Hammer of Doom News Report 12.25.13: Top 50 Metal Albums of 2013 (#50-#31)
Posted by Robert Cooper on 12.25.2013
From Queensryche's self titled album to Clutch's Earth Rocker and Killswitch Engage's Disarm the Descent, 411's Robert Cooper gives you the first 20 entries in his Top 50 Metal Albums of 2013!
Welcome, Metal Faithful, to the hap, hap, happiest place since Bing Crosby danced with Danny fucking Kaye, the Hammer of Doom! I, as always, am your host, the metal missionary, hobo Jesus, and Mr. Fun-Time himself, Robert Cooper! This week has been one of those weeks that I needed; after nearly a month straight of papers and presentations, I took last week to just kick my feet up and recharge my batteries. I just played video games, watched toku, and did a podcast or two. Granted, if I had a job, I couldn't do that, and I want a job, but it's good to be able to just rest the mind a bit.
Now as for this week's column, it's pretty different from the typical fare that we have here on the HoD. If you go back almost a year, you'll remember that I did a 3 week, "Best of 2012", column where I put the news to the side to talk about all the metal that was released over the year and what I felt was the best. It's back again this year, and if I had more time you'd have gotten a Top 75 albums, because it was painful cutting some of these albums out of the list. I'll probably give my thoughts on some of those albums in the last column, but below are my picks for my favorite metal albums of 2013. Some of these picks are iffy in terms of how metal they are, but that's a debate for the comment section, so without any further ado, let's get this boat a rowing!
Row row row your boat, then list for...
THE CRIES FROM THE CRYPT!
This section will be back in a week or so, I have so much writing to do for the main part, I didn't have time to read news this week!
I do apologize, but I'll make up for it with....
THE PSALMS FOR THE DEAD!
THE TOP 50 ALBUMS OF 2013!
Before we start, make sure to click each album title for each number, because I have embedded a link to a youtube video that will give you a listen in to the bands that don't have youtube videos embedded in the column. Enjoy, and please, give me some feedback, I want to know what you all think about the list! \m/
It's safe to say that last year's metal news was dominated by Queensryche and the band's feud with former singer Geoff Tate. In 2013 we got to see the aftermath of that fued as Geoff Tate released his own Queensryche album titled, 'Frequency Unknown', and it was a festering pile of radioactive ape shit. It was sad to see who he roped into the project, as anything positive in that album was muddled by Geoff Tate's shot voice. That came out in April, so come June we got to see what the original (and in my mind, the true) Queensryche put out. I would say that on first reaction, it was a damn nice breath of fresh air. This album was pretty aggressive, much more than the the parts of their work that I have heard in my days of trying to get into Queensryche. I'll admit that quest didn't end that well, I like Queensryche, but they've never really tripped my trigger. This album is working some magic and making me pay more attention to them, though, I will say that. This is their first album with Todd La Torre, who they got from Crimson Glory, and I would say that he is a fine replacement for Geoff Tate. He has power and a good voice to him, though I will say that I felt that on this album, the production made his voice sound almost autotuned due to how clean it was. I feel like his inclusion into the band has revitalized the band for the most part, and they sound like they're on their top game for this album. Though I do have one complaint that really did bug me when I finished this album. It's really short, in my opinion. It only breaks the 35 minute mark by 3 seconds, which is good on one hand, because it allows for focus, but it also makes it to where the songs don't have an epic quality to them, and I feel like with who they have in the band now, they can allow for an attempt at an epic sound. But maybe they'll leave that for next time, because for the first time in my life, I am actually excited to hear what Queensryche have to offer with their next album!
Best Tracks: "Where Dreams Go to Die", "Redemption", "Don't Look Back", "Open Road".
