Dec 012013

As in past years, while awaiting the rollout of our own series of posts devoted to the year’s best metal, I continue to keep an eye out for year-end lists published by what I call “big platform” web sites — those with web traffic that greatly exceeds even the biggest metal-only sites. By definition, this means they cover music or other forms of entertainment beyond metal. I get a perverse kind of fun watching what they say in their year-end posts, in part because they write for a broader audience that on average is less knowledgable about metal.

Last year I included a year-end metal list by a “big platform” site that wasn’t included in our round-ups for previous years. It’s called, and it’s the national music website covering active rock and heavy metal of the Townsquare Media Group. Loudwire has over 825,000 Facebook fans and last year it reported that it was receiving more than 1.2 million unique visitors per month.

Last year Loudwire published a staff list of the year’s 10 Best Metal Albums. It’s not clear they’re doing that again this year, but what they have published is a list of the “10 Best Metal Songs of 2013”. And here it is:

10. Suffocation: “Cycles of Suffering”

9.  The Dillinger Escape Plan: “When I Lost My Bet”

8.  Kylesa: “Unspoken”

7.  Queensrÿche: “Where Dreams Go To Die”

6.  Protest the Hero: “Drumhead Trial”

5.  Motörhead: “Heartbreaker”

4.  Bring Me the Horizon: “Shadow Moses”

3.  Ghost B.C.: “Year Zero”

2.  Gorguts: “An Ocean of Wisdom”

1.  Black Sabbath: “God Is Dead?”

When I see a year-end list like this one, I usually have one and sometimes two immediate reactions. One reaction is to think to myself, “I don’t know if that would be on my own list, but I can understand and respect the choice”, even though I’m also simultaneously thinking about how they compare to my own favorites that missed the cut. The other reaction is to think to myself, “What the fuck is that doing on here?” Which is a shorthand way of saying, “I may not be sure what my own list would look like, but I damned sure know that thing won’t be on it.” I had both reactions when I saw this Loudwire list.

In my case, five of the songs on Loudwire’s line-up happen to be on my own lengthy list of candidates for Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2013. Doesn’t mean they’ll make the final cut, because my candidate list includes close to 200 songs (!), but I have to respect the choices — and for a big platform site like Loudwire, I have to give an extra measure of respect for putting that Gorguts track on there, and at the No. 2 spot no less.

On the other hand, I’d never even heard four of the songs on the list. I just assumed that choosing “God Is Dead?” and “Where Dreams Go To Die” was some kind of pandering OG worship (or in one case, minor-deity worship), and that “Shadow Moses” was a different kind of pandering (a demographic one). And I just hadn’t gotten around to Protest the Hero — because they’re a band I’ve just never gotten into.

But I listened to all four of those songs for the first time. Having ignored 13 despite some impressive reviews, “God Is Dead?” flat-out floored me. Best metal song of the year? Not for me, and not in the Top 10 either. But a fuckin’ good sludgy, doomy, narcotic song that was way better than I was expecting? Yes indeed. I think I now have to break down and listen to 13.

The Queensrÿche song is by the version of the band that isn’t the one with the embarrassing Geoff Tate. It’s also better than I was expecting, but it’s not my cup of tea, and with due allowance for my own prejudices, I still can’t fathom how anyone would put it on a list of the year’s Top 10 metal songs.

I think I was also right about the Bring Me the Horizon song, too. One of the Top 10 metal songs of 2013? The 4th best song of the year? I’m sorry, but that seems like a blatantly calculated choice, rather than an honest one.

And I’m afraid I still don’t get the attraction of Protest the Hero. I’ll just leave it at that.

Your thoughts?


  1. It looks like someone compiled this list who was actively seeking new experiences in metal during the 70s and 80s, since this list only represents bands from that time or with a sound directly derived from that period. Otherwise, there are only some of the most reknown newer metal bands that do not fit that description.

    Looking at this list I solely experience the second response described in this blog post, as in that none of these songs or artists would ever make it to any list I would ever make. That said, it goes without saying that someone else can think otherwise and I would fully respect that. However, an article such as this one would make me less inclined to read articles on Loudwire since it seems that there is more ‘worshipping of the classics’ going on rather than experiencing new and challenging music.

  2. Yeah, this looks like a pretty rotten list, though I haven’t heard the new Queensrÿche (which I’m expecting will be right up my alley) yet. Also haven’t listened to Bring Me the Horizon, ever, but I’m going to have to make an exception for this song if it turns out to be Metal Gear Solid-themed.

    • dude I so wanted them to run with the MGS theme in the lyrics…. but it just seems like they made a blatant reference to the games in the song title and called it good. I wasn’t into it at all…

      • Such a bummer. Looked up the music video on Youtube and actually got excited for a second when I saw the band standing in a snow-covered field. But then, nothing. I mean, they could’ve at least thrown in a thematically appropriate word of some sort. (I’d have gone with “nanomachines”.)

        The song wasn’t my thing, either, though I can see the appeal and suppose it might be one of the year’s best in that particular genre. One of the coolest song titles of the year, if nothing else. Shame it was just for show.

  3. is this a fucking joke?

  4. I’ve been trying to get people to give 13 a chance for sometime now. Personally I thought it was a great album and sounded exactly like it should, minus some terrible production issues with the drums. I’m guessing that I sit squarely in the minority position there. End of the Beginning and Damaged Soul are great tracks.

