2013: Moriamur in flammis.

ARCHIVES This post is an archived “Best of the Year” list from another website where I spent about seven years documenting my listening habits. After a break from the site in 2018 and a total exodus in 2019 these lists were collected, saved, and are now presented largely untouched. Please note that these thoughts, opinions, and general comments were not only written (up to ten) years ago but largely to a small audience of friends and record collectors. They are not complete, not retrospective, a little self-conscious and not intended to be professional in voice. The re-posting of these lists are by the request of a small circle of online friends and should not be taken seriously as criticism.

This list had to be slightly edited, the top three were missing in the archived version and I could not remember where I’d ranked Bølzer at the time, so ‘Aura’ and ‘Icarus’ might’ve been swapped in rank. Some regrets on the order and leaving a few records out of this but, oh well.

Here is my finalized list of my favorite music from 2013. I couldn’t really seem to pull myself away from heavy/extreme metal this year and the result is a lack of diversity on this generalized list. I think more ingrained metalheads will find a lot of diversity here, but the uninitiated may not feel welcome. I felt like this was an amazing year for metal releases and there are still a few that could make this list that aren’t quite out yet, or that I haven’t heard. Feel free to recommend any of those. Other notable bands that released albums this year that I really enjoyed: Satan, Orchid, Vastum, Falkenbach, Nekrofilth, Nocturnal Graves, Pentagram (Chile), Gorguts, A.M.S.G., Beelzefuzz, Summoning, Lantern, Thou Art Lord, Kadavar, Irkallian Oracle, Ash Borer, Horna, Morrigan, Symptom, Protector.”

LABEL(S):Sonic Blast Media

“I think Rudra‘s interest in technical/riff-based thrashing death metal guitar skills peaked about a decade ago, but they continue to put out unique albums that blend South Asian folk and worship music influences with extreme metal. Their lyrical concepts appear highly spiritual, but I haven’t done any serious research on them. These songs are quite long and there is a sort of trancelike flow that happens from track to track and this works magic upon repeated listens. If you’re not in a patient mood then this might feel like work, but if you’re zen enough and want some uniquely voiced death metal then I think this’ll be interesting.”


TITLE:Tunnel of No Light
LABEL(S):Pulverized Records

“My initial reaction to Tunnel of No Light was mostly anxiety that they’d just repeat A Thin Shell again. After hesitating a bit, I’ve found it to be just as sombre as any other October Tide album, and the sorrowful melodies drag along just like before. Rain Without End and Grey Dawn sound somewhat happy compared to much of Tunnel of No Light with its softer approach, and subtle lead guitars. Katatonia won’t ever put out anything like their first two albums again… so this is really just as good, and somewhat pedigree, even. If you like this album I’d suggest trying out the stuff from Negative Voice and Amorphis that didn’t make it on this list.”

LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin

“I love this album artwork. The music? Hmm, Amebix meets Dismember? One of the most ballsy, bombastic records I’ve heard in 2013. Kinda getting my fix for two things I like lately, the death/crust spheres rising in the United States/Sweden and a bit of sludge/death hybrid which few bands do well.”

TITLE:Και ο λόγος σάρξ εγένετο
LABEL(S):BlackSeed Productions

“Though I’ve seen this named as a full tribute to 90’s black metal and the infamous second wave with nods to all larger scenes, this Greek black/death metal band has always been one to flip the script. Taking influence from their country-mates but also Norwegian black metal and modern black/death (of the time) depending on which album you grab. This one is more in line with traditional Greek black metal in most ways, because of this I find this to be one of their best albums. Low-frills but still layered and atmospheric black metal, the production here is all I could ask from a black metal band in 2013. No atmospheric tags, no suicidal depression, just orthodoxy. Also, a completely transformed Sarcófago cover to seal the deal.”

TITLE:Noctambulous Jaws Within Sempiternal Night
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions

“At first glance of the logo and cover art, this release might seem like a modern “war metal” release yet Prosanctus Inferi instead offer some USDM influenced death/black metal that swerves between highly focused death metal and heavier bursts of black metal intensity. It does suffer from being a bit of a mess at times but in a great way, Noctambulous Jaws… is a trip, a memorable trauma with insane drumming and plenty of huge riffs.”

