Best of 2013 – EvilG
1. Helloween – Straight Out of Hell
I am an unashamedly a huge fan of power metal, especially German power metal. It’s soooo awesome that the founding fathers of the genre are not only still at it, but that they are still at the top of their game. When I had to select a number one album of the year, it wasn’t hard to select Helloween as this album has been played so many times all throughout the year.
2. Stratovarius – Nemesis
I was a little hesitant with NEMESIS when I first heard it due to the techno-ish keys in some places which kind of took the place of some of the neo-classical influences. The album turned out to be quite a grower. The performances from all involved and the songs themselves were just too good to let a few “alien” sound effect ruin. I’d go as far as to say that this is the band’s best album since INFINITE (2000).
3. Týr – Valkyrja
Here’s a band that quickly became one of my favorites back in 2009 when I was introduced to them with the glorious album “By the Light of the Northern Star”. That was followed by 2 albums, including the latest – Valkyrja, that have continued on in pretty much the same vein. Playing it safe is OK when you’re onto such a winning formula, but I do think they have left some of the folk metal behind with this album which is too bad. Regardless of slow evolution away from folk metal, these guys are still one of the best out of any “newer” band.
4. Black Sabbath – 13
The band that started it all, the mighty Black Sabbath pulled off a damn near miracle when the stars aligned and they recorded and unleashed a brand new studio album in 2013. I had faith that this would rule from day one, sure it’s sad the Bill Ward isn’t on here, but rather than mope about that, the good news is it rules anyway.
5. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
The awesome little dude who started Edguy and branched out to the epic Avantasia has come a long way. Early Avantasia was a little too power metal, then things seemed to go too far into the hard rock realm, but especially with The Mystery of Time, the delicate balance has been perfected. There are faster power metal songs, hard rock songs, epic songs etc. This album covers so many bases.
6. Saxon – Sacrifice
After all these years, Saxon as as good as, if not better than, ever! Hopefully this isn’t their final studio album.
7. Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – Land of New Hope
In the vein of Avantasia, former Stratovarius maestro, Timo Tolkki has released a new masterpiece. Part two is already being worked on as this is to be a trilogy of albums. After the ups and downs in Tolkki’s career, it’s great that he is still releasing new material.
8. Death Angel – The Dream Calls for Blood
I’ve loved Death Angel since the 80’s and was especially enamored with their ACT III album. After a long hiatus (in terms of studio releases from 1990 to 2004) the band returned in 2004 and have since released four albums including their 2013 release. While all their albums have been good, The Dream Calls For Blood kind of took me off guard. It isn’t just good…it is fantastic! For me it still doesn’t top ACT III, but it’s the best they’ve done since then.
9. Huntress – Starbound Beast
Their are very clear nods to classic heavy metal and old King Diamond and Mercyful Fate written all over STARBOUND BEAST by Huntress. Last year I selected Huntress as “best new band” and for 2013 they again shot back with a new album which was even stronger. Sure, the band might get extra press because of their extremely easy on the eyes lead vocalist, but it’s for the strength of their and their relentless touring that the band has been making themselves known while others have been left in the dust.
10. Megadeth – Supercollider
I don’t care what other critics say, this album is great. It’s clearly not RUST IN PEACE or PEACE SELLS great, but it’s nowhere near the un-listenable RISK. It’s more in line with the good melodic Medadeth albums like YOUTHANASIA or COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION. Even though I enjoy this album a lot, it would be preferable if Dave and the boys got back to more thrashing on the next album.
11. Rhapsody – Dark Wings of Steel
So here we have the first Rhapsody of Fire album that does not feature guitarist and founding member Luca Turilli who has moved onto his own version of the band. While the album is overall an enjoyable listen, I do have some misgivings. Sadly, the guitars take a backseat. Sure there are plenty of solos, but the riffage is way too backburner. The other bummer is the tempo….mid-tempo music is NOT what I want from Rhapsody. Problems aside, a crippled Rhapsody can still outpace many. As well, the vocals of Fabio Lione are as always, fantastic!
12. Motorhead – Aftershock
While AFTERSHOCK doesn’t have the immediacy or heaviness of INFERNO, it is still is very strong. With 2013 being the year that Lemmy’s lifestyle began catching up with him, everyone hopes he can keep the tank rolling. If it means limited touring and more studio albums, that’s not all bad news for sure.
13. Lord – Digital Lies
The shred heavy power metal-ish Aussie band, Lord returned with their fourth album in 2013. From the band’s excellent videos which show they have a great sense of humor(!), to the acrobatic shredding, Lord are simply great.
14. Gloryhammer – Tales from the Kingdom of Fife
My initial introduction to this band was not by a song, but was through a picture of the band. They looked seriously retarded. I could not take them seriously and assumed they were taking the piss and not worth further pursuit. After reading JP’s glowing review, I had to give them a shot and I’m glad I did!
