Best Vinyl Releases of 2013 (So Far)
According to Nielsen SoundScan, vinyl sales have increased over 33 percent in the first six months of 2013. To fans of vinyl, this comes as no surprise, but isn't it nice to have your obsession justified with concrete numbers? You've contributed to the nearly 3 million records sold so far this year.
2013 may not be over yet, but we've already gotten our hands on some very cool records from some of our favorite bands. This list of the Best Vinyl Releases of 2013 (So Far) will continue to be updated throughout the coming months, and at the end of the year we'll take this currently unranked list and unveil the Top 20 Vinyl Releases of 2013. Leave your comments below so we know which slabs of wax to include in the list.
One of the harder records to find in your local shop, Alice in Chains' 'The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here' is also one of the most gorgeous records on this list. A 2-LP release, pressed on cream-colored 180-gram vinyl, this record is a limited edition picture disc. With black trim around the two LPs and eerie 3D-esque artwork of dinosaur skulls on the vinyl, 'The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here' might prove to not only be one of the coolest looking records released in 2013, but also one of the best sounding.
Let's be honest: Black Sabbath's '13' is a fantastic record, regardless of whether you listen to it digitally or on CD or vinyl. But for the diehard Sabbath fans out there, the band released a "Super Deluxe Box Set," which not only includes the double CD album and exclusive DVD, but also a heavyweight 12" vinyl housed in a gatefold package. Throw in 13 photographs and hand-written lyrics (yes, hand-written lyrics!), and Sabbath has created an unforgettable experience around '13.' After all, isn't part of your love for vinyl the experience that goes along with it?
If you buy Kvelertak's second studio album solely based on the gorgeous cover art, we can't really blame you. Don't get us wrong, the album as a whole contains near-flawless Norwegian metal and you might even be able to find it pressed on limited edition colored vinyl, but we can't take our eyes off of the cover. Created by John Baizley, frontman for Baroness, the art is only amplified when included on the huge gatefold sleeve. Frame it, spin it, do whatever you want with it, but make sure the 2-LP release of 'Meir' is in your collection.
Canadian rock all-stars Monster Truck unleashed their first full-length album, 'Furiosity,' in May of this year. The best way to hear 'Furiosity' -- an album that has a beautiful mix of Southern dirt, classic rock and blues -- is with its double vinyl release. Three sides of wax include all of the album's tunes and Side D comes with an exclusive etching. Housed in a foil jacket, 'Furiosity' is one of the best breakout albums of 2013, and proves to be one of the best vinyl releases, too.
Part of Record Store Day 2013, Rob Zombie released one of the coolest 10" singles we've ever gotten our hands on. Pressed on red vinyl, the single for 'Dead City Radio' looks like any other red 10" record. It's only when you start spinning it that you realize just how special it is. Rather than starting from the outside and spinning inward, the grooves are inverted; you have to place your needle on the inside of the record as it plays in reverse! Zombie is always up to something, and it's great to know he still keeps his vinyl fans in mind with special releases like this.
Another Record Store Day release this year, Soundgarden's 'King Animal Demos' earns its spot as one of the best vinyl releases of 2013 so far for a couple of different reasons. The obvious is that it's a great collection of tunes for Soundgarden fans. Another reason is the 10" is pressed on pink vinyl. We love colored vinyl, and pink seems like a unique choice for a hard rock band. Finally, this release is exclusive! This is the first time these demos were ever made available together, and if you were one of the lucky few to get your hands on the release, you now have a piece of rock history in your collection.
Besides this being one of the best albums of 2013, Stone Sour's 'House of Gold & Bones -- Part 2' has to be one of the coolest pressings of the year, too. Released as a double LP, 'House of Gold & Bones -- Part 2' is a limited picture disc, featuring the cover of the album, a creepy photo of Stone Sour, the band's logo and a shot of a brick building on fire. If you're a die-hard Stone Sour fan, chances are you bought 'Part 1' on picture vinyl, too. The band kept that in mind with this release, and the two albums look -- and sound -- perfect together.
