MXWow, what a year! A large portion of 2013 has had me working my ass off in preparation for my stint out at sea with 70,000 Tons of Pure Fucking METAL! I’ve tried to curtail my excitement, but fuck it, this is huge – Carcass, Septicflesh, Finntroll, Overkill… what more could a girl ask for?

2013 in metal has been decent. Granted, there were a few releases that left the mucky, grim taste of disappointment in my mouth. But by contrast, there were also some dark horses that bolted the stable and had me heading off on galloping tangents straight to Hell.

I’m mightily pleased that this year saw me becoming a full-time contributor and member of the unholy trinity that is AMG – it’s a blast working with our Angry Metal Overlord and of course Steel “Mini-Overlord” Druhm, and I hope that 2014 goes on to see AMG growing bigger, bolder and more angry. To the new writers that have joined, it’s great to meet you all. And sadly to Alex Franquelli, sorry to see you go friend. Finally, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the site – keep it Angry!

Here’s to 2013:

Avenged_Sevenfold_-_Hail_To_The_King(ish): Avenged Sevenfold // Hail to the King – This hard-rock album shows a stripped down side to A7X, that’s catchy and easily digestible and probably closest to a mix of their self titled offering from back in 2007 and Nightmare. They’ve done away with much of the flashy, over-the-top duelling guitar theatrical crap that Syn and Zacky are known for, and re-focussed their attention on delivering a lean, uncluttered attack that’s more honest and organic. In tune with the laid-back, melodic feel of the tracks, Syn delivers his solos like a well tattooed fist to the face, they’re packed with melodic hooks and shift between being melancholic and bizarrely messed-up. This album shows a maturity to A7X that I didn’t expect, go an pay homage to the title track for a taster.

black-sabbath-13-cover#10: Black Sabbath // 13 – If you have “blood on your conscious and murder in mind,” 13 provides one hell of a soundtrack. Though the album sounds distinctly modern and easy-listening when compared with what Sabbath have done in the past, tracks like “Loner” and “Live Forever” are still reminiscent of the bygone days of Heaven and Hell to leave you with a hefty dose of nostalgia. In light of the advanced age of these metal maestros, Rick Rubin pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Ozzy belts it out in top form, sounding like he hasn’t aged a day and is well placed up front in the mix, which is a huge draw-card for me. But it’s Tony Iommi’s jazzy solo at the end of my favourite track “Zeitgeist” that brings this album to an absolute pinnacle for me – what’s not to love about the ‘Guitar Black Messiah.’ 13 proves that Black Sabbath haven’t lost their fascination with the darker side of life.

Parasite-Inc.-Time-Tears-Down-Cover#9: Parasite Inc // Time Tears Down – With the vocal might of a werewolf and instrumentation that hits like a wrecking ball, it would have been sacrilege not including these guys in my top 10. Parasite Inc have a strong lyrical backbone, destructive groove, skilful breakdowns and versatile vocals and despite the album including a hefty 13 tracks, don’t be alarmed if you hit “Deadlife” and you find yourself questioning WTF happened. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, Time Tears Down is over just way too damn fast!

Hell Curse and Capter#8: Hell // Curse & Chapter – Axl Rosenberg put it perfectly during an interview with Oderus Urungus of GWAR. “Metal is SUPPOSED to be theatrical; it’s SUPPOSED to be fun. We’re not curing cancer — we’re purging demons.” Curse & Chapter is exactly that, Dave Bower’s shrill vocals are so over-the-top, theatrical 80’s power metal cheese that somehow like Attila Dorn’s (Powerwolf) they become more endearing than annoying. What can I say about this album that Steel Druhm hasn’t already said. If you can get past Dave Bower’s vocals, or like me grow to love them, Curse & Chapter‘s brimming with top-notch instrumentation that makes this wild ride a must have!

monstermagnetlastpatrol#7: Monster Magnet // Last Patrol – When Steel Druhm blew the whistle that Monster Magnet‘s creatively adorned, smoky van was back in town trolling and that they had free candy, of course I had to see what that was all about. Last Patrol‘s disorientating, stoner-themed hard rock proved to be a great place to start with Monster Magnet. And I highly recommend that if you’re new to the brand of sleaze these oddball rockers kick out, crank up the volume to full and hit play on the trippy title track, the bizarrely doomy “Three Kingfishers,” or surrender to the “Mindless Ones.”

