Hammer of Doom News Report 01.08.14: Top 50 Metal Albums of 2013 (#30 - 11)
Posted by Robert Cooper on 01.08.2014
From Black Sabbath's 13 and Children of Bodom's Halo of Blood to Dream Theater's self-titled LP, Decide's In the Minds of Evil and more, 411's Robert Cooper continues his look at the top 50 metal albums of 2013 with #30 through 11!
Welcome, Metal Faithful, to the only place that is more late than Axl Rose, the HAMMER OF DOOM! I, am your host, the metal missionary, the bearded wonder, and Mr. Fun-Time himself, Robert Cooper! I apologize to everyone for not showing up next week, this list writing gets stressful and with New Years Eve coming around, I didn't have the time to finish it like I had meant to. But oh well, my New Years was pretty good, tore my pants, went and bought a Nintendo 3DS for cheap, and played Call of Duty, and by played CoD I mean knifed bots and shot them with exploding crossbows because I am n00b.
As for what's in the column this week, it's 100% metal list, next week will end the countdown and catch you all up on the albums I've missed so far before a best of the week after that covering all of the news that I missed while I was telling you guys about good metal!
Speaking of good metal, I'll get this started with some...
THE CRIES FROM THE CRYPT!
This section will be back soon, trust me, I'm a doctor!
Starting the countdown for this week is an album that I had no clue what to expect from. I heard the first released track, "Forgotten Arrows" and left interested, yet confused. I was confused because this wasn't the Gorguts I heard on albums like 'Obscura', but then I realized that Gorguts are one of those bands that never does the same thing twice and understood why I was confused. This album was probably one of the more unique listen that I have heard throughout the year, there were a lot of interesting elements to it, and some great musical ideas, but it did take a lot of time and effort to get through them all and analyze them as they should be analyzed. I'd like to think of this album as a music major's death metal, because there are a lot of symphonic elements that I find interesting, as well as a lot of ambience that you don't always find in death metal. Perhaps weird is the word I might use for how I see this album. I justify like I justify a bad story, "you just had to be here to get it". There are some really heavy moments on this album, for sure. But there are also some atmospheric moments and they are all held together by a binding of unease. This album had a near doom like quality in the atmosphere it evoked, I would compare it to some stuff that Opeth have done, but they were more folkish with their dreary atmosphere, this is almost space-like. It's quite, and all you really have to comfort you is the white noise of silence and your own breathing, and it is very off putting. But for a band like this that thrives on change, I must say that I am impressed at this album as a whole. Not exactly the most fun listen, it's actually a slight bit tasking, but all in all, it is rewarding as a whole and something that you should at least experience once.
Best Tracks: "An Ocean of Wisdom", "Colored Sands", "the Battle of Chamdo", "Absconders".
I'll admit, as big of a fan of death metal as I am, I never got around to listening to much of Deicide. Sure, I know some tracks off of their self-titled album and 'Legion', but overall I've never been big on them. Chalk it up to the same thing that has really stopped me from saying that I'm a huge fan of bands like Carcass, Suffocation, Immolation, among others, it's because there is SO much stuff to listen to and so many things for me to do, I just never got around to listening to them. I had heard a few tracks off of "To Hell With God", as well as saw the wicked awesome album cover, and while I felt they were solid, they weren't anything super spectacular. So this was Deicide's chance to get in my crosshairs and become a band like Carcass, Suffocation, and Immolation and make me want to go love them and discover more of their music. Luckily for them, I felt like this was the album to get me started with the band. The riffs had just enough groove in them to keep me interested and entertained. The band also sounds really excited to be there and incredibly energized, which is never a bad thing when it comes to death metal. I feel like excitement really shows in death metal, because if the band is bored, it will show up in the music, I think death metal is one of the harder metal genres to fake it in, either you're excited to be there, or you're phoning it in, no two ways about it! This album is also more brutal than watching slasher flick in terms of sound, and I'm not usually a huge BROOTAL guy, but for fuck sake, this album is so damn brutal that I can't help but be entertained by it. The lyrical themes are about on par with what they usually go on about, but if there is one other thing I can commend this album on, it's the album cover, that is one damn cool album cover, for sure! So if you're a big deal metal guy, or just love Deicide in particular, that's right, if you're one of the many people that I know who have turned their back on Deicide, try this album on for size, I think that you might actually like it!
