Best of 2013 – JP

January 18th, 2014
by J P

Best of 2013 – JP

I have very broad tastes in Heavy Metal. I enjoy almost all genres and sub-genres. Coupled with the fact that I’m fortunate enough to get exposed to hundreds and hundreds of albums each year, it is easy to find something enjoyable. However because focuses on Real Metal, my choices weighs heavily on Classic/Traditional/True and Power Metal.

I don’t think there has ever been a ‘bad’ year for Metal. I’m heavily involved in the industry so I actually have many different Year-end Top Lists for the various groups that I work for, including my own personal one, which will often take a couple of years to solidify because it takes a long to actually hear all the albums I want to hear and also to see if albums stand the test of time and repeated listens.

I find lists like this often challenging to do because of those very factors; too much material I have not heard and not enough time to spend with the album. There are many albums I did not get to hear which conceivably may have made my list, based on my past enjoyment of the bands, for example, Silent Force, Majesty, Dark Avenger, Dragonhammer and more. Additionally, while many, many of my favorite bands put out great records (Helloween, Stratovarius, Running Wild, U.D.O., Avantasia, Rhapsody, Metal Church) I’m using this opportunity to showcase mostly newer bands that are making exciting new music, instead of just picking my old friends.

1. Yngwie J. Malmsteen – Spellbound (Universal)

Yngwie J. Malmsteen-Spellbound

Yngwie J. Malmsteen – Spellbound

The only exception to my rule to focus on newer bands, Yngwie as my favourite guitarists of all time, takes my top spot. Although technically released only in Japan in late December 2012, SPELLBOUND brings everything Yngwie has to offer to the table. One of the major label releases that bookend my list.

2. Gloryhammer-Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife (Napalm)

3. Sigum Regis-Exodus (Ulterium)

4. Death Dealer-War Master (Indie)

5. Dragonsclaw-Judgement Day (Killer Metal)

6. Evertale-Of Elves And Dragons (Indie)

7. Bane Of Winterstorm-The Last Sons Of Perylin (Indie)

8. Ascension-Far Beyond The Stars (Limb)

9. Messenger-Starwolf Part I-The Messengers (Massacre)

10. Avalon-The Land Of New Hope (Frontiers)

11. Thalion-Dawn Of Choas (Maple Metal)

12. Reinxeed-A New World (Liljgren)

13. Golden Resurrection-One Voice For The Kingdom (Liljgren)

14. Twins Crew-The Northern Crusade (Scarlet)

15. Epicrenel-The Crystal Throne (Inverse)

16. Divided Multitude-Feed On Your Misery (Fireball)

17. Tad Morose-Revenant (Despotz)

18. Memory Garden-Doomain (Metal Blade)

19. Victorius-The Awakening (Sonic Attack)

20. Kobra And The Lotus- S/t (Universal)


Best Live Album

Rhapsody: Live – From Chaos To Eternity

RHAPSODY OF FIRE To Release 'Live - From Chaos To Eternity' In May

RHAPSODY OF FIRE ‘Live – From Chaos To Eternity’

Best EP

Manowar-Lord Of Steel-Live

Best Remake album

Harem Scarem-Mood Swings II

Best Covers album

ReinXeed-Swedish Hits Goes Metal II

Best Book

Relentless by Yngwie J. Mamlsteen

Best Tribute Album

Strong As Steel – A Tribute To Anvil

Best DVD

Raven – Rock Until You Drop

Best TV/Movie

NA. Slow year for Metal related TV and movies. No Holliston, no Metalocalypse.

Best Concert

70,000 Tons Of Metal

Best local band

Kobra And The Lotus

Best new band


Best discovery

Cain’s Dinasty

Predictions/Hopes for 2014

  1. W.A.S.P.’s Blackie Lawless decides to release the mountain of archived footage (and the long-lost Japanese only video collection) in a cool, historical 3+ DVD set. Blackie also finishes his autobiography he has been rumored to have working on for years. (Carried over from 2010, again).
  2. Matos just rejoined Viper. Can Viper make good Power Metal record again like they did in the 80’s? Who will be the new Angra singer? (Carried over from 2013).
  3. New WA.S.P. album. It’s been five long years since Babylon. Can Blackie come roaring back? We hope so!

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Best of 2013 – Arto Lehtinen

January 18th, 2014
by Arto Lehtinen

Best of 2013 – Arto Lehtinen

1. Voivod – Target Earth

VoiVod - Target Earth

VoiVod – Target Earth

The mighty Voivod has set new boundaries for metal since WAR AND PAIN came out. When the  legendary guitarist Denis “Snake” …. passed away, releasing a new album was entirely mystery. However Voivod with the recruited new guitarist toured heavily all around and questions about  a new album started emerging. Target Earth is an awesome album and definitely worth for every  Voivod fan to bang for Kluskap O’Kom.

2. Carcass – Surgical Steel



Before Carcass reunited, Jeff Walker strongly insisted there will no new album at all. Some years passed by and we have got nothing, but an amazing album with killer songs with the Carcass trademarks. Surgical Steel blows every skeptical one away and proves Carcass is back.

3. InSolitude – Sister

In Solitude – Sister

In Solitude – Sister

I was already blown away by the previous InSolitude opus and was definitely eager to get a hold of their new opus titled Sister. The album is a real twisted metal opus when Mercyful Fate meets Cure.

4. Hell – Curse And Chapter

5. Onslaught – IV

6. Vorum – Poisoned Void

7. Warlord – Holy Empire

8. Motorhead – Aftershock

9. Coffins – Fleshland

10. Queensryche- S/t

11. Sodom – Epitome Of Torture

12. Inquistion – Obscure Verses For Multiverse

13. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual

14. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rises

15. Amon Amarth – Deceiver Of The Gods

16. The Devils Blood – III Tabula Rasa Or Death And The Seven

17. Black Sabbath – 13

18. Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy

19. Ashes Of Ares – Ashes Of Ares

20. Watain – The Wild Hunt


Best Live Album

Machine Head -Machine Fucking Head Live
The Bay Area groove bulldozer metallers are extremely murderous and vital on the stage. The four piece’s aggression and head blowing riff with the heavy grip have been managed to capture on this new live album.

Best EP

1. Ghost – If You Have The Ghost
Even Though the second album got a massive buzz, but somehow this eccentric EP with cover tunes sounded quite weird as produced by David Grohl. Even though the Ep was recorded in 2012, but saw the dark of the night in 2013

2. Ranger – Knights Of Darkness
The Finnish power speed squad came out of blue, getting nothing utter huge praises all around.

Best Concert

1. Bolt Thrower

Bolt Thrower

Bolt Thrower

The British death warmachine Bolt Thrower came and conquered the Tuska Open Air festival by offering the utter lethal set of the brutal and nihilistic songs from the long career. Bolt Thrower was one of the required and demanded bands to Tuska.

 2. Asphyx



The Dutch death metal veterans had been booked by the Roadburn organization to perform the heaviest and doomiest songs. The gig turned out to be a real ear ripping death metal blitzkrieg with Martin Van Drunen’s raw and barbaric growling.

