Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013- The Year in Review

It's that time of year again. I had big plans for the end-of-the-year blowout but real life got in the way again and, with the entire internet putting out its best-of lists this week, it time to simply drop the bomb on all of you and move on. Without further ado, here's the best of 2013!

Fun Fact: My homeboy Deltoid Biccepia took this picture last week in East Detroit.

Okay, this list is a countdown, right? So, we're going to countdown the Top 40 albums of the year from 40 down to Number One with a few bonuses along the way. Let's do this...

40. The Neighbourhood - I Love You - Columbia
Yep, you're not imagining this. A mainstream album kicks off the countdown (hint: there are four more). The difference between these guys and the rest of the radio crap is that The Neighbourhood can play. Click here to watch them play "Sweater Weather" at SXSW. I'm not going to begrudge someone's success if they're coming correct. These guys are bringing it hard.

39. Metallica - Through The Never - Blackened
Metallica makes its version of The Song Remains The Same. The movie will play at the Alamo Drafthouse for decades. The live album is a good mix of all eras of the band. It sounds great. Put your pretentions aside and just rock out.

38. Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies - Vertigo/Universal
Volbeat snagged Anthrax's former lead guitarist in time to record this LP, resulting in a polished yet melodically heavy album that solidifies the band's place as arena rockers.

37. Amon Amarth - Deceiver Of The Gods - Metal Blade
Speaking of bands solidifying their places as arena rockers, Amon Amarth finally hit the big-time in the U.S. this year by stealing the show at the Mayhem Festival. Releasing this record didn't hurt either.

36. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks - Atlantic
Trent Reznor returns with another new line-up on another record label. Soundwise, Hesitation Marks is a return to the keyboard-heavy NIN sound featured on With Teeth and Pretty Hate Machine but avoids the nostalgia trip. Good stuff.

35. Howl - Bloodlines - Relapse
The pride of Quahog, err... I mean Providence brings it on Bloodlines, a doom album with touches of NWOBHM. Think of a grungier version of The Sword.

34. Down To Nothing - Life On The James - Bridge 9
The only straightedgers in Richmond, VA get shockingly heavy while cracking smiles. Three cheers for a band that knows how to rock without getting preachy.

33. Terror - Live By The Code - Victory
Terror doesn't try to reinvent the wheel here. The band sticks with what got them to the dance in the first place: well-played, metallic hardcore that's fan-friendly and kid-friendly. That said, I would not recommend that any kids get in that pit...

32. Kataklysm - Waiting For The End To Come - Nuclear Blast
The Northern Hyperblast returns on this Montreal death/grind band's 11th LP. Heavier than ever. On tour everywhere.

31. August Burns Red - Rescue & Restore - SolidState
Jesus's favorite progressive shredmasters hit the Top 10 this year (No. 9 to be technical) with this barnburner of a record. They tore it up at Fun Fun Fun this fall.

Video of the Year: Down To Nothing - "Life on the James"
Low-budget band gets super-creative and makes a killer video. Other bands, what's your excuse?

30. Seeker - Unloved - Victory
Although 2013 was a strong year for metal and hardcore especially with reunited older bands (more on that later), it was slim pickings for new bands and debuts. D/FW's Seeker was a bright spot for the new bands. I already dissected that record here but I'll summarize by saying the Unloved is the middle ground between progressive metalcore and beatdown metalcore. Cool stuff. Can't wait to hear more.

29. Mammoth Grinder - Underworlds - 20 Buck Spin
Grindcore psychos. Hatred Surge's rhythm section. East Austin weirdos. Mammoth Grinder is all this and more. Switching from Relapse to 20 Buck Spin didn't alter the band's sound at all. Not for the faint of heart.

28. Newsted - Heavy Metal Music - Chophouse
Jason Newsted teams up with Staind's Mike Mushok for some mega-shred and they end up emerging from the long shadows of you-know-who and you-know-who-else. A pleasant surprise. Underrated.

27. Sand - Spit On Authority - BeatDown HardWear
Japanese hardcore inspired by the NYHC sound but it doesn't sound derivative. Not for everyone but played from the heart. Awesome.

26. Dead Letter Circus - The Catalyst Fire - UNFD
This Australian band mixes Chevelle with the The Mars Volta resulting in awesome proggy, doomy, nu-metalish radness. Unfortunately, in business terms, Dead Letter Circus isn't proggy enough for the prog scene and isn't commercial enough for rock radio. Here's hoping that these guys catch their big break in 2014.

25. Battlecross - War Of Will - Metal Blade
Blue-collar thrash metal from Warren, MI that decapitates all listeners and then punts the heads down the street. Battlecross's Metal Blade debut melts faces with riffs and brutality. Stole the second stage during this summer's Mayhem Fest. Highly recommended.

24. Remembering Never - This Hell Is Home - Dead Truth
The Florida brutality brigade returns with its first new album since 2006. Remembering Never is sick of your shit.

23. Bastard Noise/Brutal Truth - The Axiom Of Post Inhumanity - Relapse
Two grind/violence legends, who weren't exactly normal to begin with, return on this 12" slab of harsh punishment. Guaranteed to clear out any unwanted houseguests in 30 seconds or less. Jam this in a sensory deprivation tank for maximum results.

22. Pelican - Forever Becoming - Southern Lord
America can't handle instrumental music. If Pelican had a singer, the band would be Pearl Jam-level popular. But here we are, Pelican slugs it out in the clubs while jackasses like Asking Alexandria live the life. Get with it America. For the sake of the children...

21. Cage The Elephant - Melophobia - RCA
In a lot of ways, Cage The Elephant is the commercial version of the Eddy Current Suppression Ring. Then again, there are no new ideas. Cage The Elephant is a genuine alt-rock band. They would have been on SST Records if they were around in the 80s. Awesome stuff. Stop being too cool for school and get behind this band.