Best Tracks: "In the Minds of Evil" ,"Thou Begone", "Between the Flesh and the Void", "End the Wrath of God".
Has anyone else here ever gotten excited about a band because they heard one song from the band and got hooked on it? That is what happened to me with Amorphis. Back when Dan Haggerty's Mosh Pit (miss you, Dan!) column was around, he was taking everyone on a march through the years in metal, and when he had Amorphis's 'Tales from a Thousand Lakes' on there, I decided to go look for a song from it and landed on "Black Winter Day", and I was hooked on this band from then. When I heard that Amorphis had a new album coming, I immediately got excited, because while I was familiar with albums like 'Tales From a Thousand Lakes', I also knew of their more recent stuff and knew that they could still do both really well, so I was interested in seeing where this album was going to go. I got my answer as soon as the opener, "Shades of Grey" started up and I got flashbacks from their older material, and then chorus hit, and I got flashbacks of their newer material. Things like this are why I don't have an inherit distaste for the sing/scream chorus/verse structure that metalcore uses, because it can be effective, but I do admit that in metalcore it gets tedious after a while. But on this album they use it as another element for the band to utilize. I feel like this album is going to do pretty well with a lot of the older fans, because while they are not totally back to their extreme metal roots, listen to songs like, "Nightbird's Song" and "Shades of Grey and tell me that they don't remember where they came from. While it doesn't have the same doomier qualities of the early stuff, it is still heavy, and a damn good album, all things considered. It's one that I think will become like last year's Sabaton album, with enough listens, it will probably catapult up my best of the decade list...if I'm still around doing this in 7 years, that is, we can't all be Randle! But still, fans of Amorphis or people that are curious, give this album a go and see if you find something to tickle your fancy.
Best Tracks: "Shades of Grey", "Narrow Path", "Nightbird's Song", "Enchanted by the Moon".
If there was ever a underrated thrash band, I would say that Annihilator are that band for sure! Maybe it can be chalked up to the fact that they showed up to the party kind of late, so even though the released their two best albums at ('Alice in Hell' and 'Never, Neverland') a time when thrash was at a high point in 1989 and 1990, by the time their follow-up showed up in 1993, thrash was on its' last legs in popularity. Though it can be said that that album wasn't the best, it still stinks that they didn't get huge. They also have had a revolving door of members in the band, besides the awesome Jeff Waters. But back to this album, I can say that I was a bit wary coming into this album because while I love me some Annihilator, I also know that some of their releases in the past decade or so have been spotty. There have been some moments that are up there with their older material in terms of speed, there have been a few spots that remind me of the opening to a bad MMA show. Those fears were relieved as soon as the first track, "Deadlock" hits, it is balls to the cheese grater intense and never lets up on the gas as long as it goes on. That is what a lot of this album is, it's about an addiction to speed and good riffs, which is what a lot of thrash is, anyways, speed and riffs! One complaint I have about this album are the vocals, which are a bit iffy at times, because while they are a THOUSAND times better than what we used to get from the vocalist David Padden, who has a voice fit for metalcore, they are still not the best suited vocals for a thrash album. But that is my only quibble about this album, and it's not that big of a complaint, because as I said, he has gotten a lot better and I think that there is only more room for improvement here. This is a great album and one that I feel really proves that Annihilator are back to being with bands like Testament and Anthrax as bands that I keep a lookout for and want to know when they are releasing new music. So if you're a fan of the band, go ahead and give them a go.
Best Tracks: "Deadlock", "Smear Campaign", "Fight the World", "One Falls, Two Rise".