Misanthropic Propaganda Cover#6: Quest of Aidance // Misanthropic Propaganda – My infatuation with Swedish deathgrind band Quest of Aidance and their V concept album (based on the 1983 television series) didn’t wear off. Their take on death metal’s technicality and grind’s brutality collided head-on, reminding me of a Dying Fetus, Misery Index mash-up with some Travis Richter (The Human Abstract) progressive elements thrown in for good measure. The album comes at you head on with a two-prong vocal assault consisting of raging, deep-throated, growls and larynx-shredding screams that have some similarities to Travis Richter’s vocal style. If you haven’t already done so, get your hands on “Section 34,” “Red Dust” and “The 5th Column” for a taster of what Misanthropic Propaganda delivers.

Obscure sphinx#5: Obscure Sphinx // Void MotherObscure Sphinx play a kind of tasty, female-fronted post-metal that, as I mentioned before, brings to mind the intensified texture and aggression of Tool‘s 10,000 Days and the atmosphere of Melencolia Estatica‘s Hel. Having picked up this beautifully adorned album based on the album art, it was a pleasant surprise when I got stuck into Void Mother and discovered the otherworldly, awe inspiring vocal style of this frontlady. She goes from delivering blissful cleans and skin-crawling shrieks in “Waiting for the Bodies Down the River Floating” to in stark contrast, bassy growls worthy of her male counterparts in “Decimation.” Void Mother is bass heavy, packed with distortion, richly atmospheric and climbs from moments of absolute minimalism upwards to deliver dramatic, climaxing crescendos. Check out “The Presence of Goddess,” slackers!

Cerekloth#4: Cerekloth // In the Midst of Life We Are in Death – Born from the ashes of Church Bizarre, Cerekloth‘s début death metal release has all the darkness of a Svart Crown offering combined with the funereal dirge-like feel that I crave from Loss. In the Midst of Life We Are in Death bleakly trudges through the bands own struggles with chronic illness among other dark subjects all set to a brutally pessimistic soundtrack. Much like that heavy feeling you have when you schlepp a body behind you through the woods, tracks like “Halo of Syringes,” “Mesmerizing Holy Death,” “When Outcast Become Kings” and “The Reapers Instant Is Our Eternity” will slowly and deliberately haul you into Cerekloth‘s own personal hell. Since the release of this album, the band’s been put on hiatus.

Eudaimony#3: Eudaimony // FutileFutile is the unholy début of former Dark Fortress front man Matthias Jell (the bearer of dark tidings), Naglfar’s Marcus E. Norman on guitars, bass and synthesizer and Secrets of the Moon‘s Jörg Heemann on drums. As soon as you hit play you’re berated with a mixture of traditional black metal and crushing misery that suggests that happiness is an illusion and that from the moment you first draw breath, your life is in fact ending. Jell’s horse, anguished ministrations bring to mind elements of Watain, Urgehal and Ragnarok, and if his intense delivery and the bands dark message doesn’t get under your skin, then absolutely nothing will!

Carcass - Surgical Steel#2: Carcass // Surgical Steel – Listening to this album it still blows me away that it comes a lengthy 17-years after Swansong. From the onset you’ll hear that Surgical Steel is packed to the hilt with aggressive song-writing, intelligent, penetrating guitar solo’s that I can only describe as breathtaking in size and ravaging, dizzying drum work. That said, it’s frontman Jeff Walker’s rabid vocal style that crosses between a kind of snarled growl that brings me back to this album time and time again. Contrary to the title of my favourite track, Surgical Steel is anything but “Unfit For Human Consumption!”

#1: Shade Empire // Omega Arcane – It seems the epic grandeur of Omega Arcane vehemently resisted all attempt at slipping into obscurity. Shade Empire‘s beast of a fourth album will appeal to fans of say Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh or Chaosweaver and it’s tracks like “Dawnless Days,” “Ash Statues,” “Disembodiment,” “Slumbering Giant” and the title track lay hint to the different dimensions and melodic beauty that Shade Empire deliver. The vocal style on the album flows between otherworldly chants, malevolent whispers, hellish black metal screams and savage, death-like roars – in other words, a little something for everyone. My only complaint remains that at 72 minutes Omega Arcane is a daunting listen. A top notch release!

