Some of you may know me as one of the photographers for Heavy Blog. I shoot shows in Philadelphia, NYC, and occasionally other places. Due to the thriving scenes on the east coast, almost every band I want to see tours around me. As I shot over 100 shows this year, I was exposed to a lot of different music. My opinion of a band’s music on an album changes for better or for worse when I see a band live. As this is the case, my top 20 list only consists of bands I did not see this year.
20. Coke Bust – Confined
Coke Bust are a hardcore band from Washington D.C. I loved this record as it is fast, unrelenting, and a lot of fun. My only problem is that it’s only about ten minutes long.
19. Humanity’s Last Breath – Humanity’s Last Breath
Humanity’s Last Breath are often compared to vildhjarta. They definitely are hugely influenced by them, but there are strong death metal influences thrown in there as well. I highly enjoy the fact that the released this in an instrumental version as well as a regular version. Lots of mosh parts to be found here. THALL
18. Daylight – Jar
Not a “metal” record in any respect, but I loved their approach on this record. Lots of melodic hardcore and emo influences to be found here. Basement broke up, but we still have this band. I had several opportunities to see this band this year, but as they are local, I’m sure I’ll have more chances in 2014.
17. Plini – Sweet Nothings + Plini/Sithu Aye Split + Other Things
I discovered plini earlier this year and was blown away. He put out several EP’s this year and I enjoyed all of them. Instrumental music is some of my favorite music, and this is no different.
16. Hatred Surge – Human Overdose
This record caught me by surprise, as it has much better production than anything else Hatred Surge has ever released. This is an extremely dark and stupidly heavy powerviolence record. While looking at the last.fm tags on this band to help me write this “mini-review”, I stumbed upon the tag “like a chainsaw to the rectum”. True. You’re Moshing.
15. Inter Arma – Sky Burial
I discovered this band a few weeks after this record was released. An awesome combination of well-produced sludge and black metal. This record is not easily digestible, as it runs well over 60 minutes. After several listens it all started to make sense to me, this record is a heavy beast.
14. Jungbluth – Part Ache
Jungbluth are a German band that was formed in 2012 during the hiatus of another band called Alpinist. They take everything I like about screamo, crust, and dark hardcore, and mix it together into a an extremely intelligent album. Most of the lyrics are in German, but you hear and feel the emotion in their voices throughout this album.
13. Light Bearer – Silver Tongue
This record is a phenomenal atmospheric sludge record. I first heard this the day they released it on bandcamp, and it resonated with me on the first listen. Huge post-metal and doom influences all over this record, and these really make this record shine. With a running time of about 80 minutes, this record has a lot to offer. Three of the six songs on this album are at least 16.5 minutes long, so this record is not for people with short attention spans.
12. Incendiary – Cost of Living
A short, fast, extremely angry hardcore release. The intro track “Zeitgeist” is one of the best opening tracks for an album of this variety that I have ever heard. The vocals may not be for everyone, but I find them extremely fitting for this release. You’re Moshing.
11. East of The Wall – Redaction Artifacts
East of The Wall came back in late 2013 with another incredible record. I love their style of almost non-existent vocals, similar to Intronaut, Rosetta, and Isis. This album was definitely a grower for me, as it didn’t do that much for me on the first 2 or 3 listens, but after I was finally able to process all of the different elements that this album brings to the table, I was hooked. This a very dense record, once again, not for people with short attention spans.
10. ERRA – Augment
This record is essentially August Burns Red without the Christ. I loved this record, and the whiny vocals that I wouldn’t like in most other bands fit this band extremely well. The production on this record is amazing, and the guitars sound incredible. With this record, Erra became one of my favorite bands in progressive metalcore. Lots of tasty drum sounds all over this record. I need to see/shoot this band in 2014, and I have a feeling that I’ll have at least one opportunity.
9. Steven Wilson – The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
I’m sure most of you know that Steven Wilson is the mastermind behind Porcupine Tree. I love PT, and I am also a huge fan of his solo work. I got into this record super hard on my first listen, but many of the intricacies of this masterpiece of an album took several listens to comprehend. Lots of progressive rock and jazz fusion elements going on around here. I had the opportunity to go see Steven Wilson in April, but I chose to go see The Dillinger Escape Plan in Brooklyn that day. No regrets.
