Top 26 Albums of 2013:
2013 was a pretty insane year for music, lots of good releases, both big and small were heard. Only my cream of the crop have made this list. Yes, I expect a few haters on some of these, but I really could care less! Sit back and enjoy my Top 26 Albums of 2013!
#26: Eminem – “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”
Starting at #26, we have Eminem’s incredible and bold return to form, “The Marshall Mathers LP 2”. While it was one of my most anticipated albums of the year, it just didn’t live up to the original, in my books. It did, however throw a curveball and was a pretty serious album. It’s at the bottom of my list because, while I loved it, to me… it wasn’t anything really out of the ordinary, which was pretty disappointing.
At #25, we have A Skylit Drive’s phenomenal new Tragic Hero release, “Rise”. It’s one of the most uplifting and different releases of the year, giving it more than enough reason to claim MUCH higher spots on other people’s lists for this year. Here’s why it ranked so low on mine, though. While the lyrics hit home, the instrumentation felt a bit bland to me. ASD has been known for stepping outside of the boundaries and really bringing something new and fresh to the table but “Rise” felt a bit robotic in a way.
Coming in at #24 on my list is…. Eve to Adam’s 5th full-length album and 2nd on a major label, “Locked & Loaded”. This one surprised me a bit, there is NOTHING on this album that I don’t love. The lyrics are incredible, the instrumentation is perfect and the overall togetherness of the album is almost unmatched, so why didn’t it rank higher? Well, given the releases that had already been released, there were many more that hit me harder. Sorry EtA, nothing against you guys, I assure you!
Coming in at #23 is Scars of Life’s comeback album, “…A Heart Still Beats”. I was incredibly upset when they disappeared from the scene in 2005 after the departure of Kyle Shapiro, but luckily, they’re back and better than ever! This album was truly incredible from start to finish but again, there were a lot of albums that had already been released this year that hit home more for me. Scars of Life will always have my support and I’m sad that it’s so low down in my list, but it’s not because it’s not a good album… it’s a GREAT album! Go pick it up for yourself and find out what I’m talking about!
At #22 we have Chimaira’s newest effort, “Crown of Phantoms”. Let me start by saying that this was one of the best heavier releases I’ve ever heard from the band. It was a return to their roots, while throwing some new elements in to surprise and keep fans interested. The artwork ALONE made me want to buy it, but the music contained within is on an entirely new level. Now, for the reason it didn’t make it higher. My preferred genres of choice are post-hardcore/metalcore and hard rock, it’s very rare that a release like this catches my attention in the way it did. There were a LOT of good releases in those categories this year and so they ranked a bit higher than this album. Don’t knock it before you try it, though! You won’t regret it by any means!
At number 21 is perhaps one of the most shocking albums to be this low for me, Avenged Sevenfold’s “Hail to the King”. Nearly 4 years after the death of James “The Rev” Owen Sullivan, the famed drummer for the band, the band has returned. The album has a classic rock feel like no other and, that alone, is enough to turn many fans off. To me, I loved the album, I loved it more than I thought I would love any album this year… but I realized I may have overhyped it when I began putting my list together. It deserved to be up higher, to me, before I sat and reflected on all the releases this year. HTTK was by FAR one of the best rock albums of this year, possibly the past few years… but it didn’t live up to many expectations. It didn’t disappoint me, not at all. What it did was speak to me and remind me how great this band is. But there are many better albums that were released this year. Sorry, A7X… being my favorite band, it killed me to put you this low, but maybe you’ll hop higher next time!
In my opinion, #20 was one of the best metalcore releases of the year when it was released. But as the year pushed on, many surpassed it. Palisades is one of my favorite up and coming bands and, being an outcast all my life, this album spoke to me more than anyone may know. The fact that they used Tyler Carter (Issues) on the track “High and Low” and Andy Leo (Crown the Empire) on the title track as guest vocalists made it even more appealing. However, the year was young and, therefore, it had a lot to live up to. It didn’t quite make it as high as I’d wanted it, but it’s a great album nonetheless. I definitely recommend it for any metalcore fan out there!
#19 holds one of the best bands to have come out of Australia this year, The Charm The Fury’s “A Shade of My Former Self”. This album blew me away from first listen and holds a very dear spot in my heart. Released in September, the year was almost over, but it didn’t quite beat out some of the albums that had yet to be released. This isn’t a bad album, so don’t hesitate to go check it out!
Another very surprising release to see so low, #18: “New Demons” by I See Stars. Everything about this album was stepped up to the next level. Their last album, “Digital Renegade” was okay, but it didn’t touch what the fans knew this band was capable of. We gave them a couple years and they blew us all away this time around. Again, this album is only as low as it is, because there were releases that were better than it which dropped earlier in the year. If you don’t own this album, you need to go buy it. It’s truly phenomenal from start to finish.
