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In our May Premature Evaluation of Deafheaven’s Sunbather, I compared the album to Agalloch’s 2010 LP, Marrow Of The Spirit. In my opinion, Marrow is the best metal album of the millennium (so far), the apotheosis of what had also been, I believed, the best metal year of the millennium (so far) — perhaps a supernova moment for modern metal, in fact. The genre enjoyed very fine, well-above-average years in 2011 and 2012, too (and I presided over lists here and here attesting to just that), but they felt to me like the slow descent from the peak of Kilimanjaro. As of May, I believed 2013 would also fail to match the heights of 2010, but I was excited and encouraged just the same, by a lot of the records I was hearing, but in that moment, especially so by Deafheaven. “Sunbather is not a better album than Marrow Of The Spirit,” I wrote, “but it is the most successfully ambitious album to emerge from the wreckage left behind by Marrow.”

But as the year progressed, I found myself almost overwhelmed by the volume of truly extraordinary new releases vying for my attention: from new bands like Inter Arma and Lycus and Vattnet Viskar and Bölzer, as well as established acts like Gorguts and Skeletonwitch and Aosoth and Darkthrone. On September 17, Windhand’s Soma was awarded Stereogum Album Of The Week honors (the third metal album in 2013 to achieve that status, following Kvelertak’s Meir in March and Kylesa’s Ultraviolet in May). Also released that same day were outstanding new records from Carcass, SubRosa, Grave Miasma, Wolvserpent, Pinkish Black, Grave, and Ulcerate. It might have been the single-best release week for metal ever. It was on that day, I think, that I realized 2013 had surpassed 2010 as the best metal year of the millennium (so far). And from there, the stakes only got higher. Over the next few months, bands like Inquisition, In Solitude, Oranssi Pazuzu, and Castevet released records that could easily vie for Metal Album Of The Year honors. It was, by any definition, a boom time. It was an embarrassment of riches.

The Year That Was produced a few capital-E Events, some via bands that brought us the year’s best albums — such as Deafheaven and their aforementioned Sunbather — and some others that merely made the year’s best albums look better by comparison. Among the latter group was Infestissumam, the disappointing sophomore album from Swedish opera-metallers Ghost B.C. That band’s fantastic 2010 breakout debut, Opus Eponymous, was such a terrific smash that Infestissumam would have been a big deal (and a big letdown) even if it weren’t the band’s first release on major label Warner Bros., with whom Ghost B.C. signed for the insanely exorbitant reported sum of $750,000 last May — but that fact did add additional depths to the album’s narrative arc. Another high-profile dud was 13, the Rick Rubin-produced Black Sabbath album, the first new work in 35 years from a Sabbath lineup featuring original members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler. Ultimately, though, 13 was more notable for the band’s choice to exclude original drummer Bill Ward from the project than it was for its songs, which were flat and forgettable. Both those albums arrived with great fanfare (and extended tours, and in the case of Ghost, um … a butt plug), but were met with mixed reviews. Neither was included on our list, and neither would have been on this list if it collected the 100 best metal albums of 2013 instead of only the 50 best. Neither was bad, exactly, but both were badly overcooked, and over-covered, and in the best metal year of the millennium (so far), they were exceedingly poor ambassadors for the genre.

Another pair of Events — these yielding much better results — were the highly publicized returns of ancient death metal legends Gorguts and Carcass, both of whom released their first new albums in 2013 after absences of 12 years and 17 years, respectively. Both represent not just successful comebacks, but artistic and psychic triumphs. Gorguts effectively ceased to exist after the 2002 suicide of drummer Steve MacDonald. The band’s mastermind and only core member, Luc Lemay, retired the name and announced he was leaving music to focus on his work as a self-taught furniture maker. But in 2008, Lemay hooked up with a handful of musicians whose careers he had helped to inspire — Kevin Hufnagel and Colin Marston (both of Dysrhythmia; Marston also of Krallice), and John Longstreth (of Dim Mak and Origin) — and reclaimed the Gorguts name. That version of the band spent five years playing together and working on new material before finally releasing Colored Sands this past September, and it was, at once, a landmark.

