The time has come. Everyone talks about how great the aging year was and how many great albums were released, then presenting their...

AOTY 2013: Top 20 Albums

The time has come.

Everyone talks about how great the aging year was and how many great albums were released, then presenting their personal favourites and move on. I stumbled upon all kinds of quality music this year and I will keep a number of records under daily listen if possible, for quite some time. However, I don't see why Sunbather, Colored Sands, Teethed Glory and Injury are so great that you guys couldn't grasp a breath while listening to them. I could not get very much into any of these, so don't expect them high in this list at all. 


20. Pensees Nocturnes - Nom D'une Pipe!
Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions

Vaerohn is a crazy genius and his music never fails to amuse me. Originally starting as a depressive black metal band, I'm personally glad that he turned it into something of his own completely, and the levels of the avant-garde chemical are over the top with this one too. Like the music of a sick classical composer, who has gone crazy from his art and adds up more influences and madness, he discovers hallucinating drugs and expands his notions to the borders of the earth. Into the corridors of that miserable guy's mind, Nom D'une Pipe! Was born. If you like French, howls, weird sounds, dancing and crying, celebrating or all together, this is for you. If you want new but strangely original stuff, the ones you're a bit baffled when you listen to the first time, this is definitely for you.

19. Obliteration – Black Death Horizon
Indie Recordings

[Under churning magma]
I knew this band from their first two albums, but it wasn't until this one that they finally achieved to rip my head off with their unbelievable music. They have slowly been getting darker and more old school, by now we have a special, one of a kind type of aggressive death metal, in the veins of the early mammoth groups as well as their own visionary ideas. This album is crushing and makes the underground world tremble as it unfolds. Building a thick as a wall atmosphere with haunting riffs (and great shouting vocals), Black Death Horizon is a cutthroat album with top-notch tracks, one by one.

18. Katalepsy - Autopsychosis
Unique Leader Records

[In a frenzy of despair]
I prefer clear sounding albums in brutal death metal. I often can't stand shitty albums with shitty production, under a very good, post-apocalyptic gore cover. Therefore, I prefer bands like the new Pathology and Ingested (in your face goregrind fans), and Autopsychosis is a brilliant demonstration of the particular brutality. When I first listened to this earlier this year, I was more impressed than I was with the latest Abominable Putridity album, it's that good. I really enjoy the technicality of the guitars, which includes small bits of shredding as well as groovy / breakdown parts, while not completely abandoning the patterns of the bands debut (significantly different than this). The drums are amazing as well and the vocals vary from stomach growls to regular death metal singing. As far as I'm concerned, Katalepsy are one of the brightest rising stars of the Russian BDM scene.

17. Svartsyn - Black Testament
Agonia Records

[This temple is cold]
I like each new record of this band more than the previous and I believe it has done major progress since it first started two decades ago, something that doesn't happen everyday, really. A reliable and honest artist like Ornias is one of these guys that think very highly of the scene's attitude and ideology, that's why he has kept himself away from too much attention all these years, silently releasing entertaining albums, with Black Testament being my favorite so far. His characteristic song writing and wailing screams, together with legit production and smart ideas are once again great to experience and I could choose some delightful stand out tracks like “Revelation in the Waters”, “Carving a Temple” and “Venom of the Underworld”. For people comparing them with Watain, you won't see their new album anywhere near this twenty album list, so I guess this year goes to Svartsyn. Don't get me wrong though, I enjoy both bands. Yes, I do.

16. Church of Misery – Thy Kingdom Scum
Rise Above Records

[Torture never stops]
I forward the phrase “Whatever you do, there's an Asian that does it better” to every new stoner rock / metal band around the world, since Church of Misery are the absolute shit and should dominate the scene. Firstly, they have an amazing, never ending concept (stories about serial killers and their crimes), something I love reading and watching about, let alone listening to it. Not to mention that it's way more serious than weed loving messages, as if raggae was not enough for the job. Apart from that, they have been throwing some of the filthiest, heaviest, grooviest riffs all these years and this album is no difference. Listen to the tracks “Brother Bishop” and “Lambs to the Slaughter” to get what I mean. The psychedelic synth keyboard is present in Thy Kingdom Scum again and there is a short jam section at the end of the album, in Peter Kurten's track. These guys have balls of steel.

