The Best Metal Albums of 2013

by PopMatters Staff

27 December 2013

 

15 - 11


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Lycus

Tempest

(20 Buck Spin)

15

Lycus
Tempest


Evocative, stately, and sublimely structured, Lycus’s full-length debut Tempest transcends the soul-sucking tropes typically associated with funeral doom. Instead, Tempest transposes the listener to another realm—vividly captured in all its grotesque grace by cover artist Paolo Girardi—where the emotional and physical weight of funeral doom’s flames caress the depths of death’s abyss. The forlorn call of a violin delicately entwines itself around each of the three compelling compositions that comprise “Tempest”, and the Oakland trio’s absorption of black metal, sludge, and drone—immaculately melded throughout the 20-minute crush of the title track—speaks of future greatness. Dean Brown

 

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Kataklysm

Waiting for the End to Come

(Nuclear Blast)

14

Kataklysm
Waiting for the End to Come


Kataklysm recently celebrated their twentieth anniversary, but they’re not showing any signs of age on their latest album. Waiting for the End to Come has the band in top form, building on the successes of Prevail and Heaven’s Venom to create one of the best death metal albums of the year. The blend of melodic guitar hooks with crushing riffs and solos is perfect, and the addition of ex-Neuraxis drummer Oli Beaudoin gives this album a degree of technicality that others can only hope to achieve. Like fine wine, Kataklysm is only getting better with time. Chris Colgan

 

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Deafheaven

Sunbather

(Deathwish, Inc.)

Review [11.Jun.2013]

13

Deafheaven
Sunbather


Don’t let the Metascore fool you. While the Bay Area metalgazers of Deafheaven wowed many with their marriage of My Bloody Valentine’s warmest guitar tones and Emperor’s most soul-piercing shrieks on their sophomore LP Sunbather, not everyone took kindly to it. Amongst the PopMatters staff, there was a wide range of opinion. Years down the road, Sunbather‘s marriage of beauty and utter, despairing darkness will be remembered as risky. But in “wanting to dream”, this band made a triumphant, unpretentious record that, in its juxtaposition of opposites, invites controversy. Love it or hate it, Sunbather is that metal album of 2013. Brice Ezell

 

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Russian Circles

Memorial

(Sargent House)

Review [22.Oct.2013]

12

Russian Circles
Memorial


Memorial captures the emotional volleys of life, death, and everything in between. Russian Circles have, over the course of now five studio outings, steadily risen to become post-metal’s best outfit, all the while refining their sound to a degree of perfection few in the genre have ever achieved. Like any good instrumental album, it says a great deal using no words at all; the trio of Mike Sullivan (guitar), Brian Cook (bass), and Dave Turncrantz (drums) are silent wordsmiths of beautiful, heavy melancholy. And then there’s Chelsea Wolfe, whose reverbed vocals on the title cut take Russian Circles’ music to near angelic heights. Brice Ezell

 

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Clutch

Earth Rocker

(Weathermaker)

Review [13.May.2013]

11

Clutch
Earth Rocker


Metal is, above all, about the riff. On Earth Rocker, Clutch has rediscovered that primacy and made an album that is built on riff upon riff upon riff. However, they don’t discard the swing and shuffle discovered through a near decade of mixing Southern rock and Texas blues into their stoner rock jams. Behind those riffs and Neil Fallon’s hellfire and damnation preacher’s bellow, the groove is so deep, it’s a miracle the needle doesn’t fly off the platter. Erik Highter

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