My top 10 metal singles released in 2013
While the rest of the metal world goes into virtual war arguing about the best albums released over the course of the year, I decided to get a little more specific. I’ve listed down ten songs that I think were among the best to be released in 2013. And I chose to do this particularly because I found certain gems hidden in albums that could overall be branded just about average, and that wouldn’t be fair, would it? So here goes.
10. Soilwork- “The Windswept Mercy”
Album: The Living Infinite
There’s no denying that ‘The Panic Broadcast’ was a masterpiece, and living up to the glory of that isn’t an easy task. But instead of keeping it simple, Soilwork unnecessarily took things one step further and released a double album. The result- An overdose of mediocrity. A majority of the songs carried the same formula of the previous release, and it almost seemed like the band was giving its fans the leftovers of a feast, and urging them to enjoy that too. But without being too harsh, I must admit that there were certain tracks on ‘The Living Infinite’ that really deserved more attention. “The Windswept Mercy” was one of them. It stays true to the Soilwork sound, with the fantastic vocal melodies that they are best known for. The guitars and drum work also carry it through, and make it rise above the barrage of average and disappointing melodic death that the Swedish metallers offered us this year.
9. Black Sabbath- “Loner”
This was Ozzy’s first full length release with Black Sabbath in 35 years! This was enough to get some old fans excited about what the band would have to offer! Some traditional old school fans refused (and probably still refuse) to digest that this is the real Sabbath, minus Bill Ward. The truth is, ’13’ is no ‘Master of Reality’, but hey… Any new music is also welcome! “Loner” is quite reminiscent of “N.I.B” and it’s good to see that the riffmaster, Mr. Tony Iommi, still has it going for him! This is definitely one of the better songs on the album. Thankfully the band chose to neither over-produce the release, nor keep it too raw. In all, it works well and the fans (at least a few of us) are quite happy!
8. Queensryche- “Open road”
If you’ve been following the gossip section in metal tabloids, you’d probably know by now that there are two Queensryches. One, with Geoff Tate and the other with most of Queensryche’s original lineup, led by the powerful new vocalist Todd LaTorre. The album that people have been talking about is by the latter group, i.e. minus the controversial Tate. It’s one of the best releases the band has had in years, and we know someone who wouldn’t be too happy about that! The song I chose to highlight from this same release is the ballad “Open road”. Why a ballad in an album full of guitar laden solos and juicy heavy metal, you might ask. The truth is, we’ve been missing the glory of real metal ballads in quite a while, and if someone does this well, it’s got to be Queensryche! This is the track where I fell in love with LaTorre’s vocal ability. The rest of the members, including the particularly young guitarist, shine on this song, bringing out a perfect blend of old school Queensryche and modern heavy metal. This will surely go down as a classic in the years to come.
7. Amon Amarth- “Warriors of the North”
Album: Deceiver of the Gods
Amon Amarth is one of the most consistent bands in metal. They never promise to surprise you with experiments, and all they do is replicate their signature sound. Yet, they do so without sounding stale. ‘Deceiver of the Gods’ was another proudly Viking metal release, and “Warriors of the North” was the highlight of the album. Eight minutes long, it brings together catchy riffs, a play with tempo- from a gallop to a trot- but without losing the engagement of the listener. As someone rightly said, the song summarizes what Amon Amarth is all about. And of course, Johan’s death metal vocals take this song to a whole new level of greatness.
6. Motorhead- “Heartbreaker”
This was Motorhead’s 21st album! Doesn’t that say a lot by itself? Especially knowing that this is another band that doesn’t brag about surprises. But we will continue to listen to them simply because they are Motorhead! This is the band we turn to when we want something speedy, raw and energetic. “Heartbreaker” is one of the better tracks on ‘Aftershock’. It’s still very rock and roll and formulaic, but it’s got the badass quotient that by default, makes it awesome. Moreover, it’s what we want, and it’s what we’ve been getting. Lemmy sounds old though, and after the Wacken episode, we sure hope all the JD and the ciggies aren’t catching up on his mortality!