15. Carcass - Surgical Steel
Nuclear Blast

[You're no gods warrior]
Lot's of bands broke through with a comeback this year, but none has been discussed so much. Die hard fans have been waiting for 17 years and that's even longer and harder than Necrophagist, how about that? Carcass abandoned the world with Swansong that was supposed to be the last, becoming huge in popularity back then. As for me, I didn't have to wait that much and I'm not the biggest fan of the band either, so this was just a big record to wait for, but I can speak for everyone, it was worth the patience. They show how men create melodic death metal and their color has not faded away yet, bringing out some really entertaining lines once again. The production is ultra polished of course, very nice order bundles were taken care of Nuclear Blast, a lot of promotion has been spent on them, it would be a huge blunder but not with Carcass. I'm glad they're back, go check “Captive Bolt Pistol”, “A Concealed Clot of Blood”, “The Master Butcher's Apron”, “Thrasher's Abattoir”.

14. In Vain – Ænigma
Indie Recordings

[I have fled from true serenity]
Musical splendor! My favorite album by this band and they have finally come to confirm that they can write a masterpiece, full of adrenaline and emotion. The compositions have a wonderful variety of progressive and melodic death metal, they are insightful and well written, while the musicianship is astonishing. Wonderful vocals, both the growls and the cleans, nice melodic guitar lines and accompanying drums / bass, fused into a blender of modernity and elegance, right on time. The album is almost an hour long and I promise you won't get bored, even if you don't like clean singing in your music (like me), for all these patterns of sounds might as well blow your mind. Even though every song is near perfect, “Image of Time” has stuck into my head and my music player since the day the album came out. What an amazing song, and what an amazing album.

13. Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam
Nuclear Blast

[Burning, searing, putrid air]
At first listen, I was a bit disappointed with this album, since it reminded me of lame metalcore at some points. How wrong I was! Pinnacle of Bedlam, delivered by one of the most beloved bands in the scene, is heavy, brutal and very enjoyable to the last song. Mullen leans more towards distinguishable words than guttural singing and he does a great job, while the guitar lines, made of nice riffs and solos, are remarkable. I lost them a bit after their return in 2004 and reconnected with Blood Oath, but I enjoy this one even more so I think it's the best best album they have released in the last ten years. No complaints about anything, remarks to the musicianship and the outcome, recommended tracks are “Eminent Wrath”, “As Grace Descends”, “Rapture of Revocation” . If it's too polished for you, go back to your cave.

12. Oranssi Pazuzu – Valonielu
Svart Records

[The voices ascend]
Valonielu elucidates how talent and originality can create an astonishing piece of art, in any form of art, as well as music. It is fairly reasonable that Oranssi Pazuzu have not reprinted the pure and raw style of their country's scene like Behexen, Sargeist or Horna, so don't expect this kind of black metal here. It is more psychedelia and less metal with bits of science fiction and drugs, a legit sound and a ridiculous assortment of concepts. Influenced by unrelated bands, this musical hodgepodge is to be played and replayed until reality can't be distinguished from dreams and matter is no more.” Quoting a great review.

11. Falkenbach – Åsa
Prophecy Productions

[For I the storms evoke]
Another long-living, steady and solid throughout the years one man project. Falkenbach are quite known in the black / viking / folk metal scene, with two incredible releases in the late nineties that established their name since then, being a strong influence on other bands as well. When it comes to the new album, I did not expect anything less than beautiful atmosphere, interesting compositions, great subject and a general medieval and dreamy feeling. Vratyas Vakyas never used too many instruments for his own good and he kept it that way with Asa, creating an organic sound mainly out of acoustics and distortion. This actually feels like nature, you do think of mountain pics and rivers while listening to it, it's not anything internet made, fake pagan bubbles. I was impressed with the vocals, as the cleans are really melodic while the screams are harsh, but not too harsh so that they would destroy the atmosphere. From the last four albums of Falkenbach, this is the one I enjoy the most. Recommended tracks: “Eweroun”, “I Nattens Stilta”, “Ufirstanan Folk”.

