The 21 Best Heavy Metal Albums of 2013

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Ghost BC
It's that time of year where our focus is officially shifting from reflecting on 2013 to preparing for 2014. Another 365 days have swept by, full of heavy metal ups and downs, groupies and drug overdoses, mind-blowing riffs and sold-out shows. The state of metal in 2013 certainly hasn't blown my mind--I mean, bad pop music is so pervasive in our culture that it's difficult for any other genre to avoid drowning in the thick, soupy droning known as mainstream music.

However, there was interesting music being made this past year, and lots of heavy metal news and some great interviews. And it was a busy year for Metal Mondays. In tradition end of year "best of" lists, here are a handful of my favorite Metal Mondays that ran in 2013, from interviews with world-renowned metal legends to the insane local metal scene.

In terms of heavy metal music releases in 2013, the bar was set pretty high; I mean, in 2012 I remember picking up a Van Halen album that was the first to feature David Lee Roth behind the mic since 1984 (and of course I can't forget some great work by Baroness and Gojira, to name a few). Then again, we got Black Sabbath's 13, the band's first studio release to feature Ozzy Osbourne since 1978.

So without further ado, here's my personal list of 2013's best metal albums. They may not be the most extreme in the bunch, but they are interesting and exciting, especially when it comes to the guitar work--some of them celebrate the purity of all of that is metal, while others even lack purity, messing with metal's structure and turning it upside down. But they all represent that fundamental intensity that metal has of tapping into something animalistic and pure.

Note: My apologies to Skeletonwitch, Rotting Christ, Tombstoned, Joe Satriani, Blood Ceremony, Kvelertak, Gorguts, Tessaract, Killswitch Engage, In Solitude, Voivod, Red Fang, and many more.

Amon Amarth, Deceiver of the Gods
Swedish metal act Amon Amarth took their name from a volcano in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth, and their lyrics mostly deal with the Vikings' mythology and history. So it's no surprise that their ninth album, Deceiver of the Gods, is death metal gold, laced with Norse mythology and strong melodics.

Butcher Babies, Goliath
This has long one of my favorite chick-fronted heavy metal bands for many reasons. Here are three:

1. The band members' energy is insane and they can pound whiskey shots with the best of them.
2. Their brand of bad-ass thrash and melodic metal will make you headbang for days.
3. The members' talents span comic-book-creation to acting and, yeah, music. Their debut album, Goliath, showcases the dynamic vocals of front-women Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, backed with some great technical work from the rest of the band.

Ghost B.C., Infestissumam
Embrace the weirdness and intensity of this Swedish death metal band--especially on this, their second album. The only way to completely appreciate this band is to buy into their gimmick, which they've crafted and (just as importantly) upheld like few modern bands have dared.

Front man Papa Emeritus II identifies the rest of the group as a bunch of "nameless ghouls," and the band's ritualistic live show in black robes and masks, with Papa rocking some striking face makeup, is as enchanting as death metal can be. They are probably the least heavy on this list, but what they lack in brutal thrash they make up in substance.

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Wow...missing some excellent albums in 

In Vain "Aenigma"

Soilwork "The Living Infinite"

Tesseract "Altered State"

Omnium Gatherum "Beyond"

Ayreon "The Theory of Everything"

Rotting Christ "Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy"

Amorphis "Circle"

Turmion Katilot "Technodiktator"

Orphaned Land "All is One"

Chthonic "Bu-Tik"

Kalmah "Seventh Swaphony"

Leprous "Coal"

Ulcerate "Vermis"

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