4) Ghost, Infestissumam (Loma Vista)
I have to admit that this album almost didn’t make it into my top ten. There was so much hype surrounding Ghost’s follow up to the beloved Opus Eponymous that at first Infestissumam didn’t quite win me over. So what changed? Well, the weeks following the album’s release, I kept finding myself humming songs like “Year Zero” or “Jigolo Har Megiddo” to myself. Then I started finding myself going back and listening to the album over and over again, to the point I finally realized why I loved this record: It’s not a “metal” record or even hard rock, it’s Swedish doom pop! Hell, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for ABBA, and this album is the closest thing you’ll get to Black Sabbath making a 70’s pop album. While that description will scare a lot fans away, that only makes me more infatuated with Ghost and Infestissumam.
Key track: “Jigolo Har Megiddo”
3) Black Sabbath – 13 (Republic/UMG)
Given all of the drama that caused its delayed release, it’s a blessing that Black Sabbath’s first album with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals even came out in the first place. However, the fact that 13 is actually packed with awesome sounding songs that live up to Sabbath’s legacy is truly a holiday miracle. Sure, I had no doubt that Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler still had it in them to dish out kick ass riffs. And while it’s sad Bill Ward didn’t appear on the album, I knew Brad Wilk would do a damn fine job on drums. My biggest fear, though, was Ozzy’s deteriorating voice (which requires a hefty amount of post-production and results in this). So much to my relief, 13 is hands down the best Ozzy has sounded on an album in roughly a decade. And given how Ozzy doesn’t quite sound as good singing these songs onstage, you can thank producer Rick Rubin for delivering a strong Ozzy performance without making him sound overproduced.
Key Track: “God Is Dead?”
2) Holy Grail, Ride The Void (Prosthetic)
I would’ve had my doubts if you had told me a year ago that Holy Grail would release one of my favorite and most played albums of 2013. To be honest, I always assumed that this Pasadena five piece was trying to be a NWOBHM wannabe. That was until I heard Ride The Void. I was blown away at how Holy Grail did an amazing job giving classic metal a modern twist. It’s an album that could appeal to old-school metal heads who still proudly wear Anthrax patches on their jean vests as well as to Avenged Sevenfold’s younger following. But even more impressive is the song writing itself, with the melodies of “Take It To The Grave” and “Silence The Scream” still stuck in my head even a year after its release.
Key Track: “Take It To The Grave”