Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2013
2013 has been a banner year for heavy metal, with great releases from artists new and old. With so many amazing albums, it was a really tall task to pick the top 50. After months of listening and re-listening, these in our opinion are the greatest metal albums released this year. If you are interested in checking out some excellent new metal albums or want make any recommendations to friends, our list is definitely a great place to start. You really can’t go wrong with any of the albums listed here. There is literally something for every type of metal fan. We have previously written detailed reviews for many of the albums on the list. If you want to check out a full album review, just click on the album cover. If we reviewed it, you’ll be taken to the original post. We hope you enjoy the list and as always leave a comment and let us know what your favorite albums of 2013 are. Also make sure to check out our list of the 100 Best Metal Songs of 2013. With so many amazing records, things are certainly open for many spirited and friendly debates.
1. Battlecross – War of Will: The sophomore album from the most promising thrash metal band of today crushes your inner ear hard and fast in a mere 36 minutes. Battlecross are energized and eager on War of Will.
2. Exhumed – Necrocracy (Deluxe Version): The death metal veterans have returned with a slightly evolved sound and the most diverse album of their career. Their ability to seamlessly change tempos and navigate between different extreme subgenres during the course of each song make this a must have album of 2013.
3. Tomahawk – Oddfellows: Their fourth album is also their most accessible one, with catchy hooks and all the unpredicatability you’d expect from Tomahawk. Mike Patton is on top of his game and this is easily one of the bands best albums to date.
4. The Black Dahlia Murder – Everblack: The band’s best album since their debut, Unhallowed. It has an excellent mix of melodic death metal, deathcore and classic death metal. There’s even some slight black metal influence thrown in to make for one excellent listening experience.
5. Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent: Jesse Leach is back on vocals for a triumphant return to metalcore’s most loved band. You can really feel the chemistry that the band has with Leach. The songs are well written and the musicianship has vastly improved over the years giving KSE their best album since 2002′s Alive or Just Breathing.
6. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One of Us Is the Killer: One of the best mathcore albums that Dillinger has ever released. The album has a great diversity of sounds that sets it apart from any other album released this year.
7. Carcass – Surgical Steel: The death metal veterans have returned with a vengeance with their sixth studio album and first release since 1996. The album brings back old school melodic death metal with excellent musicianship, guitar harmonization and brutal death metal elements that are not present in the current melodeath scene.
8. Suffocation – Pinnacle of Bedlam: This is a really well done death metal record from the masters from NYC. The album is chock full of excellent solos and great riffs. This is classic death metal at its very best with really no weaknesses to speak of. Literally fans of any type of metal should be able to appreciate the immense skills the band shows off on Pinnacle of Bedlam.
9. Voivod – Target Earth: The first release from Voivod without founding member Piggy proves the band still can release incredible progressive thrash. The riffs are both blistering and complicated. Although it can take a few listens to get used to, this is truly one amazing record.
10. Black Sabbath – 13: A triumphant return for Ozzy and Butler, while the real star here is Iommi’s amazing, haunting riffs. This is a classic 1970′s style Sabbath record that fits perfectly in the world of contemporary metal.
11. Vulture Industries – The Tower: Avant-garde metal is an interesting animal. Either you love it or hate it. There isn’t usually any in between. However, Vulture Industries fourth record is has a very pleasing and accessible sound that may convert even the biggest avant-garde detractors. The music is less complex and more coherent than typical avant-garde metal, while still offering the listener a lot of experimentation, great arrangements and excellent lyrics. The guitar work and musical melodies along with excellent vocals make for one amazing trip.
12. Protest The Hero – Volition: The Canadian metallers once again bring their signature style of progressive metal with influences from thrash, hardcore and punk rock mixed in. The band has released three amazing albums prior to this and this is probably their best work yet with ridiculous shred guitar, excellent wide range vocals and well written lyrics.
13. Dream Theater – Dream Theater: The twelfth studio album from the progressive metal pioneers is the band’s most extensive to date with great arrangements and soaring solos from John Petrucci. The band takes more risks with new atmospheric tones and deeper use of symphonic elements. This is easily one of their best and most well rounded releases.
14. Amon Amarth – Deceiver of the Gods: Another excellent release from one of the most consistent bands in heavy metal. Great guitar work, vocals and story telling make this Viking metal album a must own.
15. Gorguts – Colored Sands: The technical death metallers have returned with their first album in twelve years. Here we get an excellent album with longer song durations, more diversification and even more progressive elements than on the band’s previous albums. The songs are all extremely well crafted and thought out.
16. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks: Trent Reznor’s best album since The Fragile is a triumphant return to multifaceted industrial metal. Much of the album has similarities to Reznor’s early work on Pretty Hate Machine while managing to stay fresh and relevant in the modern heavy metal world.
