So, I decided I needed to up my game on music listening in general and specifically with regards to metal. Around the same time I came across Metal Hammer’s Top 50 Albums of 2013. I’ve listened to all 50 in January and here are my quick reviews. I’m not a music critic so it’s pretty basic and written with respect to what I enjoyed, rather than what’s cool. There’s not a bad album on here, some aren’t mine kind of thing but they were worth checking out all the same.
# 50 Bruce Soord And Jonas Renkse – Wisdom Of Crowds (Deluxe)
Good, spacey, synthy. Quite chilled. Worth a replay
#49 Monster Magnet – Last Patrol
Well produced, good tunes. Definitely worth checking out more of their stuff.
#48 The Defiled – Daggers
Quality heavy industrial/punky album. Worth a replay.
#47 Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark
I ‘judged a book by its cover’ and expected unrelenting heaviness. What I got instead was an expert blend of folk, blues and prog. I was not disappointed.
#46 Satan – Life Sentence
May have to give another chance. Felt like standard NWOBHM at the start, by the last song it felt more inventive. Unsure
#45 HIM – Tears on Tape
Thought I’d give it a chance. Still pretty sappy (like the title track). Songs like All lips go blue & I will be the end of you are ok though.
#44 Bleed From Within – Uprising (Limited Edition)
Very solid heavy album, in vein of Lamb of God. Good listen
#43 Argus – Beyond The Martyrs
Very good NWOBHM style album with doom-y influences. Definitely want to check out more of their stuff.
#42 Wilson – Full Blast Fuckery
Awesome fun metal album. Daft titles, sense of humor. Will listen to more Wilson!
#41 Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise
Progressive stoner/bluesy. Very good. Must listen to more by these.
#40 Black Spiders – This Savage Land
Basic classic rock with a little modern touch and mystical notes on the intro to the last track. Good, but not amazing. Would play again.
#39 Avatarium – Avatarium
Not my usual sort of thing, but very interesting. Should check out more of these and Candlemass (project is by Leif Edling from Candlemass). Dark, mystical, progressive. Very inventive and great musicianship.
#38 Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
Generally not a fan of death metal so I was surprised that I quite enjoyed this. More intelligent than I would’ve expected with a few tempo changes and other interesting devices
#37 Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy
Again liking this more than I expected for a black metal ‘opus’. High quality production and interesting songs. Unexpected wah-wah/classic rock notes tool. Would check out more of their stuff.
#36 Orchid – The Mouths of Madness
Very Sabbath, rather good if you can get over this fact! Wouldn’t particularly go out of my way to listen to more of their stuff, but I’m sure I’d enjoy it if I come across them again.
#35 Twilight Of The Gods – Fire On The Mountain
Really good – doesn’t fit into any specific boxes (for me). Some very good playing/songwriting and production is spot-on.
#34 Beastmilk – Climax
Decent rock album with 80s goth tones – not too bothered for a replay.
#33 Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu
Proggy black metal album. Perhaps worth another play, not too fussed for much of the vocals though.
#32 Dream Theater – Dream Theater
Super skilled muscians and intricate song writing. A little too widdly in places for me, but a few decent bits of ‘rocking out’.
#31 Cult Of Luna – Vertikal
Was not expecting to like this ‘aural assault’ but it was actually very good and I’ll have to check out more of their stuff. Really enjoyed this. Inventive, weird, interestingly textured and heavy.
#30 Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
The first album in the list that I’ve already heard, gave it a replay anyway. Good, solid album but perhaps not quite as good as ‘Black gives way to blue’.
#29 Hell – Curse and Chapter
Quite cartoonish metal with elements of NWOBHM and power metal. Didn’t really dig it that much, probably won’t go for a re-listen. Plus side: technically very accomplished musicians and great production.
#28 Wardruna – Yggdrasil
Wasn’t expecting an ambient Nordic folk album on the Metal Hammer top 50. Interesting stuff and worth another play.
#27 Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only
Brutal album, loved it. Will check out more of Anselmo’s projects.
#26 Tesseract – Altered State
Fantastic, out-there, djent influenced album. Well produced complex compositions. Utterly bonkers. Loved it.
#25 Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
Not my kind of thing, but definitely worth a listen.
#24 Nails – Abandon All Life
Relentlessly brutal. Not my usual kind of thing but very good nonetheless.