Shade Empire Omega

 

Honorable Mentions:

GWAR // Battle Maximus – A battle of epic proportions ensued, and the mighty GWAR triumphed! Battle Maximus proved to be a worthy piece of monster metal enforcing that GWAR are back and stronger than ever.
Enforcer // Death by Fire – A vintage mashup of NWoBHM and early American speed metal. As the year wore on, this zany, galloping thrill-ride had me craving the smell of hairspray while earning its place as my favorite side of Enforcer!
Space God Ritual // Eldritch Tales – A fuzzy, ’70s era slab of American doom, paying homage to Lovecraft. Go on, get lost in Space God Ritual‘s grip of “Madness!”
All Else Fails // Fucktropolis – Fucktropolis served up with a healthy dose of truth and blasphemy fused together with dizzying solo’s and Wagner grandeur. A metalcore work of fine art.
Skeletonwitch // Serpents Unleashed – A full-throttle, blackened thrash thrill-ride that doesn’t let up!
Blood Mortized // The Demon, the Angel, the Disease – Delivering old-school Swedish death the way it was intended… with bone-crushing, brutal intensity!
Audrey Horne // Youngblood – An addictively edgy hard-rock opus brought to you by members of the mighty Enslaved and Sahg.

Disappointments o’ the Year:

Fleshgod Apocalypse // Labyrinth
Satan’s Wrath // Aeons Of Satan’s Reign
Motörhead // Aftershock

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  • Sordid Bass

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who really didn’t enjoy Fleshgod Apocalypse…

    • Madam__X

      Yeah, I got through the album once and it did nothing for me unfortunately.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    ou yeah youre the best i post in the other guys reclaming where is shade empire and anybody like my it. is the best of the year for so long, sorry my english

    • Madam__X

      Your English is great :) Yeah I saw your comments on the other posts but didn’t want to spoil the news. Omega Arcane is a great release and I’m stoked I got to review it.

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    and disembodiment is the best fuckin music of the year

  • Andres Pintos Nocerino

    ômega arcane is the best from Enslaved Riitiir from 2012

  • Avenged Sevenfold?? That earned you two weeks metal detention in the detention area of iron.

    • Yeah, guess what her favorite Amon Amarth song is. OH RIGHT, THE FUCKING SYSTEM OF A DOWN COVER!

      How the hell is she still working here?

      • She bakes cookies and keeps the boys from fightin and feudin.

      • Madam__X

        It’s my charm and admin skills… you don’t find that combo just anywhere :P

        • Realkman666

          Fuck these haters, best-sounding album out there. :D

      • I mean… they did do a pretty good job, or so I thought (which doesn’t count for much)

      • Zadion

        That wouldn’t be my favorite, but it’d be pretty close. System of a Down is actually pretty good, but Amon Amarth is boring as hell more often than not. Oh yeah, and not even their cover is as good as the original (not like that needs stated).

    • Madam__X

      Is there wifi?

      • NO, just elevator music from 1977. I hope you like The Bee Gees.

        • Madam__X

          Good God, that’s suicide stuff!! Let’s negotiate shall we… shortbread for metal?

          • RU63

            “Exiled in an elevator, BEE GEES, Nooo, aaarrrgg”
            I think this could be a a great start to an awesome song!

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I was starting to think everyone had forgotten just how amazing the new Shade Empire was. In a way, it’s the Fleshgod album we didn’t get this year.

    • Madam__X

      You hit the nail on the head!!

  • Shahir Chagan

    Yeah I may not be a fan of Avenged Sevenfold but they were a band that got me into metal in yonder days and I can tell that this is their worst to date. Not disputing your taste, just wondering: why??
    HOWEVER I do like the rest of your list (heard about 80% of it) and the Parasite Inc. and Shade Empire albums were pretty damn cool. So, kudos!

    • Madam__X

      Maybe it’s nostalgia, something keeps me a loyal A7X follower lol :)

      • Shahir Chagan

        It reminds me of my love for In Flames – I always see something that should be wrong or bad, they’re panned by ‘elitist’ critics (like the rest of your staff, no offence :P) yet there’s always something I love about them.

        • Madam__X

          That’s it exactly!!

  • RU63

    Really diggin Obscure Sphinx // Void Mother, wouldn’t have given it a listen if it didn’t make your list; so thanks!
    Edit: Please tell me this is the ROTM for November?

  • alexfranquelli

    I’ll check them all out, Miss. And the pleasure was all mine! Keep up the great work!

    • Madam__X

      You too!!

    • Damn, I always enjoyed your writing style. Good luck with your future endeavors!

  • Excentric_1307

    Been listening to Blood Mortized quite a bit; it may not reinvent the genre but it’s damn good! And… Why have I not heard of Shade Empire before now?!

    • Madam__X

      You need to hear it!! :)

      • Excentric_1307

        WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! It has a different feel and identity from either of the ‘Fleshes, with what sounds to these ears as a fairly dynamic range. My fiancee and I are absolutely fans now.

        • Madam__X

          That’s great to hear :D

  • Nice list! A couple I missed the first time they were reviewed here but I’ll go check them now for sure.

