Jim Clifton’s End of 2013 List

Another year dissolves into dust, and as it does so I, like most other extreme music writers try and disassemble the great mass of 2013 Metal into an easily digestible list of that which floated my proverbial boat. No one will agree on most points I’m sure, but that’s part of the fun, I suppose. You’ll note a good many of these I reviewed at some point, mostly due to the fact I tend to cover things I enjoy since this isn’t a ‘full-time’ gig. Click through the album titles for music samples and full reviews. Enjoy and/or eviscerate!

1. Bölzer – Aura
The underground is aflame with talk of this band, and with good reason. Bölzer have proven that we have not reached the end of black/death glory with their fiery display of bizarre, writhing riff-originality few could match in 2013 (and that had me spinning this EP again and again). With these three songs’ level of promise, they themselves will not be ‘underground’ much longer.

2. Sacriphyx – The Western Front
For me, a woefully overlooked would-be classic. Take the analog demos of the Greek Black Metal scene, add in some Arghoslent melodicism (without the hate), throw in the solos of Trouble, and you’ve got a death/doom monster on your hands. The Western Front is an album of war, personal and grand in scope all at once. ps Hey Anthony, I’m still waiting on your responses to my interview questions … \m/

3. Vex – Memorious
Yes, the label I own with Marty put out the vinyl version of this album, and for good reason. With a musically-adept, balanced melodicism that teeters between progressive, black and death metal, and a production unlike any other record this year, these Austin Texans deserve all the recognition they can get.

4. White Medal – Guthmers Hahl
From the Yorkshire content, to the power chords and power beats, and to the raw punk/industrial tools put to good use, Guthmers Hahl is the 2013 black metal album that gave me a glimpse of the genre’s future. Unique, martial, and above all, memorable.

5. Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn
It’s Summoning, and they could shit in a plastic bag and it would be more compelling than 99% of everything else ‘extreme’ out there. Epic, Tolkein-obsessed grandeur, as is to be expected.

6. Thou Art Lord – The Regal Pulse of Lucifer
Expert songwriting that can only come with time, spooky keyboards, and superb drumwork, and you’ve got a Rotting Christ/Necromantia collaboration that, for me, surpasses the most recent work of either band. And the cover artwork will add value to any vinyl collection.

7. Seidr – Ginnungagap
For my money, the most intriguing doom metal of 2013. An album that not only contemplates the cosmos lyrically, but also evokes its vast scale with world-building riffs, galactic atmospherics, and the howls of astral souls.

8. Nhor – Within The Darkness Between The Starlight
Nhor – A talented pianist/writer/artist who has chosen black metal as his primary medium shares with the world this deeply personal and powerful work, his third album to date. A haunted, yet pervasive beauty coarses throughout.

9. Fyrnask – Eldir Nótt
Fyrnask – Fyrnd concocts a nightmare compelling and utterly his own on an album that must be experienced in its entirety. Black Metal of the highest order.

10. Cadaveric Fumes – Macabre Exaltation
Cadaveric Fumes MLP debut (originally released in 2012 as a demo) would send the likes of fellow-Frenchmen Gojira running for the hills. This is dirty, disgusting death metal that crossbreeds Florida and Finland in the best of ways.

11. Necrocurse – Grip of the Dead
Hellbutcher brings the death ‘n roll; Marty says: “Such a vibrant union between blunt underground intensity and a traditional metal style of melody… this album shows that the 2 styles NEED each other and empower the songwriting spark with enough fuel to grow into something memorable and worthy of a wider appreciation.”

12. Gris – À l’Âme Enflammée, l’Äme Constellée…
Absolutely stunning musicianship, a wide variety of stringed instrumentation, and pained, melancholic delivery make this a must-have for those that seek black metal with class.

13. Lustre – Wonder
Nachtzeit’s dark ambient project Lustre took Summer as its subject in 2013 (defying the cold preoccupation of its black metal roots), and with newfound emotion and exploration, put out his best work to date.

14. Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum – Sol
Sol, the collaborative split between Spectral Lore and Mare Cognitum (both one-man black metal projects) tracks the creation and destruction of the universe, and with headphones on and eyes closed you will bear witness to both.

15. Krypts – Unending Degradation
A younger generation of Finnish death metallers brings it back with simple yet caustic riffs, deliberate yet potent tempos, and an unyielding, subterranean production. My favorite Dark Descent release this year.

16. Nocturnal Graves – …From the Bloodline of Cain
Uncompromising, intricately-honed black/death/thrash from those revered Aussies of Deströyer 666 and Denouncement Pyre. More hyper-speed metal riffs than you can shake a stick at. Deadly and essential!

17. Satan – Life Sentence
Cult NWOBHM band returns to the scene with a vengeance in 2013, delivering an album worthy to stand beside their unfuckwithable 1983 proto-thrash debut Court In The Act.

20. Tribulation – The Formulas of Death
A grower in every sense of the world, this amalgam of styles – housed in an Altars of Madness/Phoenix Rising exoskeleton – works as a non-annoying ‘progressive’ Death Metal album.

19. Imperium Dekadenz – Meadows of Nostalgia
Bathory worship with an artery of sadness that bleeds attention. Gets under the skin and remains there.

20. VHÖL – S/T
Punk, classic heavy metal, and black metal in equal measure coagulate into an album that could only succeed with John Cobbett’s guitar-theatrics, Aesop Dekker’s drum mastery, and the kitchen-sink vocal stylings of Mike Scheidt.

Honorable Mentions:
Abyssal – Novit enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius
Arnaut Pavle – Arnaut Pavle
Possession (Belgium) – His Best Deceit
Panopticon/Vestiges – split
Obliteration – Black Death Horizon

~ by cliftonium on January 1, 2014.

4 Responses to “Jim Clifton’s End of 2013 List”

  1. Been listening to Marty’s Zemial – Nykta lp while posting these…that definitely should have gotten a mention from me!

  2. I agree with you on many of those (see my list). Krypts should’ve been in my list as well and both White Medal and Sacriphyx are on my to-check-out list as both of them haven’t really hit me yet

  3. Nytka is good, though this Sacriphyx sounds at least as good— I just bought it. Arghoslent is right— very similar harmonies to that & GBK.

  4. Glad you’re enjoying the Sacriphyx! Till’s riffs and leads, along with the lo-fi production, really come together as something special on this album. I’m hoping the word gets out on them…

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