17. Kylesa – Ultraviolet: This is easily one of the best releases from the sludge metal act from Georgia. It has a very layered and unique sound that draws from many different influences. The album is beautifully crafted with great melodic undertones and varying layers of musical influences.
18. Monster Magnet – Last Patrol: Trippy, indulgent, and pure stoner metal. Monster Magnet release perhaps their best album to date and produce songs for themselves, not radio airplay. Fans of the bands early work will really love this record and even if you’re not a stoner metal fan, it is pretty easy to get drawn into this one.
19. Queensryche – Queensryche: Excellent return to form for the progressive metal masters. New lead singer Todd La Torre is the perfect replacement for original singer Geoff Tate. The album will remind fans of their early material combined with a fresh modern metal sound.
20. Darkthrone – The Underground Resistance: The fifteenth album from extreme metal veterans Darkthrone boasts a great mix of traditional metal, thrash, black metal and doom metal. With this newest effort Darkthrone manages to once again evolve their sound in a way that keeps things fresh but still draws a lot from their past metal style.
21. Skeletonwitch – Serpents Unleashed: Another great blackened thrash album with melodic guitar overlays by the masters from Ohio. The album features excellent production, tight musicianship, brutally heavy riffs, great guitar harmonization and the best song writing of Skeletonwitch’s career. Make sure to check out the track “Burned from Bone”. It’s heavy and damn catchy.
22. Deafheaven – Sunbather: The band’s second studio release is an amazing atmospheric metal trip with complicated arrangements and truly excellent musicianship. The tracks have long run times and the listener can get lost in the amazing material.
23. Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood: This is Children of Bodom’s best album since Hatebreeder. It contains that excellent mix of metal subgenres that has made the band famous and it is much heavier than most of their recent albums. Diehard fans of the band will really appreciate this record.
24. Alice In Chains – The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here: Dark, sludgy and melodic, just like you’d expect from Alice In Chains, with not one track to skip by. It finally feels like William Duval is a true member of the band as he is a lot more involved than on the previous record. This is easily their best release since Dirt.
25. Motorhead – Aftershock: A predictably hard rocker from Lemmy and the boys that contains breakneck speed metal bass, catchy blues metal gems and the simple style songs that we have all become used to. Evolution is important in music, but in the case of Motorhead consistency means more.
26. Leprous – Coal: This is a well crafted record from the progressive metal act from Norway. A region that has become mostly known for its black metal exports brings us an excellent progressive metal band. The record is ripe with complex riffs and crazy time signatures making it an absolute must listen.
27. The Ocean – Pelagial: The German atmospheric metallers return with a concept album that takes the listener down through oceanic depths. The album is both heavy and beautiful. If you chose to dive into this one head first, it will literally be one of the best and complete musical experiences you will ever have.
28. Ulcerate - Vermis: 2013 has seen it’s share of excellent technical death metal releases and Ulcerate’s Vermis is no exception. Most of the tracks on the album have long run times with tons of different elements mixed throughout. However for those purists out there, there are a couple short and spectacular classic death metal songs as well.
29. Death Angel – The Dream Calls for Blood: This is an excellent classic thrash album from the veterans in Death Angel. It also contains influences from power metal, melodic metal and NWOBHM. The album has heavy, fast paced and punishing riffs from start to finish and is exactly what thrash metal is meant to be.
30. Omnium Gatherum – Beyond: This one was suggested to us in our comments section by Koleva and Borgir and we couldn’t agree with them more. It is both amazingly melodic and brutal. Both this album and Carcass’ Surgical Steel are exactly what melodic death metal was meant to be. We get the amazing and well written harmoinzed guitar riffs mixed with true harsh death metal vocals. The band has evolved their sound slightly giving their music some new wrinkles while still managing not to stray too far from the signature sound that got them here.
31. Shade Empire – Omega Arcane: The fourth studio album from Shade Empire is also probably their best to date. The eleven tracks are mostly lengthy and are chock full of excellent and complicated symphonic black metal arrangements.
32. Amorphis – Circle: Over recent years Amorphis has come under some criticism for becoming a bit more tame. However, their newest release brings back elements of their death/doom and folk metal past and combines them with the amazingly intense song structures that they have recently become known for. The coalescence makes for one excellent record.
33. Caladan Brood – Echoes of Battle: This is an excellent atmospheric black metal debut by the guys from Salt Lake City, Utah. Black metal from Utah? This would be the last place anyone would expect a black metal band to come from, especially one with such an amazingly well constructed album. Look out Norway! You have some competition.
34. Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness: Once again Toxic Holocaust brings us their lightning fast, heavy, no frills style of thrash. The songs on Chemistry of Consciousness leave you feeling like you were run over by a Mack truck while still giving you some catchy and really well played riffs. These guys just seem to get better and better with each release.