Right here is a thrash album that completely and totally slipped through the cracks for me, I don't really know how it did, but it still managed, I guess even though I am your metal missionary, I can miss a few things sometimes. So I finally listened to this about a month of so ago hoping for something great, because I feel like thrash lately has been a genre that only allows for a few truly great releases year with everything else either disappointing or bad. This year we got a new Sodom album that I never even got to because it wasn't on Spotify, but besides that album we got some good output, but many of them reached the greatness of this album. I find it interesting that it's the technical 2nd Big 4 that have put out the best albums over the past decade or so. Testament are releasing some of their most ferocious work they've done, Overkill are in a revival, and while Exodus have seen better days, they are still touring and releasing albums at a consistent pace. That brings us over to Death Angel, who weren't the biggest band back in the day, but have been lighting everyone up recently with some great thrash hits. This album here is no exception! The guitar work is impeccable and I find the usually great Mark Osegueda to be as great as he is advertised as he yells along with all of the songs on this album. Perhaps my one complaint is the production, I feel like it's a bit thick and soupy, which does clog the thrash arteries a bit much at times, but the solos cut through that that muck like a knife! That is what a lot of this album is, a slicing knife that is here to tear through everything with thrash speed and power. Support thrash, give this album a listen some time!
Best Tracks: "Left for Dead", "Son of the Morning", "The Dream Calls for Blood", "Empty".
Here is the latest entry into this list, this is the album that I had so much faith in that I moved a spot here in the list just for it, thus moving Wheel up a spot to 31. I had always heard of Chthonic, but beyond a few songs, I had never really heard anything much by them. But with all the positive hype surrounding this new album, I decided that now was the time for me to try them on. That decision was perhaps not the best, as I did find myself a bit underwhelmed by the album because I was expecting this sprawling epic of blackened death metal mixed with Taiwanese folk music. I didn't quite get that, I actually got something less sprawling, but more heavy, actually. I don't know why that surprised me so much considering they are a death metal band first and foremost a black/death metal band, not a folk metal band, but I figured that based off of the first track, the intro, that I would be getting folk metal. But that little dumb quibble aside, this album does a great job of mixing all of what it has and giving and album that has a lot of good going for it. You do have those folk elements in the background, and listening to the tracks again, it gives a lot of life and vibrance to the album that would not be nearly as good without them. A lot of the guitars also play off of these little hints, and they do make for a catchy listen. You also have the great vocals that meld black screams and death growls, and they make a really good mirror to the more traditional sounding folk instruments. This album does a good job of spacing out the great tracks on this album, which benefits the listening experience overall, I feel, because it gives breathing time when needed. All in all, I feel that while this isn't the most amazing album of all time like it was advertised to me by the overlords of all (aka the internet), this is still a REALLY good album and one that I'll probably be revisiting over the years to find more things that I like in it, since it is very layered!
Best Tracks: "Arising Armament", "Supreme Pain for the Tyrant", "Next Republic", "Rage of My Sword", "Defenders of Bu-Tik Palace"
It's not often that I have multiple CDs of one band in my collection a casual fan of them at best. But Dream Theater are one of those bands, perhaps it's because I'm not the biggest fan of prog or just the fact that there is so much for me to listen to throughout the year that I don't have a chance to delve in to discographies like I'd like to. I think it also helps that I went to see the livestream of their newest DVD in theaters with about 10 other Dream Theater fans, and it really helped me understand the appeal of the band and why they are as great as they are. So I fired up this album in hopes that this would make me a bigger fan of the band, and it really did do that. There is a lot of accessibility on this record that I didn't really expect to hear from a progressive metal band. I feel that prog is kind of like an odd cult, they're plenty of fun once you take the time and listen to them, but if you don't, it just sounds like endless rambling. That's why I'm kind of happy to have seen the concert on the movie screen because it really helped draw me in and educate me on the subject of Dream Theater. Not to mention that the first song after the intro, "The Enemy Inside" does a great job of sampling a lot of what the band does and giving you enough of a taste to want more. There are great guitar solos, a masterful keyboard solo, and a riff so catchy that you might need to go get tested after listening to it. There are also some things that are stalwarts of the progressive music genre like instrumentals and a 20 minute song, seriously, the finale of this album is very long, but very worth it! I feel that this is a great album for both fans and newbies of the band alike to come and enjoy. There is very little wasted motion and a lot of great musical moments to be heard here, so make sure you go and seek this record out sometime!
