You can see my picks for numbers 20 through 16 here. (If you're a fan of Avenged Sevenfold, prepare to be butthurt.)
#15: Chimaira - "Crown of Phantoms"
Everything could have gone wrong with this album.
Mark Hunter, is the lead vocalist and only original member of Chimaira. This album could have easily been a guy going through the motions with a bunch of scrubs backing him up.
Instead, what we got was one of the most inspired albums in the Chimaira catalog.
Song after song, Crown of Phantoms, proves that much like a 1969 Corvette doesn't become any less classic with a few improvements under the hood, the Chimaira brand and band is still a force to be reckoned with, no matter who's backing up Mr. Hunter.
There's a reason that so many modern bands imitate these guys.
#14: Watain - "The Wild Hunt"
I'll be the first to admit that I find Black Metal to be a very acquired taste. I can get with the vocals, the song structures, and the subject matter.
The one thing I have trouble getting past is Black Metal's gawd-awful production values. In a day and age when a teenager can produce a high quality sounding record in his or her bedroom, there's no excuse for a band's album sounding like it was recorded in a shipping container.
Note to Black Metal bands. This is NOT an acceptable place to make a record!That's what makes Watain's "The Wild Hunt" such a breath of fresh air. It has all of the good things about Black Metal without the trash can production. Make no mistake about it, Erik Danielsson and Co.'s latest work has much more than Black Metal to offer your ears. Watain has always been a bit more esoteric than their Black Metal brethren and "The Wild Hunt" is no exception. In addition to Black Metal blasts...
PHOTO CREDIT: By steve gibson from Airlie Beach, Australia (shipping containers) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
you'll find lush soundscapes, engaging lyrics, and *GASP*, clean vocals!
That's right. Clean vocals.
Step up your game, Black Metal. Watain did, big time.
(One more quick note Black Metal note. Regarding Deafheaven's "Sunbather" getting love on every other Top Whatever of 2013 list... Look I get it, their sound is cool, but frankly Alcest, and God Speed You! Black Emperor did that sound better and first. Do your freaking homework.)
#13: Carcass - "Surgical Steel"
Much like Black Sabbath and Chimaira earlier in the list, a lot could have gone wrong with this album.
Their last album, 1996's "Swansong " wasn't exactly universally loved. Could a bunch of guys who hadn't written together in over a decade really bring it like they did in their "Symphonies of Sickness " or even "Heartwork " days?
Hell yes, they can bring it!
Wicked, blistering riffs, college-level reading comprehension lyrical content, and an energy that sounds like it was coming from a bunch of kids fresh out of the garage.
Carcass is back. Let's hope we don't have to wait 17 years for the next album.
#12: The Black Dahlia Murder - "Everblack"
As a Wisconsinite, it pains me to write this.
This is Michigan's year.
The Lions and Tigers don't suck (for a change).
Pop Evil is one of the biggest rock bands of the year.
And The Black Dahlia Murder proved that American Death Metal is still a force to be reckoned with.
Featuring a brand new rhythm section "Everblack" is punishing, relentless, and confirmation that no matter how many Warped Tours they play on, The Black Dahlia Murder is a DEATH METAL BAND.
Lead vocalist, Trevor Strnad, is a student of the game. This guy has enough Death Metal CDs to build a fortress out of them. At this point though, Strnad and Co. have the qualifications to teach.
#11: Killswitch Engage - "Disarm the Descent"
KSE's first album since "Alive or Just Breathing" to feature original lead vocalist Jesse Leach could have been an awkward, "these guys are still feeling each other out" affair.
Instead, the band sounds as killer as ever.
Bands who alternate clean and harsh vocals are a dime a dozen these days, but I'll be damned if KSE doesn't sound fresh as hell doing it.
In an era where there are a million bands trying to sound like tough guys, I have to give bonus points to KSE for dropping a song like "Always" on the album too:
Howard Jones was a big part of the KSE sound during his tenure, but I have to say, I'm pretty stoked about the band's future with Jesse Leach back on vocals.
So, butthurt that I poked fun at Black Metal's terrible production values?
Still mad that I made fun of Avenged Sevenfold ?
Completely agree with everything I typed (you genius, you)?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, and check in later for the next part of the Countdown!
*In addition to making A7X fans feel butthurt, "Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest Communications. You can Book Face with him here .
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