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01.24.16 Wizards Top 20 In Extreme Metal For 201 01.02.15 Wizards Top 21 In Heavy Music For 2014
12.30.13 Wizards Top 20 In Metal For 2013 01.01.13 Wizards Top 20 In Metal For 2012
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11.01.09 October Was A Great Month For Metal.08.12.09 Wizard Needs To Escape...
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Wizards Top 20 In Metal For 2013

What to say about 2013....I haven?t a clue since I?m absolutely out to lunch with the hyperbole swirling around the metal community regarding 2013 as one of the best years for releases in recent memory. My thoughts are this ? I turned the big ?three zero? this year and while some of you laugh at this age, may I remind you that half of you reading this were born in the mid 90s....the mid-fucking 90s! I can almost tell someone?s age by their best-of picks, whether it?s metal, rock, electronics, rap, etc. And if I can?t tell by your picks because you?re one of those internet guru?s, your new-age descriptions make me laugh insanely. No new ground was broken in metal this year, just a lot great up-and-coming bands that took the old and made something new. As for a lot of these comeback records, it was split right down the middle for me (Gorguts and Convulse were just too much or too boring) while some other older bands wrote the best songs/ possibly best albums of their career depending on how you interpret music (obviously Carcass and the hugely underappreciated Autopsy fall into this category). These are just my thoughts on metal though as I love innovation or reworkings of old sub-genres. Maybe you become more cynical with age or in defense for my case, it was a harder than normal year where any precious time I had wasn?t put into music as much as I would have liked. I also believe stress doesn?t make for a healthy music listening environment either, therefore I had to revisit a lot of albums I thought were crap when all it turned out to be was my mind wandering in other directions and not focusing on the amazing metal at hand. I sincerely hope everyone who I converse with on this ever-changing review site had a better year than myself and I will leave you on this last little tid-bit of reflection from 2013: give everything in metal an open ear and never just be content shoving a potential AOTY off to the side because it doesn?t suit your particular genre specifications (hell, look at my top two picks). One last thing, keep honest and always follow your heart with how you judge albums and not according to your peers taste. Enjoy the list, I will try and be around more in 2014 depending on how the economy pans out.
Abandon All Life

Usually with bands like Nails, I tend to lose interest quickly on the simple fact that bands like these are a dime a dozen. I thought Unsilent Death was cool but I failed to come back to it again and again since grind/ power-violence/ hardcore influenced bands write the same song for thirty-odd tracks that barely hit the twenty minute mark when all is said and done. Little did I realize that maybe my lack of interest had to do with the actual (lack of) creative process involved, instead focusing more on delivering an intense kick to the balls rather than the actual song-writing itself. Nails conquers both hard-to-do feats on album number two where I find myself so pumped up after seventeen minutes that I?m quickly hitting play again and sling-shoting myself back into an album that is the definition of rage. Gonna go listen to this monster right now.
Target Earth

It?s funny how some of the most influential metal bands get lost in the mix when they?re surrounded by a slew of promising young up-starts, especially in a year full of long-lost bands making huge career albums after years of being on hiatus. Voivod simply had all odds against them coupled with the nervous tension of bringing in new guitarist Daniel Mongrain to replace cult-thrash icon Denis ?Piggy? D'Amour after his untimely death in 2005 (RIP). Voivod not only succeeded but proved they weren?t done yet and came up with one of the best thrash albums in the past decade (obviously thrash on par with some of the weirdest time-signatures/ spaced out tunes from Planet X). If you call yourself a fan of metal and this didn?t make you end of the year list, you don?t know shit because you flushed your metal cred down the toilet (no pun intended).
Surgical Steel

Ah yes, if my review didn?t show my satisfaction on Carcass?s first real post-Heartwork album, than here is the link to show you again (http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/58800/Carcass-Surgical-Steel/). I can?t praise this enough and it?s become my go-to death metal album (melo-death if you want to be a labeling bitch) of the year. If you had any doubts about them like I initially did when they talked about a comeback album two years ago, this is proof that Bill Steer and Jeff Walker still know how to write some of the finest tunes in the history of metal.

