Spiner's Year-End Review
I plan to unveil my top 10 on my blog on December 31st, but for the fine folks at Metalsetlists, there will be an early sneak peak at entries 30-11 on the list, along with the most disappointing releases, most overhyped/overrated albums, and best and most disappointing live bands I saw in 2013.
We begin with the most disappointing bands seen this year. There were a few bad bands I saw this year (Stolen Babies being the worst), but this very very short list consists of bands I was excited to see that disappointed.
[B]Most Disappointing Live Bands of 2013[/B]
[B]2. Flotsam & Jetsam:[/B] F&J did put on a decent show, but unfortunately the old material was clearly so much better than the new stuff that it kind of sucked they just didn't play the first album in full. This is the kind of band you really only need to see once, even if you like their studio material a lot.
[B]1. Testament:[/B] Testament already holds my record for worst live performance ever, but they redeemed themselves when I saw them last year. This time, however, they once again let me down. Firstly, I will appreciate that Chuck was sick, but it's not fair to play a shortened set on the night Overkill drops off the tour when their setlists are already stale and they didn't say anything about it or offer refunds.
With that out of the way, we move on to their terrible sound. While not as bad as it was at Heavy TO, Testament's sound was still pretty pathetic. The playing was top-notch (other than Chuck's performance), but it doesn't matter if it sounds bad. This will be the last time I see Testament unless they get on another really killer tour, but even then, I would need to go for the other bands.
Up next will be the top 10 bands of the year!
Moving on to a more positive note, we start with the top 10 bands I saw this year. I decided to leave Crimson Shadows out of this list simply because I don't think it's really fair to judge them anymore. I saw them 3 times this year, bringing my total to 10, and it's always a wicked show. I'm just glad their music is starting to reach a wider audience.
[B]10. Lich King
Hard Luck Bar[/B]
After many years of hoping to see this band, I was finally able to see the legendary thrashers Lich King! The band is even more hilarious live than they are on record, and though they didn't play my personal favourite track, "Act of War", this was still a great night. The pit was minimal, but it did exist. Tom Martin mocking people as they left or played on their phone was pretty entertaining. Overall, this was a great (albeit very late) night, and I'm already ready for them to come back.
[B]9. Cannibal Corpse
Cannibal Corpse is the without question the second greatest death metal band of all-time (behind Death). I didn't get the chance to see them until this year, but it was well worth the wait. The entire set was brutal, with many of my favourite tracks. This was the hottest show I've ever been to, but that couldn't ruin it as Cannibal Corpse was spot on all night. For me personally, the contrast with Napalm Death made this better. I'm not a huge ND fan, and when you see the headliner come on and just absolutely destroy the opener, it makes them even better (though I did enjoy Immolation).
That Decibel show was great but Fuck me was it hot.
[B]8. Skull Fist
The Opera House[/B]
This was my second time seeing Skull Fist and it was amazing. This band is exactly what I love about metal. They're fun, rock hard, and aren't too serious. Jackie Slaughter is a complete showman, jumping out and playing into the crowd, and shredding No False Metal with the other guitarist on his shoulders.
The Opera House[/B]
Anybody who has seen Overkill is well aware of how brilliant they are. Blitz is a madman on stage and everything is very tight. There's always room for improvement in the setlist, but this was a great performance, on what was one of the best concerts I've been to in 2013.
The Opera House[/B]
I know this looks crazy ranking Warbringer above Overkill, but I think it's fair in this case. Overall, I'm a bigger Overkill fan, but The Electric Age was not my thing, and I was psyched about the new Warbringer release. Also, Warbringer were much better this time than the first time I saw them, so this was a satisfying performance. It's funny because at the time I really disliked "The Turning of the Gears" and it was noticeable how much less everyone enjoyed that song, but now I love that track.
The Mod Club[/B]
Firewind is one of many bands that I absolutely love and had to wait a long time to see. Although it was announced that Apollo was no longer in the band for this tour, it actually didn't make a ton of difference because I was right in front of Gus' amp and could mainly only hear him. Normally, bad sound will annoy me, which I why I hang back, but Gus and Firewind are that good that they'll still make the top half of my list. Gus is truly a special guitar player, and I'd love to see them again, and headline.
