Kaptain Carbon’s (Tapewyrmmetal.com) Top Picks of 2013

(IamHop: Today’s top picks of 2013 comes to us from our friend Kaptain Carbon, who writes for the site www.tapewyrmmetal.com  and also covers power metal and sword and sorcery reviews at www.HollywoodMetal.com)

This list may be a little different than the other ones I have done. I already did a list of best metal in 2013 with Satan, Caladan Brood, and Oranssi Pazuzu taking top spots. I also did a general list with Run The Jewels and Candy Claws resting comfortably at the top. What in the world is this list and why is M83 included?

Though related to a specific genre, I have found an interest in post rock can lead one to an interest in other things. Post rock and post metal rest close to a wide range of other styles, allowing one to fall into a similar web of related music that borders between genres. Whether by theme, sound, or essence this list can be thought of as similar minded records with completely different sounds. I feel this list starts at post metal and then wanders aimlessly through electronic, soundtracks, post punk, and a slew of unorthodox heavy metal. I may be the worst person to ask to do a post rock inspired list. Maybe not. Well, probably.

Russian Circles – Memorial

“Memorial was a record that did little to innovate the post metal style, but rather went above and beyond in terms of personal refinement. It was Russian Circle’s heaviest record since their 2006 debut and single handedly showed everyone that the band does best when they are on the offensive.”

Eibon – II

“Eibon is a black/sludge/doom act from France that made a 2 track record that was almost world ending. Actually, it was world ending. Rather than tell a complete story, Eibon takes its time in knocking everything to the ground and then trying to set the whole damn thing ablaze. Caught between doom jams and chaotic noise, II made a strong case for self obliteration.”

Gris – À l’âme enflammée, l’äme constellée…

“I mean, who really releases double disc albums anymore? Apparently this Canadian black metal band does.  À l’âme enflammée, l’äme constellée… takes its time to fully introduce itself. With heavy highlights in post metal and cello work, the tenacity of contemporary black metal is cloaked in a warm blanket. Gris has been somewhat underrated and  À l’âme enflammée, l’äme constellée…is no different as it avoided much needed end of the year attention. This fact is only realized after proper introductions with a well crafted and precisely constructed black metal record.”

Thy Light – No Morrow Shall Dawn

“One of the more promising black metal labels is Pest Productions. Aside from a healthy dose of Chinese atmospheric black metal, the label also showcases talent from all over the globe. Enter Thy Light, a depressive black metal act from Brazil, retains the bleak atmosphere of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) but sheds its signature claustrophobic production. No Morrow Shall Dawn adds depth to the style with a healthy amount of synth and atmosphere while showcasing a prominent rasp from Paolo Bruno. Aside from a silly logo and a penchant for being melodramatic, Thy Light and their debut far surpasses other black metal releases this year.”

Frustration – Uncivilized

“Since I just mentioned DSBM, some of you probably think I am making up genres. Well, here is another one. Cold wave was a term used to describe the growing disaffected post punk sound as its relation to new wave. Cold wave existed briefly in Belgium and in France for a few short years before falling off into obscurity.  Frustration resurrects that catchy yet dystopian sound with their second release Uncivilized. If there ever was an anthem for 20 years after the robotic enslavement, this would be at the top of my list.”

Castevet – Obsidian

“2013 was the year that I fell hard into the grey area between hardcore, metal, and experimental music. These borderlands are flourishing (or festering) with bands that care less about fitting into a style and more about using every resource available. What happens when one of the guys from Krallice goes off and makes black metal/hardcore music in gravel? Castevet. What does existential unraveling through the hands of tired emotions and bleak projection sound like? Obsidian. The band’s second album, released on Profound Lore, did leagues to promote this New York act and remind everyone that the absence of hope does exist in album form. “

Burial – Rival Dealer

“To really understand Rival Dealer, Burial’s 6th major release, one has to go back to the beginning. After two successful records in 2006 and 2007, the UK garage act entered a period of silence only to be broken by 2011’s Street Halo. For the past few years, Burial has been pushing his ghostly dubstep sound in sporadic EPs, with infusions of electronic dance music and broader directions. 2013’s Rival Dealer is not as good as 2012’s Kindred but the underlying tones of sexual identity and closure through chaos is interesting enough to warrant attention. Burial will never be party music but his continual efforts to push the sound of dubstep past drops, middle school, and energy drinks is damn impressive.”

Abyssal – Novit Enim Dominus Qui Sunt Eius

“2013 was a year that two abstract black/death bands released decent abstract black/death records. Portal and Abyssal fought hand to hand over which record could make the listener feel more uncomfortable. I think Abyssal wins, but only by a small margin. Selling abstract metal on the basis of texture and the Lovecraftian idea of terror through unknowing is difficult. UK’s Abyssal does a decent job at portraying the utter ruin of, well, everything through a jaunting torrent of blast beats, death growls, and an eternally damned atmosphere. Do you remember what I said about party music? This one is all that you need. “

Paysage D’ Hiver – Das Tor

“A black metal record that I discussed at length but did not include on my end of the year list is Paysage D’Hiver. Paysage D’Hiver is one third of the Swiss space obsessed act Darkspace and takes a much more traditional approach to black metal by encasing the music in a blanket of unforgiving ice. Dedicated to winterscapes and the sound of chilling wind, Das Tor was released on a limited amount of cassettes with no promotion, no announcements, and no fanfare. With tracks reaching the 20 minute mark and a production value suffocated by snow, Das Tor almost becomes a cartoon of itself, which does little to persuade people to stop laughing. I feel that this record would be more of a joke if people knew who Paysage D’Hiver was. Oh, they would laugh. Regardless of any humor attached, Das Tor does exactly what it is suppose to do, which is drain the warmth out of the room and cause the sky to open with freezing rain.”

M83 – Oblivion Soundtrack

“This was my most played record of 2013. The soundtrack to the motion picture Oblivion was done in collaboration with quasi electronic act M83 and producer Joseph Trapanese, whose work on the Tron Legacy soundtrack bleeds into every corner of this record. The pacing of the soundtrack works not only as an auditory narrative but as a stand alone record that is full of excitement and drama. It should also be noted that the film, aside from look and sound, is dull and now a travesty compare to its soundtrack. Whether reading, cooking, cleaning, or tabletop roleplaying, this M83 soundtrack was played weekly in my apartment and, though it failed to make any of my lists, it will always be the sound of a movie that should have been better.”