2013 has been yet another great year for the metal and hardcore world. Lots of great albums were released. However, out of all of these records, there are thirteen that can be labelled as the best that the year has had to offer.

13. CARTHAGE - Salt the Earth

Genre: Progressive Metal/Deathcore
Label: Unsigned

Baltimore group Carthage have released their first full-length album "Salt the Earth" early this year, but it's already enough to show off what this band is really capable of. Combining progressive metal with brutal and melodic deathcore, the band takes an intriguing approach to the 'djent' formula with crushing breakdowns, potent melodies, vocals, and riffs, and an overall thick atmosphere. The grooves are all there, but there is also a ton of rawness and energy to the songs the release offers. It has both depth and vigor and performs a nice balancing act between structure and catchiness. After such a strong release, it'll be even more interesting to see what this band will do next.

12. HANDS LIKE HOUSES - Unimagine & THE COLOR MORALE - Know Hope

Genres: Post-Hardcore/Alternative Rock & Post-Hardcore/Metalcore

Label: Rise

Yes, the number 12 spot is a tie between two groups that share a bit of a similar sound: Hands Like Houses and The Color Morale. Their music is somewhat uplifting and energizing in both sound and lyrics, but they stand on their own as highly enjoyable releases. Hands Like Houses' second full-length "Unimagine" is very positive and captivating in how powerful it is in both emotion and craft, and neither side overshadows the other. On the other hand, The Color Morale's third full-length album "Know Hope" leans more towards the metalcore genre, using heavier elements to bring out the energy, and really succeeds in doing so. In short, "Unimagine" is more light-hearted and poppy while "Know Hope" is darker and heavier. Despite their differences, however, both albums are great additions to any post-hardcore fan's collection.

11. NAILS - Abandon All Life

Genre: Hardcore/Crust
Label: Southern Lord

Subtlety means nothing to crust metal quartet Nails, as their third full-length album "Abandon All Life" showcases ten short but explosive tracks that reveal the ugliest and most destructive sides of the hardcore genre. No moment passes where the record shows its victims no mercy in its suffocating violence, but that isn't to say it becomes boring or tedious; It also is quite well-written. The majority of the songs last no more than two minutes, so they're chaotic sound can stick to the audience more, on top of the potent musicianship working to destroy anything in its path. Sometimes it takes a break from the rapid-fire brutality for slower-paced sludge tracks that are just as crushing. "Abandon All Life" will lay waste to your eardrums, but you may very well enjoy every single minute of it.

10. STRATOVARIUS - Nemesis

Genre: Melodic/Power Metal
Label: Ear

Finnish powerhouses Stratovarius really have brought out some of the best heavy metal can demonstrate with their newest full-length "Nemesis." The album cover should be enough to tell the potential audience what they would be in store for: Bold, epic, and explosive metal that you could work into a grand battle scene in a fantasy film. Everything about this album sounds vast and theatrical, and the music really knows how to suck the listener into its powerful wake with its sonic melodies and impressive instrumental performances. This stellar record is some good fire to let into your musical world.

9. LOCRIAN - Return to Annihilation

Genre: Drone/Experimental
Label: Relapse

A simple glimpse at the album artwork of Locrian's "Return to Annihilation" should be enough to inform what the record sounds like: Dark, ambient, and haunting drone music. This album takes on different genres, such as electronic samples and post-metal and acoustic passages, going beyond filling the quota for having a good sense of variety. Despite this diversity, however, the tracks work very well off one another for how atmospheric and rather creepy they all sound. Hence the title "Return to Annihilation," the record as a whole contains an uneasy and desolate air, so the songs can hold their own ground while still working great in unison as an entire collaboration. This album is definitely an eerie soundtrack that should reach your ears.

8. CHTHONIC - Bu-Tik

Genre: Symphonic/Black Metal
Label: Spinefarm

Although folk metal is a genre that seems to be mostly reserved for European bands, it can also be expanded to acts such as Taiwanese band Chthonic, who have definitely brought out some of the best in the genre with their seventh full-length "Bu-Tik." The oriental instruments (Erhu, flute, etc.) are placed very nicely, laden over the impressive metallic musicianship for a powerful listening experience. In addition to that, there is so much energy put behind the music that it only makes the listen all the more compelling. "Bu-Tik" is so potent in its 'folk' and 'metal' aspects that any music listener can look to it as both a fine gateway release and a really enjoyable metal album.


Genre: Funeral Doom Metal
Label: Debemur Morti

One song that lasts for almost an hour; This concept alone is incredibly risky business, but it's pulled off wonderfully by French doom group Monolithe with their fourth offering. The orchestral elements, deathly vocals, depressive guitar work, and sluggish but explosive drumming show off a bleak sound helped by the mixing that gives the music a somewhat cinematic edge. Despite the music's overall slow pace, it really knows how to keep the listener invested with a grand atmosphere, stellar musicianship, and a potent sense of dynamic throughout. The track knows when to shift gears without losing its flow or ambiance, and this makes the release all the more enjoyable. Monolithe really has created its own dark, sinister world with this album.

