It’s that time of year for me; I like waiting until the very, very last minute before I write these just to snag a chance of listening to any albums that sneak their way into the current year. Last year, I had my mind fairly made up by December 1; this year was completely different. There was so very, very much to enjoy. Without further ado:
10. Anciients – Heart of Oak: I love the Vancouver, BC/NW US metal scene. It’s amazing, and Anciients did absolutely nothing to disappoint on their first full release. Alternatively, heavy and melodic, the band’s efforts are wholly rewarding (Review).
9. Black Crown Initiate – Song of the Crippled Bull: A damn fine approach from the PA metal band. This was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year simply for its desire to push past the conventions and build something of their own. I’m looking forward to their full release (Review).
8. Scorned Deity – Adventum: Operatic, tense, seething, and soothing, Scorned Deity’s release this year hit me like “Into the Nightside Eclipse.” Their brand of metal evokes an Emperor with refined American sensibilities (Review).
7. Leprous – Coal: Ever evolving, Leprous hits you with their sounds from every different direction. This is a heavy, dark album that never quite gets too over the top in tone or strength. “Coal” marks their steps away from Ihsahn and his solo career and into their own light (Review).
6. Witherscape – The Inheritance: What do you get when you mix old school early 80s heavy metal with death/doom? This. Witherscape’s release this year was a wonderful joyride composed of nostalgia and awesomeness. I loved nearly every minute of it; though Dead for a Day brought it down a few notches here (Review).
5. Deafheaven – Sunbather: An album I had to experience alone and think over to truly understand, Sunbather is a wail of textured noise and fury centered around a nearly ironic and idealistic view of the American dream. The band executes to near perfection metal gaze sounds, and seems to be reaching for an answer to the questions of what happens to the children when things fall apart (Review).
4. Gorguts – Colored Sands: A concept album about the plight of Tibet? Yes. It’s beautifully done, well written, pensive, violent, and all those myriad things that go with such an emotionally charged subject (Review).
3. Katatonia – Dethroned and Uncrowned: When I first saw this, I didn’t take it seriously. I’d just seen the band live and their metal sets from Dead End Kings was spot on, tight, and heavy. But, this remastering worked. It’s very nearly better than the original album, shedding a far more vulnerable light toward melancholy than their heavier approaches (Review).
2. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen: I believe this album will be looked back by those that have only considered it as its basest level and be viewed as a landmark experimental creation. Unlike Ihsahn, who typically takes ideas from his previous albums, rephrases them and then moves forward from there, this album seeks to create something that stands right next to Eremita instead of after it. Beautiful from start until finish, this is genuinely one of most introspective albums of the year (Review).
1. The Fall of Every Season – Amends: A genuine, beautiful and bright album, The Fall of Every Season’s lyrical themes, musical qualities, and generally powerful scale made it stand out from the other albums released this year. Heavy when it needs to be, fragile when it reveals itself to the listener, The Fall of Every Season truly made a magnificent piece of work (Review).
For my stat nerd self, here’s the break down of nationality: 3 bands from Norway, 2 from Sweden, 2 from Canada, and 2 from the U.S.
Best Non-Metal Albums of the Year:
Bruce Soord with Jonas Renske’s Wisdom of Crowds
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away
Ghost’s Infestissumaum (sorry, this was Prog Rock, not metal).
Best Songs of the Year:
Biggest Disappointments of 2013:
No new Cynic album (yay! 2014); The Ocean’s Pelagial; Steven Wilson’s “The Raven that Refused to Sing”