10. Aosoth – IV: Arrow In Heart
Agonia Records

[Temple of Knowledge]
France is a rising power in the metal scene. Numerous ass kicking bands are lurking around, alive and breathing, as we speak. Always planning for new spells to cast in the underground scene, always aiming to surpass expectations. Aosoth are no newcomers to black metal, I see them as the continuation of Antaeus, all driven by the mind of MkM, a great artist and a great musician. The new album depicts their maturity as a band and their immense song writing skills, it's the demonstration of pure talent and vision in the genre and deserves more than your time and money. Definitely the cleanest Aosoth album, under an excellent cover art, it contains thick guitar tones and hypnotic ambiance, chanting samples, pummeling drums and a cold, tortured voice all over them, just to add to the despair. An Arrow In Heart is surely what it's title states, high quality black metal that has nothing to be jealous of other huge bands of it's country.

9. Exhumed – Necrocrasy
Relapse Records

[Voracious Hungering]
I had a chance to listen to this album the same day I got the new Carcass album Surgical Steel, so I thought it was a great day for death metal, and I knew it would be a dilemma to choose which album I would like more. Necrocrasy grew on me more with time and it turned out to be one of the best death metal releases of 2013 for me, and they proved again how the years work on their favor instead of the other way around. I believe Exhumed of 2011 – 2013 are way better than the early Exhumed and their new album is intense, heavy and by all means massive. It has it's spectacular production, there is less grindcore and more modern death metal, which is why some people may believe they went mainstream and shit... Who cares! This is a really cool album that rips coast to coast, with classy guitars and bass and superb vocals.

8. Carpe Noctem - In Terra Profugus
Code666 Records

After Svartidauði, I decided to look into Iceland more and I found out some diamond bands from there. Carpe Noctem are in the same pace, only more unique in a way, avoiding the Deathspell Omega clone trap. Killer music from the depths of nothingness, indulge here.

7. Svart Crown – Profane
Listenable Records

[Virus. Human]
When I listened to Witnessing the Fall, the second album by this French black / death metal band, I didn't imagine they would make such progress only three years later. I fell in love with it when I first saw this demonic cover, it warmed my thoughts for tasting every bit of it's content. The chaotic but meticulous sound of Profane is brilliant, the effort of each band member should not go unnoticed, since it's obvious how hard they worked and how much they believe in what they do. Read more about it here.

6. Blood Red Throne - Blood Red Throne
Sevared Records

[Screaming for mercy]
Blood Red Throne are one of my favourite death metal bands. I discovered them quite early, when I first started listening to the genre and haven't been let down since. I'm not sure if I can be completely objective with them, but I think it's one of their best albums so far and my personal favorite of the genre, nearly flawless and by all means splendid. The band has got a new singer named Bolt and I think he improved the overall sound of the album with his monstrous growls and high screams. The structure and the weight of the album are more than strong and stable, flowing nicely as the brutality is taking control of the speakers during it's thirty five minutes of length. Norwegians have the Midas Touch in any extreme metal genre, as it seems.

5. Fyrnask – Eldir Nótt
Temple of Torturous

Okay, I did not know this band. Fyrnask come from Germany and this is their second full length album, a follow up of Bluostar, which was released in 2011 and got good markings. However, Eldir Nótt takes them to a whole different level, since it's ritualistic nature, it's musical variety and depth, it's accuracy and capacity clearly show potential and talent into this guy, Fyrnd. Behind a simplistic, enigmatic cover, lies a dark and powerful musical synthesis that will captivate anyone who dares to step into it's void, with it's droning melodies, sounds and the murky atmosphere. The album lasts almost an hour and each tracks goes around ten minutes, so brace yourselves, this is not a typical atmospheric black metal band. The whole record is like one long coven ceremony, built on second wave Norwegian black metal riffs, death worshiping ambiance, whispers and funeral bells. The calm moments of the album, combined with the intensity of the black metal parts and the peculiar, dim samples and sounds, are like a crossing of traditional Norwegian and modern USBM, but still staying as original as possible. You know this is Fyrnask when you listen to it, and it's a thrilling experience.

