Articles : Anwar Rizk’s Best Albums of 2013
This year has been fantastic for heavy metal. I’ve found it extremely difficult to put together a list of my top albums without going back moments later and procrastinating over which albums need to go where on my list. To make things simpler this year, I’ve decided to just put all my top albums in no particular order. Every band on the list below has created something special, and it becomes increasingly difficult to stick to just one list without going back for a second or third opinion.
It has also been insanely good for tours. Australia has seen an solid array of local and international bands tour the country, many of whom toured for the first time ever, including; Kamelot, Amorphis, Sabaton, Korpiklaani, Kadavar, Sirenia and Stratovarious. The local touring front seems to get better each year. Bigger shows and bigger line-ups mean a great diversity of music for connoisseurs of heavy metal and alternative music.
As the new year approaches, I look forward to another amazing year of tours and new albums.
Without further ado…
Harlott – Origin
Melbourne’s Harlott have released one of the strongest and most organic thrash metal albums this country has ever heard. The sheer intensity and outstanding production of this album is just phenomenal. The album captures a fantastic blend of European and American thrash metal influences. Imagine Testament, Warbringer and Kreator conceiving a love child. The final outcome would be this album. Pure thrash metal fueled anthems from start to finish with absolutely no filler whatsoever. I strongly urge everyone to pick up a copy of this album. You will not be disappointed!
Check out: “Export Life”
Italian thrash metal quartet newcomers, Ultra-Violence, are from the new generation of thrash metal. Their debut album encompasses a tough as nails approach which will satisfy lovers of old school thrash with technicality and audio fidelity to boot. Ultra-Violence have created a definitive thrash metal album with a perfect blend of influences of North American, South American and German thrash metal juggernauts. This album maybe a little hard to come by in Australia, but is definitely worth the hunt. Featuring a Clockwork Orange inspired illustration by famed thrash metal artist, Ed Repka. This album sticks out like dog balls.
Check out: “Beast Behind Your Back”
Since 2009 Stratovarius have been releasing some amazing albums. With the addition of new bassist, Lauri Porra and guitarist, Matias Kupiainen, who has pretty much taken over Timo Tolkki’s duties of engineering and production, as well as guitars, plus the introduction of the band’s newest drummer, Rolf Pilve last year. The group have created a symphonic power metal masterpiece with their new album, ‘Nemesis’ If you’re a sucker for inspirational songs, dense layering of keyboards and atmosphere from famed keyboardist Jens Johansson, plus Timo Kotipelto’s trademark voice. You will definitely have fun with this album.
Check out: “Fantasy”
Finnish swamplords Kalmah return to their melodic death metal roots with the release of their brand new album, ‘Seventh Swamphony’. While their previous album, ’12 Gauge’ was more thrash inspired, ‘Seventh Swamphony’ is a solid return to form. The album has a great blend of jaunty folk tunes, melodic anthems, black metal inspired blast beats, and dueling keyboards and guitar solos with a big emphasis on production. Each song is jammed packed like an over-sized Subway sandwich. Each bite is more fulfilling than the last.
Check out: “Seventh Swamphony”
Australia doesn’t have much of a cultural history in mythology or paganism. However, we do have a long and rich tradition of slavery, violence and alcoholism. All of which play a vital role in traditional folk metal. After the worldwide success of bands like Alestorm, Amon Amarth, Fintroll and Eluveitie. Australia has been trying to tap the folk metal market with less than average success. The only band to truly capture the folk/melodic death mash up is Perth’s Claim the Throne. The band release one of their strongest albums to date with a rich palette of folk metal hymns with song inspired by war, drinking and debauchery. The word epic gets used to much in metal these days, but it’s honestly the only word to describe this album.
Check out: “A Grand Destruction”
Tom Angelripper and company continue to focus their energy on creating a genuine Teutonic thrash metal album. Celebrating new and old thrash metal influences (more the latter) with a generous dose of aggressive lyrics and balls to the wall riffage. If you’re one of those thrash metal fans who are disgruntled at the recent efforts of American thrash metal bands Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica and have yet to experience German’s rich tradition of Teutonic thrash metal. I strongly suggest you check out Sodom, Kreator and Destruction.
Check out: “Stigmatized“
Gloryhammer is a new project from Christoper Bowes, the mastermind behind Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm. The album is jammed packed with cheesy and epic metal arrangements which engross the listener in a epic fantasy story of sword and sorcery. With the addition of vocalist, Thomas Winkle, the album is a breath of fresh air in the power metal movement. If you’re fan of Rhapsody of Fire, HammerFall and Dragonforce, ‘Tales from the Kingdom of Fife’ will mostly certainly have a place in your growing power metal collection.
