Well damn. It’s the last month of the year. A truly challenging year personally I must say, but musically speaking, it will go down as one to remember. 2013 was the year of experimentations, risks and many unexpected curveballs and I mean hella of them. Hella. First off, the year began with Tegan and Sara’s ultra hooky and accessible Heartthrob which at first kinda threw off some “core” fans but even they could not deny the super stadium sized tracks on the album. In my opinion, I don’t think artists and bands are always competing against one another, but when it comes to trying to earn a spot on year end lists (I don’t believe that was the bands intention), they threw down the gauntlet with Heartthrob. Tegan and Sara’s hooky masterpiece was just one of the many albums this year that experimented with new sounds and approaches though. Demi Lovato’s Demi album was a big change from her 2011 release Unbroken. Expanding upon the approach of Unbroken with a strong Dance and electronic influence, Demi was a standout for the former Disney star.
Device, the industrial rock project from Disturbed’s David Draiman, debut, was a strong one I felt but for the next album I think I want more electronic influence and less guest appearances. Still though, a great debut and one of my favorites of the year. Draiman was part of another amazing album this year, Trivium’s Vengeance Falls. This album is a high energy, catchy, groovy and heavy effort from the band and David’s hand in the production is heavily felt. With a showcase on groove and expanding upon the sound of all the band’s previous efforts, the highlight, in my opinion, is the extremely improved vocals of Matt Heafy. Now don’t get wrong, Heafy has always been an excellent vocalist, it’s just that this time around, it’s more clear and full of range, especially during the clean vox. (Vox is vocals in the recording world, if you didn’t know and some of you probably already knew that lol). I saw that picture on Facebook earlier this year, with David and Matt Heafy sitting across from one another in a dimly room with Matt holding a guitar and almost ran out my apartment screaming like a happy One Direction fan LMAO! (no shots at One Direction lol) Straight up! I was super excited and it turned out to be an impressive album.
Wanna know another band who shocked me and made an unpredictable record? Paramore. Damn. Paramore’s self titled album came after the hugely publicized split with the Farro brothers back in late 2010. While some thought the split would effect the remaining members musical approach, Jeremy Davis and Taylor York, led by the one of a kind front woman Hayley Williams, came back strong and dammit I mean strong with Paramore. Man, this is one of the most ambitious pop punk/alternative rock albums ever created in life. In all life bruh. Grow Up, Daydreaming and Ain’t It Fun are so good. The latter is Paramore meets Stevie Wonder meets Urban radio Gospel. Yep!! Hate To See Your Heart Break is on some old school country Loretta Lynn or Carpenters sound while the last track on the album, Future sounds like Deftones or Cave In. Yeah, Cave In. Let me move on to another album because I’ll talk about this album for a hella long time. Great work. There were some real good rock and metal albums too this year.
Other than the new Device and Trivium records, albums from Sevendust, Stone Sour, Ghost, Avenged Sevenfold, Black Veil Brides and Volbeat got heavy rotation in my iPod. Black Out The Sun, Sevendust’s 9th studio album is a monster. Much heavier than 2010’s Cold Day Memory. That’s not a bad thing but the tracks on the new one are just thunderous. The guitars on Til Death sound like roaring chainsaws. And the lead single Decay reminds me of something that could have been on Home. Another great release from a band that I feel is underrated. Stone Sour’s House Of Gold and Bones Part 2 is another album I enjoyed too. I gotta be honest and say I liked Part One much better but it’s a concept album and you gotta have both parts to understand the story and it’s awesome. Do Me A Favor, the lead track on Part Two, opens with a creepy melody (actually Blue Smoke and then Do Me A Favor) that for no reason throughout the year has repeated in my head. No lie.
Another notable thing about that song is that it derives from the hook of A Rumor Of Skin, which is on Part One and I thought that was amazing. Volbeat, a heavy metal and rockabilly band from Denmark put out Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies and that CD fucking kicks ass man. The thing that’s crazy is that I knew about the band years before but I never (regrettably) took the time to really get into their music until this new album. I remember way back in like 2007 or 2008 hearing Gil and Beez on the Metal Hammer podcast raving about them a lot and I probably checked out a couple of songs but that’s it. I was really intrigued about this album though because I saw that Rob Gaggiano not only joined the band but he produced the record too (his work with Cradle Of Filth, especially on Damnation and A Day is awesome). Vocalist Michael Poulsen sounds like a mix of James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig and Sully Erna. Super good. Pearl Hart, Cape Of Our Hero and other tracks on this thing are some of my favorites but the track with the legendary Mercyful Fate frontman King Diamond, Room 24 is a full on raging beast of a song! Damn that track slays. Room 24 has also been nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for the 56th Grammys! Congrats to them and go pick up Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies if you enjoy hard rock and metal at all. Seriously.
Now for more heavier things. Oh yes. Carcass, yes, that Carcass. Swansong, the thought to be final album from the death metal greats, is highly debated and divisive but that of course was not the last of the legendary act. Over the years, rumors of a reformation and members going on to form other bands and do side projects (Carcass Cuntry and Arch Enemy) but around 08 the band reformed and played overseas metal festivals and rumors of a new album were, as you can imagine, were very high. Fast forward to 2013 and we have the outstanding Surgical Steel. Thrashy and executed with great musicianship, Surgical Steel is more than a fine addition to the bands respected catalog. A must have for real.
On the Hip Hop/Rap side of things, this was also a great year. Jay, Ye, Cole, K.R.I.T., Wale, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, MMG, Drake, Eminem, Pusha-T and several other rappers put out some great material this year. Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd, K. Michelle, TGT, Chrisette Michelle, John Legend and Jhene Aiko and newcomer James Blake all kept things exciting for the R&B world in 2013. The latter two being ones to check for even more in 2014. Speaking of R&B….out of nowhere…without warning….Bey…Queen Bey released an entire album late this month. Beyonce’s self titled album is a masterpiece. I’m still in shock a bit at how the album was released and everything. Very good. It’s too much music to list here that also kicked ass this year but please believe it was a memorable one. Enough for 2013 because it’s wayyyyy too much for to list here haha!
So lets see for 2014…hmmm, I got a few predictions. For one, rock and metal music, on all fronts, will have a strong impact I feel. The Boss will be releasing High Hopes in January, there will be new albums from Seether, Godsmack, Shinedown, Halestorm hopefully Breaking Benjamin, Mastodon, Fear Factory, hopefully Tool, Anthrax, and many many bands will be delivering some good music. For the rap game, lyricism and many different but traditional and experimental production styles will be present. Lyricism will be a high priority, especially after Kendrick’s blazing verse on Big Sean’s Control. Speaking of, TDE will also have a huge impact in 2014. That’s all. Expect all the females in the pop world, the R&B world, the rock world, the country world and the dance world to release some excellent stuff. Alright that’s enough predictions lol.
From me, in the new year, expect music from my mixtape that should be dropping around late February, (there is hella and I mean hella fine tuning and finishing touches that need and some extra editing to be done) I’ll be sharing some details about my last months in Full Sail too. You know like, what school specific projects I’m working on, reviews, concert reviews, and threads for music and recording discussions. All dat good stuff! I wish you all a very happy, prosperous, musical, healthy, harmonious and very very very determined and blessed new year in 2014!! Get drunk, smoke, eat some junk food and blast some tunes! Be safe! Peace