4. Monarque – Lys Noir
Sepulchral Productions

[Calling the night]
Stunningly beautiful atmospheric black metal, with a variety and a character, coming from one of the best acts out of Canada. Monarque is not an one man project anymore and the addition of new members brought more characteristics in their music, which now has an organ, acoustic parts, heavily atmospheric lines, creating a piece of delicate and exquisite compositional work that gives them a huge heads up, compared to other average albums of the year. The sound and the musicianship are brilliant and the cover artwork is damn artistic, making the album a complete success in any way. Full review here.

3. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
Peaceville Records

[All systems fail, organic doom]
First of all, I'm gonna state that I respect Darkthrone's career very much. Even though I don't completely dig their punk black era, they have been a precious part of the underground scene and what it stands for, also being one of the most important and influential bands in black metal. When the artwork of this album was released last year, in the first announcement of Darkthrone coming with a new album, I thought that it would be one more FOAD or something like that, so there were mixed feelings (the cover is indeed amazing though). However, listening to it filled me with excitement, as The Underground Resistance is to me the true spirit of underground heavy metal, with the proper shape, sound and above all, elegance. Tracks like “Leave No Cross Unturned”, “The Ones You Left Behind” and “Dead Early” are loud anthems, appropriate for all metal jacket freaks out there. Decidedly, my favorite of the new Darkthrone.

2. Inquisition – Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
Season of Mist

[Only darkness in the skies]
I'm sure you have seen this in many lists and it's not a lucky coincidence. The Colombian / American warmachine Inquisition have done it again, with another heavyweight, straightforward and aggressive record that's full of memorable moments. While Ominous Doctrines... and Nefarious Dismal Orations remain the best albums by them, this is right behind them and very close, I can say I enjoy them equally. The demon vocals and melodies of Dagon, along with the inhuman drumming of Incubus, present the familiar face of Inquisition at it's best, with still a lot to offer to the scene. I don't get why Dagon is the exact same thing as Abbath, their vocal styles do have similarities but they're not the same if you pay attention to their tone, but anyway. My favourite tracks are “Force of the Floating Tomb”, “Arrival of Aeons After”, “Inversion of Ethereal White Stars” and the self-titled “Obscure Verses for the Multiverse”.

1. Blodsgard – Monument
The Oath

I knew this band would make it. I speculated that it might be the album of the year when I first listened to it and it turned out I was correct, because this right here friends, is THE perfect black metal record. Unblemished, pure and unique. In fact, I felt happy about the genre itself with it and I hope every black metal fan all over the world should listen to it immediately. Here's my review about it.


And it goes on...

