Best of 2013

#30. Pat Metheny - Tap

Legendary guitarist Pat Metheny plays songs from John Zorn's Masada songbook. Metheny plays most of the instruments (besides dums) and it is a fantastic performance. Ranks up there with some of Metheny'e best (such as Zero Tolerence for Silence  and Song x)

#29. Ministry - From Beer To Eternity

A surprisingly great return to form for Al Jourgensen and crew after a few lackluster releases under the Ministry moniker. Totally forocious guitar work throughout. Stylistically it runs the gambit as well...much more diverse than the  other metal-centric latter day Ministry albums.

#28. Secret Chiefs 3 - Book of Souls: Folio A

After many delays the first volume of Book of Souls is finally released. Unfortunately, many of the songs have already been released as singles, so the lack of complexly new material is kind of a letdown. That being said, the performances themselves are top notch and the production sounds gigantic . I'm hoping Folio B will have more brand-new compositions.

#27. Zevious - Passing Through The Wall

Completely awesome heavy instrumental rock group. Well worth seeking out for fans of  avant-garde music, brutal prog and the like. They also performed one of my favorite live shows I witnessed this year.

#26. Run The Jewels
Killer Mike and El-P put out my favorite hip-hop album of the year. Available as a free download online means that this music should be huge, but has largely flown under the radar compared to other more mainstream acts, which is a shame. Don't sleep on this one!
 
#25. Vista Chino - Peace

Kyuss Lives gets a new name and finally puts out original material. It made me fall back in love with the ol' "desert rock" sound. This album runs circles around the latest Queens of the Stone Age album (sorry, Josh Homme...but it's true!)

 

#24. Noisem - Agony Defined

Completely over-the-top thrash/punk/hardcore from some young upstarts in Baltimore. This album completely ripped my face off...but still remains catchy and welcomes repeated listens. Can't wait to see where this band goes next. Excellent live act too!

#23. Vaura - The Missing

Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia) and Toby Driver (Secret Chiefs 3, Kayo Dot) must not sleep ever. Besides putting out killer material with their other bands, they still manage to put out top notch songs with Vaura. Showing bands like Deafheaven how the post rock/black metal sound REALLY is done.

#22. Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing

The Porcupine Tree mastermind takes time out from remixing old King Crimson albums to create this prog rock masterpiece. Marco Minnemann's drum work is just one of the many highlights from this great release. The songwriting continues to be as strong as I come to expect from Steven Wilson as well.

#21. Portal - Vexovoid

Portal continues to take extreme metal to the next level!! Brutal, fast, and completely disorienting. A suffocating production adds to the intensity of this anonymous crazies from down under.

#20. Oozing Would - Retrash

Chicago metal continues to be alive and well, despite bands like Pelican putting out lackluster material. Oozing Wound is seemingly pissed off about everything and wants to tell you all about it. Fast and tight instrumental performances coupled with the angry vocals make for a nice treat for metal lovers.

#19. Vince Gill - Bakersfield

Vince Gill continues to impress now that he is free from the Nashville establishment. Great performances of honky tonk country classics, with absolutely unbelievable pedal steel performances. I haven't been too excited about much in the country genre as of late, so this left me pleasantly surprised.

 

#18. Nails - Abandon All Life

Like getting run over by a train while simultaneously being set on fire. A totally menacing rush of blink and you'll miss it grind-influenced metal.

#17. Mick Barr - Strings/Through

The Orthrelm/Ocrilim/Krallce guitarist continues to put out inspiring solo works. The music on this album was originally written for string quartet intended to be played by the Kronos Quartet, but here is played entirely by Mick. Stunning.

#16. Melvins - Tres Carbones/Everybody Loves Sausages

The Melvins put out two tremendous albums this year. One set of mostly original songs and one set of covers. Continuing to be a combination of  badass heaviness and lighthearted goofiness these releases are classic Melvins.

#15. Castevet - Obsian

Math metal lives on with Castevet! Extremely complex song structures that twist and turn leaves your head spinning. I spent a lot of enjoyment  making sense of this difficult album. It brings a lot of rewards to repeated, focused listening.

#14. Guerilla Toss - s/t / Gay Disco

Avant-Garde, ugly, and confounding. Two brilliant albums that toy with the idea of what rock music is, and what is could (and should) be. Lurching rhythms with a yelping vocalist who somehow ties together the madness of the disjointed music.

#13. Botanist -IV: Mandragora

One man black metal featuring hammer dulcimer and lyrics involving plants!! What's not to love about that??

#12. Deer Tick - Negativity

This is a surprisingly amazing album of catchy rock music with a bit of country thrown into the mix. Depressing lyrics and catchy music make up an intoxicatingly blend of straightforward rock.

#11. Voivod - Target Earth

Voivod is back!!! Complex, prog-based metal from these Canadian legends! Skeptics take note: this is the real deal. Voivod put out one of the best metal albums this year, by a mile.

#10. Carcass - Surgical Steel

Along with Voivod, Carcass is another metal legend that brought their A-game in 2013. Coming hot of the heels of their triumphant performance at Maryland Deathfest, this album completely rules!  Amazing riffs, catchy songwriting and pummeling drums remind me why Carcass is one of the best metal bands of all time.

#09. Willie Nelson - To All The Girls / Lets Face The Music And Dance

What are you planning to do when you turn 80? If you are Willie Nelson you put out two awesome albums and play about 200 shows. The first album is a laid back acoustic affair that showcases the tight band and impeccable songwriting. The second album is a series of duets with female singers...and Willie definitely holds his own with everyone he is paired up with. The long list of essential Willie Nelson albums continues to grow.

#08. Virgil Donate - In This Life

Mindblowing jazz fusion featuring one of the best drummers alive. It helps that the rest of the band keeps pace with Virgil's out of this world technique and the songs are awesome too. There is a lot to absorb on this album and I still hear new things with every listen.

#07. Levin Minnemann Rudess - s/t / Aristrocrats - Culture Clash

Evrn MORE Mindblowing jazz fusion with another contender for best drummer alive! Two releases of impeccable musicianship with individuals at the top of their game. Jordan Rudess should ditch Dream Theater like Portnoy did and continue to hang out with guys like this putting out stellar material like this instead.

#06. Indricothere - II

#05. Ihsahn- Das Seelenbrechen

The former Emperor frontman continues to confuse and impress on his latest album. Using black metal as a launching point into all-out weirdness, this is a crazed set of music that doesn't wait for the listener to catch up with its genius.

#04. Lydia Lunch - Retrovirus

A tight band blasting through classics from the Lydia Lunch back catalog. You need this. 

#03. Cellular Chaos - s/t

The BEST rock band in America today! This is not up for debate. Rock music is alive and well if you know where to look.

#02. Gorguts - Colored Sand

The new Gorguts does not disappoint! Crazed tech-metal with a wide scope. John Longstreth as their new drummer was a brilliant move. He drives each song forward to amazing heights. Ranks right up there with Obscura to my ears!

#01. Kayo Dot - Hubardo

Totally speechless about this masterpiece. Completely epic in scope. Progressive rock in the truest sense.  If you only listen to one album on my list, make it this one. Seriously, you William not be disappointed. Try to listen to the Full album in one sitting to get the full effect!