Kyle McGinn Best-of 2013Wednesday, 11th December 2013
As with most metal fans, or at least those of us beginning to show some age (read: those of us who started listening to metal before the Internet told us where all the good music was hiding and set our MP3 players to “shuffle”), listening to an album from start to finish is the only way to go. Albums that don’t have a “flow” to them per say, never really end up ranking amongst the best the genre has to offer. In my previous writing endeavors, top songs were never mentioned, so it was an interesting experience to go through and find individual songs that fit the bill.
Out of these 10 songs, only two are from my top 10 albums of the year. First and foremost, it gave me some wiggle room to cover some worthy albums that just didn’t crack the top 10. But, it also gave me a chance to include some songs that wouldn’t have made it, such as an EP or single release. Check ‘em out!
*Click on LISTEN to…listen*
1. Revocation (pictured above) – “Invidious” (from Revocation)
This song just oozes metal. From the fun little banjo bit to the driving riffs to the catchy chorus, everything is in perfect harmony. Then there’s the last 15-seconds of the song, which have to be some of the most destructive and head-bangable riffs you’ll hear within the genre. (LISTEN)
2. Soilwork – “Spectrum of Eternity” (from The Living Infinite)
By far, the best opening track Soilwork has had in a decade, and one of the strongest tracks the band has penned in their existence. The mellow opening into the blast beats and scream was a real wake-up call to fans that had thought the band’s best days were behind them. An aggressive beginning that develops into an absolutely ethereal chorus (the blast beats are compelling here as well) rounds this one out nicely. (LISTEN)
3. Black Crown Initiate – “The Mountain Top” (from Song of the Crippled Bull)
I could probably swap out “The Mountain Top” with any of the other three available tracks on their debut EP, but this track really lets loose and goes straight for the jugular. An impressive mix of Behemoth, Anaal Nathrakh, and Cattle Decapitation is a nice juxtaposition with one of the most melodic choruses on the EP. The screams at the end of the track are simply spine tingling in their brutality. (LISTEN)
4. Rivers of Nihil – “Soil & Seed” (from The Conscious Seed of Light)
Rivers of Nihil’s homage to Morbid Angel’s “Where the Slime Live” is equally compelling and brutal. The song is downright heavy where it needs to be and I dare anyone to get through that chorus without launching into a head banging fit. (LISTEN)
5. Æther Realm – “The Magician” (single)
Even though Æther Realm released an excellent album at the start of this year, this recently released gem sees them setting a new bar. Epic, upbeat, folky melodic death that also serves as a who’s who of up and coming American bands with outside help from members of Wilderun, and Inferi lifting the band to unprecedented heights. Let’s hope the wait for a new full length isn’t too long. (LISTEN)
6. Eternium – “Aura Infernum: The Flight Over Massless Soul” (from Repelling a Solar Giant)
Epic melodic black metal in the style of Dissection, Emperor, and Sacramentum. “Flight” is an 8-minute plus journey that takes the listener through a multitude of emotions and sounds. Melodic and sorrowful when needed, the highlight is the Emperor-esque riff that takes things over after the six-minute mark and gives it some added heaviness before heading into a more majestic ending riff. (LISTEN)
7. Broken Hope – “Ghastly” (from Omen of Disease)
After the unexpected comeback last year, Omen of Disease had some big shoes to fill. “Ghastly” shows the band at their absolute best. Great mid-tempo riffs, moderately technical riffing, and a bit of a surprising atmosphere at the end of the song should be enough to make any old fan shout, “Welcome back.” (LISTEN)
8. Amorphis – “The Wanderer” (from Circle)
Joutsen-era Amorphis continue to put out consistently great albums and Circle is no exception. “The Wanderer” has some of Joutsen’s ever-recognizable vocal charm all over it. Toss in a solid solo towards the end of the track to go along with the mesmorizing chorus and you’ve got yourself a track that’s easy to just keep hitting repeat as it finishes. (LISTEN)
9. An Autumn for Crippled Children – “Sepia Mountains For Her Lament” (from Try Not to Destroy Everything You Love)
This piece begins with some calm piano before venturing into the band’s brand of post-black metal. Newer Anathema meets black metal? All in all, one of the most stunningly beautiful songs of 2013 that seems to whisk the listener away to a relatively peaceful place despite the rawness and harsh black cackles. (LISTEN)
10. Carcass – “Thrasher’s Abattoir” (from Surgical Steel)
While there were some stronger cuts, “Thrasher’s Abattoir” immediately laid waste to the notion that Carcass were back to cash-in on their former glory. One of the most aggressive songs the band has written in years, it leads the way for an album that most people didn’t think would be this good. (LISTEN)
Biggest surprise of 2013: Eternium. Having discovered the band through a Facebook sharing of the absolutely gorgeous artwork of their debut album, the biggest surprise about Eternium is that of their mastermind Markov Soroka. Repelling a Solar Giant was written while he was just 17 years old! After hearing what he is already capable of as a teenager, it’s a safe assessment that he could easily be a name that ranks amongst metal’s prodigies like Devin Townsend, Peter Tagtgren, and Mikael Akerfeldt in the years to come.
Best newcomer of 2013: Black Crown Initiate. Though they weren’t included in my top 10 since it was only a 4-song EP, Song of the Crippled Bull is certainly one of 2013’s greatest releases. For a first offering, the level of execution here is staggering. The blend of progressive, death, doom, sludge, and black metal is intoxicating and fused together with the foresight of much more tenured veterans. With the buzz they generated this summer, give it a few more years and they’ll be one of the metal realm’s most talked about acts.
Biggest disappointment of 2013: Deadlock. I’m not really a huge Deadlock fan, but after the disappointing Manifesto, it seemed like they got their act back together with 2011’s Bizarro World. However, losing their harsh vocalist and replacing him with a more metalcore-ish vocalist, further commercializing their sound, and adding an almost djent tone to the guitars truly made The Arsonist their weakest offering to date. The only thing worthwhile was Sabine’s poppy but ever-ethereal vocals.
Most anticipated of 2014 – I, Legion. Featuring members of Soilwork, Mutiny Within, and Threat Signal, 2012’s Beyond Darkness was an all-star performance of melodic death metal. With the upcoming second album, Frederic Riverin has brought back all of the original players and has even added a few more names (from Deadlock, Tesseract, and more). With Riverin’s songwriting ability, bigger can only mean better and it will be interesting to see if more vocalists means that there will be some duets on the album to come!
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