jakob187's Top 10 Albums of 2013

My musical tastes are varied and wide, but this year, it seemed like my favorite albums of the year were vastly more varied. Here's the list of albums that kept me hitting repeat in 2013.

10. Black Sabbath - 13

I was one of the naysayers that believed Rick Rubin producing this album would lead to something terrible. I was one of the many who said "NO BILL WARD, NO BLACK SABBATH." I was one of those that said "Brad Wilk's on skins? That sounds dumb." I was proven OH...SO...WRONG. 13 was another return to form, a "reunion" that I was happy to hear creating new music. From front to back, it's a tour-de-force of retro-inspired Black Sabbath where Geezer's rhythm and Tony's leads seer your eardrums with prime doom and gloom. They were able to capture the magic of Volume 4 and Paranoid while keeping it modern, making it work for this generation as well as previous ones. Rarely do you see a band come back together to produce such a fantastic piece of music.

9. Run The Jewels

Thanks to the Giant Bomb community, I learned about this project through the forums. I really enjoyed it on my first listen, but I found myself constantly coming back to it time and time again over the year. Something about the flow, the beats, and the homemade feel of the album is so addicting. There's a lot of great wordplay, but at the end of the day, it just comes down to the fact that it's a pleasure for the ears to take in the sounds produced by El-P and Killer Mike. Every time I hear "Sea Legs," it just puts me in a good mood for some damn reason.

8. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

When we heard that Daft Punk would have a new release this year, the fervor was massive. When the album finally released, we were presented with a funkadelic EDM album that really went outside of the normal Daft Punk parameters. There was actual bass being played, production from Pharrell Williams, and one hell of a feel-good song in "Get Lucky." However, digging deeper into the album, we are presented with a greater concept: the robots want to make human music. What makes music "music?" How does EDM present itself to the mainstream as "actual music" rather than constantly being tossed aside by many naysayers who believe in the archaic philosophy of "no instruments, no music?" Random Access Memories is the solid answer to that question.

7. Sevendust - Black Out The Sun

It's been a long time since I liked a Sevendust album. After Seasons, things just seemed to go downhill and sideways with these guys, trying to dig into a well that was long tapped and just not themselves. With Black Out The Sun, the boys in Sevendust have returned to full form, creating what is arguably the best album of their career. Much like with Norma Jean's Wrongdoers, Sevendust take their classic formula of hard-hitting metal, mix in some melody from efforts like Animosity and Seasons, and somehow bring in some modern flavor to create a pounding and brutal album. This was indeed one of the most pleasant surprises of 2013.

6. Carcass - Surgical Steel

Part of me really wanted to put Death Angel's The Dream Calls for Blood or Annihilator's Feast on this list overall, but when it came down to metal - true, earnest, hard-edged bleeding metal, Carcass's Surgical Steel was THE...FUCKING...EPITOME...of metal in 2013. No album that came against it could stand on two legs without toppling to the ground in a gory mess. Steer and Ash deliver some of the grindiest riffs ever with a fantastic rhythm section from Walker and Wilding. However, it's the eccentricity of the music, the grandiose nature of the sound and the violence that really amplify this album above any other metal released this year.

5. Protest The Hero - Volition

Speaking of metal still, let's talk about Volition, the fourth effort from Protest The Hero. Ever since they released Kezia, Protest has been marching to the beat of their own drummer. They marched so hard to that beat that they left their record label (Vagrant Records), decided to crowd-fund their new album, and even had to deal with their drummer leaving (to venture into other interests) and replace him with Chris Adler (drummer, Lamb of God) in the studio. Volition itself is a fun album, but it has its serious moments. More than anything, though, it's one of the few albums released this year that felt homegrown, like it was a labour of love, that it was a creation for the band more than the fans. If anything, Volition is the first time since Kezia where it felt like the guys were just jamming out, making some killer music, and having a good ol' time.

