And so, it falls to my turn to collate my own summary on the weird, wonderful and down-right frustrating releases of the year 2013.
Let it be said, it hasn’t been the most notable year for music… but maybe that’s because Opeth and Mastodon were so relatively quiet 😉
Album of the Year : Cult of Luna – ‘Vertikal’
I had a lot of trouble picking the absolute #1 for album releases this year, but I’m going to give it to Cult of Luna for one reason alone; their consistency.
They don’t bring them out that often (‘Eternal Kingdom’ was released 5 years ago) but when they do, they’re always absolutely incredible. With a crushingly captivating blend of devastating drudge and ambiance, Cult of Luna have again provided proof of their merits and of their worthy crown.
I almost gave it to Black Sabbath for the brilliant ’13’, the heaviest and arguably strongest album they’ve released since 1992’s ‘Dehumanizer’. I never would have thought it possible, but Ozzy genuinely sounds good again. Whether they can manage one more which is anything like this as this remains to be seen…
(Notable mention here goes to Skinny Puppy for ‘Weapon’, of which you can read a review here.)
Song of the Year : Jordan Rudess – ‘A Song for Matt Hill’
Nothing more required.
Additionally though, in terms of songs I remembered and that left an impression, ‘Ghosts’ was the first that came to mind. The futuristic and haunting beauty sounds so far away from the ‘Caustic Grip’ Front Line Assembly that I initially discovered yet the essence remains. Maybe not an obvious choice, but a belter all the same. I wrote a more in-depth analysis earlier in the year, too.
Video of the Year : Behemoth – ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’
Simply because it doesn’t seem right to award one song twice (even if it is the greatest jingle committed to tape), it has to be Behemoth for the brutal majesty that is ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’, the first track since 2009’s ‘Evangelion’ and Nergal’s unfortunate battle with leukemia.
Gig of the Year : American Head Charge (Highbury Garage)
Whilst my appearances at gigs this year has few and far between, the victor came late in the year and there really could only be one; American Head Charge at the Highbury Garage. An absolutely blinding performance, one which I reviewed fondly and it gets the nod on the strength of the performance but also on the fact that took me back a decade to a time, back before the days of Rock Sins, when things were very different.
(Notable mention has to go Arcturus for their December showing at the Islington Academy; a mighty, flawless and long overdue collection of avant-garde musicality commanded by the immeasurable Simen Hestnæs (that’s ICS Vortex to me and you, kid) and all to the beat of the mighty Jan Axel Blomberg (that’s fucking HELLHAMMER to the foolish among you). A truly mind-blowing experience, one that I still smile when recalling!)
Best Festival Performance : Rammstein (Download)
I’m going to cheat here and just relay the beginning and end of my previous praise in review;
“In short, whilst writing this review and indeed preparing for it, my thoughts pretty much always lead to one place and one band. I’ve considered how best to begin the paragraphs and I’ve considered how best to summarise them… but alas, one’s mind essentially turns to mush even looking back for just a moment… I knew that what we had witnessed would live with all of us forever; as the house-lights lit up the departing thousands, conversations were overheard that pretty much repeated verbatim what I had muttered the first time I saw them live… awe and appreciation magnified forty-fold.”
It’s all that’s needed and echoes the sentiments Jamie highlights too.
Most Disappointing Album : Megadeth – ‘Super Collider’
And again, in keeping with following Jamie’s thought-process, there could only be one ‘winner’ of this award. Whilst I don’t think it was entirely drab, more-so 85% drab, it’s a bloody terrible album and clearly another ‘contractual release’ rather than a creative one. Megadeth are always going to be my favourite band deep down, but even I can’t deny the tosh that is ‘Super Collider’. Even though ‘Risk’ usually seems a distant memory, this takes me back, a bit like a nightmare hangover after you’ve sworn never to drink again. Where previous release ‘Thirteen’ was fucking smashing, mainman Mustaine really did nose-dive with this.
As they say in some circles, the only way is up (surely)…
Band of the Year : Hang the Bastard
Signed by Century Media and playing their biggest show to date in front of thousands at Download 2013, it HAD to be the Year of the Bastard.
For the lads, the year is one.
– Dream Theater
– Darkthrone for ‘The Underground Resistance’ (Which I reviewed at the start of the year)
– My Dying Bride for ‘The Manuscript’ (Again, reviewed previously)
– Bring Me the Horizon (who’d even have thought I’d be laying praise to these guys, but it’s bloody deserved)