As part of the annual end of year celebrations, we had a meeting at MetalTalk Towers to try and decide who were the best band, what was the best gig and what was the best album released in 2013, but with such a varied wealth of musical tastes round the table this was never going to be easy, so here's the second of our selections for the year - our Best Albums of 2013...
For me, there are three contenders for best album - 'Deceiver Of The Gods' by Amon Amarth which was produced by Andy Sneap and features a guest appearance from former Candlemass singer Messiah Marcolin. Second up is Betzefer's storming thrash album, 'The Devil Went Down To The Holy land' and finally there is Taimur Tajik's album 'Order For Disorder' which has emotive lyrics and is a stunning hard rock album.
Buffalo Summer released their self titled debut album earlier this year, and what a great record it is too. Ten original rock solid tracks including the catchy 'She's All Natural', 'Truth From Fable' and the fantastic 'March Of The Buffalo', which has a great heavy riff (courtesy of guitarist Jonny Williams) taking you right through the song. This young band are surely one to watch for the future, and if you haven't heard the album yet – I highly recommend that you give it a listen!
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To be honest I find it hard these days to find totally quality new release albums, maybe as there are so many to wade through. A US survey showed around 5,000 albums a year released in all genres in the 80s, now it's around 76,000!! I came across some good ones but the winner for me was a late entry sent to me for review by MetalTalk, 'My Only Shelter' by Darkhaus. A totally unexpected pop/metal/goth gem and there's not a bad track on it. Really strong song writing always wins over everything else and these guys have it.
In theory the best band should produce the best album, but that's not always the case – in this instance, though, it is. Dave Ingram's lyrical compositions in conjunction with Rogga Johansson's unique, catchy guitar style as well as his ability to create a great composition makes the self-titled from Down Among The Dead Men, my album of the year by miles.
Kylesa - 'Ultraviolet'. This sludgy, heavy stoner metal band from Georgia never disappoint and this release was a slight surprise but mighty fine. Widely regarded as more accessible than their previous albums, but that doesn't mean selling out! Laura Pleasants' vocals are more dominant and, at times almost ethereal, while the band even dabble in moody alt rock. The tracks on this album bring another dimension to their live sets and I devour this piece of hip-swayingly groovy sludge from the Peach State.
Perduramo from Glasgow have been lurking around the music scene as far back as 2010 and I was unaware of them until I tripped over them literally at a gig at Ivory Blacks in Glasgow recently, which lead me to their superb album here on Bandcamp. Check it Out at http://perduramo.bandcamp.com.
From my favourite new band, Pink Cigar, I've chosen their debut album, 'We're Going To Get You Out Of Here' which was released only last month and is full of catchy hooks and spikey tunes. It's more infectious than herpes, and you'll never shake them off once you've caught a dose of Pink Cigar!
Legendary British Heavy Metallers Saxon released a new album, 'Unplugged And Strung Up' in November which is a different look at some classic tracks from their extensive back catalogue. 'Unplugged And Strung Up' brings some fresh and adventurous interpretations of material previously only heard with raw Heavy Metal Thunder, with the point triumphantly underscored. Recorded and mixed by Andy Sneap (Blaze Bayley, testament, Killswitch Engage) the band have re-evaluated, re-worked and re-energised 'The Eagle Has Landed' and 'Crusader' and other classics by introducing orchestral dynamics to offer a different dimension to the tracks. I wasn't actually that excited by the press release as the album contains no new material, but when I heard the album for the first time, I was absolutely blown away - there's nothing here you haven't heard but you've never heard any of the tracks played like this before!
It's been hard to choose a favourite from this year's glut of superb albums - Touchstone delighted with 'Oceans Of Time', with its ear friendly melodies mixing with ballsy rock and intelligent lyrical themes. The Tangent released the magnificent 'Le Sacre Du Travail', a sympathetic study of the mundane and frustrating lives so many of us lead, while prog album of the year was 'The Last Man In Space' from Cosmograf, which also had 'Dimensionaut' by Sound Of Contact nipping at its heels. There can only be one album of 2013 for me – the self titled album debut from The Temperance Movement. The album is packed with all that I love about rock and roll - memorable tunes, evocative lyrics, raw yet skillful musicianship, and soulful vocals from Phil Campbell tugging at your heartstrings.
Amon Amarth - http://amonamarth.com/
Buffalo Summer - http://buffalosummer.net/
Darkhaus - http://www.darkhausmusic.com/
Down Among The Dead Men - http://www.facebook.com/DownAmongTheDeadMen
Kylesa - http://www.kylesa.com/
Parduramo - http://www.facebook.com/Perduramo
Pink Cigar - http://www.facebook.com/PinkCigar
Saxon - http://www.saxon747.com/
The Temperance Movement- http://www.thetemperancemovement.com/
We'll be running four more Best Of 2013 article on New Year's Eve. Click here for the four that we published on Boxing Day.