LABEL(S):Cult Underground Records

Last Sacrament is a bit of an experiment in using unique instrumentation to make relatively orthodox music. When reading about the album and their use of microtonal guitars I figured it would be trendy djent deathcore or something… but instead this is unique sounding death metal with somewhat standard vocals. The twists and turns this album takes make it seem much longer than its playtime and it can be exhaustive upon repeated listens. One of the more interesting death metal records from this year and I’m looking forward to next year’s release as well.”

TITLE:Odori Sepulcrorum
LABEL(S):Profound Lore Records

“Hmm, in a certain context this ex-Goat Molestor concieved Incantation-esque death metal band might seem fairly obvious at face value. So many bands do this dooming, reverb laiden style of cacophonic and sinister death metal but Grave Miasma happen to do it with a certain air of professionalism and taste for riffs that makes Odori Sepulcrorum stand out above the many bands trending with this style. This would be higher up but I reached for albums by Imprecation and Altars more often. All three are well worth your time, though..”

TITLE:Contra Rationem
LABEL(S):Listenable Records

“Awesome, this band is sort of the apex, ultra-alpha, brutal final-form of early 90’s Morbid Angel/Deicide ideas. They’ve taken those influences to the fullest degree and made some very distinct and enjoyable brutal death metal. Consider this the second Nox record, which I guess was just the third Centurian record anyhow. Solid follow-up to “IXAXAAR”. I love this guy’s style of riffing, the stuff he writes is just genius.”

LABEL(S):Nuclear Winter Records

“Cult death metal heavy on their nuanced approach of post-“Domination” era Morbid Angel and fuses that backbone with newer ideas from death metal you might hear from bands coming out of the Dark Descent lately. Though there are moments where things are bit of a cosmic jumble, that is part of the magic for this type of atmospherically leaning death metal bands and doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Completely underrated.”

TITLE:Blood Vaults – The Blazing Gospel of Heinrich Kramer
LABEL(S):Ván Records

“Harrowing, long-winded and entirely in a class of it’s own this is one of the strongest most epic musical statements from the man behind The Ruins of Beverast. We all know he has a flair for slow, guided repetition that builds into major themes and this album is almost painstakingly structured. While the arrangement is always impressive from TRoB the change in sound here has leaned into death/doom and funeral doom territory which portrays the story of a man in certain megalomaniacal turmoil perfectly well. I love this album and really do feel this guy’s music is always worth rushing out to try. Just make sure you’re in a bad mood, stoned or just patient enough to listen to 79 minutes of soul-crushing death worship.” [Note: My score on this album went from 80/100 to 100/100 between 2013 and 2014]

TITLE:Fatal Power of Death
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

“Another example of amazing album artwork from this year. This ridiculously ballsy German death metal band takes all the things I love about death/thrash and death metal into a blender and just riff-salads it into hell. The wild, thrashing style of the first half of the album and the equally wretched swamp of the second half contrast in the best way possible. This should appeal to fans of old school death metal (back when thrash metal was ‘in’) as well as fans of stuff like Mitochondrion or Portal. Everything I like about death metal is on this record in some form, just needs a few divebomb solos and it’d be perfect.”

TITLE:The Unholy Communion
LABEL(S):Xtreem Music

“I don’t even remember the first Verminous album from 10 years ago, but this one is appears to be a flawless follow-up to it without any real loss over the last decade. There are some moments that lack variation but most of this album is energetic, highly dynamic, and bludgeons me to no end. Portions of this album recall some of my favorite old school stuff, and others remind me of albums I really enjoyed last year such as Necrovation, and this year such as Beyond.”

TITLE:The Western Front
LABEL(S):Nuclear War Now! Productions

“When firing up The Western Front I didn’t really have any expectations beyond the suggestion by friends that they’re like Armoured Angel but also Hellas black metal. They ultimately live up to this standard with a that style touches upon two of my favorite things: The heavy metal influenced melodic death metal of Arghoslent and the heavy metal influenced black metal from bands like Varathron and early Rotting Christ. But that doesn’t mean those will be obvious references, only that this is an extreme heavy metal record with Sacriphyx‘ own twist on things. I’ve since bought the self-titled compilation by this band and like that material a bit more but, this still wins over for the year.”