8. Sannhet – Known Flood
Sannhet are a 3-piece atmospheric black metal band from Brooklyn, NYC. They aren’t very well known outside of New York, but their latest release is insane. Mixing post-rock, post-metal, black metal, and shoegaze into one awesome experience of a record, “Known Flood” blew me away. Sannhet are also an instrumental band, which I feel fits their sound.
7. Oathbreaker – Eros|Anteros
Oathbreaker are a screamo/chaotic hardcore band from Belgium that are signed to Deathwish Inc. When I first heard of this band, just based on those two descriptive categories, I knew they were going to be awesome. I’ve been listening to their 2011 album, “Maelstrom” since I heard they were going to play in Philadelphia last year. I ended up missing that show, and they haven’t been back in the US since. Oathbreaker are one of the few bands with female vocalists I enjoy heavily, and you can feel the emotion and pain from her voice throughout this record.
6. Disfiguring The Goddess – Deprive/Black Earth Child
Cameron Argon is one of my favorite people in the music industry. I have had to opportunity to see him play as Big Chocolate twice this year, talking to him a little bit about Disfiguring The Goddess both times. Deprive is an extremely produced slam beast with lots of electronic elements thrown in, while Black Earth Child is a less produced, heavier album that sounds like Gojira had a baby with a beautiful slam band. Both of these releases are short, and I almost consider them EP’s, but since both of these were released on the same day, he definitely gets a pass for making two short albums. Slam.
5. ██████ (nic) – Demo
Oh look, another atmospheric black metal band on my list. ██████ are a band from Pilsen, Czech Republic. As their name makes them very hard to google, their bandcamp is simply wedonthaveaname.bandcamp.com. ██████ play a mixture of black metal, ambient music, and screamo. Even though this demo is only 4 tracks and 24 minutes long, it is an incredible release, and I’m really hoping they come to the US in the near future.
4. Fallujah – Nomadic
One of my favorite “technical death metal” bands in the current scene, Fallujah graced us with an incredible EP early this year. Nomadic is a huge leap forward for the band, as they are much more focused writing-wise, and this EP really made that shine. Fallujah know when to be fast, melodic, and downright brutal, but they also know when to embrace the more ambient electronic side of their sound. Alex Hofmann’s electronic influences are clearly heard on this album, and they sound incredible. Easily the best EP of the year. 10/10
3. Arsonists Get All The Girls – Listen To The Color
AGATG’s new album blew my mind. I had it on almost constant repeat for several weeks immediately following the release on bandcamp. This band encompasses almost everything I like about chaotic angry music and makes me want to stage dive off of my desk. Mathcore, grindcore, deathcore, death metal, experimental, electronic, and even hardcore influences can be found all over this album. Clocking in at 15 tracks and around 25 minutes long, this album absolutely wrecks.
2. Wormed – Exodromos
Slam. This has to be THE best slam record I have ever heard in my life. This band bases their lyrical content on space, and they bring some of the best slamming brutal death metal in the world to the table and mix it with aliens and space. This is my metal album of the year by far. Wormed don’t make it to America very often, and when they played around here they played at 21+ venues, and I wasn’t legally allowed to attend.
1. Death Grips – Government Plates
When Death Grips dropped their surprise album on soundcloud, they posted two download links to the album. Both of the those links ended up crashing due to insane amounts of server traffic almost instantly. After listening to the album three or four times and having my mind blown, I realized that they had made a complete audiovisual album. Each song has to do with what MC Ride is was experiencing during the process of each song. (hint, it’s a lot of drugs) The opening track on the album, “You might think he loves you for your money but I know what he really loves you for it’s your brand new leopard skin pillbox hat” opens with noise for the first few seconds, and then MC Ride and Zach Hill come in. I have a huge admiration for Zach Hill as he is one of the best drummers in the world (see his project with Mick Barr “Shred Earthship”, and his experimental/noise project “Hella”). When I saw Death Grips play a church basement in Philadelphia last November, the crowd went absolutely insane and everyone was covered in sweat by the end of the show. It was beautiful. I was supposed to shoot Death Grips at Fun Fun Fun Fest in November, but they cancelled their appearance to put the finishing touches on “Government Plates” and release it as quickly as possible. Noided.
0. Lil B “The BasedGod” – 05 Fuck ‘Em
The Basedgod has returned with a 101 track mixtape. Incredible swag. Swagcredible. Incrediswag. Plus, it’s available for free download.
2013 has been one of the best years in musical history in my opinion, and if you disagree, you probably didn’t listen to enough new music.