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Brootalisk’s Top Ten Loud Rock Albums of 2013

When each year is over, I’m always at a loss for how to summarize what a phenomenal year it’s been for metal, and 2013 was no different. It was the first year ever that a metal album was named the best record of the year by Metacritic, that Justin Bieber made his love for Metallica known, and that a metal cover of a pop song was voted to be the best out of 30 other covers. Normally, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck about these sensationalist news articles that exist only to get ratings and views. However, my recent trip to New York for the CMJ convention really taught me a lot about where the genre of metal stands right now in the grand scheme of things. To put it short: we metal heads NEED these kind of attention whoring events. With the music industry as a whole becoming less and less of a viable and sustainable option for many, the metal genre too is hurting because it’s not receiving the attention (and therefore sales) that it used to get back in the ’80s and early ’90s. That’s why I encourage people like Justin Bieber to wear a Metallica shirt, or for Kanye West to don “heavy metal” pants, no matter how atrocious they are. At least the metal genre is garnering more attention now than it has in the past decade. And while you may discourage attention from “non-trve” fans, keep in mind that the more attention the genre gets, the more sales, and thus money, it receives, which in turn emboldens upcoming artists to make new and exciting material, which (hopefully) garners more attention, and so on, until the circle of life is complete. /endrant

With that long winded tirade out of the way, let’s get back to what we’re all here for: me showing you a list of pretentious albums that you probably don’t care about but feel like you should because they’re my favorite albums of 2013. If you think you know better than I do, feel free to reply below, and I’ll take your choice into consideration as I cure cancer and solve world peace.

 

Entities

10) Pomegranate TigerEntities

Entities isn’t just a great album; it’s a great instrumental album, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do in today’s over saturated instru-metal genre. What ‘s even more impressive is the fact that Pomegranate Tiger have managed to create an album that’s just as technically advanced as the frontrunners of the genre (see: Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit) while also being a coherent piece of art. And it’s exactly that: the progressive metal outfit have created a work that doesn’t just flaunt their prowess, but progresses the waterlogged brand of music, something that was desperately needed.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 11

 

 

 

 

 


Gorguts-Colored-Sands9) Gorguts
Colored Sands

I remember seeing Gorguts last year when they played with the Death to All group in San Francisco and thinking to myself, “This does not sound like a band whose last album was released eleven years ago.” Indeed, a year later, Gorguts has come out to show all the posers how it’s done with Colored Sands. With the record, Gorguts combines a few tricks they’ve learned with the trademarked technical brutality that they are just so damn good at. Couple that with the prowess of Kevin Hufnagel (of Dysrhythmia fame), and you’ve got one undeniably sexy record.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3 9

 

 

 

 

 

Russian-Circles-Memorial8) Russian Circles – Memorial

Arguably the most elegant release this year, Memorial is an amalgamation of everything Russian Circles has been up to this point. While “Deficit” showcases their inhuman capacity for catchy hooks, “1777” extracts itself from Russian Circles’ earlier moments featuring beautiful soaring melodies that transcends everything in its class. Unfortunately, Russian Circles apparently suffers from a short attention span, as the album is well under normal LP length times. Clocking in at 37 minutes, its just 7 minutes longer than Between the Buried and Me’s Parallax EP. An unfair comparison maybe, but it is worth noting. Nevertheless, less of a great thing is a good problem to have, and it’s still an achievement in of itself to accomplish so much with so little.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 6

 

 

 

 

 

pth7) Protest the Hero – Volition

Tell me, what were you thinking when Protest the Hero successfully funded their newest album Volition via Kickstarter? Were you thinking that the album would be as good as it was? Because I sure as hell was not. I was half expecting Choady to just run off with the money and buy as much cheap booze $300,000 could get him. Instead of shitty liquor, we’ve gotten Volition in return, and what an investment. The album’s chock full of what you’d expect from P T to the motherfucking H, but it’s also got a much more mature feel than their last effort. The record also harks back to the good ol’ days of Kezia, and even has a direct reference to Fortress in “Animal Bones,” which, if we’re being honest, I am a huge sucker for.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 10


 

 

 

 

Altar-of-Plagues-Teethed-Glory6) Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury

While Altar of Plagues is regrettably no more, we can celebrate their previous existence with their unforgettably enduring swan song that is Teethed Glory and Injury. During the album’s intense 48 minutes, you can definitively detect the painstaking detail that went into each and every note of the album. This record will chill you to your very core. It will rattle your mind. There is nothing easy about this album, which makes it that much more great. Unlocking an album of this magnitude takes time, but it is time well worth investing.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 5, 9

 

 

 

 

 

Vertikal+cult_of_luna5) Cult of LunaVertikal

My deeply personal inner struggles with the ISIS disbandment has left many emotional scars on me, causing me to have trust issues with post-metal bands. However, there is one outfit that I can always have confidence in: Cult of Luna. With Vertikal, they’ve solidified what I’ve always known: they’re the best active post-metal ensemble right now (come at me Neurosis). And what a way to showcase their vast expertise and knowledge: Vertikal is a concept album that, at its core, deals with a government who is corrupted in a big-brother fashion. With the NSA scandal, never before is such a notion as relevant as it is today, and Vertikal was released before that defamation even occurred. Either Cult of Luna are indeed really good at writing concept albums, or they’re psychics from another dimension. I’m leaning towards the latter.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 6, 8

 

 

 

 


Deafheaven-Sunbather4) Deafheaven
– Sunbather

No band on this list, and potentially in all of metal, shows more blinding potential than San Francisco’s own Deafheaven. Everywhere I look, George Clark (vocalist) is right there with his creepy ass stare. Hell, they were even in an Apple advertisement for fuck’s sake. Combine their increase in popularity with an entrancing live performance, and there’s only one thing missing for this band to blow up: good music. HAH. Just kidding. Sunbather kicks monumental anus. The record perfectly treads the line between uplifting affection and sinister despair. 

Recommended Tracks: 1, 5, 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovid's Withering Scryers of the Ibis3) Ovid’s Withering – Scryers of the Ibis

Talk about coming out of nowhere. By the time I had heard this album for the first time, I already had my top ten list nicely made and organized, and Ovid’s Withering throws their debut album right out of left field to fuck everything up. And I couldn’t be happier about it. Scryers of the Ibis is everything I have ever wanted from a technical metal record, and more that I couldn’t have ever dreamed of. From the absurdly destructive riffs to the intricately and impeccably placed electronic segments, Scryers of the Ibis is one of the greatest debuts of any technical metal outfit in history. Period.

Recommended Tracks: 4, 8, 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leprous Coal2) Leprous – Coal

Coal is arguably the most criminally overlooked album this year. It’s also one of the best progressive metal albums in recent years. No more is Leprous just Ihsahn’s “back up band.” Gone is the looming moniker of “Opeth wannabes.” Leprous is a genuinely original band with a hell of a lot of talent, and Coal features every aspect of their incredible musicianship. From Einar’s soaring vocals to the ridiculously catchy rhythms by bassist Martin, this album has everything you would ever want from a progressive metal record. Also, I don’t care what anyone says, but “The Valley” is undoubtedly the best song of the year.

Recommended Tracks: 2, 3, 5

 

 

 

 

 

TheOcean-Pelagial1) The Ocean – Pelagial

Ultimately, there’s not much to say about a #1 album of the year except to simply yell through your computer LISTEN TO THIS GODDAMN ALBUM OR I WILL SHOVE IT INSIDE YOUR EARHOLES. Assuming you have listened to it, here’s a reason why this is the definitive metal record of the year: it’s a concept album about the motherfucking depths of the ocean written by a band called The Ocean. All kidding aside, Pelagial is, in this humble writer’s opinion, the epitome of a perfectly executed metal record. It’s coherent in every sense of the word. Each song flows flawlessly into each other. Everything is meticulously placed where it should be while still feeling natural and organic. It is the perfect mix of experimentation and execution. There will never be another record quite like Pelagial, and because of it there will never be another year quite like 2013.


Recommended Tracks: 2, 4, 9

Dan Briggs

Between the Buried and Me Bassist Dan Brigss Talks New Tour, New Band & Album

I recently was given the opportunity to chat with the bassist from progressive metal giant Between the Buried and Me. Below you can read highlights of our conversation in which we cover Russian Circles, Dan’s new band Trioscapes and even an AMA they conducted on reddit not too long ago. 

Brootalisk: How did you feel about the critical acclaim towards The Parallax II? Do you think it’s been a long time coming, or were you surprised to see it atop many year end lists?