Sitting almost at the middle of my list at #17 is The Bunny The Bear’s 3rd release on Victory Records, “Stories”. This album was the first to feature some more heartfelt type tracks. There were a few on this album that really had me bawling. For example, “Hey, Allie”, “It’s Not Always Cold in Buffalo” and “Sadie” are all more serious tracks that have a less sporadic nature than the band is used to. I think this is what makes it stand out above many other albums in the genre this year. Not to mention The Bunny really stepped his game up! Go have storytime with The Bunny The Bear by picking up your copy of this album!
Let the hate begin, there have been a lot of mixed emotions thrown around about this album. Bring Me The Horizon’s “Sempiternal” is, by far, the most different album the band has ever released. If you thought “There Is A Hell…” threw you off on their sound, listen to this brilliant piece of art! With fan-favorite, “Can You Feel My Heart?”, the origin of the “Sandpit Turtle” meme from their single, “Shadow Moses” and overall some of the best tracks the band has ever managed to come up with, this album is well-deserving of it’s spot on my list. Regardless of the hate it’s received, it was a bold and incredible new step for the band and I look forward to what’s next for them!
At #15, we have The Color Morale’s incredibly uplifting new album, “Know Hope”. It spawned some of the best tracks to help those who feel hopeless and lost and proved that this band is here to help their fans. What’s more, vocalist Garret Rapp participated in “Pay It Forward” by helping out a fan who sold her guitar to go see their show! This is a band that has never forgotten where they came from and is incredibly kind to their fans. If you haven’t picked up this album, you should do it now.
#14 was a late entry, climbing it’s way almost into the top 10! Honour Crest’s debut Rise Records album, “Spilled Ink” is one of my favorite metalcore albums of the year and, while I don’t yet own a physical copy of it, it is high on my list of albums to buy! The fact that an album came out so late in the year and forced me to create another spot just to put it in is really saying something. If you thought you loved Honour Crest before, “Spilled Ink” will take it to a new level, above and beyond what you thought this band could be capable of!
Coincidentally my favorite number, #13, contains Trivium’s newest album, “Vengeance Falls”. A lot of fans and spectators alike were worried when they heard that David Draiman (Disturbed/Device) was producing it. However, many of them ate their words when the band unleashed this beast upon the world. This album contains everything the band has explored previously, cranked up to 11 and some surprises to keep you on the edge of your seat. One of my favorite tracks, “Villainy Thrives” is about the corrupt government that looks over us.. much like that track, the lyrics on this album are of a very bold nature. If you liked Trivium before, you will love “Vengeance Falls”. Originally, this album scored a lot higher on my list, but more albums were released this year that managed to top it!
#12, surprisingly not higher, is one of my all time favorite bands, Coheed & Cambria’s 2nd chapter of “The Afterman”. “Descension” follows Sirius Amory’s descent into madness over his discovery, “The Keywork”, which is the energy that makes up the different worlds in the saga that Coheed & Cambria have created. “Key Entity V: Sentry: The Defiant” is one of my favorite tracks from the band, ranking right up there with “Apollo II: The Telling Truth”. The album is very deserving of it’s spot, as is it’s counterpart, released in late 2012. The story that unwinds on this album is phenomenal and will really draw you in. Pick up both “The Afterman: Ascension” and “The Afterman: Descension” now and immerse yourself in the world of Coheed & Cambria.
Another late entry, again climbing it’s way almost into the top 10, #11: Still Remains’ “Ceasing to Breathe”. This album leaves me speechless after each listen. It was 2007 when the band released their last album, “The Serpent” which saw a very different, more melodic era for the band, some fans were impressed, while others showed distaste for it. After awhile, the band seemed to disappear off the face of the earth, eventually announcing their hiatus in late 2008. In 2011, they reunited to play Haste the Day’s final show and, the following year, announced they were releasing new music. The melodic parts are more polished and well-placed, the heavier parts are definitely reminiscent of their older work and their guest vocalist, Mr. Dan Weyandt from Zao really shines on his part in the album. This may be the band’s final album, but it will forever leave an etch in history with how phenomenal it turned out!
Coming in at #10, Psyclon Nine’s boldest and newest album, “[Order of the Shadow: Act I]”. This album takes an even darker direction than the band has ever explored, if you can imagine that, being a fan of the band’s previous work. The subject matter is bold and compelling and, to say the least, they have definitely proven that they will not settle for anything less than their best. This album sits at #10 because it far outshined many albums for me this year. If you haven’t yet heard this album, pick it up, you won’t regret it!
