Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2013 - Chip's Picks

Last week, my HHRR partner, Sharon, posted her top 10 albums of 2013.  Today, I give you my top 10 albums of 2013!

#10 Girl On Fire - Not Broken

Though the metal genre (and all of its sub-genres) have been strong the last couple of years, there haven't been many great next-generation arena rock albums that have come out lately.  Girl On Fire has proven to be the exception, giving the music world several new hard-edged anthems on Not Broken (read full review here). 

#9 Avril Lavigne (Self-Titled)

Most of the music I like is heavier, as evidenced by what I review here on Helping Hands Rock Reviews.  But pop/rock is a guilty pleasure of mine.  Avril always includes at least a few decent songs that show her rocker side and that's no exception on this release (read full review here).  She even collaborated with Marilyn Manson on a tune that sounded more like his stuff than hers, so that certainly helped her secure a spot in my top 10.

#8 Butcher Babies - Goliath

More and more females are finding homes as growlers in metal bands.  And Butcher Babies feature two of the best girl growlers in the biz.  But Butcher Babies don't solely rely that as their schtick.  There's plenty of substance to Goliath (read full review here).

#7 Stars In Stereo (Self-Titled)

I know.  I went from Avril Lavigne to Butcher Babies.  Quite a swing of the pendulum on the continuum of rock music.  Well, with my #7 pick, I'm back on the lighter side of rock.  Stars In Stereo's sound falls somewhere between pop/rock and hard rock.  But whatever you want to call it, I call it good.  Some of the tracks on this debut album have legitimate hit potential and they are a really fun-to-watch live band, too.

#6 Skillet - Rise

It's almost impossible to top Skillet's last album, Awake & Alive, but the Christian rockers certainly came close with Rise.  While Rise may have lacked the timeless anthems of their previous release, there was certainly no shortage of really, really good tunes on the album with the title track being one of the standouts.

#5 Bullet For My Valentine - Temper Temper

Are you one of the many metalheads that loved old Metallica and wish they continued on a different path before releasing the Black Album and the other crap that followed?  Me too.  Fortunately, there are bands that release albums that sound like what Metallica should sound like today.  For me, Bullet For My Valentine's Temper Temper is a great example of how a thrash metal influence can be combined with modern rock stylings to create an excellent collection of tunes.

#4 Butch Walker - Peachtree Battle

Just about every one of Butch Walker's albums really connects with me and gets me coming back to it year after year.  The lone exception is I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, which did nothing for me.  Fortunately, 2013's Peachtree Battle (read full review here) is yet another fantastic addition to Butch's body of work.  Predictably great songwriting and no filler whatsoever (not that there should be on a five-song EP, but still worth saying) put this album near the top of the list for me.

#3 We As Human (Self-Titled)

I like to think back to how I discovered bands I love.  Well, I first heard of We As Human when I saw the announcement of the 2013 Carnival of Madness Tour which featured four other acts I absolutely loved (Shinedown, Skillet, Papa Roach and In This Moment).  When I checked out their music, I started loving We As Human just as much.  This debut release (read full review here) is packed beginning-to-end with tons of great modern, heavy rock.  I'm sure it's a surprise that such a new band made it to the top 3, but their place here is well-deserved.

#2 Black Veil Brides - Wretched & Divine:  The Story of the Wild Ones

Narrowing down a list of 2013's best albums to 10 was tough.  But it was even tougher to decide on the top two.  Wretched & Divine was so close to being #1.  BVB did so much right with this release, from the top-notch songs to the concept to the musicianship to the image...this album is pure awesomeness.  Hard rock has for so long been about teen anthems and there is no one better at delivering just that than Black Veil Brides.

#1 Five Finger Death Punch - The Wrong Side of Heaven and the Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1

Metal is such a great, resilient genre, having been on the planet longer than I have.  One can think about the greatest metal records ever and how they stood the test of time.  Maybe it's a Black Sabbath disc from the 70's.  Or an Iron Maiden album from the '80's.  Albums that your metal elders recommended to you when you first discovered the dark side of rock.  So, what are the albums that our generation will pass down that future headbangers will embrace?  It's impossible to really know until it happens, but I think a strong case can be made for The Wrong Side of Heaven...Volume 1 (read full review here).  You want to talk about filler?  You won't find any of it on this full-length album.  Just a relentless blend of musical aggression and strong hooks, both of the profane and non-profane persuasion.   This album is epic by 2013 standards...and quite possibly epic enough to be considered one of the timeless metal masterpieces of all time.