Best Metal Album Releases of 2023 So Far:
We find ourselves deep into the second half of the year 2023, and it’s high time for a comprehensive review of the best Metal album releases of 2023 so far. In this endeavor, we aim to establish a definitive ranking, guided by our discerning judgment and meticulous criteria, in order to determine the standout album of the year. The task ahead is bound to be challenging, given that 2023 has, thus far, proven to be an exciting year for metal enthusiasts. Notably, the much-anticipated release of Avenged Sevenfold stirred considerable anticipation, and we’re pleased to reveal that it has secured a place in the top rankings. Furthermore, we will also make special mentions of albums that narrowly missed securing a place in this prestigious ranking. That being said, let’s get started.
10º Periphery – “Periphery V: Djent Is Not a Genre”
Periphery delivers a bold statement with their album title. While it’s primarily classified as Progressive Metal, it carries distinct Metalcore influences, especially noticeable in the vocal performance. As per usual, the band flexes their musical prowess and unapologetic power, showcasing impressive high notes. However, I’m somewhat skeptical about the inclusion of tracks like “Silhouette,” which seem somewhat forced into the album’s narrative. It’s possible that these tracks serve as a respite for listeners, as the album is one of those intense experiences that demands your full attention and can push your tolerance levels to the brink.
Throughout the album, there are indeed moments of brilliance, with standout tracks like “Wildfire” and “Everything is Fine!” But, at times, the overall sound can become overwhelming, bordering on chaotic. All in all, it’s a well-crafted album, but it doesn’t quite align with my personal musical tastes. I’m not sure if it will earn a permanent spot in my regular playlist rotation.
9º Lokust – “Infidel”
If we were talking about power earlier, Lokust is taking it to the next level. “Infidel” is as hard-hitting as it gets, like a solid rock. The moment I started listening, I knew it was perfect for playing in the background during a gym workout. It blends elements of Thrash Metal with Groove Metal. I found the use of choruses almost like a battle cry, as in the single “Parasitic,” very interesting. The alternation between clean and guttural vocals also works well. It is completely worth listening to them.
8º Majesties – “Vast Reaches Unclaimed”
Fans of the old-school In Flames can rejoice with this release. It’s impossible not to think of them when you listen to Majesties. Classic Melodic Death Metal with its own identity. This album possesses all the elements that a record of this style should contain: exceptional guitar work and piercing guttural vocals. Highly recommended for Melodic Death Metal enthusiasts. “In Yearning, Alive” and “The World Unseen” are remarkable songs.
7º Blackbraid – “Blackbraid II”
Blackbraid It’s arguably one of the most unique projects in today’s Metal scene. Founded by Sgah’gahsowáh, a Native American, he describes his music as “Indigenous Black Metal.” The truth is that the result has been rather impressive. The contrast between instrumental folk-style songs and full-fledged metal songs is highly intriguing. However, despite the notable improvement over Blackbraid I, I would have leaned towards crafting a more conceptual album. Native American folk and tradition offer a wealth of possibilities in this regard.
6º King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – “PetroDragonic Apocalypse”
Pardon me for shortening the title: “PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation.” These Australians seem unaware of the disruption they might cause, to put it mildly, by choosing such a band name and album title. On the bright side, the album cover is striking, making it easily recognizable.
This prolific group, despite being primarily labeled as a psychedelic rock band, among countless other genres and styles, has offered a blend of Thrash and Stoner Metal this time around. To me, the entire album feels like one lengthy composition because there isn’t much variation between the tracks; they all possess the same hypnotic quality and draw from a similar set of musical structures and notes. Surprisingly, despite the apparent chaos in their sound, the album manages to induce a trance-like state or heightened focus, making it suitable for certain tasks and providing an additional dose of motivation.
In conclusion, the album, bearing the title (I’ll copy and paste it) “PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation,” has indeed increased my curiosity about the band. However, listening to their extensive discography of approximately 20 albums might be quite a time-consuming endeavor.
5º Horrendous – “Ontological Mysterium”
Horrendous is a fantastic discovery. It seems that they used to be more of an old-school Death Metal group, but they’ve evolved into a Progressive Death Metal band that still retains elements of the 20th-century style, especially evident in the album’s beginning. However, the direction of “Ontological Mysterium” starts to diversify with different twists, even venturing into something like blues in the album’s interlude. It’s a smart move by Horrendous to create a relatively short album (37 minutes) that can be easily consumed without feeling overwhelmed because, I can already tell you, it’s far from light.
With “Ontological Mysterium”, Horrendous won’t take long to rise as a band.
