set. If you’ve ever listened to Solarburn you know why it’s hard to mess with the flow of the set and record just one or two songs — it really is worth listening to and taking in everything at once. Can’t wait to record all the new stuff from them!

 
Black Tusk – “Enemy of Reason and Days of Woe”

 
Okay so I have a confession, I have no idea how I got this video because I was freaking out the entire time. Black Tusk is a top-5 band for me, I love them, and I listen to them constantly. So when we went to see them in Cleveland in November I got really close… maybe too close?? Still it was quite hard to film AND be rocking out. I did my best, and I probably looked like an ass doing so. BTW this one was recorded just for Josh [Thieler] because he should have been at that show and not at work!

 
The Melvins – “Roman Bird Dog”

 
Easily the most amazing thing I have ever seen, I couldn’t believe the two drummer set-up and still to this day can’t believe that two people could play that in-sync — it was quite the feat.

“Dear bands, sorry we gave you these impossible standards to live up to. Love, The Melvins.”

 
DeathCrawl – “The Subtle Art of Going Nowhere”

 
I happen to really, really love this band; thank goodness we got to see them twice this year. I was so happy I got this song because I love it and I requested it before the show. Now, enjoy Jason [bassist]’s facial expressions while you take in some of the best music Ohio has to offer.

 
Meth Quarry – “Grimewave”

 
Two Words: “butthole mic” at 3:06. [Vocalist] Adam [Bailey] didn’t miss a beat.

 

And finally… here’s my own list. At first I had considered listing my favorite shows of the year, like I did last year — but the more I thought about it, I realized that my list would be a very short one: the #1 show I’ve seen this year, without question, was the Melvins at Mr. Smalls Theatre on Memorial Day. No opener, just two full sets of awesome. Check out Asya’s list of videos above for a taste of how great it was. All the other shows would be tied for #2.

So anyway I decided to do a list of the year’s best albums instead. In 2011 I did the top 11 albums and in 2012 I did a list of 12, so naturally I planned on listing the top 13 for this year. But then I started thinking about some of the highlights, and significant releases, and just off the top of my head I came up with more than 13 that I couldn’t imagine leaving off my list. Then I spent some more time thinking about it and actually looking through my library of stuff and there were even more additions to the list. In the end, I decided to just double the length of my list, so that I have the year’s top 13 and the next 13 albums.

By the way, nearly all of these are ones I haven’t written about yet, but I have reviews planned for all of these, so I’ll leave all the commentary until then. So without further ado…

 

  1. SatanLife Sentence
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  2. BorrachoOculus
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  3. Devil to PayFate is Your Muse
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  4. Seven Sisters of SleepOpium Morals
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  5. The Bloody SeamenAhoy Motherfuckers
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  6. MonsterworksAlbum of Man
    listen (to most of it) here, buy here, read my review here
  7. FatalityPsychonaut
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  8. Cultura TresRezando al Miedo
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  9. (a.) HivelordsCavern Apothecary
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
    (b.) SadgiqaceaFalse Prism
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  10. Monuments Collapse / Bréag NaofaSplit LP
    listen here (side a) and here (side b), buy here, read my review here
  11. IntronautHabitual Levitations
    listen here (Spotify), buy here, read my review here
  12. GNAWHorrible Chamber
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  13. FenDustwalker
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  1. Brujas del SolMoonliner
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  2. Cold Blue MountainCold Blue Mountain
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  3. The Lion’s Daughter and Indian BlanketA Black Sea
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  4. Corrections HouseLast City Zero
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  5. LumbarThe First and Last Days of Unwelcome
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  6. DarkthroneThe Underground Resistance
    listen here, buy here, read my review here
  7. The Ravenna ArsenalI.
  8. BovineThe Sun Never Sets on the British Empire
  9. Sleepers AwakeTranscension
  10. SupervoidFilaments
  11. Neon WarshipNeon Warship
  12. TalbotScaled
  13. Old Man of the MountainOld Man of the Mountain
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15 responses to “The List of 2013 Year-End Lists

  1. Pingback: Review: Satan – Life Sentence | Valley of Steel

  2. Pingback: Review: Borracho – Oculus | Valley of Steel

  3. Pingback: Seven Sisters of Sleep – Opium Morals (2013) | Valley of Steel

  4. Pingback: Devil to Pay – Fate is Your Muse (2013) | Valley of Steel

  5. Pingback: Monsterworks – Album of Man (2013) | Valley of Steel

  6. Pingback: Cultura Tres – Rezando Al Miedo (2013) | Valley of Steel

  7. Pingback: Two Reviews: Hivelords and Sadgiqacea (2013) | Valley of Steel

  8. Pingback: Monuments Collapse / Bréag Naofa – Split LP (2013) | Valley of Steel

  9. Pingback: Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (2013) | Valley of Steel

  10. Pingback: Gnaw – Horrible Chamber (2013) | Valley of Steel

  11. Pingback: Fen – Dustwalker (2013) | Valley of Steel

  12. Pingback: Brujas del Sol – Moonliner (2013) | Valley of Steel

  13. Pingback: Cold Blue Mountain – Cold Blue Mountain (2013) and Old Blood (2014) | Valley of Steel

  14. Pingback: The Lion’s Daughter & Indian Blanket – A Black Sea (2013) | Valley of Steel

  15. Pingback: Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies – Earth Air Spirit Water Fire (2013) | Valley of Steel

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