Jan 142014

(NCS reader and occasional contributor Old Man Windbreaker has prepared this year-end list of lists for 2013.)


Now that One has gained your attention, you should take it back. You shall need it for the last post in this series. Yes, indeed. This is to be the first of a series of posts recalling my favourite metal (and unmetal) music of the tredecennium 2001 to 2013. Why a period of 13 years, you ask? Because fuck you, that’s why!

Actually, One missed the many opportunities to do a series of articles for the dodecennium 2001 to 2012 throughout the past year. One would have much rather done a list with 12 items than 13. That said, One shall not be doing a full list for each year. With the exception of this list for the year 2013, my lists for the other years will be of about 3 metal albums each. Apart from that, there will be a list of album trilogies and such, and One’s favourite unmetal albums of the tredecennium. All of those lists will be created, submitted, and posted at wildly irregular intervals. So, don’t hold your breath for them.

Moving on to One’s favourite music of the year, One feels like One hasn’t listened to enough music to make a list. On the other hand, the albums that One hasn’t listened to don’t feel like they would be as memorable as those that One already has. Additionally, One could not hope to properly listen to as much music as the staff here seem to.

So, here is Old Man Windbreaker’s list of favourite music albums from the year 2013, feeling shorter than One would like. The top 3 are in order, the remaining are randomly ordered.

One One One, by Shining
Extol, by Extol
Unhuman, by Unhuman
The Gravity of Impermanence, by Azure Emote
Byzantine, by Byzantine
The Formative Years, by Black Cap Miner
Colored Sands, by Gorguts
Multispectral Supercontinuum, by Teramobil
The Aura, by Beyond Creation
Vermis, by Ulcerate
Griseus, by Aquilus
Vertikal, by Cult of Luna
Possession, by Benea Reach
Dreading Consciousness, by netra & We’rewolves
Oddfellows, by Tomahawk

The list is expanded upon in the following text. At the end, there are the usual honorable mentions, as well as non-musical things from One’s year. Enjoy, if you may.


Avant-Garde Metal or Whatever


Shining – One One One

These “Blackjazz Rebels” have yet again “Painted the Sky Black” with an album of songs that are completely “Off the Hook”. One simply cannot “Walk Away” from finding out “How Your Story Ends”. “I Won’t Forget” “The Hurting Game” any time soon. Thankfully, the copy I listen to isn’t “The One Inside” “My Dying Drive”. So, One can continue to make terrible nonsensical puns such as these whenever One wants.

Terrible attempts at jokes aside, this album is a hell of a listen. Shining‘s previous album, Blackjazz, was a meandering mindfuck of experimental jazz metal. One was expecting an album along the lines of Blackjazz, indeed with a more pronounced metal influence. This crushes and fulfils those expectations at the same time. One One One is still an insane mindfuck of jazz metal, but with comparatively more straightforward, memorable, and accessible songs, of consistent style and length. Every song is danceable and moshable like a good hardcore song, and whacked-out like Fantômas‘ or Mr. Bungle‘s songs. One simply never tires of listening to the songs on this album.

Azure Emote – The Gravity of Impermanence

One had been listening to the previous album, Chronicles of an Aging Mammal, for a while before. The almost mechanical style of utterly pessimistic music on the album was oddly danceable. On a related note, One has been grappling with the misspelling of “ageing” in the album title ever since.

One expected something similar on the new album – groovy misanthropic death metal with industrial influences. Indeed, the album is described as such on the Bandcamp page – Misanthropic Avant-garde Death Metal. But, One found The Gravity of Impermanence much more majestic, and all too eviscerating. Coupled with the immediately noticeable changes in instrumentation – less glitching and electronic sounds, more operatic female vocals, added violin – and the greater emotional variation as compared to the previous album, the relentless pace and unambiguously misanthropic tone of the songs make this album exhausting but compelling to listen to. On a related note, One keeps remembering the name of the album wrongly as “The Impermanence of Gravity”.