Best Tracks: "The Enemy Inside", "Enigma Machine", "Behind the Veil", "Illumination Theory".
There are times when a band comes along and gives your something that you have wanted the year before that you just couldn't get. Last year, I wanted a really good Ensiferum release, and unfortunately, Ensiferum couldn't quite give me that. So in come Aether Realm, who are from my state, North Carolina, and I decided to support local metal and listen to them. It was a good decision on my part, as I found this album to be a much better Ensiferum album than Ensiferum have released recently. I want to say that I also find quite a bit of humor in the fact that they are releasing European sounding melodic death metal that rivals that of the actually Europeans. I'm not quite sure how they mastered the style so well, because make no mistake, they sound like a well polished and great band. This is a year for melodic death metal, so for a band to stand out like these guys have to me is something to behold. The fun thing is that nearly every song on this album is great, it's probably due to them being so damn good at what they do, and they give some damn memorable songs like "Swampwitch" and "Odin Will Provide". I was lucky enough to find their album at a local used book store, and you can bet that I jumped on that album like a fat kid of a cake! I also like the little dabs of folk metal that they throw in there, it helps give their sound just that more life, and if video games have taught me anything, it's that a little bit more life never hurts. Overall, if you support one band on this list, make it these guys, they are absolutely tremendous in their proficiency and show lots of promise as a band to watch in the coming years!
Best Tracks: "Hourglass", "Swampwitch", "One Chosen By the Gods", "Odin Will Provide".
This is one album that I find to be an interesting entry on the list, because this is one of the only concept albums on here, if I remember correctly. That is sometimes a good, and sometimes a bad thing. It's good because it makes for a really consistent sound, and I really like the sound of this band. While they do have a bit of metalcore to them, for the most part they tend to stick to a sound that is reminiscent of Fear Factory with the use of industrial music in their metal. This was the first album of the year that I listened to that really blew me away, before that, it was a bunch of really unspectacular albums hitting at the beginning of the year, and then I listened to this and finally got excited about metal. I talk a lot about getting excited for stuff and music getting me excited, because while I love metal, most everything about metal, actually, there is a certain grind that gets you bogged down, and sometimes hurts the listening experience, but then albums like this come along and get me happy! This album has a real epic feel to it, with a lot of space-like instrumentations and a near angelic sounding chorus that really help this album soar. Now for some bad news, the fact that it is a concept album does hurt the songs individually, because there is a lot of build up from song to song, and sometimes a song just falls flat because the song that builds to it wasn't heard first, and I find that to be a shame. But overall, this album is still a very interesting and epic, if I may use that word, listen and I'm excited to hear their new album that should already be out by now!
Best Tracks: "Interregnum", "Anathema", "Elephtheria", "Terminus"
Last time I mentioned how three out of the New Wave Thrash bands released albums within weeks of one another, and while I enjoy all of three of those bands (those bands being Warbringer, Skeletonwitch, and this band), Toxic Holocaust have been my favorite for a while now. I think the reason why is that they trump the others is that they manage to bring elements of speed metal along with the black thrash, so they have a much cleaner tone to their guitar sound and manage to get across all of the speed with a cleaner tone that usually isn't associated with black or thrash metal, which are the two other components of the Toxic Holocaust sound. The content of the album should be a little surprise, you're going to be getting catchy, hooky riffs cooked on high and sent to you at a very fast speed. I found it pretty impressive that they managed to make an album but raw and clear at the same time, because this album does fit that description. I chalk it up to the speed metal influence, which is more based in heavy metal than anything else, so the guitar comes through while the rest of the band plays with thrash aggression and Joe Grind delivers GREAT blackened vocals, his are some of my favorite in the whole blackened thrash subgenre. It's probably of no surprise that this album is on par with 'Reign in Blood' when it comes to runtime, but in an album like this, that's fine, nothing sits for too long, so it doesn't get boring or outlast its' welcome, and I can appreciate that! In terms of thrash, this is one of the finer albums of the year, and it's only strengthened my fanhood in this band!
