Top 13 metal albums of 2013

Did you read our Best Albums of 2013 and think “needs moar metal”? TOBY MCCASKER has your back. Here are his top 13 “heavy music” albums, in no particular order.

A Lot Like Birds – No Place

Look, this record is chronicles of ridic, and it is such an Equal Vision outlier there’s little chance you’ll know its glory unless I thrust it unerringly into your awesome face. Here. The cover art has a definite write-off skate and/or gutter punk vibe, but that is the exact opposite of the case. Probably the album of the year. Check out ‘Next to Ungodliness’, and come back haunted by the re-realisation the internet has ruined the discovery of new music by allowing too much new music.

Nails – Abandon All Life

If you ask most people in bands whether they’d rather be in their band or in Nails, most of them will say “I wish I was in Nails.” There is a good reason for that and it is because Nails are the motherfucking shiznizzle whoop-whoop ding-a-ling. What the hell just happened there? Exactly. That’s how you feel every time ‘Cry Wolf’ comes and interferes with you and then just disappears.

East Of The Wall – Redaction Artifacts

If there was some kind of prize, like a trip to Dubbo or something, for the most consistently underrated band of geniuses, East Of The Wall would be in Dubbo right now. Suffice to say love is being lavished all up on East Of The Wall. For this record is 11 tracks of musicianship and song craft so sublime and impossible it commands a place on this end-of-year list.

Mutoid Man – Helium Head

You put Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky (!), Converge drummer Ben Koller (!!) and some guy called Nick (?) in a power triangle together and you get maximum party. This is every ill-advised and unsupervised house party you have ever hosted and although your iPod is missing the next day, you have an excellent traffic cone hat.

Gorguts – Colored Sands

1998’s Obscura was so far ahead of its time to listen to it was to hear – yes hear – grim green lines of matrix code, which is saying something in an era populated by young Dillinger and accomplished senior statesmen Death. That was the last time Gorguts released a record until Colored Sands came out of nowhere this year and now people are ready. It only took 15 years. Though “Gorguts” is a painfully unsophisticated band name and you’re already shying away because of it, do not do that. Press the button.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth

There are only two #extremecore bands that know how to make the relative strangers of chaos and classical have a poignant and intelligent conversation about vomit and verbosity – and one of those bands is Septicflesh. They didn’t release a record this year because they are jerks, but the other one is Fleshgod Apocalypse, and they did. Holy mother, beer and wine do go together.

Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen

Speaking of wine, deliver it post-haste. Ihsahn has consistently defied absolutely everything ever since jetting from Emperor, expectations especially. Every time he does the album thing it’s always, “Oh Ihsahn, what unbelievably radical anti-trad thing won’t you do?” and then he defies even that expectation, and so Ihsahn is not merely a metal musician, but metal itself. If you cut Ihsahn he would bleed the light from a world in which everything is awesome and no one is a dickhead longhair on the internet with terrible and loud elitist opinions.

Deafheaven – Sunbather

And then there is Deafheaven, who have soaked black metal in lyrical solar power and breathed a lovely shade of living pink into its cold sepulcher heart. Which is exactly what black metal needed, because it is fundamentally and increasingly the most ridiculous aesthetic of all time. “We hate God! Yorgh!” and then “Hail Satan, a total construction of organised religion! Which we hate! And it’s all a lie! So hail Satan!” I mean are you people fucking serious. Die in multiple fires to the tune of ‘Dream House.’

Tesseract – Altered State

When this planet faces that planet just so at a particular millisecond that occurs only half of once every billion space years in the galactic equinox, a barely discernible beam of concentrated schwing will bounce its way from there to here and pierce the atmosphere and addled cloud cover of earth. It will strike but one individual, and if that individual happens to be in any way musical and slouched in front of Logic Pro wondering about music’s many mysteries, we’ll get a record like Altered State.

KEN Mode – Entrench

Let’s be real: People are bags of garbage. You’ve got Facebook, you know what’s up. There is nothing to stir the cockles of misanthropy like bearing witness to the unfettered Ids and egos and super-egos let run free in a world. ‘Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick’ indeed, KEN Mode. And ‘Romeo Must Never Know’ is one of the best abrasive sojourns since Converge’s ‘Grim Heart/Black Rose.’

Czar – No One Is Alone If No One Is Alive

Well I guess so, album title, but what if new era French horror is in fact wrong and there is actually an afterlife (forgive me I just watched Martyrs and I don’t know what to do)? Then we’d all just end up there instead, except we’d be dead and it’d presumably be forever, which is approximately worse by a lot. But then, mortality is finite, and we’re all gonna end up there anyway. I think I hate this record.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

This Halloween I tried to go as Greg Puciato’s neck vein. It didn’t work out well at all, everyone thought I was a junkie even though I just went along in my normal clothes. Rude. Not as rude as this album, which is as close as the DEP machine has grinded its gears in the direction of Calculating ’s youngblood bedlam in forever. You know, I asked Ben about how they even write those algebraic riffs once and he looked very deeply into my gorgeous eyes and said, “Listen. A lot of them are studio accidents. OK?”

Nero Di Marte – Nero Di Marte

Ever since Aaron Turner and his cinemetal pyramid scheme called it quits, the art of the long song has fallen to mute post-rock cowboys and Yes. Yes follow me on Twitter and it is the weirdest thing. I wish Nero followed me instead, ‘cos this is where the long song belongs. The title track is over 12 minutes of “wow” and you are powerless and unaware; it just happens. It’s like that guy in Sons of Anarchy, the compulsive masturbator: “I don’t even know I’m doing it.”

Follow Toby on Twitter: @jane_tobes


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