Class of 2013: Children of the Damned

COTD

As with last year, the image above is slightly deceiving. It is not a true representation of my favorite metal albums of 2013. What it does represent is another impressive run by Profound Lore Records — the one man operation from Canada that continues to ship outstanding releases year-round. Many of the CDs pictured above are worthy of mention, but the list that follows includes my personal picks from Profound Lore, as well as the rest of my favorite metal albums from the past year. I really don’t believe in separating albums by genre, so this year I decided to do one big list encompassing my Top 40 releases regardless of style. That list is coming, and it will include metal albums, but it’s taking more time than expected, so I decided to make this list as a stopgap.

The albums that follow are ranked by my tastes while working on this list — which is to say that they are not necessarily ranked by musical excellence or artistic merit, and that my ranking would probably be different if I would have done this a week earlier, or a week later.

This list is flawed, as they all are, but I seriously believe that although I might regret the order as time passes, I will stand by my picks. There isn’t anyone out there who will agree with this list in its entirety, but that’s not really the point. This is my list. Mine alone. These are the metal albums I spent the most time with in 2013. These are the metal albums I spent (or will spend) my money on. I just hope you take the time to browse through it. I hope you take the time to find something you didn’t already know about. I hope you agree with some of my picks. I hope you make fun of some of my picks. Let’s start a conversation — only then will we both get something out of it. But if not, no worries, this will just serve as my own personal document of yet another year listening…so others don’t have to.

Colored Sands

20. Gorguts – Colored Sands
(Season of Mist)

silence through heights can be heard

Gorguts – An Ocean of Wisdom

Teethed Glory and Injury

19. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
(Profound Lore)

a remedy and a fever

Altar of Plagues – God Alone

One Chosen by the Gods

18. Æther Realm – One Chosen by the Gods
(Primitive Ways)

a shadow looms and speaks to me

Æther Realm – Ravensong

Beyond

17. Omnium Gatherum – Beyond
(Lifeforce)

there beyond excuses, there beneath the waves

Omnium Gatherum – New Dynamic

Old Mornings Dawn

16. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
(Napalm)

bewildered on enchanted ways

Summoning – Flammifer

Memorial

15. Russian Circles – Memorial
(Sargent House)

what sang in me sings no more

Russian Circles – Memoriam

Avatarium

14. Avatarium – Avatarium
(Nuclear Blast)

nobody knows if dreams were found

Avatarium – Moonhorse

Echoes Of Battle

13. Caladan Brood – Echoes of Battle
(Northern Silence Productions)

through ages forgotten, in many a traveler’s dream

Caladan Brood – Echoes of Battle

Vertikal

12. Cult of Luna – Vertikal
(Indie)

inhale and cease beating yourself into submission

Cult of Luna – I: The Weapon

AEnigma

11. In Vain – Ænigma
(Indie)

red moon falls on the horizon

In Vain – Against the Grain

Pelagial

10. The Ocean – Pelagial
(Metal Blade)

sinking towards the unknown inside of ourselves

The Ocean have created a concept album based on their namesake. Pelagial is a journey to the uncharted, extreme depths of the sea with a post-metal soundtrack. The goal was to sequence the tracks in an “increasingly dark and claustrophobic” fashion “in emulation of the diminishing light and increasing pressure that comes with oceanic descent”. I don’t know about all that, but I have really enjoyed this album throughout the year.

The Ocean – Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny

Odori Sepulcrorum

09. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum
(Profound Lore)

the everlasting wheel is unveiled

Cavernous death metal crawling along at a dead snail’s pace is not really my thing. No matter how hard I try, I can’t differentiate between the countless bands who possess the patience required to create that type of music. But every so often I come across an album that changes my mind — Odori Sepulcrorum is one of those albums.

Grave Miasma – Death’s Meditative Trance

Soma

08. Windhand – Soma
(Relapse)

freedom, no freedom for me

Let’s just get this out of the way — this album contains a song with a runtime of over 30 minutes. Windhand don’t want to be labeled “doom”, but that’s what they are. This album is a test of patience, but if you pass, you will be rewarded. Like the forest portrayed on the cover, there are secrets hidden in the depths.

Windhand – Orchard

Heart of Oak

07. Anciients – Heart of Oak
(Season of Mist)

all roads lead to the longest river

The Vancouver-based band’s debut full length album serves up some Baroness and Mastodon slightly peppered with Opeth, and while that might sound pretty unoriginal, I’d argue that Heart of Oak is better than anything those bands have released in the past couple years.

Anciients – Raise the Sun

Surgical Steel

06. Carcass – Surgical Steel
(Nuclear Blast)

the cycle of death exhausted well and truly plagued

The unhinged masters return with their first release in 17 years and it annihilates all expectations. Twisted and grotesque as they wanna be, Carcass still make me what to sing along out loud while pumping my fist in the air. Seeing them live for the first time is something I’m really looking forward to in 2014.

