3) Killswitch Engage, Disarm the Descent (Roadrunner)
Jesse Leach’s return to Killswitch Engage is something that I’ve wanted to happen for years, and when it did, I was elated. One of my favorite singers of all time was coming back to the band that he made great, and with that came the promise of new music as well. Disarm the Descent is more than just a simple metalcore album, because every note carries with it the emotion and effort that each member of KSE put into this record. The music is some of the best material that the band has ever done, and Leach’s lyrics are even more inspirational and intelligent here than they were on Alive or Just Breathing. Even though I enjoyed KSE a great deal when Howard Jones was at the helm, this is the album that I’ve been waiting to hear for years, and I’m so glad that it finally came into being.
2) Darkane, The Sinister Supremacy (Prosthetic)
This album came out of nowhere and blew me away. Darkane has never sounded this good, and more significantly, none of Darkane’s contemporaries (Arch Enemy, The Crown, Dew-Scented, etc.) have ever sounded this good, either. When people talk about the melding of thrash with the Gothenburg style of melodic death metal, this album is what they should be referring to, because The Sinister Supremacy does that perfectly. The compositions are absolutely flawless, and newly-rejoined vocalist Lawrence Mackrory has never sounded better in his career. I just hope that whatever greatness inspired this record carries over to their future material.
1) Sevendust, Black Out the Sun (7brothers)
For the second year in a row, an album that is related to Sevendust takes the top spot on my list. It’s easy to understand why, though, when you listen to Black Out the Sun. Featuring some of the most creative and atypical songwriting of their entire career, Sevendust went very far outside the box to create this album, and it works on every level. Encompassing multiple genres and utilizing new compositional techniques that they’ve never tried before, Sevendust went above and beyond to create a truly memorable hard rock album. Every element does its job perfectly – the melodies are gorgeous, the groove is infectious, the heaviness is unrelenting, and the technicality is unparalleled in their genre. I had a feeling early on that Black Out the Sun would be on par with Sevendust’s magnum opus, 2001’s Animosity, when it came out. The newer album certainly did not disappoint. Congratulations to Sevendust on creating such an awe-inspiring album. I only hope that there is more of the same quality to come!
Kataklysm, Waiting for the End to Come (Nuclear Blast)
Protest the Hero, Volition (Razor & Tie)
Heaven Shall Burn, Veto (Century Media)
Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Saivon Lapsi (Massacre)
Dagoba, Post Mortem Nihil Est (eOne)
Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks (Columbia)
Stone Sour, House of Gold and Bones – Part 2 (Roadrunner)
Karnivool, Asymmetry (Workhorse)
Sirenia, Perils of the Deep Blue (Nuclear Blast)
Amon Amarth, Deceiver of the Gods (Metal Blade)
Mutiny Within, Mutiny Within 2 – Synchronicity (Self-released)
Dark Tranquillity, Construct (Century Media)
Omnium Gatherum, Beyond (Lifeforce)
And that’s all for 2013, folks! Here’s to 2014 and all the new music excellence we will have in the new year!