APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2013

carcass.surgicalsteelOnce again, another fruitful year in extreme music draws to a close.  We saw some long awaited comebacks by legends, three quarters of the original SABBATH line up, VOIVOD and CARCASS.  The godfathers of U.S. death metal had a healthy year with strong releases by SUFFOCATION, DEICIDE, and IMMOLATION.  We also saw young superstars, GHOST B.C. and KVELERTAK, release good sophomore albums.  Perhaps the most polarizing and criticized album is SATYRICON‘s self-titled album, which was roasted by the majority of the media and fans.

Among the mountains of releases, there is one album that we’ll gush about again and again, and that’s CARCASS‘ comeback album, Surgical Steel.  There are always good and interesting albums coming out all the time, and then there are the untouchable albums that only the legendary bands could create.  Surgical Steel scorches everything in its path and clearly shows that in the pantheon of active bands, they are at the top.

A big thanks as always to everyone that make APESHIT possible.   APESHIT doesn’t have an active, large staff but when we get our shit together, we’re pretty good.  We predate the music/metal blog explosion and we plan to continue onwards into our 12th year.  Stayed tuned for more compelling and insightful content.

Now, let’s talk about the albums that reinvigorated and reinforced our love for extreme music.  Cheers.

dr.park’s top albums:

Three-way tie for number 1:

Corrections House - Last City ZeroCARCASSSurgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records)

This is one of the best metal albums ever made. Buy it. No excuses. [Our full review]

CORRECTIONS HOUSELast City Zero (Neurot Recordings)

Last City Zero kind of came out of nowhere to be one of the most compelling listening experiences in a long while. So bleak and desolate. Thus, so good. [Our full review]

BEASTMILKClimax (Magic Bullet Records/Svart Records)

There’s a reason why lots of respected bands like ENSLAVED and SOLSTAFIR are raving about BEASTMILK. Climax is a great debut from an instantly great new band. “You are now under our control!” [Our full review]

In no particular order:

ORANSSI PAZUZUValonielu (20 Buck Spin/Svart Records)

Psychedelic black metal from Finland?  Yes, please.  Black metal is a progressive genre of metal because of bands like ORANSSI PAZUZU. [Our full review]

KVELERTAKMeir (Roadrunner Records)

KVELERTAK have ceased to be your fave new band that most people have never heard about.  They have answered the call by delivering their sophomore effort of thundering rock n’ roll/punk/black metal. [Our full review]

TOXIC HOLOCAUSTChemistry of Consciousness (Relapse Records)

Chemistry of Consciousness is TOXIC HOLOCAUST‘s finest hour.  The album is so singular and focused in its goal to absolutely kill everything in its path.  Urgent, fast, and intense. [Our full review]

CROSSFAITHApocalyze (The End Records)

Forget all the typical j-rock and visual kei aimed at 13 year old girls.  Osaka, Japan’s CROSSFAITH are destined to be the number one metal export from their country.  Apocalyze is the most energetic album that I’ve heard in long time. [Our full review]

MIXHELLSpaces (Last Gang Records)

While Iggor Cavalera‘s SEPULTURA swansong, Dante XXI, was pretty damn good, it’s easy to see why he left the band to pursue his passion for dance music with MIXHELL.  Each carefully constructed song exudes passion and massive grooves. [Our full review]

DARKANEThe Sinister Supremacy (Prosthetic Records)

When I think of DARKANE, I think of perfect precision and razor sharp execution.  Swedish death/thrash perfection. [Our full review]

ROTTING CHRISTKata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (Season of Mist)

While they may not grace the pages of every payola metal media outlet, the true metal warriors know that ROTTING CHRIST are legends.  The band have created the perfect soundtrack for an ancient Greek army to storm the battlefield.  Epic. [Our full review]

MONSTER MAGNETLast Patrol (Napalm Records)

New Jersey’s MONSTER MAGNET are the last of a dying breed of great rock n’ roll bands.  Last Patrol is simply timeless music.  It’s on par with any release by the legends that have come before them.  Bravo.

IN SOLITUDESister (Metal Blade Records)

IN SOLITUDE make the big leap forward to solidify their place in the metal scene.  Adding in the right dosage of darkness and soul to their traditional metal attack make for the perfect recipe. [Our full review]

KEN MODEEntrench (Season of Mist)

Do you love the greatness of BOTCH and NARROWS?  Then you’ll bow down to KEN MODE by default. [Our full review]

KYLESAUltraviolet (Season of Mist)

KYLESA is one of those bands that other bands totally dig, and with good reason.  They have dialed back the gain on their amps a notch while bringing in some very nice indie and shoegaze influences.  Don’t worry, those giant grooves are still there.

