Best of 2013 – Erich
1. Fates Warning – Darkness In A Different Light
Fates warning has been one of my favorite bands since I started listening to metal. The delay between this album and FWX was 9 long years, many fans including myself wondering if we had heard the band’s last album. DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT is a continuing evolution of the band’s sound, and while it is not as vital or awe inspiring as some past albums, it is still a great album that immediately reflects the return of pivotal past member Frank Aresti.
2. Hardcore Superstar – C’Mon Take On Me
Glam/Sleaze metal’s finest band in my view releases one of the best albums of the year in C’MON TAKE ON ME. The band’s driving rhythms and infectious choruses are grounded in the finest tradition’s of glam metal. Sure, I like bleak and oppressive vistas as well as raging slabs of angry aggression as much as the next metal head, but when I looked for something fun and upbeat I found myself reaching for this album over and over this year.
3. Ghost – Infestissumam
One of the most anticipated metal albums of the year did not fail to disappoint me. Ghost is over the top to be sure, both lyrically and image-wise, but the music and song construction are not the work of clowns by any means. Ghost’s music sinks like hooks into the brain, and while not necessarily the heaviest music on earth, it is a damn fun ride.
4. Reckless Love – Spirit
These Finnish metal lovers barely lost out to Hardcore Superstar for best Glam/Sleaze metal album of the year. SPIRIT is another fun, catchy album that also has some heavy chugs and odes to metal on it as well. There is a comfortable balance of hooks and aggression to satisfy a wide range of fans.
5. Black Sabbath – 13
There is already a tome of opinions out there on this album, but here is something I have not seen yet so I will say it. This is no sympathy award, but a album that grew on me. 13 is not the band’s finest album, and in general it plays it pretty safe. However, old age and modern production aside, this is basically the sound of the band in their heyday.
6. Circle II Circle – Seasons Will Fall
Zak Stevens has been one of my favorite singers since the EDGE OF THORNS album with Savatage. SEASONS WILL FALL is vintage Circle II Circle, but closer to the earlier albums than the heavier and more down tuned last few have been. It is a welcome return from a band that remains a consistently melodic and respected institution.
7. Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell
I sorta lost track of Helloween for many years but I got back on board with STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL. The band aimed for more happy melodies and held back much of the dark material dotting the landscape of the previous two albums. This recalls favorably the glory days of my first discoveries of the Keeper albums, and while that brilliance is not matched here, it does a worthy job of reminding us how important a band Helloween is when they play to their strengths.
8. Crashdïet – The Savage Playground
Crashdiet are a great band that went for a more raw style on this album. The excellent vocal harmonies are still present though, and the album overall is quite respectable. Still, I felt that it was a step back for the band, perhaps to be expected after such a long run of almost perfect albums.
9. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
The cover art for Death Angel’s last two albums have given an excellent idea as to the content within; heavy, uncompromising, and taut thrash metal. THE DREAM CALLS FOR BLOOD picks up where the previous album left off, Osgueda and Cavestany continuing to release bold and often unconventional music.
10. Oliva – Raise The Curtain
For the Oliva fan, RAISE THE CURTAIN has elements of all the styles Jon has been involved with over his long and storied career. Though this is his first solo album, it is an outstanding one with a perfect balance of the heavy and the melodic.
11. Týr – Valkyrja
12. Artizan – Ancestral Energy
13. Absolon – Darkness Risng: The Tale Of Derek Blackheart
14. Eden’s Curse – Symphony Of Sin
15. Powerwolf – Preachers Of The Night
16. Pretty Maids – Motherland
17. Satan – Life Sentence
18. Queensrÿche – S/T
19. Twins Crew – The Northern Crusade
20. Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
Best New Band
Absolon: DARKNES RISING: THE TALE OF DEREK BLACKHEART
- Ken Pike (Guitar/Vocals)
- Ed Dumas (Lead Guitar)
- Tyler Colick (guitar)
- Matthew Tomasone (keyboards)
- John Gaffney (bass
- Geoff Kirchoff (drums)
Best Live Album
Iced Earth – LIVE IN ANCIENT KOURION
Testament – DARK ROOTS OF THRASH
Discovery of 2013
An excellent UK band, their album was released in 2011 and thus did not qualify for our list. Playing tradition metal with flourishes of melodic hard rock, this is a band that is taking their second shot at the big time, after their first attempt in the early 90s did not work out.
Best Local Band
Absolon is an Orlando, FL band founded by Ken Pike. Pike was the singer for a glam white metal band band in LA in the 80s called Malachia. Absolon is a great band that leans more power metal and traditional metal with flourishes of Crimson Glory. Keep an ear out for them, they are moving up.
Disappointments of 2013
Megadeth – SUPER COLLIDER
Probably the worst ‘Deth album since RISK, the opening track is maybe the one truly worthy song, “Kingmaker” being a great start. Unfortunately, the limp wristed title track was the first single and video most fans heard, and ended the album for a good portion of them.
Geoff Tate – Frequency Unknown
Not a surprise but certainly a disappointment after all the egotistical drivel Geoff spewed assuring fans how great the new album would be. Please.
Death of Jeff Hanneman
A tragic loss for Thrash Metal and one of the greatest riff masters of the genre. R.I.P. Jeff.
Greatest Hopes for 2014
- New Savatage Album: The new Oliva album was a very welcome compromise, but I say it every year. We need a new Savatage album.
- New Judas Priest Album: With K.K. Downing gone and a new album planned for 2014, let’s hope it is better than NOSTRADAMUS. Black Sabbath proved that advanced age is no longer an excuse for senseless drift.
- New Slayer Album: How will the band respond with no Hanneman? The new album will hopefully be a worthy tribute to Jeff and the band returns inspired and molten.