So you heard the thoughts of the GMA team on what release we felt was the best from each country this year, now it falls down to the owner Rhys Stevenson to tie up this year with one final review of the year, what a year it has been for metal! Bloodstock experienced a marriage proposal and wheelchair crowdsurfing whilst Ian Watkins gets jailed for abhorrent goings on that we shall not even allude to. Furthermore bands have disbanded and formed and loved musicians sadly departed. None the less, metal lives on and here are Rhys' top 20 albums of 2013.
20. Litvintroll - Czornaja Panna
Probably one of the most promising bands to emerge out of the Belarusian Metal scene, by implementing the classic and recognizable sound of Eastern European Folk Metal with vocals that resonate within the Pagan Metal style, Litvintroll certainly are proving themselves to be one of the most exciting bands to emerge from this area. What I really like about this release is that it provides you with sensational music as well as a taste of the Belarusian language, but more so the feeling you can listen to it next to a camp fire.
19. Dagoba - Post Mortem Nihil Est
Industrial Metal style bands seem to be cropping up out of the French Metal scene as if it was dying out of fashion. But none the less the veterans Dagoba certainly keep that power exploding. What I like about this album is that it weaves Groove Metal and Industrial Metal together to give a sound that forms the underbelly of the Modern Metal storm, that is the phase seeming to be dominating the metal music industry. Let's see if the French musical magicians deliver another album that will shake the very foundations of Europe.
18. Cnoc An Tursa - The Giants of Auld
You have to admire bands who use historical culture and bygone times for their lyrics. This includes Cnoc An Tursa whose much-anticipated debut album "The Giants of Auld", now whilst hogmanay may provide the setting for this album to be played to the masses, it's delinquent Ancestral Folk Metal feeling merging with the sharpness of Black Metal provides the ultimate sound of which signifies the elegant beauty of Scotland, why I like this album is because it has that emotional connection with a culture of such grandeur.
17. Hail Of Bullets - III The Rommel Chronicles
How many bands are out there who sing about WW2 campaigns and theaters, ones that make it interesting and educational? Not many. Hail of Bullets serve up their third album which features that sound of Old-School Death Metal and lyrics so brutal that it warps you back in time to where it happened. Without a doubt "III The Rommel Chronicles" is the best album they have released so far, so why do I like it? Simple, with a fascination of WW2, Hail of Bullets qualify with guns blazing in both the music and lyric departments.
16. Immoralis - The Great Collapse
Symphonic Epic Death Metal / Metalcore? You read that right. Weaving together elements of classic Metalcore with the keyboard symphonies Bleeding Through used to do and by dashing it with clean vocals in the style of Epica and again Bleeding Through, Immoralis' album "The Great Collapse" delivers a stormer that will make you piss yourself till your kidneys pack up. Why I like this album is because it's something different, not many bands opt to challenge the norms and thus Immoralis get my tick of approval.
15. Shade Empire - Omega Arcane
I've followed Shade Empire ever since "Zero Nexus" was released through Dynamic Arts Records, to see the Finnish maniacs produce another spectacular blast of Melodic Industrial Black / Death Metal really blew my socks off. Now signed to Candlelight Records, Shade Empire have crafted a sound that is near enough unique but is hard to compare with other bands, see for yourself. What I like about this album is that it challenges the conventional norms, resulting in Shade Empire creating what I call total metallic bliss.
14. Zoltar Speaks - Save As I Save
One of England's highly promising bands Zoltar Speaks delivered the deeds through their debut album "Save As I Save", by shedding out their own style of Melodic Heavy Metal, you get the sense that they are here to challenge the Canadian band Kobra & The Lotus and the Finnish band Battle Beast. If there is one of many bands to stamp Heavy Metal back on the UK map, it's Zoltar Speaks. What I like about this album besides the intricate drumming and riffs, is Louise's vocals, they are guaranteed to get you moving.
13. Skiltron - Into the Battleground
Skiltron had no issues in wooing the Bloodstock crowds this year, the trio-cum-quintet set alight the Sophie Lancaster Stage and with their latest album "Into the Battleground" firmly grabbing attention from the worldwide metalheads, it comes to the point where you must ask yourself? An Argentinian band playing Power / Folk Metal with bagpipes? How metal can you get?!?!?! What I like about this album is they create true Scottish Power / Folk Metal with only around 7000 miles separating Buenos Aires from Edinburgh; auld lang syne my dear.
12. Týr - Valkyrja
Týr have cemented themselves as possibly the most successful musical export from the Faroe Islands. Their latest release "Valkyrja" glimmers with absolute Progressive Folk Metal as it is their sound that makes them stand out from the crowd. With eccentric compositions giving an upbeat feel to the music and of course the adventurous sounding vocals delivering such valiant lyrics, this is just a bit of what I like about this album, one other parts that I like is that Týr's powerful sound is carried in such majestic style.
11. Eshtadur - Stay Away from Evil and Get Close to Me
South America owes itself to a cesspool of Extreme Metal bands, ones that play Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom Metal, etc., etc. but one band has stood out this year and that is Colombia's Eshtadur with their ballistic and demonic style of Melodic Black Metal that otherwise leaves diehard Black Metal fans weeping in their sleep through sheer audible pain. What I like about this album is that it exhibits such a dramatic atmosphere and it is this feeling of musical adrenalin that sets the undertone for the entire album.