49. Hypocrisy- 'End of Disclosure'
Here is an album that I was looking forwards to as soon as I heard that it was coming out. Hypocrisy are one of the bands that I discovered through former 411 writer Dan Haggerty's "The Mosh Pit" column (go find his columns, those columns are the whole reason why I'm here and how I know so much about metal), and as soon as I heard them, I was in love. I think that they came in a time in my life where I needed Melodic Death metal, because at the time I was starting to wean myself off of metalcore because I was getting bored of it and the fanbase surrounding it. In came bands like Hypocrisy, At the Gates, Dark Tranquility, and Arch Enemy. The two genres do have a common thread and I used that common thread to become a more whole metalhead. Now back to this album, the melodeath isn't quite as strong as it has been in their previous affairs. It's still there, have no doubt, this is still a melodic death metal album, but there are also elements of more classic death metal, as well. I'm honestly surprised at how good this album is after going back and listening to it, because March is an eternity when you're doing year end awards. In a year that is more or less dominated by one genre, it's amazing to me that an album that was released barely a quarter of the way into the year can still impress me like it did when I first listened to it. I don't know why I'm so surprised, considering the quality that I see Hypocrisy as, but still, nine months is a long time to remember an album and this was so good that there is no way I can forget it a second time!
Best Tracks: "Tales of The Spineless", "Hell is Where I Stay", "Soldier of Fortune", "The Return".
48. Mammoth Grinder- 'Underworlds'
It's not very often that I like bands that mix metal and hardcore, and it's even less often that I like bands that mix death metal and hardcore, because that typically makes deathcore, but Mammoth Grinder manage to pull a Hatebreed and separate the two genres enough to where it doesn't fit in the -core category. I feel like that is where the album shines, when you look at what the band is doing with all of the elements that encompass their sound, it really shows what the band can do. There are even elements here that even surprised me. In the song, "Moral Crux" listen to that and tell me that it doesn't remind you of something that could have come from Eyehategod with the amount of sludge coming from the song. It's good to see a band still utilizing punk speed and some of the riffing patterns that come with punk, but mutating it with a nice hit of death metal to round everything out. If the album cover couldn't get me into the band, I would definitely say that the music does a superb job of drawing the listener in.
Best Tracks: "Underworlds", "Revenge", "Cogs in the Machine", "Moral Crux".
Here is a band that is on the wrong record label. Anybody want to guess which record label Erimha are on? I assume you've given up by now, the answer was Victory Records. Yeah, the same Victory Records that used to house such shit as Hawthrone Heights and Design the Skyline house a band like this. Granted, they do have bands like Jungle Rot, Wretched, and Pathology, but for the most part, their bands still stink. But back to this good bands here, they are a Canadian Black/Death band, this is a fact. I'll admit that I found this album to be really banking on the beginning and the ending of the album, because while this album is pretty good, the beginning is what is some of the best among the album, and the finale to the album is a sprawling journey that further proves how well black and death metal mix with there being atmospheric passages of black metal atmosphere followed up with brutal death metal fury and it is a wonder to listen to. I feel like that song in and of itself it worth the price of admission alone and really helps cement its' spot upon this list.
Best Tracks: "Enlightenment", "Ascetic", "Saunter to Execution", "Metempsychosis"
Up here is one of those albums that no matter what, I REALLY wanted to talk about it once this time of the year came. Sometimes I feel like when I find a band that is pretty small in terms of fanbase and exposure that it is almost my job to get them better known and try my best to foster their growth. I feel like the band that I treated like this last year was Alunah, because they were a great female fronted doom metal band who deserved exposure. This year, I got much deeper into the metal underground and I have 9 bands on this list that I feel like are those bands. Even though one of those bands has been around forever and released albums, I've not heard of them before or since, and they deserve a push. But back to the band at hand, Abomnium is run by a man named sapient and he has crafted something truly dark and wonderful. The band throws together black metal, death metal, and thrash metal and comes out with the most wonderfully evil smoothie. I find it fascinating that one man can come up with all the ideas that it takes to make up a band, not just any band, a good black metal band. Sure black metal isn't the only genre being used here, but I feel like black metal is the predominant genre and it requires a lot of atmosphere to work correctly. Typically it takes more than one person to build a good atmosphere for black metal, but sapient pulls it off well and I commend him for it. This album is one of the best black metal albums of this year, and while it is a bit low on this list, this year has been absolutely amazing for metal, so even making this list is an accomplishment in my book.
