June 18, 2013 by Dan Swinhoe
Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get a ‘Best of 2012’ list out. So instead here’s a best of what the first six months of 2013 has had to offer. It’s in alphabetical order, the final placings will come at the end of the year.
13 is the album fans have been waiting for. Ozzy has been average since No More Tears, Sabbath since The Headless Cross (The Dio-fronted Dehumanizer and ‘basically Black Sabbath’ Devil You Know were listenable, nothing more). The rest of the band solo outings have been interesting at best. But almost 40 years on, Ozzy is finally back at the front of Black Sabbath, and it was worth the wait. All credit to Rick Rubin for taking the band back to their doomy-blues roots, he managed to eke out of the band if not a classic, the best album any of its players have been associated with in a long time.
After the fairly lacklustre Strange Cousins From The West, it’s good to see Clutch back and more fired than ever. Starting with the blueprints of the epic Blast Tyrant and mixing it with the more bluesy-influenced material the band have released since, Earth Rocker is big, heavy and fun. Couldn’t ask for much more from them really.
In a year without a Neurosis, Mastodon, Opeth or Baroness record, there’s plenty of opportunity for lesser known prog metal bands to stand up and make their case. Intronaut have been building their reputation over the course of a few albums now, and in Habitual Levitations, made a classy record that’s worth listening to. Chock full of riffs, clever percussion and deft touches.
What’s that? You want some 70s-infused Traditional Doom? Then Magic Circle are the band for you. Their storming self-titled debut was released in at the beginning of the year, mixing the like of Graveyard, early Witchcraft with big riffs and some wicked vocals, Magic Circle is a belter. Check out Scream Evil here.
Hailing from Canada may not be the best endorsement for being a Southern Rock band, but Monster Truck don’t seem to care. Big riffs in spades, a vocalist able to belt them out, and a generous helping of hammond organ make Furiosity the album most rock bands wish they could create.
Berlin collective The Ocean have a history of being ambitious with their albums, but always falling just short of breaking into the big leagues along with the likes of Mastodon and Baroness. In Pelagial, they’ve created something epic in both concept and execution; a post-metal classic bound to top many end of year lists.
TesseracT – Altered State
Onto their third vocalist in two years, TesseracT have had a funny old time lately. However they now seem settled with Ashe O’Hara and produced another corker in Altered State. Though not as heavy as previous effort, One, it’s more progressive and expansive, and features saxophone. What more could you want from a Djent album?
You know what you’re getting with Thrash bands. Warbeast just do it better. Their split with Phil Anslemo promised big things, but Destroy totally ups the ante of the previous record. Pulling drums, lightning shredding, pure chaos. Don’t pretend to like metal if you don’t like this band.
So far I think I’ve been lucky this year; Super Collider is the only record I’ve really disliked. Stale, sterile, bland. The likes of Super Collider, Burn! and a tepid cover of the Thin Lizzy classic Cold Sweat just make this a dull listen. The sound of Dave Mustaine not really trying very hard anymore. Anyone wanting thrash will be bitterly disappointed.
Still To Come
Phil is finally breaking out under his own name, and it’s set to be ugly. The first two songs from the split with Warbeast were nasty and violent, and the so far all the snippets suggest Walk Through Exits Only could be the most abrasive album of the year. Those expecting a hark back to the days of Pantera may be disappointed, but fans of Superjoint Ritual are set to be in their element.
Featuring former Kyuss members Brant Bjork and John Garcia, Vista Chino is the new band rising from the lawsuit between Josh Homme and Kyuss Lives! guys. The first song of the forthcoming record sounds promising. Watch this space.
I was a big fan of both Twilight Of The Thunder God and Surtur Rising. Amon Amarth know what they like, and they deliver consistently every time. Expect riffs, vikings, and vengeful gods. Checkout the title track here, and the excellently-titled making-of documentary,Forging Mjölnir, here. Inevitably bound to be your favourite viking album this year.
Jeff Waters is an undeniably talented guitarist, but his recorded output hasn’t always let this shine through. 2010’s self-titled release was one of Annihilator’s more solid offerings, and hopefully Feast will build on that. And if nothing else, the bonus version offers re-recordings of the band’s greatest hits throughout the band’s history. Expect riffs.
Swedish multi-instrumentalists Dan Swanö and Ragnar Widerberg have teamed up for what could be an epic slice of progressive metal. The first track on offer, Astrid Falls, showcases plenty of riffs, complicated structures, and plenty of synth. Fan’s of Swanö’s previous work should be happy.
Lionize – TBC
2011 saw two albums from Lionize, including the excellent Superczar & the Vulture. It’s been all quiet since then, but the band are now looking to hit the studio. A new album before the year’s end is possible.
What have been your best/worst of 2013 so far? Comment below!
A Quick best of 2012:
1. Indian Handicrafts – Civil Disobedience For Losers
2. Skyharbor- Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos
3. Baroness- Yellow & Green
4. Devin Townsend Project- Epicloud
5. Graveyard- Lights Out
6. High On Fire- De Vermis Mysteriis
7. Bloodshot Dawn- Bloodshot Dawn
8. Haji’s Kitchen- Twentytwelve
9. Royal Thunder- CVI