Near the end of every year since this fetid site sprang to fecund life in the fall of 2009, we’ve done two things (and we’ll do them again this year): We’ve compiled a list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs, and we’ve published lots of lists of the year’s best albums. Our best-album lists come from our regular staff, assorted guests, and many readers, but we also have a tradition of re-publishing lists announced by what I call “big platform” web sites, most of which don’t limit their content to metal (which is why they’re big).
One of the “big platform” sites whose lists we’ve regularly published is MSN Entertainment, which boasts over 23 million unique visitors to the site every month, narrowly edging out NCS in audience size. Since we started paying attention, the MSN lists have been compiled by seasoned metal writer Adrien Begrand. Last year MSN rolled out his Top 50 in segments during the week that ended December 21. This year, they appeared in one fell swoop — today.
This may have something to do with the fact that Begrand is leaving MSN Entertainment, and today marks the end of his “Headbang” column over there. On the other hand, he confidently states: “Although it’s two months early, we music writers are already very nearly through the year, and of the few releases I haven’t heard, they won’t alter my list dramatically at all, especially the top 30, which is ironclad.”
First of all, there are actually a full three months left before the end of the year. It’s true that the flood of metal releases does tend to diminish as the year draws to a close, and it’s also true that most year-end lists do start rolling out about two months from now, but still: September 30 seems way early as a time for publishing a “Best of the Year” list.
The next three months will bring a lot of new underground releases as well as new albums by higher-profile bands, many of which aren’t in the hands of most reviewers yet or have only recently arrived. Just to pick a few at random: Broken Hope, Fates Warning, Pestilence, Inquisition, Hail of Bullets, Kataklysm, Skeletonwitch, Sepultura, Gehenna, East of the Wall, Valkyrja, Castevet, Necrophobic, Glorior Belli, Godflesh, AEvangelist, Deicide, Eye of Solitude, Mithras, Lascaille’s Shroud, Soreption. Hell, word has it that Gojira’s Sea Shepherd EP may also finally be released in December.
Seems like there’s at least a possibility that at least one or two albums on the way might be serious candidates for a Best of 2013 list, no? Especially when the list is 50 entries long.
Which I have to say is another minor gripe I have about this list. When most people don’t even listen to 50 albums in a year, that seems like a very long list. When a list passes a certain length, I think it starts to become less useful to people interested in discovering new music. But maybe I’m off-base there (I can’t even manage to make a list of my own, so I don’t have a lot of room to talk). What do you think?
I will say that I do think Adrien Begrand’s list is a good one — it’s diverse, and based on the albums I’ve heard that appear on it (which is most of them), he has a lot of good choices, though as always we can quibble with his rankings. Interesting pick for the Album of the Year — it does make me more eager to hear all of it.
Anyway, here we are, already at the start of 2013 Listmania. Below you will find the MSN Entertainment Top 50. Should you be moved to start musing about your own picks for the year’s best albums (so far!), or if you have thoughts about this one, please leave a comment.
MSN Entertainment: The Best Metal Albums of 2013
1. In Solitude, “Sister” (Metal Blade)
2. Carcass, “Surgical Steel” (Nuclear Blast)
3. Shining, “One One One” (Prosthetic)
4. Atlantean Kodex, “The White Goddess” (20 Buck Spin)
5. SubRosa, “More Constant Than the Gods” (Profound Lore)
6. Altar Of Plagues, “Teethed Glory and Injury” (Profound Lore)
7. Ghost B.C., “Infestissumam” (Loma Vista)
8. Oranssi Pazuzu, “Velonielu” (20 Buck Spin)
9. Darkthrone, “The Underground Resistance” (Peaceville)
10. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, “Mind Control” (Metal Blade)
11. Anciients, “Heart Of Oak” (Season Of Mist)
12. Shooting Guns, “Brotherhood of the Ram” (Easy Rider)
13. Voivod, “Target Earth” (Century Media)
14. Gorguts, “Colored Sands” (Season of Mist)
15. Vattnet Viskar, “Sky Swallower” (Century Media)
16. Purson, “The Circle And The Blur Door” (Metal Blade)
17. Magic Circle, “Magic Circle” (Armageddon Shop)
18. Årabrot, “Årabrot” (Fysisk Format)
19. Amon Amarth, “Deceiver Of The Gods” (Metal Blade)
20. Mansion, “We Shall Live” (Svart)
21. Audrey Horne, “Youngblood” (Napalm)
22. Author & Punisher, “Women & Children” (Seventh Rule)
23. Portal, “Vexovoid” (Profound Lore)
24. Amorphis, “Circle” (Nuclear Blast)
25. Clutch, “Earth Rocker” (Weathermaker)
26. Motörhead, “Afterburner” (UDR)
27. Pinkish Black, “Razed to the Ground” (Century Media)
28. Bölzer, “Aura” (Iron Bonehead)
29. Kvelertak, “Meir” (Roadrunner)
30. Jex Thoth, “Blood Moon Rise” (I Hate)
31. Jess & the Ancient Ones, “Astral Sabbat” (Svart)
32. Locrian, “Return To Annihilation” (Relapse)
33. Grave Miasma, “Odori Sepulcrorum” (Profound Lore)
34. Vaura, “The Missing” (Profound Lore)
35. Powerwolf, “Preachers Of The Night” (Napalm)
36. Magister Templi, “Lucifer Leviathan Logos” (Cruz Del Sur)
37. Avatarium, “Avatarium” (Nuclear Blast)
38. Agrimonia, “Rites Of Separation” (Southern Lord)
39. Kadavar, “Abra Kadavar” (Nuclear Blast)
40. KEN Mode, “Entrench” (Season of Mist)
41. Noisem, “Agony Defined” (A389)
42. Uzala, “Tales of Blood and Fire” (King of the Monsters)
43. White Wizzard, “The Devils Cut” (Earache)
44. Deep Purple, “Now What?!” (Eagle Rock)
45. Ihsahn, “Das Seelenbrechen” (Candlelight)
46. Bombus, “The Poet and the Parrot” (Century Media)
47. Dream Theater, “Dream Theater” (Roadrunner)
48. Inter Arma, “Sky Burial” (Relapse)
49. Untimely Demise, “Systematic Eradication” (Punishment 18)
50. The Cult of Dom Keller, “The Cult of Dom Keller” (Mannequin)
What in the hell??? So goddamn early? And MSN?