Carcass, meanwhile, broke up in 1996, only three years after releasing one of the most important and most successful death metal albums of all time, Heartwork, but several months before releasing one of the most reviled death metal albums of all time, Swan Song. Secondary guitarist Mike Amott had quit the band soon after Heartwork, and primary guitarist Bill Steer sort of admitted he should have done the same thing, as he was no longer interested in playing heavy metal (hence Swan Song). Bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker and drummer Ken Owen started a new band, Blackstar, playing hard rock; Steer formed a blues-based rock band called Firebird. In 1999, Owen suffered a brain hemorrhage, ending his musical career. But in 2007, a reunited Carcass built around Steer and Walker started playing select headlining dates internationally. Six years later, they went into the studio, dug up some old unused riffs, and on September 17, 2013, released Surgical Steel — perhaps the best album of their genre-defining career.

The returns of Gorguts and Carcass also tie into one of the year’s other major Events — although it’s more of a capital-T Trend — the bold resurgence of death metal. Most of metal’s great successes in recent years have been black metal-derived (such as Agalloch, and Wolves In The Throne Room, and Krallice …) or sludge-derived (Mastodon, Baroness, High On Fire …), or doom-derived (YOB, Pallbearer, Witch Mountain …), but in 2013, raw, brutal, ugly, uncool death metal ruled. There were the awakened gods (again: Carcass, Gorguts), the technical masters (Ulcerate, Wormed), the old-school originals (Immolation, Autopsy) and revivalists (Vastum, Entrails), as well as the entire “cavern-core” microgenre, which was most prominently represented by England’s amazing Grave Miasma, but included dozens of other bands playing dank, suffocated, ambient death metal. That’s not to say the genre was invisible in years prior to 2013 — or even that other metal genres flagged in comparison — but in 2013, death metal was a more dominant force than it had been since … well, probably since 1993, the year Carcass released Heartwork.

The final Event demanding inclusion here is a deeply sad one: the loss of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman, who passed away on May 2, of liver failure, at the age of 49. It’s no exaggeration to say that Hanneman was one of modern metal’s prime movers. He wrote nearly all Slayer’s best-known (and best) songs, including (but by no means limited to) “Raining Blood,” “Die By The Sword,” “South Of Heaven,” “War Ensemble, and — perhaps most notably — “Angel Of Death,” arguably the single most important song in the history of extreme metal. I can’t count the number of concerts I attended in 2013 at which Hanneman was paid tribute by the band on stage, nor can I count the number of lovely remembrances and eulogies I read in the days after Hanneman’s death. Two of those were written by my good friend (and occasional Stereogum contributor) Justin Norton, who wrote Hanneman’s obituary for the great metal magazine Decibel, and soon afterward, penned the cover story for Decibel’s Hanneman tribute issue. I was especially moved by — and honored to publish on Stereogum — Doug Moore’s eulogy to Hanneman, which beautifully illustrated Hanneman’s influence and legacy.

Doug was also involved with one of my personal favorite metal events (lowercase-e) of 2013: the launch of Stereogum’s new metal column, the Black Market, which he, Aaron Lariviere, Wyatt Marshall, and I kicked off in February, and produced on a once-monthly basis thereafter. I certainly don’t think our work here played a role in making 2013 the best metal year of the millennium (so far), but it was a joy to cover that year so closely, with such good friends. It was a greater joy still to connect with a readership that seemed to appreciate the column, and heavy music, and an opportunity to discuss heavy music on Stereogum. Throughout 2013, I was overwhelmed by the response to the Black Market. For logistical reasons, the column fell into limbo for the month of October (and technically the month of November), and during that hiatus, I was contacted on a near-daily basis by readers, through a host of channels (email, Twitter, Stereogum’s comment section) asking after the column and its future. I shared all that correspondence with Aaron, Wyatt, and Doug, and I can say without qualification that we were, to a man, humbled and moved.

This list of the 50 Best Metal Albums Of 2013 was initially intended to serve as the November edition of the Black Market, but for purposes of editorial consistency, it’s running in the second week of December, and for purposes of archival consistency, it’s not branded as “The Black Market.” But for the many readers who reached out to us, I want to make perfectly clear that this is the Black Market — same authors, same process — and assure you, too, that going forward, the column will run on the same monthly schedule we established in 2013, starting with a new edition in the last full week of December.

This list was compiled and written by me, Aaron, Wyatt, and Doug, and though there were more than 50 albums we loved this year, more than 50 albums that deserve to be included here, I think this list does a pretty good job of capturing 2013 — the best metal year of the millennium (so far). I don’t think 2014 can possibly top this, but I wouldn’t bet against metal surprising me, surpassing my expectations.

Our list kicks off here. Thanks as always for coming out, caring about this stuff, and doing this with us in 2013.

