As 2013 comes to a close, it is time to rate the Top 10 Metal Albums of this year. As I have mentioned so often before, there are so many styles of Heavy Metal, too many to possibly cover all genres. For purposes of this piece, we will be looking at Heavy Metal (Thrash, Speed, Power, Modern, Hardcore). Death Metal and other variations will not be looked at when picking the Top Albums. Those albums may be discussed at a later date. Before we get to my list, let us take a look back to 2012 and some of the music that was released last year and some of the most anticipated Metal Albums.
2012 was a very busy year in the Heavy Metal community. Lamb of God released “Resolution” in January. Resolution was the followup album to Wrath, which was one of Lamb of God’s best releases yet. In March 2012, Impending Doom released “Baptized in Faith” and Soulfly countered with “Enslaved.” Overkill, part of the “Big Six” released “The Electric Age”, its second album in successive years. The Band Accept showed the world “Stalingrad.” My favorite album that was released in 2012 was Testament’s “Dark Roots of Earth.” Testament went the extra mile on this album and even covered a few songs from other popular bands including Iron Maiden’s “PowerSlave.” This was Testament’s best album in years and my personal favorite. Kreator released “Phantom Antichrist” and HellYeah released “Band of Brothers.” As I Lay Dying put out “Awakened.” The most anticipated album of the year was SoundGarden’s “King Animal”, which marked the return of the original band lead by Chris Cornell.
2013 was an even better year for Heavy Metal Music. There were many new releases as well as compilations and movie soundtracks. Def Leppard released Viva Hysteria, which was a CD/DVD combo that included a concert in Vegas that Def Leppard played in the Summer. Iron Maiden also released Maiden England and Judas Priest released Epitaph. Both of these were live concerts on DVD and also included a jacket chronicling both bands history. Well here we are, I am now ready to give you my Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013. Without further a due, here are my TOP 10.
STRYPER (NO MORE HELL TO PAY)
On November 5th, Stryper released their first studio album in over fifteen years. This album is actually very underrated. No More Hell to Pay really showcases Stryper’s talent as a Metal Band, albeit Christian Metal. The lead singer Michael Sweet is extremely dynamic on the album as he hits a wide range in tone and ferocity. The album starts out with the track “Revelation” which is self explanatory. The album then stars the Title Track “No More Hell to Pay” which is similar to the epic hit To Hell With the Devil. This track laments Strypers musical talents al the way across the board and the guitar solos are off the hook and plentiful. Stryper also covers the popular gospel song, “Jesus is Just Alright” which was originally recorded but the Byrds and more recently by the Doobie Brothers. No More Hell to Pay rounds out Number Ten on this list.
MEGADETH (SUPER COLLIDER)
Super Collider is Megadeth’s 14th Studio Album and was the followup to Thirteen which was also produced by Johnny K. This album is actually the first from Megadeth to be released on Dave Mustaine’s own label. The album debuted at #6 on the Billboard 200, which was actually the highest for any Megadeth album since Youthanasia. “Kingmaker” is the first and best track on the album. Megadeth also covers the Thin Lizzy hit “Cold Sweat”. David Dramain also makes a guest appearance on one of the tracks. Unfortunately, despite selling over 80,000 copies of the album thus far, it has received mostly criticism.
KILLSWITCH ENGAGE (DISARM THE DESCENT)
Disarm the Descent is the sixth studio album for the Metalcore Band Killswitch Engage. The album was released in April 2013 and is the first album to feature Jesse Leech on vocals since 2002. “The Hell in Me” and “Beyond the Flames” are both huge hits. In the albums first week, it reached #7 on the Billboard 200 as well as #1 on the Hard Rock Album Chart. This was the band’s first studio album since 2009 with their self titled album. Killswitch Engage definitely cracks the Top 10 with this masterpiece.
SEVENDUST (BLACKOUT THE SUN)
Blackout the Sun is Sevendust’s Ninth Studio Album and first since 2010. This album is a darker vibe that still produces Sevendust’s classic melodies. It has even been described as being a Greatest Hits album of songs never heard before. Most popular Reviews gave this album 5 Stars out of 5. The album begins with a ballad instrumental “Memory” and then continues on with an all out onslaught of good song after good song. For those of you that have never heard Sevendust, Blackout the Sun is a must for your archives.
ALICE IN CHAINS (THE DEVIL PUT DINOSAURS HERE)
The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is the 5th Studio Album for the band Alice In Chains. This album is the followup to Black Gives Way to Blue. The album was actually put on hold for some time after guitarist Jerry Cantrell had shoulder surgery. The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. The best songs on the album (all released as singles) are “Hollow”, “Stone” and “Voices”. The album also made #1 on the US Top Hard Rock Albums.
