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10.12.15 My Band Put Out Two Demos08.30.15 Rank Lambda's Top 10
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06.17.14 Pick The Best And Worst 5 Stars Of The 05.02.14 2014 Quarterly Report #1
12.31.13 Sputnik Review Of The Year 201312.23.13 Lambda's 2013
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07.16.13 2013 Quarterly Report #204.23.13 2013 (late) Quarterly Report #1
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Lambda's 2013

I usually wait until New Year's Eve to put up my end of the year list, but this year I figured hey, why not post it earlier? So that's what I'm doing. This is every album I heard from 2013, ranked worst to best.
54Waking the Cadaver
Real-Life Death

On the absurdly titled Real-Life Death, Waking the Cadaver manage to put out a few decent riffs, and the drumming has definitely improved since their debut (the last record I heard from them). Unfortunately, the mix is atrocious, with the awful snare and vocals drowning out everything around them, and the songs are all very similar to one another, consisting mainly of dull riff parades before terrible breakdowns. It's better than Perverse Recollections of a Necromangler, but is still terrible. 1.5
53Avenged Sevenfold
Hail to the King

Read my review here: 1.5
52Arsonists Get All the Girls
Listen to the Color

I can appreciate some of the humour on this record ("Balloon Battle" in particular is hilariously awesome), but overall Listen to the Color comes off as unfocused and most of the heavy parts (which make up the majority of the album) blur together. Also, I don't like the second vocalist. He sounds like a somewhat better version of the guy from Longshot, but in this case 'somewhat better' still means 'somewhat annoying.' 1.7
Buckethead Pikes #16

Look, I love a good riff as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, that's all this pike is- riff after riff after riff. They can be outstanding (see tracks 1, 2, 4, and 5) but it's just not very interesting to listen to. These don't sound like complete "songs." The second half is pretty draggy, too. 2.3
50Jimmy Eat World

Awfully dull and uneventful, and the vocals are too quiet for much of the record. An album like this really relies on its lyrics, and when you have to struggle to hear them, that's a huge problem. 2.3
49Coheed and Cambria
The Afterman: Descension

Overrated and dull, The Afterman: Descension is both a pretty bad listen and a disappointment. "Number City" is excellent, and "Gravity's" has good moments, but besides that there's not much here. The second half in particular is boring as hell, with only the catchy parts of "Dark Side of Me" leaving any sort of impact. Furthermore, the spacey spoken word stuff feels tacked on this time around (as opposed to Ascension, where it worked), and there's an irritating air of sappiness for much of the album (especially the aforementioned second half). 2.3
Super Collider

Though it has some nice sections ("Off the Edge," the title track), the awful lyrics and unoriginality of Super Collider ultimately condemn it to a place near the bottom of Megadeth's discography. 2.4

I feel similarly about this record as I do the new Gorguts. However, this one is less interesting and features even less relief than "Colored Sands" from its heavy, dissonant assault. Some might see this as a positive, but for me it's too much: some space would be welcome either in between or during these 7 minute death metal onslaughts. "Vermis" has its moments, but you'd be hard-pressed to remember any after the record ends because it all blends together. 2.5
46Alkaline Trio
My Shame Is True

The first two tracks are good, but the album gets, for the most part, pretty generic and boring after that. Tim Mcllrath's cameo was a cool addition, though. 2.6

Oddfellows is not a terrible record, but many of its songs feel underdeveloped and either don't go anywhere or end too abruptly. Some of the lyrics are pretty bad too. There a lot of great ideas in play here, but not a lot of great songs. 2.7
44Light Bearer
Silver Tongue

Opener "Beautiful Is This Burden" is absolutely fantastic. It is an 18-minute post-metal extravaganza, with a gorgeous orchestral opening and excellent heavy riffing throughout. Unfortunately, after that the album takes a turn for the worse, delving into dull, unmemorable, plodding numbers for most of its remaining runtime. The closing title track shows some promise, but aside from that and maybe one or two other sections, Silver Tongue is a very dragged out and uneventful listen. Major points for "Beautiful Is This Burden," but the rest isn't as good. 2.7
43Streetlight Manifesto
The Hands That Thieve

