Metalunderground.com's Best Of 2013 Awards Revealed
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:
Bane of Winterstorm
In The Silence
Black Crown Initiate
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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