5. Suffocation- “Cycles of suffering”
Album: Pinnacles of Bedlam
We all know Suffocation as the pioneers of death metal, and this was one of the most eagerly looked forward to releases of the year. But the album received a lot of mixed reviews. Older fans compared it to ‘Pierced from within’ and when placed side by side, ‘Pinnacles of Bedlam’ definitely doesn’t grab the limelight. The absence of Mike Smith has evidently impacted the band’s sound, but change is inevitable! I picked “Cycles of suffering” simply because it is one of the less-technical tracks on the album. The solo (which is quite a rarity to find on the other songs) also takes it one notch higher from the rest of the tracklist.
4. Kylesa- “Unspoken”
I’ll be blatantly honest here. I discovered this band with this album, and had to press the rewind button to figure out more about Kylesa’s discography. I’m also not particularly a sludge guru, but like any other music lover, you know the good stuff when you’re exposed to it! “Unspoken” starts off slow, with eerie slow guitars, and suddenly breaks into a crushing chorus. The best part about this is that it is beautifully juxtaposed with the mild female vocals- a thoroughly winning combination. This track mingles elements of stoner rock and sludge, groove and rhythm. The album, as a whole, leaves you with the blues by the end of it, but I assume that’s something this genre usually does to you. However, there is no denying some hidden gems in the runtime of forty-odd minutes.
3. Dream Theater- “The enemy inside”
Album: Dream Theater
Mike Portnoy was awesome. Nobody questions that. But Mike Mangini proves he’s not just second best! Dream Theater is a bunch of musicians who take talent to a whole new level, and on this song in particular, Mangini walks away with the crown. “The enemy inside” is a work of genius by Dream Theater who have retained their musical gymnastics, without letting it get too complex for casual listening. Apart from the drums, Petrucci with his heavy rhythms, and LaBrie’s vocal skills come together for a winner. Initially, I wasn’t very excited about this release, but this particular song changed it for me.
2. Ghost B.C.- “Monstrance Clock”
“If the Devil really does have all the best tunes, he’s loaned a few of them to Ghost B.C. ” – Kerrang magazine
You might argue about whether Ghost B.C. is metal, Occult Rock or just progressive rock, but genre classifications aside, it’s a brilliant album, and that’s all we really care about. This troupe of anonymous masked musicians make Slipknot look like idiots. Ghost B.C. have put forward some heavy metal with a vintage touch, and a generous sprinkling of all things Satan. Why did this song get my attention? Simply because it’s nothing like what we hear these days. “Monstrance Clock” reminds me of Blue Oyster Cult, with an evil touch. And the chorus… well, it’s going to be a while before we hear something like that in a while!
1. Carcass- “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System”
Album: Surgical Steel
‘BLOODLUSTMORD!’ and you get a rush of “Yes! Carcass is back!” Every metalhead around the world has been raving about ‘Surgical Steel’ since its release. It was almost like the band was saving up all their ideas and strokes of genius for this one release! With a fantastic album like this one, it’s very difficult to choose just one song to call a favourite, but what I would call the flag-bearer of death metal excellence in this masterpiece by Carcass, would be the track “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” . The meaty riffwork (quite ironic that I need to use an adjective like that to describe the music from a band with a not-so-subtle animal rights motive) and the solos, along with the tinge of thrash, makes this one of the best tracks on ‘Surgical Steel’.
There were quite a few bands who I thought would easily make the list, like Children of Bodom, Protest the Hero and Megadeth, for example. Though all of them didn’t necessarily disappoint, some didn’t live up to the mark. But here’s looking forward to 2014, and tons of more good music to break our necks to!
Disclaimer: This is a personal selection of what I consider to be good, and it, in no way, reflects the opinion of the website, as a whole, or any of the other writers. There is a good chance that your favourite band has been left out of this list, simply because picking 10 out of thousands of metal releases is not an easy task. So be reasonable before you start flinging dung all over the place.