2013 will soon be done, but again, it’s been ridiculously brilliant year for new releases, new bands, new discoveries and long-awaited comebacks. So, before getting ruined on homebrew, eating mince pies and shouting at the TV because the BBC haven’t played Jurassic Park yet, here’sÂ a run down of my top 10 albums of 2013.
10. Kvelertak – Meir (Roadrunner Records)
Owl-fancying, shirtless beardos Kvelertak followed up their 2010 debut with Meir (More), once again, delivering Norwegian-sing-a-longs about burning bridges, being possessed by evil and walking the earth until the end of time. Cheerful stuff! Meir is darker than their self-titled debut, yet it’s perhaps a direction this sextet needed to head down in order to prove that their first album wasn’t a fluke. If you”re after something that sounds like AC/DC gone hardcore-punk fed through the metal-filter, then Meir is a worthwhile purchase.
Sneaking in under the radar, the follow up to The Night Marchers‘ 2008’s See You In Magic was quietly released at the beginning of the year and possibly forgotten after the announcement that Rocket From The Crypt had reformed. It’s a shame, because Allez! Allez! is a fantastic sounding record. Speedo’s evil-Elvis sneer rips through with a throaty yowl, whilst songs like the horn-driven Big In Germany (surely a ‘lost’ RFTC number?), the pop-rock foot-stamper of All Hits and the furious, riff-a-geddon of Fisting The FanbaseÂ (also that tempo-change, GOOD LORD) are up there as Speedo’s best work to date.
Oh Dillinger Escape Plan, you wacky bunch of rascals. With a line up that’s remained mostly stable for 2 albums in a row now (I think?) One Of Us Is The Killer dabbles once more in the Faith No More waters. Heck, it’s fucking drenched in them on the Patton-esque Nothing’s Funny and the scrawling rampage of ham ‘n cheese that is Paranoia Shields. Why is this any different then? Well, the songs for one thing, are an absolute blast – vocalist Greg Puciato chews his way magnificently through guitarist Ben Weinman’s contorting riffs and there’s a real sense of burning, turmoil on display, particularly on the jagged stop-start of Magic That Held You Prisoner and the neck-snapping, destructive rage of Hero of the Soviet Union. Brutal.
7. Axis Of – Finding St. Kilda (Smalltown America Records)
Florida’s Torche have a lot to answer for. Axis Of are obviously big fans – Finding St. Kilda substitutes sludge for heavy, crunching punk rock and it sounds fantastic. Rather than be tied down though, Axis Of are a flurry of conflicting styles – from the Converge-like bark of Re-written in Big Ink, to the pop-rock, xylophone-sweetness of Stan Winston’s Rough Seas and the galloping, space-rock bludgeon of Edge of the Canebrake, Axis Of have enough riffs and crushing power for the brutal metalhead and the scuzzy three-chords that will appeal to the snotty punk-rock crowd. Hopefully these guys won’t be overlooked, as Finding St. Kilda is a beautiful and powerful package, brimming with warmth and vitality.
6. The Computers – Love Triangles, Hate Squares (One Little Indian)
Dragging the 50’s kicking and screaming into the cold light of day, Love Triangles, Hate Squares by The Computers is a hip-shaking rock ‘n roll trip of finger-snapping garage punk and slicked-back hair. This should come with a health warning – dangerously infectious and razor-blade sharp. Obvious Rocket From The Crypt influences shine through, as does Bill Haley and his Comets for that matter – it’s packed with soul and brilliant songs, from the bouncing jaunt of Call On You! to the moody-punk of Nothing to Say to the piano-bashing shriek of Selina Chinese.
5. Megachurch – Megachurch 2: Judgment Day (Stressed Sumo)
Think this was released in 2012, but it seems to have been re-released over here back in March (through Derby-based, Stressed Sumo Records)Â so I’m counting it. Instrumental sludge-rock with no guitars, 2 bassists, a drum kit and some sampled rants from deranged preachers â€“ whatâ€™s not to like? Megachurch has created a bombastic slab of righteous, powerful and destructive battle hymns. Think Kyuss meets Fu Manchu whilst a maniac waving the Bible screams at you in the street for half an hour. Plus, the album has got a man in a suit, brandishing a flaming sword whilst riding a fucking dragon during a volcanic eruption.