The Opera House[/B]
I did go to a decent number of concerts in 2013 (nowhere near as many as a lot of you guys though!), but thrash is the greatest music in existence, and seeing 3 of my favourite thrash bands ever was awesome. When I saw Kreator last (2009), I was still getting into their music, but now I love all of their old and new stuff. Kreator is a completely brutal experience and Mille is among the best frontmen in metal. While the setlist was not ideal (needs more Extreme Aggression), there weren't really many bad choices.
The Opera House[/B]
Much like Firewind, this is a band that was on my bucketlist for a long time. Helloween is the golden standard for great power metal. Surprisingly it was their Deris-era stuff that worked better for me, but the night as a whole was great. Helloween is probably among the catchiest bands ever, and there is nothing more fun than a power metal concert where everybody is singing along to "Future World".
Time to get things really moving here...
[B]2. Yngwie Malmsteen
Yngwie Malmsteen is all things ridiculous as a guitarist. Personally, I love that he is completely self-indulgent and arrogant. He's better than everyone else, and he knows it. What I didn't expect was that he'd be able to play all of his crazy material while running around the stage wildly. While I didn't know all of his songs, I was extremely happy that I bought Odyssey prior to seeing the show as they played some stuff from that and it became one of my favourite records of his. Despite not knowing who the singer was, the keyboardist and bassist that sung were both amazing. Though he charges a steep price ($40), I would not even hesitate to go see him again. He's a masterful showman and guitar player, and all musicians should go see him.
Francophonie Park, Quebec City Summer Festival[/B]
This wasn't even a contest. I never thought I'd get to see Avantasia, and though I had to travel for it and miss school (something I do not like doing ever), it was worth it. This was their first show in North America, and it almost didn't happen because Tobias was wildly sick. He didn't sing every song because of this, but that in many ways made it more special. As much as this was about Avantasia for me, it was also about getting to see Michael Kiske, and hearing him do the song "Avantasia" solo was just magical. Everything worked perfectly because the rain held off and they got an impressive sized crowd for the show. I suppose my only complaint is that it wasn't the full 3-hour show, and since tons of people were travelling to see them, it would have been nice to see the whole show. Nevertheless, this was the best concert of 2013, and a top-5 concert of all-time for me.
Up next we move on to talking about albums that came out in 2013. First, we have the 5 most disappointing albums. I will stress that #4 and 5 aren't all that disappointing. I don't love these bands as much as other people do, but I expected a bit more. There just weren't too many disappointing releases for me in 2013 (other than some that still made the top 30).
[SIZE="5"]Most Disappointing Albums of 2013[/SIZE]
[B][SIZE="4"]5. Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance[/SIZE][/B]
I'm one of those guys who enjoys Darkthrone's current material more than their black metal stuff. I was expecting this to be the first record of theirs that I really loved as they moved even further into the realm of traditional heavy metal. This was definitely a good album, but I rarely find myself coming back to it.
[B][SIZE="4"]4. Manilla Road - Mysterium[/SIZE][/B]
Has there ever been a Manilla Road release with less hype? These guys seem universally loved, yet nobody talks about this album (despite there being a lot of praise for Hellwell last year). Personally, I found this album to be very boring, and I don't think I've listened to it more than once or twice after my first listen. I suppose that Manilla Road usually takes a while to click, but this one didn't have much, if anything that I remember to be redeeming about it.
[B][SIZE="4"]3. Warbeast - Destroy[/SIZE][/B]
This was the first real major disappointment. "Krush the Enemy" was brilliant. Combining Rigor Mortis and Gammacide was a great idea, but it seems like they can't keep the momentum. This album is just not interesting. None of the songs are as memorable as "Scorched Earth Policy", nor are they more brutal. It's almost like the band released the most generic thing possible given their sound.
[B][SIZE="4"]2. Enforcer - Death By Fire[/SIZE][/B]
Much like the Darkthrone record, this one isn't bad at all; in fact, it's pretty good. The problem is that the band set the bar so high with "Diamonds" that this was almost guaranteed to not live up to it. When I listen to any sort of speed/heavy/power metal, I'm looking for memorability and catchiness first, and aside from "Death Rides This Night", I didn't get much from this record. I've gone back to it numerous times, and while I enjoy it while it's on, I'm left with nothing afterwards. Just this morning I was listening to "High Roller" from "Diamonds", and it still blows me away how awesome it is.
