In the year 2023, many good albums were released. But not many artists were a part of not one, not two, but THREE great releases. But Aki was. First, she was part of A Constant Knowledge of Death's superb release; I have spilled enough ink on here about how much I love their 2023 album. Then, she was, as always, a part of the excellent dynamo of energy and angst by the name of Dreamwell; their release also kicks a lot of ass. Finally, she contributed to one of this year's most interesting album, Victory Over the Sun's winding, grinding, and beguiling album.
And now, she's here on Heavy Blog with her top...twenty albums of 2023. That's right, top twenty and boy are these albums good. They run the gamut from caustic hardcore, through gnarly dissonant death metal, heady skramz, cryptic black metal, and neon industrial, always with excellence, passion, and dedication as a second thread. In short, this list fucking rules and we are privileged to run it. Scroll on down. below for a boatload of great music and don't forget to support all the projects mentioned above!
I didn’t spend very much time listening to new music last year. When I wasn’t mixing or playing shows, I craved the sweet sound of silence. But here you are anyway, because apparently you care about a hot screamo girl’s music opinions. Anyway, it's January 2nd 2024 so I’m going to make this quick, top 20 in no particular order.
Ostraca - Disaster
The ideal screamo album. It feels dramatic, urgent, and full of peaks and valleys. It's postier than most screamo albums and sludgier than most screamo albums. It's proof that production can sound “raw” without sounding bad. And like most of the greatest screamo albums of all time, It Just Hits, in ways that are beyond superlative or characterization.
Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean - Obsession Destruction
The loading screen in my brain is just sludge riffs, so I came back to this album a lot when I just needed to Sludge Out. It’s the best sounding and best written sludge album of the year, what else do you need?
Telos - Delude
Whenever someone makes an album that's kinda black metal and kinda mathcore and kinda sludgy I am like “wow they wrote an album just for Aki”. Anyway, wow they wrote an album just for Aki!
The St. Pierre Snake Invasion - Galore
One of the more unique sounding heavy albums of the year. Easy winner of “most stank faces per minute” for 2023.
Tim Hecker - No Highs
Listening to this album feels like flossing my brain.
Great Falls - Objects Without Pain
Big words from me considering how much I used to love said band, but I feel like this album fills the hole that Neur*sis left in my heart, and then some. There has to be at least one album on my top 10 list that accurately captures how bleak and shitty it feels to still be alive, and this is without a doubt, the one.
Thantifaxath - Hive Mind Narcosis
Thantifaxath is one of the most unique and surreal sounding black metal bands out there, and they do it without sounding gimmicky or overly technical. Sometimes it sounds like they’re inventing new notes and chords, but really it's that their sense of melody and harmony is unlike any other band.
The HIRS Collective - We’re Still Here
2023’s soundtrack to Trans Wrath for me. Jenna’s balcony jump at New Friends Fest really cemented the importance of this album for me, and should serve as a reminder to y'all that trans women are better than you, at everything.
Model//Actriz - Dogsbody
Gonna be real I slept on this album until today. I’ve only listened to it once, and it's 2024 already, but I’m still putting it on my 2023 list. It sounds like the exact type of music I am trying to listen to, and the exact type of music I am trying to make. In fact I’m kind of mad I didn’t make it.
Victory Over the Sun - Dance You Monster to My Soft Song!
I usually have a “no albums that I contributed to on my AOTY list” policy but in this case I don’t care, it was an AOTY before I touched it. I told Vivian it kind of sounded like Between the Buried and Me made a black metal album, but really it's more than that, and it's even better than that. But hearing “Thorn Woos The Wound” made me feel the way I did when I first listened to Colors, being in sheer awe of the boldness, ambition, and sense of adventure to take a song to so many unexpected places. On top of that, this album also has a noise track, tons of tastefully used horn & wind parts, and gay yearning.
Intercourse - Halo Castration Institute
The first time I “saw” Intercourse, I was stuck in the parking lot outside of the venue having a massive panic attack and trying not to puke, and their set still kicked my ass. Honestly I feel like that was fate, because listening to this album makes me feel like I’m back in that parking lot, except this time I’m on the ground getting my head kicked in.
Body Void - Atrocity Machine
Another solid entry in the “sludge songs that serve as the loading screen of my brain” category for 2023.
Death Goals - A Garden of Dead Flowers
The homies are back to beat our asses with more chugs and skronks. Definitely tops my list of bands I wanna do a split with thinking emoji.
New Forms - As Dust Collects
Easily the best emoviolence ripper of 2023, more than deserves multiple sittings of 15 minutes.
Home is Where - the whaler
So beautifully and eloquently captures the minutiae of a slow burning apocalypse where we still have to do capitalism and occasionally have moments of joy and elation in between the dread.
Josaleigh Pollett - In The Gardens, By The Weeds
Not a comparison I expected to make but the guitars that open this album made me feel like I was experiencing the lonely reflective morning when I first heard Kacey Musgraves’ Slow Burn. Another welcome surprise was the jagged, crushed production that tastefully outlines these songs, bringing to mind both of Low’s final two albums. And if you know how much I don’t shut about those, you know what a high compliment that is.
Nightmarer - Deformity Adrift
Sometimes I really appreciate a dissonant death metal band that sounds like they secretly have listened to djent before and enjoyed it.
Jerome’s Dream - The Gray in Between
The scream guy does screams and the riff guys do riffs. There’s an elegant minimalism to this album that is much harder to make work in practice than it seems.
Wargasm - Venom
Maybe I’ve just fully entered my dumb bitch era but this album kinda fucks hard. Hits the same spots as Poppy’s I Disagree and also does what I always wanted Limp Bizkit to do: write an album that’s only banger riffs.
Health - Rat Wars
Do I care that “Sicko” is just shamelessly a Godflesh cover moreso than a feature/sample? No, I lost my fucking shit.