Top 15-list of 2013

Me and my friend Tobias from Metal Moments drinking at
the Satyricon-show in Copenhagen 2013-11-07
2013 is almost over, and that means that it's time for me to try to arrange some sort of order of the albums which I've liked the most over the passed year. If I was to try and summarize things, I'd say that 2013 has most definitely been a much weaker year compared to 2012, when Tiamat, Vintersorg, My Dying Bride and Borknagar all released killer albums which I still listen a lot to.
I only made a top-15 list this year (compared to 20 last year) as I haven't been listening that actively to the 5 records I first felt should be on the list. So I decided to put them all in the honorable mentions-section instead.
I felt that I had to make a rule regarding including EP's, because it felt unfair to include them in the list as well. But if I were to do that, be sure that both "The Manuscript" by My Dying Bride and Myrkgrav's "Sjuguttmyra" would have made the list - they are that good.
Also, there's no denying that Scandinavia rules my list as usual. But let's get it on now!

HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order)
Amon Amarth - Deciever of the Gods
Carcass - Surgical Steel
Cathedral - The Last Spire
Code - Augur Nox
Hypocrisy - End of Disclosure
Koldbrann - Vertigo
Månegarm - Legions of the North
My Dying Bride - The Manuscript (EP)
Myrkgrav - Sjuguttmyra (EP)
Stilla - Till Stilla Falla
Witherscape - The Inheritance

15. Eldkraft - Shaman
Style: Doom/heavy metal
Origin: Sweden
When I read that Johan, the ex-vocalist from folk metal band Valkyria sang on this band I knew I just had to listen to it. The man has a very unique voice I must say. Far from being technically gifted, he possesses emotions and true epicness instead. The same can be said about the music on "Shaman" as well. The album is sadly a bit uneven, but if more songs would have been as impressive as "Gammal Krigare" - this album would have been very high up on this list.

14. Satyricon - Satyricon
Style: Black metal
Origin: Norway
One of the albums of 2013 that I anticipated the most. Much has been said about it and I feel that I am somewhere inbetween those who love it and those who loathe it. The song "Phoenix" is an absolute masterpiece of pop-metal and there are other more "standard" Satyricon tracks that I dig. But some songs on this album makes me question the sanity of Satyr and Frost. "Nocturnal Flare" might very well be the most boring song I've heard in all my life.

13. Ghost - Infestissumam
Style: Heavy metal/rock
Origin: Sweden
Could the nameless ghouls and Papa do the impossible and follow the extremely successful debut that "Opus Eponymous" (2010) was? I would like to say yes to that, since I feel that "Infestissumam" is a way more even album when it comes to songwriting and there are some real good smash-hits here as well. It's just that I "only" like Ghost. It's not my preferred cup of tea and I will never love them. Still, very impressed that they managed to write an ever better album than the debut.

12. Sacrilegious Impalement - III - Lux Infera
Style: Black metal
Origin: Finland
This was a band that I never heard of before, but a friend of mine recommended it and I felt like giving this band a fair chance. I'm very glad that I did, since this is classic 90's black metal, done the Norwegian way - only it's done by some guys from Finland. No huge suprises to be found on this album - just plain black metal with good songwriting just the way I like it.

11. Blodsrit - Diktat Deliberi
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
This Swedish band have had it's ups and downs and in no way is "Diktat Deliberi" a great album per se. It is a good album though, and compared to  Sacrilegious Impalement and their Norwegian 90's black metal - Blodsrit plays Swedish black metal with lots of cool hooks and some folk-elements here and there. I like. Listen to my original review for more information.

10. Watain - The Wild Hunt
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
Along with Satyricon, "The Wild Hunt" was probably one of the most anticipated black metal-releases of 2013. I wasn't that impressed. I mean, it's Watain so you know that you can expect a certain quality and I was pretty sure there would be a couple of tracks I'd really enjoy. And I was right. The problem is that this band probably never will live up to "Sworn to the Dark" (2007). They tried with "Lawless Darkness" (2010) but it wasn't as good. "The Wild Hunt" isn't as good as "Lawless Darkness" was either. Period. And just to be fair, there was a fine line between this one and the 2 previous spots on this list.

9. Cronian - Erathems
Style: Progressive metal
Origin: Norway/Sweden
This collaboration between Øystein G. Brun (Borknagar) and Andreas Hedlund (Borknagar, Vintersorg) should really be just the perfect music for my taste, since it sounds very much like their main band Borknagar without copying it. Only problem is, it isn't. I can't really put my finger on why that is, but I guess it's just more of the same. Which it really isn't either, since I really dig some of the songs present on "Erathems". The main thing is just that I'd rather take Vintersorg and Borknagar every day rather than this.

