The world has been through a helluva lot of shit since 2013, and while so much of that era's halcyon optimism feels hopelessly dated now, the heavy music from that time still packs a punch. In 2013, several veteran acts reaffirmed their revered status while many young innovators dropped genre-defining masterpieces. Here are 10 of the best albums that the year had to offer.
After the Burial - Wolves Within
While so many djent bands from this era got caught up in noodly prog excursions or watered down their sound with ethereal clean vocals, After the Burial stayed focused on the genre-not-genre's most gratifying elements — torrential waves of down-tuned, syncopated, rubbery guitar grooves. Wolves Within is one explosive, monstrously heavy djent banger after the other, filled with snake-charming licks, scorched-earth shrieks and pulsating rhythms that make you want to twerk in the mosh pit.
Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
Alice in Chain's 2009 comeback album, Black Gives Way to Blue — their first LP in nearly 14 years, and first ever without generational talent Layne Staley — marked an extraordinary rebirth for the grunge giants. Jerry Cantrell and Co. proved they had returned for the long haul with its follow-up, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, a moody opus bolstered by some of the doomiest ("Hollow") and heaviest ("Phantom Limb") cuts of AIC's esteemed career.
Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King
Avenged Sevenfold had tweaked their sound on every album prior, but the one constant was their virtuosic instrumentation. In that sense, Hail to the King was an exercise in restraint, limiting themselves to mid-tempo grooves and simple, sturdy riffs in order to harness the pure, hardened essence of great hard rock and heavy metal. It's their least flashy album to date, but they've never sounded tighter or more self-assured on standouts like "Shepherd of Fire" and the roaring title track.
Bring Me the Horizon - Sempiternal
On Sempiternal, Bring Me the Horizon gave themselves — and the metalcore genre writ large — a stunning facelift. By ramping up their use of keyboards and harnessing the expansive production of a modern pop album, the U.K. lads sculpted towering anthems like "Shadow Moses," "Sleepwalking" and "Can You Feel My Heart?" — at once catchy, crushing and artful — that rendered them virtually unrecognizable from their deathcore origins. Metalcore hasn't sounded the same since.
Carcass - Surgical Steel
After reforming in the late 2000s with great fanfare, Carcass decided it was time to right the wrong that was their 1996 mess of a finale, Swansong. Despite arriving 20 years after their dazzling melodeath masterpiece, Heartwork, Surgical Steel sounds like the long-lost follow-up that never was. Jeff Walker's snarls are ravenous, Bill Steer's sword-swinging guitar leads could puncture flesh, and the whole vibe is fun but still menacing. It's one of the greatest reunion albums in metal history.
Deafheaven - Sunbather
OK, now that the storm of hype and hate that surrounded Deafheaven is a full decade in the rearview, is Sunbather still all that? Fuck yes. The band's innovative fusion of shoegazy beauty and tortured black metal remains just as breathtaking now as it did back in 2013. The band would get even more experimental on their next several albums (even doing away with black metal altogether on 2021's Infinite Granite), but even their best follow-ups haven't rekindled the ineffable magic of Sunbather.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is the Killer
Following the 2001 addition of vocalist Greg Puciato, the Dillinger Escape Plan's already head-spinning sound exploded in a million different directions, culminating in One of Us Is the Killer — the most emotionally charged and histrionic the band ever sounded on record. There's plenty of the shuddering apocalyptic guitar discord and throat-scraping screams Dillinger are best known for ("Prancer," "Hero of the Soviet Union"), but also two of their most melodic, Faith No More-esque offerings: "Nothing's Funny" and the stunning title cut.
Ghost - Infestissumam
Ghost's 2010 debut album, Opus Eponymous, announced them as the most fascinating new voice — and masked faces — in the underground world of doomy trad metal. Their kaleidoscopic follow-up, Infestissumam, showed that the Swedish occult-rock upstarts had plenty more tricks up their robe sleeves, expanding the group's Mercyful Fate-meets-Blue Öyster Cult sound with carnivalesque keyboards, black-mass choirs, and even some surf guitar. It also introduced arguably the band's greatest frontman to date: Papa Emeritus II.
Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Descent
Disarm the Descent managed to live up to its impossibly high stakes. It was the Massachusetts metalcore band's first LP in four years, but more importantly, their first with OG vocalist Jesse Leach — who had left the band a decade earlier — since they became Grammy-nominated titans of metal. Fortunately, Leach and his bandmates clicked right back into place, delivering a record that spoke to their roots while also proving that the vocalist could adapt perfectly to the band's new, much more melodic form.
Power Trip - Manifest Decimation
Power Trip were already lords of the Texas hardcore scene by the time 2013 rolled around, but Manifest Decimation made them kings. The Dallas band's incendiary debut album is a careening steam engine of sabertooth thrash riffage, knuckle-cracking hardcore mosh parts and commanding vocals — from the late, great Riley Gale — that summon the gust of a hundred winds for a opening battle cry and never let up until the soldiering groove of "Hammer of Doubt" marches the record to a triumphant close.