Metal Hammer’s Top 50 Albums Of 2013 – All In One Place!

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Metalhammer
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We’ve been counting down our Top 50 Albums of 2013, as voted for by our writers and staff, so here’s the full list in one, big, happy post. Enjoy, and let us know what you think. Even if you think we’ve got it wrong (which we totally haven’t, it’s awesome):

50. Bruce Soord And Jonas Renkse – Wisdom Of Crowds

When a member of acclaimed UK proggers The Pineapple Thief gets together with the frontman of Katatonia, you can pretty much guarantee that amazing things are going to occur. As it happens, Wisdom Of Crowds‘s gorgeous, affecting blend of spacious prog, ambient electronic flourishes and raw emotion was a surefire hit and another example of music that doesn’t have to be layered with blastbeats and gutteral screams to feel, well, heavy.


49. Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

From astro-acoustic balladry to typically boisterous stoner rock anthems, Monster Magnet’s ninth studio outing was both a refreshing glance to the side yet reassuringly familiar, never straying too far from the NJ icons’ long-refined blueprint yet still throwing in the odd welcome surprise or two. Almost a quarter-century into their career, Dave et al still have the capacity to reassert themselves as absolute Dons of haze-clad riffery.


48. The Defiled – Daggers

One of the UK’s most promising new bands came up trumps in spectacular style for their sophomore album, with their knack for penning a catchy tune or six given the space to run riot. Boasting more than a couple of the year’s very best songs (Sleeper is still melting our speakers on a weekly basis), it was a ferocious statement of intent that has established the Londoner’s as one of our loudest, most unique young voices. Watch this space…


47. Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark

With the occult rock revolution in full flow, few could doubt that Blood Ceremony were one of the scene’s most genuine, affecting faces, and with The Eldritch Dark, they once again underlined the most important magickal credential of all: great music. Sabbath-heavy riffs and hellaciously deceptive hooks, all tied around the unstoppable vocals of Alia O’Brien, that this was a surefire sign that the movement has plenty left in the tank yet.


46. Satan – Life Sentence

Coming a not-so-swift 26 years after their last release, 1987′s suitably-monikered Suspended Sentence, Satan’s newie was certainly a long time coming. And oh goodness, was it worth the wait. A bolt straight out of the NWOBHM’s glorious heydey, this was all galloping melodies, ripping riffage and enough fist-pumping moments to make Manowar look like My Dying Bride. A sensational return and a serious shout for best straight-up heavy metal album of 2013.

45. HIM – Tears On Tape

It has been a turbulent few years for the Finns. Leading into the recording of Tears On Tape, Ville Valo was battling some personal demons and drummer Mika Karppinen had to undergo physical therapy and take an extended sabbatical due to serious nerve damage to his hands and arms. The result was a typically candid and emotionally raw offering that was by some margin HIM’s strongest album in years, and a suitably melancholic soundtrack to some dark times for the band.


44. Bleed From Within – Uprising

We knew the Scottish ragers had the potential to create something decent, but we certainly weren’t prepared for this. Boasting the kind of metallic grooves and building-leveling riffs that Lamb Of God would be proud of, Uprising is a masterclass in crafting arena-ready anthems for metal fans that want a bit more from their no-nonsense metal bands. The likes of Colony and the album’s immense title track are some of the very best songs of 2013, and you can’t help but suspect that there’s more to come.


43. Argus – Beyond The Martyrs

Sometimes, only full-throttle, no-dicking-about, swords-and-shields-at-the-ready heavy metal majesty will do, and Argus delivered that and much more with their third full-length. Doom-infused NWOBHM riffing coupled with Maiden-esque melodies and more call-to-arms lyrical lines then you can shake a Game Of Thrones DVD at, this was a thunderous piece of work that eclipsed plenty of recent offerings from some of metal’s greats.


42. Wilson – Full Blast Fuckery

The album name alone is worth getting some kind of mention when it comes to 2013 retrospective pieces, but the music itself is as good a party soundtrack as you could hope to hear this year. Smashing together chunky hardcore riffs a la Cancer Bats and Every Time I Die with hook-riddled rock ‘n’ roll and the occasional smidgen of heavy metal bastardry, this is one of the best debuts of 2013 and stands firmly in the If-You-Don’t-Like-This-Album-You-Are-A-Massive-Wanker camp. Listen to Wilson.


41. Jex Thoth – Blood Moon Rise

If you like your music sprinkled with doses of psychedelia and heedy occult undertones, there’s rarely been a better time to be a metal fan, and few voices stand out from the pack like that of Jex Thoth. Alongside her supremely talented, eponymous band, she has crafted an absolute stunner of an opus in Blood Moon Rise, all fuzzy, distorted tones and sultry, mystickal aura.