TITLE:Whales and Leeches
LABEL(S):Relapse Records

Red Fang do what bands like Mastodon and Baroness have been attempting to do for years now: Put out sludgy rock music that is memorable, melodic, and heavy. I’m not a big fan of the previous album but I feel like Whales and Leeches shows a hugely improved and matured band. Every song here is succinct, there for a reason, and never overstates itself. Their style seems to take influence from the proto-sludge of the Melvins, older High on Fire, and more modern influences in doom, stoner rock, noise rock and sludge. It is a damn catchy record and has a distinct personality and style.”

TITLE:Satanae Tenebris Infinita
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records

“This debut from Imprecation was over 20 years in the making, and it was worth the wait. I enjoyed their demo and compilation stuff, particularly the black/death Incantation-esque compilation from 1995, but didn’t know a new album was ever going to come out. The result is a rotten, filth-smeared, sludge-soaked death metal album that just brutalizes me. Evil, heavy stuff with some even some memorable riffs.”

TITLE:Poisoned Void
LABEL(S):Woodcut Records,
Dark Descent Records

Vorum‘s first full-length is perhaps as shockingly good as Krypts and Lantern albums this year. While these Finnish death bands are still green, each pulled it off a debut with style. The material here more or less lives up to the EP/demos past, but the sound changed up a bit in the translation to full-length. At first I was disappointed that my expectations were not met, but the more I listened to Poisoned Void the more it grew on me. The ~30 minute playtime is perfect for death metal and the style here is classic Euro-death.”

TITLE:The Formulas of Death
LABEL(S):Invictus Productions

“Interestingly enough Tribulation‘s latest album chucks the usual formulas of death metal aside and instead makes the ultimate death n’ roll record that explores heavy rock and progressive rock structures with some interesting results. One of my favorite death metal-related albums so far this year, but sometimes a bit too demanding. It is easy to forget I’m listening to a death metal band, which I think is rightfully polarizing to most fans.”

LABEL(S):20 Buck Spin

“Though Tempest has been rightfully labeled Funeral Doom, this is only part of their reality. In fact the music itself is far closer to recent Ahab or Pallbearer releases than it is to Thergothon or Esoteric. Rather than depress me into a sort of dumbfounded state, Lycus‘ somewhat peaceful Mournful Congregation-esque sound just makes me uncomfortable. Atmospheric doom metal, with some death metal moments might be the best way to describe this album and it hits the heavier parts kind of like early Dolorian does. The semi-ominous but pleasant tone gives a certain versatility to this recording that some of my favorite Funeral doom stuff like Tyranny or older Evoken seem a bit uncouth by comparison. One of the many “Hey, remember me? I’m awesome.” records from the year..”

TITLE:Funeral Circle
LABEL(S):Shadow Kingdom Records

“The debut LP from Funeral Circle fills a niche of doom metal that has been missing from my life since Lord Vicar‘s 2007 album Fear No Pain. It isn’t necessarily the Reverend Bizarre-alike style of doom that is blatant, like Pilgrim totally was (good album though) but it does feel like Funeral Circle come from the same school of doom. The first listen had me unsure of what they were going for, but by the fifth listen their hypnotic use of verse and repetition had me sold. This is basically 2013’s equivalent of Pallbearer for me, somber and lasting.”

LABEL(S):Hell’s Headbangers Records

“This band’s previous output is generally fantastic if you’re a fan of black/thrash that heavily emphasizes ye olde speed metal days. Seeing the progression from their previous album In Memorium to the style of Nykta has been pretty amazing. While this is essentially the same band, their style has transformed into black/thrash (think Hellhammer, old Sodom, and the ilk) with a stunning use of psychedelic and ‘progressive’ rock elements that somehow blend together into a unique and original sound. I think I’ve read descriptions like “Absu or Celtic Frost with some Hawkwind thrown in” and hell, that makes enough sense to me. The guitar tone isn’t great but it works well enough for fans of speed/black metal from the mid-80’s.”