Dan Briggs: Definitely not. We set out to kind of make our own version of a rock opera, just trying to make an over the top, thematic, progressive metal, operatic story, and it ended up being 70 something minutes long. You never know how something is going to turn out and be perceived. So we in the studio really felt like it was the best thing we had done, and that’s a hard thing to try to instill on people before they even hear the record. With all that in mind, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how it’s been received. It’s definitely a bit of a shock for such a long record to be embraced by so many people. For me, when I listen to it, it doesn’t quite feel as long. The important thing about it was the flow, and I think there’s a lot of that that contributes to the theatrical feel that we were going for. We’re definitely excited about it.

Brootalisk: Were you surprised at all to see it atop of many year-end lists?

Dan: You know, I didn’t really see that it was, but that’s cool!

Brootalisk: Oh yeah, it topped a lot.

Dan: Oh wow, that’s awesome! [laughs]

Brootalisk: Your upcoming tour with Coheed and Russian Circles is obviously in support of The Parallax II. How much of your set will be devoted to new material, and can fans expect some of their favorite old tunes to make it into the set list?

Dan: It’s gonna be about half new stuff time wise. We didn’t want to do too much off of it. Of course, for us we just want to got out and play the whole thing, but we can’t. It’s kind of a matter of picking out songs that we were really excited about and that we wanted to play, and that we though would be a good balance for this tour, and finding older songs that compliment those well. We have such a big catalog now that making a set list is almost like creating an album. You want to have a good flow and have it come down at the right moments to give yourself and the crowd a break. Our music has a lot of those dynamics naturally, so it’s just finding the right mix of songs. It gets harder and harder because we keep putting out records, so we just have more songs to choose on. But, it’s the first tour we’re doing in America since the album came out, so hopefully people will want to hear new stuff.

Brootalisk: How much time are you given for your set?

Dan: We have around an hour.

Brootalisk: I’ve heard some unique and downright strange ways band members ready their bodies for a set. Do you have a preshow warm up? If so, what does it consist of?

Dan: I stretch before we play. I always stretch to get my body looser, but I’ve also employed deeper stretches for my legs and IT bands. Aside from that though, we don’t do anything weird. We just sit there and practice our instruments. Maybe some casual stretching on the side. I think Blake does some push ups. So that’s kind of weird, I guess. [laughs]

Brootalisk: I was surprised, but very happy, to see that Russian Circles were chosen as the supporting band for the tour. Did you have any influence in choosing them to support your and Coheed’s tour?

Dan: We did! What originally happened, we were supposed to be in the middle of a headlining tour at this point that was going to involve Russian Circles as well, and I think Coheed had some tour packages fall through, so they picked up our tour package and added it to theirs. Russian Circles was a band that we picked to go on tour with us, and now they’re going on tour with Coheed and us!

Brootalisk: What’s your opinion of the band?

Dan: They’re cool! I’ve been getting into some of their more recent stuff. I remember listening to their very first record when it first came out, and I thought it was cool, but I just kind of fell off after that. Not for any reason, I just kinda stopped listening to them. They’re a very interesting band and very interesting kind of instrumental band, so I think it’s going to be a very neat package. I think every band has their own crowd. I’ve been a huge Botch fan, so I’m extremely excited to nerd out on their bass player a bit.

Brootalisk: Going off topic a little bit, you conducted an AMA on reddit before your newest record released. Can you give some insight on what kind of experience that was for you?

Dan: It was fun. I had never been to reddit before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea. I didn’t know the format at all. When it started, we weren’t together at all. We were at our respective homes, so I didn’t really know what to do! But it was fun! It was cool. There were a lot of people that asked questions, and we tried to answer as many as we could. Paul’s personality definitely shined through. He’s a very sarcastic and funny guy, something that people might not necessarily get just from watching him play on stage or reading his interviews. We did it with the hope that it would be a bit more laid back and teach the fans more about us than they normally would get.

Brootalisk: Would you ever do one again?

Dan: Yeah totally, now that I actually understand the format!

Brootalisk: Speaking of internet popularity, are you aware of Protest the Hero’s attempt to go independent with their latest album? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a potentially viable way for bands to start funding an album?