3. Candlemass



The Swedish doom metal veterans went through the singer change when Robert Lowe dismissed and the band’s long time friend Mats Leven stepped in. The six piece unleashed the real epicus doomicus and above all metallicus gigs at both Swedenrock and Hammer Open Air.

Best new band


1. Vorum – Poisoned Void
 All right labeling Vorum a new band is truly unfair, but the band’s debut album POISONED VOID is a strong piece of evidence of the true brutal death metal is still alive.

2. Ashes Of Ares – S/T
AOA is kind of super-group featuring ex-members of Iced Earth and Nevermore. The album is a pure heavy metal from the beginning to the end.

Best Discovery

being the Finnish power/speed metal on steroids. The four piece metal squad definitely kicks ass  hard and fast with the catchy riffs. All the old school metal bangers.

Major events in the Metal world

  1.  The premature loss of the Slayer guitarist Jeff Hannemann
  2. KRK called its quits. (No Hammer Open Air, No Black Flames Of Blasphemy)

Predictions for 2013

  1. Killer Line-up of Jalometalli 2014 can be expected
  2. Dark Angel returns
  3. Emperor returns

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Best of 2013 – Monika Deviat

January 18th, 2014
by Monika Deviat

Best of 2013 – Monika Deviat

1. In Solitude – Sister (Metal Blade)

In Solitude – Sister

In Solitude – Sister

2. Beyond – Fatal Power of Death (Iron Bonehead)

Beyond – Fatal Power of Death

Beyond – Fatal Power of Death

3. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)

4. Subrosa – More Constant Than The Gods (Profound Lore)

5. Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eautou (Season of Mist)

6. Gorguts – Colored Sands (Season of Mist)

7. Magic Circle – Magic Circle (Armageddon Record Shop)

8. Grave Miasma – Ordo Sepulchuri (Sepulchral Voice)

9. Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist)

10. Blackrat – Whiskey and Blasphemy (Xnihilo Records)

11. Aosoth – IV: Arrow in Heart (Agonia Records)

12. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual (Peaceville Records)

13. Birth A.D. – (Dark Descent Records)

14. Exit Strategy – The Atrocity Machine (independent)

15. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance (Peaceville Records)

16. Alter of Plauges – Teethed Glory and Injury (Candlelight Records)

17. A.M.S.G – Anti-Cosmit Tyranny (Profound Lore Records)

18. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise (I Hate)

19. Voivod – Target Earth (Century Media Records)

20. Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess (20 Buck Spin)

Best Festival

Noctis 666 Lucifer Rex

Best Poster and Photo Pass

Noctis 666 Lucifer Rex


Best bands with releases that don’t qualify for the top 20 list

Bölzer, The Oath

Best Local Show

Ides of Winter Cd Release


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Best of 2013 – Celtic Bob

January 18th, 2014
by Celtic Bob

Best of 2013 – Celtic Bob

2013 was one of the best years for music. Some fantastic new artists hit the scene and we lost lost some at the same time. We were hit with a few surprise releases and comebacks plus some just reinvented themselves. This was the hardest year yet to choose a Top 10. There were some borderline artists that put out terrific albums but were they Metal enough for Metal-Rules or do they belong on Lets Get Rocked? Either way, here is my list of favorite’s from this past year.

1. Motorhead – Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD - Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD – Aftershock

Just when we thought Lemmy and the guys were finished we get hit with this incredible album.

2. Black Sabbath – 13

Black Sabbath - 13

Black Sabbath – 13

The first ‘Real’ Sabbath album in decades. Too bad Bill wasn’t a part of it to make it a full return.

3. Beasto Blanco – Live Fast, Die Loud

Beasto Blanco - Live Fast, Die Loud

Beasto Blanco – Live Fast, Die Loud

This hit me BIG TIME when I first heard it. I cannot stop listening to this release. The rawness and grittiness help make it refreshing and new in a world of overproduction. Debut of the year from a ‘New’ band

4. Famous Underground


The debut from FU (formerly Revolver) is one I loved from initial listen. Hints of Nick’s old band Slik Toxik are present which helps the listener identify with it a bit more. Another killer debut of 2013.

5. KiLLeR DWaRfS – Start @ One


Tough call on this one. Recorded in ’92 but released in 2013. Hmmm…? It was released in 2013 so it made the cut. Russ and Dunk are now back playing shows with Gerry “Cod Dwarf” Finn and a new bassist Johnny “Dwarf’ Fenton. Dwarf Nation is in full swing again……Go Dunk!

6. Kadavar – Abra Kadavar


This was the album that introduced me to the ‘Stoner/Doom’ genre. It’s a wonderful mix of Metal and the 70’s.

7. Orchid – The Mouths Of Madness


Similar to Kadavar, this was the other release that helped me discover a new genre of music. Fantastic album with Sabbath overtones.

8. Scorpion Child

Scorpion Child

Yet again, a killer debut. I love this style of music and cannot get enough. Easily one of my most listened to albums of the year.

9. Oliva – Raise The Curtain


Jon gives the fans the perfect blend of TSO and Savatage on RAISE THE CURTAIN.

10. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood


Never a huge Death Angel fan. I did own THE ULTRA-VIOLENCE and FROLIC THROUGH THE PARK on tape back in the day and remember EvilG having ACT III but that was about it. I saw the deadly artwork, read a review then bought the LP. Excellent choice. The ultimate in old school Speed/Thrash.

11. Annihilator – Feast

Annihilator feast

Lost track of these guys over the years but loved their METAL album from a few years ago then lost track again. Enter 2013 and a new album and I am back listening to this killer Canadian band. Everything about this album screams Metal.

12. Queensryche


2013 saw two Queensryche releases from two totally different bands. I anticipated that the Tate fronted one would be the better of the batch. Was I wrong on that prediction. Tate’s was a solo CD backed up by a cast of special guests. The ‘Band’ album with singer Todd LaTorre is Queensryche of old. All they need is to get DeGarmo back.

13. Voodoo Highway – Showdown


It was the cover that caught my attention. Voodoo Highway have been around awhile and worth checking out. Taking a gamble on an album based solely on cover art pays off at times.

14. Lord – Digital Lies


Australian Metal band Lord was a surprise this year. I liked previous efforts but they were too Power Metal for my day to day listening. DIGITAL LIES was the perfect mix for me. The musicianship and just the overall quality made this one of 2013’s greatest albums. Hopefully they continue on this path and we get more of this in the future.

15.  Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven and The Righteous Side Of Hell Vol. 2


We saw both volumes of 5FDP’s THE WRONG SIDE OF HEAVEN AND THE RIGHTEOS SIDE OF HELL get released in 2013. I loved Volume one but when the second volume got released a few months later it was clearly the stronger of the two even with the Metal God guesting on the first volume.

16.  Voodoo Circle – More Than One Way Home


An interesting album to say the least. Very melodic with a huge Whitesnake influence. Another album that received a lot of plays at the Celtic house.

17. Michael Schenker – Bridge The Gap

Cover Schenker (Bridge The Gap) Solo

With only a couple of spins so far this new release created quite the positive initial impression. This album is sure to get many, many more plays in the near future and for years to come.

