2013’s Best Bits – Music

Lists are for suckers.  They’re subjective, open to challenge by anybody with an opinion and serve mostly to generate content when a blogger doesn’t have anything worth saying.

Ergo, list post? Yup, list post.

My favourite album of the year was “The Arsonist” by Deadlock (Napalm Records, 2013)

The Arsonist, by German melodeath riff-meisters Deadlock
.The Arsonist, by German melodeath riff-meisters Deadlock

Consulting my handy dandy playlist count in Last.FM and cross-referencing it with my Media Monkey music organising software, it seems that “The Arsonist”, the sixth album from German band Deadlock was my most played album of the year.  That seems about right – it was very much the soundtrack to my summer holiday this year.

Here’s a slice of their single “I’m Gone” to give you an idea of what rocked my 2013:

The thing that jumps out at you, particularly if you don’t listen to much contemporary metal, is the interplay between  gutteral screamer John Gahlert and the soaring vocals of Sabine Scherer and it’s this sonic distinction which makes the band so enjoyable to listen to.

Well, that and the ten-tonne, face-melting riffs from Sebastian Reichl and Ferdinand Rewicki.  Love this band’s “Dead City Sleepers”, which careens through your headphones and speakers like an out-of-control juggernaut of eight-stringed, down-tuned Euro fury.

What more recommendation than that could one ask for?  Hang on a minute, don’t answer that one…

I also loved Powerwolf’s lupine, loopy latest slice of full moon-fearing Power Metal, “Preachers of the Night”.

 

If you don’t raise a smile at the insanity and absurdity of this mob, led by the brothers Greywolf (yes, quite) and operatic vocalist Attila Dorn, then I don’t know what to tell you.

This is the band’s fourth full-length release and rewards repeated listens with a selection of the catchiest metal anthems this side of the 1980s.  And that’s a good signifier – if you like your rock punchy, full of humour and thematically fixated on the travails of being a Catholic Werewolf in a world seemingly ill-suited to dealing with such a group.

My third most played album of the year came from stalwart Welsh Metal masters, Bullet for my Valentine, and their divisive release, “Temper Temper”.

 

The band have seemingly consigned the album to history less than a year after it came out, as they work on a new record for release at the end of 2014/first quarter of 2015, which may give you the impression that this album isn’t worth bothering with.

I’m not sure that this is the case – the very worst that you can say about “Temper Temper” is that it’s more of the same.  For me, that isn’t a terribly damning verdict – the songs are catchy and don’t outstay their welcome.  Neither do they seek to be especially innovative and I fear that this is where the backlash has come from this time around.

‘Meat and Potatoes melodic metal’ is how I’d term this release, and I’m happy with that – if that’s your bag, too, I recommend taking a listen to this album.

I also dug the second, self-titled release from Finnish melodic metallurgists, Battle Beast.

 

In an alternate universe, 80’s-style Ninja exploitation actioners are still a thing and what could be better than this band’s brand of fist-raising, traditional, hook-laden rock to soundtrack them?  New singer, same quality tunes.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Amaranthe’s “The Nexus”, a release so polarising as to make the Bullet album look like a widely beloved insta-classic.

 

 

Yep, I can see why the none more Kvlt crowd would hate this band with a (hell) firey passion, but I’m a sucker for melody, keyboards and tempo and Amaranthe are an outfit who boast these elements and more.  In essence, they’re a noisy pop metal band whose songs could happily be covered by your latest Simon Cowell-backed major label band with minimal retooling.

In a year which I felt wasn’t the best for symphonic metal – I’ve not caught up with Leaves Eyes’ autumn release yet, so bear that in mind – Amaranthe gave me hummable tunes, blistering solos and MVP Elise Ryd’s fantastic vocals and splendidly camp Patrick Ullaeus directed videos to enjoy on the Tubes of You.

I hope your 2013 brought you an equal amount of musical enjoyment.

 

 

 

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