Eponymous Comebacks


Extol – Extol

One had written about Extol‘s self-titled album in One’s “Gojiralternatives Revisited” article. Admittedly, my perception of the music is quite different from those already familiar with them. This album has been my introduction to their music. Despite Andy Synn‘s remarkable 2011 Synn Report on them, and countless references I’ve read elsewhere over the past three years, One never listened to their music until this album was released.

One’s feelings about the album haven’t changed too much since first listening to it, though One’s perception of the band has changed somewhat. One can’t convince Oneself to label their music Progressive Death Metal, or something like that. It is just eccentric enough to not fit in neatly on a playlist with other progressive metal bands that One can think of. Their music stands out too much from others’ for One.

Though this album is Extol’s comeback, not début, it feels like it might as well be. It is passionate and inventive. It is pleasantly unpredictable and off-kilter. And it is the start of a new era for the band.

Byzantine – Byzantine

One must first speak to the magnificence of Chris Ojeda‘s beard. That magnificent beard… is so magnificent.

Unlike Extol, One has heard of Byzantine before, and listened  to them before listening to this album. One thanks TheMadIsraeli for his article looking back on the band’s discography prior to this album.

Admittedly, One wasn’t very intrigued by the band’s previous albums. They play a kind of thrash metal, with Meshuggah-like jagged rhythms, and interspersed melodies reminding One of Nevermore. Yet One found the music failing to hold One’s attention for long, apart from a handful of songs on Oblivion Beckons.

The new album, on the other hand, sucks One in, and doesn’t let go for hours. The raw passion and ferocity of their earlier music is greatly focussed and amplified here into an energized and consistent work. It might, in fact, be the cause of One’s current literal pain in the neck.

Black Cap Miner – The Formative Years

One includes this album here, as the second disc of the hypothetical double album with Byzantine. Shamefully, One had been listening to this album for a whole month without realizing that it is a side project by Byzantine‘s Chris Ojeda, or that it is an album of thrash metal cover songs. Once again, One thanks TheMadIsraeli‘s enthusiasm.

One should have recognised over two-thirds of the songs on the album immediately, and all of them after a couple of listens. But, One didn’t recognise any of them apart from the cover of Annihilator‘s Alison Hell. It probably speaks to how much One has come to dislike most Thrash Metal.

In any case, the songs are made better, in my opinion, by Chris Ojeda’s rendering of them. The vocals are more than bearable, they are enjoyable; none of the guitar solos are annoying; and One can hear the bass clearly thanks to the marvels of modern production technology! In addition to being an excellent Thrash Metal album, cover songs or not, it provides a certain contrast and context against Byzantine.


Canadian Technical Death Metal


Unhuman – Unhuman

This album… evokes maniacal laughter. The vocals are just so varied, ruthless, and utterly insane. It is such a breath of fresh air compared to the common tortured growling or screaming in most death metal One has listened to. It is almost arousing.

Instrumentally, Unhuman is composed of well-crafted technical death metal that is both ferociously aggressive and sufficiently melodic. And the mix is just perfect. One cannot think of any technical death metal album in recent times to compare to this apart from Beyond Creation‘s The Aura or Gorod‘s A Perfect Absolution.

This is an album One likes despite wanting not to. To quote Austin Weber, “It is by and large unfuckwithable.”

Gorguts – Colored Sands

Gorguts are Canadian… One didn’t know this until a couple of months ago. Canadian Tech Death is the shit, eh?

Anyway, One was sort of lying in not being able to think of any other comparison to Unhuman‘s self-titled album. GorgutsColored Sands is another album that is unfuckwithable.

One’s introduction to Gorguts was through Obscura a few years ago. While One was impressed by the technical proficiency and audacious weirdness, One was frankly annoyed with the screeching guitar. Regretfully, One didn’t return to Gorguts until Colored Sands was released. [More specifically, a month after it was released]

It has been revelatory listening to Gorguts after such a long time. The dense atmosphere, the dark mood, the dissonant guitars, the jarring rhythms, the disconcertingly smooth shifts between the calm and the loud, and the beauty in strangeness of the whole composition – One has missed out on this for too long.

Teramobil – Multispectral Supercontinuum

“Canadian Technical Death Metal without vocals” is how One shall describe this. “WTF?! You’re wrong!”, you say. “You can’t have Death Metal without the damn Death Growls!”, you say. Well, One says to you, good sir, “Fuck you! But, you are right.”