 18. Flotsam & Jetsam – Ugly Noise


Another old band rediscovered in 2013. Haven’t listened to these guys since DOOMSDAY FOR THE DECEIVER tape way back when. Upon hearing the title track I was hooked and it has seen many plays throughout the year.

19. Krokus – Dirty Dynamite


Like many bands or artists you lose track over the years. When I saw this was coming out I took the gamble and ordered it. Glad I did as it’s an enjoyable Hard Rock album. Similarities will be made to AC/DC but this is better than anything AC/DC have issued in decades.

20. Ghost B.C. – Infestissunam


After discovering these guys last year I was anticipating the new album and delivered.


Top Rock Albums of 2013 (LGR Top 10)

1. Deep Purple – Now What?!

Deep Purple Cover

One of my all-time favorite bands. This is their best album since PERFECT STRANGERS. Every song is excellent.

2. Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose


A highly anticipated album that delivered. Ricky’s vocal’s add that Irish flair that is needed and the Lizzy influence is strong.

3. David Bowie – The Next Day


The years biggest surprise as nobody knew it was coming. Rock comeback of the year!

4. Mike Tramp – Cobblestone Street

Cobblestone Street

White Lion singer’s most honest and heartfelt release to date. Total surprise and not what I was expecting to hear. Amazing album!

5. The Answer – New Horizon

the answer new horizon

The cover artwork is what drew me to this album initially. It was done by the late Storm Thorgeson and it brought out some curiosity and after listening to it, it became a favorite of the year.

6. Coney Hatch – Four


Hatch is back! It took a bad situation to make it happen but the result is on par with the early albums.

7. Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes


Long overdue solo album from the Cinderella frontman. Like the Tramp album it is different from the band that made him famous except in Keifer’s case this is what you’d expect to hear. Very well done and enjoyable.

8. Dave Davies – I Will Be Me


A 60’s icon solo release. Kink’s guitarist Dave Davies, the man responsible for the infamous guitar sound of “You Really Got Me”. One of my most listened to releases of the year.

9. Eric Burdon – ‘Til Your River Runs Dry


Known as the singer of the 60’s band The Animals, Eric Burdon has never left the business. Another blind buy early in the year that has been consistently listened to.

10. Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt


Took a chance on this as PJ lost their spark after the first three albums for me. A few good songs here and there but that was it. This one is closer to PJ of old and quite an enjoyable album.

Honorable Mention: Todd Kerns – Borrowing Trouble / Near Life Experience

Canadian icon and current Slash bassist released this via Pledge Music. The acoustic album really showcases Kerns’ talent as a writer, singer and vocalist.

Comeback of the year

Black Sabbath:


Their new album 13 was one of the years greatest Metal albums. It would have been much better had they put aside differences and Bill Ward was part of the project.

David Bowie (LGR):


His THE NEXT DAY came out of nowhere and his coming out of retirement was welcomed by fans and critics. We even got treated to an EP of Extras later in the year. There are rumors floating that he is to tour this year making for a full comeback.


The Beatles – On Air; Live At The BBC Vol. 2

The Beatles "On Air: Live At The BBC Vol 2" Cover
The second volume to 1994’s LIVE AT THE BBC release came from out of nowhere. It wasn’t expected but welcomed. To keep everything uniform they went back and redid the first volume to improve the sound quality and made a couple of small changes, including the cover from Sepia to B&W.




This came out on Record Store Day. It is both LP’s by Marc Bell’s band before he joined The Ramones and became Marky Ramone. Easily the best reissue of the year. I cannot for the life of me figure out why these guys weren’t huge.

Best Live Rock Album

Neil Young – At The Cellar Door



I love Neil Young’s music and I am a sucker for all his Archive and Performance Series releases. Always high quality and done correctly. This one is a nice mellow, acoustic performance but it’s time for Neil to move past this era and give the fans some newer shows and the next volume of ARCHIVES or at least gives us the first one on LP. Keep them comin’ Shakey.

Best EP

1. Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell


UKJ are back! I wasn’t sure if this was an EP or a full length but decided on EP as there is technically only 6 ‘New’ songs. Whit and band are back and I couldn’t be happier about it. I loved these guys back in the day and missed their style when they disbanded. Good to have them back and hopefully it won’t be too long before we get a proper full length LP.

2. Blues Pills – Devil Man

10inch Gatefold NEU_Layout 1

Heavy Metal Janis Joplin is the best way to describe Blues Pills debut EP DEVIL MAN. Fantastic EP from start to finish. Definitely a band to watch out for.

3. Metal On Ice


The EP that goes with Sean Kelly’s book of the same name. This EP features some of Canada’s best doing one of their signature songs along with a new title track written by Sean and Nick.

Best Remake album

Russ Dwarf – Wireless

KiLLeR DWaRfS singer Russ ‘Dwarf’ Graham give us acoustic renditions of KiLLeR DWaRf classics. Interesting to hear the songs done on an acoustic but they don’t come close to the originals.

Best Covers album

Anthrax – Anthems


Not normally a fan of cover songs or albums but this was a fun and enjoyable listen.

Best Book

Metal On Ice


I connected to Sean’s book in a big way. Many of his memories were similar to mine in discovering bands and listening to the same albums. Excellent book on Canadian Hard Rock and Metal.

Runner up, is a tie:
Al Jorgensen’s THE LOST GOSPEL’S ACCORDING TO and Stephen Pearcy’s SEX, DRUGS, RATT & ROLL. Both are filled with Sex, Drugs and Debauchery. Many similarities between the two but yet very different. Amazing that Uncl Al is still alive.




Honorable Mention: Bobbie Brown’s DIRTY ROCKER BOYS

The “Cherry Pie” girl releases her autobigraphy that is quite an eye opener. Who knew she was as messed up as the Rock Stars she married and dated? Excellent read.

Best Live Video

Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria (Blu-Ray)

The most enjoyable concert Blu-Ray this year. They played the entire Hysteria album along with a couple of hits from PYROMANIA as an encore. The kicker was they opened for themselves under the Ded Flatbird moniker playing other Lep hits and deep cuts. Excellent release all around.

Runners Up

The Rolling Stones – Sweet Summer Sun (DVD)

Fantastic Stones show from Hyde Park in London this past summer. Pretty typical Stones release except Mick Taylor comes on stage for a bit making for a memorable “Midnight Rambler”.

Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live (DVD)

Classic Purple with Blackmore on guitar. Nothing more needs to be said.

 Best Video

Steel Panther – Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World
In pure Panther style this video has it all. The lead off single from their upcoming album is a Rock n’ Roll party, Steel Panther style.

Best Concert



Got to see KISS twice this year in back to back shows. Seeing them on Saturday night was a great deal fun. Shooting pics from the pit then watching the show from the stands on Gene’s side then again the next night from about 6 rows up side stage on Tommy’s side. An eye opening experience seeing some of the workings of a KISS event. Always a great time.

Best New Band

Beasto Blanco: Longtime Alice Cooper guitarist’s side band Beasto Blanco released a killer debut in the latter part of the year. It’s raw, grittty and loud, the way it’s suposed to be. This CD was the only disc in my car’s player for well over a month. Fantastic album that I cannot say enough good things about.

