Room Thirteen's Best of 2013
Blimey that was quick! 2013 came and went as fast as an X Factor winner's career! As usual there were some outstanding musical highlights (alongside some ridiculously appalling ones) and as usual we asked our intrepid bunch of writers to pick their favourites. It's a mixed bag as you'd expect and you probably won't agree with much of it but maybe it will inspire you to check out some new bands.
Either way, thanks for sticking with us in 2013 and we'll do our best to keep the news, reviews and features coming in 2014!
Clutch Earth Rocker
An absolutely sensational slab of pure heavy music. Clutch have this uncanny ability to write albums which almost sound independent from each other, each being brilliant in their own way. If you lined up a few Clutch fans and asked for their favourite you'd spark an almighty debate. With that said, Earth Rocker has remained a consistent feature of my day since its release. So much so it may have actually become my favourite Clutch album. Key tunes on here, are D.C. Sound Attack, Unto The Breach and Mr. Freedom. This is an absolute MUST buy.
Letlive The Blackest Beautiful
Every now and again an artist just absolutely strikes gold with their new release. The Blackest Beautiful struck gold and then some. This was an absolutely sensational release, and one that gets better with every listen. All the different little intricacies, the killer riffs, you just feel like with every listen you discover something new. The Blackest Beautiful felt like it just changed everything and is sure to propel this band onto the next level.
Black Sabbath God Is Dead?
This single is the stand out for me this year because it blew away any apprehensions or cause for concern over new Sabbath material. All of those questions, "Is Iommi well enough?", "Will Ozzy just piss off again?" "But Bill Ward???" all blown away in 9 minutes of pure glory. As the Sabbath album's evolved over time they naturally drifted away from the feel of the first two albums, but God Is Dead? was a real statement of intent.
System Of A Down Reading Festival
My feelings towards this show are in greater detail within the review, but what a gig! I've been a fan of System Of A Down for years, but never got the chance to see them live before they went on hiatus. I also never managed to get to their headline show at Download a few years ago, so this was an absolute must see for me. And they did not disappoint. Reports of shabby, almost soulless, shows immediately after their return was an initial cause for concern but they looked like they were enjoying being in SOAD again. The crowd was a war-zone, the band were on form, completely brilliant.
Turbowolf Camden Rocks Festival
Turbowolf vastly impressed me in their support slot for Cancer Bats around March this year, but their performance at Camden Rocks Festival this summer absolutely blew my mind. Crammed into the small space at The Monarch pub, Turbowolf nearly caused a riot. It's the first gig I've been at where it actually felt like the walls were going to cave in. On record this band are great, but live they are absolutely monstrous. The show was energetic, heavy, chaotic and all importantly fun. The band has been quietly hidden away since then recording a new album, but as soon as it drops next year jump on any tour date you possibly can, you will not regret it.
Altar of Plagues Teethed Glory and Injury
Darkly oppressive and deeply forboding, Altar of Plagues' third and final album is the best release of 2013 for me. A triumph of forward-thinking black metal with experimental leanings, Teethed Glory and Injury might just be the Irish quartet's crowning glory. What a way to bow out.
The Ocean Pelagial
The Ocean's releases over the years have been consistently strong, but with Pelagial comes a concept and a package that floats my boat like never before, or perhaps more accurately, sinks my boat and draws me into the dark abyss.
Russian Circles Memorial
Darkly unnerving and laced with a very real sense of claustrophobia, Memorial sees the post-rock riff-masters once again show everyone else how it's done. Kubrick's adaption of The Shining immediately springs to mind (probably accentuated by the bleakness gleamed from the cover art); the sense of isolation and intense, artful horror very real indeed. At times beautifully unsettling and at others merely beautiful, Memorial is an essential listen.
With a sound that can only have been borne from some hellish Lovecraftian dimension and a lineup that boasts ex-members of various Irish noisemongers including Altar of Plagues, Malthusian's melding of black, death and doom metal knaws away at your very soul, with a cavernous production that accentuates the feeling of utter hopelessness that invades this demo.