Best Tracks: "Awaken the Serpent", "Rat Eater", "Acid Fuzz", "International Conspiracy", "Chemistry of Consciousness".
As I've already talked about this week, there are some albums that come along that you're really wanting to be good because you feel like the genre itself has been getting overlooked due to a lack of big releases and an overall great quality from the other genres. So I decided to gamble my time on listening to this band to try and find the first doom album (besides Sabbath, but I wasn't really counting them because I see them as a metal band that transcends genre due to being the reason for the whole damn genre) that really got me excited for doom this year. So I hit play and decided to listen in, and holy fuck, I was blow away. This album was everything I wanted, it had moments of slow, somber doom, and then moments that are a fun, driving beat that gets in your head and leaves you wanting more! I think another things that helps this album stick to me so much is the warm and fitting vocals that just draw you in like a warm embrace and you just sit there entranced, wanting more. There also are moments that kind of lull you out of the doom like the end of the monolithic "Dead Rising" where it speeds up quite a bit and gets your head banging! Check this album out if you have an interest in traditional metal, doom metal, or just want something that will stick with you, because this album is filled with moments that will stick to you like a good burrito! And just like a good burrito, I can't wait until I get more!
Best Tracks: "Son of a Witch", "Winter is Coming", "Dead Rising", "Owls Are Listening", "The Magician".
Music is a funny thing, you have some band who play the same thing for two albums and all of a sudden, they're boring and repetitive, and other bands who have stayed fairly true to their sound from the beginning, and then there is a third category of bands who have tried to go back in time and play what they did on their first album after years of slow progression. Autopsy are a band that fit into that first category fairly well ('Shitfun' being the only exception, but the 90s were one of those time where bands were going for different sounds), and this album represents that fact fairly well. A lot of this album has a feel that is very similar to their first albums with a death metal canvas that throws in little flourishes of doom metal to shake everything up every once in a while! That has been their style almost since day one, and this album does a good job of sticking to that style. There have been a lot of people that have been coming out against this album, some don't like the album cover, others find the album to be JUST another Autopsy release, but I really feel that we're lucky to still be getting releases from classic death metal bands, hell, the band was done for nearly 14 years, so maybe it's just me, but I do feel lucky. For the most part, this album is exactly what was advertised, it is a wrecking ball of death and doom that manages to swing back and forth between the two so fast, that sometimes it can be a slight bit jarring, but that is only a minor gripe for an album that I feel is getting some unfair criticism. IF you're waiting for the next 'Mental Funeral', you're never going to get it from them, but for what we could have gotten, I think that this was a pretty solid release.
Best Tracks: "Slaughter at Beast House", "She is a Funeral", "When Hammer Meets Bone", "Flesh Turns to Dust".
I'm sure we all know of those bands that no matter what they do, a lot of their fans will state that they aren't as good as they used to be, and that they're washed up. Children of Bodom are one of those bands that pretty much have received all of the vitriol that they can due to a lot of the earlier fans hating the past three albums by them. I can't agree or disagree with either side much because I've not listened to very much of their newer material, though I will agree with the statement that it seems lacking in comparison to their older stuff, as well as the material on this album. This album here got me incredibly excited for the band after the bad reviews for their previous few albums did admittedly make the prospect of listening to their new album a slight bit unappealing. As soon as this album started, all of my fears of being in for a solid 50 minutes of boredom were whisked away with power metal inspired melodeath fun with guitar solos, and keyboards! This was the Children of Bodom that I do know, and judging by the few songs that I have rummaged through in an attempt to understand why some people dislike their past few albums, that Bodom was not this one. That Bodom did have great guitar work, but they were more worried about being heavy and brutal than just having fun and making music that, speaking from my own experience with their earlier music, is fun to listen to. That is what this album is, it is a fun romp, it is the album that we have both been asking for, and the one that we have needed. Now I hope that Alexi and the boys take all of this positive feedback and love from lost fans as motivation for releasing more stuff like this, because if we get another album like this, I might just have to listen to their past three albums just to see why people have been bitching.
