That time of the year has long passed, where people who actively follow music get in on the action and comment on their picks of the year. This list has been long due in that respect. Having said that, I heard a couple of great albums in December which left me with a bit of a conundrum.
Regardless, here’s my top 10 albums of the year. With some surprises thrown in.
10. The Winery Dogs (self titled)
Melodic, catchy riff work with no bullshit drum parts and a bass line that soars above it all. Sheehan, Portnoy and Kotzen created a very memorable record, one that I can never get enough of. Pure, unfiltered rock, something you certainly didnt expect from such a trio.
Genre: Hard Rock YouTube
9. Culture Clash by the Aristocrats
By the famed Minnemann-Govan-Beller super group. To think they managed to write a stellar record that harnesses all their talent for the second time in a row is astounding. Everyone’s strengths is equally represented. The album grew on me over time. AND it is an instrumental record, so bonus points are in order.
Genre: Progressive jazz rock YouTube
8. Skewered in the Sewer by Gutslit
You’d think you are listening to Cattle Decapitation, but nope. This year I learned there exists a band that can pull off death grind metal flawlessly, and that it is literally in my backyard so that I get to see them perform live. This Mumbai band managed to not only beat all my expectations (because lets face it, most bands here are mediocre to say the least) but managed to produce an album that I found myself listening to for hours on end. And they’re Indian. And they
dont suck freakin’ rule.
Genre: Grind-death metal Bandcamp
7. From the Ages by Earthless
This was a surprise for me. Stumbled upon this band in December (or just last week, rather). If you want to get high without smoking up or huffing paint, this is your album. Typical stoner-garage band-ish tone all around (something I’m not really a fan of) but the guitar work is maddeningly brilliant, the basslines stand out, and did I mention its an instrumental record?
Genre: Stoner progressive rock Soundcloud
6. Vermis by Ulcerate
There is nothing I can say about this album that hasnt been said already. The best of Ulcerate’s previous albums all packed into one record. It was a treat to listen to, drawing me in with wave after wave of strong writing, great guitar work and probably the best sounding drum kit in a death metal band.
Genre: Death metal Soundcloud
5. Colored Sands by Gorguts
The strongest death metal record of 2013. Personifies everything you’d expect from the genre, and pushes it to the next level. Though it was hard for me to spot that with my first run-through of the tracks. Gave it time, and was justly rewarded.
Genre: Death metal Soundcloud
4. Liminal by Exivious
Another instrumental album! And the only progressive band to make it to this list. Fairly disappointed I have been with this genre in 2013 (looking at you, Dream Theater), but Exivious managed to carry the torch though the year really well. Pulls off a great album with enough skills on display without being full of itself, which for an instrumental band, is hard to achieve. I cant really say anything more, it is a must-listen.
Genre: Progressive metal Bandcamp
3. Deceiver of the Gods by Amon Amarth
Lets make one thing clear: I’m not the biggest Amon Amarth fan. I like the band, but always felt they never truly were worth the hype. “oh wow Viking metal” isnt something I bought into too quickly. Then they released the single for this album; one of the best opening tracks to an album in a while, and the intensity does not drop throughout the track list. If you gave up on Amon Amarth (like me), you should pick up this album right away.
Genre: Melodic death metal YouTube
2. Volition by Protest the Hero
Surprise again! One of the first attempts at crowd-funding for a metal act, PTH decided to cut the record label out and went straight to the fans with an IndieGogo campaignto fund their new album. They managed to more than achieve their goal, but they still had to deliver the goods. And good lord, they did. It is everything you’d want from a Protest the Hero album and whole lot more. What stood out for me was the vocals, which is the best I’ve heard all year (and WAY better than Scurrilous, their previous release). Very catchy riffs, hair-tingling choruses, Chris Adler on drums. Another shining example of great progressive metal.
Genre: Progressive metal YouTube
1. Revocation (self titled)
A technical death metal band that somehow managed to get really good in the past year AND create an album with riff work that makes you want to sing along. This was my most enjoyable listen of 2013. Why? Because I certainly didnt expect it from THIS band. You know Gorguts or Ulcerate or even Portal would put out a strong album. Revocation? Meh. I wasnt a fan of Revocation’s last album (Chaos of Forms) and brushed it aside as ‘typical death metal oh look blast beat chugging riff yada yada’. A friend of mine gave me this album, and I went in with zero expectations.
Mind. Blown. Beats everything I’ve ever heard in the past year. On the first listen. Every lick, every riff, every interlude (which includes a banjo), every drum roll is perfectly placed. I wouldnt do one thing differently. It is the epitome of song writing musical arrangement. Even you arent a fan of the genre, I’d suggest giving this album a whirl. If you are, I guess you already know.
Genre: technical-melodic death metal Soundcloud
So with that, happy new year to everyone. Hope this year turns out to be as brilliant for music as the last one was.