The Best Metal Albums of 2013

by PopMatters Staff

27 December 2013

 

5 - 1


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Gorguts

Colored Sands

(Season of Mist)

5

Gorguts
Colored Sands


Backed by denizens of boundary-blitzing extreme metal—Kevin Hufnagel (guitars), Colin Marston (bass), and John Longstreth (drums)—Luc Lemay has finally gifted his salivating fans with the first Gorguts album in 12 years, Colored Sands. A concept album based on the oppression of Tibet by the Chinese regime during the 1950s, Colored Sands is thematically fascinating. But most importantly, the music is just as technically proficient, progressively centered, and outrageously imaginative in terms of its melodic eeriness and total death metal brutality as anything we’ve heard from this legendary band in past. This is a truly spectacular return to consciousness. Dean Brown

 

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Shining

One One One

(Prosthetic)

Review [22.May.2013]

4

Shining
One One One


It would have been hard to fault Norway’s resident blackjazzers Shining had they not lived up to Blackjazz, its 2010 masterpiece that crystallized the band’s now signature sound. That album is the product of migrating from ensemble jazz to gonzo, industrial-spiked prog metal, and in culminating that journey it still feels triumphantly definitive. But leave it to Shining to wow the world by taking Blackjazz‘s sonic innovation and channeling it through the framework of the pop album, churning out songs as catchy as they are viscerally heavy. One One One is a metalhead’s summer pop record, with equal measures infectious songwriting and technical prowess. Brice Ezell

 

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Carcass

Surgical Steel

(Nuclear Blast)

Review [18.Oct.2013]

3

Carcass
Surgical Steel


The return of grindcore and death metal legends Carcass is everything that fans hoped it would be and more. Surgical Steel is simply masterful in every way, bearing the signature of each album that preceded it (yes, even Swansong) and creating the all-encompassing Carcass experience. Whether it be the infectious groove of “A Congealed Cot of Blood”, the buzzsaw speed of “Thrasher’s Abattoir”, or the towering grandeur of “Mount of Execution”, everything on Surgical Steel will enrapture listeners completely. This is a career-defining album for a genre-defining band, and it doesn’t get much better than that in the metal world. Chris Colgan

 

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SubRosa

More Constant Than the Gods

(Profound Lore)

2

SubRosa
More Constant Than the Gods


SubRosa’s haunting new record More Constant Than the Gods comes wafting through your speakers like a soggy she-ghost intent on relating to the world of the living the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her untimely demise on some lonely beachhead or misty salt flat. Although there are clearly recognizable elements here, mainly drawn from the doom and sludge subgenres, on their second bewitching record SubRosa have crafted a sound all of their own. Driven by skillful songcraft and the emotive wail of violinists Sarah Pendleton and Kim Pack, More Constant Than the Gods fascinates and hypnotizes. Benjamin Hedge Olson

 

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In Solitude

Sister

(Metal Blade)

Review [13.Nov.2013]

1

In Solitude
Sister


So assured did In Solitude sound on the second album The World. The Flesh. The Devil. that listeners could sense the potential for great things. It was a very good record, but undeniably slavish in its Mercyful Fate worship, and it was clear the young band had plenty of growing up to do if they wanted to shed any hint of novelty status. Two years later the Swedes have done just that with an astonishing album that takes those early ‘80s influences and creates their own distinct sound. While plenty heavy, Sister‘s sound has been streamlined and made subtler, allowing more room for cleaner, gothic melodies to creep into the music, with singer Pelle Åhman sounding more confident than ever, displaying genuine showmanship on standouts like “Pallid Hands”, “A Buried Sun”, and the title track. Flamboyant, theatrical, darkly melodic, powerful, and menacing, no album in 2013 better represents the defining characteristics of true heavy metal than this album does. And to think these kids are just getting started. Adrien Begrand

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