Let me first start by saying: I was like most people out there who despised this band. To me, they used to focus more on their image than their music. However, this year’s “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones” by Black Veil Brides was incredibly well executed! I actually took the time to sit and write about a 3 paragraph post directly to the band, explaining my previous stance toward them and my newfound love for their music due to this album. Even the biggest haters of this band, I saw loving this particular album. Shooting itself all the way to #9 for it’s incredible storyline, monumental instrumentals and a new look that far surpasses their old one. Good going, BVB! Looking forward to the next one!
#8: Otep – “Hydra”
Stepping away from the more poetic, anti governmental lyrics, Otep’s “Hydra” comes in at #8 and is an incredibly dark and twisted tale. It’s about one of the many characters that artist Otep Shamaya has dreamt up. A tale of deception, murder and even cannibalism, this is an album not to be missed. I had the opportunity to get my copy PERSONALLY SIGNED by Otep herself and I am glad to own it. This was supposed to be her last album, but something tells me she will surprise us again in the near future!
#7 is an album that, many thought, would never see the light of day. In the crossfires of a very long-winded lawsuit with their former label, Victory Records, A Day to Remember had to push their new album, “Common Courtesy’ back many times. However, October 8th, we finally got to hear it in full and November 25th the album was released physically. I don’t even know how to put this one into words, to be honest. It’s got something for everyone, the deluxe edition is 16 tracks and every track is as good, and surprising, as the one before it!
#6: Asking Alexandria – “From Death to Destiny”
Asking Alexandria’s foray into the hard rock genre was incredibly successful among fans. Put in the mix one of the best know metalcore voices in the scene, Howard Jones (ex-Killswitch Engage/Devil You Know) and you’ve really got something, right? I love how bold this album is! The band has been known for being completely about the party lifestyle and, much like Attila, it reflects in their music. However, I believe this was Asking Alexandria’s first attempt at a completely serious album. Not meaning to take a mainstream direction, they created an album that borders on radio-rock and heavy metal… yet they still managed to impress fans of their older material. Danny’s trip into rehab certainly did him a lot of good! Congrats on your spot on my list and may you create more fine material like this guys!
From Ashes to New are an up-and-coming crossover band that are really taking the world by storm! Their debut, self-titled EP is some of the best material I’ve ever heard from a band like them and they do it so skillfully! There is nothing wrong with this EP whatsoever, it’s fresh, it’s new and it’s incredibly heartfelt! Their debut single, “My Fight” has received rotation on radio stations, as well as Sirius XM’s “Octane”. The band themselves are a “supergroup” of sorts, created from some of the best local bands to have hit the Pennsylvania area! If you haven’t checked them out yet, definitely do it!
Angel Siren are a local band out of the area I’m from, Beaumont, TX. This album sits almost at the very top of my list because it’s so well put together! The story is unforgettable, the instrumentals are pretty insane, and the album as a whole is top-notch all the way around. After a very successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, the band set out to record their debut full-length album. They played many of their new tracks at their live shows and they really took the crowd over. My favorite, previously referred to as “Bruce Wayne” or “I Am Batman” is called “Watchful Eye” which is, more or less, about the illusion of being a superhero in a drug-addled stupor. Pretty crazy, right? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Go pick up this album on iTunes and be sure to leave a review, let em know I sent ya!
Five Finger Death Punch’s “The Wrong Side of Heaven” double album. Five Finger have never disappointed me, though I will admit that American Capitalist worried me a little bit, because of the mainstream nature that a lot of the album took. The wait for these albums was very long and I was honored to have officially reviewed both of them! I want to thank Justin from Prospekt Park, Steve Karas from SKH Music and Aaron Feteri from MSOPR for allowing me the incredible opportunity of reviewing these records. Needless to say, they perfectly compliment one another. While Volume 1 is heavier and rooted more on their metal side, Volume 2 is a bit more subtle but manages to keep that Death Punch feel to it. The coolest part is that both albums end with a cover… Volume 1 contains guest vocals from Jamey Jasta, Max Cavalera, Maria Brink, Rob Halford and Kansas native/underground rapper Tech N9ne. Needless to say, a LOT of people were nervous about Tech making an appearance on the album, but the band’s cover of “Mama Said Knock You Out” was incredibly well-executed! Both of these albums are phenomenal in their own respects and deserve many spins, not just one. Pick up both albums now and see that FFDP are not going anywhere!
