Dan Barkasi Best-of 2013Saturday, 21st December 2013
It’s all about the songs, right? Not always. Being a large proponent of listening to an album as a whole, that experience is tough to match. However, there’s no denying that there’s always particular songs that get into our minds and hearts a little easier than the rest. This is where we honor the ones in 2013 that gripped me most.
*Click on LISTEN…to listen*
1. Omnium Gatherum – “Who Could Say” (from Beyond)
The more ballad-ish track from OG’s latest opus, this song encompasses everything that this album is about – lush melodies, tons of emotion, and guitar work that you feel. Put this song on loop for a few hours, and you’re making me a happy guy. (LISTEN)
2. In Vain – “Hymne Til Havet” (from Ænigma)
The song that hooked me on In Vain (thanks for the recommendation, AJ), and definitely the top track on their latest. The pure energy that this track exudes is difficult to deny. Those vocal harmonies! (LISTEN)
3. Cult of Luna (pictured above) – “Vicarious Redemption” (from Vertikal)
A song that stretches over 18-minutes in length, this beast of a composition has one of the most superb buildups one is going to hear. A chunk of haunting ambiance that grows and spreads like a virus, which eventually builds to an explosive burst of energy. Hearing this live was also a hell of an experience. This is Cult of Luna. (LISTEN)
4. Leprous – “The Valley” (from Coal)
Unique and biting, the hooks and the infectious singing of Einar Solberg bring this track to life. There’s so much to this band’s music that one doesn’t fully get it on first listen. “The Valley” is the most impactful from their best album to date. Let it sink in, and they’ll have you. (LISTEN)
5. Eternal Tears of Sorrow – “Swan Saivo” (from Saivon Lapsi)
Dripping with icy melodies, these Finns don’t make many duds, and the first single off of Saivon Lapsi is as formidable as anything they’ve done. The chorus gets in your head very easily, and the surrounding twists and turns the song takes make this a total classic. (LISTEN)
6. Hail of Bullets – “DAK” (from III: The Rommel Chronicles)
So heavy. That’s the theme of the new Hail of Bullets record, and no track exemplifies it for this guy like “DAK” does. The riffs are so crushing that they could squash The Hulk. Add in death metal vocalist extraordinaire (and love of Finnish dudes named Markku) Martin van Drunen’s one-of-a-kind rasp, and you have a winner. (LISTEN)
7. Nonexistence – “Hope Dies First” (from Antarctica)
Nonexistence slipped under a lot of radars, but for those who love their melodic death sprinkled with some doom and melancholy, there was almost none finer than Philip Santoll’s one man masterwork. “Hope Dies First” is a huge standout, with the leads and perfectly timed tempo changes creating song overflowing with quality. (LISTEN)
8. Wolfheart – “The Hunt” (from Winterborn)
The album opener for one of the best works Mr. Tuomas Saukkonen has ever done, “The Hunt” portrays everything melodic death metal needs to be. The overall sound is fresh and precise, with Tuomas’ unmatched knack for writing riffs and leads that are simply timeless. Listen to that lead guitar with the ferocious growls perfectly complimenting and tell me this isn’t greatness. (LISTEN)
9. Situs Magus – “Oeuvre au Noir” (from Le Grand Oeuvre)
I stumbled upon this release almost by total accident, and what a happy accident it was. Ambient French black metal is the name of the game with Situs Magus, and “Oeuvre au Noir” is the best piece to portray what they have to offer. This is some grim, haunting stuff, and a hell of a debut. (LISTEN)
10. October Falls – The Plague of a Coming Age (from The Plague of a Coming Age)
October Falls defines dark atmosphere, and their latest brought the band to a new level. The title track is a roller coaster ride of poignant acoustics and melodic gloom. Beautiful music, for sure, and a song that lovers of good music need to hear. (LISTEN)
Biggest Surprise of 2013: The return of Carcass and Gorguts. One never knows how it’ll turn out when a band comes back to record a new album after a long hiatus. Carcass hadn’t made a new disc in 17 years, and Gorguts 12. Even with their respective pedigrees, it’s hard to expect a lot after all this time. What they both accomplished was above and beyond what anybody could have expected. Carcass’ Surgical Steel is a perfect blend of their older material and the Heartwork era, while Gorguts’ Colored Sands may be their most devastating album. For both bands to be this “on” for these albums is all sorts of impressive. Kudos!
Best Newcomer of 2013: Wolfheart. When Tuomas Saukkonen dissolved all four of his bands last year, this guy was very disappointed. With his projects being some of my all-time favorites, it was certainly sad to see that ALL of them were all gone with one fell swoop. There was that little glimmer of hope, however, that he would be continuing on with a single band, which would be Wolfheart. What resulted was a masterful meshing together of his defunct bands, as well as few new twists. A big relief, for sure, as well as being one of his finest works.
Biggest Disappointment of 2013: The Canadian government’s attack on small music venues. Government strikes again to do something stupid. Certainly no surprise, as this one is pretty ridiculous. The Canadian government has astronomically boosted the fees for international bands to play in their country, basically squashing the opportunity for smaller foreign bands to play there. Obviously, that means many metal bands won’t be going to Canada anymore unless changes are made. Sad and pathetic, Canada. Yet another government boner out to screw over people for no good reason. Check out this article to learn the finer details.
Most Anticipated Album of 2014: I have a few for this one. Firstly, the new Alcest album Shelter is the biggest one for this guy. They’ve gotten progressively better with each release, so hopes are certainly high. The possibility of a new Insomnium release, along with soon coming albums from Legion of the Damned and Grand Magus, amongst a bunch of others, keep hopes high that 2014 will be yet another great year for our favorite form of music.
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