Wow! What a year in the realm of Christian metal! With releases ranging from new arrivals like FALLSTAR, FIT FOR A KING and THE ONGOING CONCEPT to shredtastic albums from veterans like LIVING SACRIFICE and EXTOL. Personally, I have enjoyed nearly everything I’ve put my ear to. There has been a few disappointments, but overall, I declare 2013 a huge success for metal-bros and metal-brodettes everywhere.
I had initially planned to write a blog on every significant event in the Christian-metal Universe for the year. I actually had over three pages drafted! Things ranging from the Tim Lambesis fall from grace through the favourite artworks and best new discoveries for me (I’ll give you a clue – PHINEHAS).
Unfortunately, due to work and other commitments, I have scaled it right back to what everyone is most interested in. What are the best Christian metal albums of year according to Metal-Bro HQ? Well, wait no longer. Below are my favourite picks of the year in reverse order – countdown style!
It’s been hard to settle on a few while I was making my decisions. My top choice has been cemented for many months, though. The other’s had to fight it out for what order I would place them in. I tried to be impartial in terms of newer releases vs. older ones, and looking my list now, I am very happy with each album’s placing. I hope you agree too! If not, I would love for you to tell me your picks and why you loved them so much.
METAL-BRO HQ’S TOP 5 BEST CHRISTIAN METAL ALBUMS OF 2013
5. Backdraft by FALLSTAR
This album was released very early on in the year and I wasn’t sure what I would make of it. I had heard old FALLSTAR material and was far from impressed. The release of the lyric video for their song “Shallow Believer” turned this around for me. It sounded so different from my expectations and was really very catchy. I found myself returning to it over and over. Inevitably, I purchased the album on release and have been spinning it ever since. I think I enjoy it so much because its injected with such youthful passion and energy with metal that shreds and has a deep groove that binds it all together like gravy on potatoes! Backdraft is a rare metalcore album in which I actually like the clean vocals as well as the growls and screams. Facedown did an excellent job bringing these guys on board when they did.
4. Death Will Reign by IMPENDING DOOM
This album was one of the last released I bought in the eventful metal-year of 2013. Until this point I had been aware of IMPENDING DOOM, but ignorant of their material other than a song or two from some Facedown Records samplers. I really had no intention of venturing into DOOM territory, but I couldn’t ignore the album popping up in people’s recommendation lists and articles praising Death Will Reign. I couldn’t find the album on Spotify, so I had to take a leap of faith and just buy it and see what I thought. I loved it, which is likely evidenced by its inclusion in this list. One of the most brutal sounding quality death-core albums I’ve ever heard. Songs like “Live or Die”, “My Blood” and my favourite “Rip, Tear and Burn” are testament to why IMPENDING DOOM is the powerhouse I couldn’t ignore.
3. Something More by ALTARS
I remember when ALTARS hit my radar with their release of their first LP, Conclusions. I investigated the album but was not taken by it. There are certainly excellent moments on it, but I felt at the time that it didn’t stand out amongst the metal releases I was already listening to at the time. When ALTARS released a lyric video for their song “Something More” in the lead-up the release of the album of the same name, I was struck by just how different the sound was. Much more hardcore orientated with a different vocal dynamic. What I think makes Something More work so well is the variance from more clean style melodic vocals to the crunch of the breakdowns and guttural growls. I also did the rounds and recommended this album to al my friends who had a leaning towards heavy music whether they were Christians or not! The musicality of Something More not only stands out for the bands, but also for the entire Christian Metal scene of 2013.
2. Ghost Thief by LIVING SACRIFICE
I have been a fan of LIVING SACRIFICE since I laid ears upon their 2000 LP, The Hammering Process. After the release of Conceived in Fire, I assumed that new material from what I dub the godfathers of Christian metal was never to be heard again. Then we were graced with 2011’s The Infinite Order – which is an awesome album. Again, I wasn’t expecting much after that. I was over the moon to hear that they were working on what would become known as Ghost Thief, although I was unsure how it would rank amongst the other stellar releases of the year. As evidenced by my review of the album, I am pleased to say it is one of the most enjoyable listens of the 2013 roster of albums. The songs are of the highest quality and their ferocity is only getting more amped up. My favourite track from Ghost Thief is the warhammer of a song known as “Before”. If you had any doubts about this album, put them aside and get into it!
1. Indomitable by LEADERS
Try as I might, I have nothing bad to say about LEADERS monumental album, Indomitable. When LEADERS first arrived on my radar, I was drawn to their hardcore focussed sound and simple, direct and hard-hitting lyrics. Their first LP, Now We Are Free, was a great album and I was curious to see how the band would develop their sound for the sophomore release. When the lyric video dropped for the album’s opening track, “Hell”, I was floored. Where did this brutal new sound spawn from!? When they followed up with the lyric video for “Weak Minds” (which has IMPENDING DOOM’s Brook Reeves), I was smitten. To quote my summary of the album from my review: “Indomitable, to me, sets the benchmark for future hardcore releases. It manages to maintain its very strong hardcore character whilst bringing the pain with the heavier elements of death metal. I always love an album whose opening track is as good as their finishing one. Thank you LEADERS for stepping up your game and delivering an amazingly relentless shred fest with an awesome message. This ‘Follower’ is very grateful.”
So there you have it. My choice for the best albums of 2013. I can hardly remember a more eventful year in the genre! If you were to ask me if I thought these artists would sit on my top 5 at the beginning of the year, I would have likely have scoffed at the thought! Especially considering there were releases from my 2011 top 3 artists – AUGUST BURNS RED, OH, SLEEPER, and THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. The releases from the latter two noted above were very excellent indeed, but my attention was continually drawn more towards the top 5 listed above. I have to say that I was disappointed with ABR’s effort; especially when you consider just how amazing Leveler is (still my favourite album ever). I may be alone in my opinion, but I felt like Jake and boys lost their way a little and I didn’t feel the same passion and aggression was placed in Rescue & Restore as was in Leveler. Let’s hope they find their feet again for their next release. I still have faith in them!
It’s not even a fortnight into 2014 and I’m already excited to hear what lays ahead. I already have my orders in for SAVING GRACE’s The Urgency, and FOR TODAY’s Fight The Silence. I am keeping my ears to the ground for news of release dates for albums from FOR ALL ETERNITY, THE OVERSEER and WAR OF AGES. So stay tuned to Metal-Bro HQ for the release news, reviews and lots lots more!
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God bless, Bros and Brodettes!