best of 2013 so far

With each passing year, it seems like the selection of outstanding releases grows. Perhaps metal is undergoing a universal push towards excellence, or maybe you can chalk it up to us paying more attention as our tastes grow and expand, but the first half of 2013 was a great one. The entire writing and contributing staff of Heavy Blog were each polled on their top picks from the first half of the year, and here’s how the list stacked up

12. Tesseract – Altered State (5 votes)


Alkahest’s review excerpt: “It’s safe to say that Altered State capitalizes on everything that made the band stand out as leaders in the scene to begin with while simultaneously taking further steps towards individuality and progress. This isn’t to say that One was by any means immature — it’s a defining masterpiece of a subgenre, by our book. Altered State sees many aspects of the band’s sound further realized in a more cohesive fashion. It is more calculated; more precise. Altered State is phenomenal.”

11. Cult of Luna – Vertikal (5 votes)


Dr. Killjoy’s review excerpt: “Vertikal is exceptional in every way, and with this addition to their discography, Cult of Luna has secured their place as the new masters of sludge and post-metal, considering the previous ones have disbanded, toppling even the likes of the great Isis.”

10. Persefone – Spiritual Migration (5 votes)


This album was criminally ignored, even by us! This is one of the few albums on this list that didn’t get a formal review from us, which is a shame. This obscure progressive death metal group from the little-known country of Andorra should be breaking out with this album. Hopefully in the next round, a bigger label like Metal Blade or Century Media will throw them a bone and sign this band to a worldwide deal.

09. Arsis – Unwelcome (5 votes)


Nayon’s review excerpt: “Unwelcome is a great album, both a very welcome (ha!) return to form and a step forward for Arsis. Everything good about previous Arsis albums is taken and refined to perfection in a manner that is very characteristic of the band. It’s the band’s best album since United In Regret, which means Unwelcome is a contender for Arsis’s best album so far.”

08. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Descension (6 votes)


Alkahest’s review excerpt: “The Afterman is undoubtedly Coheed and Cambria’s crowning achievement thus far in their careers. Accessibility and the band’s tight grasp on writing catchy tunes is only one aspect to Coheed’s multi-faceted success in the realm of rock music; high concept, unparallelled songwriting, and forward-thinking musicianship lies within this double album. If this isn’t considered a rock classic, there is no justice.”

07. Intronaut – Habitual Levitations (6 votes)


Inhumed’s review excerpt: “Intronaut’s new album is the perfect example of what the word “progressive” should mean. The band has risen from the ground of post-metal and sludge to reach to ever-increasing heights in progressive rock, and it shouldn’t be any other way. Make no mistake: Habitual Levitations is as good as Intronaut have ever been, and if they can keep progressing like they have, there’s no reason for them not to become one of the biggest names in progressive music.”

06. Extol – Extol (6 votes)


From what I could tell from my online social circles, Extol’s long-awaited reunion was much hyped about. Unlike many of these comeback albums, Extol’s new self-titled album actually managed to be worthy of getting excited over. We’ve got a soft spot for Scandinavian prog, and this album satisfies.

05. The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack (6 votes)


Harlequin Crest’s review excerpt: “Everblack is like a great movie sequel, one of the Black Dahlia’s most focused works to date. Everblack will consume those looking for a hauntingly catchy death metal album that remains as playful as it is heavy.”

04. Leprous – Coal (6 votes)


Nayon’s review excerpt: “In the end, it’s hard to deny that Coal is yet another masterpiece by Leprous. The songs ooze character and deliberation. Coal is expressive, emotional and brave. It might not be what everyone expected after Bilateral, but Leprous have defied expectations and raised the bar again.”

03. Wormed – Exodromos (9 votes)


Nayon’s review excerpt: “Overall, Exodromos is a ridiculously brutal album that also manages to be mind-blowingly unique. Wormed have crafted some of the most alien yet memorable riffs ever, and strung them together to create a stellar album full of masterful songs. Exodromos is clearly one of the best extreme metal releases of the past few years, and a must-listen.”

02. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is The Killer (11 votes)


Alkahest’s review excerpt: “After listening to this record, the title’s significance becomes evident; One Of Us Is The Killer is one of the most destructive albums in not only 2013, but in the scope of Dillinger’s entire discography thus far.”

01. The Ocean – Pelagial (12 votes)


Alkahest’s review excerpt: “Pelagial is quite possibly The Ocean’s most ambitious record to date — not only conceptually, but musically as well… The Ocean have been on the cutting edge of progressive songwriting since their inception, but Pelagial may be the record that finally puts them ahead of their peers.”

Hopefully the second half of the year can match the quality we’ve come to expect from a strong first half! Look forward to each of our best-of lists later on in the year, but in the mean time, listen to as much new music as possible. You may find something worthwhile that you wouldn’t have heard otherwise!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.