35. Rob Zombie – Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor: This is a big return to form for Rob Zombie. The album channels old school White Zombie and early Rob Zombie with great grooves, solid industrial elements and awesome horror movie snippets. There are literally no tracks to skip past on this one.
36. Exhale – When Worlds Collide: This is easily one of the best grindcore releases of the year from the guys from Sweden. Exhale is not afraid to experiment with other subgenres of metal including death metal and deathcore and they even pay a ton of tribute to grindcore’s main precursor, hardcore. The bass play from Johan Fogelberg really makes the record along with the band’s well crafted songs and excellent lyrics. This is a really excellent record whether you are a fan of grindcore or not.
37. Soilwork – The Living Infinite: This is an excellent double album from the melodic death metal veterans. The album boasts twenty tracks and consists of some of the band’s best and most consistent material. The album has the best mix of their past and present sound with even more diversification of their traditional formula.
38. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Labyrinth: The third release from the Italian technical death band Fleshgod Apocalypse is far and away their best yet. The concept album based on an ancient Labyrinth in Crete contains complex song structures and excellent riffs.
39. Stratovarius – Nemesis: The fourteenth album from the power metal heavy weights is one of their best. The songs are all excellent and as usual the neoclassical guitar work and solos from Matias Kupiainen are second to none.
40. Immolation – Kingdom of Conspiracy: Excellent release from the death metal veterans from New York. The riffs on the album are innovative and go against those typical in death metal. The musical talent level displayed on the album is unbelievable.
41. Inter Arma – Sky Burial: Inter Arma is one of the most talked about extreme metal bands right now. With an original mix of atmospheric metal, grindcore and blackened doom the record has a sound that is absolutely like no other.
42. Witherscape – The Inheritance: Dan Swano, formerly of Edge of Sanity, has returned with his new project Witherscape. Their debut album is more of the same great technical death metal we have become used to from Swano with the addition of very cool atmospheric metal elements. There are multiple guest vocalists and even an interesting cover of Judas Priest’s “Last Rose of Summer”.
43. Ihsahn – Das Seelenbrechen: The former Emperor front man once again brings an excellent progressive/black metal album with great atmospheric tonality. This is one that you will want to dive into with all of your sensibilities, so make sure you have some good time to devote to it and all of it’s varied elements.
44. Soulfly – Savages: Soulfly’s ninth studio album will probably go down as one their best. It boasts excellent song writing, great guitar work, heavy arrangements and unbelievably infectious grooves. Max Cavalera and the guys are on top of their game here and some of the album will even remind you slightly of Sepultura. This an excellent and enjoyable listen.
45. Annihilator – Feast: A few of our readers suggested this one to us, so we checked it out and loved it right away. The thrash riffs are fierce and punishing. The songs are well written and the production sounds absolutely amazing. There is even a guest appearance from Canadian rocker Danko Jones, yes Danko Jones. Surprisingly he has a knack for writing heavy metal tunes. On top of all of this greatness, the album also has some of the best cover art of the year. This is a very very well rounded releases from the thrash metal vets.
46. Finntroll – Blodsvept: One of folk metal’s best returns with an absolutely phenomenal album. Blodsvept uses a lot of black metal and extreme elements in addition to the signature Fintroll sound. This is definitely one of the heaviest and best releases of Fintroll’s career.
47. Heaven Shall Burn – Veto: The seventh album from the band sees a move more toward full melodic death metal and away from some of the metalcore and deathcore elements they used in the past. Because of this, Heaven Shall Burn has created their most consistent and well written album to date.
48. Kalmah – Seventh Swamphony: The seventh release from the melodic death metal veterans goes down as their best to date. There is a great mix of heavy vocals and melodic riffs. It is only eight tracks, but the fairly long song lengths and involved song structures make up for it.
49. Hatebreed – The Divinity Of Purpose: Hatebreed has easily been one of the most maligned metal bands over the last 20 years and rightfully so. They have consistently released albums with the same tired sound, until now. Their newest release still contains their trademark meat head hardcore. However the musicianship is much improved and the addition of more thrash elements makes for a solid record with very catchy songs.
50. Mors Principium Est – …And Death Said Live: This is easily the most overlooked and underrated release of 2013. Most people bypassed this album without even a passing glance, but in doing so they missed a really excellent melodic death metal album. There is nothing fancy here, just excellent traditional melodic death metal with great harsh vocals and NWOBHM style guitar harmonization. There are also some added progressive and atmospheric elements. The songs are all well crafted. The guitar solos are awesome and the overall musicianship of the band is second to none. If you looked past this one, do yourself a favor and check it out.