Comments (117)
  1. Deafheaven are more popular than Yeezus now.

  2. How does Pelican not make this list?

    • I won’t address all these types of comments individually, but will say this up here in response to the “why wasn’t [x] on the list?” queries: for whatever reason, the album in question didn’t get enough support in our balloting process. Obviously this left a lot of excellent records somewhere outside the top 50. But there were more than 50 excellent records in 2013 — it was a really good year!

  3. This sounds like the right spot to ask, but what was up with the complete disregard of the Dillinger Escape Plan’s One of Us Is the Killer with the press this year? Pitchfork didn’t even bother to review it. No mention of it on this list. It’s a great album, but it feels like there was an agenda not to cover them at all, and I don’t understand why that is, especially since they were — until this album — a smarter crossover metal act that would get attention in these pages. I think even Decibel stiffed them on their list. Is there some shit going on behind the scenes that has them blacklisted or something? Is it Greg Pucciato’s rock star transformation into a drug user with a porn star girlfriend? I don’t get it, or maybe I just don’t get metal.

    • I still haev respect for those guys because they’re capable of releasing an album such as Calculating Infinity. BUT…Irony is a Dead Scene made me want to vomit. There new stuff will probably be lame too. We’ll see.

    • they are on a few list on the more metal centric sites

    • THIS. THIS. THIS! It’s a shame that DEP have been so completely ignored by much of the non-metal centric music press, especially since One of Us Is the Killer is probably one of their best and most accessible records yet. It honestly feels like something of a potential breakthrough record for them, as it still keeps much of their intense craziness intact while distilling it into some of their most concise and well-written songs yet.

      Regardless, the list is still great (though KEN Mode could have been higher)

      • I’m probably the biggest DEP fan among the people who put this list together. Their run from the mini-LP up through Miss Machine is pretty much flawless IMO. But as they’ve become more poppy and less unhinged over the ensuing releases, they’ve ceased to move me. I respect what they’re doing; I just don’t like it as much as their older stuff.

      • I agree. DEP seems to have been ignored by almost every year end list I have seen on the internet. Such a shame and I think strange considering what I have seen on most list at this point.

  4. Scholar and a gentleman Nelson….

    I had both the Deafheaven and Inquisition albums in my top 15 multi-genre. Great great year for metal.

  5. The Gorguts album is immensely superior to Deafheaven and more or less every other album on this list IMO. I miss the days of being an extreme metal fanboy and posting on lambgoat.com/mb all day. Although not really.

    • No surprise Deafhaven would top the list – these kids have been creaming their pants over it all year. At least a lot of good albums, and far superior albums to Deafhaven made the list. But still, Colored Sands is the superior album this year – because no one but Gorguts can write an album like that and it is a bloody monster. I can’t say the same for Deafhaven, and I’m sure now loads of bands will be writing major scale black metal which will top next years “best” metal list here. So have fun with that.

  6. “…I left, irritated, before Deafheaven finished their set, before they played my favorite song from Sunbather, “The Pecan Tree.”"

    For some reason this line hit me the hardest in your Deafheaven write-up. Ya’ll know I’m no metal fan, but I am a music fan that attends A LOT of concerts. So knowing you left a show and missed your favorite song hits me in the feelies. Especially “The Pecan Tree”, which really is the greatest song on the album.

    It’s funny looking back at my comments from when the album first came out. I hadn’t even listened to the whole thing and was brimming with excitement (I hadn’t even heard “The Pecan Tree” yet). It did end up being one of my go-to summer albums, beating Yeezus to my car CD player more than once. I found myself rocking out like I was listening to Mogwai for the first time almost 10 years ago. It made my feelies feel good.

    I hope you catch them again Michael and get to hear that song. Even if it takes 6 years (like how long it took me to hear Interpol’s “Stella…” when they didn’t play it to a shit crowd in Dallas at my first show of theirs… but I digress) I hope you get to hear it live some day.

    Thanks again for championing Sunbather so hard! Even if it confused the fuck out of KiDCHAIR :)

    (Also: How To Dress Well did a mix recently called STAY THE NIGHT #8 where he mashes up “Irresistible” with “Freak U Down” Listening to it now, it’s pretty cool.)

  7. A really solid list but sad that “Vexovoid” from Portal isn’t on this list.

  8. Black Dahlia Murder, Skeletonwitch, and Revocation are all in my top 10 metal albums of the year. Bummed to not see them here.

