Was 2013 a banner year for heavy metal? Not exactly. Relative to the incredible bounty 2012 yielded -- in terms of high caliber and high profile heavy releases -- 2013 was quiet and produced a small crop of remarkable headbangers that rise above the din of mediocrity.
While the year as a whole probably won't go down in history as a turning point in the evolution of metal, there were some intense albums released that could surely put the fire back in the belly of even the most jaded metal fan. Here are our top picks, placed in no particular order. Feel free to thrash your cubicle and/or throw something.
1. Motörhead - Aftershock
While Lemmy and co. certainly did not make Ace of Spades part II or another Iron Fist, this album appears because it is a testament to the unwavering truth that is Motörhead.
Despite Lemmy's recent health concerns, Aftershock provides the unfettered and unaffected glory that we've come to expect from Motörhead over the years, and stands up as one of the best late career releases of any artist in any genre.
2. Exhumed - Necrocracy
Everyone has been so busy bestowing accolades upon 2013's Carcass offering, that they appear to have missed the fact that Exhumed finally out Carcass'd Carcass. Between the album's technical wizardry, gore-obsessed filth, and raw production aesthetic, Necrocacy is one of the best death metal releases in years.
3. Nails - Abandon All Life
Nails ripped into the consciousness of metal fans with 2010's Unsilent Death, an unruly collection of grinding power violence that was considered, at the time, to be a zenith in focused sonic rage.
But we were wrong. Todd Jones and crew upped the ante with Abandon All Life, an album that sounds like the soundtrack to hell itself swallowing the earth.
4. The Netherlands - Silicon Vapor
What would happen if David Lee Roth joined the Melvins and they all decided to drop some acid and buy motorcycles? The Netherlands would happen.
Experimental enough to stay interesting, heavy enough for sludge aficionados to dig into, unbelievably fun and somehow still approachable, this is one of our favorite releases of the year.
5. Deafheaven - Sunbather
An unexpected amalgam of black metal and shoe gaze, this album has been called a masterpiece by many, contested as hipster metal by others, and is, in our opinion, one of the most interesting sonic evolutions to happen to heavy music in a long time.
Imagine the calm resignation of drowning, mixed with the unchecked terror certain death provides. It's an album as beautiful as it is unsettling.
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