8. Amorphis - Circle
Style: Gothic metal/Melodic heavy metal
Origin: Finland
I've always had a bit of a torn relationship to Amorphis. I love their first three albums, find their mid-period to be extremely dull and welcomed the band's "comeback" when they got a new vocalist in 2005. Since then, I've always found one or two songs on each new album that I've thoroughly enjoyed, but that's that. You always know what you get when a new Amorphis-album is released and "Circle" is no exception. The main thing here is that I enjoy a lot more songs as I feel the songwriting is more even than it's been since... well, actually since "Tales From the Thousand Lakes" (1994). Kudos!

7. Bloody Hammers - Spiritual Relics
Style: Doom/stoner metal/hard rock
Origin: United States
This band that I recently discovered, made it onto spot 16 on last year's list. I still like what this band does in (what to me is) a very tired and mostly boring music genre. I still don't know what it is that makes Bloody Hammers be that exception - I only know that I like their style. And even though "Spiritual Relics" lacks the smash-hits it's predecessor "Bloody Hammers" (2012) had ("Witch of Endor"/"The Witching Hour") - the overall songwriting is more even and stable, which in my book is a good chapter.

6. Thyrfing - De Ödeslösa
Style: Viking/black metal
Origin: Sweden
If you follow this blog, you know that I was very dissapointed when Thyrfing changed vocalists and I didn't care for "Hels Vite" (2008) at all. But as I mentioned in my review of "De Ödeslösa", I felt that this album - despite not being great in any way - had the potential of being an album that grows with time. And it just so happened that it did. Solid viking/black metal that is mandatory music for all the Bathory-viking-era-worshippers out there.
5. Arckanum - Fenris Kindir
Style: Black metal
Origin: Sweden
Perhaps it's time for sole member Shamaatae to take a little break from his love-child Arckanum? When you release an album every year since 2008, one knows that it can't all be top notch quality stuff. And that's really the bitter truth. I gave this album a 9 in my original review, but after repeated listens, I feel that grade was a bit too much. Still a good album though. And Shamaatae is still the best black metal-vocalist out there.

4. Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance
Style: Black/heavy metal/punk
Origin: Norway
I really don't know what else to say that I didn't already cover in my original review of "The Underground Resistance", except that it is still as damn good almost 10 months later. Oh, and "Leave No Cross Unturned" is destined to become a future classic.

3. Vulture Industries - The Tower
Style: Avantgarde metal
Origin: Norway
I've listened to Vulture Industries previous two albums to some extent in the past, but I had totally missed that they released a new album this year. "The Tower" continues where "The Malefactor's Bloody Register" (2010) ended. Not too much has changed with the band's solid avantgarde metal, except with the cool inclusion of saxophones here and there. And there's still a strong Arcturus-vibe present in the music, even though Vulture Industries will never come close to the masters.

2. The Vision Bleak - Witching Hour
Style: Gothic metal
Origin: Germany
Together with spot #14 on this list, "Witching Hour" was one of the albums that I anticipated the most this year. Whilst not such a big dissapointment as "Satyricon", this is still sort of a dissapointment for me. Why you ask? Well, I often listen to the bands' previous albums a lot and especially "Set Sail to Mystery" (2010). This album however, whilst not being bad at all, lacks the extremely solid songwriting that their last 3 albums had. If you've heard The Vision Bleak before, you know what you get on this album - it's as simple as that.
But why then, is this album so high up on my list you ask? The sad and simple answer to that is what I mentioned in the foreword earlier; 2013 has been a really bad record-year for me personally and I must say that these 14 albums doesn't even come close to the number #1 spot.

1. Falkenbach - Asa
Style: Viking/folk metal
Origin: Germany
I heard the single "Eweroun" a couple of months before the album was released and I enjoyed it. But I was a bit afraid that the rest of the album would be equally slow. Add to that, my hopes for "Asa" were very low - much because the band's previous album "Tiurida" (2011) was a huge dissapointment and an overall boring album that lacked both emotions and effort.
Imagine my surprise then when I heard the first notes of opener "Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan" and really liked what I heard. When the second song "Wulfarweijd" I sighed in relief as it was already evident that "Asa" was far superior to "Tiurida" in every possible way. This is a perfect viking/folk metal album that covers the entire spectra; furious black metal-outbursts, grandiose mid-tempo numbers and slower, more epic tracks. I am so glad that I got the deluxe edition with the bonus tracks, because they are equally as good as the "original" ones - so be sure to pick up that version.
I could go on and on about how much I love this album, but it cannot really be described in words. There's not a single dull or unneccesary moment on "Asa" - I even like the instrumental outro - and it actually has old, classic Falkenbach-albums such as "...En Their Medh Riki Fara..." and "...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri..." beaten by great lengths.
Without a shadow of a doubt the musical highlight for me this year!
"En Lintinbluitin Faran..."