Best Tracks: "Waste of Skin", "Halo of Blood", "Bodom Blue Moon (The Second Coming), "Damaged Beyond Repair", "One Bottle and a Knee Deep".
I had no clue who this band was when they were announced as a band on the Exodus/Anthrax and were curious how they sounded, because shit, if they were good enough to tour with those bands, they had to be good, right? They were! This band is pretty damn killer. They play a mix of traditional metal and thrash a dash of power metal thrown in for good measure, and they rarely let off of the pedal, which is fine by me. I think what really helps make this album work is the fact that it has a very old school feel to it with the blistering solos, catchy songs, and soaring vocals all tied together with great riffs. There also is no wasted motion on this album, and I feel that it really shows as all of the songs on this album are consistent and fun. I found this to be quite the improvement over their last album, which was still pretty good, but this one made up for any shortcomings the first album had by just rocking out and giving everyone something that they can love and headbang to all night. I've also heard that they're awesome guys, so that only makes their placement here even easier!
Best Tracks: "Bestial Triumphans", "Ride the Void","Too Decayed to Wait", "Sleep of Virtue", "Rains of Sorrow".
If you asked me what album I had no clue what to expect from coming in, I would probably answer this album. I knew that Voivod have had some damn good albums throughout the years, but I wasn't quite sure which Voivod we were going to get with this album. Were we going to get the thrashier Voivod, or the more progressive Voivod? Luckily we got a Voivod that mixes the two Voivods and puts it in a wonderful package with a bow on it. This was probably the first album that matched up name value and the quality that is supposed to come with it for me. Up to the point we had albums from bigger named bands like Helloween, but that album was okay at best and didn't live up to the hype I had for it. This album, on the other hand, actually did manage to live up to all of that hype and good reviews that I had read for it. It seems to me that it is rare now that an album lives up to all the hype that gets brought upon it and delivers. I can think of only a handful of albums this year that have managed to pull that off, and I think that this album is one of those lucky albums that has left everyone happy with how it has turned out. It gives everyone what they want, it has some moments of thrash speed to it, enough to give longtime fans a little something to reminisce about, but then it bounces that thrash speed around a prog riff and continues along until the end of the song where all you crave is more, so you play the album again! If anyone reading manages to get ahold of this album, good for them, because they are in for quite the treat when they start playing it.
Best Tracks: "Kluskap O'Kom","Mechanical Mind", "Resistance","Corps étranger"
I'll be the first to admit that out of all of the genres of metal, I feel like black metal has a lot of bands that are kind of samey. I've always felt like that, but I think my opinion on that matter actually helps when it comes to the truly great black metal albums. When a black metal album is good, it is REALLY good in my eyes. The reason that I say this is because when an album truly rises from the genre it makes a huge impact, just as this album has. I had not heard of Manegarm before I listened to this album, though they are apparently a long storied and recognized band that I had just not heard of before, and I am honestly surprised at that fact. The band does a great job on this album and I think that they manage to slip in just enough folk metal into their black viking cocktail to make it more than great and an incredibly fun listen. As I go back and listen to this album I really am remembering how damn good it is, it really does make me wish that bands like these were as socially acceptable and popular as Amon Amarth, because if they were on a tour with Amon amarth, I would probably have a heart attack and die due to sheer happiness. This is a real standout album to me. especially when you consider the fact that I am not the biggest black metal fanboy. Go give it a listen and enjoy!
Best Tracks: "Legions of the North", "Helvegr/Tor hjalpe", "Wake the Gods", "Echoes of the Past", "Fallen".
