2013 Album Highlights Part 3
Welcome back everyone to the third and final installment I have on 2013 albums. In part 1 we talked about a lot of death metal, and in part 2 more death metal, along with some thrash and black. This time we'll polish off the metal albums, cover some non-metal heavy music, and even a bit of rock.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is The Killer
Dillinger Escape Plan is one of my favorite bands. Going into 2013 this was the album I was most looking forward to. I picked it up on release day and went home and spent the afternoon just listening to it. It was time and money well spent. DEP's most known and loved for their ground-breaking mathcore debut Calculating Infinity, (which is an awesome name for a mathcore album), after that they went in poppier direction (which is very relative given that it's generally still rather chaotic and mathy). I'm in the minority in that I actually favor their later material, which runs in contrast to my usual preference for more technical and less accessible material. Regardless, Killer continues the band's streak or superb material, possessing all the qualities the band has become known for. Ben Weinman provides more of his signature riffing and Billy Rymer lays down some excellent drum work, with a more noticeable jazz influence than he had on the last album (though it isn't as strong as the band's original drummer Chris Pennie). Greg Puciato further demonstrates why he's one of the better and more versatile vocalists around today, contrasting aggressive screams with more his excellent cleans. Altogether another very solid album from the band.
When I Lost My Bet
One of Us Is The Killer
Hero of The Soviet Union
One of Us Is The Killer - Full Album (Playlist)
Protest The Hero - Volition
2013 rolls around and Protest The Hero need to record, so they launch an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds. After greatly exceeding their goal and raising close to $350,000 they were ready. I figured it was time I check PTH out considering I've heard many good things about the band, with occasional comparisons to Dillinger. While that comparison has some merit, there are some notable differences too. PTH has a more progressive nature and more of metal element to them, and possess a much less chaotic nature, and a more unified feel, with the songs ranging less in sound. None of that is a slight against either band in any way, I love each for what they are. As for the album at hand, the riffs dance across the fretboard beautifully. Chris Adler of Lamb of God provides solid drumming, filling in as a guest after the band lost their drummer (the first line up change for the band), while Rody Walker provides strong vocals for the album, in particular his cleans. In the end it's a strong album from the band.
Volition - Full Album
Norma Jean - Wrongdoers
The band Norma Jean has undergone quite a few changes since their beginning. Originating under the name Lutikriss before they changed it to avoid confusion with a rapper, they initially played a somewhat noisy brand of metalcore/mathcore. After their first album they replaced their vocalist who left under amicable circumstances (and remains friends with the band to this day). Much like another band to whom they are often compared (Dillinger, which I think is unfair to both bands) they continued in this direction slowly evolving their sound with more variation, adding lighter and poppier elements to their music. Their previous album Meridional was their strongest work yet. The band successfully craft softer, more melodic tracks just as well as more aggressive numbers that they are known for. The screaming and singing of vocalist Cory Putman is once again excellent. Guitars provide heavy chord progressions and noisy riffs, while the drums pound away aggressively, and work together to give us some nice breakdowns. Another strong effort from the band.
If You Got It At Five You Got It At Fifty
Wrongdoers - Full Album
Shining (NOR) - One One One
Shining (NOR) deliver unto us an album that's fun, catchy, and unique. I'd probably stick this somewhere in the rock category, though it fuses elements of jazz, metal, and traces of electronic. On top of the strong guitars and drums, there are moments of saxophone littered throughout the album, helping to make things even more interesting. It's a somewhat frantic, fun, thrilling listen that's worth your time.
I Won't Forget
How Your Story Ends
Paint The Sky Black
One One One - Full Album (Playlist)
Kvelertak - Meir
Kvelertak (translates as "chokehold") is a Norwegian black 'n' roll band. For those not sure what that is, it's elements of rock and black metal thrown together, and in Kvelertak's case, quite a bit of hardcore as well. As with any hybrid genre, it leans more towards one side or the other, and in this band's case it's much closer to the rock side. While there are some blast beats and tremolo riffs on the album, most of the instrumentation rests in the rock category. The vocals are mainly screams with occasional gang vocals from the rest of the band. In the end it manages to be a fun, aggressive record.