Best New Band Runner’s Up:
Black Star Riders – Basically the touring Thin Lizzy without Brian Robertson. Fantastic debut album.


Famous Underground -Similar to Black Star Riders in that it is another band redefined, this time it’s Canada’s Revolver. Vocalist Nick Walsh (Slik Toxik) delivers a solid Hard Rock album with some Metal overtones. Another fantastic ‘New’ band that gave us a killer debut album.


Debut of 2013

Beasto Blanco’s LIVE FAST DIE LOUD


This was the debut that hit me full on. There is nothing negative I can say about this album. Killer album from start to finish.

Discovery of 2013

Doom/Stoner Metal genre: This year I heard Kadavar for the first time and was literally blown away by how great they were. This was followed by Orchid, then Scorpion Child, The Sword, Trouble…etc. All of them fantastic.

Metal Headline of The Year

Jeff Hanneman: The loss of Hanneman was devastating. In a way you kind of expected it but not so soon. A huge, huge loss to the Metal community. Slayer will never be the same without his distinct guitar sound.


Disappointment of 2013

I never really had a disappointment so to speak as every release I had hopes for delivered. There was one release however that deserves to be mentioned and this is the proper place for it.

Bret Michaels: This album is a complete and utter train wreck. Not even in the way that you can’t stop listening. This is pure 100% Shit, and I am a Poison/Bret fan. It is all over the map and with the special guests it should have been a stellar release. Avoid this release at all costs.

Predictions for 2014

Led Zeppelin Reissues: Page has been hard at work prepping the Zep catalog for re-release this year. Hope these are done correctly and he used the original analogue master tapes and they are issued on LP.

Steel Panther’s All You Can Eat album: I have been a fan since the day I heard them. These guys are extremely talented and the music is good time party music. Hopes for a killer third album.


Blues Pills: Their debut EP DEVIL MAN was amazing. I am really excited to hear a full length album from them later this year.

Packaging Of The Year

EvilG gave me this idea in reference to my LP purchasing. For those of you that do not know, I am a vinyl guy. This year (on RSD to be precise) I became more serious about my buying and all my music purchases from that point were on LP (except where LP wasn’t an option). G suggested that I let the readers know my favorite pressing of the year. Here goes…..

Without a doubt the single coolest pressing I bought this year was the recent Black Friday press of Ghost’s debut album which came on White and transparent Blue vinyl. The split was right down the center and looks very nice.


I also have to mention that Music On Vinyl did some remarkable pressings this past year, especially the Faith No More catalog with limited colored pressings of each. The ‘Epic’ Green for THE REAL THING was beautiful. They should also be commended for their double purple edition of the Mother Love Bone compilation. It sounds as good as it looks as did the Rory Gallagher KICKBACK CITY compilation complete with postcards and comic novel.



For ‘New’ releases the silver press of the Black Star Riders 2LP debut set stood out amongst the pact, especially with it’s mirror-like gatefold cover.


I could not do this without mentioning Nuclear Blast. I ordered many nice, colorful editions from them. The white Death Angel, blue Blues Pills EP, along with colored Orchid and Kadavar.


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Best of 2013 – Waspman

January 18th, 2014
by Metal Rules

Best of 2013 – Waspman

1. Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess

Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess

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 - Nemesis

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’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

Carcass Reunion

Carcass Carcass


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.

Best EP

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.

Best Book

Martin Popoff – Scorpions, Top of the Bill

Martin Popoff – Scorpions, Top of the Bill

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

  1. The death of Jeff Hanneman: R.I.P. Jeff. Thanks for your many riffs and songs that will live on.
  2. 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?
  3. 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

  1.  New kick ass Judas Priest album: Here’s hoping the fresh blood in the band returns them to making kick-ass heavy metal.
  2. New W.A.S.P. album: C’mon Blackie! It’s been four years since BABYLON…hit us with some new music already!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


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Best of 2013 – Aaron Yurkiewicz

January 18th, 2014
by Aaron Yurkiewicz

 Best of 2013 – Aaron Yurkiewicz




Most reunion albums suck, or at the very least, disappoint. Carcass bucked that trend this year with an album that defied the expectations of fans and critics alike. Conceived and recorded in a level of secrecy that probably only Edward Snowden had knowledge of, SURGICAL STEEL could’ve easily been a by-the-numbers nostalgia trip. But nay, Jeff Walker and Bill Steer delivered an album that not only holds up amazingly well alongside classics like HEARTWORK and NECROTICISM, but did so in a way that sounded fresh, inspired, and most importantly, relevant in 2013. Despite an almost 20 year absence from the studio, SURGICAL STEEL reintroduces Carcass to the music scene without skipping a beat. So many exceptional tracks and even more exceptional riffs, SURGICAL STEEL is a flawless record. Can’t wait to hear these tunes live when Carcass hits the road in the Spring.

2. Exhumed – NECROCRACY



Exhumed is the Carcass of this generation, and NECROCRACY is their HEARTWORK. Seamlessly bridging the gore metal days of their past with a dose of social consciousness and a casket full of Maiden licks, NECROCRACY is death metal perfection that is second only to the godfathers of gore themselves.




In a year full of phenomenal doom records, MORE CONSTANT THAN THE GODS is the most mournful, sorrowful, gut wrenchingly heavy of them all. It’s far from you typical doom metal album, but then again, SubRosa is anything but typical. Combining the heaviest of dirges with a dual pronged violin attack and a siren’s call, this album will make you rethink everything you know about the genre.

 4. Windhand – SOMA

This album is so f@#king heavy. Traditional doom at its dreariest; what more do you need?

 5. Cathedral – THE LAST SPIRE

These UK doom legends exited the music scene as heavy and unapologetically melancholy as they entered it 20 some years ago. As much as I love this band and as sad as I was to see them go, THE LAST SPIRE is the perfect epitaph for Cathedral.


Orchid released a better Black Sabbath album this year than Black Sabbath did themselves. It’s still 1974 on this record, and it’s awesome.

7. Vista Chino – PEACE

Kyuss is dead. Long live Vista Chino!


This album came out at least 8 months ago, and I’m still listening to it, singing along to every track. F@#k the internet, this album is every bit a triumph.

9. Queensrÿche – QUEENSRŸCHE

Once upon a time Queensrÿche was one of my favorite bands, and this album reminded me why. While Geoff Tate continues to milk the nostalgia circuit for all it’s worth, Michael Wilton and crew focused on writing an album that was the equivalent of makeup sex between the band and their fan base. Shaking off the memories of crappy alt rock albums and cabaret shows, QUEENSRŸCHE is a reset for the band and those that still care.

 10. Deicide – IN THE MINDS OF EVIL

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Men like Glen Benton, that is. Often imitated but never duplicated, IN THE MINDS OF EVIL is Deicide doing what they do best.



 13. Watain – THE WILD HUNT

 14. Gorguts – COLOURED SANDS

 15. Black Sabbath – 13

16. Pestilence – OBSIDEO

17. Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals – WALK THROUGH EXITS ONLY



20. Shallow Grave – SHALLOW GRAVE


Best EP:

Fuck the Facts – AMER

Fuck the Facts – AMER

Fuck the Facts – AMER

These Canadian purveyors of Grindcore continue to impress with each release, but AMER is their most impressive yet. Introducing a degree of melody and technical intricacy to their frenzied blasts of hostility, AMER grabs your attention and then smacks you upside the head with it.

