20. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
When Autopsy’s last album Macabre Eternal came out, everybody seemed to be surprised at how solid their first tunes after reforming were. With the release of The Headless Ritual, everyone knew what to expect and they absolutely blew expectations away yet again. A lot of these songs are much faster and less doomy than Macabre and the approach just seems much more solid and focused, which is a deadly combo.
19. Obliteration – Black Death Horizon
This record is absolutely disgusting. Every time I hear it, it freaks me out a little at how creepy and awesome it is. This band is labeled death metal, but their sound is so unique and horrifying that they can’t really be put into a specific genre other than maybe “brutal old school blackened death doom”.
18. Gwar – Battle Maximus
This is by far the best album Gwar has ever made. It’s got an incredibly interesting storyline and concept lyrically and the riffs are absolutely NUTS. This is definitely an incredibly fitting tribute to Flattus Maximus.
17. Ulcerate – Vermis
I love this band because they remind me of what it would sound like if robots decided to try and recreate the sound of death metal. Their riffing style and their tone is very strange and unique, especially when coupled with their amazing drumming.
16. Immolation – Kingdom Of Conspiracy
These legendary NYDM dudes just know how to do death metal right like no others. This album is abundantly heavy, but also has enough catchy parts to stay creative and interesting. When seeing them open for Cannibal Corpse and Napalm Death, I believe they absolutely stole the show big time when they played songs from this record.
15. Witherscape – The Inheritance
I’m an admitted Dan Swano fanboy, so I was psyched about him creating this project. The cool thing about this band is that it’s about as close as you’re going to come to hearing a band perfectly capture the glory days sounds of Katatonia and Opeth.
14. The Ocean – Pelagial
This is a concept album designed to take you from the surface of the ocean to the very bottom, one of the best concepts for an album I’ve ever heard. It’s definitely the most gorgeous metal album of the year.
13. Clutch – Earth Rocker
Clutch is definitely one of the best hard rock bands on the planet and they stepped it up big time with Earth Rocker. It’s got less of the blues from their last few albums and is much more pro rock.
12. In Solitude – Sister
I wasn’t big into these guys prior to hearing this album, so it definitely caught me by surprise to discover how insanely creative it is. This record is definitely a triumph of the modern throwback style of rock n’ roll.
11. Exhumed – Necrocracy
Matt Harvey has once again proved that as far as death metal goes, old school is most certainly the best school. This is their second album since reforming and in addition to being the best album of their career, Necrocracy is a paint by numbers guide to creating a good death metal record in 2013.
10. Vhöl – Vhöl
The most creative album I’ve heard all year. A supergroup with members of Agalloch, Yob and Hammers of Misfortune, but it sounds like the best ’80s hardcore/thrash album never made.
9. Evergreen Terrace – Dead Horses
I love this album because of how amazingly catch it is. I firmly believe this is the best album Evergreen Terrace has made so far, because it’s a perfect mix of their old school hardcore sound and the massive punch of their last two albums thanks to good production value.
8. Cathedral – The Last Spire
This is their last album ever and it’s a doozie. The tone on this album is absolutely mindblowing. It’s one of the heaviest, loudest straight ahead doom albums I’ve heard all year and a great way to send off an iconic band.
7. Subrosa – More Constant Than The Gods
Though the album is incredibly doomy and heavy, the only proper word to describe it is… gorgeous. The track “Cosey Mo” gives me goosebumps literally every time I hear it.
6. Power Trip – Manifest Decimation
Probably the best new school thrash album released in a long time. Sounds like a mix of Budweiser, sulphur and someone who snorted a Yellow Jacket (the bee).
5. Voivod – Target Earth
Super creative, proggy, epic thrash from one of the greatest thrash metal bands to ever exist. Definitely a return to their Sci-Fi thrash glory days.
4. Monster Magnet – Last Patrol
Like any good Monster Magnet album, Last Patrol delves into the lyrical realms of science fiction and fantasy laid over fist-pumping psychedleic jams. Unlike their past few efforts, however, Last Patrol has a very laid back, old school feel to it thanks to its smooth production and it really is the perfect album for tuning in and dropping out.
3. Gorguts – Colored Sands
Gorguts have always been known for creating incredibly creative death metal, but they stepped it up significantly on Colored Sands. Somehow Luc Lemay and co managed to take their signature death metal style and twist and morph it into an absolutely monolithic beast of an album.
2. Motörhead – Aftershock
Aftershock is Motörhead’s 21st album, yet somehow it very well may be one of their best. All Motörhead albums have their own appeal and are genuinely enjoyable, however on Aftershock, they managed to create something significantly better than they ever have before. Whether it be the increased bluesiness, the increased punk rock influence or the perfect production job, I sincerely believe Motörhead could retire with this as their last album, because it showcases them at the very tip top of their game.
1. Carcass – Surgical Steel
There are a lot of reasons why I love this album enough to name it the best heavy album of the year. The main reason though, is because no matter how many times I listen to it, I can’t help but air guitar along wildly and marvel Bill Steer’s genius. Simply put, Carcass made an album that mixes their signature goregrind style with Heartwork’s more melodic side, thus creating a Death Metal Megazord.
Cover of Issue #4. Get it here.