Dan Barkasi Best-of 2013Saturday, 21st December 2013
Well, here we go again, folks. We’re ending another year, and the first year for this all too awesome website. Of course, we must close things out with the ever popular, but always daunting, year end wrap-up.
The last few years have brimming with stellar music. There are so many bands out there, and thankfully, there are many who are putting out the highest of quality tunes for us to go nutty over. From the big death metal bands that came back roaring like Gorguts and Carcass, to relative unknowns like Situs Magus and Shaded Enmity, there were so many amazing albums to put this guy into a state of pure happy. Nonexistence released what may be their best to date, while Ulcerate made one of the best death metal albums this year. Not to mention absolute monster releases from Ataraxie, October Falls, Eloa Vadaath, Deafheaven, October Tide, Kalmah, The Prophecy, Hacride, Shai Hulud, Darkane, Orpheus Omega, Oranssi Pazuzu, and many others.
What do these phenomenal pieces of music all have in common? None of them made my top ten list.
That’s how good of a year it has been. I could have made a top 25 list, and still struggled to round it out. But, I have to squeeze it into ten! Oh, the humanity.
No overly mushy sentiment like Gehlke here (I kid – congrats on the engagement, my friend), so lets dive in to the esteemed ten albums that made my oh so exclusive list. You’re welcome!
1. Omnium Gatherum – Beyond (Lifeforce)
This guy, championing an Omnium Gatherum album – again. Shock and chagrin, right? Being the second time in the last three years that OG has topped the list, there’s plenty of good reason. Their unique approach to melodic death metal is refreshing and inspiring. Go above and Beyond and listen to this immediately, just to back up that really awful play on words. The tunes are amazing, too.
2. Wolfheart – Winterborn (Self-Released)
Tuomas Saukkonen – what else can one say about this mastermind? He dissolves all four of his projects, comes back with a single one named Wolfheart, and releases an album that’s as smooth and powerful as anything he’s ever done. The man can do no wrong. Start to finish, a classic piece of melodic death metal. Well done, sir.
3. In Vain – Ænigma (Indie Recordings)
What’s the deal with the usage of Æ lately? It’s everywhere! Anyways, to the point – In Vain have released a monster album that came straight out of nowhere. Being blindsided by something this incredible is always welcome! Playing a standout blend of black, death and progressive styling, In Vain are infectious. Ænigma is blissful in its craftsmanship and catchiness. Listen to “Hymne Til Havet” and try to disagree.
4. Cult of Luna – Vertikal (Indie Recordings)
A band that has always walked their own path, Cult of Luna has unleashed what could very well be their best work to date. That’s saying a lot, considering the esteemed quality of their entire discography. Dark, addicting, and all sorts of intense, Vertikal is simply masterful. Come in with an open mind and allow them to carry you away.
5. Leprous – Coal (InsideOut)
These young Norwegian’s are most known for being Ishahn’s backing band, but their own work is something that needs to be heard. Coal is bold, furthering the spacey and addicting soundscapes of which the band has created. This is truly progressive music in the best way possible.
6. Heaven Shall Burn – Veto (Century Media)
The pure heaviness and intensity that Heaven Shall Burn provides is certainly hard to surpass. As consistent as they come, it’s of no surprise that “Veto” is just as dominant as the rest of the band’s esteemed catalogue. And that cover of Blind Guardian’s “Valhalla,” with Hansi doing guest vocals? It’s the icing on an already delectable cake.
7. Hanging Garden – At Every Door (Lifeforce Records)
Melodic doom/death done right can be staggering, and Hanging Garden’s latest opus is just that. Crushing and melancholic, At Every Door is a definite masterpiece from a band that improves with every release. Those Finns are sure hard to top when it comes to majestically crushing one’s soul.
8. Hail of Bullets – III: The Rommel Chronicles (Metal Blade)
One of the best death metal albums to come around in the last couple of years, Hail of Bullets continues their blitzkrieg of destruction. For the thousands of awful bands that can’t figure it out, this is how this sort of music is supposed to be done. The riffs are massive, the drumming is in another stratosphere, and the always awesome Martin van Drunen puts in another one of his typical landmark performances. Nothing not to love.
9. Fen – Dustwalker (Code666 Records)
What can be said about this band that already hasn’t been said? The sheer quality and variety of the songwriting is hard to match. Sometimes soothingly melancholic; sometimes sharp as a ginsu knife. There’s something for everybody, and it’s all brimming with an intoxicating atmosphere.
10. Agrimonia – Rites of Separation (Southern Lord)
This is another one of those pleasant surprises. A project of Martin Larsson of At the Gates fame, this band isn’t to be mistaken with the style of his main band. A post metal, blackened, and sometimes doomy cluster of memorable leads and a hypnotic atmosphere is what to expect from Agrimonia. A total gem that needs to be heard.
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