Best Tracks: "Taint", "Coffinships", "Horde", "Epoch".
Sometimes an album can come to punch you in the face when you least expect it, that is how I would describe my running into this album. This came at the beginning of the year, which in terms of bands with mainstream names and old-school appeal was incredibly barren. Sure, I found a diamond in that rough, but for the most part it was a bunch of mediocre albums, and it really hurt my perception of how this decade was going to turn out. This was one of the few bright spots in that span of time. I honestly wish that this would get the attention that the past few Overkill, Death Angel and Testament album has been getting, because I would say that if this band stays on track, that is could rival the two of them in terms of consistent and great thrash bands with a truly old school feel to them. Sure, Megadeth has some great albums in the last decade (the less said about 'Super Collider' here, the better), and Anthrax released one of THE great albums of this decade in 'Worship Music', there aren't many old school thrash bands that are still running and sounding as good as they did in the 80s. This album has the feel of old school Exodus, which is doing better than current Exodus is in terms of sounding like old school Exodus, oddly enough. That is probably due to former Testament/Exodus singer Steve "Zetro" Souza and the fact that the 2/5 of the band are his sons, Cody and Nick (on bass and drums, respectively). I think this is probably one of the est outcomes of nepotism I've ever seen, and I mean that completely as a compliment, those kids can play, and their guitarists are great, as well. This is a damn good grab for anyone who love the old bay area thrash, especially the ones that aren't the Big 4 like Testament, Exodus, and Overkill. So if you haven't given this a listen, do so now, it's a good decision. Especially if you want to hear a 49 year old sound like he went back in time 20 years.
Best Tracks: "Blood Stained Wings", "The Violent Times of My Dark Passenger", "The Mechanics of Annihilation", "Heroes of Origin".
I think this is one of the few bands that I own a shirt of that I've never listened much to, but I couldn't say no to a $2 shirt. But getting back to that point, I've always enjoyed Suffocation when I heard them, but I always find myself passing up on one of their albums for something else. I think I was at my local used book store, and instead of getting 'Blood Oath' (which was admittedly awesome), I decided to get a Dismember album, and then a Children of Bodom album (it was 'Follow the Reaper' because that one was amazing). So when this album came out, I was pretty excited because that meant that I finally got to experience a Suffocation album in full (you'll hear that phrase a lot over the next three weeks). What was my reaction, you ask? This album felt like it was pushing towards a technical death metal rather than a brutal one, that is my reaction. I know that they fall under both technically (that's what metal-archives says, and since when were they ever wrong?), but I was always under the assumption that they were more often categorized as a brutal death metal band (ala Cannibal Corpse) than a technical death metal band (ala Obscura), but I find that both do find their way through eventually, I was just a bit thrown at first. I think one of my favorites from this album was one that managed to have an intro that was a bit throwing because it was so different. "Sullen Days" had a very mellow intro and outro, and was probably one of the best of the album, and I adore it, if not only for the fact that it maintains that intro just long enough to lull you into a false sense of security. This album is a pretty damn good one, and I felt that it was an omen that we were to be getting more great death metal throughout the year, and boy, was I right!
Best Tracks: "Cycles of Suffering", "As Grace Descends", "Sullen Days", "Pinnacle of Bedlam".
Does anyone else have that one genre that they love to see mixed with everything else? Mine is by far thrash metal. It seems like almost seems to me like no matter what other genre they throw into the metal blender, it always ends up pretty well done. This album, hell, this band is proof of that. Blackened thrash metal is one of my favorite subsubgenres and this band is the reason why. I liken them very much to AC/DC, Motorhead, Amon Amarth or Toxic Holocaust in that those bands pretty great even though they are pretty easy to sum up in one song, yet their entire discography could be that song, for the most part. This album should be too hard to sum up then, should it? In all truth, it's really not, this is very much the same Skeletonwitch that we heard on 'At One With the Shadows', they are biting, fast, and deadly and honestly sounding like they are just as hungry as they were back then. Though now I will say that the bite is much more potent now due to better production values, but for the most part, they are the same Skeletonwitch that we all know and love, and I don't think we need to ask for anything more. Though maybe a few more slow intros like, "More Cruel Than Weak" would be nice, seeing as that song is by far one of the best of the album and does a great job of making the track more vibrant because of it.
