Yes, it’s that time of year again, when I offer my thoughts on the best releases that have assaulted my ears this calendar year. So, having built it up over the past few weeks, I have finally decided on my Album of The Year for 2013 and my top 20 for the year overall.
It has taken a lot of thinking and listening to come to a final decision with this list. I’m still not 100% certain that I have got it right and I’ll probably get to the end and exclaim my idiocy for forgetting a particular album or putting something in completely the wrong place. But hey ho, if I didn’t take the plunge now, I never would. In many ways, 11-20 are not really in any specific order but I’ve have to do it in this manner so that I can count down in the same way as I did last year. That way, I get more space to explain my choices and hopefully it will give you more time to check out these recommendations.
Without further ado or interminable waffle, here goes…
“Κατά τον Δαίμονον Εαυτού” (Do What Thou Wilt)
Season Of Mist
I have been a fan of Rotting Christ for many years, although it is fair to say that I have been more of a part-time, casual fan of the Greek black metallers rather than a rabid devourer of their entire back catalogue. I enjoy some of their releases more than others but this one in particular made a big impact upon me this year.
The impact is immediate, thanks to the opening track ‘In Yumen – Xibalba’ which is an utter monster. It is ominous, creepy, crushingly heavy and a thoroughly brilliant way in which to begin the album. The fact that the remainder of the album maintains this quality just seals its place in my top 20.
It is fair to say that ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ stylistically follows a similar path to its predecessor, ‘Aealo’, so if you’re already familiar with that release from 2010, you’re certain to like this one too. Crushing riffs, Sakis’ distinctive vocals, relatively simple song constructions and ominous atmospheres are all present and correct. However, in a number of ways, the ante has been upped. The inclusion of even more ethnic influences in a great improvement in my opinion, as is the honing of the melodies which help to counteract and soften some of the aggression and ferocity throughout. Then there’s the massive production, courtesy of band mastermind Sakis and Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, which makes the whole thing feel even more powerful.
To quote my review for This Is Not A Scene, “Rotting Christ may not be the most overtly technical band in extreme metal realms but where some bands follow, Rotting Christ can genuinely be described as leaders.” I stand by that statement.
Remember, you can also check out my Top 20 from 2012 here.