The most fun album I've ever heard that's bored me so much. Aside from "The Three of Us," which is an admittedly enjoyable ska romp, the rest of the album is just dull. I can admire elements of the record- namely, the production and the musicianship are both top notch- it's just a shame that the songs themselves do almost nothing for me. 2.8
42Authority Zero
The Tipping Point

There are nice touches throughout this record, such as the acoustic guitar and awesomely heavy outro on "Shakedown in Juarez," the horns in "Today We Heard the News," and the cool ska track "Struggle." The great vocal and bass (yes, you can hear it!) performances from Jason DeVore and Mike Spero, respectively, are also pluses. Ultimately though, The Tipping Point is a pretty generic record that doesn't live up to the band's previous work. However, it isn't unlistenable and has some good songs- such as those aforementioned- as well as "Undivided." 2.8

There are some cool ideas in play and some good tracks ("The Last Few," "We Are") however I don't like the production or mix, and the interludes are, across the board, pretty useless and uneventful. Overall, Asymmetry shows potential, but rarely lives up to it. 2.8
40Dance Gavin Dance
Acceptance Speech

Acceptance Speech has some cool parts and a couple of good songs ("Doom & Gloom," and the title track- aside from the pointless and totally out of place rapping at the end which kills the vibe of the song). However, it also has some terrible lyrics ("Let's get fucking naked!"), the guitars are slightly too low in the mix, and the vocals (both clean and unclean) are a bit annoying at times. 2.9
39And So I Watch You From Afar
All Hail Bright Futures

It's a bit one-dimensional and not as good as Gangs, but All Hail Bright Futures is nonetheless worth hearing because it is a well-performed, well-produced, and above all, fun, record. The quirkiness is almost annoying at times, though, so fair warning. 3.0

I'm not sure why there's been such a negative reaction on here to this release, unless it's due to animosity towards the Pikes series in general. All in all, this is a pretty successful ambient record, and great for Hallowe'en night. My issues with it are that some of the tracks are awfully short, and the banjo is distracting at times ("Pumpkin Pikes 3," "Pumpkin Pikes 6"). Often, the songs would be more absorbing without it. Still, Pumpkin is by no means awful and, if you're in the mood for some ambient stuff, worth checking out (especially considering it's free!) 3.2
37This Routine Is Hell

A lot of this album just doesn't hit hard enough for me, but there are enough good riffs and sections (particularly in the second half) to warrant a mild recommendation. The vocal performance is pretty good too, but again, some more aggression would be welcome. 3.3
Sol Austan, Mani Vestan

A good dark ambient record from Burzum. Some of the songs go on for too long and they aren't all particularly interesting, but it hits more than it misses. 3.3
The Underground Resistance

A partly comedic metal throwback record which has some great riffs but doesn't entirely work. Overall it's a fun listen, but some of the vocals are kind of bad and it doesn't all grab me. 3.3
Newborn Sun

Some great instrumental work, however a lot of the songs on here feel a little empty, due partly to the lack of vocals. The interlude tracks are a bit disappointing as well, being too short to leave much of an impact. I would still recommend Newborn Sun, due mainly to the aforementioned instrumental prowess on it, but it isn't the best thing you'll hear all year. 3.3
Colored Sands

Great instrumental performances and many excellent riffs, but I wouldn't call "Colored Sands" the AOTY contender many would. A lot of these songs go on for too long, and as a result the record gets kind of boring, especially in the latter half. The vocals are too quiet in the mix as well, though admittedly other than that the production is fantastic. Lastly, "The Battle of Chamdo" is a nice track on its own, but is out of place in the context of the album. 3.4
32In Vain

AEnigma isn't unenjoyable, and indeed has some very good tracks ("Image of Time," "Hymne Til Havet," "Floating on the Murmuring Tide" - the latter one of my favourite songs of the year). Unfortunately, some of the time it's simply okay, or passable. This renders sections of the disc a little boring. The band doesn't have a terribly original sound, though they have a knack for cool flourishes (the saxophone on the aforementioned "Floating on the Murmuring Tide") and are clearly skilled instrumentalists. Ultimately, AEnigma doesn't totally satisfy, but it's enjoyable enough to warrant a listen. 3.4
31Anneke van Giersbergen