Best Tracks: "Serpents Unleashed", "Blade on the Flesh, Blood on My Hands", "Born of the Light that Does Not Shine", "More Cruel Than Weak".
I think this is one of the odder bands on my list, because to my recollection, I don't have many sludge metal bands on the list. I, of course, could be wrong, but sludge isn't a genre that I often flock to since it is to me a more repetitive version of the traditional metal template. But this album managed to sneak it's way into my heart and I decided to give it a listen. It's funny to me that this band both confirms my assumptions on the genre, but also manages to make me realize more things about it. Sure there is a bit of repetition in the genre, but there are also things that are hiding in the sludge that are a worth the time it takes to find it. A good example of this is the song, "Dreams of Mercy" that manages to includes different tempos and styles that I'd have not heard if I didn't give the album a chance. I think that perhaps the best audience for this album are fans of older Mastodon that miss stuff like, 'Remission'; I find that this band is fairly reminiscent of them at the early point of their careers, and I think that is a fairly flattering comparison. I'll be keeping my eyes on them to see what they do next, as should you!
Best Tracks: "In a Frightening State of Gnawed Dismemberment", "Summon the Faithless", "Dreams of Mercy", "Water Under a Burning Bridge".
Now it's time for me to talk about one of the guiltiest pleasures I have in metal, Killswitch Engage. I still have an incredible fondness for them, even after all of these years (all 6 of them). I think perhaps it's because I have a great nostalgia for them, because they got me into metal, but I think the music holds up beyond nostalgia. While most metalcore outfits have kind of fallen by the wayside for me due to most of them running out of steam, or trying to kill their wives, I feel like bringing back Jesse Leach to the fold is the best thing that they could have done. While I like the second self titled Killswitch Engage album, I feel like it paled in comparison to the album that came out two years after by Times of Grace (which is seriously one of my favorite albums of the decade) which showed that Jesse had much more creatively in the tank than Howard did. I feel like while Howard is still a great singer and has a unique voice, his lyrics were much less positive and tended to focus on the typical cliche metalcore topics, and I think there is only so far that those lyrics can go. But putting the comparisons between the two to rest (because the two can coexist), this album is one of the only that I actually went out and bought this year. Anyone who knows me personally know that I am the master of the pawn shop and king of the cheap ebay find, so me actually going ahead and buying an album when it was still new is a rarity (and I only did it two more times this year). This album is pretty good, and while I do have some bias, I don't think that my bias is affecting my judgement too much here. Though there is a glaring issue with the album that actually will show in my picks for the album, the first half of the album is packed with great tracks and memorable songs, the second half is not nearly as good. Sure, there is still some great fun to be had, and there are some great moments in those songs, it's not nearly as good as the first half. But that first half is stupendous if you ask me, though I wish it were my like 'Alive or Just Breathing' (one of my top 5 albums of all time) where they stretched out the great songs throughout the album and made a better overall product, but you can't win them all. I guess the chorus to the song, "A Tribute to the Fallen" has a good point, "You cannot break this love with hate".
Best Tracks: "The Hell in Me", "Beyond the Flames", "In Due Time", "A Tribute to the Fallen", "Always".
This year is the year of death metal, there is no disputing that, but I feel like there has been another group that have flourished in the year 2013, and that is the newer thrash metal bands that have risen to underground prominence over the past decade, Warbringer are, of course, one of those bands. I had been really worried about thrash this year before the span of a few weeks in October when Warbringer, Toxic Holocaust, and Skeletonwitch released albums around the same time. Combine that with the new Evile and Havok albums that had dropped earlier in the year, and you had almost all of the big new thrash bands releasing in the same year. While some of those albums weren't the best offering (the new Havok was solid, but I found it missing something), almost all of the bands delivered and I feel like this year will be one of thrash's best represented years in a while. This album manages to go a bit beyond what they had in their first three albums, and I think that it worked for them very well. Not everything was turned to 11, there were moments where they slowed down, ala Slayer in the song "South of Heaven" and "Seasons in the Abyss". That is apparent in one of my favorite songs from the album, "Dying Light", it starts out much slower and it makes the faster sections later in the song much more exciting because it had a nice balance to it. While I feel like there are some bands that don't need to change, I think that thrash is one of those genres that allow for slight tweaks to keep things interesting. This album is probably the band's strongest, in my opinion, and I think them changing things up slightly so that the songs are different and have standout moments rather than one giant car bomb of thrash is a good thing in the long run. Now I have to wait to see what they do with the next album, the anticipation is killing me!
