Yes, it’s that time of year again; when objectivity goes out the window and I select my esteemed top ten albums of the year. Forget chin stroking analysis, these are the albums which made my hair stand on end… gave me goosebumps… made me belt out the lyrics and madly air-drum/air-guitar with impunity!
So, without further ado…
The British grindcore legends showed that a 20 year break between albums did them no harm whatsoever with this thrashing return to form. Brutality and melody in equal measures.
Surprise of the year. The former nu metal anti-heroes are all grown up and It shows in this urbane, stomping and innovative release.
With a mind boggling list of guest musicians, this album was never gonna be anything but great. A superb combination of the best elements of their earlier works.
The girls from rural Victoria delivered a lesson in what the essence of rock’n’roll is really about. No bullshit, straight up. Anthemic.
The LA punk veterans gave us one of their strongest albums in this catchy yet uncompromising effort. Driving rhythms, infectious choruses, vitriolic lyrics and a sense of melody throughout prove that this band is as relevant as ever.
Bowie once again shows himself to be the master of image manipulation and reinvention, parodying his own album cover! For a dude who’s been around this long (and pretty much done it all in rock) to release an album of this quality and inventiveness is nothing short of incredible. The man is a genius.
Minus their original singer and focal point in the late Layne Staley, AIC unleashed a bombshell. Easily the equal of anything from their “classic” period, this record is chock full of gargantuan riffs, imaginative songwriting and eclectic styles from metal to country. A must see on this year’s Soundwave Festival lineup!
Who said avant garde music had to be esoteric and self serious? For anyone lamenting the demise of Mr Bungle and Naked City, get onto this album! A supergroup featuring electro terrorist Merzbow and members from groups as disparate as Napalm Death, The Fall and Cardiacs, this is quite simply visionary guitar driven music. Brutal, fractured and pervaded by an inconceivable sense of sing-along-catchiness, this album is a total anomaly… and utterly brilliant.
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ foray into film scores has paid off immeasurably. Hesitation Marks is a triumph of emotional control. Malevolent, brooding and at times frightening, it’s also eminently danceable, catchy and ethereal. Heaven and Hell rolled into one. The equal of anything they’ve ever produced.
You could throw a blanket over the top five this year, I agonized over the order, but in the end there can be only one… and this is it. The second album from Sweden’s Ghost. Is it metal? Is it pop? I’m not sure, but the band has somehow combined occultist lyrical themes and a ghoulish stage presence (and hidden identities) with utterly epic songs, soaring vocal harmonies, and an unashamed penchant for pop hooks. Gothic undead zombie chic, a devilishly clever image and an absolutely brilliant album…. congrats nameless ghouls, you’re number one!
STINKER OF THE YEAR-
FALLING IN REVERSE- FASHIONABLY LATE
Y’know… it sorta pains me to name this as the worst album of the year, just thinking about it makes me laugh out loud!
But sadly, the band are not comedy geniuses. This record is an embarrasingly egregious example of what happens if you inexpertly attempt to combine every genre that’s popular right now into a single work. Lame-arse whiteboy rap, second rate metalcore and bits of power metal and So-cal punk/pop snottiness are uncomfortably mashed together on this complete abomination. It’s only redeeming feature is that it’s funny as fuck… unintentionally….
Well, that’s it for my musical year that was 2013… it was a strange year. It was no 1967… but it sure turned up a few terrific albums… and heaps that were merely “pretty good”. As for next year, I’m fascinated by the prospect of what it might have in store…
Bring on 2014!