7) Death Angel, The Dream Calls for Blood (Nuclear Blast)
Almost every year since 2007, I’ve had the chance to say this in my top 10 list – the second wave of thrash is outclassing the Big 4 more and more as time goes on. Overkill, Kreator, Testament, and so many others are just making better records from year to year. In 2013, it was Death Angel’s turn, and they capitalized with the best album of their entire career. Holding nothing back and showing no signs of their age, this is a pure thrash album that would sound right at home alongside the group’s earliest demos.
6) Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Virgin/EMI)
I’m not normally a grunge fan, I will say that immediately. But something about Alice in Chains with William DuVall just hits me and refuses to let go. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of AIC songs with Layne Staley that I love. But DuVall’s voice, when combined with the mournful guitar tones from Jerry Cantrell, just hits me in a way that no grunge band has ever succeeded in doing before. Combine that with the fact that The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is one heavy-as-hell record, and you’ve got an instant winner in my book. I genuinely can’t wait to hear what’s next from Alice in Chains.
5) Hello Demons Meet Skeletons, Choices (Architekt)
Given the fact that Last Parade by Call Me No One was at the top of my list last year, it only makes sense that I would love the hell out of Clint Lowery’s final release for his solo project, Hello Demons Meet Skeletons. The story of the recording is pretty amazing, with the challenge of writing and recording on the spot and finishing in under a week. But when you hear the final product, the story becomes absolutely phenomenal. The fact that Lowery turned out an EP with this much quality and impressive musicianship in a week is incredible – a testament to the fact that he’s one of the best songwriters in all of modern rock. Be sure to check out the hidden track after “The Curtain Burns” for some hilarious and over-the-top content.
4) Carcass, Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast)
The return of Carcass is everything that I hoped it would be and more. Surgical Steel is simply masterful in every way, bearing the signature of each album that preceded it (yes, even Swansong) and creating the all-encompassing Carcass experience. Whether it be the infectious groove of “A Congealed Cot of Blood”, the buzz-saw speed of “Thrasher’s Abattoir”, or the towering grandeur of “Mount of Execution”, everything on Surgical Steel is perfectly constructed, transcending everything that came before. This is a career-defining album for a genre-defining band, and it doesn’t get much better than that.