Best Tracks: "Horizon", " Hunter-Seeker", "Dying Light", "Tower of the Serpent".
I'm sure that if last year didn't tell you I was a fan of Martin Van Drunen's work, I think the fact that I have him on a list two years in a row might do that. Then again, the guy releases albums like a machine gun, so the fact that I have two years straight of a Van Drunen band in my Top 50 shouldn't be too surprising. I will admit though that I didn't love this album as much as I loved Ashpyx's 'Deathhammer', and I was really hoping that I would get that feeling of death metal euphoria that I did with that album, but there were other albums that did that this year. Putting that aside, I am sure you can guess what the concept of this album is, Erwin Rommel, of course! What the band does here is nothing too surprising, lots of heavy, chugging riffs with roaring vocals that are coupled with lyrics about tanks, war, and gunfire, which is unsurprisingly a perfect match. This album is one that is really one that you have to listen to if you want to try and appreciate it, because this album does have some repetition to it, which, depending on your flavor, can be a good or a bad thing. Personally, I don't mind it, because there are rewards for listening to the whole album, like hearing the entire story of Erwin Rommel. As a person who enjoys stories and history, I got a kick out of it (once I looked up the lyrics for some of the songs), but a band that plays in the Bolt Thrower style of chainsaw guitars and heavy growls will always have a place in my heart.
Best Tracks: "Swoop of the Falcon", "DG-7", "The Desert Fox", "Death of a Field Marshall".
Have you ever heard a band that sounds like someone started drinking blood in the middle of a carnival? I would say that is how Finntroll are. This album here was probably the first great folk metal album of the year with them doing what they usually do, take a typical folk metal album, and make it much, much darker. They bring the heaviness in spades, as well. I would say that is one thing that make them unique in comparison to a lot of the other folk metal bands that they are usually spoken in the same breath as. They tend to take a bit more of a different twist to the folk template than fans of the bands like Korpiklaani take. Here, they use death metal vocals and folk that sounds more like a carnival than a jig, but that fits them just fine. There are some damn nice tunes here, most of them are speedy in nature, and manage to be entertaining, for all intents and purposes. Though I will say that there some songs that have the "been there, done that" quality to them that actually drags this album down for me. Because when I heard some of those first tracks, I was pretty stoked and thought that I'd have an album of the year contender, and while I didn't quite get that, I did get a great folk metal album and will happily preach the praises of it to the masses!
Best Tracks: "Ett Folk Förbannat", "Mordminnen", "Skogsdotter", "Midvinterdrakken".
There are few bands that I loved from the day that I discovered them like how I have Red Fang. Granted, there are very few bands that I have seen at the front row at my first concert ever, so I think perhaps I have bias towards them. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because as this album shows, they don't need any bias going their way for me to declare this album as a really good one. It's like the picked up right where the last album ended with "DOEN", but that doesn't last long (about 10 seconds, actually) as the song picks up with a pretty wicked riff and a very headbangable riff. This album is one of those albums where there is a lot of similarity between the songs, which for some can be a bit of a turn-off, because I know that is a complaint that even I myself make about a lot of albums, but that's the difference between an album like this and the new Suicidal Tendencies album (which was a good album, but it did sputter around the halfway point), where that album started great and started running out of gas quickly, this album was like the ocean, it had points where it would rise and fall, but those falling moments were still good songs, not as good as some of the best on the album, but good enough to where you keep trekking through to see what's next. I was very happy with how this album turned out, considering how big of a fanboy I am of their last album, I had some pretty high expectations, and they were met. Below is something that I had to post, their video for, "Blood Like Cream". Red Fang have what are probably the greatest videos in the history of metal. (note, I didn't say music, because Michael Jackson does hold that distinction) So before you jump to the next pick, check that out below!