Interesting that he got to hear Das Seelenbrechen.
Candlelight sent it out to press last week.
ah i see. Cool
As much as I love Adrien’s writing and his MSN blog specifically, this was a really horrible idea for a last post. He writes for a ton of other sites/magazines where he could have made a decent list towards the end of the year when it would actually be relevant. Dude didn’t even take the time to explain why any of the albums were good.
Yeah, I also found the like of explanation a drawback. For me as a reader, that’s a big part of what makes lists interesting and what helps me figure out if I want to explore a listed release that I haven’t heard. I assume he wrote about at least some of the albums on the list somewhere, sometime, but trying to track down his specific thoughts isn’t something most people will take the time to do.
Damn dude, there’s like 8 albums coming out in October alone…
This is just silly. How could he POSSIBLY have an ironclad top 30 when the OP/Amiensus split is about to steamroll it’s way to the top of every list imaginable? 😛
No, but seriously there’s still a ton of music left this year, even if he did get advance listens. With a lack of explanation for even the top 10, this list is totally worthless. And Inter Arma being so far down the list makes me sad.
I believe a list of 50 is a bit excessive. What I find interesting is that 4 or 5 albums that I think will be in my top 10 are not present at all in his top 50, including my number one (did he not hear the new Extol album?).
Thanks for re-posting the list, guys, I always enjoy your Listmania posts.
I’m privy to most new releases one, two, sometimes three months in advance, and I’m serious when I say I’ve heard very nearly all the metal albums from 2013 I need to hear. Including all but a couple of the ones you mentioned. Print magazine deadlines for year-end ballots are weeks away, so for a writer this is hardly unusual. Of course I’m going to miss a couple, I knew that going in, but this list, especially the top half, isn’t changing.
As for the length of the list, considering that I review on average 15-20 albums per week and on average only one or two releases are worthy of a “buy it” recommendation, this list represents about 5% of what I hear in a year. So it really is what I consider to be the cream of the crop.
And yeah, this is two months early, but seeing it was my last day at MSN, I figured what the hell, it’s a fun way to go out and it’ll generate some discussion.
Good to see you popped in! If you do happen to follow this thread, I’d like to see two questions answered personally:
1. My main grief is with the lack of any context or explanation of your top 10-30. Was this a time crunch issue?
2. While I don’t care as much personally, I know others do: is there a reason a large chunk of your list consists of (mostly) major/well-known label releases than smaller labels or independent releases? I personally understand that you see an extremely large volume of music each week (making time to discover the lesser known pretty limited) and I don’t prescribe to the notion that you only write for highly promoted releases. But the disparate gap between major/hyped releases and the lesser known in your top 50 raises eyebrows none-the-less. I’d rather hear the reason from the source than make assumptions.
Thanks again for stopping by, do you have a future at any other blogs/zines set up yet?
1. Totally. If you know me at all, I love to go into detail about why a record is worth buying, but it takes weeks of writing for a list of this size, and I only just found out about the MSN situation less than two weeks ago. I’ll doa proper one with blurbs in December, for sure.
2. Well, first of all, 99%, if not all of that list of 50 comes from an independent label. But yes, from a metal fan perspective labels like Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade are seen as “mainstream”, though by pop culture standards they’re still very much underground. But this is where it gets tough. Every week I look at the upcoming new releases and think, ‘okay, what are my must-listens?’ And because of the profile of the labels and the hype surrounding the bands and the interest from the fans, I absolutely have to go with the big labels first. Then there are the boutique labels I will never shun (Profound Lore, Seventh Rule, 20 Buck Spin, Hells Headbngers, Shadow Kingdom, Southern Lord, Willowtip, Svart, Prophecy, etc.). Sometimes that’ll add up to 15 albums right there, and that’s already murder to listen to. So it really does pain me to miss out on underground gems, which is why I really enjoy hearing from people telling me what I missed. Magic Circle is one example, and Bolzer is another, I missed those by a few weeks. Try as I might, you really cannot hear everything!
