As always it’s been an eventful year in heavy metal…
This is my personal top 10 albums of the year & bear in mind it was very difficult to narrow it down. It has been an excellent year for music & I think my top 10 showcases the variety we now have as rock & metal fans.
10 – Children of Bodom: Halo of Blood
You know what you are getting with a Children of Bodom album. They rarely deviate from their sound & as long they continue to knock out albums this good no-one should care. Halo of Blood is chock-full of Bodom staples…riffs, solos & Alexi’s easily-recognisable howling. It is a vast improvement over the previous album & has one of their best cover songs to date (Sleepin’ In My Car).
9 – Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegal’s: Walk Through Exits Only
Phil’s (or Philip’s) solo album is one of the most aggressive pieces of music I’ve heard all year long. Whatever’s been pissing him off recently is showcased on this album, he has never sounded so angry. His band (the Illegal’s) back him up wonderfully…whereas Down & Pantera albums have a lot more groove about them, Walk Through Exits Only is all about making as much noise as possible & it is brilliant.
8– Volbeat: Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
Continuing the great work laid down by albums that came before, Volbeat raised their game with a new guitarist (Rob Caggiano), a theme & a heavier sound. The resulting album is easily one of Volbeat’s best with the usual trademarks stamped all over it. Poulsen’s voice has always been Volbeat’s main strength & it doesn’t disappoint but it is nice to see a lot more emphasis placed on riffs as well.
7 – Airbourne: Black Dog Barking
This is the album that turned me into a full-on Airbourne fan; it’s just such an absolute banger of an album. It’s filled with the kind of songs that make you want to party hard & you find your head nodding along regardless of whether you want to or not. For me this is the album that helped move them along from just being a younger, more energetic AC/DC to being a fucking great rock ‘n roll band.
6 – Hell: Curse And Chapter
I love begin surprised in metal, it doesn’t happen enough. I heard about Hell long before I heard anything by them & I presumed they would sound like a black/death metal act. They don’t, I struggle to find any kind of description for them except…amazing. Curse & Chapter showcases exactly what I love about Hell, the theatrics, the insane guitar riffs & solos, the amazing multi-layer vocals, the dark themes & that no 2 songs sound alike. Any other year & I might call this the best album of the year…
5 – Clutch: Earth Rocker
I do wonder how Clutch continue to write such phenomenal stuff, every album is an improvement over the last & Earth Rocker is an amazing piece of work. Heavier then a lot of their previous work which gives it a edge that I’ve sometimes missed in the past. It’s a much more rock ‘n roll affair, really noticeable in its speed delivery.
4 – Devildriver: Winter Kills
Wow, a Devildriver album only made it to number 4. That should tell you just how good this year has been for metal. Winter Kills is brilliant…simple as that. It takes what made Beast so good & mixes it with The Last Kind Words to reveal a groove-tastic brutal assault on the ears. Dez’s vocals sound better than ever & I hate to say but maybe the messing around with Coal Chamber did him some good as he sounds really energized. There is even a really good cover to finish the album off that will really surprise you.
3 – Newsted: Heavy Metal Music
All I remember is thinking, “Hmm, Jason Newsted has a new band? That might be worth a listen”. The rest is history…Never in a million years did I think the bass player from Metallica could come up with such great metal tunes. Sure he isn’t the best singer but his vocal range works perfectly with the music & I’ve found myself falling in love with his raspy snarl. Aggressive but filled with bags of riffs & melody, if you haven’t heard this album yet then you need to get out & buy it!
2 – Turisas: Turisas2013
For the 2nd Turisas album in a row I heard 1 song from it & panicked & once again I was wrong, dead wrong in fact. The only thing wrong with Turisas2013 is the stupid name, everything else is pure gold. A lot of people will point to the softer sound & to the removal of some of the more operatic instruments as negatives. For me that is not the case, in fact with more emphasis on band instruments & vocals, Turisas sound like a band that can actually reproduce what they do live. There are very few things I don’t like about the album, it just grows & grows on you & I think Warlord is one of the best vocalist in rock & metal today.
1 – Ghost: Infestissumam
Was there ever any doubt!? Love them or hate them, no-one can deny the meteoric rise of Ghost this year. I liked them before Infestissumam but it wasn’t until I heard this that it turned to love. Infestissumam improves on everything that was wrong with the first album; it is just wall-to-wall tunes with a deviously evil edge. The satanic lyrics mixed with a elements of prog rock, psychedelic rock & pop makes for one of the most diverse listening experiences ever.
Music that sounds this good? This is why it is my number 1 album of the year.