Best Live Album

Testament – Dark Roots of Thrash

Testament – Dark Roots of Thrash

Testament – Dark Roots of Thrash

What’s better than a Testament double live album? Not a damn thing, that’s what. Yeah, the band sounds great here, but the setlist is a fan’s wet dream. DARK ROOTS OF THRASH has the mandatory classics from the first two albums, newer material from DARK ROOTS OF EARTH, and a handful of deep cuts thrown in for good measure. But if their performance of “D.N.R.” doesn’t make you want to punch a wall, then you’re just not human.

Best DVD




Despite my lack of enthusiasm for 13, and despite Ozzy’s lack of awareness as to what song he’s singing at any given moment, there’s still an undeniable magic that happens when Ozzy, Butler, and Iommi get on stage together. Factor in that Tommy Clufetos looks like a younger version of Bill Ward and a decent setlist, and you’ve got yourself a good time.

Honorable Mention: Roomba Cat Dressed Like a Shark

Okay, it’s not “technically” a DVD, but you’ve got to admit that a cat dressed like a shark riding a vacuum cleaner is a metaphor for the kind of rebellion that heavy metal inspires. Ride on, Roomba Cat…Ride On.

Best Concert

Bolt Thrower with Benediction & Jungle Rot (Reggie’s Chicago, IL)

In a sort of death metal pilgrimage, I traveled 1,000 miles to see Bolt Thrower on their 8-date run of the U.S. this year, and I’m totally glad that I did. Hearing the thundering roar of “The IVth Crusade” live was nothing short of a cathartic experience and having fellow UK death metal legends Benediction open the gig was simply icing on the cake.

Discovery of 2013

That the underground death metal scene is indeed alive and well.

While the traditional blood n’ guts scene never really went away, it certainly awoke with a vengeance this year, getting more attention in the press than I can recall in quite some time. There are a lot of great indie labels that are doing a lot of great things right now for the genre, and more and more bands are taking control of their destiny by releasing their wares independently or through vehicles like Bandcamp; it’s a pretty cool time to be a music fan.

Disappointments of 2013

 If there was one album that I desperately wanted to be successful, it was this one. After six years and a load of lead singer drama, Trouble was due some good fortune, but THE DISTORTION FIELD was sadly a hot, hot mess that not even Kyle Thomas could save. Mediocre songwriting, bad production, and zero promotion combined together to create a perfect storm of disappointment around the album. Here’s hoping that Eric Wagner’s debut with The Skull fares better next year.

R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman – Yep, that happened.
 And Speaking of Slayer…Seriously, last year it was drummer drama with Black Sabbath, this year it’s Slayer’s turn? C’mon, nothing against Paul Bostaph, but this whole thing is just getting a bit silly now. Slayer will always be a profitable brand and there’s no signs that it’s gonna go away anytime soon, but without Jeff or Dave Lombardo, I don’t know that I’m all that interested.

Hopes for 2014

My First Trip to Maryland Deathfest – I’m looking forward to my crossing a ton of bands off of my “must see live” bucket list this year. Seeing Candlemass, Tryptikon, My Dying Bride, and Nocturnus all in the same weekend? Count me in.

King Diamond – Seems like King Diamond makes my year end list every year in some capacity, so we’re not gonna break tradition now. We’ve recovered from triple bypass surgery, we’ve hit the European festival circuit, NOW GET IN THE STUDIO ALREADY!!!!!

Some Great Tours Being Announced Already: Carcass, Obituary, Death Angel and Nile are just a few names already scheduled to cross the U.S. in 2014, and it’s still only mid-December as I type this. Horns up for a busy 2014 in the pit.


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Best of 2013 – Erich

January 18th, 2014
by Erich Heintzelman

Best of 2013 – Erich

1. Fates Warning – Darkness In A Different Light

Fates Warning - Darkness In A Different Light

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

Ghost - Infestissumam

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

Reckless Love – Spirit

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

Black Sabbath - 13

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

Circle II Circle – Seasons Will Fall

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

Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell

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

Crashdïet – The Savage Playground

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

Death Angel - The Dream Calls for Blood

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 is:

  • 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"

Iced Earth – “Live In Ancient Kourion”


Testament – Dark Roots of Thrash

Testament – Dark Roots of Thrash

Discovery of 2013

Daylight Robbery
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.

Video Link

Disappointments of 2013

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

  1. New Savatage Album: The new Oliva album was a very welcome compromise, but I say it every year. We need a new Savatage album.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Best of 2013 – Metalette

January 18th, 2014
by Metalette

Best of 2013 – Metalette

Top 3 Releases:

1. Finntroll – Blodsvept



The best album of the year, in my humble-but-educated opinion, is Finntroll’s Blodsvept. It’s quirky, it’s evil, it’s heavy, and it’s musically rich. As you expect with Finntroll, there’s a colorful array of  instruments used throughout the entire album, coupled with satisfyingly heavy guitar and bass. And vocalist Mathias “Vreth” Lillmåns keeps it brutal with his excellent growls. Quite a few of the songs are dark, letting Finntroll’s black metal tendencies really shine through, but there are also the more folksy songs that define their trademark sound. Some of my favorite tracks include “Mordminnen”, “Skogsdotter”, “Skӧvlarens Dӧd”, and “När Jättar Marschera”, but the whole album is a gem.

2. Månegarm – Legions of the North

Månegarm – Legions of the North

Månegarm – Legions of the North

Legions of the North from Månegarm is a brilliant album. When it was first released I pretty much  listened to it in its entirety non-stop for a good long while. It’s the kind of album that makes everything feel like an epic adventure when you listen to it. It’s chock-full of noble, folksy riffs, winter-heathen lyrics, and incredibly catchy choruses. What make this album especially spectacular, to me, are the vocals of Erik Grawsiӧ. He can growl like a beast (no pun intended) but also, man can he sing! He’s got a powerful, rock’n’roll voice, with a strong range. My favorite tracks on this masterpiece are: “Sons of  War”, “Hordes of Hel”, and “Eternity Awaits”.

3. Turisas – Turisas2013

Turisas – Turisas2013

Turisas – Turisas2013

Turisas’ aptly-named album Turisas2013 sparked a lot of controversy with fans, from the album art,  the title, and the music itself. But guess what? I love it. It’s great. And it’s 100% Turisas. It’s not folk  metal, people, it’s something entirely different and it stands by itself in a little, one-band genre that  we endearingly call battle metal. This new album brings us more clean vocals than ever from vocalist Mathias “Warlord” Nygård, and they sound fantastic. The lyrics are meaningful and clever, and the music is ever-triumphant. To name a few of my favorite tracks; “We Ride Together”, “Ten More Miles”,  and “Piece by Piece”.