IRON REAGANWorse Than Dead (Magic Bullet Records/A389 Records)

One great crossover band (MUNICIPAL WASTE) has (partially) given birth to yet another.  IRON REAGAN are damn good.  This isn’t some half-assed side project. [Our full review]

GHOST B.C.Infestissumam (Rise Above Records/Loma Vista Recordings)

When you first heard GHOST‘s debut album, you were wowed.  So it’s natural that album number two from these superstars doesn’t quite have the same “come out of nowhere” factor.  But like KVELERTAK, GHOST deliver a very good sophomore album.

BEYOND CREATIONThe Aura (Season of Mist)

Recently, Germany’s OBSCURA quickly became new metal superstars.  However, they aren’t the only newer band that can do it well.  BEYOND CREATION put on a dazzling display of tech death complete with mandatory loud farting bass. [Our full review]

big johnson’s top 10:

10.  ORPHANED LAND – All is One (Century Media Records)

Some would describe ORPHANED LAND as being a “Middle Eastern OPETH,” but that isn’t exactly accurate, as the Israeli band once again produces an extremely interesting, yet varied and unconventional approach to the metal sound.  Like their last few albums, All is One is an album which requires multiple listens to absorb all the intricacies of each instrument, vocal harmony, and layer of music.  Prog, folk, groove metal and many other genres are represented, which makes this a fascinating album to listen to for quite some time.

9.  CENTURIAN Contra Rationem (Listenable Records)

Pure MORBID ANGEL Altars of Madness worship by way of the Netherlands, CENTURIAN has brought back amazing memories of how MORBID ANGEL used to sound.  Sure, this album is pretty much a blatant Altars of Madness ripoff, with complete Trey Azagtoth wannabe solos, but I don’t really care, as this is one crushing album.

8.  IMMOLATION Kingdom of Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast Records)

While not as strong as their predecessor, Majesty and Decay, these New York bastards keep it going with another solid release to add to their discography.  Strange time changes, eerie riffs, and of course Ross Dolan’s trademark growl will always land IMMOLATION in my top album lists.

7. SUFFOCATION  Pinnacle of Bedlam (Nuclear Blast Records)

With Mike Smith’s departure, I for one, was extremely excited about Dave Culross’ return.  Pinnacle of Bedlam has its moments, but definitely not as brilliant as the “pre-reunion” SUFFOCATION releases such as Pierced From Within or Despise the Sun.  However, since Culross IS on this album, he escalates an otherwise mediocre album, as he brutalizes the drum kit on every track.  Pinnacle is definitely the most brutal, back-to-form SUFFOCATION album has released since their reunion. [Our full review]

6.  DEICIDE In the Minds of Evil (Century Media Records)

There’s no doubt that since the Hoffman brothers split (and even before their split), DEICIDE hasn’t released an album that’s anywhere close to the self-titled debut, Legion, or even Once Upon the Cross.  The last few albums included some strong tracks, but they also had a lot of filler material.  In the Minds of Evil contains a good mix of modern DEICIDE with some old school influence as well.  The “new” melodic/thrash DEICIDE style is represented nicely with the brutal blasting by Steve Asheim, a great vocal performance by Glen Benton, and some beautifully executed solos by Owen and Quirion. [Our full review]

5.  EVOCATION  Excised and Anatomised (Century Media Records)

This really shouldn’t count in my top albums, as Excised is a five-track EP with all covers, but the choices on this EP are killer (BOLT THROWER, CARCASS, NAPALM DEATH, EDGE OF SANITY, AT THE GATES)!  More importantly, the covers are spot on, well executed, and true to the originals.  I have this EP blasting non-stop, so be sure to check out this overlooked EP if you haven’t done so already.

4.  ENTRAILS Raging Death (Metal Blade Records)

Much like CENTURIAN’s new album is a blatant ripoff of MORBID ANGEL’s Altars of Madness, ENTRAILS’ new album is quite, ahem, purposely inspired by ENTOMBED’s classic album Left Hand Path (including the logo font).  Make no mistake however, this is quality Swedish death metal!  Any fans of ENTOMBED (obviously) or DISMEMBER, etc. already know that this band is awesome.

3.  SATYRICON  Satyricon (Nuclear Blast Records)

I won’t lie – I absolutely hated the new album after the first few initial listens.  Upon request of dr.park to continue listening to the album, Satyricon grew on me.  Some of the standout tracks are definitely up to par with the last SATYRICON album worth listening to, which to me was Volcano.  “Phoenix” has definitely split SATYRICON’s fans in two, but it’s a great track, and after listening and absorbing this album, I “get it.”  This album is only marred by the opening riff of the album which resembles “When the Saints Go Marching In,” but I’m sure Satyr never purposely intended it that way. [Our full review]

brokenhope.omenofdisease2.  BROKEN HOPE Omen of Disease (Century Media Records)

BROKEN HOPE was quietly put to rest even before the death of “Esophagus” Joe Ptacek, but the itch of playing extreme death metal could not be held back forever.  Guitarist Jeremy Wagner has recruited some excellent musicians, and pulled bass player Shaun Glass out of extreme metal retirement, and away from the filth he loved in his nu-metal projects.  Omen of Disease is exactly how the early 90’s death metal albums were: short, sick, and brutal.  Lyrics are well written, with plenty of humor purposely inserted within.  The vocals are guttural, and the most important aspect, the music is top notch.  BH has written an excellent album, and their recent tours have shown them a well-deserved welcome back from the dead for this underrated death metal act.