To be fair though, they are Canadian, and the members are in other Canadian Death Metal bands. Teramobil is Dominic ‘Forest’ Lapointe of Beyond Creation, and Mathieu Bérubé & Alexandre Dupras of Unhuman.

The music is indeed amazing, by the way. It is the best imaginable merger of Beyond Creation‘s and Unhuman‘s music – aggressive, intricate, subtly melodic, with bass featuring prominently – but without vocals. If One hasn’t convinced you, perhaps Luc Lemay of Gorguts can. Here.

Beyond Creation – The Aura

One missed out on listening to Beyond Creation‘s The Aura when it was first released… and when it was re-released. One only listened to the second re-release by Season of Mist. [This list is turning out to be filled with regrets. Oh well.]

Just a few days before that, One was thinking, “Cynic‘s music is jazzy and elegant. Too bad Sean Malone’s bass lines are so simplistic compared to the guitar or drums. If only he played for Cynic like Evan Brewer does on his solo albums… But, it still wouldn’t be death metal. Even early Cynic was hardly Death Metal. Can there really be brutal and jazzy death metal? Wonder what Evan Brewer sounds like with The Faceless…”

Behold! An answer to One’s redundant questions from Beyond Creation! Simultaneously brutal and pleasantly melodic, intricate groovy jazz-fusion-tinged death metal, with the wonderful sounds of Dominic “Forest” Lapointe’s fretless bass to drift to – this album is perfect.

Beyond Creation’s The Aura is One’s favourite metal album of 2011. […alongside Thy Catafalque‘s Rengeteg and Cormorant‘s Dwellings. One shall decide among the three later when One has to write One’s recap list for 2011.] It is also One’s favourite re-release of 2013.


Gojiralternatives, Revisited, Again


Cult of Luna – Vertikal

Quoting Oneself, “The music on this album is fairly typical of Cult of Luna – long, slow-paced songs, building up to the end; dark and heavy-but-not-too-heavy riffs, layered with compellingly melodic guitars and synthesized elements; comfortably dense atmosphere, with pleasant interludes; and sparse vocals in a metalcore-like harsh style, occasionally switching to clean singing. But, it does feature an Industrial influence, making the atmosphere somewhat darker, but cleaner, than on other albums.”

While One doesn’t have anything to add to why One likes Cult of Luna‘s Vertikal, One can say that One still does like it, very much. All the times that One listens to the album, One almost never realises how long most of the songs are. One sits (or walks) throughout the whole hour and thirteen minutes (hour and forty nine minutes including Vertikal II), rapt in attention. Though One still can’t truly grasp the influence of Metropolis, One has come to somewhat relate to the themes featured in the album. Having listened to their earlier albums alongside this one over the past year, One finds this one more focussed and grandiose. One can now say for certain that this is One’s favourite of their albums.

Benea Reach – Possession

In contrast to Cult of Luna’s Vertikal, which is bleak and sounds almost synthetic at times (as intended), Benea Reach‘s Possession is livening and sounds alive. The seamless blend of the Meshuggah-style jagged rhythms and the melodies from the guitars, keyboard, electronics, and the vocalists results in powerful, atmospheric, bafflingly creative and passionate music.

It’s alive! Oh, cry for joy and break skulls! You are alive!




From New Zealand & Australia


Ulcerate – Vermis

One has been listening to Ulcerate from some time after The Destroyers of All was released. One could have been listening to the band they’re most often compared to – Gorguts. But, at the time their music really didn’t sound the same. Ulcerate’s music satisfied a craving that Gorguts’ didn’t, for whatever reason.

Naturally, One had been anticipating their next release. And since the teaser of Vermis half a year ago, One has been quivering and muttering the title to Oneself in a low voice whenever One listened to their music.