I'm sure that this album laying all the way at number 14 will probably anger some of you and please others, the album was a bit polarizing in the metal community overall. I can see why, because a lot of people can't really look at this album as something that wont be as good as their 70s music, they want 70s Sabbath and anything beyond that is an utter failure. I never came into this album expecting that, I expected modern day Ozzy singing on a Black Sabbath record, and for the most part, that is exactly what I got. Ozzy does sound really motivated, though, I'll give him that. He sounds like he REALLY wants to make this a good album and wants it to live up to expectations, because while I like his solo work just fine, I do find that sometimes he phones in his vocals, though he doesn't have much left to phone in. The album also feels like a doom tinged version of the classic Sabbath sound, but I like to attribute that to the ageless and amazing duo of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler. Another point of contention on this album was that Bill Ward wasn't on this album, and I really do hate that, because he's a great drummer , but in my mind Brad Wilk did a fine job on the album. There also have been some complaints of points where the songs drag and the band sounds like they're plagiarizing themselves, and I can hear what those complainers are saying, but I feel like it only hurts the album a little bit. This album was the big one for 2013 in terms of sales and anticipation, and it had A LOT to live up to. Did I think that it met those expectations? Hell no, it didn't even come close to some of the fanboy's expectations, but as a modern metal album and as an album by today's Black Sabbath, I think that it was the best thing we could have gotten from an Ozzy fronted Sabbath. This is still a must listen for the year and it is a damn good album, all things considered!
Best Tracks: "End of the Beginning", "God Is Dead?", "Age of Reason", "Dear Father".
I find it interesting that one of the oldest genres in metal are pretty much the latest to the party when it comes to renaissance in their respective genre. If you look at all of the other genres, black and death metal never needed one, thrash have gotten their revival, doom and power metal have also saw a lot of older bands release new albums and newer bands releasing strong material. The NWOBHM (that is New Wave of British Heavy Metal) genre has really only started to rustle as of late with bands like Satan, Angel Witch, Hell, Blitzkreig, Cloven Hoof, and even Diamond Head have gotten back together and have been releasing new material in the past few years, and this album here serves as the glowing jewel of the genre for the year, that is for sure. I remember hearing about them releasing an album late last year, and I was interested, because I hadn't heard of them before, and upon hearing them, I was pretty impressed with what I was hearing. I can say the same for this album, because they honestly sound like it's 1983 all over again. The vocals have power behind them, but not so much as to overpower the rest of the band, the band also sounds incredibly energized and fresh, almost like they haven't been doing this for over 30 years. It also sounds to me that the band wasn't oo crazy with the production, which I do like, though I will say that the similar sound of all of the songs does get a bit throwing when songs switch and you stop and think, "Have I heard this?", then it hits the chorus and you remember that you haven't and headbang along your merry way. This is an insanely good return for a band that have been gone for so long, and I can't wait to see what they cook up next, because I think we might be getting a New Wave of New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and I'm excited!
Best Tracks: "Time to Die", "Cenotaph", "Incantations", "Life Sentence", "Another Universe".
Coming into this album, I was not quite sure how I would react to it. I knew that it was going to be similar to Candlemass since Leif Edling was at the wheel for this project, and I know that most of the projects that the is involved with have little hints of Candlemass in them, which is always a plus for me. Luckily for me, I was incredibly pleased with what I was given on this record. I think I should start first with my main concern on the record, the vocals. Female fronted bands aren't as much of an issue for me as they are for some metalheads, some of them absolutely hate female vocalists, and I'm sure they have their reasons, and I'm sure they are decent reasons. My problem is when the band leans upon the vocalist as their only unique identifier, there are plenty of bands that do that, In This Moment are the biggest offenders in my book (not to mention, their music is lackluster, in my opinion). Avatarium doesn't do that, luckily for all of us! Jennie-Ann Smith has a great voice, it's very haunting and can pack power when need be, and I absolutely love it. The rest of the band consist of the aforementioned Leif Edlinng on bass, former Royal Hunt guitarist Marcus Jindell, Tiamat drummer Lars Sköld, and former Candlemass keyboardist Carl Westholm. They play a similar style to Candlemass in some ways, but for the most part the overall mood is more bleak and less epic than you would find on an album like 'Nightfall', I would actually say that this album has a lot of tonal similarities to their masterpiece 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus' in terms of tone. I think that the only song that you need to tell you if you'll enjoy this album is the lead track and single, 'Moonhorse', it gives you all you'll need to know, the dreary sections, the heavy sections, the solos, everything you'll need. I feel that in a year where doom metal's elite have been populated by new bands, it's good to see yet another new band show some promise and future to them!
