Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mark of the Beast top 10 of 2013

So here's the only top 10 in the world of metal that actually matters, and to think 99% of metalheads won't even see it... shame. 2013 was a fun year. As far as the top 10 goes, the top 2 are top-notch material while the rest are merely awesome. There's been better years but what can ya do?! I'm not gonna put a youtube for every single album because you're perfectly capable of doing that and it gets kind of annoying trying to scroll through 10 youtubes. On with the show!

10. Dark Tranquility - Construct

What's up DT! In case you lost these guys in the fray over the years, this album is actually really good. I grew up on melodic metal like In Flames and DT, but instead of going down the path of suck like In Flames did with age, DT has remained consistently good. And I don't know if it's studio magic or what but holy shit does Mikael Stanne's voice sound good at 39. It's actually the best I've heard it, clean harmonic singing as well as strong as ever screams. Kudos to him because if you've ever heard Anders Frieden lately... ugh. Really good effort by these guys, and that makes me happy.

9. Thyrfing - De Ödeslösa

Thyrfing came back from the dead much to my delight with this one. This has actually been a good year for band resurrections, more on that later. This is actually their best album since they abandoned my beloved synth-heavy viking metal sound :( The acoustic guitar that they employ throughout this album really works and is an unexpected element from them. It still has that plodding Thyrfing style and gives me joy that they're still around making music.

8. Gorguts - Colored Sands

I imagine when the current lineup of Gorguts got together in hopes of making their first album in 12 years, they had one question on their minds: Will a new album be good enough to make Mark of the Beast's top 10?  Well congratulation boys, you made the right decision! Sometimes risks just pay off, and this album is a great representation of that. This album is too complex for my brain to process, but if you like intriguing, chaotic, technical, mind-rumbling music, you'll enjoy this one.

7.  Inquisition - Obscure Verses for the Multiverse

RAISE THE CHALLICE! RAISE THE CHALLICE! RAISE THE CHALLICE! These are words I repeat with a horrifying scowl upon my corpse-painted face every day because of this fuckin album. One of my life philosophies that I try to live by every day is that there's nothing wrong with black metal done right. These guys have the added benefit of being just over the top and ridiculous about it. There's so many quality black metal moments in this thing. If you think about it, this is our modern day Burzum, Darkthrone, etc. These guys are keeping the dream alive in the 2010's! I recommend taking a night off, pouring some cosmopolitans and just blasting this album while headbanging and scowling to your heart's content. It's good for the soul.

6. Heathen Foray - Inner Force

Think of these guys as a cross between Ensiferum and the almighty Thronar!! I can't have Thronar anymore so these fill that need nicely. This is their second effort and they really did a good job at refining their sound for some awesome songs. If you like feeling good while thinking about the days of viking past, and enjoy some outstanding guitar work in the process, please check this album out. The following song has everything you need in a viking metal song honestly. Well done sirs!

5. Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods

Speaking of viking metal, there's these guys. Now as much as I love me some vikings, I never really got too into Amon Amarth. I think maybe I've been too focused on pretty bands with lots of instruments, trying to expand my mind too much while listening to some guy scream about Odin's hammer or socket wrench or something. But Amon Amarth brings me back down to Earth and makes me realize that sometimes all you need are some crushing viking melodies to make you feel good. These songs have caught my attention more than their past albums, and with songs like Under Seige you just can't help but headbang god damnit.

4. Peste Noire - Peste Noire

It's the return of La PN! One of the best things about listening to a Peste Noire album for the first time is I genuinely have no idea what to expect at any given second of any song. Blast beats, speed picking, guttural vocals, accordion, hurdy gurdy, acoustic guitar, chickens clucking, techno beats, some weird fucking horn, anything goes with Famine. It's really unlike any other metal experience. Everything from the vocals to the music to the atmosphere is just completely bizarre, while still giving you that black metal goodness you need to make it through the day. One thing I like about this particular La PN album is there are some seriously crushing parts in some of the songs, something I've not seen from them yet, and I really like it. The only reason why this album isn't vying for #1 is the ridiculous production. I know it's Famine, and that's part of their charm, but at 5 albums into their career they don't need to record on one of these anymore:

3. Falkenbach - Asa

Here's another band, like Amon Amarth, that I like but never really got into. But this album just does something for me. I think 6 albums in, Vratyas has really found his stride, and he has laid it all out in this half folk, half metal album. It sounds similar to the other albums but I think the clean vocals and acoustic guitar have really hit their mark with this one. There's just so much passion in his voice, and cmon the olde style English and Icelandic mix that he uses just adds to it. I tend to gaze out over the horizon while listening to this album for the full effect. If you're a fan of folk music, check this out and you'll be pleased. There's not even that much screaming in it for the normal people yay!

2. Written in Torment - Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes

Written in Torment? Oh sweet is that a new Deathcore band bro? Go kill yourself. This is some black metal right here son. If you don't have this album yet, go get it now! This is a one-man band of pure solidified grim. I would describe Written in Torment as a faster black metal version of Arghoslent with a hint of Dissection. Basically what Leviathan said here was "I'm going to work on my guitar work until you're literally forced to like this shit."  This is just black metal done right I keep saying it. It makes you feel good about yourself and life in general, not something that's easy to accomplish while singing about Satan burning down the mortal world. The guitar work is just relentless and combines black metal riffage with complex arpeggios. And that palm mute riff shit he does at 1:10 in A Pig Hung in Golgotha.. I don't even know. Listen now!

1.  Summoning - Old Mornings Dawn

And that brings us to the grand champion of 2013, hell yes it's Summoning! The last time Summoning came out with an album (Oath Bound) I was playing Oblivion in my $175 a month apartment with that in the background, and loving every second of it. It brings me back to simpler days. Basically the deal with Summoning is this: if you played RPG video games and/or D&D, you will appreciate this music. If you didn't you probably wonder what the big deal is. Well I played hella Final Fantasy, Ogre Tactics, Shining Force, Magestorm, so when I heard this album was coming, boy was I excited. But I really didn't anticipate the emotions that this album would invoke inside me. When I got the album, I must've listened to the title track about 50 times in a row, just loving every second of it. Old Mornings Dawn is why I listen to metal, to achieve that feeling of pure bliss via music that only metal has been able to provide me. I just had a huge smile on my face while listening through this thing. The atmosphere, the epicness! It just really made an impression on me and I knew this was going to be my #1. I really hope these guys make at least one more, even if I have to wait 7 more years. Just look at these guys and tell me they don't make some real shit:

It's albums like this that will make me eternally happy. I will say that this album was a little more wide-ranging than their previous ones, going from fantasy to dark to inspirational to solemn. I don't know if that makes any sense but I really love what they did for this one. J.R. Tolkein himself would be proud. So thank you Summoning for bestowing us all this great gift of metal! Mark of the Beast out.