22 December 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2013 + Top EP, Video and Single

Top 10 Albums of 2013

Garrett Padilla

10: The Black Dahlia Murder - Everblack

Admittingly, this is the first The Black Dahlia Murder album I've bought. I was never able to truly get into them until I saw them live, opening for Dethklok. Seeing as Alan Cassidy (Ex-Abigail Williams) was covering drum duties on the tour, as well as the new album, I decided to give the album a shot. The album is fantastic, definitely one of the best death metal albums released in the past couple of years. I listen through the album every time I mow the lawn, as the songs are fast enough that they make it seem as though time goes by faster than usual. "Raped In Hatred By Vines of Thorn" fits the theme of landscaping, as well.

Standout Songs: "Into The Everblack", "Raped In Hatred By Vines of Thorn"

9: Leprous - Coal

This one took me a couple of months to truly 'get', but when I did, it hit hard. I came in expecting technical guitar mastery that saturated Leprous' previous album, Bilateral, and was left slightly disappointed. Fast forward a couple of months, and I gave it another shot, and I am very happy I did. Coal seems to focus more on lead vocalist Einar Solberg's vocals more than the instruments, and I'm glad it chose to go that direction. Einar is truly one of the greatest vocalists in the world, and tracks like "Chronic" really show off his extreme range.

Standout Songs: "Chronic", "The Cloak"

8: Chelsea Wolfe - Pain Is Beauty

As far as I am concerned, Chelsea Wolfe can do no wrong. Every track she has released has been pure perfection. Her unique sound, dubbed "doom folk", is a soundscape of both pain and beauty, which is why I think this album's title is perfect for her music. Every song is different, but distinctly hers. Her music hits very close to home for me, and connects on an emotional level. One track will leave me devastated and on the verge of full-blown depression, while the next makes me experience true bliss.

Standout Songs: "The Warden", "The Waves Have Come"

7: Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood

I knew from the moment the album was announced that it was going to top the rather bland Relentless, Reckless, Forever. Halo of Blood seems to take notice to the fans' constant urging to return to the band's black metal and classical roots, but also mixing in a fair amount of experimentation. While about half of the album is cut-and-paste post-Hate Crew Deathroll-era Children of Bodom, tracks like "Dead Man's Hand On You" and "One Bottle And A Knee Deep" show some fantastic experimentation and musical evolution. Halo of Blood may very well be the best Children of Bodom album since Hate Crew Deathroll, which, for me, is saying a lot, as I really enjoyed Are You Dead Yet? and Blooddrunk.

Standout Songs: "Halo of Blood", "Dead Man's Hand On You"

6: Clutch - Earth Rocker

I have been a Clutch fan since I first heard "Mice and Gods" on Jackass star Bam Margera's compilation CD, Viva la Bands. Clutch hit somewhere deep where no other band had hit before, giving me a feeling I still cannot explain, that only The Sword can match. I waited on hearing Earth Rocker until just before I saw Clutch live, and hearing them perform most, if not all, of the album live really helped move it onto my top 10 of 2013 list. There isn't any real experimentation on Clutch's part on this album, as they have a unique and time-tested formula which works for them. That being said, I feel as though this may very well be Clutch's best album.

Standout Songs: "Crucial Velocity", "Gone Cold"

5: Satyricon - Satyricon

Satyricon's self-titled release has garnered a large amount of criticism upon release, mainly due to close-minded elitist black metal fans expecting Satyr and Frost to re-record Nemesis Divina every couple of years. The truth is that Satyricon aren't 'true' black metal anymore, and haven't been for nearly a decade, and I am actually quite glad with that. Now, Diabolical and The Age of Nero have been two of my favorite albums for years, and Satyricon fits in with the style of those two very well. Satyricon fans have waited for five years for the release of their newest album, and I, personally, could not be happier. The album is pure gold from beginning to end, with time-signature changes and experimentation galore.

Standout Songs: "Phoenix", "The Infinity of Time and Space"

4: Ihsahn - Das Seelenbrechen

Ihsahn is, in my humble opinion, tied with Devin Townsend for the title of the single greatest musician to ever walk this Earth. With Emperor, he helped pave the way for black metal to leave it's rudimentary and simple roots, and to experiment with synths and technical guitar work. 20-plus years later, and Ihsahn is still throwing out all expectation as to what black metal should be. Das Seelenbrechen is easily Ihsahn's most experimental project to date, as well as his second release in just over a year. 2012's Eremita was a disappointment for me, mainly because there was no way it could top 2010's After, which is pretty close to being my favorite album of all time.

Ihsahn truly pulled out all of the stops with Das Seelenbrechen, openly admitting that he experimented far more than he usually would. Though he stated that this will not be the direction his solo project takes permanently, I honestly wish it would. This may be his most daring and well-executed release since Emperor's legendary debut, In The Nightside Eclipse. Pure perfection from beginning to end.

Standout Songs: "Hiber", "Regen"

3: Watain - The Wild Hunt

Watain are quite simply my favourite black metal group of all time, as well as one of my favorite bands period. Frontman Erik Danielsson's stage presence and lyrics are second to none. The Wild Hunt is an absolutely spectacular album, that bleeds pure evil and darkness with every note. Most of the album is what you have come to expect from Watain, pure unadulterated black metal. That all changes when you come to my favourite track on the album, "They Rode On". The band has received a great amount of criticism for this song, which can almost be considered Bathory worship, post-Blood Fire Death. Clean vocals and guitars show a side of Watain we have never imagined, and it works. "They Rode On" alone put the album in my top 10, and the rest of the album made it tough to only put The Wild Hunt at number three.