4. Big KRIT - King Remembered In Time

There are few rappers out there who honestly claim to be truly great. However, Big KRIT proved with K.R.I.T. that he is among them. His beats are original and eclectic. His flow and lyrics are genuine and heartfelt. His ability to create a SONG rather than just a beat with a flow is magnificent. Everything on K.R.I.T. is just truly spectacular. It's an actual orgasm for the ears, and if anything, it's a damn shame that something this good isn't embraced by mainstream radio because it refuses to follow the "formula" for popular music. Big KRIT aims to be different, but it's not for the sake of being different. It is a genuine want to create something more than just bullshit. Moreover, K.R.I.T. is a rap album that literally ANYONE from any walk of life, genre of music, etc. can listen to and enjoy.

3. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Part 1

Timberlake is cool. That's just a fact. He has this magical power to create pop music that is literally just excellent. With The 20/20 Experience Part 1, he did a lot to push pop music into a different direction than it is currently following. He decided to write songs that were experimental, songs that broke the 3:30 - 4:00 formula, songs that were highly personal, and songs that brought back the vibe of old R&B. By doing so, he created an abnormality in the pop industry: a pop album that clocks in at 79 MINUTES LONG featuring nothing but smashes and hits. At 40 minutes, that would be expected, but when you start breaking the 7 minute mark on some songs, you go outside of the pop norm and find yourself in legendary status. Timberlake has now proven that he can withstand the test of time, and The 20/20 Experience (at least Part 1) will be a classic pop album.

2. Tesseract - Altered States

Words cannot describe how much I fucking love this album. Very few bands approach "albums" as being one full piece quite the way that Tesseract has come to perfect. Despite having a new singer, the band's latest album offers soaring and existential music that breaks all boundaries and conforms to no one. It's impossible to not listen to the album from start to finish, and with every swooping melody and addicting chorus, Tesseract refuses to let go of you. It is seriously an album that stands all tests of time.

1. Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman: Descension

GOD...DAMN! There were plenty of rock albums this year that helped revive my faith in rock 'n' roll overall. Bowie, Volbeat, Clutch, Stone Sour, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam... There were so many that made me flip shit. However, not a single one of them held a flame to the second part of Coheed's grand and epic tale of Sirius Amory, the legendary figure in their Amory Wars storyline who discovered the Clockwork. Rather than just telling that tale, Claudio and company dig deep into the personal side of Sirius Amory, how his travels take him away from the one he loves, puts him in the shoes of fantastic characters, and leads him down a personal journey that is beyond most mortal comprehension. The sting of betrayal, the lament of love lost, the pain of filling burdened shoes... Claudio's lyrics pierce through your soul, touching a deep part of your heart that rarely gets attention. I cry every time I hear "The Dark Side of Me," as its sadness is already something immense. Once you look at the story that is being told, the realization that it's a song of recognizing within yourself rather than just love lost...goddamn, I'm getting weepy just writing about it. This album gives me goosebumps, literal goosebumps. You don't necessarily need the first part of The Afterman (Ascension) to see how beautiful, eclectic, and fantastic this album is.

24 Comments
24 Comments
Posted by TheVeteran13

Personally I like The Afterman: Ascension a lot more than Descension.

When I saw Coheed at Radio City and they played Domino the Destitute live that cemented my feelings on the albums.

That night was also the first time I saw Between the Buried and Me(aka my favorite band) live, twas quite a magical evening.

Edited by TheSouthernDandy

...Like Clockwork isn't on this list. Travesty!

Posted by OneKillWonder_

Big ups for including Sevendust! Black Out the Sun is incredible, though I would have to massively disagree with you that everything past Seasons isn't good. Cold Day Memory was much more of a return to form with Clint Lowery coming back.

Posted by MB

While I don't necessarily like everything on this list, I'm so thankful it wasn't full of fucking kpop. Ugh.

Moderator Online
Posted by Ramone

The only album I've listened to on this list is 13 and yeah, it's a pretty good fucking album.