15. Annihilator – Feast
While I can’t imagine that Annihilator will ever top their two glorious albums Alice in Hell (1989) or Never, Neverland (1990), FEAST is an album that has a lot of those classic elements of melody and thrash.
16. Flotsam & Jetsam – Ugly Noise
It hasn’t been since CUATRO (1992) and DRIFT(1995) that I’ve really had a lot of time for F&J. They’ve had some moments since then, but overall were not that memorable. With UGLY NOISE there is again more time given to the melodic side. I would of liked it if the songs were even more like those two aforementioned albums with perhaps a couple classic songs a la Hammerhead thrown in.
17. VoiVod – Target Earth
Even though TARGET EARTH is the first to not feature the sadly departed guitarist Piggy (the last two albums, Katorz and Infini, still had Piggy on them), it’s very cool that Daniel “Chewy” Mongrain was able to channel the Piggy of old and pull the VoiVod sound out of the doldrums of stoner rock and back to progressive thrash, the style that we all love Piggy and VoiVod for!
18. Queensryche – Queensryche
Sure, this is not to the levels of amazballs of OPERATION MINDCRIME, but c’mon….Tate didn’t want to be playing prog metal any more and the band hasn’t been relevant in years. Sad that it took the band this long to DARE to step out and get a great vocalist and record a proper album. I still think this needed to be heavier, faster, a lot less “modern” sounding, and more like classic QR….but hey, it’s one helluva great start and I hope there’s more to come!
19. Ashes of Ares – ST
Matt Barlow, back in the saddle singing metal…nuff said really! Love his vocals!
20. Carcass – Surgical Steel
Not as jaw-dropping as HEARTWORK, but they really pulled their shit together and made quite a triumphant return!
Best Live Album / Best DVD/Blu-Ray
I’m combining these two categories as everything I bought had both lives CDs with the Blu-Ray.
Nightwish: Showtime, Storytime
Finally, Nightwish have a singer that does justice to both eras of the band. Floor Jansen is my favorite female vocalist, so hearing her sing these songs really brings new new to them and the band….can’t wait to hear her on her own Nightwish material!
Runners up: Testament “Dark Roots of Thrash” (Skolnick live is soooooo good!), Sabaton “Swedish Empire Live” (the Amazon earbook edition has glorious packaging).
Gamma Ray – Master of Confusion
As Gamma Ray are pretty much my favorite band, it reallyyyyyyyy sucks that their previous studio album came out nearly four years ago in 2010. That’s too long of a wait as the band’s peers are not being to lax or spinning their wheels in boring side-projects…..Sigh…. So we get an EP, yes, it’s one of the longest EPs in history, but still… Regardless, it’s Gamma Ray, I worship them and Kai Hansen, so this was easily the best EP of the year for me.
Blind Guardian – A Traveler’s Guide to Space and Time
This has to be the best box set I’ve ever bought. Full details on the content can be read here.
Just wow….look at the pic below!
Best Local Metal Band
While sHEAVY were inactive for all of 2013, the band was busy behind the scenes writing/recording two albums. The first of which was released at the end of 2013.
KISS: 2013 was not a good year for travel for a number of shitty reasons. Therefore, I missed out on a few concerts that I had tickets purchased for including Helloween and Kamelot. I’m sure one of those would of made for my best concert of 2013, but since I could only see what was worth seeings here at the ass and of the planet, the best concert was KISS. They still have a killer show with the pryo and stage set, and it was my first time seeing them live, so it was quite a show!
Alex Skolnick – “Geek to Guitar Hero”
I’m always reading metal books and metal bios but the one that touched me the most in 2013 was Alex Skolnick’s “Geek to Guitar Hero”. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to be a better guitar player. It’s not just a book about “look at me and all I’ve done”. It’s more introspective, it makes you think about your own musical journey, while hearing all about Alex’s own tale. The geek/outsider theme is one I relate to as I’ve often felt the same.
Runners up: Yngwie J. Malmsteen “Relentless: The Memoir”, Stephen Pearcy “Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life in Rock”
Best New Band
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. If you like traditional metal, power metal, epic/symphonic power metal….first listen to the band. They may dress silly, but their music is powerful.
- Thomas Winkler – Vocals
- Christopher Bowes – Keyboards
- Paul Templing – Guitar
- James Cartwright – Bass
- Ben Turk – Drums
Amazingly, no albums that I was anticipating was a complete disappointment in 2013. The major bummer of the year, against which everything else pales in comparison, is the death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman. Ugh 🙁
Hopes for 2014
New albums from Primal Fear, Judas Priest, Edguy, Gamma Ray, etc……