Since One can’t be bothered to actually read the lyrics to the songs, press-releases by the band and whatnot, One jumped right into listening to the album with One’s preconceptions in hand. One had interpreted the title of the album ‘Vermis’, meaning ‘worm’, to imply a narrative about something like the Conqueror Worm from Hellboy. The Worm – a being beyond the world and reaches of the human mind so horrifying that the merest thought of it is sickening and a peek at One’s own madness. One didn’t understand the words being vocalised, and One didn’t need to. Even thinking about listening to the album crushed One’s mood every time.

After half-a-dozen listens, One decided to see how horrifying the lyrics might truly be… One could have cried upon realising that the subject of the songs isn’t a fantastic apocalyptic narrative, but reflections significantly more mundane and current. ‘Worm’ here implies spinelessness. The lyrics explore themes of spinelessness and oppression. The music now hits One harder, and One welcomes it evermore.

Aquilus – Griseus

Admittedly, neither was AquilusGriseus originally released in 2013, nor does it sound much like Ulcerate‘s Vermis. But, One has found Oneself listening to it quite often over the year, and One wanted a reason to put it on the list. Besides these reasons, Griseus was, in fact, reissued in 2013 as 2xLP vinyl.

Let’s see what Old Man Windbreaker had to say about this album a year ago:

“It’s primarily a neo-classical symphony with folk & black metal parts, and endlessly interesting. Note that this album is almost 80 minutes long – just fitting onto a standard 12 cm 700 MB CD, One imagines. One wonders how much longer the artist might have meant for the album to be. {Getting goosebumps}”

Precisely, past self, precisely. Now, reader, you can feel these goosebumps too.


The Others


netra & We’rewolves – Dreading Consciousness

One discovered Dreading Consciousness by netra ft. We’rewolves through Islander’s review of it, and rushed off to listen to it on the label’s Bandcamp site before reading more than a few lines. One read that it’s an odd fit compared to the label’s usual, and that it was a collaboration between netra and a couple of rappers.

Listening to the music, One heard depressive trip-hop, with rap featuring self-destructive suicidal themes – utterly grim, but surprisingly enticing. For a music label that normally features extreme metal, a trip-hop album would indeed be unusual. But, considering the themes, One thought that it does perhaps appeal to fans of depressive black metal, to whom the label might cater.

But that all changed when the Fire Nation attacked. {ahem} Sorry. But that all changed in the fourth minute of the third song. The music changes from Suicidal Depressive Rap / Trip-Hip to Suicidal Depressive Black Metal. One then remembered ManesHow the World Came to an End, particularly the second song on the album “Come to Pass”.

Listening to the previous two albums, One finds the same appeal in netra’s music that One finds in Manes‘ or Ulver‘s. But, since neither of those albums was released in 2013, and because this album is One’s favourite rap album of the year, you get to listen to this one.

Tomahawk – Oddfellows

There was never any doubt that this album would be mind-blowing. But, the addition of Trevor Dunn just makes One all that more excited about it. That said, there is indeed a perceptible change in the music – it feels calmer and less planned, almost like a jam band recording – and it works out excellently.

Really, anything involving Mike Patton, One is bound to like, if not love. It’s no surprise that One loves this.



Honorable Mentions


One had previously been unable to tolerate the shrill shouting or whatever it is that the vocalist does. But, the songs on this album were catchy enough to accept the weirdness of the vocals. It is almost like they are to Fantômas what Boris are to Melvins, One thinks now.

Protest the HeroVolition

Intricate flailing compositions, and the signature soaring vocals – another album that is so very danceable, regardless of the lyrical subject matter.

HakenThe Mountain

Their particular style of progressive metal/rock sounded old initially, and off-putting as a result. But, upon repeated listens, it seems like more of a folk music influence. That perception certain eases One’s mind in liking the music.


There’s a certain brooding atmosphere about the music, though the voices of the vocalist and the instruments themselves soar. It’s an interesting listen that One hasn’t returned to enough.


Cloudkicker‘s back in more familiar territory, with some differences, but still One’s first love on Bandcamp.

Author & PunisherWomen & Children

This is metal without the traditional metal instruments. Custom-built mechano-electronic monstrosities played by the one-man band Tristan Shone fill this role. It’s abrasive, heavy and haunting. More refined than the previous album, this would be the one to get into Author & Punisher if you have never listened before.