21. Clandestine Blaze - Harmony of Struggle
22. The Howling Void - Nightfall
23. Ulver - Messe I.X-VI.X
24. Hate - Solarflesh
25. Katechon - Man, God, Giant
26. Ataraxie - L'Etre Et La Nausee
27. Onirophagus - Prehuman
28. The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack
29. Necrophobic - Womb of Lilithu
30. Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - Necrovision
31. Vulture Industries - The Tower
32. Satan's Host - Virgin Sails
33. Svart - Det Personliga Helvetets Spiral
34. Necrowretch - Putrid Death Sorcery
35. Slaughttbath - Hail to the Fire
36. Nordvrede - Monument Viktoria
37. Six Feet Under - Unborn
38. Earthless - From the Ages
39. Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed
40. Watain - The Wild Hunt
41. The Vision Bleak - Witching Hour
42. Defeated Sanity - Passages Into Deformity
43. Avatarium - Avatarium
44. Toxic Holocaust - Chemistry of Consciousness
45. In Solitude - Sister
46. Gris - A l'ame enflammee, l'ame constellee...
47. Milking the Goatmachine - Stallzeit
48. Imperium Dekadenz - Meadows Of Nostalgia
49. Witchburner - Bloodthirsty Eyes
50. Sodom - Epitome of Torture
51. Portal - Vexovoid
52. Thy Light - No Morrow Shall Dawn
53. Autopsy - The Headless Ritual
54. Celestial Bloodshed - Omega
55. Grave Miasma - Odori Sepulcrorum
56. Hypocrisy - End of Disclosure
57. Sorcery - Arrival At Six
58. Graveyard - The Sea Grave
59. Warbringer - IV: Empires Collapse
60. Ulcerate - Vermis
61. Arckanum - Fenris Kindir
62. Grave Miasma - Odori Sepulcrorum
63. Wormlust - The Feral Wisdom
64. Hail of Bullets - III: The Rommel Chronicles
65. Arckanum - Fenris Kindir
66. Shining - Feberdrommar i vaket tillstand
67. Throne Of Katarsis - The Three Transcendental Keys
68. Wolfheart - Winterborn
69. Enshadowed - Magic Chaos Psychedelia
70. Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor
71. Slaughterday - Nightmare Vortex
72. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
73. Ereb Altor - Fire Meets Ice
74. Krypts - Unending Degradation
75. Entrails - Raging Death
76. Sarke - Aruagint
77. Black Sabbath - 13
78. Gorguts - Colored Sands
79. Thyrfing - De Odeslosa
80. Guttural Secrete - Nourishing The Spoil
81. Enforcer - Death By Fire
82. Kalmah - Seventh Swamphony
83. Satan - Life Sentence
84. October Falls - The Plague of A Coming Age
85. Sarke - Aruagint
86. Graveland - Thunderbolts of the Gods
87. Deicide - In the Minds of Evil
88. Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen
89. Wormed - Exodromos
90. Bilskirnir - Wotan Redivivus
91. Vattnet Viskar - Sky Swallower
92. Necromass - Calix. Utero. Babalon.
93. Convulse - Evil Prevails
94. Blood Ceremony - The Eldritch Dark
95. Windhand - Soma
96. All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates This Nature
97. Orchid - The Mouths of Madness
98. Sonic Reign - Monument In Black
99. Fen - Dustwalker
100. Twilight of the Gods - Fire on the Mountain

Aaand that's it for 2013... Thanks to Sorvats for being a daily reader, Tomb Keeper and Koga Ryu for their constant support and all you people that spent time reading my lists and my thoughts all this time. Gathering strength for a new start, I'm not going to post anything until January 1st and after, so have a headbanging new year and stay not sober. \m/


  1. Nice list mate!Deafheaven is metal music for non-metallers and while this is not necessarily something bad, in Sunbather's case i agree with you that this album is overhyped.Alcest(and Fleurety, in their Min Tid Skal Komme album)have more or less been there too, you know..

    Valonielu was the extreme metal album of the year for me, because they tried to do something different and they succeeded 100%.Shamefully, i haven't still checked IV: Arrow In Heart and Asa but i'm gonna do it in 2014, hehe!

    Two recommendations from 2013, if you haven't heard them(perhaps you'd like to review them too!):Zemial-NYKTA and Cultes Des Ghoules-Henbane.Zemial's NYKTA is an awesome effort to combine old-school black/thrash with progressive rock, while Cultes Des Ghoules is a ritual mid-tempo black metal band from Poland, Henbane being their second (and best) album.

    Finally,thanks for the reference man!666

    1. I don't know if Min Tid Skal Komme or Alcest influenced this band, but it's not that alluring at all... People can listen to better stuff than Deafheaven!

      Oranssi Pazuzu's new album was indeed amazing and I was overwhelmed the first time I listened to it, even though I don't know how good their previous albums are yet. Deserved a place in my list of course :P

      I have heard both albums by Zemial and Cultes Des Ghoules, but to be sincere, I didn't pay the attention needed. I probably will recheck them some time, thanks :)

  2. That is a very meticulously executed list... nice one. Thanx for your efforts and the mention. Have a crushing new year. \m/ 666 \m/

  3. Great list! Maybe you should have included the new Horna or Acherontas... Top releases from both bands