40. Black Spiders – This Savage Land

How do you follow up one of the best rock ‘n’ roll debuts of the last five years? You amp it up, player harder and go filthier. This Savage Land was another swagger-filled stomp through rock music’s finest calling cards, from the gritty riffage of early-AC/DC and speed ‘n’ spunk of Motorhead to the cocksure melodies of Thin Lizzy. British rock music doesn’t get much better than this.


39. Avatarium – Avatarium

When Candlemass legend Leif Edling found himself with a ton of new material at his disposal and no muse on which to mould it, he brought in talented songstress Jennie Ann Smith, and Avatarium was born. The result is the band’s debut, self-titled album, a beautifully balanced mix of lush melodies and rootsy riffs. We approve.


38. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual

Being road-weary veterans of death metal clearly hasn’t damped Autopsy’s hunger for producing a no-nonsense, grimy, hellacious racket. The Headless Ritual was another reminder of why it’s a strange injustice that Autopsy have never quite attained the level of mass respect and appreciation that many of their peers possess, but with songs this gnarly in their back pocket, it’s clearly not bothered them one jot.


37. Rotting Christ – Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy

The Greeks smashed it once again with an expansive, genre-hopping opus that merged tremelo-heavy black metal majesty with prog-leaning influences and a stadium-friendly production that, rather than give the songs a vapid sheen, made them bigger, bolder and heavier. The band’s best album yet? Quite possibly. One of the best extreme metal albums of 2013? Undoubtedly.


36. Orchid – The Mouths Of Madness

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Orchid very nearly (but not quite) managed to out-Sabbath Sabbath themselves for their second full-length, taking not so much a leaf from Tony Iommi’s book as a good few chapters, a prologue and the contents page. Still, when it’s done this convincingly, it can only do great things, and The Mouths Of Madness is by any sensible measure a fucking great doom metal album.


35. Twilight Of The Gods – Fire On The Mountain

Primordial’s Alan Averill teaming up with former and current members of Dimmu Borgir, Aura Noir and Lock Up to pay tribute to Viking metal innovators Bathory was always going to be immense fun, but when the band decided to actually go and release their own material, the result was astounding. Seven tracks of flawless heavy metal thunder, Fire On The Mountain puts hair on your chest and fire in your belly.


34. Beastmilk – Climax

Now this was one right out of leftfield. Hexvessel frontman Mat McNerney – AKA Kvohst – emerged in the summer with this curious beast. Produced by Converge genius Kurt Ballou, Climax pays heavy, gloom-tinged homage to the likes of Joy Division and Killing Joke in a foggy haze of post-punk and 80s goth. It was something a little different, and metalheads loved it for it.


33. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu

Oranssi’s vast, Pink Floyd-enriched take on black metal taps into deep reserves of psychedelic wrongness bubbling beneath the genre’s harsh surface, and in Valonielu they produced an album that was equal parts ritualistic and cosmic, boasting complex yet utterly transfixing dynamics suffused with all manner of stealthy distortion, quivering guitar riffs and 70s sci-fi FX. Lovely stuff.


32. Dream Theater – Dream Theater

It’s always a bold move releasing a self-titled album this far into your career, but the prog metal legends managed to release an opus that defines their body of work as well as anything they’ve put their name to to date. Drummer Mike Mangini’s role is clearly growing to great effect – this is a fine piece of work and the band’s best for quite some time.


31. Cult Of Luna – Vertikal 

It’s been far too long since we had a new CoL full-length, but holy shit was it worth the wait. The post-metal Swedes produced a sprawling masterpiece that firmly reinstated them as one of the most unique and aurally challenging forces our world has to offer.



30. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

With 2009′s Black Gives Way To Blue serving as pretty much the greatest comeback album since Back In Black, the bar was set enormously high for this one. The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here provided more of the same riff-heavy, sumptuously toned melody of its predecessor peppered with a few more subtle, melancholic numbers. It was a grower more than a shower, but it was still an opus befitting of AIC’s awesome legacy.


29. Hell – Curse & Chapter

Is there any other band on the planet right now that can produce pure, unadulterated heavy metal with as much gusto, showmanship and single-minded bravado as Hell? Curse & Chapter was a glorious, fantastical romp through metal’s glory days and yet felt as vital and relevant as anything else released in our world this year. A victory for heavy music indeed.


28. Wardruna – Yggdrasil

Another empowering show of the diversity and boundary-stretching limits of our world, Wardruna’s latest was a slap to the face of any artist who thought that all you need to produce a an electric atmosphere was some robes, a Ouija Board and some Black Sabbath riffs. Wardruna’s art has to be seen in the flesh to truly flourish, but Yggdrasil is a fine hymn-sheet to to engulf oneself within nonetheless.


