Best of 2013 – Waspman
1. Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess
Glorious. Majestic. Goddamned life-affirming! All of these apply to the magnificence that is THE WHITE GODDESS. Atlantean Kodex very nearly won my album of the year in 2010, and this year they take the prize with ease. There’s not a single weak song on this album; just pure heavy metal brilliance.
2. Stratovarius – Nemesis
Stratovarius keeps getting stronger without Timo Tolkki (who makes his own appearance further down this list). Pure power metal perfection from a band of pros.
3. Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall – Magnus Karlsson’s Free Fall
Magnus Karlsson has been writing songs for other musicians for a long time, so it’s awesome that he’s got a solo release to showcase himself. What’s more awesome is the fact that the album is absolutely amazing and is easily the top commercial metal/hard rock album of the year.
4. Carcass – Surgical Steel
5. Helloween – Straight Out of Hell
6. Hypocrisy – End of Disclosure
7. Gloryhammer – Tales from the Kingdom of Fife
8. Saxon – Sacrifice
9. Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – Land of New Hope
10. Damnations Day – Invisible, The Dead
11. Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods
12. Amorphis – Circle
13. Vangough – Between the Madness
14. W.E.T. – Rise Up
15. Diamond Plate – Pulse
16. Satan – Life Sentence
17. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time
18. Dream Theater – Dream Theater
19. Sodom – Epitome of Torture
20. CrashDiet – The Savage Playground
Best new band
OK, obviously Gloryhammer is not doing anything new with their Rhapsody (of Fire) styled power metal, but even knowing that, there is a freshness and energy to their music that makes it infectious. TALES FROM THE KINGDOM OF FIFE is nearly perfect power metal.
Pleasant Surprise of the Year
There were a few pleasant surprises this year (Magnus Karlsson, Running Wild), but none with the impact of the godly Carcass reunion which produced the spectacular SURGICAL STEEL album.
Discovery of the Year
Damnations Day – Invisible, The Dead
These Australians absolutely blew me away this year. INVISIBLE, THE DEAD is an addictive mixture of power, progressive, and traditional metal, topped with irresistible hooks and vocals. I cannot wait to hear where they go next.
Best Live Album
Whitesnake – Made in Britain/The World Record
I admit I didn’t hear many live albums this year, but of the ones I did, Whitesnake’s second live album of the year was easily the best. Awesome set list? Check. Fiery, on-point performances? Double check. Even in the latter part of their career, David Coverdale and his bad boys bring the goods.
Cascus – Cascus
Cascus came out of nowhere and knocked it out of the park this year with their self-titled EP. Progressive death metal has rarely sounded this good.
Martin Popoff – Scorpions, Top of the Bill
Canadian scribe Martin Popoff is arguably the pre-eminent author on heavy metal, writing mature & informative books for the stats and minutiae-obsessed (i.e. people like me). Thus, his book on Scorpions not only fills a massive gap (how are the no other major books on this band?) but is an amazing read full of all kinds of tasty tidbits on the band.
Disappointments of the Year
- The death of Jeff Hanneman: R.I.P. Jeff. Thanks for your many riffs and songs that will live on.
- Dark Tranquillity – Construct: I have been a huge fan of DT since the first strains of “Punish My Heaven” blew through my speakers, and have been along with them for the ride ever since. While their many experiments haven’t always worked out, CONSTRUCT represents the first time that the band sounds tired…are they nearing the end?
- Missing a ton of new releases this year: As usual, time was not my friend in 2013. I missed so many albums this year, from the likes of: Ghost, The Black Dahlia Murder, Ashes of Ares, Motorhead, Twilight of the Gods, Witherscape, Trouble, Anvil, and Kalmah. There were more…many more. Time, I STILL just don’t have enough of it.
Greatest Hopes for 2014
- New kick ass Judas Priest album: Here’s hoping the fresh blood in the band returns them to making kick-ass heavy metal.
- New W.A.S.P. album: C’mon Blackie! It’s been four years since BABYLON…hit us with some new music already!
- W.A.S.P. Retrospective / Historical Set: As JP and I have said in the past, Blackie needs to get off his duff and put out the definitive historical W.A.S.P. set. This band’s history is as interesting (and sordid) as they come and it would be a fascinating listen/viewing.
- New album releases: Looking forward to the likes of: Iced Earth, Sanctuary, W.E.T., and many more.
I didn’t manage to make it to a single concert in 2013…for shame, I know. I’m hoping to rectify that in a big way in 2014 with planned trips to see Black Sabbath, Iced Earth/Sabaton, and Primal Fear.