Top Metal/Heavy Albums
Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast). After a 17 year absence, the British Death Metal legends are back with a record that sounds as if they were never gone. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer have recruited two fresh new additions to the ranks in Daniel Wilding (drums) and Ben Ash (guitar). Mr. Steer shines bright with his fantastic leads and guitar work to remind us of his stature as a musician of the highest caliber. This is a ferocious record through and through and for most of it, the guys grab you by the jugular and don’t relent. But when the tempo does drop and that killer bluesy Carcass groove kicks in, it’s a beautiful reprieve from a delicious bludgeoning.
Helhorse – Oh Death (Mighty Music). This Danish band’s sophomore effort is a wonderful blend of Scandinavian coldness, swampy Southern groove, and Punk Rock aesthetics. The sparse and tasteful use of keys and particularly the Hammond Organ adds really nice texture to the tidal wave of muscular riffs, screams, and pounding drums. This band is poised to be the next big thing in heavy music and a trip to the Western Hemisphere will guarantee such a worthy title. Hopefully the horse will swim over to American shores real soon.
Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (Season Of Mist). The Greek extreme metal group’s 2013 offering is a masterpiece of epic proportions. This record is a lush and grandiose affair that incorporates Eastern European vocal elements, spooky chants, a wide array of instrumentation, world/ethnic musical elements, complex arrangements, and crushing riffs that will melt your face off. Turn off the lights, light some candles, crank this record, and celebrate the dark lord in all his greatness.
Sons Of Aeon – Self Titled (Lifeforce Records). Finland’s Sons Of Aeon make an indelible mark in Metal with their monstrous debut. Built on a foundation of old school Death Metal and supplemented with atmospheric and moody textures to form an album with lots of swelling ebb and flow. There’s a great epic and anthemic quality to the songs which makes them very memorable. Another win for Scandinavia!
Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker Music). This band will go down in history as an American Rock Institution. They never disappoint and you can always count on a Clutch record to be orgasmic from front to back. “Earth Rocker” is just that and a return to the heavier rocking side of things for the Maryland groove masters.
Gozu – Fury Of A Patient Man (Small Stone Records). Boston’s boogie rock kings are back with another monstrous slab of butt-wiggling groove. This record will keep your toes tapping and your head bobbing. There’s soulful vocal harmonies, salty guitar licks, and serious swagger. Put this record on and shake your money maker.
Deville – Hydra (Small Stone Records). Small Stone hit it out of the park with this Swedish outfit’s solid Rock masterpiece. 11 tracks of melodic, mid-tempo, catchy songs that should be played on the radio instead of the plethora of garbage that pollutes the airwaves these days. A really kick-ass record from a brand new band that deserves some serious recognition.
Sasquatch – IV (Small Stone Records). California’s Fuzz Trio Masters are back with their 4th album and my-oh-my is it a booty shaker. Fat fuckin grooves, soulful, bluesy, and just down right fun as hell. A great audible accompaniment to an evening of booze and broads. Hope these guys will be back at SXSW in 2014.
Devildriver – Winter Kills (Napalm Records). After the disappointing and forgetful “Beast” album in 2011, California’s Metal Groove Machine returns with a scorching new album for 2013. While not instantly catchy, after a few listens the hooks will bury themselves in your cranial receptors and won’t let go. The twin axe attack of Kendrick and Spreitzer is blistering. Boecklin is a furious precision of limbs on the drums and monstrous roars spew forth from Dez’ mouth. The songs are a concise punch to the throat and perfect for cranking it up with the windows down…so take a drive with the Devil.
Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood (Nuclear Blast). Classic Thrash for the modern age. Nobody does it better than these Bay Area veterans. For over 20 years of activity, the guys have been slaying us with fantastic material and it’s awesome that they still have the spirit and fire to keep doing it…and doing it uber-well. Full throttle and taking no prisoners. While a furious effort for the most part, there is plenty of bounce and moments of room to breathe in the songs that provide variety and character. This year’s Thrashterpiece!
American Sharks – Self Titled (The End Records). So jazzed for this Austin, Texas trio pounding out the party rock record of 2013. It doesn’t get more fun than this. Quick blasting little ditties that will have you jumping up and down in a spaztastic-dance-fuck-fest. Deserved high profile tours with the likes of Clutch and The Sword have brought these guys to the masses. Masses, say thank you.
Transport League – Boogie From Hell (Hoffa Entertainment). Sweden’s titans of Satanic Swing are back with a hybrid slab of bouncy post-industrial, metal, and rock. The sparse electro blips, bleeps, washes, and other knob twistery add a really nice texture to these mid-tempo stompers. There’s a really cool Southern Rock swagger to their sound as well which makes it all that much more tasty.
Red Hare – Nites Of Midnight (Dischord Records). It has been a while since I have been jazzed about a new or modern Punk Rock record. This record kicks major ass and while not Punk in the 70’s or 80’s sense, it definitely isn’t what idiotic kids call Punk today. This is Punk Rock/Hard-Core, but the Rock element is more pronounced. Well-crafted songs with great hooks and a healthy dose of mature angst to satisfy those of us that really have things to be angry about.
Top Non-Metal/Non-Heavy Albums
Happy Hollows – Amethyst (Pesky Fruit Music/Nice Music Group). With a bigger synth element, Happy Hollows have really expanded their sound on this record. It’s huge sounding, beautiful, ethereal, and rocks too. Sarah Negahdari’s voice is awesome and the rest of the band provides a tight rhythm section with serious oomph.
True Widow – Circumambulation (Relapse Records). Hailing from Dallas, TX; this trio weaves a gorgeous silky psychedelic tapestry of sound that is hypnotizing and highly captivating. The beautiful dual female/male vocals add a great dimension to their sound. It’s slow, mellow, and the perfect soundtrack to carry you through a dreary/grey/rainy afternoon.
Jolly – The Audio Guide To Happiness Part 2 (Inside Out Music). What a fantastic record. It’s proggy, it’s catchy, it’s mellow, it rocks, and it’s incredibly beautiful. These guys have some serious chops and will play any one under the table.
The Joy Formidable – Wolf’s Law (Canvasback/ATL). What a great year for this awesome power-trio from Wales. Multiple appearances at SXSW and they were also picked for Metallica’s Orion Music and Arts Festival. This record is a gorgeous wall of sound that will caress your ear buds with every song.
IO Echo - Ministry Of Love (IAMSound). 12 tracks of dreamy, ethereal, and upbeat soundscapes. They opened up for The Joy Formidable and were really kick-ass live. A really fun, soothing, and engaging record.