Top Rock + Metal Albums of 2013
In a culture where songs and downloads have somewhat downgraded the importance of full albums, there are still many acts who value the album format and put their all into providing a full listening experience. In 2013, there were several beloved acts who truly came into their own while a number of veteran rockers showed there was no signs of slowing down.
The year featured triumphant returns from an Ozzy Osbourne-led Black Sabbath decades after their last collaboration. While the layoff wasn’t as long, Queens of the Stone Age also returned to high praise after a six-year break. And speaking of returns, Killswitch Engage‘s reunion with original frontman Jesse Leach fueled one of the year’s better records. Let’s reflect on the year that was. Here’s our picks for the 10 Best Albums of 2013.
‘Disarm the Descent’
Welcome back Jesse Leach! The Killswitch Engage frontman’s return certainly re-energized the band and it shows on ‘Disarm the Descent.’ Finding the perfect blend of aggression and melody, Killswitch got off to a great start with the single ‘In Due Time’ and the chugging rocker ‘Always’ comes with a certain dark heaviness. Meanwhile, ‘The New Awakening,’ ‘A Tribute to the Fallen’ and ‘Time Will Not Remain’ show that this album is more killer than filler.
‘House of Gold & Bones, Part 2′
While Stone Sour‘s ‘House of Gold & Bones, Part 1′ yielded several 2012 hits, ‘Part 2′ admittedly played out as a more cohesive piece fitting Corey Taylor‘s overall storyline. ‘Do Me a Favor’ stands out as one of 2013’s best songs, but the album goes deeper than that. ‘Gravesend’ showcases Taylor’s brutal side, while ‘The Conflagration’ is one of the more epic pieces you’ll find, complete with strings, piano and a full-on jam at the end. ‘House of Gold & Bones, Pt. 2′ is a fitting and excellent conclusion to one of 2012’s best records.
‘Halo of Blood’
Children of Bodom have been refining their sound in recent years and ‘Halo of Blood’ finds them getting back to their roots, with a melodic yet riff heavy sound. The powerful ‘Transference’ and grinding black metal of the title track both earned releases from the band, while cuts such as ‘Waste of Skin,’ ‘All Twisted’ and ‘Your Days Are Number’ are firing on all cylinders. ‘Halo of Blood’ is one of the most complete and solid Children of Bodom albums and deserving of recognition in our Top Rock and Metal Albums of 2013.
‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’
Alice in Chains may not be reinventing the wheel, but with ‘The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here’ they’ve shown there’s no signs of wear either. While ‘Hollow’ and ‘Stone’ were exactly the type of songs fans would expect from Alice in Chains, they continued to thrive beyond the first two singles. The melodic harmonizing of Jerry Cantrell and William DuVall on ‘Voices’ is pure gold, while the title track mixes mesmerizing guitar work with one of the disc’s deeper messages. The catchy ‘Low Ceiling’ and metal infused ‘Phantom Limb’ also provide nice change-of-paces in the flow of the disc.
Clutch may like to experiment, but it’s the band’s keep-it-simple approach that makes ‘Earth Rocker’ one of the year’s best. The group embraces the straight-to-the-point songwriting style and in the process generate an anthemic, foot-stomping, fist-pumping collection. The title track is a driving rocker, while fellow standouts ‘Crucial Velocity’ and ‘D.C. Sound Attack’ are filled with plenty of swagger from frontman Neil Fallon. ‘Mr. Freedom’ rides an in-your-face groove, while ‘Gone Cold’ is the album’s mellow curveball. All in all, ‘Earth Rocker’ lives up to its name.
We all know the Motorhead formula and it’s served them well in their wealth of albums since 1977. But that being said, there is a vibrancy to the music on ‘Aftershock’ that surpasses many of their more recent releases. ‘Heartbreaker’ is a full-on rocker that’s the perfect choice for the lead single, while ‘Lost Woman Blues’ is filled with the type of swagger than only Lemmy Kilmister can provide. Add in tracks like ‘Queen of the Damned’ and ‘Going to Mexico’ and ‘Aftershock’ is an album we’ll be feeling from Motorhead years after its commercial run.
There’s little doubt that Deftones frontman Chino Moreno is on a hot streak. After successive standout records from Deftones and an intriguing side venture into Crosses, Moreno jumped when asked by former members of Isis to front their new project Palms. Their self-titled debut album is a study in ebb and flow heaviness that engulfs the listener. Tracks like ‘Patagonia,’ ‘Future Warrior’ and ‘Tropics’ find a way to explore every ounce of musical expanse, delivering an atmospheric masterpiece worthy of the Top Rock and Metal Album of 2013 list.
What would an Ozzy Osbourne-led Black Sabbath sound like after so many years away? By most accounts, the ’13’ album was an overwhelming success for metal’s pioneering outfit. The trio of Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler crafted a true album experience, with many of the tracks clocking in at well over 7 minutes. Iommi’s riffing is especially spot on with this effort, which features the grab-your-attention opener ‘End of the Beginning’ and breakout radio single ‘God Is Dead?’ Other standouts include ‘Dear Father’ and ‘Loner.’
‘One of Us Is the Killer’
‘One of Us Is the Killer’ is arguably Dillinger Escape Plan‘s most personal album, with frontman Greg Puciato relying on his own relationships for inspiration. Musically, the disc falls somewhere between the band’s mathcore roots and the burgeoning development of anthemic hard rock. While it may seem like an odd mix, it all comes together in one great listening experience that features the standouts releases ‘Prancer’ and ‘When I Lost My Bet’ as well as the deeper cuts ‘Understanding Decay’ and ‘Nothing’s Funny.’
‘… Like Clockwork’
Six years was definitely worth the wait for Queens of the Stone Age fans. Sure ‘… Like Clockwork’ is chock full of special guests like Dave Grohl, Elton John, Trent Reznor and Alex Turner among others, but this is one case where the music overshadows the names. ‘My God Is the Sun’ and ‘I Sat by the Ocean’ were released as singles, but ‘ … Like Clockwork’ is a true album listening experience in a singles era and well worth taking in from front to back. ‘…Like Clockwork’ sits atop our Top Rock and Metal Albums of 2013.