As for why my list tends to skew towards non-underground bands, that’s how it goes. That’s me, that’s the music I responded to the most strongly. But no question, I’m very selective when it comes “extreme” metal, and that’s just a matter of personal preference. I know good death, black, and grind when I hear it (I wish I had room to include the new Wake album!) but being a metal fan for 30 years now, my roots in the genre will always be on the melodic side, and that’s how I’ll always lean.
I might have a new project in the works soon (fingers crossed) but for the time being I’ll be writing for Decibel and Terrorizer, and chipping in on various websites. And my Tumblr page will be a default home to some pieces as well. Anyone who wants to keep up with my writing can follow me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/basementgalaxy
I really appreciate your stopping by, and for being so good-humored about this post. I’m also interested to see that you plan to do a more elaborate list article closer to year-end when time will permit explanations for the choices. What I would find interesting, and I suspect your other followers would as well, is if you revisit your list in light of any other 2013 releases you may come across between now and then. I understand that because you get promos far in advance, you have listened to many albums that won’t come out until closer to year-end, but I assume you’ll still hear some 2013 albums in the next couple of months that you haven’t heard now. Speaking of which, this late-comer would have been on my list, if my mind were capable of making one. 🙂
Well, that explains most of it, but why is In Solitude in Gigan’s spot?
Don’t you mean The Ocean’s spot? Pelagial is easily in my top three albums ever in history, along with Opeth’s Blackwater Park and Still Life.
It seems youre both delusional. Grave Miasma’s first full-length is clearly the album of the year
As you know, I think that Grave Miasma album is fantastic. Someday someone will have to teach me how to compare something like that to something like Pelagial or the new ones by Gigan and In Solitude without having the outcome turn on personal taste. Is it like picking the winner of the Westminster Dog Show?
Outside of personal taste, I dont think there really is a way to compare something as subjective as music. Its not as though, if all those bands played a similar style of metal and they played it well, you’d have an objective reason for picking one over the other.
You’re all delusional. The album of the year wasn’t even released this year – the reissue of Beyond Creation’s “The Aura”.
Top three ever made perhaps not, but I’m with you on the fact that Pelagial is fucking brilliant.
there’s some great stuff in his list for sure, but i’m not at all in the frame of mind to be reading lists, yet.
honestly i think it’s silly that anyone would even start writing up a list before midnight of December 31st. i mean, c’mon.
There is a curious lack of Gigan mentioned by his list, or Islander’s shorter list of good stuff still coming. That new Gigan is serious best of 2013 music!
I find it hard to pick even 10 ‘best’ albums for a year, if ‘best’ means ‘most enjoyable’. While I like a lot of albums, only a few grasp my ears through and through.
No Ruins of Beverast?
…you need to take this list down and not come back until you can do it correctly
Sorry, that album is 40 minutes too long, and as excellent as the middle half hour is, there are too many moments on that record that make me crack up. That opening narration is the worst culprit.
I made a top 40 for this site last year and this year I’m a little intimidated by the prospect of limiting any potential list to that number. There’s no clear-cut #1 for me this year, but I think there’s been a lot of great releases that deserve attention. There are probably like 3-7 albums that are in a top tier for me, and then a whole giant bunch after that. Of course, since it’s still sort of early, I haven’t given multiple listens to all the ones I’d like to.
As for the MSN list, there are a few that I’m happy to see since I doubt they’ll make many other lists (Powerwolf, Audrey Horne, Bombus, Magister Templi) but there isn’t that much overlap with a list I’d make.
If y’all want to judge whether Mr. Begrand is right about In Solitude, you can stream it at metalblade.com/insolitude. Personally, I think it’s a solid, even pretty great album, but nowhere near the best album of 2013.
Thanks for the heads up. On first listen, I’m liking it a lot. Dunno yet if I would have it up near #1 but I can’t knock his pick.
Exactly how I feel. It’s pretty great, no doubt. but not #1, or anywhere too close to the top spot for that matter.
Maybe too early in the year for these kinds of lists, but still seeing the famous picture of Listmania on Nocleansinging made my heart jump a little bit. Man, I love those lists! So I for one am quite happy with an early one 😉
Hmmm, if I had to make a top 10 so far, it might look like this (in no particular order):
1. Downfall of Gaia (self-titled)
2. Lord Dying- “Summon the Faithless”
3. Sannhet- “Known Flood”
4. Deafheaven- “Sunbather”
5. Altar of Plagues- “Teethed Glory and Injury”
6. The Ocean- “Pelagial”
7. Cult of Luna- “Vertikal”
8. Vulture Industries- “The Tower”
And, uh, I guess I’d leave two spots open for albums yet to come or albums I haven’t gotten around to yet. I’m still hoping Alcest surprises me with a 2013 release for the new album, but that’s unlikely. I might consider Shining, Vattnet Viskar, or Red Fang for the last spots but I just haven’t listened to them enough yet.
Scale the Summit’s The Migation, Black Crown Initiate, and Rivers of Nihil, Oblivion(fucking unacceptable) not included on the list? Unfuckingbelievable!