The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013
Inevitably, every "best of" list features some tiny--or not so tiny--bias from its compilers. Journalistic objectivity takes precedence, sure, but when even the definition of "metal" is subject to interpretation, there's no true one-size-fits-all best-of list. But that's often the best part of the entertainment for the reader/armchair critic--the "What the fuck is this deaf mother-effer thinking?!" And then weighing in with their own, much better list.
Courtesy of Napalm Records
How to compare/choose between Lita Ford and Ishan? Between the Melvins and Toxic Holocaust? In short, it's impossible. By not including, for instance, Cali hipster metallers Deafheaven on the list, and by including Fates Warning, well, let's just say, "Let the lambasting begin!"
That said, overall, metal in 2013 was remarkably healthy, with progenitors Black Sabbath topping the Billboard chart for the first time in their long career, and many hundreds of worthy heavy music albums fomented in dark depths of metal minds. All art is valid, even if it's made by Monster Magnet in 2013. Let's do this.
See also: The Ten Best Metal Albums of 2012
10. Black Sabbath
Courtesy of Vertigo/Universal
In the beginning there was Sabbath. And 45 (!) years later, Sabbath perseveres--or reemerges--triumphant with 13, with a darkly ominous vibe redolent of its first three albums. Kudos goes to producer Rick Rubin for putting Sabs into the way-back machine for this first all-new CD with the (almost-) original lineup (minus drummer Bill Ward) since 1978"s Never Say Die. With kudos and horns raised to the Ronnie James Dio-era Sabbath (1979-82), as well as the eternally imperturbable genius of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, it's still not truly Sabbath without Ozzy at the helm. Archetypes endure for a reason, and 13 and Sabbath are the real deal.
Courtesy of Nuclear Blast
Carcass: Are they grindcore? Splatter? Melodic death metal? Yes. And with Surgical Steel, the Liverpudlian trio (yes, they share a home city with the Beatles) release their sixth album since forming in 1985. (A smallish output due to a "hiatus" from 1995 to 2005). From machine-gun-fast blast beats on "Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard" which seemingly features lyrical digs at unnamed brethren ("Artistically moribund / Soulless ghosts of the underground") to the Thin Lizzy-style twin guitars, Carcass are back in decisive (but not moribund!) form. Riffy, classic, blistering metal (unlike 1988's Reek of Putrefaction, most songs are longer than 1:30), Carcass have lost none of smart, gross intensity that made them pioneers.
See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013 [From our sister paper LA Weekly]