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Metalunderground.com's Best Of 2013 Awards Revealed

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Band Photo: Behemoth (?)

We come now to the end of a year overflowing with metallic fury from bands new and old, regrouped and long-running, and covering just about every imaginable sub-genre.

More than anything 2013 was characterized by returns of bands long dormant, with highlights for fans easily coming from the reemergence of Carcass, Gorguts, Summoning, Extol, and Black Sabbath.

While there were some notable critical flops (“Super Collider” and the self-titled “Satyricon” come to mind), this year featured an overall satisfying lineup of good, great, and even fantastic albums from across the metal spectrum. That’s a boon for metal heads, but it also makes it harder for us to easily nail down clear winners in our categories as votes come in from our diverse staff of contributors positioned around the globe.

Long running staples of the European scene made their marks as usual in 2013, with new albums from Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Stratovarius, and Dark Tranquillity. Interestingly, the U.S. wasn’t left behind as much this year, with tunes out from Skeletonwitch, Subrosa, Toxic Holocaust, Vattnet Viskar, ASG, Castevet, Inter Arma, and more.

Just because Testament wasn’t around didn’t mean thrash slouched off either, with Sodom, Onslaught, Evile, and Death Angel bringing out the big guns. The experimental and avant-garde side saw weirdly awesome releases from Oranssi Pazazu, Code, and Tribulation, while unexpectedly different offerings arrived courtesy of Watain and Darkthrone. Death metal meanwhile bore witness to newly unleashed material from the likes of Suffocation, Deicide, Autopsy, Hail of Bullets, Hypocrisy, and Six Feet Under.

Best Metal Album of 2013

The curse of our most anticipated album from last year never actually being the best album of the following year continues, but this time we’ve got a valid excuse – God of Atheists’ debut album was pushed back to 2014!

More so than in many years previous, we had a clear winner this time around with most of our voting contributors placing the winning album solidly in their Top 5 nominees. It should come as no surprise that we’ve named the best overall album of 2013:

Carcass – “Surgical Steel”

Although “Surgical Steel” (reviewed here) took the win by a wide margin of votes, the releases that didn’t quite snag the title are also worth mentioning. Our runner up was the devastatingly infectious “One Of Us Is The Killer” by Dillinger Escape Plan (check out our review), followed in third place by the all around solid double-disc of melodic death metal “The Living Infinite” from Soilwork (red our review here). Other contenders for the crown included Living Sacrifice’s “Ghost Thief,” “Colored Sands” by Gorguts (reviewed here), and Sodom’s “Epitome of Torture.”

Best Metal DVD of 2013

We have an interesting situation this year, as now the same musician has managed to take home a “best DVD” win from us for two years running! If you’ve witnessed the insanity of this visual wonderland though, it shouldn’t be surprising to know the winner was:

Devin Townsend – The Retinal Circus

Seriously, if you haven’t picked this up, hit up some YouTube vids to see the insane level Hevy Devy went to for this over-the-top production. The DVD releases to get nomination nods that didn’t ultimately win included “Showtime, Storytime” by Nightwish, Alestorm’s “Live at the End of the World,” and Angra’s 20th anniversary DVD.

Best Metal Newcomer of 2013

There was some stiff competition over the best newcomer this year, as several new bands arose consisting of well established members of the metal scene, like the absurdly over the top Gloryhammer from Christopher Bowes (check out our review of the project's debut album), the doom project Avatarium from Leif Edling, and The Resistance (featuring members involved with The Haunted, Hammerfall, and more).

Ultimately the winner came from someone more known for his work behind the scenes on the production side in the last decade than his direct contributions from bands - the legendary Dan Swanö’s new project:

Witherscape - "The Inheritance"

The debut album (reviewed here) blends together classic and death metal for a superb concept album spinning a ghostly tale. It remains to be seen if this is going to be a one-off release or just the first of many albums to come, but either way we hope it spurs Swanö on to either revive his other projects or keep coming up with new ones.

Best Metal Performance of 2013

This is always our hardest category to come up with a clear winner, as with our writers scattered across the world it’s not often we all see the same bands, unless we happen to have multiple contributors hitting events like the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise.

This year we had almost 30 different bands nominated in the category, and unfortunately we never did manage to reach a final consensus between our varied metal preferences, so for 2013 you guys get to decide who gave the best live performances!