  9. Weird how my high school band’s demo–which consisted of my cousin and I getting high in my parents’ basement and playing 2 sloppy Black Sabbath covers–never makes this list.

  10. Thank you for putting Grave Miasma in the top 10. So many “best of metal” lists on other sites completely ignored this brutal album.

    Hell, thanks for putting this whole list together and bringing metal to the indiesphere. It’s pretty fantastic coming to a site where I kind find both the new Behemoth video and the latest Morrissey gossip.

  11. Great list, although you guys obviously don’t like clean vocals (even the SubRosa write-up is a touch backhanded). Guys, singing is OK, it doesn’t ALL have to be black, death, thrash or whatever else. There is room for bands like ASG and Atlantean Kodex too.
    Itching to check out that Satan album.

    • Windhand and In Solitude are clean vox front to back, same w/ Uncle Acid and Pinkish Black. The new Darkthrone has a lot of clean vox. There’s some clean stuff on the Bolzer, VHOL, Woe, Sadgiqacea, and A Pregnant Light records. Lotsa clean singing! It’s definitely the minority tho.

      • BTW, not coming down on you guys. You know I got tons of love for what you do, Michael and you’re right that that there are a couple more melodic albums on here than I implied (although I wouldn’t put Woe of VHOL in that category), but I guess I’m just a sucker for some kinds of metal that maybe don’t get a lot of love in this day in age (Helloween and Stratovarius also had killer albums in 2013).

        • Carson, never thought you were coming down on us, it’s fun to talk about this stuff. Thanks for chiming in here all year.

          I’m gonna take this as an opportunity to thank everyone here for the kind words shared in this comments section. I’m truly humbled by it. I’d thank everyone individually, but it would make this comments section twice as long, and break up the flow of conversation, but to be clear: I’m reading every single one of these comments, and I am fucking floored. You guys rule.

    • Argus was another solid record with clean singing, along with Sinister Realm. Both were solid, but not necessarily amazing… hence their absence here. I was beyond excited for Atlantean Kodex after the first album became an instant trad classic, but the new one left me a little bit cold, sadly.

      I go into every year hoping for some amazing trad metal or non-terrible power metal (Blind Guardian!)–this year it came by way of Satan, and it is definitely worth hearing. Spun that on vinyl at a friend’s house this weekend and I think we had some new converts by the time it was through.

  12. “That also doesn’t happen at metal shows. That night, that bugged me a lot, and I left, irritated, before Deafheaven finished their set, before they played my favorite song from Sunbather, “The Pecan Tree.” In a very real and important way, metal, for me, is about community. And as much as I love Deafheaven, my community was not in the room that night.”

    This really bugs me. Are you saying Deafheaven isn’t metal?

    • No, he’s saying that Deafhaven doesn’t have metalhead fans.

    • What would bug me more is, are you really going to see the band or to be with the crowd? Seriously, who cares what people are in the crowd if they aren’t dangerous? Just go because you like the band. Leaving because of the crowd seems like a dumb thing to do.

      • I caught Deafheaven in LA and had the exact same reaction to the crowd. The issue with a band that’s getting sudden crossover attention from “mainstream” press sources is that you get an entire different type of audience, the type more interested in the buzz itself than the band or the actual music. LA is probably more prone to this than most places, but I assume NYC isn’t far off. A metal show thrives on a certain type of enthusiasm (even if it’s, um, misanthropic), or the sense of community Mike mentions in his writeup–the crowd I saw was more content to talk over the songs… something that shouldn’t even be possible at a metal show. I stand by Sunbather as an album, but I found the Deafheaven live experience frustrating almost entirely due to the crowd.

  13. I also liked All Pigs Must Die, Sandrider, and Russian Circles this year

  14. Do Grand Funk Railroad still constitute as metal?

  15. The Black Market became my go-to Metal reference this year, and I look forward to the column every month. Keep up the good work. For all the heady, genre-expanding exercises on the list (I’m listening to Oranssi Pazuzu right now, and can’t buy the record fast enough), most of my top favorites were more straightforward headbangers that fed my reptile brain.

