2013 has been a different year for me. University, as wonderful as doing a law degree is, takes into the time I would rather spend doing bugger all. In this bugger all time that I used to have more of then I have now I would spend a lot of it listening to music. Whilst I have spent less time picking up new music than I should have, there are still some bands that are worthy of everyone’s attention.
Motorhead – Aftershock
I have always been a Motorhead fan. Even when I was a little ‘un I was always a fan of Lemmy and company. 2013’s Aftershock is an enjoyable album for all Motorhead fans. It sounds like Motorhead, feels like Motorhead and most definitely is Motorhead. The band actually bring some decent variety to the album, with the blue’s inspired track ‘Lost Woman Blues’ standing out amongst the rest of the tracks.
Lemmy has had some health problems this year, but he appears to have made it to the end in better health than he started with (I bloody hope so seeing as I’m going a Motorhead concert in February, third time lucky I guess). And you can probably expect a new Motorhead album in 2015 seeing as that has been the case for many years.
Aftershock is a fun album full of metal and laughter, it is something that everyone should take the time to pay attention too. It might not be a new Ace of Spades, but this is a different decade and a different Motorhead.
Motorhead – Heartbreaker
Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance
I’m a relative newcomer to Darkthrone and to black metal in general. The Underground Resistance is an album which I only got around to listening earlier this month and I still haven’t listened to any of their only work, that is still on my ‘To do List’ so too say. But The Underground Resistance is an excellent piece of work. Twisting from musical style to music style across several styles of extreme metal.
Darkthrone are one of the oldest bands in the black metal genre and it is a miracle that they are still able to be as good now as they did back in the early 90s. This is because they are happy to leave the confines of black metal and do whatever they wish to do. The six tracks are interesting to listen too and they each cover different genres.
Darkthrone is a shining gem, and it is a shame that I wasn’t able to sample its beauty any earlier.
Darkthrone – Leave no Cross Unturned
Dream Theater – Dream Theater
I like Dream Theater and I am somewhat of a fan-boy. This may make me a bad person but it is who I am. Dream Theater’s self titled album is not as good as Images and Words, Awake, Metropolis Pt. 2 etc but that doesn’t make it any worse for what it is.
This is the second album with new drummer Mike ‘Not Portnoy’ Mangini and to be honest this is the album where he finally breaks loose. The album is in typical post 2000 Dream Theater style, a massive mish mash of music styles fused into one. It can be said that the album occasionally falls down when it turns into a musical contest about who can play their instruments, but it has been toned down on this album. Rudess has been reigned in my the others and he no longer spews sound after sound over the tracks as he did on earlier albums.
The biggest problem with Dream Theater is that they are talented and they know it. This can occasionally cause issues when they can’t decide who should be in the limelight, but Dream Theater tends to negate most of this and it is probably the best Dream Theater album since 1999’s Metropolis Pt. 2.
Dream Theater -Dream Theater
Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)
Occasionally I get upset when I realise that Porcupine Tree are no more, then I realise that Steven Wilson is still releasing excellent music and I cheer up a bit. Raven is an excellent album, composed of several epics and several not quite epic but still epic songs. It is excellent drinking music and it has kept me sane through long cold evenings filled with alcohol and packets of crisps.
What makes this album special, is Steven Wilson himself. The man is a genius and it really shows in his work. The horrible dread that floods the speakers on the song ‘Drive Home’ starkly contrasts to the happy quirky feeling that takes up the beginning of ‘Luminol’. The album is an excellent 1970s inspired track and it is something that anyone who considers themselves a fan of prog should listen too. Not to do so would be sacrilege.
This album has the potential to become a classic in years to come, but it misses out on the top spot by the skin of its teeth. The top spot goes to someone who does Steven Wilson better than Steven Wilson.
Steven Wilson – The Holy Drinker
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown
Just kidding, this album tops my list for worst album of 2013. It is a boring mess that only exists to fight against the Queensryche, the album released by the Todd La Torre fronted band. It is a bland boring record with no reason to exist. A sad day for a band as good as Queensryche, at least the self titled record is good.
My True Number 1
Haken – The Mountain
The Mountain was the second album of the year to nearly make me cry (The first being Frequency Unknown, although for entirely different reasons) but seeing as I have evolved to not have any feelings then crying is out of the question for me.
The Mountain is an excellent album, beautifully crafted like a marble statue. It is a brilliant example of progressive rock with its vast differences in sound from track to track. From the post rock style opening, to the eccentric notes of ‘Cockroach King’ The Mountain is a perfect album from start to finish. It is my jewel of 2013 and is probably my favourite album of the past ten years. Well done Haken, pat yourself on the back because you have done a brilliant job.
Haken – Cockroach King