Lindsay's Top 10 Albums of 2023
2023 has been an absolutely phenomenal year for new metal releases. With so many great quality albums being churned out at rapid speed, I could have quite easily compiled a Top 50 list if not more. Nevertheless, here are my Top 10 Albums of 2023.
10: Wayfarer - American Gothic
Released - 27th October
Genre - Atmospheric Western Black Metal
The 5th studio album from the Atmospheric Western Black Metal from Colorado which draws on elements of classic black metal, gothic country and Americana. This record is full of dark, haunting melodies, powerful riffage and catchy rhythm. It's epically atmospheric and dense with gothic darkness and Western themes. It's polished and brutally gorgeous. Wayfarer have developed a uniquely beautiful yet ferocious sound. The record takes you on a journey of blood, dust and gunpowder with stunning melodic cleans and fierce gutteral vocals.
9: Nuclear Winter - Seagrave
Released - 21st July
Genre - Industrial/Melodic Death Metal
A solo project from Zimbabwean multi-instrumentalist Gary Stautmeister. Even though it's been categorised as industrial/melodic death metal, there are heavy influences of black metal and progressive metal. A grand, dramatic and atmospheric soundscape full of layered synths, electronica, orchestral elements, haunting choirs and stomping grooves. The blast beats are utterly relentless, soaring solos and an epic mix of gutteral screams and ethereal cleans. This record is aggressive but operatic in nature with vast, sprawling dimensions.
8: Insomnium - Anno 1696
Released - 24th February
Genre - Melancholic Melodic Death/Doom Metal
The Finnish Melodic Death Metal titans have once again produced an absolutely stellar record full of huge, grandiose and melancholic storytelling, particularly centred around the dark past of European witch hunts and their gruesome trials. This record is gorgeous and emotionally raw with a rough edge and a blistering ferocious nature. Crushing guitar riffs, epic orchestral moments, stunning vocal harmonies and demonic gutterals. Plus, their collaboration with Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ absolutely seals the deal on this masterpiece.
7: Moonlight Sorcery - Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle
Released - 29th September
Genre - Melodic Black Metal
Raw and atmospheric black metal, heavy with ridiculously catchy and addictive melodies, epically shredding guitars, dynamic synths, thunderous blast beats and rasping, demonic vocals. The guitarwork, particularly the solos, are soaring and muscular. This is an absolutely insane debut record with incredible musicianship and intense energy behind it. A dramatic and stunningly addictive black metal work of art that just gets stronger as the record progresses.
6: Hellripper - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
Released - 17th February
Genre - Black/Speed Metal
Scottish solo project with mastermind James McBain behind the helm, this record focuses on the darker side of Scottish history and folklore. The record itself takes its name from the famous Robert Burns poem "Address to the Deil." Frantic riffing madness focusing on speed, ferocity and ridiculously catchy rhythm. Since Hellripper's formation in 2015, the band has went from strength to strength with each record surpassing the last. This record goes straight for the jugular with sheer intensity and frantic, soaring guitar wizardry.
5: Sulphur Aeon
Released - 13th October
Genre - Blackened Death Metal
Blackened Death Metal with heavy themes and influences taken from the maddening world of H.P Lovecraft. Hugely atmospheric with a touch of gothic influence. Dense rhythm, ferocious, demanding energy, deep demonic gutterals and powerful cleans. Blistering blast beats and savage, dark aggression. Their stylistic approach and haunting elements really bring the creatures of Lovecraftian lore and their associated terror and insanity to life.
4: Fires in the Distance - Air Not Meant For Us
Released - 28th April
Genre - Melodic Death/Doom Metal
Melodic Death/Doom Metal at its absolute finest. Beautiful piano pieces, soaring soundscapes, choir and orchestral elements, thunderous blast beats and chugging guitars. This record is sprawling to say the least, especially since the first track is almost 11 minutes long. It's quite sorrowful and powerful without being depressing but the layers and intricate and gorgeously executed. However, it's every bit as ferocious as it is beautiful.
3: Anima Hereticae - Descended From The Mountains
Released - 22nd September
Genre - Melodic Death Metal
A densely brutal, atmospheric, grandiose blistering soundscape of pummeling blast beats, lightening riffage, epic orchestration and gorgeous intensity. It's captivating and absolutely crushing. It ensnares the senses and holds your attention throughout with multiple layers of atmosphere.
2: Orbit Culture - Descent
Released - 18th August
Genre - Modern/Thrash/Melodic Death Metal
Opulent theatrics, dynamic soundscapes and dramatic flair worthy of Hans Zimmer's approval but with epic riffs, devastating breakdowns, thunderous drums and powerfully emotive vocals with cleans being every bit as devastating as the gutterals. Huge symphonic elements adding extra layers to compelling artistry and groove-laden beats. A perfect combination of thrashy, modern melo-death. Orbit Culture have an uncanny ability to take you on a sprawling journey.
1: Blackbraid - Blackbraid II
Released - 7th July
Genre - Indigenous Black Metal
A fusion of traditional Native American instrumentation with Scandinavian Black Metal. This record absolutely blew me away, it packs a monumental punch with sheer aggressive intensity and gorgeous, atmospheric instrumentation with well placed wind pipes. A near constant barrage of blistering blast beats and melodic black metal riffage. Traditional wind pipes and acoustic moments transport you to a beautiful yet rugged landscape, escaping deep in to the wilderness. A brutally devastating record which strikes you right in the soul and pulls you in. As the record progresses, it gets stronger and repeatedly attacks with ferocious, raw energy, addictively catchy hooks and dense, emotive instrumentals.