    My List

    1. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed
    2. A Pregnant Light – Domination Harmony/ Stars Will Fall
    3. T.O.A.D. – Endless Night
    4. Carcass – Surgical Steel
    5. Exhumed – Necrocracy
    6. Deafheaven – Sunbather
    7. In Solitude – Sister
    8. Kvelertak – Meir
    9. Atlantean Kodex – The White Goddess
    10. SubRosa – More Constant than the Gods

    Other favorites: Anagnorisis, Ramming Speed, Ulcerate, oVo, Earthless, Kylesa, Inter Arma, Intronaut

  16. It’s a shame that Integrity – Suicide Black Snake didn’t make this list. It’s better then at least a few things on here. I guess the argument can be made that they are hardcore but they delve into metal territory enough to be here IMO.

  17. I would have also included Ulcerate, Portal, Blodsgard, Palms, and Watain.
    Also, new Peste Noire album is musically quite good, but the lyrics are just so stupid that I can’t in good conscience list it as one of my favorites. Has anyone else listened to it? Any thoughts?

    • Also – fucking good job guys, despite my kvetching about liking a couple of other albums, this list is sweet. I want to listen to all of the stuff I haven’t heard, can’t wait to do so even.

    • I spun it once off of youtube… I’m not sure how they distributed that record, but it never really popped up via the normal channels, which is why so many outlets probably ignored it. It was definitely interesting… just a wee batshit for my tastes. Definitely worth hearing, but I’m not sure if I’d pony up the bucks for that one, especially when the back catalog still exists and kicks so much ass.

      Good call on Ulcerate and Portal for sure–I know they just missed inclusion here by a few votes. (I need to hear this Blodsgard still…)

      • It definitely is batshit. It just surprised me that it was almost ignored given how good L’Ordure à L’État Pur is. In the last few months I’ve really been delving into their back catalogue, and it’s so good (La condi hu has probably become one of my favorite black metal songs period).

  18. I found Voivod’s ‘Target Earth’ to be a hugely exciting return to form this year, and absolutely loved Dan Mongrain’s performance on it.

    I cannot wait to explore the albums on this list I have not yet heard. Thank you.

  19. Heads up: the link to the “Hellhammer beat” article on IO is missing the “h” at the beginning of “http.”

  20. No Kacey Musgraves?

  21. When I saw this on Stereogum’s front page I was embarrassingly relieved — I was worried y’all had left for darker pastures.

    I don’t comment a ton, but an end of the year write-up seems like as good a place as any to tell you thanks, so… Thank you, M. Nelson! Your writing is consistently among the best in all of music, this 2013 intro/summary thing included. Big thanks to Aaron, Doug and Wyatt as well!

    I am looking forward to 2013′s final Black Market and to see what you guys introduce me to in 2014. Great list and great work.

  22. i dont know anything about metal, but i do know the name “wolves in the throne room” has to be the best metal name ever.

  23. I’ve got a lot in this list to listen to, but I thought Cthonic’s new album Bu Tik was really damn good…their best since Seediq Bale. Not sure how much love these guys really get in the metal community, but I really love em.

  24. METAAAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Is it just me, or does it seem kind of unfair/ironic that the #2 spot goes to Gorguts (totally deserved), Svart Crown slips in the 40 range (also great), yet Ulcerate get excluded altogether? The consensus seems to be that Vermis doesn’t quite top Destroyers of All, but come on, they’re the most obvious influence on the new Gorguts sound! Don’t they get a nod just for that!? Sigh.

    The top 2 choices are unimpeachable though – you’re doing God’s work, guys. Thanks for the year of thoughtful metal writing.

  26. Not putting Locrian’s Return to Annihilation on that list is a huge oversight.

  27. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  28. Where’s ANCIIENTS, Scale The Summit, The Modern Age Slavery, Soilwork, The Ocean, and Russian Circles. Bleh.

  29. Why are all of these sites failing to recognize one of the best albums of the year, Cult Of Luna’s Vertikal? I’d put that alongside Sunbather to be honest.

  30. Which reminds me, how in the hell was the Cassie mixtape included on the top 50 albums and AM and Comedown Machine not?

    It’s not like they each made a Dirty Work and they should be disowned. This is silliness.

    It’s silliness.

    YELLOW CROTCH SHOT GOT’CHA

  31. I realize this comment is late to the party, but I’ll weigh in:

    First, my gripe: I like black metal, too, but nowhere near enough for me to pull 75% of a “best metal albums of the year” from the subgenre. (If this warrants reply, Mr. Nelson–what has the independent music scene so enamored with black metal? I mean, it’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong–but there are so many other interesting things happening in metal that focusing so much on it doesn’t make sense to me. Granted, I’m just one man, but I can’t be the only one noticing the obvious bias.)