4º Ne Obliviscaris – “Exul”
We’re not going to deceive ourselves: Ne Obliviscaris albums are quite alike. However, the thing is, anything they produce can’t be bad. All of their albums are very impressive. In the case of “Exul”, there is an issue: it starts off incredibly strong, making a grand entrance, but in the second half, it somewhat loses its intensity. Nevertheless, as customary, they continue to deliver astonishing transitions and display an incredible accumulation of talent. “Misericorde II – Anatomy of Quiescence” is something to be played repeatedly. What an astounding piece. The vocals are better than ever by the way.
The reason why this album holds the 4th position on the list is due to the fact that, although it offers some memorable moments, they aren’t as frequent as in some of Ne Obliviscaris’ other releases. Nevertheless, it will certainly be an album I frequently revisit, just like the rest of their discography.
3º Avenged Sevenfold – “Life is but a dream…”
The heavyweight contender on our list is none other than Avenged Sevenfold. After a significant hiatus from the music scene, their return with “Life is but a dream…” was nothing short of remarkable. However, it’s important to address the controversy that surrounded this release. I want to make one thing abundantly clear: I prefer such bold and innovative endeavors over the autopilot releases that lack creativity. This album’s idiosyncratic and eclectic style blurs the boundaries between genres and musical styles, but the true standout here is Synyster Gates’ remarkable guitar work, expertly blended with a plethora of mesmerizing sound effects.
In essence, Avenged Sevenfold has gifted us a musical odyssey that captivates and engages from the very beginning. Yet, it’s worth noting that this album can tend to lose some of its initial charm upon repeated listens. Therefore, I plan to savor it in moderation to ensure its enduring appeal.
2º Dawn of Ouroboros – “Velvet Incandescence”
This Progressive Black Metal album isn’t just what I consider the best album of 2023 so far; it’s also one of my all-time favorites. Founded in 2018, Dawn of Ouroboros, made up of musicians from diverse backgrounds, has already released two spectacular studio albums, and I’m eagerly awaiting their next release because I’ve already listened to both of their previous compositions dozens of times.
Focusing on “Velvet Incandescence,” I find it nearly perfect. It presents a combination of genres, styles, rhythms, and intensities that immerse the listener in a journey of ups and downs, colored with both melancholy and rage, thanks to Chelsea Murphy’s vocals. She is truly one of the best in her craft, delivering guttural growls and screams that send shivers down your spine. Moreover, the alternation between clean and guttural vocals enhances the contrast of emotions. Aspects to refine for future albums could include injecting more creativity or substance into the guitar solos. Notably, they make excellent use of harmonies.
As a whole, the band sounds fantastic on this album. It’s going to take me a long time to grow tired of it.
1º Godthrymm – “Distortions”
The album took me by surprise when I embarked on the journey of listening to it from start to finish in a single sitting. Unbeknownst to me, Godthrymm’s music on “Distortions” managed to ensnare me in the world of Doom Metal. This album, characterized by its heaviness, retains that signature serenity inherent to the genre. It masterfully strikes a harmonious balance between sheer power and profound tranquility. What sets “Distortions” apart, however, is its exceptional production quality, a characteristic rarely found in doom metal albums. The production work here is nothing short of sublime, elevating the listening experience to new heights. I’ve been listening to the album on repeat for days, and it doesn’t seem to grow tiresome. In fact, with each playthrough, it becomes even better. It has this unique ability to make you feel miserable yet simultaneously imbue you with strength. The lasts songs are highly poignant and dauting indeed.
In summary, “Distortions” and its predecessor “Reflections” are albums I anticipate revisiting frequently. Godthrymm has truly outdone themselves with this release, showcasing their remarkable talents within the realm of Doom Metal. So, I believe Distortions from Godthrymm it’s the rightful winner of the best metal album releases of 2023 so far.
These are some albums which are really good but did not manage to get on the top of the best metal album releases of 2023 so far.
Thantifaxath – Hive Mind Narcosis
Dissonant Black Metal masterpiece which has a significant drawback: in my opinion, this album is designed to be experienced just once due to its eerie and anxiety-inducing nature. The album cover is a painting from Francisco de Goya by the way.
In Flames – Foregone
In Flames‘ latest album starts with a surprising folk-tinged acoustic instrumental, reminiscent of their 90s work. The production is heavier than their recent albums, with powerful guitars and drums. Some tracks echo their “Come Clarity” era. Despite being their best album in a decade, it falls short of their older work. Yet, the band’s recent progress leaves hope for a bright future.