Sunday, December 29, 2013

Andy's Best of the Rest

Written by Andy Osborn.

So much metal, so little time. Busy as we are here at Metal Bandcamp trying to dissect and divulge the best heavy releases available on our favorite service, we don’t always get around to digging in to everything we would like to cover. Hidden gems are uncovered on an almost daily basis so sometimes they just get lost in the chaotic whirlwind that is the collective mind of part-time bloggers. So looking back at the last 12 months, I’ve exhumed some of my favorite albums that for one reason or another never got a proper review. All of the following releases could be drooled over and written about at length, but for sake of brevity - and my sanity - here’s the best of the rest.

5. Speedtrap - Powerdose


Traditional speed metal came back in a big way in 2013. One of the groups leading the charge is Finland’s Speedtrap, whose full-length debut floated criminally under the radar upon its release in August. Riffs rip and twist their way across what may be a fairly standard template, but the beefy production and blistering finger-wizardry make Powerdose a perfect argument for revivalists.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

4. Immortal Bird - Akrasia

Artwork by Kikyz1313

I was enthralled by Thrawsunblat’s effort early this year, so another 2013 release featuring Rae Amitay was a devilishly surprising holiday gift. Not sticking to a single genre, Immortal Bird sounds like they have the fires of hell driving their passion for all things extreme. The complex, ever-bending songs coupled with Rae’s vocals remind of a death metal Ludicra, a comparison I save only for the most worthy of projects.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

3. Fir Bolg - Towards Ancestral Lands

Cover painting by Stephanie Simona

I listened to this album solely hoping to finish the laugh that the cover art started, but what this French solo project lacks in art direction it makes up for in energy and focus. It’s essentially a thought experiment in what Immortal would sound like if infused with folk influences, but holy hell does it ever work well. Fans of blackened riffage look no further.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

2. Noumena - Death Walks With Me


2013 was an incredible year for melodeath and saw top-notch releases from genre stalwarts Kalmah, Arsis, Dark Tranquillity and Hypocrisy. But the one that surprised me the most is this fourth full-length from little-known Finnish troupe Noumena. They fuse deeper than hell male vocals with poppy female harmonies and uplifting melodies that bring a fresh sound to the usually melancholic style. You’ll be humming along to these choruses for months to come.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

1. Satan - Life Sentence

Cover art by Eliran Kantor

These middle-aged NWOBH-ers burst back onto the scene two decades later with hands down the best trad metal album of the year. Life Sentence is a nonstop rager filled with infectious riffs, dueling lead guitars and good old fashioned metallic fun. The tight as leather songwriting is absolutely flawless as the Brits tell tales of war and strife, and even manage what may be the first appropriate 9/11 remembrance in metaldom. With better consistency and re-playability than any other album released this year, Satan have re-opened and re-written the book of British metal with this masterpiece.


[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2013, Andy Osborn, Fir Bolg, Immortal Bird, Listenable Records, Noumena, Powerdose, Satan., Speedtrap, Svart Records
7 comments:
  1. Excellent post. Reminded me of a couple things and set me in some new directions.

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    1. Yep, Immortal Bird are excellent, and I've heard of Satan, but the rest are totally new to me. as Andy says "so much metal, so little time"...

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  2. How does the rest of that Fir Bolg album compare to the one streaming track? I really liked the song, but I have to admit: I generally fear the "-folk" tag on metal. In particular, hearing hackneyed melody lines played by a recorder fills me with murderous rage, and not in a good way. For whatever reason, cheap plastic recorders were THE instrument to have for the tone deaf and untalented in my freshmen year college dorm.

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    1. It compares pretty fine. One of the best, but both Banshees and Mag Tuired are better. Overall the album has less folk and more riffs than I expected.

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    2. Oh, fine, I'll buy it. You twisted my arm.

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    3. It's really good. The folk influence is definitely on the light side, but that works for me.

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