Best of 2013 in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal – Part 1

The number of this beast is 20, as in top 20
By Peter Lindblad

There are many questions left unanswered from the year of our Lord 2013. 

One of them being, what exactly is an "Earth Rocker" and, as a follow-up question to Clutch, how do they differ from normal, everyday rockers? Also, why Summon the Faithless, Lord Dying? Is something nefarious afoot? 

And what about Monster Magnet's Last Patrol? Should we read anything into that title? And should you engage in a transaction with a Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, what are you actually purchasing? Zombie rodents? Would you buy such a thing from a man named Rob Zombie?

To say the least, hard rock and heavy metal had its share of scary, off-the-wall characters making ridiculously powerful music in 2013. Ozzy even sounded semi-coherent as three-fourths of the original Black Sabbath came back from the grave with a vengeance. As ill as he's been, Lemmy still barreled through Aftershock like a man possessed by demons, which is just the way Lemmy likes it. And former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe showed everyone he's full of just as much piss and vinegar as guys half his age.

So, here we present the best metal and hard rock records of 2013 in this four-part series, counting down from 20 and headed toward No. 1. 

Amon Amarth - Deceiver of the Gods 2013
20. Amon Amarth: Deceiver of the Gods – Maybe this Norse metal thing has finally run its course with death metal Vikings Amon Amarth. Even the gods are wondering if its time Amon Amarth gave it a rest. Still, the gory Deceiver of the Gods, with its mighty blend of traditional melodic metal forms and good old fashioned thrash, is a mammoth production, a big boiling kettle of massive riffs, hairy vocal bellows and roiling rhythms that swings precariously to and fro, constantly spilling its contents over the edge. And Amon Amarth worshippers lapped up every drop.

Lord Dying - Summon the Faithless 2013
19. Lord Dying: Summon the Faithless Stirring up a sea of sludge, coating it in crusty distortion and fashioning it into menacing shapes defined by crunching riffs and hardened grooves, Lord Dying staked its claim to Black Sabbath's throne as the masters of doom metal. Made of pure evil, Summon the Faithless is that shadowy figure of an album hiding around the corner, waiting to snatch whoever happens to walk by with a myriad of rusty hooks that could give whoever hears it tetanus. Make sure you're up on all your shots.

Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regeneration
Vendor 2013
18. Rob Zombie: Venomous Rat Regenerator Chaos reigns supreme in the circus world of Venomous Rat Regenerator, where demented bartender Rob Zombie and partner John Five whip up a lethal cocktail of hot, grinding industrial-metal riffage, hard-hitting dance beats and complete auditory madness. If any asylum could ever be described as "fun" or having a "party-like atmosphere," this is it. The inmates are running Venomous Rat Regenerator, inviting all manner of freaks, and they are throwing the bash of the century.

Saxon - Sacrifice 2013
17. Saxon: Sacrifice Saxon sacrificed nothing on its last album. The grizzled New Wave of British Heavy Metal veterans mixed in some thrash stomp and made some of the toughest, most durable rock of their career. Wrecking-ball riffs and beautifully intertwined dual-guitar salvos each find their space on Sacrifice, which also incorporates touches of folk instrumentation on an otherwise hard-nosed, blue-collar epic that packs quite a wallop.

Vista Chino - Peace 2013
16. Vista Chino: Peace – Peace sells, and it should be bought by the truckload. Heavy and languid, with a wonderfully homegrown, hazy stoner-metal aesthetic hanging in the air, Peace could have sounded inert, stuck in a past where too many Kyuss fans choose to live. It doesn't. Rather, Vista Chino moves in mysterious and intoxicating ways. Instead, it's seductive, like an older brother daring you to smoke pot for the first time, and earthy, as if early Sabbath spent more  time in hippie communes, as opposed to graveyards. In a word, it sounds "natural," which is something that can't be said anymore for Queens of the Stone Age, that other Kyuss-related band. 

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