#23 Malevolence – Reign Of Suffering
Quality metal album, worth checking out more of their stuff. Brilliant for a debut.
#22 Heart Of A Coward – Severance
Awesomely heavy djent-ish album. The copy I listened to had Download ’13 tracks on it – these were even better. Wish I’d seen it and will definitely check out more of these guys.
#21 Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell, Volume 1
I like 5FDP, but I sometimes find it hard to listen to a whole album. This was somewhat different and I think Vol 1 is stronger than 2. Excellent guest spots and a brutal cover of LL Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’.
#20 The Bronx – The Bronx (IV)
Very good punk album – could well listen to more of these guys. Intelligent production, rather than just being rough because it’s punk (which can be good too!)
#19 Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent (Special Edition)
I need to re-listen to this already as I can’t quite decide whether it’s a quality album or a pastiche of their history. odd!
#18 Kvelertak – Meir
Thankfully the hype is justified. Cracking album with elements of punk/black metal. Love that it’s sung natively – not many bands do this & manage this level of success/attention in the UK.
#17 Deafheaven – Sunbather
Not my usual kind of thing at all, but glad I gave it a go. An interesting take on the genre (so far as I can tell). I think I stuck with it because it wasn’t just extreme metal, the guitars sounded a lot more indie/rock at times and some interesting sampling going on. However, I probably won’t go out of my way to listen to more of them – but that’s down to my tastes rather than the band.
#16 The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer
What a disorienting and vicious album. Loved it.
#15 Purson – The Circle & The Blue Door
Excellent old school prog – forgot I already knew “leaning on a bear”. Well worth another listen and finding more of their stuff.
#14 Alter Bridge – Fortress
Already played this previously. Whilst I didn’t care much for AB III (at least when I listened a while back), this is a very strong hard rock album. Might have to reconsider their back catalogue on this basis. Listening also increased my anticipation of the upcoming Slash album.
#13 In Solitude – Sister
Gothy/punky – very good. Would listen again and explore the back catalogue. Recommended.
#12 Letlive – The Blackest Beautiful
Not entirely sure what to make of this – on the one hand high quality muscianship, great production and a nod to their influences without ripping people off. On the other hand there’s a few emo-y moments that I didn’t care for. Would try it again though.
#11 Cathedral – The Last Spire
Lumbering heavy doom. Brilliant – personally I prefer when they speed up a touch, so I think I missed the point!
#10 Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Interesting album for the Metal Hammer top 50, inventive prog and not mega heavy. Good stuff though and I will listen to it again.
#9 Watain – The Wild Hunt
Very well made, well written album. Too death for my liking, but good nonethless. I more appreciated the mellow sections that were layered and interesting
#8 Motörhead – Aftershock
Nothing much to say here: it’s Motörhead, it’s exactly what you’d expect and it’s very good for it.
#7 Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen
Excellently bonkers tech/prog adventure. Unlike the dream theater album mentioned above, there’s not much pointless widdling. Bonus points awarded for “M” which has a very Pink Floyd sounding section in it. Shut up I like the Floyd. And I love this album.
#6 Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
I always felt these guys were a bit overrated, but now I think I get it. Either way in my opinion it’s better than their earlier stuff.
#5 Ghost – Infestissumam
What an odd album! I liked it but probably won’t look into them much further.
#4 Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats – Mind Control
A great album – not much to say here, in a good way!
#3 Black Sabbath – 13
I didn’t like this the first time round – I felt it was very much the early stuff with better production. Whilst this is pretty much true I’ve since taken time to appreciate it for what it is. A brilliant rock record.
#2 Carcass – Surgical Steel
I was very surprised to like this album – though I must admit I can barely stomach some of the song titles! More inventive and well played/produced than I expected; which was just brutality for it’s own sake.
#1 Clutch Earth Rocker
Right, so does this deserve the top spot? Not in my eyes, but a chart like this is opinion any way, so it doesn’t really matter. That said it’s a brilliant southern rager and Earth Rocker is one of my favourite tracks of last year. I do need more Clutch in my life, so ignore my slight issue with this being #1!
So what have I learnt from all this? I’ve found some great bands to check out in more detail: Wilson, Clutch, Heart of a Coward, Ihsahn, Jex Thoth and more. I’ve also found I’m not quite as averse to black & death metal as I thought. Go me!