In the last of our series of Year End Polls, we have Hagalaz’ excellent Top 10 albums of 2013. If your a fan of the darker side of metal, you really should head on over to:
Hagalaz’ blog at http://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com
and let her know that we sent you. As always… Enjoy!
Because there had to be a second list, didn’t there? You can read my all black metal list over at http://blackmetallurgy.wordpress.com if you’d like. But there was too much good stuff that came out this year that just couldn’t fit on that list, so this is the second list for all those albums that were also awesome, but not necessarily black metal (I did put my top black metal album on here, because, you know, this is a best of).
10. The Devil’s Blood- III: Tabula Rasa, or Death and the Seven Pillars
Words cannot express how incredibly, deeply bummed I was earlier this year when The Devil’s Blood announced that they were calling it quits. This band stole my heart back in 2012 when they toured with Behemoth on the inaugural Decibel Tour; their retro occult rock is truly magical. Despite its lack of polish, Tabula Rasa is a fitting epitaph, a gorgeous and soulful monument to one of the most inspiring bands I know.
9. Finntroll – Blodsvept
Finntroll, while always involving trolls and their traditional Finnish humppa music in some way, are always full of surprises. Blodsvept is no exception. This time, the trolls have thrown some swing beats into their häxbrygd, making for a fun, jazzy twist on their standard fare. And that’s not even bringing the steampunk stuff into the equation. Although some traditionalists have issues with this new approach, I always appreciate thinking outside the box. By this point, Finntroll are pretty much wearing the box, and it looks good on them.
8. Exhumed- Necrocracy
I have loved Exhumed since they first splattered me with fake blood three years ago in a dimly lit club in the Des Moines East Village. Necrocracy is a fantastic follow-up to their 2011 comeback album, All Guts, No Glory. Far more death metal than goregrind, Necrocracy is full of catchy riffs and even has a bass solo! Although I dearly love Exhumed’s grindy bits, I am very impressed with the polished death metal on this album, which I think proves the talent that these horror-loving hooligans possess.
7. Satan’s Host- Virgin Sails
Satan’s Host has been the talk of the record store lately, and when I heard them for the first time I understood why. The band has a checkered past; though Satan’s Host started as a traditional heavy metal band, they then shifted to black/death metal before deciding to blend the two. Their newest album, Virgin Sails, is once again a glorious combination of power-metallish vocals and heavy riffs.
6. Inter Arma- Sky Burial
When I listen to Sky Burial, I think the guys from Inter Arma must have just sat down and decided to make a sludge album that sounds like mountains. Blackened dissonance mixed with doomy sludge make this album daunting in a way that feels like being smothered with a particularly heavy blanket.
5. Darkthrone- The Underground Resistance
Darkthrone was one of the biggest reasons I wanted to make a separate list- The Underground Resistance is amazing, and it’s a far cry from black metal. A friend of mine said earlier this year that if you don’t like this album, you must hate fun. I’d have to agree; Darkthrone’s attempt at traditional heavy metal is a great time, and proof that these second-wave black metallers know and love their roots.
4. Gorguts- Colored Sands
Now, I will admit to largely being a black metal die-hard. I am very hard to impress in terms of death metal, and even harder to impress when it comes to techy stuff. Nevertheless, I was completely blown away by Gorguts’ new one. Colored Sands is avant-garde and original, proving that death metal can be technical while still retaining structure.
3. Aosoth- IV: An Arrow In Heart
The #1 spot on my list of black metal albums belongs to dissonant French black metallers Aosoth. An Arrow In Heart is one of the most tense and disconcerting albums I have ever heard; the intensity sits coiled like a spring throughout the whole thing, and you are never given respite from the tension, even in the quieter parts. This is what pure, cold, darkness sounds like, and proof that black metal is still alive in spirit and in practice.
2. Carcass- Surgical Steel
Did anyone really doubt that I’d put Carcass on this list? I mean, Surgical Steel is only the album anyone with the slightest inclination towards death metal has been anxiously awaiting for damn near forever. And the metal gods are pleased. Damn, this is a fun album- I’m really, really picky about my death metal, but Carcass’ grindy, thrashy brand of splatter has always held a soft spot in my heart, and Surgical Steel has some of my favorite cover art, song titles (admit it, “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” is adorable), and riffs of the year.
1. In Solitude- Sister
Swamped with school, I was not able to give Sister the attention I would have liked to earlier on in the semester, but over the past several days I’ve been digesting it, and I have this to say- In Solitude has really come into their own with this one. Their older material is amazing, but still kind of rote (they’ve been described as a young Mercyful Fate, for instance), and as a good friend of mine said, they are kind of assumed to be Watain’s little brothers, always in the shadows of those in front of them. Well, no more. Sister is a powerful album, with incredible and original bass and guitar work, really cool percussion parts, and some of the absolute creepiest lyrics I have ever read. I met these kids (and they are young) at the Decibel Tour, and seeing them triumph makes my heart swell with a weird, metal-motherly sort of affection.
2013 was an amazing year, both for black metal and for metal in a more general sense. There are plenty of great bands that I wasn’t able to fit on this list that also deserve mention- Kylesa, Kadavar, and Joel Grind’s Yellowgoat to name a few. Looking forward to another great year full of awesome new metal in 2014! Infernal hails from the frozen North, and a happy New Year to you all.