Best EP

Equilibrum – Waldschrein

Equilibrum – Waldschrein

Equilibrum – Waldschrein

In their newest EP, Equilibrium gives a 5-song taste of their past, present, and future music – and it  all tastes really good. They re-recorded their song “Der Sturm” for the EP, and it sounds better than ever, and is about as noble as it could possibly be. “Zwergenhammer” is also an older song, that was actually never released, but clearly not because it wasn’t a great song. Then there’s “Waldschrein”, the title track, which is the uplifting sound you expect from Equilibrium. It’s fresh but still heavily retains their style, and is complemented by an instrumental version which is just as good and really showcases Equilibrium’s mastery of melodies and exotic instruments. Man, I love them. The Waldschrein EP is  an exciting peek into whatever Equilibrium has cooking for their next album; it’s gonna be good. And how could I forget to mention the cover of the Skyrim theme on the EP, called “Himmelsrand”? Only  Equilibrium could take a song so epic already and make it more epic – epic enough to out-epic other  epics.

Best TV Show

Vikings –
History Channel took us all by surprise this year with their first-ever scripted series, Vikings. This show is SO metal. The sense of brutal realism is a breath of fresh air, compared to so many TV shows that sugar-coat everything, and always have the main characters doing “the right thing”. History’s Vikings holds  nothing back; they kill Christians, burn villages, kill each other, cheat on each other, sacrifice each other to the gods…the show has it all, plus a strong and visually-appealing cast. (Hello, Rollo!) The show even  features Wardruna’s music in an episode, which is just so legit. The whole show is legit. Catch up on it  now, in time for the second season!

Best Movie

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem

Metalocalypse: The Doomstar Requiem

We waited so long for this. Metalocalypse’s very own Klok Opera, The Doomstar Requiem – an hour-long  special that finally answered the burning question of, “what happened to Toki??” While there are a lot of serious moments in the movie, Dethklok’s usual antics are peppered throughout, starting right from  the beginning with their song “Partying Around the World”. All your favorite characters are featured, with some great cameos, and hell, George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher does the vocals for the Masked Metal  Assassin! What more do you want? An adorable song from Toki? There’s one of those indeed, called “I  Believe” which, in fact, I proudly have on my iPod and belt-out along with in my car. The best part of the  movie is, though, that it sets Metalocalypse up for a FIFTH SEASON. Ohhh yes.

Best Concert

Turisas “Guards of Glory North American Tour 2013”

BestConcert.TurisasChoosing the best concert of the year is like choosing between cute cat-gifs on Tumblr – they’re ALL too amazing to pick just one. When pressed, however, I have decided that the best show I saw, for various  reasons, was Turisas on their North American tour earlier this year. This was before they came out with  their new album, Turisas2013 (which you’ll notice I chose as one of the best albums of the year…little did I know, when I saw them in March). Why was their show my favorite? First of all, these guys KNOW  showmanship, inside-and-out. They go all-out, with their red and black warpaint, and fur and chain-mail accented clothes. Their music is fantastic live, and oh-so sing-along-able. They’re extremely personable to their fans, and frontman Mathias “Warlord” Nygård completely breaks the fourth wall. When I saw them, it was a fairly small crowd compared to what they normally play (Florida, ok?) so there was a casual, intimate feel to the whole show. Mathias talked…a LOT. And it was very entertaining, especially considering he kept a steady flow of alcohol into his body through his entire performance; so naturally he got more and more entertaining. In fact, after a joking request that the audience do so, members of  the crowd started bringing Turisas drinks from the bar – which the band gladly received! So, all factors included, Turisas’ show tops my list for the bands I saw this year. At the end of their show, they showed the audience an immense appreciation, and shook the hands of as many fans as they could reach – I  personally have never touched so many sweaty Finnish guys in one night! ….hey, get your mind out of the gutter!

Best Local Band


This beardy group of guys is a truly unique band in the LA metal scene. The blending of melodic death with pagan undertones gives this California band the sound of quality, European metal. Their music is original and professional, with nothing out of joint, yet their melodies are often delightfully  unpredictable. They include clean choruses alongside their predominant, strong growls, and mix evil heaviness with refreshing upbeat sections. And having 6 members in the band allows for a lot of technical goodies and general fun, including call-and-response segments between guitar and keyboard when Sirion performs live. They’re altogether a talented, one-of-a-kind band that stands out in a scene of so many noisy, cookie-cutter bands, so I’m very proud to say that Sirion is LA’s very own.

Best New Band


Finnish band Vorna got their start this year with the release of Ajastaika. They’ve got a symphonic, black metal sound, with a lot of fun folksy elements thrown in. One of their biggest strengths is their vocalist,  Vesa Salovaara. His vocals range from deep, growly lows, to throat-ripping highs, and, though used sparingly, great clean vocals as well. Vorna uses a huge array of instruments on their album, and each song seems to feature different sounds, like harps, accordions, tolling bells, organs, flutes, and more.

Vorna also throws in acoustic guitar picking and strumming in truly unique and surprising ways. I’m excited to see how their sound develops in future albums!


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Best of 2013 – Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs

January 18th, 2014
by UK Team

Best of 2013 – Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs

Top Metal Albums

1. Dream Theater – Dream Theater

Dream Theater - Dream Theater

Dream Theater – Dream Theater

Epic, inventive, majestic – Dream Theater have spun the wheel of prog once again and hit upon another winning combination. In an album of concise bites (you could almost say accessible except that Dream Theater don’t hold anyone’s hand) there remains an ambitious multi-part opus that only Dream Theater, with their musical dexterity, could  make sense of.

2. Motorhead – Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD - Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD – Aftershock

After Lemmy’s recent healthscares, Aftershock feels even more precious. There’s a powerful hope that it’s not the last Motorhead album because it’s a reminder of how great this band is. It’s classic Motorhead – we don’t want anything ‘new’ – we want the sound that made this band so great, and Aftershock captures that.

3. Black Sabbath – 13
4. Phil H Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only
5. Voivod – Target Earth
6. Vried – Welcome Farewell
7. Airbourne – Black Dog Barking
8. Venomous Maximus – Beg Upon The Light
9. Victor Griffin’s In-Graved – S/T
10. Protest The Hero – Volition
11. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
12. Tombstone Highway – Ruralizer
13. Civil War – The Killer Angels
14. Ghost – Infestissumam
15. Evile – Skull
16. DevilDriver – Winter Kills
17. Red Fang – Whales & Leeches
18. Black Spiders – This Savage Land

Top Rock Albums

1. Clutch – Earth Rocker

What can I say except that Clutch continue to surpass themselves, having outpaced everyone else a long time ago. They manage to do something different with every album, yet it’s always tight, fluid, and Clutch. I don’t think there’s a band doing more to keep rock ‘n’ roll relevant and Earth Rocker is a great example of that.

2. Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose


Best live album

Devin Townsend – The Retinal Circus

Best EP

Philip H. Anselmo/Warbeast – War Of The Gargantuas

Best covers album

Anthrax – Anthems

Best Rock DVD

Rush – Clockwork Angels

Best rock concert

Clutch, UK

Best film

Metallica – Through The Never

Major events in metal

  • All the Slayer sadness – Jeff Hanneman’s tragic death and Dave Lombardo’s exit
  • Randy Blythe’s acquittal
  • Joey Jordison departs Slipknot
  • Lemmy’s health issues reminding us of the vulnerability of our giants

Predictions for 2014

  • We might see a few more festivals going under in the UK – not the big names (Download, Bloodstock – and hopefully not Sonisphere) – but more of the grassroots festivals, which will be a massive shame.
  • I hope that the rumours about a new Tool album are founded and we get a tour as well.

