As each year comes to an end, it’s important to remember how you got to the state of mind you’re in, whether physically, mentally or in any socio-setting. It comes down to the years before that lead right into the very being of what you are today. At the end of 2013 music year, it’s clear that our pasts catch up to us; old flames reignite, some sparks turn into raging infernos while others simply fizzle unto oblivion. For me, it’s the time of year where I can reflect on the year’s best releases and the albums that stand well above the others.
Upon reflection, these were far from easy decisions to make, apart from the fact that 2013 saw a return for the likes of Gorguts and Carcass. 2013 also contained a host of already great acts release great music. The likes of Ulcerate, Portal, Darkthrone, Sepultura, Cult Of Luna, Monolithe, and Summoning are an easy mention but are in fact the tip of the proverbial ice-berg not to mention the new to the scene but equally important Obsidian Tongue, Colosus, Hope Drone, Grave Miasma, Whelm, Locktender, Thaw, Craven Idol – – this list goes on…
Even old flames in Black Sabbath, Queens of the Stone Age and Deep Purple re-surfaced this year and if that wasn’t a nostalgic kick to the side of the frontal lobe than nothing will ever be again!
So what did make my “Best Of 2013” end of year list? Well, it wasn’t easy but here we are:
Frigoris – Wind
Frigoris’ Wind is a polarizing listen from start to finish. Winding transcendental black metal stereotypes meet excellently placed atmospherics in one of the genre’s most rounded albums. Long track times allow for ideas to fully flesh out and culminate into a worldly display of musical ingenuity and technical awareness. Figoris’ Wind shows a group improving on it’s foundations in order to create something that transcends the norm, making Wind a talking point of not only 2013, but of the black metal genre.
Track: …und Asche rinnt durch meine Hände
Vin de Mia Trix – Once Hidden From Sight
Hypnotic Dirge Records have been full of surprises this year. One of which, is Vin de Mia Trix. Full of mysticism, Once Hidden From Sight portrays a yin and yang feel, contrasting the worlds and moods of light and dark presenting the listener with a host of emotive swirls, transcendental rhythms, coming down to the fact that Vin de Mia Trix’s Once Hidden From Sight stands above the usual hums and stereotypes of blackened, post, psychedelic, sludgy funeral doom metal. A cross-over of that many genres does indeed sound like a mess, but for those who can pull the combination off – the result is unlike any other.
Track: Silent World
Altar Of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
Hard to believe that this will be the final Altar Of Plagues album for the foreseeable future. Teethed Glory and Injury drives home a charisma – full-forced with atmospheric post metal intent. This is not an album for those faint of heart, nor is it a record that develops into a light and hearty voyage over emotional seas. Altar Of Plagues has released an album that highlights the very best of what the band is capable of and rolls it into a succinct, excellently executed experimental black metal album without the fancy frills.
The album itself speaks of anguish, pain, torment, the physical stretching of listeners’ mental capacities into worlds not known by any easily distinguishable written medium. Teethed Glory and Injury represents the darker sides of human nature, compressed and simplified into an visual and audio medium.
Track: Scald Scar Of Water
Eye Of Solitude – Canto III
The new faces in doom metal are making their claim to hold onto the same pressure built by the likes of Candlemass. Eye of Solitude, formed in the UK have been figuratively flying under the metal radar releasing epic after epic. This year sees the band release a demo and in the dying parts of the year a fully-fledged funeral doom opus that tests the limits of the genre mentioned above. On Canto III, listeners will find an amalgamation of death, black, ambient and post metal tied deeply into Eye Of Solitude’s show of macabre and melancholic display of tainted aggression. Lyrically based on the premise of Dante’s Inferno, Canto III marks a culmination of the band’s past effort and wraps this technically sound and highly aware funeral doom effort in an hour long testament to a genre and band on the rise. If you want to know who holds the flag for modern doom metal, Eye Of Solitude are leading the charge.
Track: Act II – Where The Descent Began
Robert’s Album Of The Year.
Ataraxie – L’Etre Et La Nausée
Despite having such a hard time defining just where every album is in my top five of 2013, there was one album that stood above the others in a manner that superseded the others. Without a second thought Ataraxie’s L’Etre Et La Nausée stands as a testament to despair, anguish, torment, pain, suffering and all-round hostility. L’Etre Et La Nausée is a walking musical mental clinic, but has focus unlike the records’ that dance and limbo around succeeding in a genre that can be either close to heart of fully transparent. The album defines that music can reach into so many different facets of the human mind – twisting, turning and haunting as it does so. Ataraxie remind us all that sometimes life isn’t easy, life isn’t happy. There are those of us that wish despair on others, but do you really understand the intent behind your thoughts?
L’Être Et La Nausée is not a bash and dash listen. The album is atmospheric, grand and over-whelming, it’s albums like these that make the extreme metal world turn and turn again. With a play time of one hour and twenty minutes, the quick listen idealism goes directly out the window. The album might only have five tracks but the content itself surpasses the usual stylizing of the genre. Ataraxie go beyond the usual stigma of a death influenced atmospheric doom metal band and make the most of the music that has matured in front of them. It’s not that the songs are long, they’re detailed to a point where the last dulcet tone rings memorably in the listeners’ ears. Take the album opener for example, the track is relatively monolithic. Slow melancholics meet winding atmospherics till the track builds into a climatic world of apocalyptic insanity. That might sound like a whole lot of fancy words but the sound accentuates the primal and almost demonic vocals that take the center stage of Ataraxie’s 2013 record. It’s a tone setter, one of anguish, despair and agony only to be twisted with insanity, The track truly represents its name sake, ‘Procession Of The Insane Ones’.
As a whole, this album does what it needs to and more, each track is a journey, a chapter, that fits completely into the next. Even the album’s shortest foray into the deep, ‘Etats d’Ame’ makes a triumphant change of pace. It allows the album to add a mystique, beautiful and gracefully atmospheric. Rustic gates add to the layering of the track, tying into the cymbal chimes and clean guitar tones. It’s an excellent break for an album seeping in such depth and despair. When it comes down to it, Ataraxie’s ‘L’Être Et La Nausée’ is a successful follow up to Anhedonie all the way back in 2008. It takes the beginnings of an album that ‘should have been’ and in turn, culminates into an album of its own form. It’s without a question that Ataraxie have come full circle with an album that highlights the members collective careers. ‘L’Être Et La Nausée’ is a spectacular extreme metal release in the year 2013, the only problem is, ‘L’Être Et La Nausée’ is not the only record to be released this to turn heads. The big question still remains, ‘what awaits you on the other side of despair?’
Track: Face The Loss Of Your Sanity
With all that in mind, it’s important to realize that music (and not just metal) is an ever-growing being. It’s not all tours, band shirts and labels pocketing cash at the band’s expenses (in fact, the industry is becoming tougher than ever). We must remember that behind your favorite artists are a team of [mostly] faceless industry experts; label owners, distribution, public relations, third-parties, etc. The modern day of internet has helped spread the word but the days are only getting longer for those who pour their time, money, sweat and tears into these bands in order to get them to the listener. It’s not easy, they know the price – It’s these people who make the industry what is is today.
This year I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some great people. We may live in different parts of the globe but these few (as well as others) have made this year great for me. I encourage you to check out the names/businesses of these great people listed below.
Hypnotic Dirge Records (N. Skog), Kaotoxin Records (Nico), Riot! Entertainment (John Howarth), Maric Media (Chris Maric)
Robert, Owner/Admin of THE SONIC SENSORY