Best Tracks: "DOEN", "Blood Like Cream", "Dawn Rising", "1516".
I think this is the first time a band has re-released an album and I actually preferred the second release to the first. Last year's 'Dead End Kings' was a pretty good album, it was one that I was actually looking to revisit, because it was an emotionally driven album, and probably better than I gave it credit for, but I feel like everything that was done right in that album was heightened in this acoustic reworking of the last year's album. A great comparison between the two albums is just by looking at what songs I favorited on Spotify for both albums, there was only two songs in between them that matched on both lists, and I actually had more on this album than I did the last one, but I think that may have been perhaps my propensity for acoustic renditions of metal songs, I have an odd love for them. But this album takes 'Dead End Kings' and uses acoustic instruments and ambiance to take songs that were already solid and putting them in a new light. My two favorite additives in this album are the adding of the piano and the utilization of acoustic guitars, they tend to add little tinges that bring out the a lot of the lyrics and the emotions behind them out. Honestly, this album makes me want to go back to listen to 'Dead End Kings', because I feel like I missed things in it that were highlighted in this album. If this were the first album instead of an acoustic release of the prior album, it would be a bit higher on this list, because that does hamper the album a bit, the fact that this isn't technically new material, it's just old material put under a different mask. That being said, I adore this album for what it does, and it makes me want to hear other Katatonia classics like, "July" done acoustically, I think that would be absolutely beautiful.
Best Tracks: "Undo You", "The Racing Heart", "The Parting", "Leech".
In all of my years of listening to death metal, one of the bands that I have always respected, yet never gotten into is Immolation. I know that takes away some of my metal credentials, but it's a case very similar to a lot of the classic death metal bands, there are so many great death metal bands, and I have so little time when you consider that most of my leisure time with music is spent catching up on the new music from that year. Immolation are one of the bands that I have always heard about, and heard bits and pieces of, but I have never actually gotten around to listening to a full album of theirs, until this year, and boy, I have been missing out on a lot. 'Kingdom of Conspiracy' was a bit odd in the grand scheme of death metal albums this year, because while this was the year for death metal, I would say that this was one of more unique listens because it is more of a slower, sludgier death metal in comparison to something like Hail of Bullets or Suffocation. But that slow speed does often get complimented by a great sense of dynamic control, as well as occasional fast chug that is so often associated with death metal. I wouldn't say that this is the best album that features an old school death metal band sticking to its' classic sound while adding in new flourishes, but it's up there. Songs like, "The Great Sleep" bring that sludge filled crawl with a very headbangable chug to it, but then you have other songs like, "God Complex" that bring a fairly fast and ferocious sound that does a lot to break up the monotony that many feel when listening to death metal. This is a great album with multiple subtle facets to it, and I think that it's a pretty solid introduction to the band like it was for me. Definitely looking forward to the next album!
Best Tracks: "Kingdom of Conspiracy", "Indoctrinate", "The Great Sleep", "All That Await Us".
This wouldn't have gotten here if it weren't for my Metal Hammer of Doom co-host Mark Radulich. He is the biggest Clutch fan I have ever met, while being the only Clutch fan that I have ever met (besides Keith Bynum, HI KEITH!). So after indoctrinating me in everything Clutch for 2 weeks, we got this album, and I was not disappointed. This is band is one of those bands that can appeal to anyone who is a rocker of some sort. They have a consistent vibe to them that hits at wavelengths that gives just enough to please all the metalheads as well as keep everything accessible enough to please the hard rock fans that picked this album up. If you know what you're signing up for, there is no possible way that you can be disappointed by this album. Almost every song is a fun romp filled with blues tinged guitars, a southern edge and a driving speed that keeps the listener engaged. The only exception to this rule is probably one of my favorites songs off of this album, "Gone Cold". It is a song out of the blues playbook and is filled with so much emotion and soul that you can't help but sing along to the slow pain that Neil Fallon is preaching. This was an absolutely wonderful album and a great addition for any fans of stoner metal, hard rock, grunge, or even a blues fan looking for a harder edge. This wasn't the only band that Mark Radulich turned me on to, but it was by far the best album by any of those bands this year!