1.  CARCASS Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records)

First of all, all these “only Reek and Symphonies is real” so-called grind purists can piss off about their opinions on Surgical Steel.  I love Symphonies of Sickness as much as the next CARCASS fan, but by blending the melodic solos, well placed blasts, mid paced groove all into one with the latest album, CARCASS have shown that they aren’t in it to make money, but rather to piss on the other bands today who claim they release quality music.  Yes, Surgical Steel is like Heartwork Pt. 2, but it’s perfected in such a way that even the grind fanatics can’t knock that it’s a great album.  Jeff Walker’s snarling growl sounds even better now than on Heartwork, newcomer Daniel Wilding has certainly done his homework with emulating Ken Owen’s style, and of course, William G. Steer shows why he is still a guitar god.  Hands down, horns up, whatever the case may be, Surgical Steel owns you. [Our full review]

roycifer’s top albums:

Kvelertak - MeirKVELERTAKMeir (Roadrunner Records)
BOTANISTIV Mandragora (Flenser Records)
VUMPsychotropic Jukebox (Secret Lodge Recordings)
BEST COASTFade Away (Jewel City)
DEKADES1.1 (self released)
CARCASSSurgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
OH LANDWishbone (Tusk or Toosh)
ENSEMBLE PEARLEnsemble Pearl (Drag City)
OBLITERATIONSObliterations (Outer Battery)
NAZORANAINazoranai (Ideologic Organ)
HOTT MTI Made This*
*This was on my list last year but it saw a physical release this year.

Oscar Martinez’s top 10:

1. CARCASSSurgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records)

Hands down, best album of the year and one of the best albums in a long time –  songs, artwork, and production. This album is any Metal heads wet dream. [Our full review]

2. PURSONThe Circle and the Blue Door (Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records)

Aside from Surgical Steel this is the next album I listened to the most this year. This album has such a cool eerie psychedelic feel that puts you in a trance.

3. SEPULTURAThe Mediator Between the Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (Nuclear Blast Records)

This album fucking rips! Guitars, vocals and of course the drums are top notch. Features some of their heavier material in a good while with the signature SEPULTURA mosh parts, get this now!

4. IN SOLITUDESister (Metal Blade Records)

IN SOLITUDE delivered an incredibly good third album.   Sister is an album that will haunt you and keep you up at night. But this is a good thing, because the album fucking rules! [Our full review]

5. AMORPHISCircle (Nuclear Blast Records)

The fact that AMORPHIS is not bigger than they are really bothers me. They put out great quality music that should be played on everyone’s stereo! Their latest album Circle is an example of a band that is still fresh relevant and can kick any new band’s ass. Come on people, get this album and support a great fucking band!

6. IMMOLATIONKingdom Of Conspiracy (Nuclear Blast Records)

This was hands down the most brutal album of the year. Death Metal at its best!

7. ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGENDrive (Inside Out Music)

I will pretty much listen to and like anything this woman puts out. In my opinion Drive is her best album since Air.

8. BLUES PILLSDevil Man EP (Nuclear Blast Records)

This was just an EP and better than a lot of full length albums out there. Keep an eye out for this band, they are a great promising new band that will put many others to shame. Expect their full length album to be on my top three next year.

9. UNCLE ACID & THE DEADBEATSMind Control (Rise Above Records/Metal Blade Records)

No one does the retro sounding fuzz better than these guys.

10. GHOST B.C.Infestissumam (Rise Above Records/Loma Vista Recordings)

I have a weird loyalty for this band for certain reasons and I know Opus is an incredibly difficult album to follow. Infestissumam has some kick ass bass lines, but I know it lacks some more guitar power. But nonetheless “Year Zero” and “Zombie Queen” are some of the bands best songs. Passion not fashion, hope people can like GHOST and this album for the right reasons.

rawknrollchef13’s top 10:

Demonical - Darkness Unbound1. CARCASSSurgical Steel (Nuclear Blast Records) [Our full review]
2. AUTOPSYThe Headless Ritual (Peaceville Records)
3. INQUISITIONObscure Verses for the Multiverse (Season of Mist)
4. PATHOLOGYLords of Rephaim (Severed Records)
5. NECROCURSEGrip of the Dead (Pulverised Records)
6. DEMONICALDarkness Unbound (Metal Blade Records/Cyclone Empire Records)
7. DARKTHRONEThe Underground Resistance (Peaceville Records) [Our full review]
8. NECROTIC DISGORGEMENTDocumentaries of Dementia (Comatose Records)
9. COFFINSThe Fleshland (Relapse Records) [Our full review]
10. CRAVEN IDOLTowards Eschaton (Dark Descent Records)

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