    As for some of those others… I can’t get into Protest the Hero. I was never one who needed death vocals in all my music, but I can’t stand the sound of that guy’s voice.

    • The PTH vocals are my biggest problem with the band, too. Instrumentally, they do some interesting things, but even there I’m left cold more often than not. But I acknowledge that personal taste has a lot to do with the way I feel about them.

      • It’s all personal taste at the end of the day. Of course, there are things that are objectively bad, like the production of early Black Metal, but people liked/continue to like that sort of thing.

      • Kezia was a great album, the rest of their discography turned out to be more of a drab for me. They sound technical for the sake of technical.

    • 13 was a lot better than I was expecting. Yes, Ozzy still sounds pretty bad even with all the effects he got, and yes, I would have preferred to get Bill Ward behind the kit. But damn it, Tony Iommi is still the best damn riff-writer around, and Geezer complements him perfectly. I would have chosen “End Of The Beginning” instead of “God Is Dead?” though.

      I agree with the consensus here on most other points, though I must say I still don’t get what’s so special about Kylesa.

    • I had a listen through 13 after a friend recommended it. On the one hand, I was impressed that these guys are still going, or perhaps, that they’re simply still alive. And they really did manage to capture that old sound. What was one let down for me was the lyrics. God Is Dead? in particular had lyrics you could see coming a mile away. The album was certainly better than I expected, but I don’t know, maybe it’s just that my tastes have changed.

  5. This list is quite “meh” for me. I heard “God Is Dead?” and wanted to vomit after hearing the over processed/produced vocals. I know Ozzy cannot sing anymore. He has been lip syncing on stage for probably going on team years. Admittedly, I did not want to like the album and after giving it a shot, I want those minutes back. I disagree with a lot of this list. However, with that being said, that Bring Me The Horizon album is one of my top surprises of the year. I highly enjoy it. I do enjoy Protest The Hero, but I don’t agree with its inclusion. I am not sure my post made any sort of point, but here it is.

    • *ten years

      • i’m pretty sure the new live Sabbath dvd has overdubbed vocals, but i don’t think he lipsyncs in concert. some of the fan filmed videos from this past year have contained some remarkably bad vocal performances, much too awful to be pre-recorded.

        • Perhaps this is a recent development as I do not pay much attention to anything Ozzy nowadays, but I know he at least lip syncs during some concerts as I have been in person to see it… and it was awful.

  6. Not bad, good to see a death metal band on here for a change

  7. I think both the Sabbath and Queensryche albums were good ones, but yeah, I agree with Islander about the list pretty much. It’s not so bad, but putting “God is Dead?” at number 1 just seems lazy. Also, “Year Zero” isn’t even the best song on that album imo, that would be “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen”.

    • My vote for best song on that album would be either “Year Zero” or “Monstrance Clock”, but I’m influenced by how much fun it is listening to crowds at the live shows singing along to the lyrics in those songs. 🙂

  8. When a site’s traffic is that high, they exist by selling advertisements and it’s almost guaranteed that their biggest advertisers are the labels responsible for some of the duds on that list. There is an expectation that they will provide coverage relative to dollars spent. Loudwire is an entertainment portal, not metal journalism, so there is no need for something as quaint as integrity. The heavier stuff on that list is the attempt to show that they’re not totally clueless and their decisions are informed, but then they make sure to include the big guys since that’s where all the money is.

    • “there is no need for something as quaint as integrity”: two thumbs up!

      Apart from the influence of money, this list also seemed to follow a format I see a lot on the bigger sites and magazines, where there seems to be a conscious effort to have a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a little of something else — kind of a menu of genre coverage. I understand the reasons why they might have wanted to do that (as you say, it’s an entertainment portal), but even if that was the strategy, the choices they made within many of the genres they tried to cover are really . . . perplexing (I’m trying to use a nice word).

  9. Being the awful music masochist that I am, I actually listened to that Bring Me The Horizon album when it came out. Multiple times. …Shadow Moses is actually pretty much the worst song on there, next to Antivist. I think it was the first single, which explains why everyone pretends to love it so, but it’s really boring and awful. The first and last tracks on the album are actually kind of enjoyable as long as you don’t expect decent metal of any kind, though!
    Also, I’m…kinda shocked to not see Dream House on there. Isn’t that every single major critic’s song of the year by this point??

  10. Maybe that’s just their taste?

    Personally Sempiternal is easily one of my top five albums of the year – in a year where I’ve heard a lot of good stuff, but nothing that really grabs me that much. Although Shadow Moses is probably one of the more unremarkable tracks on it.

  11. i can agree with the inclusion of Suffocation and Gorguts. i won’t argue the inclusion of Motorhead because, well…i just really like Motorhead. but i don’t get any of the others. i think the Black Sabbath song is tolerable, but i’ve always preferred Dio over Ozzy.

  12. Just got back from playing a show. Very tired. List sucks.

    Also, BMTH have always been terrible. They were terrible at trying to be a metal band. Then they were terrible at latching on to everyone else’s ideas to try and be “more than JUST a metal band”… and now they’re still terrible, and are essentially just an advertising company for their clothing brand.

    Deluded angst + sonic blandness = $$$ in tshirt sales.

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