Anneke sounds as good as ever, and I like the aggression in her voice on some of the songs here ("We Live On," "The Best Is Yet to Come"). "Mental Jungle" is also worth noting - a very interesting mashup of metal and Eastern melodies recalling "Pixillate" off frequent collaborator Devin Townsend's record Synchestra. Some tracks are a bit by-the-numbers, though ("Treat Me Like a Lady," the title track, "Shooting for the Stars") and the verses tend to be weak compared to the chourses. Still worth a listen, but doesn't fully live up to Anneke's potential. 3.5
Buckethead Pikes #19

Buckethead throws everything but the kitchen sink at this release, and because of that it becomes one his most interesting albums in a while. However, the sprawling nature of the entire record, combined with the lack of track titles, means everything runs together a bit. I also wish that some parts were expanded on (for example, the acoustic guitar and double bass at the end of "Track 3") because they are awesome, but over too quickly. 3.5
The Inheritance

It isn't at the same level as Moontower or Crimson, but The Inheritance is still a worthwhile, and at times excellent, listen. Dan Swano's growls are just as formidable as ever, and his drumming, singing, and synth work are great as well. The other member of the band, Ragnar Widerberg, does a fantastic job too, and has some truly epic guitar solos (almost as epic as his moustache). The problem with this album is that it lacks the fantastic sense of unity, and also the consistently exciting songwriting, of Moontower or Crimson. The second half features some less memorable cuts, and the record ends on a solo piano track that, while nice, is only around a minute long and doesn't help that aforementioned lack of unity. Overall, The Inheritance is worth checking out, but it at times leaves something to be desired. 3.6
Forever Becoming

Forever Becoming is an enjoyable instrumental release. It's well-performed, and the production is excellent, however it is at times overly repetitious. Some more lead guitar work, or even some vocals, would be welcome during these stretches. 3.7
27Neko Case
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight...

Seriously, people like "Nearly Midnight, Honolulu?" It makes me cringe. Other than that, and a couple of other tracks which get lost in the shuffle, this album is pretty good. The first three songs (as well as "Where Did I Leave That Fire") are especially enjoyable, and the record does a good job of mixing things up enough to where it doesn't get boring, but not mixing them up so much that it becomes incoherent. Interesting title too. 3.7
26Funeral for a Friend

A great, stripped down record. Most of the songs on Conduit are pretty short, and the sound is raw and in your face. There is a nice amount of aggression, the instruments are performed very well, and most of the tracks are different enough from one another that the record never runs together or gets boring. Some of these songs are a little too short, though, and at times the vocals feel a bit strained and/or off key (the opening of "Nails.") While not as strong as Welcome Home Armageddon, Conduit is a solid album, if somewhat one-note. 3.7
25Colin Stetson
New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light

I have mixed feelings about Justin Vernon's vocals on here- they don't always fit and they, overall, aren't as impressive as Laurie Anderson and Shara Worden's work on Vol. 2. However, he does have his moments, and luckily Colin Stetson's playing on here is just as amazing as ever. Indeed, Hunted is an instrumental and one of the best songs on the record- it wouldn't have felt out of place on Vol. 2- and the title track is a fifteen-minute, epic journey. All in all, this record is not as good as Vol. 2- due partly to the aforementioned vocals, and also to a few less interesting numbers- but it's still worth hearing. 3.7
24Fates Warning
Darkness in a Different Light

Aside from some of the guitar solos, not much on Darkness in a Different Light wowed me, but it is nonetheless a solid and enjoyable prog metal record. 3.7
Surgical Steel

Very well performed throughout and a nice production job, though it's all a bit same-y. "The Master Butcher's Apron" is probably my favourite song on the album. Oh, and some of the guitar solos are incredible ("Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System," "Captive Bolt Pistol"). 3.8
22Steven Wilson
The Raven That Refused to Sing