Dan: It seems like it, if they raised that much money! To make an album, we’ve probably only ever had about half that much. I guess you don’t really need that much to make an album nowadays. But, I’m glad it’s an option for people to come out with their own stuff. Artists have been doing that for decades. Peter Gabriel has been putting out his own records since the ’80s, so it’s nothing new, but I think it’s reached the point where people who are underground can do it. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that you don’t necessarily have to rely on making a CD that has a national distribution that’s going to be in every Best Buy or whatever. I think the fact that you can get your music out through the internet, from either digital files or even your own webstore, that’s a huge thing. And maybe you can get a smaller distribution deal to sell at indie stores. That’s perfect, what else do you need?

Dan Briggs

How metal? Dan’s so metal he shoots laser beams out of his instruments.

Brootalisk: What are your plans after the tour?

Dan: BTBAM is going to Europe in the Summer, but right after this tour my group Trioscapes, which is a three piece fusion project with bass, saxophone and drums. We’re doing a couple weeks on the East Coast and we’re going down to Puerto Rico to do a masterclass and a concert of course. That’ll be fun. I’m going to be working with my third group Orbs. We just finished writing a new album that I’m probably going to try to and record the guitars, bass, and drums in May before BTBAM goes to Europe, and hopefully I can finish that in the fall. So, you know, staying busy.

Brootalisk: Do you think Trioscapes would ever tour with Tosin Abasi’s side project, T.R.A.M?

Dan: Yeah, you know it was really funny because we’re all good friends, and we all went to different countries touring, so we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. So we find ourselves in Europe together after a year or so and we ask them what they had been up to, and they were like, “Oh we started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” and when they asked me what I had been up to, I was like, “Oh I started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” That was weird. It ended up because we just have similar influences. Tosin and Javier are big into Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin, and John McLaughlin is a big influence to me and everyone in Trioscapes, and that was sort of a chance thing. However, I don’t think they have live ambitions. I kind of made it pretty vocal from the get go. Trioscapes started as a live band, after all. It’s very much an active group. So, I would love to, and I think that would be super fun. I’m sure kids would love to see that, but I think there’s a better chance of seeing us on tour with Animals as Leaders than seeing T.R.A.M.

 

 

A Preview Of What 2013 Has In Store For Us Metalheads

2012 has brought upon us mere mortals some fantastic records. Big name bands, like Gojira, Enslaved, and Neurosis, have all presented amazing, high quality full length features that are sure to be regarding by some as instant classics, perhaps even winning an album of the year award or two. Even more obscure bands, such as Cloudkicker and Ne Obliviscaris, have been releasing phenomenal records. However, the 2012 year is almost to a close, and now is as good a time as any to start looking forward to 2013 and what potential masterpieces we can begin eagerly anticipating for.

 Cult of Luna Ready to Melt Our Faces

Cult of Luna, a post metal band hailing from Sweden, is set to drop Vertikal, their first record in 5 years. If their last two releases were indicative of anything, it’s that CoL are in the process of becoming one of the finest post metal outfits of our generation. Whether or not Vertikal will live up to the standard that’s become synonymous with the band, time can only tell.

 

BTBAM/Coheed/Russian Circles Tour

2013 will have just started, and already the biggest tour of the year (arguably) starts in February. Announced officially on November 5th, this tour features some of the best live acts in our generation, with Russian Circles opening and BTBAM co-headlining beside Coheed and Cambria. Prepare your anuses people. This won’t just be the most anticipated concert of the year, it’ll also be the geekiest.

 

Scale the Summit Will Give Us Another Summit to Scale

Letchford and company have been making a name for themselves as one of the best instrumental outfits currently around. Their last album, The Collective, was a great example of premium virtuoso guitar work.  According to the band, “We just started work on our next album. The material we have written so far is definitely pushing us into new territory.” In fact, the band very recently posted a new album teaser over on their YouTube home page. According to the  video, the record is called The Migration, and will drop sometime  in  Spring 2013.

An Amalgamation Of Promising New Material

Some more artists that have been hinting about dropping new releases  in 2013, but with much less details surrounding the albums, are Chimp Spanner, The Ocean, and Cynic. The Ocean have mentioned that they’re considering creating a full fledged instrumental album, which would be new for them, whereas Cynic and Chimp Spanner have been updating their respective Facebook pages with lots of teases about their new album in the works.

DISAPPOINTED

While I’m sure 2013 will be a good year for music, it’s just not going to be able to live up to the sheer amount of greatness that 2012 exuded. We’re all being spoiled this year, and I’ve sure as hell made certain not to waste this opportunity of awesome metalness this year. Have you?