27. Philip H Anselmo & The Illegals – WalkThrough Exits Only

Look, it’s not like Uncle Phil needs to earn any metal credits, but holy fuck, this was heavy. Unleashing his rawest, most relentless vocal performance since Pantera called it a day and going harder and heavier than anything he’d done before, this was a surprise to even die-hard Anselmo fanboys. Our teeth are still rattling.


26. Tesseract – Altered State

Few young British bands have gone through as much lineup turmoil as Tesseract have in their brief tenure on this Earth, but, four singers in and on album number two, they seem to have finally settled on a frontman that’s gonna stick and a direction that is being approached with alarming confidence and clarity. Embracing the progressive undertones that were sewn into debut One, this is a masterful work that has thrown their “djent”-labelled shackles to the wayside.

25. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance

The greatest duo in extreme metal history moved on from black metal dabblings long ago, and it is perhaps no surprise, given today’s climates, to have seen them dip their toes further into straight-out heavy metal territory for album number 15. Merging the grim rumble of Celtic Frost with flourishes of NWOBHM gallantry and Mercyful Fate’s theatrics, this was another outstanding effort from the minds of Fenriz and Nocturno.


24. Nails – Abandon All Life

In an era where low-end rumble, crust-covered punk ‘n’ roll and grinding noise is somewhat au fait with the underground’s more trend-led tendencies, Nails remain a colossal, rusty boot-clad kick in the nuts. Face-meltingly brutal and teeth-chatteringly demented, it’s the soundtrack to the apocalypse on speed. Which is exactly as fun as it sounds.


23. Malevolence – Reign Of Suffering

As debuts go, this takes some beating. Drawing on influences as varied but equally weighty as Pantera, Lamb Of God, Testament and Hatebreed, this isn’t just one of the best debuts of 2013, but of the last five years and beyond. Tracks like mosh anthem Eternal Torment and the rumbling, menacing Turn To Stone are as good as it gets for metal in 2013.


22. Heart Of A Coward – Severance

Perhaps unfairly lumped in with the nevertheless hugely exciting djent movement when they first emerged, Heart Of A Coward have always had more crossover potential in the tank than their immediate peers. Tracks like Nauseam and Psychophant have the muscular brawn to match their brain and give Severance enough weight to pull Heart Of A Coward kicking and screaming out of the underground and into metal’s wider consciousness.

20. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side Of Heaven…Vols 1 & 2

How do you pull off the tricky feat of a double-album not totally sucking? You pull together the best collection of songs you’ve ever, ever had. The Wrong Side Of Heaven And The Righteous Side Of Hell takes everything that FFDP have excelled at over the years – chunky hooks, catchy choruses and a healthy dose of muscular riffing – and turns them right up, leaving us with a two-disc knockout that far eclipses their entire discography to date. There’s a few pretty tight cameos on there, too…

20. The Bronx – The Bronx (IV)

The Bronx finally hung up their sombreros to go back to doing what they do best: boisterous, melodic and mean hardcore punk rock. Badder than Wolverine with a three-day-old hangover, the likes of The Unholy Hand and Too Many Devils saw the band back to their very best.



19. Killswitch Engage – Disarm The Descent

It was perhaps no eye-popping surprise that original vocalist Jesse Leach was the man deemed fit to replace Howard Jones, but few would have honestly predicted a comeback as strong as this. In Due TimeThe Hell In MeNo End In Sight and Beyond The Flames are as good as anything from the metalcore icons’ back catalogue and Jesse’s voice is better than ever. A triumph.


18. Kvelertak – Meir

Translated from Kvelertak’s native Norwegian as ‘More, Meir certainly lived up to its title, offering a bigger, badder and more fiendishly experimental update on the Stavanger sextet’s acclaimed debut. It was the sound of a band growing in confidence and spreading their wings, enhancing their blackened rock ‘n’ roll rumble.


17. Deafheaven – Sunbather

One of the most intriguing extreme metal albums of recent years, Sunbather charmed, challenged and confused critics in equal measure. Indebted to Godspeed You! Black Emperor as much as, well, Emperor, its marriage of black metal, post-rock, shoegaze and artful sampling managed to be at once both intense and introspective.


16. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

It’s almost becoming predictable how effortlessly brilliant The Dillinger Escape Plan are. One Of Us Is The Killer was obviously always going to be filled to the brim with wildly schizoid, math-core freak-outs and lucid, jazzy experimentation, so much so that you almost took it for granted when it was exactly that. Dillinger still sound decades ahead of the competition.