The musicianship throughout this record is impeccable, as is the production. Furthermore, the first four tracks are very cool, and for different reasons. The last two songs are pretty boring though, and I would have liked to see Guthrie Govan utilized a little more. 3.8
21My Bloody Valentine
m b v

Nicely textured and interesting dreamy shoegaze record. It's at times a little overly repetitive, and I feel like some more crescendos or changes in dynamics would make it more engaging, however it isn't boring (usually) and is regardless a very good record. 3.9
20The Ocean

UPDATE: This has grown on me since my first couple of listens. I still feel it doesn't quite take off as it should, but I appreciate the record as a whole more now. Pelagial is not quite as good as it could have been, but it is good enough for me to bump my rating up. 3.9
There are some nice riffs and performances on Pelagial, but it never really takes off for me. I just feel a lack of energy here, and as a result there is very little replay value, and the record falls kind of flat. There are still enough good parts/tracks/performances for me to recommend this (mildly), and the record does grow on you after multiple listens, but it doesn't reach the heights that it should. 3.4
19Ghost B.C.

Well-performed and produced retro satanic metal record with modern twists. The last two tracks are the album's weakest, but everything else is very good. I really dig the raw snare sound. Infestissumam is a catchy, fun listen and can be considered mostly successful. 4.0
18The Maine
Forever Halloween

Catchy, but at the same time pretty dark and brooding, Forever Halloween is quickly becoming one of my favourite records of the year. 4.0
17Chelsea Wolfe
Pain is Beauty

A very, very interesting record. Chelsea Wolfe has a fantastic voice; I love the emotion she puts into every word on here. I also really like the dark atmosphere on the compositions, and though some of the songs are a bit overlong and repetitive, more often than not they work really well. Definitely worth checking out. 4.0
16Senses Fail

This might sound a bit weird, but I am really proud of Senses Fail. I appreciate any band that isn't afraid of change or progression, and these New Jersey natives proved they are doing just that- progressing- with this release. Renacer is Senses Fail's heaviest record yet. It is also consistent, well-performed, and all around excellent. Furthermore, it contains some of the catchiest tracks of the year, and Buddy's vocals have really improved as well. A strong showing- I can't for the next record! 4.1
Altered State

There's a lot to love about Altered State, from the experimentation (clean guitars underneath distorted, saxophone solos), to the grooves (when they don't get boringly repetitive), to the excellent production, to the consistency, to the great performances. However, some of the tracks drag in spots ("Of Reality - Eclipse" and "Of Energy - Singularity" providing the most egregious examples of this) and more of that aforementioned experimentation would be welcome. Altered State borders on incredible, and some of the songs reach it, but the record as a whole needs a bit more of a push to get there. 4.1
14A Lot Like Birds
No Place

A very well-done album, with excellent production, interesting songwriting, and fantastic performances all around (aside from the screamed vocals, which get a bit whiny and grating at times). No Place blows the new Dance Gavin Dance album out of the water, and is one of the most enjoyable listens of the year. 4.2
13The Dillinger Escape Plan
One of Us is the Killer

An excellent record with many fantastic songs. I would welcome more changes from the spastic, atonal stuff Dillinger does so frequently, but regardless, this is still an awesome, awesome album- one of the best of the year. 4.2
The Mountain

Ross Jennings gives what may possibly be the best vocal performance of 2013 on The Mountain, and the other instruments are all exceptionally well-performed as well (some of those guitar solos are insane). There is a lot of fantastic material on this record- too many great parts to count. However, some of the lengthier songs are just too much so, and lose me in the winding structure and arrangements. Furthermore, the uneven atmosphere is a bit distressing. 4.2
11Mariam the Believer
Blood Donation

An astounding and unique record. Blood Donation is almost Bjork-esque, and is made up of dark, avant-garde 'pop' songs. Mariam's voice is incredible and she pulls off everything she goes for, and the other instrumentation is excellent as well. Hole Patterns is too short, though, and a couple of the other tracks don't stack up against the rest. Still, this is a superb record and one of the best of the year. Check it out. 4.3
10Shai Hulud
Reach Beyond the Sun

