Best of 2013 in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal ... Part 4

It's the final countdown 
By Peter Lindblad

And so, it's come to this. The final five. The best of the best.

2013 turned out some truly monstrous and carnivorous hard rock and heavy metal, as All Pigs Must Die's Nothing Violates This Nature simply devoured the competition. Motorhead did what it always does, but somehow, Lemmy Kilmister and the boys did it better than they have in a long time.

ASG took a great leap forward, Michael Monroe made people forget about Hanoi Rocks, and Clutch stopped messing around and made the most direct and gripping appeal for a rock 'n' roll revival of anybody in the last decade.

But, before we dig into the five courses set on this table, what about some great records that didn't make the top 20 cut? Stryper's utterly compelling No More Hell to Pay and Kingdom Come's moody Outlier deserve something more than honorable mention, as do Stone Sour's House of Gold & Bones Vol. 2 and Bad Religion's Due North.

Alas, choices had to be made. So, read on, and see if you agree with them.

All Pigs Must Die - Nothing Violates
This Nature 2013
5. All Pigs Must Die: Nothing Violates This Nature Take members of Converge, the Hope Conspiracy and other merchants of death metal. Throw them together into the deepest, darkest pit of inhumanity, let them paint on the walls scenes of violence and murderous madness with their own filth and give them guitars, bass and drums. They will marry blistering hardcore and extreme metal in the unholiest of ceremonies, creating one of the most ferocious and aggressive albums of the year. Rampaging riffs and crazed, writhing rhythms get all gnarled and twisted by backbreaking shifts in dynamics, as All Pigs Must Die turn heavy, bringing about immense power surges, or speeding headlong into scenes of unimaginable brutality. Few entities have ever spewed this much hatred with such exacting and raging articulation.

ASG - Blood Drive 2013
4. ASG: Blood Drive – Once upon a time, ASG stood for All Systems Go. Copyright issues forced these North Carolina stoner metal/Southern rock mystics to shorten the name, but with Blood Drive, ASG has shown it is ready for launch. Mammoth riffs and tantalizingly slow tempos bid you to follow, becoming sirens that lure listeners into towering forests and craggy mountains of sound. Occasionally, ASG flies to celestial realms, gazing about in wonder as they try to comprehend just where they ended up. More often than not, though, ASG knows exactly where they're going, and they are unafraid. A cookie or some orange juice is needed after this Blood Drive.

Motorhead - Aftershock 2013
3. Motorhead: Aftershock –Contrary to popular belief, Lemmy is not indestructible, as his recent health scares have so frighteningly illustrated. Aftershock, on the other hand, could never be destroyed. It's that cockroach of an album that would live through anything. Like all Motorhead efforts, Aftershock is audacious, high-octane rock 'n' roll, with some bluesy grit thrown in for good measure. Constantly in danger of going off the rails, it somehow manages to always stay on track, picking up speed and running over anything that gets in its way. 

Michael Monroe - Horns and Halos 2013
2. Michael Monroe: Horns and Halos – Thank God for Michael Monroe. Still making great rock 'n' roll that belongs in a gutter and looking fabulous in his tattered glam-rock garb, Monroe is on fire these days, having released in recent years not one, but two albums of rousing, straightjacket-tight rock anthems with hooks all over the place, energy to burn and a little bit of a punk sneer on their dirty faces. Horns and Halos didn't just give 2011's Sensory Overdrive a run for its money. It stole its wallet, ducked down an alleyway to escape and divvy up the loot, and then blew it all on prostitutes and drugs. " … Junkies, pimps and whores, hallelujah," indeed.

Clutch - Earth Rocker 2013
1. Clutch: Earth Rocker – Clutch trimmed the excess sonic fat, like any good studio butcher, leaving the lean meat of Earth Rocker, as Neil Fallon and company concoct a dish with this rock 'n' roll protein that couldn't have been more flavorful. Straightforward, never wandering off into places it shouldn't go, Earth Rocker was propelled by the force of its own sinewy momentum, its groove-metal engine always running clean and hot. Never has Clutch sounded this focused or this tight, Earth Rocker assuming even more power and ballsy drive than seemingly all of its past efforts combined. We all should be earth rockers.

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