Nov 272013

There it is, the cover of Issue #111 of DECIBEL magazine, with a cover date of January 2014, because how in good conscience could you create a list of 2013’s best albums before 2013 is actually over?

Ha!  I kid. I take this shot every year — but I’m only half-kidding. I do wonder what would be wrong with having all Best of 2013 lists appearing in January 2014 instead of November 2013 when those poor bands whose albums were released in the last quarter of the year simply get overlooked in the year-end chase. But that’s not the way the world of metal journalism works. We start seeing year-end lists now, and we talk about them even if they’re a tad premature.

DECIBEL’s list of the year’s Top 40 albums appears after the jump. As you may have read already, the comeback album by Carcass got Album of the Year honors. And Tribulation and In Solitude are in the Top 10, along with Gorguts and Inquisition. But Melt Banana and SubRosa are in the Top 10, too.

I mention those last two bands only because I’m surprised, not because I’m putting down the choices, because I haven’t heard either one of those releases yet.

Other interesting choices: Cult of Luna and Darkthrone are in the Top 10. I did hear those two albums and liked both of them a lot, but I didn’t expect to see them placed this high on the list. I did expect to see Deafheaven in the upper reaches — what an enormous breakout year 2013 has proven to be for that band, riding the waves of Sunbather and it’s huge crossover success.

But holy shit, Lycus and The Ruins of Beverast are in the Top 20 too! Absolutely well-deserved, but I didn’t see that coming. Giving bands like those such prominence is one reason I don’t think any other print zine comes close to DECIBEL

As has been true of every one of these lists since I began reading the magazine long ago, I respect their choices even when I don’t agree with them.  It’s an eclectic line-up and it’s clearly not designed to blow smoke up anyone’s ass. It digs pretty deep underground for most of these picks. And in a rare stroke of chance there’s only one other band on this list whose album I didn’t hear: Purson.

Bottom line, I really do think this is a very solid list (putting to one side the three albums I haven’t heard). If it’s subject to quibbling, it’s because they left out albums that some fans (including me) will think deserve to be in a Top 40 list for the year. But the albums on there that I’ve heard are really good. If you’re looking for a menu of 2013 metal to check out, this is a very good place to start.

1. Carcass – Surgical Steel
2. In Solitude – Sister
3. Gorguts – Colored Sands
4. SubRosa – More Constant Than The Gods
5. Inquisition – Obscure Verses For The Multiverse
6. Cult of Luna – Vertikal
7. Melt Banana – Fetch
8. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
9. Noisem – Agony Defined
10. Tribulation – The Formulas of Death
11. Deafheaven – Sunbather
12. Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness
13. Nails – Abandon All Life
14. Inter Arma – Sky Burial
15. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual
16. Secrets of the Sky – To Sail Black Waters
17. Purson – The Circle and the Blue Door
18. Lycus – Tempest
19. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen
20. The Ruins of Beverast – Blood Vaults: The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer
21. Antigama – Meteor
22. Kylesa – Ultraviolet
23. Immolation – Kingdom of Conspiracy
24. Exhumed – Necrocracy
25. Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats – Mind Control
26. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu
27. Ulcerate – Vermis
28. Anciients – Heart of Oak
29. Craven Idol – Towards Eschaton
30. Iron Reagan – Worse Than Dead
31. Portal – Vexovoid
32. Coliseum – Sister Faith
33. Cathedral – The Last Spire
34. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed
35. Noctum – Final Sacrifice
36. AEvangelist – Omen Ex Simulacra
37. Watain – The Wild Hunt
38. Corrections House – Last City Zero
39. Dark Tranquility – Construct
40. Batillus – Concrete Sustain

  44 Responses to “LISTMANIA 2013: THE DECIBLE TOP 40”

  1. Word problem: “Well, at least they included (x), even if they’re not as high they should be. But the fact that they left out (y) kind of invalidates the whole list.”

    Solve for x and y below. Do not forget to put your name and the date if you want to get credit for your work!

  2. No Pelagial. ‘Nuff said.

  3. Most of these are not kvlt enough for Decibel but…
    Shai Hulud
    Rotting Christ
    Deeds of Flesh
    Protest the Hero
    Fleshgod Apocalypse
    Dream Theater

    • I’m surprised that I haven’t seen Rotting on more lists. I second Arsis and Fleshgod though for sure. I need to spend more time with that Tyr record too.

    • Great picks, I was jamming the Deeds of Flesh today. The Hulud was also immense, definitely a massive improvement over the last one (and brilliant in its own right).

      I can understand why Fleshgod wasn’t picked, lot of discord about the production on that one.

      Can’t believe the new Necrophobic didn’t make it, especially as it was released not long after the Inquisition album.

  4. The inclusion of Melt-Banana has me scratching my head a bit. They’re a ton of fun, easily one of the top five live acts I’ve ever seen, but I’m having a real hard time imagining them putting together an album worthy of ‘best of the year’ honors. Will have to check it out.

    My album of the year is probably Satan – Life Sentence. Surprised it’s not getting more love.

  5. Huh. Only 4 or 5 of these are likely to make my top 13. (I figured, hey, it’s 2013, why not 13? But I haven’t actually heard 13, and am not likely to.)

    Also, x=Ulcerate, y=Man’s Gin (I know it’s not metal, but since when has Decibel limited themselves to metal?)

    We should also be solving for z: “What in the hell did they like about z so damn much?” I’m going to put In Solitude right there. Sister is nothing even remotely as good as they made it out to be.

    • Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something with In Solitude. I just don’t really understand a reaction to their music stronger than, “This is alright, I guess.” I might have to give their stuff a closer listen.