15. Purson – The Circle And The Blue Door

At the heart of Purson’s extraordinary debut lies founder and singer Rosie Cunningham’s profound relationship with psychedelia. No mean feat for someone born in the 90s, her mastery of 60s-tinged eeriness and acid-fried atmospheres, not to mention some of the sharpest melodies ever heard, ensured that The Circle And The Blue Door resounded with authenticity and mystique.


14. Alter Bridge – Fortress

After sabbaticals with Slash and other solo outings, Alter Bridge regrouped to deliver Fortress: and album that saw their star rise again across the globe. Continuing the band’s clever habit of getting better with every album, the melodic heights of Lover and All Ends Well were matched by the juddering riffs of The UninvitedCry Of Achilles and Addicted To Pain.


13. In Solitude – Sister

Moving away from Mercyful Fate-inspired retro-metal, In Solitude took their fevered, searching muse into new, twilit realms where heavy, gothic-tinged atmospheres instilled dread and illumination. Although classic metal coursed through its veins, Sister resonated on spectral frequencies that offered no easy marker points, but still gave way to glorious hooks aplenty.


12. Letlive – The Blackest Beautiful

One of the most exciting live bands of the last decade, Letlive took lessons from post-hardcore pioneers like At The Drive-In and Glassjaw, added their own explosive x-factor and concocted an aural Molotov of honest emotion, unique musicality and pure, raw rage, courtesy of Jason Alon Butler’s frantic delivery.


11. Cathedral – The Last Spire

Although it’s still sinking in that this is Cathedral’s final statement, we couldn’t have hoped for a more magnificent valediction. An hypnotic, overpowering beast with a heart of thunderous British doom, The Last Spire was a pitch-perfect assertion of Cathedral’s visionary eccentricity and sombre flamboyance.


10. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)

Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson outdid himself with his third solo album. Backed by the cream of the prog world, each of its six tracks related a supernatural story of Steven’s own creation. Peaking with the tale of the watchmaker who murders his wife of 50 years, this was cryptic and macabre but never less than magnificent.


9. Watain – The Wild Hunt

Watain amplified their rejection of gloomy kvlt conventions with a blistering 11-track firestorm that saw the Swedes infuse their howling black metal assault with bracing torrents of thrash, doom and hammer-hardened polyrhythmics, all anchored by the dramatic heft of outlaw ballad, They Ride On.


8. Motörhead – Aftershock

In spite of Lemmy’s health, the 21st studio album from Motörhead continued a stellar run of form. Full of fiery gems like Silence When You Speak To Me and Lost Woman Blues, it was the handiwork of a band at the top of their game.



7. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen

As fiercely creative and intelligent as ever, Ihsahn’s fifth solo album set the Norwegian’s own rulebook ablaze. Arguably blacker and more disturbing than anything he’s done before, Das Seelenbrechen brought together extreme metal, artful pop and avant-garde improvision.



6. Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal

Bring Me The Horizon had improved dramatically since the sub-par deathcore of their early material, but for them to pull off an album of such wild invention and non-stop anthems was still an incredible achievement that would have seemed unthinkable a decade ago. Jaws dropped, preconceptions were smashed and BMTH had finally delivered an album worthy of all the hype.


5. Ghost – Infestissumam

Ghost’s 2010 debut was a thrilling combo of classic rock and metal with a demonic image that set metalheads’ pulses racing. The follow-up outperformed its predecessor with ease, revealing the incredible creativity of the Swedish ghouls. Songs such as Jigolo Har Megiddo  and Ghuleh entered radio-friendly territory, while the album offset its lighter moments with mystique-heavy riffathons like Secular Haze and Monstrance Clock.

4. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats – Mind Control

Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats’ rapid ascent from vinyl speculator’s plaything, via sold-out shows and virtually no public profile, to supporting Black Sabbath has been one of the most remarkable cult phenomenons in recent memory. Mind Control expanded their  repertoire to incorporate even trippier excursions, lysergic reveries and sun-dazzled moments of satori.


3. Black Sabbath – 13

We needn’t have worried about Ozzy, Tony and Geezer’s first album together for 35 years – 13 was a triumph. First single God Is Dead? was a riff-storm straight from the Master Of Reality era, but even that was surpassed by the likes of the epic End Of The Beginning. ’I’m losing the war between God and Satan’ wailed Ozzy – but Sabbath sounded like winners, and the legend lived on.


2. Carcass – Surgical Steel

Seventeen years since Carcass dissolved in bad blood, they held their nerve and produced a comeback worthy of their unholy triptych, Symphonies/Necroticism/Heartwork, with the studious affection of a band with a refreshed understanding of their own abundant strengths. That Surgical Steel sounds utterly contemporary and relevant is testament to how crucial these trailblazers have been.



from Metal Hammer
via Merlin


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