Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Curtiss' Top 25 Albums of 2013: 5-1

5. Blue Stahli - Antisleep Vol. 3

Blue Stahli is back with his third collection of songs intended for use in soundtracks, scores and music beds. He never fails to disappoint. While some of the tracks are starting to sound a lot like the stuff he's released previously, he always finds a way to throw in something new. If you listen to this album and you don't at least start bobbing your head (which is about as close as I ever get to dancing), you are broken inside.

4. Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

I had no idea Trent Reznor would release another album with Nine Inch Nails, and I definitely never imagined that it would make my top 5 list. Of course, that was before Hesitation Marks was released. While I've always been a casual fan of Nine Inch Nails' music, I've also always felt like everything released under that moniker was just a commercialized re-hashing of something Ministry had already done. That's changed, now. Hesitation Marks is a unique, enjoyable experience from an older, more mature Reznor. He's found a way to inject a completely new personality into NIN. His signature vocals are still there, of course, but the music is radically different. At times it's bouncy, other times it's a bit creepy. He's stripped away the over-production used on some of his previous efforts, and really pared it down to the basics. With this album, the music builds suspensefully to a crescendo, over and over again. While this album may not satisfy all of the people looking for another Broken or Downward Spiral, it is definitely an amazing, interesting and artful album.

3. Sevendust - Black Out the Sun

This was the first album I heard this year that I knew, without a doubt, would end up on my list of top albums for the year. This is a tour de force from Sevendust. It retains their signature sound, but adds so many new elements. At times, the album reminds me as much of classic, heavy Living Colour as it does of classic Sevendust. For the most part, they retain their signature vocal sounds, the aggressive scream mixed in with the occasional harmony, but they also throw in a little bit of a death metal growl at times, which gives this album a fresh, unexpected twist. This album also includes a handful of obligatory slower, almost-ballad, tracks, but they're done in the traditional Sevendust format, making them a lot more enjoyable than a lot of others. For anyone that's looking for a great rock/metal album, but doesn't want the same cookie cutter crap that's being played on rock radio every 5 minutes, this is definitely worth picking up.

2. Living Sacrifice - Ghost Thief

This album is everything that's great about Living Sacrifice. I fully recognize that this album is not going to appeal to the masses, but, if you're into heavy, aggressive music, this is one you can't miss. Living Sacrifice returns with their unique blend of classic Slayer, Sepultura, etc. and throws in a few new sounds. Bruce Fitzhugh, the band's lead vocalist, has not lost a step in his signature growl; while the rest of the band has picked up some great new tricks. While many "metal heads" will discount this album, and Living Sacrifice as a whole, simply because they are a Christian band performing songs with Christ-centered messages, this album truly is metal at its greatest.

1. Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods

I have no idea what to say about this album, except for the fact that it fully deserves to be at the very top of my list this year. This an absolutely astonishing effort from Amon Amarth. This album melds old and new metal together so perfectly, it's almost frightening. There are so many classic metal elements woven throughout this album, but the unique sound of Amon Amarth would immediately give it away as a modern album. There were many people who praised Avenged Sevenfold's latest effort as a "great mix of classic and new metal," but I, personally, think they completely missed the boat. That album wasn't a great mix of anything, it was a blatant rip-off of classic metal with nothing unique thrown in. Deceiver of the Gods, however, continues the ball moving forward while giving very appreciative nods toward the classic artists that helped pave the way. There is an occasional Slayer-style dualing-guitar riff, a Maiden-inspired solo, a Megadeth-driven guitar break and even a classic prog-metal (Queensryche, Helloween, etc.) vocal run on the album (provided by a special guest, the former lead vocalist of Candlemass). This album is a shining example of what metal should be today.

No comments:

Post a Comment