BotanistIV: Mandragora

Another album of metal without the traditional metal instruments, this is music played on drums and distorted hammered dulcimer, as a disturbed character, simply called The Botanist, instructs on how to raise an army of Mandrakes. Beautifully haunting remix of black metal aesthetics, this is.

UlverMesse I.X-VI.X

It’s so deeply engrossing and satisfying. But, for all the patience that it seems to require, it feels too short. Seriously, there are only two tracks on this album with vocals, and One didn’t realise until Andy Synn’s review pointed it out.

Yosi HorikawaVapor

Ah, it’s a full-length album this year – more co-opted sounds of nature in ambient electronic music to block out the sounds of humanity. [There’s a highway right next to One’s house. Yeah…]

Nine Inch NailsHesitation Marks

Honestly, One had lost interest in Nine Inch Nails since after the Year Zero cycle. But, to be fair, Nine Inch Nails isn’t ever the same band from album to album, or even the same person just considering Trent Reznor. Now, among the albums since and including Ghosts I-IV, the How to Destroy Angels releases, and the movie soundtracks, this is surprisingly One’s favourite album. [One’s favourite of the era before this album release was, oddly enough, Ghosts I-IV.]



Music Videos & Other Earworms

ExtolGift Beyond Human Reach

One does not think One would be overstating it when calling this the most infectious metal song of the year. If not for you, it is at least for Oneself.



This is the most metal music video for an unmetal song in 2013, as One has said before in One’s article revisiting Gojiralternatives.


Linked HorizonFeuerroter Pfeil und Bogen

Admittedly, this song would have very little appeal to One outside of the context One heard it in. But, it is Neoclassical Metal. And it is the opening theme song for the first thirteen episodes of the first season of the anime Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人 Shingeki no Kyojin, literally “Advancing Giants”). [More specifically, One heard it as the opening theme of TeamFourStar’s Attack on Titan Abridged, a web series parodying the namesake anime.]

The music video is as cheesy as you might expect. If it bothers you too much, you can watch the shorter version set to the opening animation of the anime here.



Ramin Djawadi ft. Tom MorelloPacific Rim

Whatever your opinions may be of the film, whether you think that it’s the coolest film of the year, or the dumbest cool film of the year, or the coolest dumb film of the year, etc., One is sure that you can agree that it was cool. You also probably recognise the title theme by now. What you might not have known was that Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, The Nightwatchman, Street Sweeper Social Club) plays on the title theme.

Ah… The 1998 Godzilla soundtrack and the memories One doesn’t have of Rage Against the Machine playing… Really, One hasn’t watched more than 5 minutes of that film in over 10 years. One has no clue when the RatM song appears in the film. One is making up by listening to a whole lot of this song.



Nicki Minaj vs Soul CycleTurn Me On Instar (Mashup by RosenJazz)

One found a mashup of a Soul Cycle song, “Instar / Soul: Reborn” from Soul Cycle II, with Nicki Minaj’s vocals from “Turn Me On” by David Guetta & Nicki Minaj. One found it on SoundCloud, probably through Soul Cycle themselves. In any case, it has been stuck in One’s head as firmly as Extol‘s “Gift Beyond Human Reach”.

Now, with video accompaniment poorly stitched together by yours truly, you too can suffer the catchy-ness of this djent-pop mashup:

The Unmusical


It has been a year of re-discovering many things for One. So, while most of these are related to events not in 2013, they have often kept One’s idle mind otherwise occupied. Perhaps you can come to value these concepts as much as One does, or go exploring the cultural cesspool that is the internet and find your own dark niche to drown in comfortably.


Jerome Bixby’s The Man from Earth

This has displaced The Godfather Parts 1+2 (forget about 3), Primer, WALL-E, and Moon as One’s favourite film of all time. The Man from Earth is, in the strictest sense, a science fiction film. The seemingly simple premise of “What if a Caveman lived till the present day?” leads to a beautiful expanse of ideas, all explored and emoted only through an afternoon conversation around a fireplace. Indeed, the whole film is mostly just a dialogue among a group a friends in a house around a fireplace.