BLACK SABBATH (13)
13 was Black Sabbath’s first studio album since 1995’s “Forbidden.” 13 marks the return of the original Sabbath lineup with Ozzy Osbourne. The album sold 155,000 copies in its first week of release and reached #1 on the Billboard 200. This album was unexpectedly brilliant, harmonic, In the second week of release, the album fell to the 5th spot on the charts. “End of the Beginning” and “God is Dead” are classic Sabbath dark riffs. Black Sabbath has even toured around the entire continent in support of the new album. The song “Zeigeist” is like a modern day version of “Planet Caravan”. “God is Dead” has the same style as “War Pigs”. This album is classic Sabbath at it’s BEST.
METALLICA (THROUGH THE NEVER)
Through the Never is the live interactive album that lets you know that Metallica is Truly Back. For those of you that have not heard the album as of yet, I suggest you go buy it. And after you listen to the CD, go see the 3D Movie. You will definitely have a greater appreciation for one of the World’s most famous bands. I kind of liken the movie to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The only difference is that they merge the story with a live concert.
AVENGED SEVENFOLD-AX7 (HAIL TO THE KING)
Hail to the King is Avenged Sevenfold’s greatest piece of work to date. This is their sixth studio album and is the first album that does not contain any contributions from the late Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan, their talented drummer that passed away a few years back. Arin llJay is the new drummer and he actually joined the band during the previous tour and was good enough to remain in the band. Hail to the King has enjoyed both critical and commercial success reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 in America as well as topping the charts in the U.K. In this album, the Band goes back to an old school metal approach instead of their usual complicated metal core style. The album received “generally favorable” reviews. Unfortunately, they mimicked the styles of Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Guns N Roses, Metallica and Pantera so well that many believe they lost their own “metal identity.” Nonetheless, the album is a Bad Ass, in your face metal onslaught that goes from opening to close like a book. I highly recommend this album for any true old school Metal Fan.
VOLBEAT (OUTLAW GENTLEMAN & SHADY LADIES)
For those of you that are not familiar with the band, Volbeat, you really don’t know what you are missing. Volbeat is a Danish Metal Band that was formed in Copenhagen, Denmark. Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies is the fifth studio album released by the band and is by far their BEST! The album features 14 Tracks, including 2 Tracks with guest singers. “Room 24” is a Metal Classic and features King Diamond in a special guest appearance. “Lonesome Rider” features Sarah Blackwood. Volbeat is known for their fusion of Metal, classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Groove Metal. The new album stays true to form, but Volbeat takes it to the next level. This is also the 1st album with Lead Guitarist, Rob Caggiano, formerly of Anthrax. My personal favorites on the album are “Lola Montez” and “The Hangman’s Body Count.” “Room 24” is also BADASS. Volbeat was very close to Number One, but their is one album that I rate higher.
METAL CHURCH (GENERATION NOTHING)
Most of you are probably like, “who the hell is Metal Church?” Well Metal Church is an American Heavy Metal Band that was formed in 1980, in San Francisco California. Their first album, “Metal Church” was formed in 1984. Kurt Vanderhoof, the lead guitarist is the only member that has stood the test of time. Metal Church has had three lead singers: David Wayne (The Original-He has since passed away), Mike Howe, and now Ronny Munroe. The band has had multiple breakups and their last album was “This Present Wasteland”. This Present Wasteland was their Ninth Studio Album and was a major disappointment. The band broke up after this and the future of Metal Church was bleak. That was until this past years, when a few of the Band Members bumped into each other and collaborated on the new album. This album has zero filler and keeps you completely on edge. The album has received a 4/5 on every major review. From the first song “Bullet Proof” to the last track “Media Horse”, Metal Church pounds out awesome music. Ronny Munroe has a tremendous voice and he kills the lyrics. This is just one of those rare albums that has every song as a hit. There is no drop off. Seriously, if you have not heard the album, buy it. If I am wrong, I will refund your money.
Bullet For My Valentine- Temper/Temper, Device-Device, Hatebreed-The Divinity of Purpose, Anthrax-Anthems (Cover Album), Ugly Kid Joe (Stairway to Hell E.P.), Queensryche- Both with Geoff Tate and without, Skid Row-United World Rebellion Chpt.1, Children of Bodom-Halo of Blood, Five Finger Death Punch-The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Motorhead-Aftershock, Trivium-Vengeance Falls.
So this was my Top 10 Heavy Metal Albums of 2013. Who is yours. And we have a lot to look forward to in 2014. Until next time, this has been your host “DA BIRD,” HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL MY FANS!