4. Honningbarna – Verden Er Enkel (G Records)
Leaving a trail of destruction in their path, Honningbarna are a sweaty adrenalin-fueled kick to the head. Singing in their native Norwegian tongue, these Scandinavians are exhausting and relentless. Verden Er Enkel is Honningbarna’s second album and it’s sickeningly brilliant. Imagine a younger version of Refused full of sugar, who’ve been listening to Zeke records and nothing else. Combining the right amount of heaviness, shredding guitar solos on songs about wishing Jesus a happy birthday and even a cello; this five-piece absolutely kill it. I stand by my statement that “Honningbarna are making the most exciting and refreshing punk rock you’ll hear this year” and Verden Er Enkel is solid gold proof of this.
3. Future of the Left – How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident (Prescriptions Music)
“Do not speak to the pilot when he is fantasizing about his new Filipino wife (his second).” No, this isn’t a Future of the Left lyric, (although it could well be) it’s simply what’s written in their linear notes to their 4th and best album, How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident. No one is safe here – the music industry is left a charred, barren wasteland of despair and bloody stumps, unfaithfulness is stripped apart and teeth-gnashing bile is channeled from every orifice. Black-comedy fed through a a vicious mouthpiece and a throbbing bass-amp; Future of the Left are the superior being that we were all warned about.
2. Clutch – Earth Rocker (Weathermaker)
If Neil Fallon’s maniacal, large ham laugh on Earth Rocker‘s title track doesn’t make you grin like a loon then there’s something drastically wrong and I strongly urge you consult a doctor immediately to check you are still breathing. The blues-rock noodling that dominated previous albums Beale Street… and Strange Cousins… takes a backseat for fist-pumping, rocket 88 blasting, cyborg-battling adrenalin rock ‘n roll party times. Seriously, this could be Clutch‘s best work…it’s up there with Blast Tyrant, that’s how fucking brilliant this is. Listen to the harmonica-led swagger of D.C. Sound Attack!, or the southern-rock speed of Cyborg Bette, or the sombre lone-cowboy slow-burn of Gone Cold and tell me otherwise.
1. Jetplane Landing – Don’t Try (Smalltown America Records)
Described as the album of their career and my album of the year in my review from September, Don’t Try is Jetplane Landing charged not only on all cylinders, but with several other engines and monolithic sources of roaring power welded on for good measure. From the snarling punk spit of Beat Generation…Ha! to the Jimmy Eat World-pop rock of My Radio Heart, the riff-heavy Broken By People and the crunching bruiser of closer Magnetic Sea – these Irish lads are true masters of their craft. The word essential is banded about too much, but in this case, it’s right on the mark – Don’t Try is a vital, roaring beast of a record; if you only buy one album this year, look no further, maggots.
Other albums to make sure to check out from this year:
And So I Watch You From Afar – All Hail Bright Futures
Black Spiders – This Savage Land
Break Your Legs – Ghostcore
The Bridges of Madison County – Beastenders
California X – California X
Calvinball – Last Orders
Die! Die! Die! – Harmony
Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature, Nurture
Drug Church – Paul Walker
Exit_International – Our Science Is Golden
Fights and Fires – We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow
Funeral For A Friend – Conduit
Girl Band – France 98
THE HELL – You’re Listening to the HELL
Her Parents – Happy Birthday
Ice, Sea, Dead People – If It’s Broke, Break It More
Mayors of Miyazaki – Holy Cop
Obits – Beds and Bugs
ONSIND – Anaesthesiology
Parquet Courts – Light Up Gold
Paramore – Paramore
Red Fang – Whales and Leeches
Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals
VIETNAM – WORLD TOUR
Worlds Scariest Police Chases – NOFX And Out Come The Wolves Dookie
A Spotify playlist of my favourite songs of 2013 can be found here. Why not get the beers in and crank this up. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers, see you in 2014!