10. Awrizis - Final Hybridation
Such a melancholic product of spine-chilling darkness, funky Groove Metal and unrelenting Death / Thrash Metal. The Czech band Awrizis calculated their sound with such precision that their album "Final Hybridation" brutalizes anything in it's path, with excerpts like 'It's Johnny' from the film The Shining and a Modern Metal undertone coursing throughout this album with such force, you cannot deny this album a listen. What I like about this album is that it packs a punch and the compositions deviate haphazardly well.
9. Wretched Soul - Veronica
As far as British albums are concerned, lots of them smacked faces throughout 2013, but one unsigned band really set the flares alight throughout the music industry. Kent's Wretched Soul emerged valiant with their debut effort "Veronica" (still no idea who Veronica is) and with it came a massive flurry of positive reviews. What makes this release interesting is the brutality of the vocals crashing against the near-softness of the music, and that's what I like about this album, it has everything including the kitchen sink.
8. NonserviaM - A Spectral Ascension
Malaysia's strong underground metal scene boded well when Melodic Death Metal mob NonserviaM delivered their debut album "A Spectral Ascension", whilst being a shot out of the dark for the Malaysian Metal scene, their unique shifting pattern from fast to slow percussion mesmerized many when their debut EP "Ordinance of Reason" was unleashed upon the masses. What I like about their premier album "A Spectral Ascension" is that they've built it upon the foundations of their success brought by their debut EP.
7. Kin Beneath Chorus - Futuristic Composed
Greek Metal bands are not put off by the current economic climate, entering the domain is Death Metal / Metalcore ensemble Kin Beneath Chorus, who released their debut album "Futuristic Composed" and with it came a sound that is hard to elaborate on but it a sound that would captivate many metal fans alike. What I like about this album is that it does not overdo things like some Metalcore albums seem to do these days, instead Kin Beneath Chorus deliver one sick album that would give you radiation poisoning if it was contaminated from nuclear fallout.
6. Noein - Infection-Erasure-Replacement
Welcoming to the battle is the female-fronted Industrial Death Metal band Noein, who stratospherically launched their sound into a new form. Their debut album " Infection-Erasure-Replacement" is a solid piece of musical grit that bleeds your brain dry from the albums apocalyptic nature. What I like about this album is that it incorporates extreme elements bands like Strapping Young Lad pioneered to give it that technically challenging feeling, you name it, it's here: brutality, synths, French attitude and hot chicks. C'est la vie.
5. Teardown - Inner Distortions
Finland always delivers sensational metal bands, it must be something in the water. Teardown are no exception, with the elegant beauty of Melodic Heavy Metal at the reigns of their debut album "Inner Distortions", it is clear that Teardown are poised to make a statement in 2014. What I like about this album is the dramatics that vocalist Katja Pieksämäki delivers in the various songs, that coupled with the emotional state the music delivers, concludes to acknowledge "Inner Distortions" as a must have of 2013.
4. Skreamer - Blackened Earth
Having done the rounds across the UK and Europe, London crew Skreamer have decimated and decapitated a whole array of music fans in their musical path. Their debut album "Blackened Earth" straddles a number of genres such as Death Metal, Thrash Metal and elements of Metalcore here and there, but rest assured it has enough extrenze to make you explode tenfold by tenfold. What I like about this album is that it slams together soft and hard elements to create the musical equivalent of the ying-yang theory.
3. Reptilian Death - The Dawn Of Consummation & Emergence
Possibly India's best metal releases this year, Reptilian Death are fronted by The Demonstealer (Demonic Resurrection's frontman). Their second album comes ten years after their debut and as the title suggests, "The Dawn Of Consummation & Emergence" is about gore and oddly enough reptiles. What you can expect to hear brutally is tantalizing compositions that drag in influences from bands like Suffocated, what I like about this album is the consistent technical elements.
2. The Defiled - Daggers
What a phenomenal album. Reinvigorating Industrial Metal into it's former glorious self, Londoners The Defiled unleashed "Daggers" through Nuclear Blast to positive reviews. Mixing together a fertile mix of Groove, Thrash, Industrial Metal and Metalcore, they are sure to explode even further in 2014. What I like about "Daggers" is the evenly balanced sounds produced by the musical maestro's that are Stitch, Vincent Hyde, Needles, Aaron Curse and The AvD. We could see The Defiled grace Bloodstock 2014.
1. Sight Of Emptiness - Instincts
Christ what an album! It was only 2012 when Sight Of Emptiness shredded apart the Sophie Lancaster stage at Bloodstock, and now this year the Costa Rican Melodic Death Metal machine unleashed hell with their second album "Instincts" (free with the Terrorizer issue #240). A rising force in Latin America, Sight of Emptiness are a one to watch in 2014, what I like about this album is the sheer magnitude the band delivers, with melody and gusto in tow as well as the taste of Scar Symmetry, get ready to join la familia.
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