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The Best Metal Albums of 2013

Bands across metal's subgenres reached their full potential, be they acts coming into their own, making crowd-pleasing comebacks, or even bowing out at the top of their game.

Bands across metal's subgenres reached their full potential, be they acts coming into their own, making crowd-pleasing comebacks, or even bowing out at the top of their game.

-- Adrien Begrand, Dean Brown, Chris Colgan, Brice Ezell, Benjamin Hedge Olson, Erik Highter, and Dane Prokofiev

Artist: Dark Tranquility

Album: Construct

Label: Century Media

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List Number: 20

Dark Tranquility

As the only one of the Big Three of Gothenburg's melo-death scene that has not split up so far or lapsed into a downward spiral of mediocrity (cough -- In Flames -- cough), Dark Tranquillity's existence has been as meaningful as it has been consistent. A far cry from its raw and mostly guitar-driven melo-death albums of yesteryear, Construct is a melancholic sonic trip through atmospheric and heavily keyboard-driven melo-death terrain. One is sure to be mesmerized by the interplay between frontman Mikael Stanne's emotive clean singing and agonized growls, which occasionally steals the spotlight from the hauntingly beauteous keyboard melodies. In meme lingo, this album simply has too much feels. Dane Prokofiev

Artist: Heaven Shall Burn

Album: Veto

Label: Century Media

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List Number: 19

Heaven Shall Burn

There are very few bands that are as consistently good as Heaven Shall Burn. Following in the footsteps of Iconoclast and Invictus, Veto's most prominent features are thrilling guitars, well-executed technical elements, and some of the best lyrical compositions known to the entire metal world. Marcus Bischoff is one of the best at writing lyrics that speak to social, environmental, and historical issues, and he addresses many on Veto. If you're looking for an album that has excellent music and thought-provoking lyrics, then Veto is exactly what you need to hear. Chris Colgan

Artist: Atlantean Kodex

Album: The White Goddess

Label: 20 Buck Spin

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List Number: 18

Atlantean Kodex
The White Goddess

The White Goddess represents a quite rare example of contemporary traditional metal that does not devolve into either masturbatory shredding or absurd He-Man posturing. Drawing on a wide range of traditional metal styles, Atlantean Kodex allows us to enter into a fantasy world infused with magic and pagan wonder. The guitars stir the heart, while always serving the greater good of the song and not overpowering the music with needless noodling. The vocals are clear and powerful, without being shrill or goofy. This is traditional metal that the listener can believe in. Benjamin Hedge Olson

Artist: Exhumed

Album: Necrocracy

Label: Relapse

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List Number: 17


"Necrocracy" would literally mean a form of government in which the power to rule over the people under its jurisdiction is vested in the dead. That made about as much sense as some random slam death metal band's name, right? But despite the silly title and somewhat cheesy-looking album cover, Necrocracy is loads of aural fun. Disgustingly vomited vocals, attention-hogging riffs, creative drumming patterns, and face-scrunching guitar solos will make you return to this excellent, gore-obsessed death metal album over and over again. Dane Prokofiev

Artist: Shooting Guns

Album: Brotherhood of the Ram

Label: Easy Rider

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List Number: 16

Shooting Guns
Brotherhood of the Ram

Instrumental psychedelic doom from the Canadian prairie, Shooting Guns rumble, hiss, squeal, thunder, pummel, befuddle, and charm on their second full-length release. Encompassing everything from hypnotic space-rock to motorik chuggers to disconsolate doom, it's the dark mirror of progressive rock; no lofty heights, no clean air and soaring majesty. This is regressive rock: deep mud, primordial ooze with a miasmatic fug. Brotherhood of the Ram is a declaration of ill intent, and woe be to anyone who stands in their way. Erik Highter

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