So it’s Come to This: Emperor Rhombus’ Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2013
Jesus hydrocephalic Christ, my 2013 has been nuts. There have been more cross-country flights, more seismic personal events, more eleventh-hour work nights, more stupid fucking e-mails, more zaftig brunettes, and way more questioning as to the purpose of the six-and-change billion-strong infestation of bipedal mammals that clog this sewer planet, than I could have ever forseen. Thankfully, I’ve managed to wade through another year in this God-forsaken swamp, and that’s largely because I’ve had God-forsaken music to lead me through the mire.
So here’s the list. While I wish I could add even more records to it — many props to Sarke, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Slutvomit, Agrimonia, The Body, Immolation, Vreid, Rob Zombie, and Power Trip for their exceptional releases this year — the MetalSucks overlords have limited me to fifteen. Check out these records, and maybe they’ll help you as they did me. Let’s hope they do. You’ll need it.
15. Nekrofilth – Devil’s Breath (Hell’s Headbangers)
On their debut, this Columbus trio channel Venom by way Impetigo, the result being a nauseating blast of pure metal mania. For fans of booze, sleaze, and straight-up fucking murder.
14. Carcass – Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
Whether or not this is a comeback (and for the record, guys, Swansong fucking blows) isn’t really important. What matters is that Surgical Steel is catchy, heavy, and the kind of album I’d listen to over and over again. Hail the masters of anatomy.
Listen: “Unfit For Human Consumption”
13. Lightning Swords of Death – Baphometic Chaosium (Metal Blade)
Too often of late has black metal lacked testicles. Thankfully, LSoD’s 2013 release has these in great abundance. A perfect balance of evil atmosphere with unstoppable force, and one of the better live bands I’ve seen this year. And that fucking cover, man!
Listen: “Psychic Waters”
12. Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness (Relapse)
Every album this band puts out, I think, “Oh yeah, classic atomic speed metal.” Then I hear it and think, “SHIT YEAH, SON.” This fuzzy blackened nuclear thrash cyclone is worth every minute of fist-pumping headbanging goodness therein. Joel Grind, you magnificent bastard.
Listen: “Chemistry of Consciousness”
11. Watain – The Wild Hunt (Century Media)
The Wild Hunt is the sort of black metal album I respect. Rarely do pagan overtones and echoing grandiosity really strike me to the core, so when they do, I’m smitten. This is the band’s Hammerheart, their separation from the suffocating traditions of the genre they currently define.
Listen: “The Wild Hunt”
10. Exhumed – Necrocracy (Relapse)
I love a death metal band that understands the philosophy at the heart of carnage, decay, and ugliness. And on their latest record, the San Jose kings of gore metal touch upon the self-deception and self-loathing at the heart of our obsession with death, all to an avalanche of sick, groovy riffs and scathing vocals. Guess what? You’re meat.
9. Sannhet – Known Floods (Sacrament Music)
Many Brooklyn experimental bands lose their varnish when you rub them enough; Sannhet can be listened to on repeat for hours and remain driving, haunting, upsetting, inspiring, and powerful. A band to watch for years to come, and a band to see live whenever you can.
Listen: “Endless Walls”
8. Light Bearer – Silver Tongue (Halo of Flies)
Like a faultline ripping your heart in half, Light Bearer’s magnificent sophomore full-length takes the listener on an incredible journey through the breadth of sorrow and hope, sounding as huge and simply meaningful as the breaking of dawn.
Listen: “Beautiful Is This Burden”
7. Iron Tongue –The Dogs Have Barked, The Birds Have Flown (Neurot)
Soul-crushing melancholy meets badass Southern rock in this incredible album. That the band is fronted by CT of Rwake helps significantly, though the music makes it clear that Iron Tongue is its own brand of dangerous, forest-dwelling animal.
6. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual (Peaceville)
Showing both a tightening of their sound and a dedication to their drawn-out doomy origins, Chris Reiffert & co. have outdone themselves on this record, creating arguably the best album of their career. Everything about this album rules.
Listen: “She is a Funeral”
5. Stomach Earth – s/t (Black Market Activities)
Death metal can be frightening in its subject matter, but rarely is it as creepy as the material on this one-man project’s debut. Heavy on the ambience, light on the bullshit, this record is like a swamp full of bodies put to music. Listen to with the lights off and a candle burning.
Listen: “Haunted By The Living”
4. The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack (Metal Blade)
Once again, Michigan’s masters of melodic death metal have wowed me with their use of infectious guitar harmonies, crushing breakdowns, and poetic lyrics. This album is a horror-themed piece of genius, and doesn’t get boring even after constant repeated listening.
Listen: “In Hell Is Where She Waits For Me”
3. Aosoth – IV: An Arrow Through Heart (Agonia)
With this album, Aosoth eclipse all other French black metal bands with their brand of churning, abyssic cacophony. Full of enough filth and misanthropy to make Tom G. Warrior raise an eyebrow, IV is a pleasure to sneer to from beginning to end.
Listen: “One With The Prince Of A Thousand Enemies”
2. Clutch –Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
God, this album rules. Earth Rocker is a true milestone for this classic band, packed to the brim with groove, speed, and one chantable chorus after another. Not only brawny and muscular, the album is undeniably human in its sound and themes. Don’t even try to fuck with this, just shake your kaboose.
Listen: “The Face”
1. Take Over and Destroy – Endless Night (Comfort Point)
Incredible. A perfect merging of Bathory, Black Sabbath, Death, Sigh, Motorhead, and the doomier parts of Slayer, all with a Satanic sensibility and a cavernous production sound that looms over the listener like the Devil himself as he emerges from the Earth. Endless Night should be blueprint to all bands on how to make perfectly-balanced music that transcends subgenre to become a piece of true heavy metal. I’d never heard of this Phoenix, AZ act before this album, but I’ll be listening to them from now on. Get this album any way you can, and blast it forever.
Listen: “Endless Night”