Standout Songs: "They Rode On", "Outlaw"

2: Hate - Solarflesh

Polish blackened death metal masters Hate are tied with Behemoth as my favourite death metal band of all time. I was first introduced to them on their US tour with Mayhem, and immediately fell in love. Vocalist/guitarist Adam "ATF Sinner" Buszko and  bassist Slawomir "Mortifer" Archangielskij both went out of their way to make sure I enjoyed the show after their set, truly caring about my experience. That means a lot in this day and age, where artists seem to be indifferent towards their fans. It is truly a tragedy that Slawomir was taken from us earlier this year, and I am proud to have called him my friend.

Solarflesh is Hate's 8th studio album, and may be their finest work to date. The production quality is flawless, and the musicianship even more-so. After what may be the coolest intro track in the history of death metal, the album hits like a freight train, with riffs that put even the mighty Pantera to shame. If you ask me, off the top of my head, to name one of my favorite riffs in metal history, chances are it is off of Solarflesh.

Standout Songs: "Festival of Slaves", "Sadness Will Last Forever"

1: Hell - Curse and Chapter

My most anticipated album of 2013, Hell's Curse and Chapter takes the number one spot on my list by a hair. My guitar teacher Paul Allender (Cradle of Filth, White Empress) introduced me to Hell when he was doing artwork for their debut album, 2011's Human Remains. While Human Remains stands as one of the greatest NWOBHM albums of all time, Curse and Chapter takes everything the previous album did, and multiplies it ten-fold. Hell did what I thought was impossible: make NWOBHM fresh again.

I have had a 'hell' of a time trying to find a downside to this album, and found nothing yet. It has surpassed every expectation I had, and left me completely satisfied. The highlight of the album is the epic "Darkhangel". "Darkhangel" has everything you could want in a song. Mood-setting intro, awesome riffage, catchy choruses, neck-breaking bridges, mind-melting solos, chanting outro, Aleister Crowley quotes, everything.

Standout Songs: "The Age of Nefarious", "Darkhangel"

EP of the Year

Nott - Obsidian Depths

Alaska's Nott is easily my favorite band to come out of the whole 'djent' movement, keeping everything I like about the 'genre', such as crushing riffs and extreme down-tuning, and leaving everything I didn't like, mainly the clean vocals and super technical guitar wankery. Mastermind Tyler Campbell has set the bar high for any band wanting to label themselves as 'heavy', no matter the subgenre. This EP is the heaviest 18 minutes I have ever heard.

Video of the Year

Behemoth - "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel"
Video by Grupa13

("Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" was originally my Single of the Year, but I decided to make it my Video of the Year, instead, so I can include another one of my favourite band's newest release.)

Honestly, how could this NOT be the best video of the year? Behemoth can do no wrong, and "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" does not disappoint. The video shows a young woman running from a wolf and becoming part of an evil ritual to become an angel with wings made of pig carcasses. Also, tits. The entire video is in black and white, and that does not detract in the least. I did not even notice it until the second or third viewing. Behemoth and Grupa13 really outdid themselves this time.

Behemoth are my biggest inspiration as a musician, and tracks such as "Alas, Lord Is Upon Me" and "Lucifer" are a couple of my favourites by the Polish metal gods. "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" continues the pattern of the aforementioned track, including both slow, yet powerful sections separated by an absolutely blistering fast part in the middle. Seeing as this is only the intro track to next year's The Satanist, I am extremely anxious to hear the rest of the album.

Single of the Year

Keep of Kalessin - "Introspection"

I have been a huge Keep of Kalessin fan for years, having discovered them at around the same time as Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle of books, which have become tied with Game of Thrones as my favourite book series of all time. The reason I am telling you this is that, coincidentally, Keep of Kalessin's name, as well as much of their lyrical material, is based on The Earthsea Cycle

"Introspection" is the first new song by Keep of Kalessin since their 2010 masterpiece, Reptilian, and the subsequent departure of vocalist Torbjørn "Thebon" Schei. For "Introspection", guitarist and Keep of Kalessin founding member Arnt "Obsidian C." Grønbech covers the vocal duties himself, and does a fantastic job. Minus the absence of Thebon, who is one of my favourite vocalists of all time, "Introspection" is everything I was hoping for in a follow up to Reptilian.

The track begins with a calm, collected choir which transitions into a massive bass-lead riff. This is followed by a very catchy verse section. After a couple of verses, the track hits it's high-point: a beautiful chorus of clean vocals sung over the bass-lead intro riff. I found myself singing along to this chorus for days on end. The solo after the chorus is technical and extremely well done, as are all of Obsidian C.'s solos. I absolutely can not wait until the new Keep of Kalessin album, due hopefully next year!

07 April 2013

In Memory of Mortifer [Hate] 1985-2013

In memory of Slawek, better known as "Mortifer" of Hate, I have decided to upload this batch of photos that were taken on December 8th, 2011, in Atlanta. Up until today, these photos have only been seen by Slawek and myself. He was the greatest inspiration for me to take up photography, and I will always remember not only how great of a musician he was, but how great of a human being as well.

R.I.P Slawek "Mortifer" 1985-2013