Best Tracks: "Earth Rocker", "Mr.Freedom", "D.C. Sound Attack", "Gone Cold"
I'll admit what drew me two this band was two things. The first one thing was that they are from my home state (and current state) of North Carolina. The second thing that drew me to them was the song, "Avalanche". It really spoke to me as a song that would be sticking to me throughout the year, and what do you know? It did! The guitar work on it had enough to it to keep me engaged and the overall feel of the song was balanced on the see-saw between heavy and light, which is a great palate sometimes. I'll fully admit that I tend to relish in death and doom, but sometimes a lighter album is needed to keep me going at full speed. That is what this album is to me, it's a great palate cleanser for anyone who needs a break from the heavier fare. I think the fact that this band tends to lean towards a rock approach instead of a metal approach actually works in its' favor in the long run. I'd almost compare it to the prior Clutch entry, because they both are stoner bands that ride the line of metal and rock, and while Clutch leans towards the metal, ASG lean towards rock. But it works for them, not to mention they take more of the ambient elements found in some stoner music rather than the groove that Clutch use. Overall, I think that this is album is a must for anyone who wants a fun, memorable listen that isn't quite metal, but is still metal enough for you to get away with calling it metal. If that makes any sense!
Best Tracks: "Avalanche", "Scrappy's Trip", "Castlestorm", "Children's Music".
Have you ever listened to an album that was so good at the beginning that you were scared at how good it may be by the end? That was this album for me. The beginning of the album was incredibly strong, so strong that I had thought that this may have been my album of the year, but then the second half of the album happened. This suffers from the same thing as the latest Killswitch Engage album in that the packed the front with their best tracks that the back was feeling a bit lacking. That is a small complaint, though, because I feel that the back half of this album is still strong, but in comparison to the beginning half, it does feel a slight bit lacking. But let me say positive things now, because this album is a GREAT album, that is for sure. I know that number 32 seems kind of low for a GREAT album, but that is just because I listened to over 120 albums this year, and there really was a lot of good stuff this year, so even great albums get pushed back here. Exhumed are a band that I have been interested in, and I listened to some select tracks from this band, as well as Exhumed offshoot band Dekapitator for a while. I had always enjoyed their mix of death and grind and saw them as a band that are among the elite that make that work and utilize the strengths of both sides equally. This album is much more different, though, they have discarded a lot of the grindcore influence and focused more on the death metal aspect of their music, and I think that it works for the best. You still have the vocals that are representative of grind in some parts, and there is still plenty of speed here, but a lot of the album is set around chainsaw guitars (did I mention that I LOVE chainsaw guitars) straight out of the Bolt Thrower/early Entombed playbook, and I feel like they compliment the band perfectly, as they always have. This is also one of the few bands that utilize more than one singer that manage to do it right. They almost always seem to be splitting duties, and it's not like Amaranthe where the other guy is on there when they need a scream. No, here they use their duties as a nice trade off. This is another great death metal album in the year of death metal. (and unlike the Year of Luigi, this has been a success for metal). I wonder now if there will be a new Dekapitator album anytime soon?
Best Tracks: "Coins Upon the Eyes", "Necrocracy", "Dysmorphic", "The Rotting".