Best Tracks: "Moonhorse", "Avatarium", "Boneflower", "Lady in the Lamp".
This album had the unfortunate honor of coming out a few weeks after the new Children of Bodom album, and as I've already stated, people REALLY loved that album. So I came into this album expecting it to be good, but perhaps not as good as the new Bodom album, and I can say that I did not have those same opinions after I finished listening to this album. I find the two albums to be kindred spirits in metal at the end of the day, the two of them were very similar in terms of melodic death metal quality. That being said, I feel that this managed to go other places in the record, where the new Bodom was strong throughout but suffered a bit due to fatigue. This album was a lot of hooks and interesting ideas to it, it relied more on the deeper synths for ambiance, and I feel the synth use in this album help differentiate some of the songs from one another and helped the album maintain freshness. There was honestly some straight up epic moments from this band on this record, with the keyboards on, "Windlake Tale" being one of the better points of the song as it reaches the end. This is probably one of those records that I am going to be seeking out over the next year because it is very catchy with the guitar patterns that it lays down, but it is also endlessly listenable due to mixture of those guitar hooks and the speed at which they're played. I honestly can not help but headbang as I go back listening through this album, because I find it to be so good that I feel that it'd be insulting for me not to. This band have always been one of the best Melodic Death metal bands,and I am proud to say that they carry on their tradition of quality with this great album!
Best Tracks: "Seventh Swamphony", "Deadfall", "Windlake Tale", "Wolves on the Throne", "Black Marten's Trace".
MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHEAPASSES!
I don't have any free music to give you as I have been busy all week and I have this monster column for you, but this section will also be back with the rest of your regularly scheduled programming a the beginning of the year!
Now we move along to...
THE TEMPLE OF THE DEAD!
Nothing good is coming out this week anyways, who would buy anything new at this time of the year?
But as for my Spotify playlist for this week, I'm actually giving you last year's Best of list so that you guys can relive the Top 50 from last year in anticipation for next week's massive Top 10 column!!!
Now don't hurt yourself, if you did you couldn't hear anything from the place...
WHERE THE RUNES STILL SPEAK!
Our first comment from last week comes to us from, ArtofAlmost
Clutch should be number 1. Definitely my album of the year.
I wouldn't argue with them as a pick, I feel that almost every album on my list here is "album of the year" material, I just have a certain preference for some over others and see others as weaker.
The next comment comes to us from EL Blanco Recluso
Wow Dude! You picked Immolation's worst release as a band over Suffocation's best work since the 90's??
I did!, I felt that Immolation had the better album, the two were very good to me in terms of quality, but I thought that Immolation's was a bit more varied. I don't have a history with either band, so I'm more or less coming to both of them with a blank slate and judging what I hear.
Next up is El Atomico
Glad to see Queensryche on here, even if it is only #50. Also, Red Fang, who are awesome!
I'm glad that they made the list because 50 was a very dangerous spot, but I plan on doing a special mentions category next week to cover the albums that I missed. You are right, by the way, Red Fang ARE awesome!
Next is the penultimate comment is comment that is coming to us from Daniel Wilcox
Clutch need to be higher for sure.
They originally were, but the week before I started writing I went on a metal binge in an attempt to catch up on some quality stuff and those albums ended up pushing bands like Clutch towards the back end of the countdown, unfortunately.
The final comment from last week's column came to us from Cyberalienfreak
Pity I missed warbringer along with Kreator and Overkill, as the concert started before I got there. Looking forward to the rest of the list...
That is a shame, man, that concert sounds killer and I think Warbringer would be a great opener, that sucks. But I hope that you're enjoying the list so far!
So the Global Metal music will come back next year, don't worry, so in the mean time here is a goofy little jam to ring in your new year! So here are California's very own Nekrogoblikon with the song "Giraffe" off of their 'Power' EP.
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!