#2 (tie): Annie Sails Sorrow – “Drifter” & Sworn In – “The Death Card”
Only 2 spots left to go and #2 goes to my good friends in Annie Sails Sorrow for their debut EP, “Drifter”. A few months ago, I was given the honor of reviewing this bands’ debut single. I was fortunate enough to hear everything but the instrumental versions of this EP, from rough draft all the way to the final. I did an exclusive review of the EP which I am incredibly proud of! Hard-working doesn’t even begin to describe this band, they dedicate their lives to Annie and they accept nothing less than the best that they can possibly offer to their fans. “Drifter” is a breath of fresh air to a genre riddled with mediocrity and filled with cookie-cutter bands who are just churning out music for the money. This will be THE band to watch in 2014, mark my words! I would like to give a special shout-out to Colbree Cearns and Travis Sells for being the kickass individuals that they are and allowing me to have the honor of reviewing this. Hope you’re stoked on your spot on my countdown!
Sworn In’s debut full-length, “The Death Card” seemed to take forever to get released, but it was well worth the wait! It’s one of the heaviest, angriest pieces of art to have hit my ears this year and it’s definitely deserving of the praise it’s received! If you haven’t checked out this mammoth of an album, do so now! Just be prepared to want to break faces when you do!
Here we are, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! What is my #1 album of the year? A big shocker to those who knew my original #1, this honor goes to The Persevering Promise’s “An Illusion in Shambles”. A big special thanks to Shauna O’Donnell and Pavement Entertainment for introducing me to this band. This is metalcore as you’ve never heard it before, put simply. If I had a CD copy of this album, it would not leave my disc tray! The album features guest vocals from Shawn Spann (I, The Breather), Chad Ruhlig (For the Fallen Dreams) and Ronnie Winter (The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus). Intrigued yet? Throw in some of the best vocals, both clean and unclean, mixed in with some incredible instrumentals and you have a molotov cocktail set to explode and set your heart on fire with a newfound love for metalcore! Pick up your copy of “An Illusion in Shambles” now! You don’t want to sleep on this record! Watch out for them in 2014, as well!
Famous Last Words’ newest concept album, “Two-Faced Charade” was absolutely one of my favorites of the year. The story is brilliant, well-written and extremely compelling. The music is top-notch and next level and the vocals are definitely improved from their debut EP, “Pick Your Poison”. The day that I first heard this album, I fell in love with it and the love has only grown since! I definitely recommend picking it up!
KoRn – “The Paradigm Shift”
Top 6 Worst Albums of the Year:
6: Hawthorne Heights – “Zero”
5: Neurotic November – “Annuaki”
4: B.o.B. – “Underground Luxury”
3: Britney Spears – “Britney Jean”
2: Everyone Dies in Utah – “Neutral Ground”
1: Miley Cyrus – “Bangerz”
Top 11 Singles of 2013:
Many will agree that 2013 held some great singles, sadly, a lot of the albums just didn’t make the cut or have yet to be released, here are my top 10 of the year!
11: Avenged Sevenfold – “Shepherd of Fire”
10: Smile Empty Soul – “False Alarm”
9: Sick Puppies – “There’s No Going Back”
8: Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail to the King”
7: ISSUES – “Stingray Affliction”
6: A Future Corrupt – “Infiltrate the House of God”
5: Stories of Solitude – “Run For Your Life”
4: Stories of Solitude – “Four Years (ft. Jordan Swickard)”
3: Ghosts & Machines – “Vitals”
2: Alesana – “Fatima Rusalka
1: Jamie’s Elsewhere – “Sick Fiction”
Top 6 Worst Singles of the Year:
6: IWrestledABearOnce – “Firebees”
5: Taylor Swift – “22”
4: Miley Cyrus – “We Can’t Stop”
3: Mike Will Made It (feat. Juicy J, Miley Cyrus and Wiz Khalifa) – “23”
2: Britney Spears – “Work Bitch”
1: Abandon All Ships! – “Reefer Madness”
Top 6 Music Videos of the Year:
6: Avenged Sevenfold – “Shepherd of Fire”
5: Asking Alexandria – “The Death of Me”
4: Asking Alexandria – “Killing You”
3: Avenged Sevenfold – “Hail to the King”
2: Famous Last Words – “The Show Must Go On”
1: From Ashes to New – “Stay This Way”
Top 6 Most Shocking News Stories of the Year:
6: Black Sabbath’s “13” Hits #1 on the Billboard Charts
5: Slipknot Begin Writing New Album
4: Def Leppard Flattered by One Direction’s Plagiarism of Their Music
3: Tim Lambesis Trial
2: Joey Jordison Leaves Slipknot
1: Ian Watkins’ Trial