Check out: “The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee”
‘Halo of Blood’ is a refreshing Children of Bodom album that manages to maintain the band’s melodic death familiarity with a great diversity in evolution. This is definitely one of the band’s strongest releases in recent years and will definitely convince many to see them on tour in Australia in 2014.
Check out: “Transference“
It was quite an honour to see Powerwolf perform live at Wacken this year in front of 85,000 metal heads. A few days prior to their Wacken performance the band’s new album, ‘Preachers of the Night’, reached number 1 in the German music charts. The album plays like a metal opera, drifting in and out of German and English tracks which were made to be played live. A great blend of atmosphere, drama and theatrics blend extremely well with the power of vocalist, Attila Dorn.
Check out: “Amen & Attack”
There is no denying that Arjen Lucassen has created another metal opera masterpiece. ‘The Theory of Everything’ features a stellar cast of musicians, singers and a compelling story to boot. To truly appreciate this album, I strongly suggest putting on a good pair of headphones, turning off all distractions and let yourself drift off to a journey of self discovery.
Check out: “The Theory of Everything”
Airbourne continue Australia’s rich tradition of hard rock heritage with the likes of AC/DC and Rose Tattoo. ‘Black Dog Barking’ is a by-the-numbers hard rock release with all the trimmings of a top notch production. Hard, fast and head banging rock anthems are all trademarks of this release. Airbourne are one of those bands that sound amazing digitally, but blow people away on the live front. I just wish they would tour their own country more.
Check out: “Live It Up”
I don’t think I really need to say much here. This album is just amazing. If you haven’t had the opportunity to listen to this album. I strongly suggest you stop what you’re doing and buy this album immediately. This album is pure genius!
Check out: “Unfit for Human Consumption”
Amorphis deliver another amazing progressive metal masterpiece. ‘Circle’ is just beautiful from begin to end. Captivating its audience with a rich story of human survival. Tomi Joutsen’s voice encompasses angelic and demonic qualities and fits amazingly well in the band’s long and rich history of Finnish progressive metal.
Check out: “Hopeless Days”
Mason are another fine example of Melbourne’s acclaimed thrash metal movement. The band tip their influential hats to the pioneers of thrash while incorporating their own unique dynamics and well crafted production. Yet another great example of a band sounding great on CD and amazing on the live front.
Check out: “Warhead”
While some people found this album to be directed more towards a mainstream audience with its radio friendly appeal. The album shows a great progression. With only two albums behind them, Ghost have captivated a world audience with their mysterious stage presences that mimics the Roman Catholic Church, but obviously reversed to worship Satan. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs there is no denying that Ghost’s new album, ‘Infestissumam’ is a masterpiece from start to finish.
Check out: “Ghuleh/Zombie Queen”
Orpheus Omega have grown from strength to strength. They’re one of the hardest working metal bands in Australia. Their new album, ‘ResIllusion’ is another prime example of Australia’s great heavy metal talent heading in the right direction. They have built a solid reputation in Australia and are slowly spreading their melodic death groove across the planet with each passing day. I have nothing but high praise for this album and this amazing band.
Check out: “Resillusion”
‘Digital Lies’ is an album layered with variety. Every song is different, constantly keeping the listeners on his or her toes. It’s hard to categorize LORD when they encompass so many genres of heavy metal and alternative music. One minute you’ll be head banging to a thrash/power number, and the next minute you’ll be serenaded with a melodic and soulful piece. The groups mastermind, Lord Tim has set the bar yet again on the production side of things. Creating an atmospheric and powerful metal release that will definitely please all metal heads, no matter their taste in sound or style.
Check out: “Betrayal Blind”
This album is harsh and oozes with retro 80′s thrash appeal. Toxic Holocaust have stuck to a common formula that works! By no means is Joel Grind trying to reinvent the wheel, but he sure has hell knows how to make it sound good and refreshing.
Check out: “Acid Fuzz”
Bane of Winterstorm have truly redefined power metal in Australia. ‘The Last Sons of Perylin’ is simply amazing! The complexity of each song and arrangements of musicians have truly set the bar for not only for future power metal releases in this country, but international as well. There is no denying that ‘The Last Sons of Perylin’ is one of the most amazingly constructed albums I have ever heard.
Check out: “The Magic of Mithrens Ring”
The Amenta – Flesh Is Heir
Dark Tranquillity – Construct
Phil Anselmo and The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only
Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live
Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Sirenia – Perils of the Deep Blue
Ashes of Ares – Ashes of Ares
Nightwish – Showtime, Storytime
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