    • Madam__X

      Excellent!! Look forward to your comments when you’ve heard them :)

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    Nice and interesting. Great shout out to the Magnet. If you started out with Last Patrol move on to Dopes to Infinity!

  • Bogdan Niculae

    Nice list ! That Obscure Sphynx record is hauntingly beautiful and I hadn’t even heard about it before reading your list (I gotta admit I sometimes miss “Things You Might Have Missed” :) ).

    Will check out Cerekloth (can’t figure out how I missed this one since I remember reading the review) and maybe Eudaimony.

  • McBasstard

    Am I the only one who heard xanthochroids release this year? I thought I would see it on some lists.

    • Madam__X

      I gave it a listen but for some reason it didn’t bowl me over.

  • Barry Neilson

    Great shout on Quest of Aidance. As a Christian Alvestam fanboy I love everything this guy does.

    • Madam__X

      I’m waiting with baited breath for more from Quest of Aidance.

  • The Metal Pigeon

    I really appreciate that quote: ““Metal is SUPPOSED to be theatrical; it’s SUPPOSED to be fun. We’re not curing cancer — we’re purging demons.”

    More than anything this year, I think that quote sums up a minor, semi-reactionary attitude I’m finding within myself when looking at many of the big publication’s best metal lists. With the exception of a few, most of them are big on noise/shoegaze/sludge/stoner/cross-genre/etc which is FINE as long as its pushing the genre forward creatively. But it makes me ask the long pondered question of why is it that some spectrums of metal are more acceptable to certain demographics than well, to be blunt, metal as we have all grown up knowing and loving it.

    Sometimes, its hard to not feel that there is an insistence at work to ignore the reality that a large spectrum of metal is still relatively tied to those foundations of the genre, such as that quote indicates: theatricality, fun, escapism..

    Also Powerwolf’s “Sacred and Wild” is a great sing-along party metal track!

  • I owe discovering Cerekloth and Obscure Sphinx to your reviews. Glad to see both these albums made the cut. Once I heard “Void Mother” that album immediately made it onto my ‘top’ list.

    • Madam__X

      Lol they absolutely demanded a spot, resistance was futile :)

  • Czeching You Out

    YES! Time Wears Down was a great album. Also surprised to see the Avenged Sevenfold album, not necessarily in a bad way, just unexpected. As much shit as I give them, the title track and Shepard of Fire got stuck in my head way more then I would like to admit. Though Shepard of Fire would’ve been better if not for that STUPID lyric,
    “Let’s take a moment and breaak the ice!”

    • Madam__X

      Agreed, there are definitely a few cringe-worthy moments on the A7X album, thankfully they’re outweighed in favour of the good :)

  • Kyungmi Nam

    You have no idea how happy I am that you put Shade Empire first. Good taste. Only thing I would add to the list is Omnium Gatherum’s Beyond. Cheers~

    • Madam__X

      A good album indeed, I would like to have had a slot for Omnium Gatherum too, it was a tough decision not to include Beyond!!

    • Tanuki

      +1. I was starting to think it wouldn’t make anyone’s list. Def blew me away. Epic and heavy but never feels cheesy.

  • Rui Miguel Silva

    Obscure Sphinx. Now there is something i would most likely never pick up was it not for your enthusiastic review. Great, great record. Eudamony?!…. Hell!!! Picked it up justa a few days ago and my mind has been so blown away i’m still having trouble finding it again!

    • Madam__X

      Haha that’s brilliant!! The good thing about minds is that thankfully they come back again :)

  • Carlos_Marrickvillian

    Obscure Sphinx would make my top ten for album art, I bet a lot of people picked it up on spec due to the awesome art.

    • Madam__X

      I think so too :)

  • Zadion

    …Avenged Sevenfold? I’m saying this as a huge A7X fanboy: Hail to the King fucking SUCKED. You say “They’ve done away with much of the flashy, over-the-top duelling guitar theatrical crap that Syn and Zacky are known for” like that’s a good thing when it’s totally not. Man, that is almost my #1 disappointment for the year. The City of Evil days are long gone.

  • Christofer

    Black Metal Supergroup Eudaimony. Must check those guys out.

  • Jay Alan Goodwin

    I’m not personally an A7X fan at all but I’m glad you’re not too “metal-hip” to pretend you don’t like them. It’s refreshing to see metal bloggers cover ALL metal and not pretend the commercially-successful stuff doesn’t exist or “isn’t metal.”

    • Madam__X

      The AMG team are good like that :)

  • Brandon Lange

    Avenged Sevenfold = FAG Metal