      • I agree on “Sister”, and I will boldly apply that same logic to the new Carcass. Maybe it’s because I have no nostalgia factor for them (I wasn’t born until a little after Swansong was released), but merely re-writing Heartwork pretty faithfully doesn’t make a #1 album for me. No to mention that, despite the fantastic riffs on this album, some of the transitions are a little rough (and, strangely, sounded better in that teaser video they released). It’s still a solid album, and probably deserves to be somewhere in a lot of lists, but #1? Don’t we give that to year’s best innovators?

        • I don’t feel like I’m missing anything with Sister. I really enjoy their prior album, and I feel like I get Sister, but it loses a lot of what made its predecessor so great.

          Geez, Leperkahn, you’re young. But I get your point completely. I didn’t get into extreme metal until around 2006 (I had been mainstreaming it for the most part for a decade before that), when the Internet finally opened that world to me. Carcass nostalgia means nothing to me. I haven’t heard the Carcass album (Nuclear Blast doesn’t give me promos), but I don’t feel like I need to. Carcass is the editor’s favorite band, so their position at number 1 means nothing. It’s just as if Mercyful Fate released an album in 2014, its appearance at #1 on my list would mean nothing to anyone else.

    • I really like the In Solitude album. It’s something familiar but different at the same time, and excellently done imo.

      My Z is Deafheaven. They’re okay, but I still don’t see what separates them from lots of other bands doing the black metal + shoegaze thing.

  6. annual list mania…a lot of these albums I’ve just heard once…not much impression left…

  7. there is one massive, tremendous, horrific, mind boggling error on this list. i’ve provided the correction, below:
    1. Portal – Vexovoid

    • Good sir, I’m afraid you read the answer key wrong. This is how it should read:

      1. The Ocean – Pelagial

      • hmmmm, i think you misspelled “Portal”, there 😉

        • No, I copy-pasted this straight from the “Best of 2013, According to the Authorities of the Universe and All That is Right and Correct and Good, Inc,”. I’m afraid translation could not have been the problem. Perhaps your keyboard is malfunctioning, and changing “The Ocean” to “Portal” without your control? It’s a common problem, of course. Decibel also clearly had this problem, though they mis-translated as “Carcass”.

          • well, i definitely wouldn’t want to get into a heated debate with the Authorities of the Universe and All That is Right and Correct and Good, Inc,

  8. 4 albums on this list that will appear on my Top 25

  9. 1. How could Dark Tranquility appear on any Top … list this year? Construct may well be their weakest release ever.
    2.I’m pretty sure someone snuck In Solitude in at the list minute, displacing the real number 2 album. Satan’s Life Sentence. That album is timeless, glorious metal.
    3. How many editorial a##es need to be kicked with a reminder that Sulphur Aeon actually released in 2013? That album is to this year what Putrevore was to 2012: pure, slithering, Lovecraftian evil given musical form. It’s also been equally ignored since it was an early year release.

  10. Random comments off the top of my head…

    That Inquisition album is great, but I do find a lot of the fan-boy love they get is from people looking for a “kvlt” alternative to Immortal to prove that they’re cooler and more underground. Liking Inquisition is getting to be a “thing” for certain sections of the internet. Also, Immortal are better.

    What I think is the best album of the year IS in this list.

    But my personal favourite is not.

    2 of these “Top 40” entries will be on my list of the year’s biggest disappointments. But I’m not exactly surprised Decibel put them in there.

    • Sounds more like jealous stabs at inquisition,come on now. Those two have done so much in 2 decades with their sound,compositions and skill it feels odd even comparing the two. If they had typical bm vocals the latter would not be mentioned… Note the amazing guitar and drum work.

      Try not to let the voice lessen the bands importance,theirs tons of screamers out there after all yet very few croakers.”support!!”

      Seems all bands have their uber fan boys/girls,and thats ok i guess?. Looking foreword to seeing your list Andy!

      Carcass sounds like carcass but not album of the year material. Not really sure what would warrant #1 with still a month left in the year and much music to sink in still. Lists should be compiled on Jan.1,incredible things can still happen up to Dec.31

      • Wait, are you saying I was making jealous stabs at Inquisition, or other people are, I’m slightly confused?

        I’m not sure how I could be jealous of them. I think they’re great… but come on now… musically they’re very similar too, right down to the make-up of the band. Inquisition could be Immortal’s cosmic cousins. It’s far more than just the vocals.

        That’s precisely my point as well. Everyone seems to be “oh, it’s just the vocals…” – it’s really not! It’s not a bad thing (there’s about two bands who sound like Immortal… one of them’s Immortal, the other’s Inquisition, so it’s not like they’re playing in an over-crowded field!) it’s just… the constant denial of the major similarities is quite funny.

  11. I enjoyed a good chunk of the albums on this list. Ruins of Beverast and Antigama would be narrow misses for my own top 40, but I’m glad to see them get some recognition here.

  12. Gotta say, I find #’s 40-10 pretty fucked, but the top 10… spot-on. Thank god someone is giving Subrosa the love they deserve.

    all of my life, i’ve been waiiitiiiingggg…..

    • Is then new one better than the last one? I tried with the last one, and I couldn’t even finish the album (and I’ve been able to finish Bring Me The Horizon albums, mind you). In fact that’s the only album I can remember that I started but couldn’t finish.

  13. x = Deafheaven. Most of this list is music I’ve not heard or am not that fussed by, so my random pick for underrated is Deafheaven purely on the basis that so many other people love it

    y = Nero Di Marte. So many bands missed that it pains me (Hail of Bullets, Satan, Extol. Byzantine, Svart Crown, Aosoth etc), but I picked my favourite of the lot. Sad times

    z = Carcass. Don’t get me wrong, I like the new Carcass and there are some outstanding songs on there, but it’s far from album of the year quality. It might be on the list, but it won’t be anywhere near number 1.

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