Corrupt Moral Altar Whiskey Sierra
Whiskey Sierra is utterly reprehensible filth, and I can't think of an EP I've enjoyed more this year. Their sound is huge and their riffs are even huger, mixing grind and sludge to devastating effect. This is one of the nastiest things to come out of the UK since Iron Monkey. Kudos, lads.
Amiensus & Oak Pantheon Gathering
This pairing of Minnesota folk metal bands is an absolute joy to listen to; from Amiensus', atmospheric blackened yearning to Oak Pantheon's dark and driving melodies, this split EP is surprisingly uplifting, and a hugely impressive effort from both parties.
Bossk Bloodstock Open Air 2013
A truly spectacular performance from the Kent five-piece, proving they are true masters when it comes to hugely engaging and mesmerising instrumental build-ups, followed by utterly monstrous, riff-caked climaxes. Playing new songs The Reverie and Pick Up Artist as well as both songs from their .2 EP, watching Bossk on the Sophie stage was a truly overwhelming experience, and for me the number one live performance of the year. It's great to have them back.
Bring Me The Horizon Sempiternal
2013 has well and truly been Oli and gang's year with the ridiculous success of Sempiternal along with constant touring along with a main stage appearance at the prestigious Reading Festival. Opening with Can You Feel My Heart this album is just all thumbs up from there on. House of Wolves Sleepwalking, Shadow Moses which has the backing track for a Metal Gear Solid game which any gaming fan would find amazing! Even the totally juvenile sounding Anti-Vist is actually about keyboard warriors. This album is amazing from beginning to end and shows just how good these guys are at what they do.
A rollercoaster of pure hardcore emotion all over within 1 minute and seventeen seconds. This isn't a song to get you to sleep at night or to listen to on the bus, this is a hard hitting anthem that makes you go insane! The drop at the end cements this song in my eyes as the best single of this year! Played on radio one twice straight after each other, this song is Enter Shikari all over. The video is a play on weird Japanese shows and the ending is comedy gold.
Jonny Concrete Godiva Festival
This year I've seen great artists like Muse, Iron Maiden, Rammstein, System of a Down, Eminem and Slipknot but no one surprised me more than this little band from Coventry.
On a tiny stage at Coventry's yearly free festival a little band called Jonny Concrete were setting up. With no idea who they were I was skeptical and just thought 'it's going to be another indie band produced by Coventry...yay, how wrong I was. Jonny Concrete a male and female fronted hip hop/rock outfit quite frankly blew me away that day, they had a great energy on stage, they were funny with crowd interaction and the lyrics they produced were amazing!
Singing about such things as getting too drunk on a night out, how they find pop music 'shitty' and a little bit political with their hit Obey. This band for me this year were a breath of fresh air. They were on a stage so small that all of them couldn't fit on but this didn't let it bring them down. Their show was funny and dancy and more than anything it was something I hadn't seen before! The main hits were definitely Ten Green Bottles and Back in the Day.
As I said it's an odd choice for favourite live show of this year but these guys and girl were a decent act and made me believe that music can still be original.
Alter Bridge Fortress
One of my all time fave bands, but even I couldn't see this one on the horizon. To be honest I thought they peaked with Blackbird, but Fortress picked up the baton, and ran off into the distance such is its quality. Tremonti's riffs are downright pulverizing, and they have a perfect foil in Myles Kennedy's vocals and guitar playing (Led Zep checked him out for a bloody good reason). Couple this with Flips drumming and a more dominant bass sound from Brian Marshall, and 'Fortress' is THE most powerful album of 2014, and its friggin awesome!