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Best of 2013 – Hellias Papadopoulos

January 18th, 2014
by Metal Rules

Best of 2013 – Hellias Papadopoulos


1. Mystic Prophecy- Killhammer

Mystic Prophecy - Killhammer

2. Black Sabbath-13

Black Sabbath - 13

Black Sabbath – 13

 3. Carcass- Surgical Steel



 4. Avatarium-Avatarium

 5. Dream Theater- Dream Theater

 6. Gorguts-Colored Sands

 7. Rotting Christ- Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy

 8. Warbringer- IV: Empires Collapse

 9. Hatesphere-Murderlust

 10. Exarsis-The Brutal State

 11. Airbourne-Black Dog Barking

 12. Queensryche-Queensryche

 13. Deicide-In The Minds of Evil

 14. Kataklysm-Waiting For the End to Come

 15. Satan’s Wrath-Aeons of Satan’s Reign

 16.  Onslaught-VI

 17. Sodom- Epitome of Torture

 18. Artillery-Legions

 19. Evile-Skull


Best Rock Album of 2013

The Answer-New Horizon


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Best of 2013 – Brat

January 18th, 2014
by Brat

Best of 2013 – Brat

1. Vandroya – One

Vandroya – One

Vandroya – One

2. Powerwolf – Preachers of the Night

3. Suidakra – Eternal Defiance

4. Masterplan – Novum Initium

5. Tyr – Valkyrja

6. Jorn – Symphonic

7. Human Fortress – Raided Land

8. Avantasia – The Mystery of Time

9. Helloween – Straight Out of Hell

10. Poetica – Somnus Tormentum

11. Lord – Digital Lies

12. Rhapsody of Fire – Dark Wings of Steel

13. Galneryus – The Ironhearted Flag Vol. 1: Regeneration Side

14. Artlantica – Across the Seven Seas

15. Almah – Unfold

16. Turisas – Turisas2013

17. Satyricon – Satyricon

18. Dragonsclaw – Judgement Day

19. Reinxeed – A New World

20. Stryper – More Hell to Pay


Best Live Album

Rhapsody of Fire – From Chaos to Eternity

Best EP

Powerwolf – The Rockhard Sacrement

Best Remake album

Nation – Without Remorse (remaster)

Best DVD

Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live

Best Concert

Festival: Firefest X, Nottingham, England

Large venue: Sabaton & Nightwish Enmore Theatre, Sydney Australia

Best Industrial

Unzucht – Rosenkreuzer

Best stoner rock

Mustasch – Sounds Like Hell, Looks Like Heaven

Best rock/AOR/soft metal/hard-rock – whatever you want to call it

Pink Cream 69 – Ceremonial

Best new band

Vandroya (Brazil)

Best Discovery

Had a spiritual live experience at Firefest X with The Magnificent; H.E.A.T.; and Eclipse.


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Best of 2013 – Marko Syrjala

January 18th, 2014
by Marko Syrjala

Best of 2013 – Marko Syrjala

1. Carcass: Surgical Steel



I was never expecting to hear a new music from Carcass but I’m gladly wrong here. SURGICAL STEEL presents the hungry and a merciless-sounding band which is in unbelievably tight shape. The album is full of killer songs and Jeff Walker still growls like back in the day.

2. Motorhead: Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD - Aftershock

MOTÖRHEAD – Aftershock

Lemmy Kilmister has lately been headlines other but musical reasons but the fact is that AFTERSHOCK is another masterpiece from the legends. Many people do think that if you’ve heard one Motorhead album you’ve then heard them all but that’s not true at all. Although there are all the Motorhead elements needed on the album, AFTERSHOCK is different to its predecessors, definitely. The album is a bit slower and it shows the bands bluesy side which is often forgotten. If you don’t believe, check it out by yourself.

3. Annihilator: Feast

FEAST is Annihilator’s strongest release in years and definitely the best album from the Dave Padden era.

Annihilator - FEAST

Annihilator – FEAST

4. Stratovarius: Nemesis

Stratovarius have been more or less lost since the breakup with Timo Tolkki. NEMESIS is the third album released without him and now it sounds like the band has finally get over it. NEMESIS is the best album from Stratovarius in over 20 years.

5. Black Sabbath: 13

Talk about album with enormous expectations here… Fu***n Black Sabbath releases new album with Ozzy after 35 years and the results are… very mediocre. The album is full of slow or mid-tempo songs and most of the material is just forgettable. Unfortunately.

6. Avantasia: The Mystery of Time

MYSTERY OF TIME is another strong release from Sammett and co. It’s more straight forward album than its predecessors and goes high in my Avantasia album rank.

7. Pretty Maids: Motherland

MOTHERLAND is a great follow-up for PANDENOMIUM and one of the best hard rock albums released in 2013.

8. Krokus: Dirty Dynamite

Not as good as HOODOO was but still a solid release from the Switzerland’s finest.

9. Queensryche: Queensryche

After 25 years of disappointing releases this was a great effort from Queensryche. It’s going to be interesting to follow where the band goes next from this?

 10. Dream Theater: Dream Theater

A decent release from the prog metal kings and better than DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS but far from the glory days still.

11. Airbourne: Black Dog Barking

The curse of the third album? Nah, BLACK DOG BARKING is another good, straight head rock album from the Aussies. The new album is not even close of rate of their brilliant debut but it doesn’t lose an inch for the second album.

12. Helloween: Straight Out Of Hell

STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL is solid but a bit neutral release from Helloween. Hopefully there will be more variations and new ideas on the next releases?

13. Saxon: Sacrifice

There’s nothing wrong with new Saxon disc either but it’s just another good album on the bands long list of releases.

14. Death Angel: The Dream Calls for Blood

A positive surprise from these guys. I kind of lost interest after boring KILLING SEASON but this one sounded great.

15. U.D.O: Steelhammer

Sometimes the bands do changes when they have to and sometimes bands do changes when they want to. Don’t know how it was with U.D.O but after recent line-up changes they now released the best U.D.O album in years.

16. Megadeth: Super Collider

This album has been bashed more than anything what Megadeth has ever released. But it’s not that bad album really. There are several decent songs there and as a whole it’s a way better than A WORLD NEED A HERO or RISK.

17. Children of Bodom: Halo of Blood

HALO OF BLOOD is another decent release from the Finns. Nothing spectacular though.

18. Stryper: No More Hell to Pay

Easily the bands best post re-union album. Melodic 80’s hard rock/metal at its best.

19. Queensryche feat. Geoff Tate: Frequently Unknown

A way better release than its reputation but why there are so many unnecessary re-recordings of QR classics on the album?

20. Amorphis: Circle

There’s nothing wrong with this release either but seems that the band is just repeating itself too much nowadays. Time for a change?