Edited by jakob187

@thesoutherndandy: I think that Like Clockwork is a fine album, but QOTSA has done WAY better than that. It felt like Josh Homme just gliding on what QOTSA does rather than shaking it up ala Songs for the Deaf and Them Crooked Vultures.

@onekillwonder_: I didn't care for Cold Day Memory. I felt it was too close to Animosity for me, and I really didn't care for that album that much.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

@jakob187 said:

@onekillwonder_: I didn't care for Cold Day Memory. I felt it was too close to Animosity for me, and I really didn't care for that album that much.

Whaaaaat....

Sevendust is my favorite band, so pardon me for finding what you're saying to be complete and udder fucking insanity.

That's cool, though. I mean, I don't find Black Out of the Sun to be that much of a departure from anything else they've ever done to really understand preferring it that much more than some of their other stuff, but damn if it isn't a well-made record. The title track is one of the best songs I've heard in years.

I actually got the meet them twice this year, and talking to them about music and other shit for awhile made for two of the most memorable experiences of my life. They're some of the nicest guys I've ever met, too.

Posted by Kedi2

The only album on your list I've listened to is Volition, and that's my personal favorite of the year.

Posted by TheSouthernDandy
Posted by jakob187

@theveteran13: I can understand that. I think both albums are fucking brilliant. However, on a personal emotional level, I can relate far more to Descension. I had a lot of problems with betrayal from those that said they loved me in my life than anything presented on the first album.

Also, in comment on "Domino the Destitute," I think it's a fantastic song...but it's no "Sentry the Defiant." GODDAMN I LOVE THAT SONG! It just gets me amped up, makes me want to start a revolution. Fucking amazing track.

@onekillwonder_:

I am a firm lover of Home and the title album. I felt that Animosity and Seasons went a little too far in the melodic direction than I cared for. There was a hard-defined edge and groove that the title album and Home had that just made me lose my shit every time I listened to them. Home was the album that made me want to learn how to play drums, just because the shit that Morgan was doing on that album were goddamn insane to me in terms of overall technique.

I understand that people love Animosity, but it's just inferior to me in comparison to those first two albums. They were just so raw, while Animosity felt a little over-produced for my tastes (mind you, I understand the context of that comment when I'm saying that a Toby Wright-produced album is my favorite, as that guy over-produces like CRAZY...but to a point that it sounds super raw.)

Edited by shinboy630

@jakob187: Totally right, Surgical Steel kicks all kinds of ass

Posted by Pr1mus

I don't think i've listened to 10 different albums this year. In fact i can only think of 5 at the moment, two of which are on this list. Random Access Memories and The 20/20 Experience Part 1. The other 3 are Juno Reactor - The Golden Sun of the Great East which opens with a knockout blow in Final Frontier, Kavinsky's OutRun which is also fantastic and K.Flay's What if it is EP. Also excellent. That's it i think.

Really love RAM and is the first Daft Punk album i actually like more than 2 or 3 songs. Contact has to be my favorite and a strong contender for my favorite song of the year.

Did not care quite as much for Justin this time around. I really liked a lot the two previous album but this is decidedly something different and it just didn't click. I need to listen to it again.

Posted by laserbolts

This just reminded me of how good the first 2 Coheed albums were. Going to listen to them now.

Posted by AlexW00d

Usually these lists are just full of pretentious crap, but this actually looks like a list written by someone who just enjoys himself some music, which I appreciate. Whilst I may not agree with some of the choices, it doesn't matter what I think, I am glad you found enough albums this year you could make a top 10. I think mine personally would be a 5 at a push.

Tricot - THE

Protest - Clarity

Kelala - Cut 4 me (do mixtapes even count in this?)

Death Grips - Government Tapes

Justin Timberlake - 20/20 Experience

Posted by jakob187

@alexw00d: I'm a child of music in all forms. I identify as a "metalhead" since it's the genre of music I listen to the most, but my parents raised me with an appreciation for everything. Thank you for finding my list to be genuine, as I know that it is as genuine for me as it can be.