One could watch this film almost any time. One has probably watched it over 2 dozen times over the year, and One still sits amazed at the grandeur of it – the story of humanity, through the eyes of one man, eternally young, seemingly outside of time, but all too human in the end (though the poster suggests otherwise). While One never really takes away a specific message from it, it is certainly uplifting for One to watch the film.



Superman: Red Son

Having been somewhat disappointed with the reinterpretation of Superman in the film Man of Steel, making him less super and less man, rather than making him more super and less man or less super and more man, One decided to look through to the Superman comics mythos to see if One could find a story that One thought better adaptable as an origin story. One found a DC: Elseworlds story – Superman: Red Son, by Mark Millar. It’s a story based on the premise “What if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?”

In this story, Superman is raised on a communal farm in Ukraine, eventually growing up to take the side of Joseph Stalin at the height of his power. On the other side of the globe, the world’s smartest human, Lex Luthor constantly pits his wits against Superman’s very existence. Over the course of sixty years or so, Superman takes over the role of Joseph Stalin as Soviet Russia’s leader and goes on to bring the world under his influence peacefully, but heavily infringing on personal liberties. For the most part, he does greatly improve the standard of living for the people of the Earth, except for the USA, which still resists his brand of socialism.

One doesn’t want to spoil too many of the other details, but, over the course of the story, Batman would be the only man to have made him bleed, Wonder Woman would be the only woman he loved, and he admits defeat to Lex Luthor in the end for the greater good of mankind. The very end, though, is beautifully bleak, and is best described as affirmation of the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle and inevitable failure.


Austin Weber

Austin Weber’s always amazing and amusingly astounding alliterative articulations, assumed to be articulated alliteratively as an affront to astringent asses against articulate alliteration, are astonishingly articulate alliterative atriculations. #POLO! #SoAnnoying,EnglishIs. #AmIDoingItRight?

Austin Weber’s whimsical, and often nonsensical, Facebook posts have been a source of daily mental gear-grinding for much of this past year, even on One’s most lethargic days. One is grateful for this (And So Can You!).

His latest one of this sort at the time of writing was:

“Are you the wave? How will you crash? Where will its grave be found?”


And that’s the list. If you made it ’til the end, Old Man Windbreaker thanks you for your unwilling patience. One hopes to entertain and slightly baffle you in the same manner again in the future.


  1. I’m glad you didn’t miss out on Beyond Creation for the third time, for it was criminally overlooked in 2011 (alongside Thy Catafalque and Cormorant, amazing albums). Thanks for the Unhuman and Teramobil recs, as I wasn’t aware of them. Also, if you dig Dominic Lapointe’s bass, check out Augury. It’s more great Canadian tech-death, but with pirate vox tossed in. One should like.

  2. I still stand by my statement that “Supremacy” should be in a Bond film.

    • One is not sure that there should even be another bond film, at least not another one like Skyfall. But, one agrees that it should be Bond film music.

      • I quite enjoyed Skyfall, personally. But to each his own. “Supremacy” reminds me of Adele’s intro credit song in its melding of newer music with an orchestral sensibility that harkens back to the heyday of the first Bond films.

  3. Ha my brain’s boredom is your boon! WHORE-RAY!

  4. The idea of finding a fan of Red Son on No Clean Singing never even occurred to me. This is a good day.

  5. good list, i love the inclusion of Tomahawk!

  6. Sweet idea. I remember trying to come up with a ‘best of the decade’ list from 2000 – 2010, and found it pretty difficult; metal had changed so much during that time, and also my tastes, so I’ll be intrigued to see what you come with.

    Well if you list Moon and Primer as two of your favourite sci fi’s, I concur, which means I should probably check out The Man from Earth.

  7. Of all the lists listed here or anywhere, yours was the only one that included Beyond Creation – The Aurato, emphasizing the importance of this re-release . This was by far the best tech death release of this year, even as a re-release. So delicately crafted…it deserves giving it a second chance for people who habent listened it yet. And of course Unhuman, what a remarkable achievement they accomplished by creating so many pioneering music bits. Both these Canadian bands really push tech-death ahead, far ahead.

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