The best of the best of the best of 2013. What this year has taught me is that I like the ladies and I like the rawk. I still love my metal but it seems that stone cold rock has infiltrated my soundwaves and made a significant impact. Anywho, without further adieu here is the Top 13 of ’13 according to me!
1. Skinny Puppy: Weapons This is the one for me. Since they reformed in 2004 (Have you pre-ordered your vinyl copy of The Greater Wrong Of The Right yet?) Skinny Puppy has been on a constant path of putting out solid albums….but this is the one that really encapsulated the awesome that is SP. A throwback to the old days yet a step into the future, Weapons captured all that Skinny Puppy has been but ventured off into the beyond with epic results. Stand out’s include the hypnotic opening number “wornin'”, the dance floor-ready “paragUn”, and the cataclysmic “solvent”.
2. Filter: The Sun Comes Out Tonight It was such a great year for Filter. Such a great year! And for me! I had the honor of interviewing Richard Patrick twice and seeing the band destroying at the House Of Blues in Boston in June but the real gem was the album they released around that time. The Sun Comes Out Tonight, quite simply, is Filter’s best. Is it Richard Patrick firing on all cylinders once again or is it his new writing partner Jonny Radtke that’s making this magic happen? Whatever the answer is the results are TSCOT which is a little industrial, a little rock, and a whole lot of ass kicking anthems.
3. Clutch: Earth Rocker ER has lived with me the longest as I’ve had it since January of 2013 and it is still a part of my regular rotation. The most straightforward, balls out rawk album Clutch has put out, it’s also probably their best. Period. If by the time “Oh, Isabella” saunters seductively into banging closer “The Wolfman Kindly Requests….” you don’t agree, then you might need to check your pulse.
4. Middle Class Rut: Pick Up Your Head Unbelievable sophomore release by a duo that expanded into more for their live performances in 2013. “Born Too Late” literally explodes when it comes on while songs like “Leech” and “Cut The Line” are brilliant sonic excursions. In the end, it’s latest single “Dead Eye” that will show you how far MCR have come since their inception. You’re welcome in advance.
5. A Pale Horse Named Death: Lay My Soul To Waste Speaking of sophomore releases, APHND stepped up their game considerably in 2013 with a doom rock record that was lush, bold, and delivered tenfold. Mainman Sal Abruscato recruited former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly (Yes, APHND now features two former TON drummers) to give the band some extra thump while Abruscato expanded his range vocally and sonically to create some masterpieces like “In The Sleeping Death”, “Growing Old”, and “Dead Of Winter” which meshed easily with rockers “Shallow Grave” and “DMSLT”.
6. IAMX: The Unified Field 2013: The year I finally discovered IAMX. Seriously, where have I been for the last 10 years? On The Unified Field, IAMX deliver emotion, sonic excess and superior production to create one of the most compelling and heartfelt albums of the year. “I Come With Knives” and the title track easily prove this to be true.
7. Vista Chino: Peace/QOTSA:…Like Clockwork I know this is a cop out to put both of these in the same rank but they’re both the flip side of the same coin in my opinion and equally appealing in different ways. While Josh Homme and co. go in a completely different direction than his former desert brethren, both albums are separately mature and a perfect fit and progression for each outfit. Peace, being the next logical step in the Kyuss legacy and …Like Clockwork being this grand culmination of work that started on the Kyuss/QOTSA split oh so many years ago.
8. Beyonce: Beyonce/Lady Gaga: ARTPOP: Yeah, I know. Another cop out. But who can choose between these two great ladies? Gaga, the modern-day chameleon shifting from the almost cock rock of Born This Way to the suave electro rush that is ARTPOP? Queen Bey, the elder stateswoman at this point whose surprised album is one of her most consistent and sexiest? I couldn’t choose.
9. Killswitch Engage: Disarm The Descent If the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach wasn’t enough to entice you back to the KSE fold then the fact that this was also one of their most brutal to date should. From the assault of “The Hell In Me” through to the melodious “In Due Time” or the seriously vicious “All That We Have” it’s obviously apparent that this is a reinvigorated KSE that shows no signs of stopping.
10. Royal Thunder: CVI Wow. Just wow. If you haven’t heard “Parsonz Curse” and fallen to the floor in a quivering mess because of its sheer brilliance then I pity you. Miny Parsonz is undoubtedly a frontwoman you need to pay attention while Josh Weaver and Evan Diprima round out Royal Thunder to deliver an album that’s equal parts Sabbath and Heart (The band and the feeling).
11. earthtone9: IV All hail the underground kings. Cut down in their prime because they were making music that was before their time (Make sense?), Nottingham’s own prog-metallers earthtone9 reformed in 2010 but didn’t release the beast of an album that is IV until April of this year, their first full-length since 2000’s arc’tan’gent. Was it worth the lengthy wait for fans? Oh hells yes! Crunching riffs followed by broad melodic passages all topped with Karl Middleton’s deafening growl made IV a step in the right direction for e9.
12. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor Oh man was this the Rob Zombie album I had been waiting for! The kind of album that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and causes one to smile uncontrollably, VRRV hit the nail on the head with each of its 12 ghoul-infested tracks.
13. !!!: THR!!!ER A totally under-the-radar album, THR!!!ER was a subtle yet hypnotic dance favorite of mine in 2013. Frontman Nic Offer, as always, led the !!! crew through some slick grooves and some new instant classics like “Even When The Water’s Cold”, “Get That Rhythm Right”, and “Except Death”.
And I’d be remiss not mention the honorable mentions of 2013 (i.e. How can I squeeze some more albums on here?) so, in no particular order, here they are:
-BLACK TAXI: Chioroscuro
-Mike Doughty: Circles Super Bon Bon…
-Monster Magnet: The Last Patrol
-Korn: The Paradigm Shift/Love & Death: Between Here & Lost
-The Soft Moon: Zeros