Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Autothrall's Top Metal Albums of 2013 +++

The Top 20 Metal Albums of 2013

01. Satan (UK) - Life Sentence
02. Cultes des Ghouls (Pl) - Henbane
03. In Solitude (Se) - Sister
04. Lantern (Fi) - Below
05. Summoning (At) - Old Morning's Dawn
06. Helloween (De) - Straight Out of Hell
07. Gorguts (Ca) - Coloured Sands
08. Attacker (US) - Giants of Canaan
09. Sulphur Aeon (De) - Swallowed by the Ocean's Tide *debut of the year*
10. Iron Dogs (Ca) - Free and Wild
11. Obliteration (No) - Black Death Horizon
12. Realmbuilder (US) - Blue Flame Cavalry
13. Voivod (Ca) - Target Earth
14. Seremonia (Fi) - Ihminen
15. Converge, Rivers of Hell 3-Way Split (Au)
16. Neige Éternelle (Ca) - Neige Éternelle
17. Zemial (Gr) - Nykta
18. Spectral Lore (Gr)/Mare Cognitum (US) - Sol
19. Gris (Ca) - À l'Âme Enflammée, l'Äme Constellée...
20. Beyond (De) - Fatal Power of Death 

Again, we're hardly looking at a 'banner year' for metal music, and I didn't give out any really high scores; but 2013 was, like any other, loaded with an enormous amount of worthwhile listens across basically all of the subgenres. Busy year for me, with a move and a new baby boy among other changes, but  according to my notes I listened through approximately 443 new albums, EPs and demos this year, a fair chunk of which I was able to review. Lot of good Canadian stuff! Two of the most hyped records of 2013, Carcass's comeback Surgical Steel and Deafheaven's Sunbather don't belong anywhere near my list: the former, while technically a triumph, is little more than a rehash of ideas from their 1989-1994 period that don't stand to memory as much as the originals (I'd rate it a 7/10), while the latter offered me little more than a handful of decent absorbing melodies (a 6/10, at least it was better than their debut). 

For me, the real comebacks were from Satan and Attacker, which reinvigorated my interest in heavy, speed and power metal like few others. Some other bands (Iron Dogs, In Solitude and Realmbuilder) also put nice touches to the trad heavy & doom formulas, with humble but potent recordings. The new Cultes des Ghouls record was really surprising and fantastic...distinct, atmospheric, evil and wretched black metal the likes of which you rarely hear outside the early 90s. A number of other groups continued to put some curious spins on the old school death metal revival trend (Obliteration, Beyond, Sulphur Aeon, etc), but ultimately I found there were a lot of disappointing albums in 2013...not always on the 'suck' plane, but middle of the road at best. Once more, this is just a small cropping of my absolute favorites from the last 12 months...I've got a longer top 100 list over at RYM for you to check out if interested.

The Top 10 Non-Metal Albums of 2013

Neither was there a ton of non-metal music to get excited over, so I’m keeping this list at about half the size of what I’d normally track and rank. The Autechre double-album was brilliant, their best in some time but that’s probably the only ‘masterpiece’ on this list, and coincidentally my overall album of the year.

01. Autechre (UK) - Exai
02. Chelsea Wolfe (US) - Pain is Beautiful
03. Beastmilk (Fi) - Climax
04. Power Glove (US) - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon soundtrack
05. Killer Mike & El-P (US) - Run the Jewels
06. Fuck Buttons (US) - Slow Focus
07. Alice in Chains (US) - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
08. The Gathering (Nl) - Afterwords
09. Frontline Assembly (Ca) - Echogenetic
10. Washed Out (US) - Paracosm

The Top 10 Movies of 2013

I generally get a few requests for my favorite films of the year, but this is really not a cinema blog, so I'm going to truncate this to just a short list of ten titles I enjoyed, and ten I really didn't, arranged in no particular order of importance. I did manage to catch just about every flick I wanted to see in 2013, probably close to a hundred of them, so I've been paying attention, but it was just not a particularly strong selection, with nothing that blew me away or that I've award more than an 8/10 (80%). I still haven't seen Wolf of Wall Street, so the list might get an update in the near future.

Ten Films I Enjoyed
All is Bright
Escape Plan
The Gamers: Hand of Destiny
The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Man of Tai Chi
Pacific Rim
Prince Avalanche
This is the End/The World's End (take your pick)

Ten Films That Were Either Mediocre or Outright Offensively Bad
After Earth
The Conjuring
G.I. Joe: Retalation
A Good Day to Die Hard
Machete Kills
Man of Steel
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Thor: The Dark World
World War Z

The Top 10 PC/Videogames of 2013

Bear in mind that I do not yet own a PS4 or XBox One, since I can't justify owning them at the moment until they build up some respectable game libraries (hopefully by springtime). I also missed a few others I wanted to play like Plants vs. Zombies 2, and I could also try Grand Theft Auto V at some point, since I'm like the only guy who didn't bother with it. That said, there were some fun ones this year, and I'll update the list for any changes.

01. Rogue Legacy (PC)
02. Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)
03. Shin Megami Tensei IV (3DS)
04. Monaco: What's Yours is Mine (PC)
05. Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus (PS3)
06. Gunpoint (PC)
07. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Cross-platform)
08. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag (Cross-platform)
09. [TIE] Shadowrun Returns (PC) & SteamWorld Dig (3DS)
10. Batman: Arkham Origins (Cross-platform)

The Top 10 Books of 2013...or not.

Spent most of the year getting caught up on a few long running series like the Warhammer 40k Horus Heresy novels, so I didn't spend much time on the newer stuff, nor was there a lot to choose from. However, I put together a short list of worthwhile titles I was able to get to. The caveat is of course that I generally only read science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative stuff, I don't find much other fiction to my interests.

Brennan, Thomas. Doktor Glass

Corey, James S.A. Abaddon's Gate
Hodder, Mark The Secret of Abdu el yezdi
Hudspeth, E.B. The Resurrectionist
Kay, Guy Gavriel River of Stars
Lynch, Scott The Republic of Thieves
McClellan, Brian Promise of Blood
McNeill, Graham Angel Exterminatus (Horus Heresy)
Tregillis, Ian Something More Than Night
Wexler, Django The Thousand Names

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