[B][SIZE="4"]1. Gama Bomb - The Terror Tapes[/SIZE][/B]
Has a band ever had such a sizeable drop-off in quality considering their sound is the exact same? I'm referring specifically to the drop between "Citizen Brain" and "Tales From The Grave In Space". The former is one of the all-time great retro thrash records. Every song is a ball of energy, and the band has struggled to pull that off again. Both "Tales From The Grave In Space" and this record have a few memorable songs, but ultimately fall short. The band almost sounds like a cartoon of itself the way the singers voice doesn't change ever.
It's funny because I always associated Gama Bomb and Bonded By Blood as bands that were somehow connected because I got into both of them in 2008 when their albums from that year came out. Gama Bomb seemed more promising initially, but I have yet to be let down by Bonded By Blood, whereas I'm almost at the point of losing interest in Gama Bomb. I will probably end up getting their next record, because I love all things thrash, but they really need to do something to make themselves more interesting quickly.
Now we get to the controversial part. The next 6 albums are by far the most overrated releases of 2013. To clarify, these albums are by no means bad (though I honestly didn't like any of them that much), but I just don't understand how they received the level of praise that they did.
[B][SIZE="5"]Most Overrated Albums of 2013[/SIZE][/B]
[B][SIZE="4"]6. Iron Dogs - Wild and Free[/SIZE][/B]
It was no surprise to me that everybody loved this album, but take a step back and think about what you're listening to. The melodies are beyond simplistic, to the point where it sounds like the musicians have no ear for music theory at all. They also never stop with the melodies. This is an amateur release, but the praise for it is scary.
[B][SIZE="4"]5. Ranger - Knights of Darkness[/SIZE][/B]
This is definitely a fun speed metal EP, but there's nothing memorable about it at all. The best moment is when they rip off "Majesty" by Blind Guardian. Everything else about it is predictable. It's fast, but that's it really.
[B][SIZE="4"]4. Skeletonwitch - Serpents Unleashed[/SIZE][/B]
This is just a band as a whole that I have trouble appreciating. I can't help but feel they pander to exactly what people want with their sound. It's like Dragonforce, but for trve metal fans.
[SIZE="4"][B]3. Satan's Host - Virgin Sails[/B][/SIZE]
This was my first experience with Satan's Host, and it was certainly underwhelming. The mix of clean vocals and more extreme music just didn't work the way I expected it to. Conklin is a great singer, but I felt things weren't catchy enough. I suppose that's the point, but "Virgin Sails" was boring. It's long, and aside from a few moments, there's nothing really all that great. It's weird because the sound is definitely different from most bands out there, but I don't feel like this is a particularly standout release.
[SIZE="4"][B]2. Carcass - Surgical Steel[/B][/SIZE]
Of all of the albums on this list, this is the one I really enjoy and will come back to. But how Carcass is considered anywhere near the best of 2013 confuses me. I'm not a huge fan of their old stuff (grindcore or melodeath), and this is just an enjoyable melodeath comeback for me.
[B][SIZE="4"]1. Gorguts - Colored Sands[/SIZE][/B]
The fact that people love this release makes me worry for the future of metal. This album is excessively long, and completely uninteresting. I do like how they worship Immolation a lot on the album, but I'd prefer the band just gets to the point and delivers good death metal the whole time. It's time for Gorguts to go back to playing stuff from "Considered Dead".
I agree. The Carcass album was really good but not even close to the best thing that came out this year. Something tells me Decibel just put it at number one to ensure the band would do their tour next year. My favorite song was actually the intro [I]1985[/I].
[B][SIZE="4"]1. Gorguts - Colored Sands[/SIZE][/B]
The fact that people love this release makes me worry for the future of metal. This album is excessively long, and completely uninteresting. I do like how they worship Immolation a lot on the album, but I'd prefer the band just gets to the point and delivers good death metal the whole time. It's time for Gorguts to go back to playing stuff from "Considered Dead".[/QUOTE]
This album has some of the heaviest moments Ive ever heard, and how some parts are disgusting yet beautiful at the same time, I find it to be truly amazing
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