FM Crosstown Train
Yes, most of the whippersnappers who frequent R13 Towers have never head of Britains Finest melodic rock outfit. But Crosstown Train, is one of THE finest rock anthems of the year. If Bon Jovi wanted to make a decent record for once, then they should look no further than this, a massive slice of US Rock Radio that Mr JBJ hasnt written the like of for the last decade or two
It's hard to state which is the best gig, when you've been to almost 40 in 2013. All are great in their own way. If I picked purely on best value for money, then £10 for Bonafide in Colwyn Bay nailed it. Straight up, no nonsense rock to a packed out audience, Swedens answer to AC/DC have all the right stuff. Pontus Snibb went on walkabout. Now that sounds fine and dandy, but when the venue is as small as Ronnie Corbetts jockstrap, and your lap of the audience is outside doing a lap of the car park and back thru the bar. No gimmicks - just pure unadulterated RAWK
Best general gig The Temperance Movement. These guys are going to be one of Britains finest exports I shit you not. Think The Faces x Free etc and you get my drift. Every songs a stunner, and they are the most refreshing new band Ive seen in a long while
Biggest disappointment Journey. Boring corporate rock. Also Shinedown (supporting Alter Bridge); I love this band, but when it looks (and sounds) as if you're miming then why bother?
Best Festival A close run thing between HRH AOR and Steel House Festival in Ebbw Vale. For the sheer quaintness, location and organisation and cracking price, SHF just shades it. Saxon and Schenker were the headliners, but the rest of the line up was pretty damn special also. Cant wait for the next one!
Black Veil Brides Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones
This is the third album from Black Veil Brides to be released and was their most impressive work to date. The tracks on the album are some of the most creative that Andy and the band has put together, creating an entire story from one track to the next with In The End and New Year's Day standing out as highlights.
In The End Video
Escape the Fate Ungrateful
Escape the Fate has had its ups and downs over the last few years but their recent release is their most impressive by far. Ungrateful is their fourth album and is the first to feature TJ Bell instead of Max Green on bass and also features Monte's brother Michael. Tracks such as You're Insane and the title track really show the struggle the band has been through and how they have pulled themselves back on track and come out on top.
Fall Out Boy The Phoenix
When news came out that Fall out Boy were releasing a new album, excitement settled in and for good reason. When The Phoenix came out we really got a taste of what Fall Out Boy were on to with their new material and it got the skin goose bumping...
The Phoenix Video
This year saw so many brilliant bands declare that they were no longer carrying on in the music industry and calling it quits on their bands and one such band was Madina Lake. They went out with a BANG by playing London's Garage and left the crowd sad by their departure by overwhelmed by their last performance.
Having spent the better part of TWO DECADES playing to millions of fans across the globe, Hanson returned to the UK this December with an amazing show at London's Indigo2. They were able to showcase songs from across their discography from Mmmbop to In The City, Penny and Me to Thinkin' 'bout Somethin' to plenty of tracks from their new album Anthem. The most remarkable moment however, came for the encore, tracks from Snowed In, their Christmas album.
Get the Girl Back video
Max Raptor Mother's Ruin
An absolutely killer album from one of the most exciting bands this country has produced in many a year. Riff after riff after chorus after chorus delivered with style! A stunning body of work that further cements their ever growing reputation. Melodic punk/hard rock/just damn good tunes!
Eureka Machines Remain In Hope
Fan funded through the now well utilised Pledge method, this is the third Eureka Machines album and it follows on from the excellent Champion the Underdog. Brilliantly produced and crafted it takes pop punk to a whole new level with more dynamics and hooks than you could ever want. Gloriously uplifting in every way, buy it!
Culture Shock Boar's Head Kidderminster
Their first tour in 20 or so years resulted in packed out venues everywhere they played. Fronted by Subhumans vocalist Dick Lucas and featuring other members of that band alongside Citizen Fish collaborators, this was a superb gig that more than lived up to the expectation. Often cited as the pioneers of ska punk they ripped through the best of the back catalogue with the same energy they had back in the day. When you glance about the room and see the whole crowd bouncing it can't fail to put a smile on your face. Superb.
Eureka Machines Satan's Hollow Manchester
You really can't beat watching a band up close and personal in a small venue. You just can't recreate that kind of atmosphere anywhere bigger and when the band interact with the crowd as much as Eureka Machines do it just adds that extra special ingredient. It was fast, energetic, in your face and highly entertaining. Easily one of the best gigs of the year!
Room Thirteen's Best of 2013