Posted by MrKlorox

Run the Jewels was a killer surprise. El-P's beats always impress, but I got straight IGN.com'd by that album. And on top of that it's free. I also really liked How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence by MSI. The album I listened to thirdmost this year was Carach Angren's 2012 release Where the Corpses Sink Forever, which I've done a total 180 on since last year. Deeds of Flesh's Portals to Canaan was kinda disappointing after waiting through the last 2 years worth of delays.

Posted by jakob187

Don't worry, everyone. If Tool actually releases an album next year, you already know my #1 album of 2014.

Edited by SirOptimusPrime

Surgical Steel is probably near the top of my favorites this year as well. "Congealed Clot of Blood" has Heartwork written all over it in a way that melodic death metal in general has been trying to emulate for 20 years. Not to mention Jeff sounds insane on that record. I doubt they'll ever touch Necroticism and Heartwork but this record is damn fucking good.

The other one I really enjoyed off this list was Volition. I liked a few songs, and the occasional bridge or something, from Fortress and Scurrilous but I haven't really liked a PtH album since the debut. This one feels super energetic and, like you said, feels like an album they wanted to create. Just sounds like a band with a purpose again, which was wholly missing on the last two records.

@mrklorox said:

Deeds of Flesh's Portals to Canaan was kinda disappointing after waiting through the last 2 years worth of delays.

Honestly, and I'm saying this wearing an Inbreeding shirt, DoF have been pretty bad for a while now. It's kinda depressing, but at least Unique Leader exists now right? Wait, I think I own, like, a single UL release so I've no idea if that's even worth mentioning...

Posted by jakob187

@siroptimusprime: I loved Fortress in so many ways. They expanded their sound tremendously, and personally, it is still my favorite album by them. Volition reached that near-fever pitch of melding metal, hardcore punk, and PtH's own particular brand of crazy prog altogether masterfully. I think it really was Adler that drove the album that far. His drumming is perfect for this album all around. I am really curious what it would've sounded like if Mo had stuck around, but the finished product here was just great. The intro to "Yellow Teeth"...actually, the ENTIRETY of "Yellow Teeth" that I NEED to see live.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

@jakob187: I definitely love both those records. Sometimes I still feel Home is really my favorite album by them. I love the rawness of Waffle and Rumblefish and Crumbled. I think Alpha has that same feeling and stands as being their heaviest record to date. A buddy of mine recently gave me a live bootleg of a show they played a week before Home came out where they were playing a bunch of, what were at the time, new songs. And it sounds fucking phenomenal. I'll see if I can't upload it for you soon.

But at the same time, I think the melodic aspect is what really defines them because they're just so damn good at it. Or rather, their ability combine their heavy riffs with beautiful melodies. Lajon's soulful voice is perfection, and Clint is maybe my favorite songwriter and is who got me to pick up a guitar in the first place.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

I will say, the year end lists that everyone is doing these days are really fucking helpful for me when it comes to music. I never keep up with that stuff, I'm always the last person to hear about anything, so being pointed in all these different directions is great.

...Like Clockwork isn't on this list. Travesty!

I thought it was just ok the first time I heard it, but then I listened to it again... and again... and now I've basically had that album on repeat for like the past three months. So fucking good.

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

@markwahlberg: Yeah dude its such a great album. That band's so good.

Posted by Apparatus_Unearth

Props for putting Surgical Steel on here, it's amazing.

Posted by jakob187

So I just updated this, as my cousin reminded me of something that I honestly CANNOT BELIEVE that I had forgotten: the new Tesseract album.

Therefore, I have taken Norma Jean's Wrongdoers off my list (despite loving the shit out of that album) and accordingly placed Tesseract's Altered States on the list...at #2...because as much as I'd love to put it at #1, I fucking adore that Coheed album too much.