Misfires, Ambitious Failure, and Straight-Up Shitty Albums of 2013 (in no order):
Alice In Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Black Gives Way To Blue was awesome. What the hell happened?)
The Misfits - Descending Angel 12" (Stop, Jerry Only. Just fucking stop.)
Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart (Stop, Andreas Kisser. Just fucking stop.)
Deafheaven - Sunbather (Sweet Jeebus, where do I start with this one?)
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer (swing and a miss)

20. Lorde - Pure Heroine - Universal
Yep, your reading that correct. The teenage wunderkind vocalist scored rather high on a metalcore website that's harder than a coffin nail. Lorde is the real deal. You're kidding yourself if you don't see (hear?) the talent. Yes, this is a dreaded mainstream album but good is good, no matter what.

19. Broken Hope - Omen of Disease - Century Media
Many bands have been reuniting. Most of them should not. Broken Hope, who never got their due back in the day, delivered the goods this year. Hopefully, they're around for good this time.

18. Coffins - The Fleshland - Relapse
Japan's greatest crusty doom band brings the hate on its Relapse debut. Imagine a 50/50 mix of Bolt Thrower and Pungent Stench with 40s taped to its hands. You get the idea...

17. Impending Doom - Death Will Reign - eOne Music
Jesus's favorite deathcore band doesn't disappoint. I like the way this band has evolved over the years. Death Will Reign did not disappoint.

16. Killswitch Engage - Disarm The Descent - Roadrunner
Jesse David Leach is, was, and always will be the REAL singer of this band. I'm glad the real line-up is back together.

15. Kylesa - Ultraviolet - Season Of Mist
Savannah's favorite sons and daughter keep the slow southern steel rolling across the world. Never not on tour. Let's do this, America!

14. Toxic Holocaust - The Chemistry Of Consciousness - Relapse
The greatest East Coast thrash band since Anthrax? Yes.

13. Soulfly - Savages - Nuclear Blast
After a string of average to bad albums, The Swiss Family Cavalera returns to form with its new record on its new label. Unexpectedly good.

12. Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance - Peaceville
Darkthrone isn't a band. Darkthrone is a way of life. Not for yuppies. Not for the timid.

11. Red Fang - Whales and Leeches - Relapse
Red Fang has never put out a bad record but Whales and Leeches is so head-and-shoulders better than the past material, it made me pause. After much consideration, this record is what happens when you stop giving a fuck (in a good way), you embrace your roots, and you just let it fly. The members of Red Fang took Scarface's advice and just let their nuts hang.

BREAK TIME! Here's the afore mentioned Red Fang performing the single "No Hope" live at some radio station in Seattle.

Now, we're down to the Top 10. Less talk, more rock.

10. Weekend Nachos - Still - Relapse
For a band that I previously considered a silly sort of grind band, Still is as serious as a heart attack. Listen to this album under medical supervision.

9. Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed - Prosthetic
Skeletonwitch is on one of those streaks where when asked, "What's their best album?", for the time being anyway, you can just say, "The new one." Metallica, Mastodon, and Opeth have previous had similar streaks. Let's hope that this one doesn't ease up.

8. Clutch - Earth Rocker - Weathermaker
It feels like Clutch should place higher than No. 8 but this was an exceptionally strong year. Remember what I said about the older bands bringing the hate this year? Soulfly, Broken Hope, NIN, etc...? You can add Clutch to that list.

7. Iron Reagan - Worse Than Dead - Southern Lord
Ex-Darkest Hour and current Municipal Waste personnel join forces to shove 80s-style crossover jams down America's throat. Any public sightings of Iron Reagan are immediately followed by reports of large mosh pits throwing everyone and everything akimbo. Pissed!

6. Black Sabbath - 13 - Vertigo/Universal
It's not everyday that (most of) Black Sabbath releases new material. Not just that, it totally rules. 13 sounds like the classic albums from the 60s and 70s. Bravo, gentlemen.

5. Deicide - In The Minds OF Evil - Century Media
Seriously, who would have thought 12 months ago that Deicide was about to release its best album? You're a liar if you say yes. I chalk it up to the presence of new guitarist Kevin Quirion (ex-Order of the Endead). You can't solely credit him but Quirion was the spark that got this long-running USDM band back into gear.

4. Nails - Abandon All Life - Southern Lord
Oxnard, CA's life-extinguishing trio drags the listener to the edge of existence, robs them, and toss the corpse to Satan for a pick-up soccer game using the victim's head. If that sounds harsh, it's because the record is that harsh. Not recommended for anyone. You can't handle it.

3. Protest The Hero - Volition - Razor & Tie
After fighting its former record company and launching a record-setting crowd-funding campaign, Protest The Hero shows that perseverance pays off. Read the whole story here.

2. Power Trip - Manifest Decimation - Southern Lord
Power Trip is a band from Dallas that defies description. Based in thrash punk, there's also elements of death metal and "traditional" hardcore but Power Trip plays with the ferocity of an insomniac wolverine. They would have the year's best album if a certain other band had not reunited. Catch them live before they party to death.

1. Carcass - Surgical Steel - Nuclear Blast
This was the reunion that mattered. This was the reunion that didn't disappoint. If anything, this proved the at Carcass should have never broken up in the first place. It seems like, every time Carcass releases an album, it gets Album Of The Year accolades from across the globe. This year is no different. Surgical Steel is the best album of 2013.

Most of all, I'd like to thank you for sharing another year of No Funeral radness with me. I'm looking forward to next year. Enjoy the holiday season.


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