Counting down my 20 favorite albums of 2013

2013 was an excellent year for rock albums. As I was checking through my reviews for Hard Rock Nights, I realized that I reviewed about 100 albums this year, and many of those were excellent. Whittling down my “shortlist” to a manageable number was (as always) hard and somewhat painful since it means leaving out music I really liked. Still, here are 20 releases that really grabbed me this past year and kept me coming back for more.

EvilynStrange

20. EVILYN STRANGE – “Mourning Phoebe”

What I said: “…something as retro as an honest-to-goodness rock album with well-crafted tunes and lyrics, a powerful and clean sound, a singer with terrific pipes backed by a band playing tasty, hard-rocking music.”

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19. BURNING RAIN – “Epic Obsession”

What I said: “Burning Rain delivers an album with enough rock’n’roll fire and flair to impress on every level: vocals, song-writing, musicianship… everything is top-notch.”

SuperVolcanoCover

18. DEATH APE DISCO – “SuperVolcano”

What I said: “…some hellaciously high-energy, fist-to-the-solar-plexus rock/metal goodness.”

Frozen Paradise

17. COLDSPELL – “Frozen Paradise”

What I said: “…the sound here is big, well-honed, and powerful: think Queensryche, classic Dokken, and Whitesnake, with a spoonful of Led Zeppelin as well.”

hellsaddictionalbum

16. HELL’S ADDICTION – “Raise Your Glass”

What I said: “…this is a blistering and bruising kind of album — Crack open a beer, crank up this album as loud as you can, and get ready for Hell’s Addiction to set off the explosives.”

Lynam - Halfway To Hell Album Cover

15. LYNAM – “Halfway To Hell”

What I said: “This is six excellent tracks of sleazed up, hard and riffy, hot and sweet rock with a good shot of 1980s goodness poured all over it, set ablaze by some real song-writing skills and scorching good guitar and vocals.”

From The Flames

14. SCREAMING EAGLES – “From The Flames”

What I said: “Foot to the floor, pedal to the metal, balls to the wall – whatever you want to call it – that’s what this album is…”

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13. BABY ANIMALS – “This Is Not The End”

What I said: “…an album that manages to feel intensely personal and intimate, while rocking out like nobody’s business at the same time. It hooked me from that first listen, and it just keeps getting better every time I play it.”

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12. MASSIVE – “Full Throttle”

What I said: “The first track I ever heard by Australian band Massive was the ridiculously dance-inducing and hard rocking “Dancefloor”… this track is Grade-A mosh-pit fuel. The same can be said for the band’s first album “Full Throttle” – a debut that is loud, brash, feverishly hot, and sparking with relentless intensity.”

Black and Blue

11. MOTHERLOAD – “Black And Blue”

What I said: “The band harnesses a range of influences from hard rock and heavy metal to classic rock … creating an album that is chock-full of rib-shaking riffs, sizzling guitar-solos, and satisfyingly heavy musical goodness.”

Reflections

10. LIBERTY LIES – “Reflections”

What I said: “…an album that flows beautifully from start to finish, surging with enough hard rocking goodness to pull you in, and keep you hooked.”

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9. BATTLE BEAST – “Battle Beast”

What I said: “…if you want a fix of ballsy, no-holds-barred, bombastic metal that is a blast to listen to, and is packed with tunes that will stick in your head for days, then you should definitely check out this Beast.”

abrakadavar

8. KADAVAR – “Abra Kadavar”

What I said: “If you have a thing for time travel, and 70s styled, unprocessed, groovy and trippy hard rock, then you have to check out Kadavar and “Abra Kadavar”. (Full beards and incense burners optional.)”

The Winery Dogs

7. THE WINERY DOGS – “The Winery Dogs”

What I said: “…the band’s self-titled debut turns out to be a rich, complex, and exquisitely crafted release that blends hard rock, prog influences, blues, classic rock, and even throws in a bit of jazz and a shot of punk for good measure – sometimes all in the same tune.”

Still Standing

6. TEENAGE CASKET COMPANY – “Still Standing”

What I said: “Some music just goes right into you, bypassing your conscious mind, instantly connecting to something so deep inside you that it’s hard to explain how fiercely you suddenly love it, or why it affects you so profoundly. It can happen with bands that you’ve liked and followed for a long time: all of a sudden a new track or album just floors you. Other times it happens with a band you’ve never even listened to before, and that’s the case with me and British band Teenage Casket Company’s mind-bendingly excellent hard-rock/punk/pop album “Still Standing”.”

AllIWantIsEverything

5. RAGDOLL – “All I Want”

What I said: “The band’s two previous EPs – “Ragdoll Rock” and “Here Today” – were stellar as well, and with “All I Want Is Everything” Ragdoll completes the hat-trick. This is a not-to-be-missed, five star release from a band that is clearly just going from strength to strength.”

filthyempirecover

4. HEAVEN’S BASEMENT – “Filthy Empire”

What I said: “…a bold, brash and confident first full-length release from UK-rockers Heaven’s Basement — the band delivers a barn-burner of an album that is chock-full of no-holds-barred, hard rocking tunes, and a sound that flashes with an intense, guts-and-glory kind of energy.

carnaval

3. TWENTY TWO HUNDRED – “Carnaval de Venus”

What I said: “I don’t know how much I have in common with Slash, but apparently we both think that Twenty Two Hundred and their new album “Carnaval de Vénus” kicks ass, and that’s something. — “Carnaval de Vénus” is a tour de force, rumbling with a heavy, thick, fat rock’n’roll groove that will roll over you like pleasure train, making you want to do bad, but very enjoyable, things.”

monster_truck_Furiosity

2. MONSTER TRUCK – “Furiosity”

What I said: “It is quite simply a killer album – start to finish, back to front, top to bottom – any way you’d like to slice it. Free of pretense and affectation, this is genuine muscle-and-sweat rock’n’roll, throbbing with enough power to light up the pleasure centre of your brain and then some.”

Songs of Iron

1. TRUCKER DIABLO – “Songs Of Iron”

What I said: “Does it have a Thin Lizzy vibe? Hell yes. A spoonful of Creedence Clearwater Revival in there? Damn straight. An occasional AC/DC and ZZ-Top flavor? Bet your ass. All that and more: this is strong, pure, real rock’n’roll to get your heart racing, your foot stomping, your head banging, and your whole body moving.”

I also want to make a special mention of an album that was NOT released in 2013: Aviator Shades’ not-yet-public EP. I had the privilege of listening to it and I know it would have made this list. One more thing to look forward to in 2014, I guess!

(This list was originally published at Hard Rock Nights.)

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