Black Sabbath - 13
I've talked quite a bit about the comeback albums released this year by Carcass and Gorguts, but they weren't the only classic metal bands to do so. Oh no. The fathers of the genre themselves have a new album for us, their first in 18 years, and their first with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals in 35 years. So how does it sound? Well, it sounds like Black Sabbath. The band doesn't craft a comeback album to the same caliber as the other aforementioned bands (and perhaps comeback is the wrong word here, seeing as this could very likely be the groups final album). Nor do they craft something as memorable as their early work. While that may sound more damning than praiseworthy, that is far from my intent. Tony Iommi, once again the highlight of the album, still lays down heavy and doomy riffs, and quality lead work. Ozzy has never been the best vocalist in the world, but he manages to offer a passable performance here. So while it's ultimately not their strongest effort, it's still a solid album that should please anyone who needs more Sabbath in their life.
13 - Full Album (With Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks)
Clutch - Earth Rocker
Rock is a genre that I don't follow much. It's not that I don't like it -- I just like metal better and that consumes a lot of my time. Someday I'll take the time to get into the genre properly, but until then it's a small portion of what assaults my ears. In the meantime at least I have Clutch to keep me occupied. When I think of Clutch I think of fun rock music, the kind that's perfect to sing along to, which is precisely what the band delivers here. The songs tend to have a nice groove to them, with solid drumming and quality riffs. Vocalist Neil Fallon continues to provide his strong, gruff vocals to the bands music, singing about such things as war and being in love with a cyborg. In the end it's like I said, a fun rock record the whole way through.
D.C. Sound Attack!
Unto The Breach
Earth Rocker - Full Album
Tomahawk - Oddfellows
Tomahawk is a supergroup consisting of Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, etc), Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard), John Stanier (Helmet), and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), on vocals, guitar, drums, and bass respectively. While I'm not familiar with all of those aforementioned bands, I do have enough familiarity with Patton to know that his work is worth checking out. He's a wonderful vocalist and has helped create some delightfully weird music. Despite what the album title may imply, the album doesn't ever get particularly bizarre, though it does have its moments of strangeness sprinkled throughout. Patton as always displays his versatility as vocalist with smooth rock styled vocals, soft, gentle crooning, grittier singing, and more (and for anyone wondering, this record doesn't even cover the full range of his capabilities as it lacks any harsh vocals or the more bizarre tendencies he is wont to indulge, none of which is a criticism of this album). The music itself comprises of rock and softer tracks to match, sometimes both in the same song. None of which ever feels jarring, and comes together to provide an excellent listen.
Rise Up Dirty Waters
White Hats/Black Hats
Oddfellows - Full Album
Exivious - Liminal
Coming from the Netherlands, Exivious deliver unto us an album of instrumental progressive metal/jazz fusion. The closest thing I can compare it too is Cynic, but without the vocals and death metal influence. Of course, that isn't really surprising given that Tymon Kruidenier (guitar) and Robin Zielhorst (bass) both played for Cynic in the past. There's strong riffing and soloing throughout, creating a satisfying listen for fans of prog.
Liminal - Bandcamp
Nails - Abandon All Life
Here we have a short listen (only 17 minutes) of blazing speed. Nails offer up a total of ten tracks in that time frame, with only two of them breaking of the two minute mark. It's rapid fire bursts of punk filled aggression, speedy guitars, pounding drums, and screamed vocals, culminating in a noisy, abrasive hardcore. A beautiful bludgeoning for it's short, sweet run time.
Abandon All Life - Full
Abandon All Life - Bandcamp
Well, that's it. Again I'd like to mention that this is by no means a comprehensive list of what came out last year. Chances are I'll discover something a few months down the road that I feel should've been on here. So, what did you like last year? And did anything here catch your fancy?
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