Jordan Campbell’s Top 10 of 2013 – That Guy

Originally written by Jordan Campbell

2013 was the year when I became That Guy.

Back in the day — when there was actually a reason to read print ‘zines — I’d pore over the staff playlists in, say, Metal Maniacs, and get pissed. (“These posers aren’t listening to metal!” “GangStarr doesn’t sound very brutal.” “That douche who does the Monday Night Football song is terrible…I bet his dad is even worse.” “Who the hell is 16 Horsepower? Is that mallcore or something?”) If you didn’t listen to metal all the time, how the hell were you supposed to comment on the stuff? It’s all in or NOTHING, bro.

Then, last month, I turned in a Staff Infections list that contained a Steve Earle record, the new AFI (which rules, by the way), and freaking Load, I came to a hilarious realization: 20-year-old me would’ve thought 30-year-old me was a total poser. I’ve become the metal writer that doesn’t listen to metal. This year, I’ve fielded more h-word lobs and “get the fuck off my lawn” hufflepuffs than I have in my entire life. And I spent far less time this year devouring new stuff than I did catching up on classic stuff that’s slipped through the cracks. (If this list was a real representation of my most-played albums this year, Godflesh’s Hymns and Accept’s Restless and Wild would claim the top two spots with ease.)

But: Being slightly detached is okay. For a couple of reasons. (1) I’ve long thought that restricting one’s fandom to a single genre is strangely myopic and it was time to put my self-preaching to practice, and (2) there was a TON of excellent metal (and tangentially metal) albums released this year, giving me ample material to keep me afloat in the traditionally lean-on-newness winter months. (I’m stockpiling, bitches.) That said: You aren’t going to find many freshly-mined nuggets in my year-end list. If you’ve been reading my scribbles here (and at AMG), you won’t find many surprises.

So, I’ll spend the next few weeks / months kicking back and catching up with Blodsgard, Thrall, Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, and Two Wolves in the lulls between my Makeup and Vanity Set dance parties. For now, here’s the best of what came across my desk this year:

• • • • •


The problem with Withdrawal is that it came out too quickly. This has happened with a handful of my favorite bands over the past few years. (I whined about Exhumed’s too-quick turnaround with Necrocracy earlier this month; Slough Feg was oddly fast with The Animal Spirits back in 2011.) Now, most people aren’t going to complain about quantity, but when a band’s last album is so damn good that you’re still spinning it when the new one drops, it’s tough to give the new kid a proper shake. So, on the heels of Quietly, Undramatically’s phenomenal remix, Withdrawal didn’t get proper attention. That was a mistake. It rules.

Woe isn’t making the ripping, rickety American Black Metal from A Spell For the Death of Man anymore. And that’s okay.

• • • • •


“Wait, didn’t this come out in December 2012?”

Yep. Don’t care. This record can’t be caged by your bullshit parameters.

“Wait, didn’t you hang a measly seven on this thing after bitching about the vocals?”

Yep. Don’t care. This record is smarter than I am.

• • • • •


You mad that Deafheaven wears shirts and has album covers? Or that Alcest has decided to sound like the non-business end of a frilly toothpick? Well, thehappymask is here to satisfy your smilesad black notverymetal needs. And it’s an anonymous, one man project from Russia, too, so you can be sure that Pitchfork and Spin will give exactly zero fucks. Now you can embrace a gorgeous bummer of a record AND keep your fragile notion of credibility intact! Thank me later. Or now. Whatever works.

• • • • •


Pure class, this band. Gotta have a wicked way of manipulating minimalism to make stock blastery sound like the entire world is being sucked into a vortex of fire ants.

• • • • •


Man, this video would be a lot cooler if there was more nudity and murder, right? Because METAL, bro.

• • • • •


I can’t get over the feeling that Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm should’ve been their “big label” debut, but fuck it; HHR did right by ‘em, ‘cause that’s how they roll. But I gotta level with myself here: Objectively, this is a better album than Ominious…I just don’t like it as much. Inquisition should be kinda shitty. This record shows that they’re getting too good, which is ridiculous.

But, Inquisition is ridiculous.

• • • • •


Being an Arsis fan is hard. (Relatively speaking, of course; it’s not like splitting firewood barehanded or reading Scott Ian’s Top 10 without laughing with pity.) Unwelcome is basically James Malone saying, “Look, guys, I know it has been a weird couple of years. Here’s a gift basket filled with mini Toblerones, a domesticated bear cub that’ll never EVER grow up, and everything you like about my band. Can we be friends again?”

Yes, James. I want to be friends with Arsis again. Thank you for your consideration.

• • • • •


As many have noted, this has been the year of the ’80s deathrock creep. (Thanks, Alaric, for martyring yourselves and making this all possible.) As bands from across the spectrum wove Sisters of Mercy dancesteps into their metallic groove, Beastmilk stood out from the pack, as (1) they weren’t trying to shoehorn the sound into metal — because they aren’t really metal at all — and (2) while everyone else was dropping tentative Easter eggs, they were swinging ham-sized hooks at anything that moved.

SONGS, people. This is how you write ‘em.

(And “I’ll be the devil, you be the details” is the best lyric of the year, unquestionably.)

• • • • •


This is the most refreshing, vital, rule-free release of 2013. A shot in the arm for extreme music not just in ethos, but in style: History might prove this to be ground zero in the rebellion against Fleshgod Apocalypse-style compression jobs.


• • • • •


Yes, I’m the lone asshole at Last Rites to give Sunbather the top honors. And yeah, the coverage of the band has been almost nauseating, but let’s be real: The attention bestowed upon Sunbather should be normal for a metal record of this caliber. The fact that it’s not is what likely spurred some of the Molotovs, but at the same time, we should be celebrating an extreme band’s crossover capabilities, not deriding them out of jealousy that our favorite acts aren’t garnering similar attention.

Media hype aside, this is a phenomenal record, regardless of genre. Is it black metal? Of course it is, but really: who gives a fuck? There wasn’t a better harnessing of non-traditional songwriting and storytelling in 2013. It’s a phenomenal trip, a gigantic leap in quality from their tin-thin, pseudo-Cascadian debut, and the most profound statement from a group of young prospects to hit the metal scene in years.

• • • • •


3. Vasaeleth – All Uproarious Darkness
Some people like their death metal to sound like the act of unspeakable murder. Some want it to sound like the boots marching into militaristic genocide. Some want it to sound like dread in the face of inevitability. I’m in the latter camp: Lately, I want to hear death metal that sounds like dying. Vasaeleth nails that moment of horrifying clarity before the tunnel’s light clasps shut.

2. Perturbator – Sexualizer
Aphasia Records is loveable for their aggressively schlocky synth and guitar artists, all steeped in tongue-in-cheek ’80s excess. But, for all the superficial goodness of acts like Action Jackson and Flash Arnold, Perturbator stands out as the most serious, fully-fleshed beast on the roster. Where lesser throwback acts look back at the excess as something to be celebrated, Perturbator dives into the gutter, dredging up frantic scores for the depraved. It’s danceable but sinister, constantly under the gun, scampering from the service door to the nearest leaking dumpster as a fast life bears down in hot pursuit.

1. Bolzer – Aura
Somehow, this is the hot-shit underground release of the year, but don’t forget: You heard it here first. So screw your Buzzfeed listicles and come hang with the LR gang.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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