With Ghost B.C. being an international band, rest assured that there are several different vinyl versions of 'Infestissumam' to find. From Scandinavia's clear yellow third pressing that includes a 12-page book of ancient disturbing drawings to the red vinyl released in Europe and the United States, Ghost B.C. have no doubt had fun releasing different editions of their second studio LP. Some versions are more limited than others, so don't hesitate to add this slab to your stack of records.
Before you state the obvious, yes, we realize Lamb of God's 'New American Gospel' was released over a decade ago. So why does this record show up on the list of best vinyl releases of 2013 so far? Another Record Store Day release, 'New American Gospel' was re-pressed on grey marble vinyl. Aside from the killer colored wax, the release is limited to 500 copies. That means, if you find it, buy it! Another reason we love this record? All proceeds from the sales of 'New American Gospel' on Record Store Day went to the Justice Now defense fund for Randy Blythe. It's a win-win LP.
Queens of the Stone Age released three different vinyl versions of '...Like Clockwork' on June 4, securing its spot on this list. Even the "standard" release is cooler than most, what with it being a double LP and 45 rpm, housed in a sturdy gatefold jacket. The next step up is the limited "indie" edition with an alternate blue cover. This pressing is only sold at independent record stores. The third version is "deluxe" and comes with a 20-page book and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl (the other two versions are slightly lighter at 150-grams). It's obvious the Queens understand there's more to a record than just the record; there's an entire experience that goes along with it.
This year, Dave Grohl teamed up with the record label Southern Lord to release a never-before-heard recording from the underground hardcore punk band out of California known simply as BL'AST. This recording was covered in dust so to speak when guitarist Mike Neider brought it to the attention of Southern Lord. To help get the most out of the sound as possible, Southern Lord enlisted longtime BL'AST fan Grohl to help them out. One of the only BL'AST recordings to feature short-term member William Duvall, the current Alice in Chains frontman, 'Blood!' is a record that sounds near-perfect when blaring through your speakers. Top the music off with artwork that is hauntingly reminiscent of early Black Sabbath, and you have one of the best vinyl releases of 2013 so far.
Black Veil Brides' latest record, 'Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones,' is packed full of tunes that will satisfy long-time and brand new fans of the band. Following a concept of sorts, each song is a perfect lead-in to the next, making this an album fans absolutely need to listen to on a record player. Dropping the needle, sitting back and immersing yourself in the world of the Wild Ones is an experience few bands offer in today's short attention span society. To top it off, the music is pressed on high-quality 180-gram vinyl and packed in a heavy duty gatefold jacket that is adorned with gorgeous art by Richard Villa. Good music and beautiful artwork: what more can you ask for in a record?
Before the album even came out, 'Queensrÿche' went through two pressings due to the high-demand for the first album released by Queensrÿche (without Geoff Tate). Featuring frontman Todd La Torre, 'Queensrÿche' is full of piercing vocals and a heavy foundation of rock and roll that surprisingly helps fans move on from the Tate days of 'Rÿche. The album is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and is offered in several different colors, including black, gold, gray and clear (we know that's not a color). Packaged with a CD copy of the album, 'Queensrÿche' is a record metal fans need to add to their collection this year.
Easily one of the most highly anticipated records of 2013, Avenged Sevenfold's 'Hail to the King' is a stripped down rock and roll album, plain and simple. With the warmth and simplicity of vinyl, the band knew to create an experience around the release for their fans. In order to do that, they enlisted artist and friend Cam Rackam to design the cover art exclusive to the vinyl release. Featuring a skeleton king, the artwork - called 'Deadly Rule' - is mesmerizing and will lead fans into some interesting conversations, like why is there a missing floorboard next to the throne? From front to back, this is a raw and powerful album that is packaged inside an exquisite jacket. For Avenged Sevenfold fans, the vinyl release of 'Hail to the King' is a must-have.
Dream Theater's self-titled album is a prog rock masterpiece, so it only makes sense that the band released an equally powerful vinyl offering. From a standard, high-quality double-LP to the super limited edition box set that includes an exclusive clear 7" single of 'The Bigger Picture,' Dream Theater offer fans several pieces of distinctive collector's items that will make your friends jealous. Whether it's the music, eerie artwork by Hugh Syme or extra goodies in the box set, there's no questioning Dream Theater's latest studio album is one of the best vinyl releases of 2013 so far.