Vhol?s self titled album should be on every single metal list for 2013. Even though they?re a super group comprised of members from Ludicra (RIP), YOB and Hammers of Misfortune, they do the whole NWOBHM and black metal thing incredibly smooth with a knack for writing memorable songs to boot. So if you?re digging the latest Darkthrone album, you need to hear this album immediately (I bet Fenriz has this playing on repeat).
Black Death Horizon

The new kings of old school death metal are here and their Relapse debut is just downright filthy. I don?t usually get the creeps from music but somehow Obliteration holds me down and injects copious amounts of toxic chemicals into my ears that make me feel uncomfortable in every sense of the word. So why the fuck are you sitting around waiting for a Scandinavian death metal renaissance to happen? Make your ears bleed to this.
6Altar of Plagues
Teethed Glory and Injury

I?m a huge fan of Altars of Plague? latest two albums and it?s a shame this will be their last (they just keep getting better with each release). What I love most about Teethed Glory and Injury are the blatant nods to industrial giants such as Godflesh and Foetus as they create scathing black metal on top of the most crushing and jagged rhythms known to man. You will be missed.
7Kayo Dot

I admit I?m sort of a noob to Toby Driver?s work. Maudlin of the Well sits well in my books but it never seemed to grab that ?amazing? nerve ending that I found when I started sifting through Kayo Dot?s Hubardo ? a sprawling two disc masterpiece that can?t be denied as his best work to date. I hate to use avant-garde because nothing on here feels experimental, just relevant to the grand scheme of his inner workings as an artist. Opening up with raw doom metal and flowing through an amalgam of alternative, black metal, death metal, new/ dark wave electronica and everything in between, Toby Driver has finally captured my full attention with this awe-inspiring adventure that never gives you the same listen twice.
8 Paysage d?Hiver
Das Tor

This was certainly a surprise in 2013 where black metal of this lo-fi calibre has been non-existent since the last time Tobias M?ckl dropped Einsamkeit way the hell back in 2007. His icy field recordings of backwoods blizzards will never dull on me nor will I ever consider it to be a filler trick. Black metal this speedy and extensive deserves an ice coated frosting and Paysage reigns supreme within this niche of the storied genre.

And the prog-metal masterpiece trophy goes to Castevet for their ever evolving hallucination of black metal/hardcore and mesmerizing time signatures that need to be heard and less described. There?s a slight inclusion of post-punk brought into the mix, giving these six songs an ebb and flow that could also fall under the category of epic. But that?s not for me to decide; you should be giving this a spin and telling me your thoughts on one of metal?s best kept secrets.
Known Flood

This was recommended to me by my fellow obscurest metalheads Voivod and Willie who seem to pick up on shit like this that would simply fall off the elitist radar due to their exposure on Sputnikmusic. Tribally chugging like Through Silver in Blood era Neurosis and grafting a perfect blend of nuanced black metal to the mix, Sannhet are onto something big. The only gripe I have with this was the introduction of vocals nearing the end of the album that felt strange because of its beautiful flow through instrumental passages that dominate 98% of the Known Flood. Regardless, you need this if you have any interest in instrumetal and dark elusive music.
11The Dillinger Escape Plan
One of Us is the Killer

I?ve never been a huge fan of Dillinger Escape Plan until 2010s Option Paralysis. Their spazzy take on math metal really irritated the shit out of my brain and I couldn?t understand what I was missing. Fortunately in 2010, they decided to write excellent songs with excellent production and really added a huge dose of controlled intensity to the mix. One of Us is the Killer is further refinement and in my humble opinion, the extremely late beginnings of a band maturing and feeling out a broader range of metallic styles that appeal to more than all of those scene fags who probably dumped the band after they broadened beyond the clinical shit of Calculating Infinity and the suck-hole pop-posturing of Ire Works.
The Headless Ritual