6. VILLAINS - 10 Code

Genre: Deathcore/Hardcore
Label: Unsigned

With a moniker like Villains, you probably shouldn't expect anything that upbeat or pleasant about the music that this Chicago group sets on the table. Their first full-length album "10 Code" is solid evidence of this, as these are some of the most vehement, crude, and nihilistic tracks you will hear in both the deathcore and hardcore scenes. Everything from the raging vocals to the syncopated guitars deliver raw, aggressive energy that actually somewhat invigorates the listener with its rigid atmosphere. On top of that, the music is overall quite technical. This actually shows off more instrumental prowess, and the way this complexity is laid out throughout the record makes the music even more captivating. "10 Code" is a violent beast that breathes poison and spits acid.

5. HOPE FOR THE DYING - Aletheia

Genre: Progressive/Symphonic Metal
Label: Facedown

Progressive metal quartet Hope For The Dying set the bar really high for themselves with their previous release "Dissimulation" with its fusion of symphonic metal with melodic and technical hardcore. However, it seems that the band has truly outdone themselves with their newest full-length "Aletheia." This album sort of treats every aspect of the musicianship as an orchestra, using a bit of an unorthodox method to deliver their music. Both the screamed and clean vocals deliver the emotion along with the synthesized effects while the guitars and drums act as a technical foil, making way for a really intriguing formula that really stands out. It may stretch out for over an hour, but it's worth every minute for how greatly it captures both musical prowess and a theatrical atmosphere to further captivate the audience. Cinematic and impressive, "Aletheia" is definitely one of the greatest modern metal records to ever hit the air.


Genre: Atmospheric Metal/Hardcore/Rock
Label: Facedown

Everything In Slow Motion, the solo project of ex-Hands frontman Shane Oschner, is an act that delivers in terms of passion and power with their debut full-length "Phoenix." The tracks fuse atmospheric metal and hardcore with hints of sludge and acoustic rock, so the formula alone is enough to spark some intrigue. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. The musicianship, for starters, is really well-performed. The screams and shouts are incredibly raw and ferocious, while the clean singing is just as powerful. The instrumental parts reinforce this slow but strong energy, working off of one another into some of the most emotionally powerful tracks one will find in any album. With every second that passes in each song, there is no doubt that a lot of heart has been put behind them. "Phoenix" is a masterpiece that really deserves to be recognized more in the music world.

3. FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY - Hellbound

Genre: Technical Death Metal/Deathcore
Label: eOne/Good Fight

Deathcore is a genre that could really use some mold-breaking, as too many bands under that caliber follow the same formula of blast beats and sluggish breakdowns. Thankfully, New Jersey quintet Fit For An Autopsy is a group whose newest release, "Hellbound," is one that is part of the break-through. There is a lot of technicality behind it, and it actually helps in entrapping the audience in the record's darkness. The guitar and drum work are beyond impressive, demonstrating complexity without compromising its energy and power. Speaking of which, the levels of aggression this album has are above the roof. Everything from Nate Johnson's vocal roars to the gruesome riffs and percussion make this album a totally vehement creature. The fast and slow parts throughout the release share the same amount of vigor and technical prowess, so its violence never truly loses steam. "Hellbound" has the perfect balance between brutality and complexity, making this album a must-listen for deathcore fans and skeptics alike.

2. ORPHANED LAND - All is One

Genre: Folk/Death Metal

Label: Century Media

Folk metal kingpins Orphaned Land has sustained its throne with their most recent album entitled "All is One." The sound is overall very uplifting and powerful, and pretty much every melody and passage the record puts out hits the bulls-eye. The singing is very soulful, as well as the instrumental work, and they're all composed together into beautifully crafted tracks. The overall feel of the music is very religious, but it's not to the point where it becomes excessively preachy; In fact, it creates a very intriguing and engaging atmosphere with the Middle-Eastern instrumentation, along with powerful lyrics that can be read even outside of a religious scope. It's heavily cultured, but it's also very accessible. "All is One" is an incredibly compelling folk metal release that has just as much passion and piety as it does musical mastery and substance, and it's more than worth the listen.

1. TESSERACT - Altered State

Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock
Label: Century Media

With their second full-length "Altered State," British progressive metal act Tesseract has shown that their at the top of their game. Every detail about is done unbelievably well; the musicianship, the atmosphere, the complexity, the melodies, and anything else that makes this album a grand tech metal helping. The singing is gentle and transcendent, and the instrumental work is incredibly technical and engaging. The atmosphere is also vast thanks to the great production and mixing, adding to the record's power. The songs are masterfully composed, weaving together melody, energy, and complexity into beautiful tracks that can envelop both metal and non-metal fans in its bright fabric. This record is breathtaking and engaging from start to finish, as every little aspect of it is wondrously carried out. Multi-faceted, progressive, euphoric, and powerful, "Altered State" is certainly the greatest album of 2013.

And so concludes the top 13 albums of 2013. Lots of great releases have popped up over the previous year, and it'll be exciting to see what 2014 will provide for us. Happy New Year!