    Apart from that, this is a fantastic list–FAR more interesting than the main ‘gum “albums of the year” list. I think the Nails album is ranked far too low–it is, far and away, the best album on here. I’m not mad at the Deafheaven, though–I don’t think it’s worth all the jizz people seem to be spilling on it, but it’s pretty damn good. The Subrosa and Windhand albums were pretty solid, too.

    I’ll throw my hat in with the “Where’s Pelican?” crowd–they really returned to form this year. I’d also throw in the Jucifer album–which is my favorite metal album in years–but they’ve never seemed to get traction from the hipster crowd.

    • I can’t speak speak for the writers, but I think Black Metal has gotten more attention in places like Stereogum and Pitchfork because it shares more threads with the indie rock those sites were already covering. It’s pretty easy to draw a line from noisy lo-fi stuff to something like early Leviathan. The parallels between instrumental post-rock like Godspeed You! Black Emperor! and more expansive Black Metal acts like Wolves In the Throne Room also have a lot to do with it.

      Whats so strange to me is how coverage of heavier Rock n Roll has collapsed to the point where you load Pitchfork and see the albums reviewed that day are Bon Iver, Grimes, and Krallice. Its like Hard Rock has become an extinct evolutionary precedent to extreme Metal. I think that’s why bands like Torche and Baroness (who I both love) mostly get talked about in Metal columns, which wouldn’t been the case if they were around in the 1990s.

      • Darryl, I think that’s a question absolutely warranting a reply, and it frankly deserves more time than I can devote to it right now (though I’d like to come back to it …). I think Reese’s answer covers a lot of it. In the case of the Black Market specifically, I think there’s probably some institutional bias — I’m primarily a “black metal guy,” and have been for five years or so — but the causes for that are worth analyzing. If I don’t get to it in this comments section, I’ll try to do so in the next Black Market.

    • I think you can read it as a bias if you choose to, but it’s not necessarily that black and white. By my count we have 20 black metal albums on the list… with maybe another dozen or so that have a black metal influence. Granted, virtually every “black metal” release on here has major influences from other genres as well: Aksumite could as well be a noisy punk band, Ruins of Beverast is far more doom than black, etc. And then you’ve got “black metal bands” who didn’t make black metal albums, like Darkthrone (who made a straight up trad metal throwback) and Altar of Plagues (closer to industrial). If anything, I’d say our list tends to hone in on the hybrid bands mostly just because they’re often doing the most interesting stuff, and those bands have a tendency to draw from black metal slightly more often than other styles for whatever reason. FWIW, I’m a “death metal guy” (along with Doug, though I can’t speak for him), and I’m pretty stoked with the way this thing shook out.

      • Yeah, I’d say you’re right — I’m a death metal dude at heart, and as Mike’s intro pointed out, death metal more or less won out in 2013.

        • Yeah I mean part of this I sort of allude to in my Cara Neir blurb — black metal lends itself better to hybridization than death metal which is fairly static tonally (with some variance between subgenres). I think there’s a good balance of BM:DM institutionally as Wyatt and I tend toward black metal while you guys tend toward death metal, but I’m really the only one of the four of us who listens to stuff like Torche and Baroness or whatever, while Doug is the only one who listens to Gigan, etc.

          • So you’re saying that instead of just the resident metal guy, Stereogum needs a resident black metal guy, death metal guy, sludge metal guy, doom metal guy, trad metal guy, thrash metal guy, grind metal guy, pop metal guy etc? I would be in favor of that.

          • Honestly we all listen to just about all of it anyway, but our individual taste tends to shine through in the lower ranked entries on a list like this. If I hear good power metal, I’m more than happy to write about it, and the same goes for more mainstream metal stuff. That said, plenty of stuff gets passes over simply because it isn’t very good (I assume no one reading this site is clamoring for coverage of the new Pop Evil record, for example).

      • Okay, I exaggerated a tad (sorry, I didn’t bother to count simply because it wasn’t that big of a deal). But a clean 40% of a “best-of” list is still pretty considerable. I wasn’t hating–again, I enjoy black metal, too–but rather felt that other forms of metal (outside black or death) are somewhat underrepresented here. Again, I still think it’s a great list.

