Iza’s Highlights of 2013

It’s been one hell of a busy year in the world of alternative music. Lots of great new releases, memorable shows and festivals. I’ve decided to write a short summary of some of the highlights of 2013. Here are some of the albums that caught my attention this year:

1. Chthonic – Bú Tik
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/ Oriental Metal

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This is easily my favourite metal album of 2013. ‘Bú Tik’ brings together the aggression of black and death metal with the melodic oriental sounds of the erhu for that unique mix that only Chthonic are renowned for. The results of this combination are both complex and beautiful in their design. Best tracks: ‘Supreme Pain For a Tyrant’, ‘Sail into The Sunset’s Fire’ and Defenders of Bú Tik Palace’.

2. Suicide Commando – When Evil Speaks
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech/ Harsh Electro

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I’ve been a fan of Suicide Commando for a number of years now. ‘When Evil Speaks’ is the long-awaited follow-up to ‘Implements of Hell’. Based around the overall subject of hate and evil in today’s society; the album features dark and sinister lyrical themes, old-school EBM tunes and Aggrotech dance-floor hits. Best tracks: ‘My Blasphemy’, ‘Unterwelt’ and ‘Monster’.

3. Children of Bodom – Halo of Blood
Genre: Melodic Death/Power Metal

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I’ve been of a fan of this band since my early teens, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to review their latest album. Aside from the odd surprise such as the ballad ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’, ‘Halo of Blood’ features the signature Bodom sound and is without a shadow of doubt their strongest release in years. Best tracks: ‘Transference’ , ‘Bodom Blue Moon’ and ‘Dead Man’s Hand On You’.

4. Psyclon Nine – [Order of the Shadow : Act I]
Genre: Aggrotech/ Industrial Metal

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This band is not an easy one to categorise into a specific genre. Some industrial and EBM fans dismiss their style by saying that their black metal influences are too strong to earn them a place in the industrial scene. Not that I give a damn since that’s precisely why I like them. ‘Order of The Shadow…” is their harshest and most aggressive release to date. After 10 tracks of intense, adrenaline fueled, blackened industrial, I was shocked to hear the sombre ballads at the end. Best tracks: ‘Shadows Unveiled’ , ‘Use Once and Destroy’ and ‘The Saint and The Valentine’.

5. Agathodaimon – In Darkness
Genre: Melodic Black Metal/ Symphonic Black Metal

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This album marks a departure from the gothic metal days of its predecessor ‘Phoenix’ and a return their older, melodic black metal sound depicted in earlier releases such as ‘Chapter III’ and ‘Higher Art of Rebellion’. Whilst not quite reaching the greatness of ‘Chapter III’ (an album which holds a special place in my heart); ‘In Darkness’ is definitely a step in the right direction, offering a mixture of agression and melancholic melodies. Best tracks: ‘In Darkness (We Shall be Reborn), ‘I’ve Risen’ and ‘Favourite Sin’.

Best Live Shows of 2013

1. Sabaton live at Sauna Open Air, Tampere, Finland.

2. Children of Bodom live at Sauna Open Air, Tampere, Finland.

3. Chthonic live at Klubi, Tampere, Finland.

4. Suicide Commando live in London, the U.K.

5. Heimataerde live at KOMA festival, Oslo, Norway.

Best New Discovery of 2013: ErilaZ
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This Finnish band caught my attention during their performance at this year’s Lumous festival in Tampere, Finland. What do they sound like? Imagine a mixture of Fear Factory, Front Line Assembly with the combined lyrical themes of Amon Amarth. Impossible, you say? Go on, I dare you to give them a try!

To finish off I’d like to list some of the releases that I’m looking forward to in 2014:

Most Anticipated Albums of 2014:

1. Behemoth – The Satanist
Genre: Blackened Death Metal
Release Date: 3rd February 2014

2. Vader – TIBI ET IGNI “For You (and only You) and Fire
Genre: Death Metal
Release Date: Spring 2014

3. Kampfar – Djevelmakt
Genre: Pagan Black Metal

Release Date: 27th January, 2014

4. Combichrist – We Love You
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech
Release Date: 15th March 2014

5. Nachtmahr – Feindbild
Genre: Industrial/ Aggrotech
Release Date: 14th February 2014

That’s all for now. Happy New Year!

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