Bands who were nominated included Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Death (on the Death To All tour), Helloween, Overkill, Myrath, Alice in Chains, Ensiferum, Bolt Thrower, and Soilwork.

Most Anticipated Release of 2014

There is a whole lot to look forward to in this coming new year, as those bigger bands that are in their off years gear up for new releases. Amid all the possible choices though, one clearly rose to the top:

Behemoth – The Satanist

It’s obvious why this coming disc has fans waiting with baited breath. Behemoth’s previous album “Evangelion” (reviewed here) already sits at the top of the band’s discography as a modern day classic of death metal. Throw in the turmoil in front man Nergal’s life over the past few years – from literally being put on trial for tearing up a Bible on stage in Poland to beating life-threatening leukemia – and you’ve got a recipe for something truly stellar.

That’s certainly not the only album we’re looking forward to next year though, as “The Satanist” only managed to barely beat out upcoming material from Triptykon, Cynic, and the assumed-but-not-yet-confirmed album from Opeth. We’re also looking forward to new releases from Solstafir, Iced Earth, Mayan, Wintersun, and Mastodon.

If you didn’t catch as much new music during the last 12 months as you’d like, here’s our complete list of nominated “best newcomer” bands to get you started:

The Resistance
Lord Dying
Raven Lord
Skan
Avatarium
Gloryhammer
Bane of Winterstorm
Artlantica
Heavatar
Vista Chino
Beezelfuzz
Gloomball
Witherscape
Damnations Day
Damnation Angels
In The Silence
Vhol
Stomach Earth
Black Crown Initiate
Chosen
Cnoc An Tursa

Obviously there are many others worth checking out, but these were our staff picks limited to five bands per person. Feel free to share your suggestions, thoughts, and comments below.

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24 Comments on "Metalunderground.com's Best Of 2013 Awards"

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Anonymous Reader
1. whoever writes:

Glad to see soilworks album in there. It came out very early in the year and ended up In the top three here. Goes to show the excellence and staying power of this album. Or is it album(s)? Oh well either way its great.

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 12:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rex_84's avatar

Writer

2. Rex_84 writes:

I figured the Carcass album would be tops. The consensus from fans seems to be the same. Most people I asked listed it as the best. I forgot about Witherscape for best newcomer. That was an excellent recording.

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 12:29 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

3. BrianMN writes:

Awesome lists!
Tesseract and Gorguts are tied for my album of the year for many different reasons.
And thanks for the list of new groups to check out.
I didn't notice any overt adoration for Deafheaven's Sunbather...like every other site....THANK YOU.
I guess I just don't understand the hype around a group taking the 20 year old black metal sound and trying to make it happy sounding.
Happy New Year

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 12:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
R10's avatar

Member

4. R10 writes:

Can't argue with the picks. Carcass I had as my favorite also. Good to see Soilworks double album getting credited here, most other metal websites didn't include it their top lists. Such a great album. I'd have picked the Kreator DVD as my tops. Will have to check out some of the new bands listed, I've only heard of a handful of them.

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 1:33 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
5. Jo of Škan writes:

Thank you for including Škan in your "Best Newcomer" list. Keep an ear, and an eye out for us. 2014 is going to yield much.

Salud,

-Jo of Škan

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 1:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
WOLF7's avatar

Member

6. WOLF7 writes:

Very good lists, certainly agreed.

Cheers mates, been a great year 2013 with you all, and Happy New Year 2014!!

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 1:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

7. spiral_architect writes:

BEST 3/4 REUNION ALBUM AND DVD OF THE YEAR: BLACK SABBATH - 13. I AM ALSO LOOKING FORWARD TO NEW IMMORTAL IN 2014.

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 2:01 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
8. Gus from Phoenix writes:

Meh, I thought 2013 was kind of down year for metal, I will say Devin Townsend is an awesome musician, hope 14 is better.

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 5:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianSD's avatar

Member

9. BrianSD writes:

Battlecross should've been on the list

# Dec 31, 2013 @ 6:30 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xFiruath's avatar

Content Manager

10. xFiruath writes:

Unlike most of the other staff, Carcass didn't make my top 5. The album was alright, but there were a lot of other releases that I still play frequently. Tesseract and Gorguts were both great, and in addition to "best newcomer" that Witherscape album is very solid. I also got really into the Soilwork and Dillinger Escape Plan albums, even though both of those bands weren't rally on my radar before.