        I think Reese brings up the best points, though–particularly about how heavier rock seems to have vanished everywhere outside of dedicated metal circles. Torche and Baroness (/Kylesa, Pelican, et al) at least get the nod. I was downright SHOCKED when Helms Alee–a band that has consistently pulled great reviews and accolades from scene darlings like Torche, Isis, and the Melvins–finally managed to scrape some Pitchfork coverage this year.

        While I also see the point re: connective threads, I do respectfully disagree. I’ve always informally speculated the affectation intrinsic to black metal makes it easier for so-called “indie” type (although I’m not fond of the term “indie,” primarily because it’s been bandied about so wantonly that it hardly has any meaning any longer). As with hip-hop, the zeitgeist gravitates toward the ostentatious and theatrical because it’s easier to consider said musicians as Others, keeping them somewhat marginalized. To put it another way; it’s easier to accept something as extreme as black metal because it’s so far along the other end of the spectrum that people can look at it as a caricature.

        I’m going off on a tangent that I’m entirely too mentally fatigued to continue with any competence. Thanks to everyone for their pleasant, unexpectedly constructive replies.

        Oh–and Michael, I always meant to thank you for covering Hydra Head’s demise. I shed a tear when they went under and would have been pissed if Stereogum hadn’t mentioned it.

  32. As someone who has always been more partial to death than black, 2013 has been an awesome year for me as far as metal goes. Great to see Hail of Bullets and TOAD getting nods. Inter Arma and Windhand in the top 10 plus an Iron Reagan mention makes this Richmonder happy, too!

  33. Cleric would have made a fine addition as well.

  34. four albums should have made it 3 of them have been mentioned: portal, ulcerate and russian circles. there has been no mention of obliteration’s uber amazing black death horizon! that album gets into my top five any music list.

  35. i totally forgot skagos too!

  36. good list, with some interesting stuff to check out. my picks: Inter Arma, Voivod, Kvelertak, Castevet, Windhand, Vhol, Lumbar, Pelican, Clutch, Vista Chino, Lycus, Uncle Acid, Deafheaven, Earthless, Kylesa.

  37. Definitely one of the better metal lists I’ve seen so far this year – and glad to see that order has been restored to the world, i.e. Windhand isn’t 31 spots ahead of Carcass like it was on the main list! :)

    • Yeah, the Windhand album is great, but more like “these guys are going to be so good when they write a whole album at this level” good, not “this incredibly solid doom record is far better than the best death metal record of the last decade” good.

      • Speaking of incredibly solid doom records, I’m a little surprised that I haven’t been seeing the Avatarium album on more best-of lists (not just here, but in general). I guess maybe it gets overlooked because it’s more straightforward or “traditional” (for lack of a better word) doom, as opposed to something a little more unorthodox like Subrosa, but what a great album – just massive riffs, and the singer is incredible. I definitely like it better than the Windhand album (and maybe even Subrosa).

  38. Am I the only one that thinks Tribulation’s “The Formulas Of Death” is the best album of the year? Did it seemingly come out of nowhere to blow my mind, making my perception overblown? Did it get lost in the avalanche of awesome this year? I eagerly await answers to these questions. I simply cannot believe how fecking incredible this album is…

    You guys do an absolutely phenomenal job with the metal. I want everyone to hear this album!

  39. Nothing from Nuclear War Now! ? Losers.

  40. Been listening to that Nails release for a couple of days now. Unrelenting brutality.

  41. I dont wanna get too deep into the “Why was x left of, WTF??”… but Im pretty surprised that Anciients is getting left off most year end lists. I thought that was one of the strongest debuts in a while and in a few years these guys will be challenging the likes of Baroness and Mastodon for top dog. Truly great song/riff writing, epic proportions and can add a few catchy as hell choruses to chant along with. Where is the love or am I just missing something…

  42. Can someone PLEASE explain this to me:

    Why does metal get its own list in all these music publications? I mean dont get me wrong, I love a solid metal only list for my year, but why dont we then see some metal in the “best albums list” also. I personally have Watain right next to Atoms for Peace on my list. Both great “albums” right? Even Rolling Stones just posted their top metal albums of the year, with Deafheaven at numero uno… but I dont see Deafheaven on their “top albums list”. As the best metal album, does it still not compare to the top 50 albums in the rest of the genres? I dont see anyone doing “Top hiphop albums” and then leaving Kanye West off their top albums list. Please someone help me out…

    • We had Deafheaven, Gorguts, Carcass, Windhand, and Kvelertak on our sitewide top 50. This just gives us an opportunity to talk about a lot more metal deserving of mention.