I?m going to go ahead and say this; The Headless Ritual is Autopsy?s first fully realized return to form. I was not impressed when they scraped the muck away from their raw but powerful death metal on supposed comeback Macabre Eternal and Headless is a fully realized kickback to good old days of Severed Survival/ Mental Funeral. Chris Reinfert?s vocals are amazingly crusty/ shouty as if he?d never missed a vokill while the rest of the band clicks on that rot n?gore death metal sound we?ve all
come to place high on an old school display.
The Living Infinite

I?m not going to sit here and pretend that Soilwork were not once a memorable band who wrote some of the finest produced melodic death metal of all the Swedes during the late 90s/ early 00s. Going into The Living Infinite - announcing a double album without the help of long-time song-writer Peter Wichers ? the odds were not in their favour at all. Not only did they prove they didn?t need Wichers, Soilwork somehow masterfully pulled off the double album with a surprising amount of great songs that all felt like they belonged to the larger picture of the album. Actually, barely a tune is wasted here when most bands who attempt a double disc end up writing more filler to pan out their self-indulgent concepts that come across as just uninteresting shit (The Ocean anybody?). The Living Infinite?s amazing scope and range of song-writing is proof that Soilwork has more than enough fuel in the tank to keep them running for a long time to come. Simply put, their best album in years.

Portal?s Vexovoid is a bit of an anomaly where it starts out as a typical Portal album but by midway point, Portal decides to crush us down an eternal black hole by suffocating the listener with a noisier excursion into the abyss (as if that was possible by their standards). Portal do have a few tricks left up their sleeves after all.
Opulent Atrocity

The Incantation worship that has been happening for several years now is not only a rare glimpse into bands respectfully idolizing their masters but a lot of these albums have come out sounding unique to Incantations abysmal death doom. Symptom falls into this never-ending fleet of Incantation worshippers and they take this direction into a more sludge oriented direction coupled with abstract melodies and a hollowed out production sound probably recorded in a cave. Opulent Atrocity is the bands first proper full length and is surely creating some exciting buzz for Symptoms future endeavours.
16KEN Mode

I was a bit thrown off with new KEN Mode, scaling back the metalcore breakdowns in favour of more Unsane noise rock that only littered ? but never dominated ? their last album Venerable. While not as hard hitting as Venerable, Entrench is a bit more rewarding with sufficient spins unlike the straight-forward manslaughter of their metalcore leanings. I can?t wait until these guys really crank it up to 11 and see where this odd amalgamation of influences leads them.
17Grave Miasma
Odori Sepulcrorum

Another awesome full length debut this year came from Grave Miasma whose prior E.P.?s were an amazing mix of toxic blackened death metal. Filthy to the core, Odori also harbours an underlying cult swirl to its nasty take on death metal and it only pumps up the intensity of the atmosphere to deathly heights (lows). Profound Lore has made a huge dent in the barren outskirts of death metal over the past ten years and they can chalk one up for Grave Miasma as well.
18Body Stuff
Body Stuff

Swans, Godflesh, Killing Joke, need I say more? This E.P. is one of the best mini-music pieces I?ve heard in a long time.

Well to be quite honest, I thought Gorguts would give them a run for their money in the atmospheric death metal department but I was so off with my presumptions once again. While Gorguts decided to give prog a blow job and swallow every ounce of its Dysrhythmia load, Ulcerate stuck to its guns and produced a not-so-surprising but worthwhile addition to their discography. If you thoroughly enjoyed the technical virtuosity of Everything is Fire and the suffocating atmosphere of The Destroyers of All, this is a perfect combo of both of those album; nothing more and nothing less.
Unending Degradation

Winner for best trve old school death metal by a mile and then some. Actually, they were one of the few Finnish bands that had any effect on me in 2013 (Convulses new album was one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory and failed to gain any attention with all the oldies making comebacks). Make no mistake of these Finns, their death metal game is as real as their idols. Also of noteworthy status, part of a review by our very own Crysis was highlighted in an ad by Dark Descent in Decibel Magazine this year.
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