year of 2013 is coming to a close. Smaug has desolated stuff, Kim
Jong-un hasn’t yet blown up his country, the Chicago Blackhawks
celebrated their second Cup in four seasons, and Alex Ovechkin got voted
to both the 1st and 2nd all star teams. Yes, some people are idiots. In
the world of music, one great album after another was released, and in
addition to them the annual huge-ass pile of garbage. Luckily, this year
was one of the better in recent memory, and thus the making of this
best of list wasn’t the easiest task. As you will see upon scrolling
further down, I had some difficulty cutting albums. I ended up with a
total of 25 albums, and I’m still annoyed I didn’t get to mention
Ulcerate, Gehenna, Darkane, Orphaned Land, Serj Tankian, Vreid,
Hypocrisy, Michael Monroe, Stone Sour, Overtorture, Kvelertak or Svart.
Huh – I guess that took care of it. I must be the great guru of problem
solving. For some reason, my co-workers don’t agree. I guess blasting
necro kvlt blakk metülz through the office boombox for hours on end
isn’t the best way to make friends. Who knew?
Hyped? What? Who the fuck cares about hypes? Last time I checked, I
wasn’t a Justin Bieber fanboi, even though he is ultra-hyped, and kinda
cute. And dreamy. And… Oh, sorry. But, seriously – fuck the hype. Ghost
enjoy success because they have talent and work hard to achieve their
goals. This album is much more pretentious (in a good way, as in
ambitious) than “Opvs Eponymovs”, and is filled with variation both in
genres and dynamics.
Metal, rock, pop, soul, disco, surf, prog and psychedelia in an
unholy stew with, incredibly, a ripe and enticing red thread venomously
weaving its way through all ten tracks. The über-catchy melodic hooks
are Ghost’s extreme forte, and these are deployed with
exquisite arrangements that raise all body hairs and erect all members,
making you wave like you just don’t care with limbs and penises alike.
Bow down to the undisputed masters of the present day, Ghost are here to
Recommended hymn of Satan: Year Zero
Dan Swanö found the perfect partner in Ragnar Widerberg and made the
best record of his career. I am just in awe and impressed beyond reason
with the strong songwriting and hooks on this album, as well as the
passionate vocal and instrumental delivery, as well as the immaculate
production job. Not many have the ability to mix pop chords in a major
key, death metal growling and smooth prog harmonies, but Swanö &
Ragnar (Swagnar?) do. Witherscape are the Toto of the metal world.
Recommended death pop song with growl wailing (!) in the last chorus: Dead for a Day
Everybody expected another thrashy death metal album infused with
wild aggression, but the youngsters from Arvika, Sweden had other plans.
An enigmatic and mystifying concoction of black and death metal with
lots of ambient and psychedelic touches, “The formulas of death” is as
atmospheric as it is badass. It could easily be a soundtrack to a horror
movie, as the songs flow organically and smoothly into one another and
clearly tell the same story, albeit from different aspects and
highlighting different facets of this gem. Ten years from now we’ll be
looking at this as a classic.
Recommended twisted song of Satanic superiority: When the Sky Is Black with Devils
Architectural death metal, that’s what this is. Composed and
arranged with meticulous care, “Colored sands” demands a lot from both
performer and listener. Since the first part is taken care of with
bravado, what’s left is for us to have the patience to let this tsunami
of death metal flow through our ears, and discover the greatness that
lies therein. This album is as massive and finely crafted as a pyramid,
towering towards the skies and keeping layers of secrets locked inside
for the curious to find and unseal.
Recommended immense behemoth of a song: An Ocean of Wisdom
You shouldn’t mix metal and fusion. Except these guys did. And it’s
awesome. Instrumental songs that manage to reach out and tear down the
wall of introverted navel-gazing often present in fusion/jazz between
band and audience, blocking any kind of interaction or transferring of
emotions. Hats off to these absolutely monstrous musicians.
Recommended fusion of… eh… fusion and metal: Entrust
Awesome albums that have a lot going for them, but not enough to land in the top five. Listed alphabetically.
Alice In Chains: The devil put dinosaurs here
“Jesus don’t like a queer, no problem with faith – just fear.” Fuck you, Jesus.
Nightbird’s Song is one of the greatest tunes these Finns have written, and they have a LOT of high-quality songs in their back catalogue.
Edling can’t do no wrong. And this vocalist is a great find!
Cultes Des Ghoules: Henbane
Black is the new black.
Death Tyrant: Opus de tyranis
When Lord Belial decided to play Lord Belial music in disguise.
Deathchain: Ritual death metal
Watch this video. Just. Watch.
Deicide: In the minds of evil
Best Benton since 1997.
The album Carcass would’ve liked to make.
Still heading in the right direction. Which is my pants.
Ihsahn: Das Seelenbrechen
Ihsahn clearly can’t miss these days. A beautiful continuation of his legacy.
Jex Thoth: Blood moon rise
As atmospheric as it gets, even though the album title implies erection due to period. Each to his own, I guess.
Kongh: Sole creation
You are the anvil, Kongh is the hammer.
Necrowretch: Putrid death sorcery
It’s great to hear new bands burst onto the scene with a bang, and a loud, nasty one at that!
Progressive melodeath doesn’t get much better than this.
Rotting Christ: Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού
No, I can’t read the fucking album title either, but that doesn’t mean the music is Greek to any lover of good metal.
A slightly more anonymous effort than the previous two albums,
“Satyricon” still displays all the familiar strengths of Mr. Wongraven
& co and adds a few new ones to the mix. “Nekrohaven” is the heir to
“K.I.N.G.” and “Phoenix” points to exciting new lands on the black
Soilwork: The living infinite
Talented Swedes make good music. End of story. Oh, and a Belgian.
What? And a French guy. Right. Now shut the fuck up and listen to
Summoning: Old mornings dawn
Blackened Tolkien music from the caves beneath Mount Doom.
The Monolith Deathcult: Tetragrammaton
Sick sick sick shit.
Watain: The wild hunt
Although the countryish ballad is hella over-rated, this album as a whole is a high-quality disc of chaos.
Sometimes I’m an idiot. Or if I’m to trust my fiancée, a few times a year, I’m not an idiot. Go figure. Anyway, sometimes I’m too stupid to not get my hopes up for a release, and then these disasters happen…
The Devil’s Blood: III – Tabula rasa or death and the seven pillars
Why did you release this compilation of demos, and tarnish the band’s spotless rap sheet in the process? Clearly TDB were too good to be trvv.
Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals: Walk through exits only
No, Philip. Pack your bags, go home, think on your mistakes and DO NOT FUCKING COME BACK UNTIL YOU HAVE LEARNED TO WRITE FUCKING SONGS, YOU FUCK!!!