Carcass – Thrasher’s Abattoir

Rites of Separation

05. Agrimonia – Rites of Separation
(Southern Lord)

—–

There isn’t enough space here to delve into all the sounds contained within Agrimonia’s fourth album, so I’ll just list a few — hardcore, crust, blackened death, post-rock — growls, shrieks and melody. Rites of Separation acts as something of a history lesson of everything Southern Lord has released over the past decade. I came across this album late in the year, and I had never heard Agrimonia before it, but I’m almost positive this album would have been a contender for my #1 spot if I had spent more time with it.

Agrimonia – Talion

More Constant Than The Gods

04. SubRosa – More Constant Than the Gods
(Profound Lore)

a tender end to a life of descent

Anyone who thinks doom metal can only be appreciated pound-for-pound with an equal amount of weed hasn’t experienced Salt Lake City’s (yes Salt Lake City) SubRosa. Granted, there are many who love doom and do not buy the green stuff in bulk, but More Constant Than the Gods should appeal to those well outside that circle. Rebecca Vernon’s vocals weave themselves in and around strings, woodwinds and precious piano notes, all while balancing on tectonic plates of riff and sludge. This is some Earth shifting shit.

SubRosa – Ghosts Of A Dead Empire

One of Us is the Killer

03. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is the Killer
(Sumerian)

now one of us must die, but the killer won’t survive

The lure of The Dillinger Escape Plan has always escaped me. Not until One of Us Is the Killer (and seeing them perform live) was I able crack the code. Where I only heard screaming in the past, I am now able to experience their full palette of sound. This album proves that just the right amount of hardcore + punk + metal + progressive rock = perfect pandemonium.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is the Killer

Sister

02. In Solitude – Sister
(Metal Blade)

tender hands, caress your shivering back

The young band from Sweden reinvented themselves with their latest release. Moving away from their obvious influences toward a more gothic sound was a calculated risk, but one that has paid off well. Sister has a completely unique sound that sets In Solitude apart from their Swedish brethren. The album took a few listens to reveal its true face, but once it did, there was no turning away.

In Solitude – He Comes

Sunbather

01. Deafheaven – Sunbather
(Deathwish)

hindered by sober restlessness

I know, I know…not the most original pick for the #1 spot, huh? In my defense, I have been a Deafheaven advocate since they were less than a year old. When they came through Denver for the first time they played Blast-O-Mat with a bunch of hardcore bands and I was one of the very few who stuck around for their set. We interviewed George and Kerry that night. They were just stoked that someone wanted to talk to them. Roads to Judah was my #5 album that year — something the band, their label and their management thought merited posts and tweets. This was before “Dream House” introduced their introspective blackgaze to the masses. The guys from San Francisco weren’t dreaming about girls on towels in wealthy gardens back then, and they didn’t dare to dream about releasing the most critically acclaimed album of 2013. Their biggest dream in 2011 was to play the Great American Music Hall — a dream that came true only months after speaking with them. I’ve seen Deafheaven perform live 4 times. I’ve introduced them to countless people (most of whom were not all that receptive). They are one of my favorite bands making music today. Sunbather is a fiercely monumental album by an extremely talented young band. It deserves the #1 spot on this blog, but more importantly, it deserves all the attention it has received since its release. It is a true masterpiece and I can’t wait to hear what this band does next.

Deafheaven – Dream House

Favorite Metal Albums of 2013:
20. Gorguts – Colored Sands
19. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
18. Æther Realm – One Chosen by the Gods
17. Omnium Gatherum – Beyond
16. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
15. Russian Circles – Memorial
14. Avatarium – Avatarium
13. Caladan Brood – Echoes of Battle
12. Cult of Luna – Vertikal
11. In Vain – Ænigma
10. The Ocean – Pelagial
09. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum
08. Windhand – Soma
07. Anciients – Heart of Oak
06. Carcass – Surgical Steel
05. Agrimonia – Rites of Separation
04. SubRosa – More Constant Than the Gods
03. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is the Killer
02. In Solitude – Sister
01. Deafheaven – Sunbather

Favorite Metal Shows of 2013:
10. Danzig w/ Doyle @ Ogden Theater
09. Alice Cooper / Marilyn Manson @ Red Rocks
08. Morbid Angel @ Bluebird Theater
07. Watain / In Solitude @ Marquis Theater
06. Enslaved / Pallbearer /Royal Thunder / Ancient VVisdom @ Marquis Theater
05. Death To All / Anciients @ Gothic Theatre
04. Black Sabbath @ Shoreline Amphitheatre
03. The Dillinger Escape Plan / The Ocean / Norma Jean / Animals as Leaders @ Ogden Theater
02. Neurosis @ Summit Music Hall
01. Deafheaven / Marriages @ Marquis Theater

Class of 2013: The Soundtrack
Class of 2013: The Overachievers
Class of 2013: The Performers
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Favorite Metal Albums 2013