1. Michael Monroe: Horns and Halos

HORNS AND HALOS is a follow-up to Michael’s “successful” comeback album SENSORE OVERDRIVE which was released two years ago. Guitarist and main songwriter Ginger is gone and he’s now been replaced with Swedish Dregen (Backyard Babies). The new album does not quite reach the level of its predecessor but it’s definitely worth to check out because there isn’t too many bands/artists left on this genre who are still capable to release such a great music.

2.Deep Purple: Now What?

NOW WHAT? was a pleasant surprise from the veterans. After a few somewhat disappointing albums, it’s definitely something different from the band. Probably it’s because of legendary producer Bob Ezrin who now worked the first time with Purple.

3.Black Star Riders: All Hell Breaks Loose

I had huge expectations for this and it’s a good album. The problem is that it’s not great, just good…

4.Stone Sour: House of Gold & Bones 2

Stone Sour is one of those bands which I have found later on and I currently own all of their albums. As a whole “HOUSE OF GOLD & BONES 2 is perhaps the strongest album from the band to date.

5.Buckcherry: Confessions

Buckcherry is always been one of my favorite bands from the late 90’s. It’s great to hear that after a little disappointing ALL NIGHT LONG the band is now back on track.

6. The Winery Dogs: The Winery Dogs

If band called Winery Dogs does not ring any bells for you should still recognize at least some of the following names: Mike Portnoy, Billy Sheenan and Richie Kotzen. The Winery Dogs is “a supergroup” and its self-titled debut is mostly very nice album to listen to.

7. Alice In Chains: The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

AIC is another band which I started to listen to only a few years ago. BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE was an excellent comeback album from the band but this one is not far behind it.

8. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

It’s not another HELLBILLY DELUXE but better than some other Zombie albums. A kind of “back to roots” release in a good way.


Scorpions: Live at Athens

In fact this was the only live album I purchased in 2013. Acoustic releases can be sometimes be boring and sound like forcibly made but this one is a pleasant exception here. First of all, the band sounds great, as always. But the main reason to pick up this great album are the songs. There are a lot of songs from the bands entire career included which have never been played live by the Scorpions before.


Skid Row: United World Rebellion: Chapter One

Honestly, I don’t buy too many EP’s but with this one I did exception. Of course, this EP sounds nothing like the first two Skid Row albums but it’s a way better than almost disastrous REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE a few ago. If nothing else, it definitely gives hope from better future of the band.


Anthrax: Anthems

Like with EP’s I don’t usually buy covers albums neither but did have one exception.  Anthrax is always been a very successful with cover songs choices and Anthems doesn’t make any exception here. From surprising Boston song “Smomin” ‘till a rough rendition of AC/DC classic “T.N.T” Anthrax does make ‘em all sound like Anthrax itself.


KISS: Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)

There wasn’t too many great metal/rock books released last year but his one.  The book chronicles the crucial formative years of KISS, culminating with the groundbreaking success of their classic 1975 album Alive! The book includes interviews with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, as well as with producers; engineers; management; record company and other related people.


1. JUDAS PRIEST: Epitaph
This time there was really tight fight between these so I decided to share victory between the two  Nearly two and a half hour DVD includes songs from every Rob Halford era Judas Priest album. Highlights include rarely played “Blood Red Skies” and “Never Satisfied” and of course all mandatory Priest classics. Well filmed and produced DVD from one of the best metal bands ever.

2. NIGHTWISH: Showtime, Storytime
Nightwish have gone through numerous changes during the last two years. Especially their latest “Imaginaerum” -tour turned out much differently than they or anybody else could have anticipated. Nevertheless, this DVD is great to watch. New vocalist Floor Jansen gets the job done in style and the band plays as tight as always. The second DVD includes nearly two hour long documentary called “Please Learn the Setlist in 48 Hours” and it’s truly interesting material to watch too.


That Metal Show
Excellent interviews and interesting quests night after night.


There were tons of great shows last year but these three were the most memorable ones.

1. KISS: Kiss Kruise III, Caribbean
Finally the band listened its fans and played a set list what truly was a dream come true for many long-term followers. “Almost Human”, “The Oath” and “Anything For My Baby” had never been played live until now and set also included many rarely played classics like “Let Me Know”, “Ladies In Waiting” and “Mainline”. This was easily one of the best performances from the band in ages.

2. KING DIAMOND: Tuska-Festival, Helsinki
King Diamond returned to stages last year after a long hiatus. It can’t be denied that King’s amazing performance in Swedenrock was something to remember, it was just perfect but… although King now performed in full daylight this one was even better. Hail the King!

3.  ALICE COOPER, Seminole Hard Rock Casino, Ft. Lauderdale
I haven’t seen indoor Cooper show in few years and this was definitely worth to check out. A lot of things had now changed since the last time. A reinvented band, a new stage show and pleasant surprises on the set list. What more you can ask?


Winery Dogs:  Hopefully the band will stay together and we can hear more releases from them in the future. The world needs “supergroups” ;)


Deaths:  I know I’m repeating myself here but once again there were lot of sad news announced in metal community. A lot of great musicians joined the celestial band last year. Jeff Hanneman, Clive Burr, Trevor Bolder… the list goes on and on.


MORE REUNIONS:  There are a few interesting re-unions already on the way. Norwegian hard rock legends TNT is one of those and I can’t wait to see the band with Tony Harnell in charge once again. Also it’s going to be interesting what’s going to happen with KISS after the Hall of Fame ceremony… AND what’s even more interesting is that maybe Vinnie Vincent is finally activating next year… :)

NEW RELEASES:  There are many interesting new albums coming out next year. If everything goes as planned we will have new albums from such names as: Jake E. Lee, Accept, Judas Priest, Anthrax and Ace Frehley. It’s going to be another good year for METAL!

GREAT TOURS AND FESTIVALS:  Next year will be really busy. There are again tons of great festivals in Europe on the summer. Swedenrock, Hellfest, Download, Tuska etc etc. Lot of fun indeed. And of course there will be individual tours from many great bands.


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Madness Of the Night – Guitarist Daniel Dante

January 18th, 2014
by Anders Sandvall


Guitarist Daniel Dante – Madness Of the Night

Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall

Thanks to Tom Hack for setting up the interview.
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing the promo pics.

Madness Of the Night is a Swedish goth/dark wave duo that released their debut album THE ASGARDA in November 2013. Since the duo have a bit of an unusual background I thought it would be nice to learn a bit more about them and their music. I hooked up with Daniel Dante former members of the Swedish gothmetal act Soulgrinder, and here is what he had to say. Read the rest of this entry »


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James Munro of 4ARM

January 18th, 2014
by Infamous Butcher

James Munro of 4ARM

Interview by InfamousButcher

Photos by SheWolf

Interviewed on November 29, 2013 at the
Slayer / Gojira / 4ARM show in Camden, NJ

DSC_0065 Read the rest of this entry »


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Lamb of God / Killswitch Engage / Testament / Huntress live at the Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

January 18th, 2014
by Infamous Butcher

Lamb of God / Killswitch Engage / Testament / Huntress

Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
November 24, 2013

Review by InfamousButcher, Photos by SheWolf

Tour poster Read the rest of this entry »


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Posted in 2013, Concert Reviews, Heavy Metal | Comments (0)

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