      • This is also the culmination of (basically) two months worth of the Black Market, so this list is in lieu of what would have been a regular monthly feature.

      • I think thats good! At least you guys are doing it. But I dont get why others do it though… Metal is always treated as a genre that other listeners dont get, which is true. But at least if Rolling Stone is going to pose that they suddenly love metal, include Deafheaven on your top 50 albums list also.

    • The Rolling Stone list doesn’t even have Surgical Steel . . . :-/
      I understand that every list can’t list every good album, but it seems to me like a pretty huge omission

  43. The VHOL debut is definitely my most spun record of ’13, followed by Surgical Steel and Deafheaven.
    Great list fella’s, just sinking my teeth into all the unfamiliar territory now.

  44. I’m really glad that The Black Market is back
    I’ve been looking forward to reading it every month since it started and when it didn’t appear in October, I was really hoping that it was a temporary omission.
    You cover some bands that I wasn’t aware of before and I’ve discovered a bunch of great bands because of you guys, so I’m grateful for that.
    I’ll keep reading each month and I’m excited to see what you’ll have for us in 2014! Thanks!

    • Also, a technical suggestion: I’d love it if I could add The Black Market to my RSS feed.
      I won’t add stereogum as a whole because it’s just too many article coming in for me to deal with
      But I’d love to be notified when a specific column (in this case,The Black Market) comes up
      Anyway, just a suggestion !

  45. Ass To Mouth’s upcoming release is going to be a top tenner next year. Look for it in February.

    This year I liked:

    Fisting Fest
    Fart Breather
    Smegma Spunk Spool

    All awesome, all the time!

  46. I’ve never paid much attention to Stereogum before this, but this is fantastic. The writing and interaction with the community on here is unreal. Consider me a new dedicated follower!

    Great list, too. I’m also a bit sad about the lack of Ulcerate, but I’m discovering quite a number of new things from this that are really hitting home.

    Is there anything in 2014 in particular that you guys are looking forward to hearing?

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      The new Triptykon record comes out in April, which should rule. Woods of Desolation has a great one coming out in January, which I expect we’ll be covering soon. And then two from Profound Lore coming in early 2014: the long-delayed (and well worth the wait) Avichi record, as well as Artificial Brain which is… mindblowing. Fans of the weirder, organic/tech records of 2013 will love this thing. Think new Gorguts, Ulcerate, and Castevet rolled into one. The year is off to a good start before it begins!

      • Ooh, I’ll keep an eye out! Thanks a lot, Aaron. And I’ll be sure to follow you guys for more metal stuff. :) I’m still going through the ones I missed and I’m pretty impressed.

  47. Guys, from my heart, thanks for all your hard work this year. You guys (and Decibel) are my go-to for new metal and you’ve turned me on to countless classics this year (and I discovered a bunch more off your list just now). I went through withdrawal with no Black Markets the last two months, but it was worth it for this list.

    Would you indulge a few of my favorites that didn’t make your Top Ten?:

    Kylesa – Ultraviolet (my album of the year)
    Corsair – Corsair
    Ancient Vvisdom – Deathlike
    Year Of The Goat – Angel’s Necropolis
    Anciients – Heart Of Oak
    Coliseum – Sister Faith
    ASG – Blood Drive
    Lesbian – Forestelevision
    Tribulation – Formulas of Death
    Noctum – Final Sacrifice

    Seriously, how awesome is metal? Glad to be in the brotherhood with you guys. You keep it fun.

  48. …do you actually listen to metal or did you just copy paste the top sellers off itunes tagged under metal?

  49. Upon reading this comment, I decided to actually go to iTunes to see what the top-selling metal albums of 2013 were, and compare it to our list above. They are:

    1. Deafheaven – Sunbather
    2. Amon Amarth – Twilight Of The Gods
    3. Carcass – Surgical Steel
    4. Gorguts – Colored Sands
    5. Death Angel – The Dream Calls For Blood
    6. Pelican – Forever Becoming
    7. Kylesa – Ultraviolet
    8. Watain – The Wild Hunt
    9. Cult Of Luna – Vertikal
    10. Exhumed – Necrocracy

    Three of those were on our list. If anything we are UNDER REPRESENTING iTunes best sellers.

  50. Do you guys have any websites that you pay attention to? Your collective taste is great, but I have no idea what alerted you to 70% of this music! I’m still going through the top 50, and this is only the first time I’ve heard of some of this stuff. What’s a good source?

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