Have you ever had a genre grab you by the ears and drag you along a journey that through the catalog of all that the genre has to offer, and then you come back to the world forever changed? That is what Doom metal has done to me! I feel like that if I tried to get into doom metal like I have now back when I was started to get into metal, it'd have never worked, because the genre is a bit slow and works more around sad emotions than a lot of metal. Enter this band here, Wheel. They came out at a time where I was really worried about the quality of the doom that was coming out this year, because while the doom that had come out this year was solid, it wasn't nearly as spectacular as last year's doom, which featured Candlemass, Grand Magus, and Woods of Ypres and they had all been out before July, so when August wheeled around and the only good doom had been the new Trouble and Black Sabbath albums, but still, I was a bit concerned. Then came a blast of doom from Wheel and I was back to being happy. This album is everything about old school doom that I love. Slow, crushing beats, a dreary atmosphere, and a soothing voice telling you stories of myth and sorrow. That, combined with what is arguably a hard rock influence unseen in genres outside of traditional and stoner metal makes this band a great breath of fresh air. It's not often that I hear doom that sounds like it came from the 1980s anymore, sure there are bands like Hour of 13, but the retro doom resurgence is still way behind the retro comebacks of a lot of the other genres, which is a shame. But this album is more or less everything perfect about old school doom, just everything. There are no facets of this album that I can complain about, and really, that is how I like it. The only complaint I have now is that their next album will have to be a few years away now. I guess it's not time to go listen to their debut, isn't it?
Best Tracks: "They Do For Us", "Icarus", "Eclipse", "Frozen Sun".
MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHEAPASSES!
Isn't it ironic that it's Christmas this week and I don't have anything to give you, again, blame all of the writing for this, but I think it's worth leaving this out for me to finish this thing.
I would apologize, but I'll do that in...
THE TEMPLE OF THE DEAD!
Another section that will be back at the turn of the year, December is awful for metal releases, and really, I have no time to go searching. But if you're still reading, thank you for your readership, it means a lot!
I'm not kidding, it does, now let's venture to the place....
WHERE THE RUNES STILL SPEAK!
Depending on the comment amount I get this week, I might answer them in this section next week, or I might just answer them there, we'll have to see.
Anyways, our first comment from last time comes from Jed....
While, musically, Kill 'Em All shreds like nobody's business, I find the lyrics to be inane and repetitive. Most every song seems to boil down to "we're Metallica, and we're gonna rock" or "we're Metallica and we're bad ass". That's hair metal lyrics in my book. Plus, Hetfield's voice ... oy, Jeebus, it kills my ears.
I wouldn't say they are hair metal bad, but I can see what you're saying the fact that they aren't exactly the best. Though I will offer a retort in saying that while they are showing the age of the band, I feel like it makes the album that much more unique since they stopped the singing about metal they were after the first album. As for Hetfield's vocals, I personally think that they're some of his best, but as they say, different strokes!
The final comment comes to us from comment zone veteran, Michael Link!
Slayer Christmas is pretty awesome.
Indeed it is, I wish I had the Christmas lights, and the no how, to do what slayer bob does every year!
I'll keep the plugs short. Remember to go to the Radulich in Broadcasting Network for all of your podcasting needs. Three of my podcasts are on there, after all! There is the Metal Hammer of Doom, which is on a Christmas hiatus, but we review metal there, go find it! There is also The Three Beards, which is also on Christmas hiatus, but it will also be back by the turn of the year. It's like a radio show that in uncensored and unfiltered! Go find us on iTunes, as well as facebook.com/TheThreeBeardsPodcast. F
Finally is the Sentai Rider podcast, where myself and two of my best friends talk tokusatsu, which is Power Rangers, and its' Japanese equivalent, it's pretty great, and we even are trying to court Dan's Toku Rants' very own Nick Cochran on for a second show, so there is that, like our facebook page at facebook.com/Sentairiderpodcast.
Lastly, check out the Co-operative Multiplayer podcast, LIVE every Saturday night at midnight EST. Stephen Randle hosts as a cast of 411 writers (myself included) talk video games, it's a great listen and a fun time, so tune in!
New Pop Culture Internet Radio with Mark Radulich on BlogTalkRadio
In the spirit of Christmas, I give you one last metal song for the holidays to lead you on your merry way! \m/ The Global Metal will be back next month, though, have no fear!!!!
Alright,so if you have any opinions on the column, some genre or country that you want me to feature in the global metal column, or if you just want to talk metal you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me at @themetalcoop or comment below!
MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS (and/or Kwanzah/Hanukkah (I know it's passed)/Winter Solstice (that's passed, too)/December 25th) EVERYONE AND KEEP THE METAL FAITH ALIVE \m/