Reach Beyond the Sun contains fantastic instrumentation, interesting songs and song structures, a lot of energy, and remarkable consistency. Though not perfect- the second half isn't quite as strong as the first- it's undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year. 4.3
9Queens of the Stone Age
...Like Clockwork

Imagine Thrice, Brand New, Fair to Midland, and Muse at a Hallowe'en party. That's the best way I can describe Queens of the Stone Age's latest ...Like Clockwork. It is a creative and interesting record which manages to be experimental and original while still retaining catchiness and a degree of mainstream-appeal. The album really is a genius concoction in a lot of ways. The production is fantastic too, with the bass audible throughout. The first half is slightly weaker than the second, though, with "If I Had a Tail" the biggest weak spot (aside from the awesome outro). Regardless, I highly recommend ...Like Clockwork. One of the year's most interesting and best records. 4.4
Buckethead Pikes #13

Read my review here: 4.5
7Scale the Summit
The Migration

On par with The Collective; I can't decide which I like more. One thing's for sure, though: "The Traveler" is a better closer than "Drifting Figures" is. Besides that, this record has the same incredibly tight, colourful playing that Scale the Summit always puts out, and some fantastic songs as well. My only real negatives with the album are that "Sabrosa" is too short and placed somewhat oddly in the track listing, and that a little more variation, stylistically, would be welcome. Regardless, this is another superb record from a superb band. 4.5
6Death Grips
Government Plates

Featuring few hooks and more emphasis on bizarre song structures, Government Plates is much more experimental than The Money Store and Exmilitary. I don't think it is overall as strong as a record as those two, however it is still extremely good. Also, I respect the fact that the band aren't releasing the same album over and over. Though hampered slightly by some too-short songs and a drawn out closing track, Government Plates is still one of the best albums of the year. 4.5
5Shade Empire
Omega Arcane

One of the most ambitious albums of 2013, Omega Arcane aspires to be no less than a symphonic death/black metal masterpiece. And, for the most part, it succeeds. The performances of the band are spot-on; the orchestra is integrated extremely well into the music, never overpowering the band itself or getting pushed to the background; and the production is superlative. The record's greatest flaw stems from that aforementioned ambition, however: it's too long. Omega Arcane could stand a 15 minute trim. Another minor issue is that "Devolution," an interlude track, appears too late in the album. It would have been perfect right after the 13-minute epic "Disembodiment." Regardless, I highly recommend Omega Arcane- despite its flaws, it is a high-reaching, and ultimately superb, record. 4.5
Messe I.X-VI.X

"Glamour box (ostinati)" is absolutely amazing. The rest of the album is strong as well; very dark and atmospheric. If you liked Shadows of the Sun and Wars of the Roses you'll like this too: it's stronger than the latter, and at least on par with the former. My one complaint is that I wish Garm had more vocals throughout, as he only appears on a couple of the tracks here. However, regardless this is still an incredible album, and one of the best of the year. 4.6

What a superb record. Some of the most colourful black metal I've ever heard, if that even makes sense. Great flow, and excellent instrumental and vocal work all the way through. My only gripe with the album is that "Vertigo" is a little too long, but that is a really minor complaint. All in all this is one of, if not the, best record of the year (so far), and you should check it out immediately. 4.6
2Kayo Dot

A mammoth, sprawling, incredibly interesting release. This double disc, 100-minute album does not feel that long in the slightest thanks to the unpredictability and uniqueness of its songs. No two sound the same. However, while they are mostly stellar, there is a relative dud track (opener "The Black Stone") and occasionally one will go on for too long. Also, the music doesn't always line up to the story being told- it's as though they are, at times, out of sync with each other. Despite these flaws though, no other album I heard this year struck me as strongly as Hubardo. It is an engaging, effective listen, and the best record of 2013. 4.6

I'm not rating this, but it is an EP which my band put out this year. You can download it for free at . PLEASE DO SO!
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