# Jan 1, 2014 @ 7:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

11. hellrat writes:

^no way dude, that sounds way too original and totally f***in deep man...holier fvcking roller, its frikken ty guy :)

jammed surgical steel (again!) three times in a row today for the new year just to make sure...yeah, its fvckin there \m/

Also pretty amazing that an actual METAL record was finally deemed worthy

in other news, the Skan EP blows frikken doors off of withergape or whatever the fvck they're called...only problem with it is: its way too fvckin short! ;)

Looking forward to checking out some others on the list

Cheers, thanks, and Happy New Year ya Heavy Motherfvckas \m/

NP---Befell---Ovis Ammon (demo)

# Jan 1, 2014 @ 9:50 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
BrianMN's avatar

Member

12. BrianMN writes:

@xFiruath.
I have to agree with you on Carcass.
I really, REALLY wanted to love the album and I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out why I don’t.
I guess I was hoping for more Necro and less Heart but we got just the opposite.
I was also hoping for more Bill and the way the vox are mixed you can barely hear him at all.
I’ve listened to it start to finish at least a dozen times and for some reason it just doesn’t click with me at all.
I did buy my copy though so I hope that counts for something lol.

# Jan 2, 2014 @ 8:59 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Nunya's avatar

Member

13. Nunya writes:

fo reals though, how you aint even gonna mention Sunbather in the best album conversation

# Jan 2, 2014 @ 5:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

14. deathbringer writes:

I enjoyed the new Carcass and think it's a worthy winner. But it didn't make my top 5 either. I started with it in my list of contenders, but it kept getting pushed down as I ordered them.

# Jan 3, 2014 @ 1:05 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
TheIronMan's avatar

Member

15. TheIronMan writes:

Soilwork's new album is remarkable

TesseracT is up there for me

I've always hated them, but Bring Me the horizon's new album is pretty f***ing sick

not to mention devildriver

# Jan 5, 2014 @ 1:20 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
ZMA's avatar

Member

16. ZMA writes:

I feel like a lot was missing here. But there was some decent choices.

# Jan 5, 2014 @ 6:34 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

17. spiral_architect writes:

NO MENTION OF ALICE IN CHAINS, NO MENTION OF GHOST.

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 2:53 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
xFiruath's avatar

Content Manager

18. xFiruath writes:

Hah, anybody remember the '09 awards when Alice in Chains won best album? It was 100+ comments about how lame we are and how this is supposed to be a metal site :)

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 3:47 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
spiral_architect's avatar

Member

19. spiral_architect writes:

BLACK GIVES WAY TO BLUE IS A METAL CLASSIC.

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 4:20 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
ZMA's avatar

Member

20. ZMA writes:

^ Yea it's my favorite deathcore record..........wait.......

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 6:54 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
deathbringer's avatar

Founder, owner & programmer

21. deathbringer writes:

I was really looking forward to the new Alice In Chains, but it never really grabbed me. One of my least listened purchases of 2013.

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 10:48 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
n0thinghead's avatar

Podcaster/Writer

22. n0thinghead writes:

submitting my top 5 was so difficult. 4 and 5 are usually interchangeable but 1-3 are tough. ultimately it was
3. The Ocean's "Pelagial" was beautiful metal.
2. Protest the Hero's "Volition" is perfect! but...
1. The Dillinger Escape Plan's "One of Us is The Killer" is a f***in' masterpiece.

I LOVE Tesseract. I've been a huge fan of theirs since their demo days with Dan and the One EP. They've YET to top that record IMO.

p.s. what's up turd nuggets? ;)

# Jan 6, 2014 @ 10:49 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
23. SOCIETY HOSTILE writes:

NO BATTLECROSS??????????????

# Jan 8, 2014 @ 12:05 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RememberMetal?'s avatar

Writer/Reviewer

24. RememberMetal? writes:

The new Carcass and Dillinger as winner and runner up seems fair given their relative strengths and popularity.

I -liked- Surgical Steel but I believe the new Dillinger was slightly better overall... BUT the new Carcass album was far better than anyone had any right to expect after so much time. Plus the hype machine is always going to set the bar a little too high.

Still, "Surgical Steel" gives me confidence in the notion that they can indeed do better still.

# Jan 16, 2014 @ 2:46 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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