TITLE:Manifest Decimation
LABEL(S):Southern Lord

“This is one of those albums that was on my wishlist forever until I finally got around to it, and turned out to be a great surprise. Since I’m a big fan of old Cro-Mags, Crumbsuckers and that whole sub-genre of crossover thrash this band scratches some of that itch. Power Trip represents the darker “Alpha-Omega”/”4 of a Kind” side of crossover that isn’t afraid to be slow and plodding. The recording is fantastically old school sounding, with the vocalist far in the background shouting while the guitars take center stage. Tons of shitty bands have come out in this style over the years but Power Trip is appropriately dark, gets the sound right, and cranked out a headbanger of a record.”

TITLE:Black Death Horizon
LABEL(S):Indie Recordings

“Since I missed out on the release of Nekropsalms until later, the leap from Obliteration‘s first release, which was sloppy, to Black Death Horizon is all the more striking. Obliteration take one part Mental Funeral and then a bit of Soulside Journey and turn it out with a raw and interesting death metal record. That said this is certainly not the most memorable piece of death metal out today and it really stands out more ‘in the moment’ than it does in the memory. Many points for style and substance, the album cover is cool as fuck, though this album could have used some bigger riffs or catchier moments. This one slightly edges out Tribulation‘s quirked out style for my favorite oddball death metal of the year.”

TITLE:Obscure Verses for the Multiverse
LABEL(S):Season of Mist

“Another solid offering from Inquisition that shows some big refinements in production value. I think they’ve lost a bit of their grinding, dirty edge on this release but have come up with some really interesting material. I do miss the extra intense Popeye vocals and spiraling repetition of riffs, but the new additions to this record are both familiar and newly interesting. A favorite band of mine for good reason and a fine addition to their discography.”


TITLE:Magic Circle
LABEL(S):Armageddon Shop

“Noisy, belted-out, and somewhat ‘retro’ traditional doom metal. The production gives the album a sense of antiquity without being an obvious throwback. Without this analogue sounding approach, which is rooted in the guitar tone and spacious drum sound, Magic Circle might’ve made a generic first impression. As it is, their sound is full of character and atmosphere that classic doom metal needs and the vocals are particularly standout, with a lot of passion and without pretense. This record is enough to place them as one of my favorite bands in this garage jammed style of doom.”

TITLE:Unholy Black Splendour
LABEL(S):Trendkill Recordings

Mercyless is one of the best death metal bands to have spawned from the late 80’s death metal upsurge in France. Most people wrote them off as trend-hopping after a couple of bad groove metal albums in the late 90’s/early 2000’s (though they weren’t as bad as Massacra‘s similar attempts). It has been long enough that people can selectively remember the two good (great) albums they put out initially and forget the two shit ones they put out after. I really enjoy the music here, and that’s all that matters. It is less melodic than Abject Offerings and goes for a similar tone throughout, but Unholy Black Splendor is altogether a great comeback that improves with repeated visits.”

LABEL(S):Eyes Like Snow

“This second full-length from traditional doom metal band Wheel is easily one of the best albums in this sub-genre for quite some time. The music itself is in service to the melody and talents of the vocalist. This guy is just nuts with his level of expression and variation and his performance is masterful. He even goes as far as to throw in a few death-like growls in the more intense lyrical sections. While I’m not entirely sold on their first album, this one is a marked improvement and I can’t find any particular flaw in Icarus.”

LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions

“A dramatic change after ‘Roman Acupuncture’, this is an atmospheric death metal record that builds towards an incredible peak with “Entranced by the Wolfshook” and then fades back down. Although I did not get the hype around this EP to start there isn’t a song from 2013 that I remember better than that second track. I bought the t-shirt and the album and I think this says enough.”

TITLE:Unending Degradation
LABEL(S):Dark Descent Records,
Me Saco Un Ojo

“This turned out to be a pleasant non-surprise. They’ve slowed down their style of Finnish death/doom and provided a thick, fearsome atmosphere that is truly radically cool. I feel this has more in common with Dead Congregation, Desecresy or Disma than most classic Finnish bands. Great release overall, a soul crushing death metal experience. The more I listen to the album the more it drags me down. Even though this came out fairly early in the year, it has remained the #1 album for 2013 since I first heard it. No contest.”

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