There were a lot of albums that I loved this year. It was tough nailing it down to ten, so I kind of cheated. I loved Black Sabbath’s “13,” but Bill Ward wasn’t there and I didn’t want to knock any of the other albums out of my list, so I knocked them out. The new Sammy Hagar album is phenomenal and it would have been in my list but he’s such a legend and I interviewed him earlier this year and I wanted this list to appear sincere, because it is. I haven’t listened enough to some great albums that came out in 2013, Stone Sour, Alice in Chains, Motorhead and Trivium, so this morning I went out and bought all four albums, so they may not be on my list, but they have my money.
The word “Best” is subjective. I’m not going to apologize or defend my list. These are my ten favorite albums of 2013.
10) Monster Magnet – “Last Patrol”
If it weren’t for the podcast “Tell ‘em Steve Dave” I don’t know that I’d have given this album a chance. Dave Wyndorf seemed like a cool guy so I put the album on and I was blown away with how much I liked it. They went on their first US Tour in ten years. It really bummed me out that when they came to Chicago I couldn’t make it. “Last Patrol” is a great album. It has a classic space rock kind of vibe to it. It’s like Kiss meets David Bowie and Pink Floyd. There’s no “Space Lord” here. I like that song but this is a different album. I’m going to have to go back and check out the rest of their albums.
9) Pearl Jam – “Lightning Bolt”
This wasn’t on my top ten list all year, but then at the end of the year I got on this big Pearl Jam kick. I find that if there is a Pearl Jam album I don’t like it’s only because I never gave it a chance. I listened to “Lighting Bolt” once while not really paying attention and just literally revisited a week ago and I can’t turn it off. I love Pearl Jam and I’m upset I bumped another band off the list, but it is what it is.
8) Mindset Evolution – “Brave, Bold & Broken”
I like the guys in Mindset Evolution, they’re really cool. Whenever that’s the case there is part of me that wants to leave it off my top ten list. When I popped in “Brave, Bold & Broken” it pissed me off because I liked it so much and I knew I had to include it on my list. I’m going to say something ridiculous right now, but I love the way Rob Ulrich chant/screams/sings on the song “Burn it Down.” It’s got a Corey Taylor quality to it (see I told you ridiculous). This is a great debut album. Track after track it’s completely solid. I would really urge you to pick this album up.
7) Korn – “The Paradigm Shift” & Sevendust “Black Out the Sun”
It’s silly to leave two of the more influential bands of what’s going on in hard rock right now off of my list. Korn brought Brian “Head” Welch back and may have recorded their tightest album to date. I loved the album immediately and like it more and more with each listen. Sevendust is one of the most under appreciated bands of all time, but have you noticed that you can hear the Sevendust influence on nearly every young hard rock band out there today. If you want the real deal though you can’t go wrong with “Black Out the Sun.”
6) Rival Sons – “Head Down” & Monster Truck - “Monster Truck”
Rival Sons technically came out in 2012, but the physical album came out in 2013. It’s probably my favorite album this year, but because of that technicality I can’t put it at number one. I interviewed Sammy Hagar this year and we spent a good portion of the interview gushing over Rival Sons. It was Slash who turned me onto Monster Truck and their self titled album. This album kicks so much ass. If Rival Sons is a modern day Montrose like Sammy Hagar said, than Monster Truck is a modern day Mountain. Two amazing bands that don’t get the credit they deserve. Hopefully Rival Sons and Monster Truck can break through…they’re good enough.
5) Heaven and Earth – “Dig”
I can’t say enough about this band. Their sole mission is to save rock music. I love the Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire etc as much as anybody, but I miss the virtuoso’s. Heaven & Earth is lead by guitarist Stuart Smith, but the band is made up of ridiculous talent. The lead singer sounds like a combination of Paul Rodgers and Chris Cornell…yeah that good.
4) Buckcherry – “Confessions”
This is far and away Buckcherry’s best album. It’s not going to get the air play their previous albums got because there aren’t any stripper anthems on it, but oh my God is this album impressive. It’s smart both musically and lyrically. It started out as an EP about the 7 Deadly Sins, but turned into this amazing concept record. If nothing else the main riff in the second song “Wrath” is enough to satisfy any Joe Perry or Slash fan. The best riff of 2013 far and away.
3) Alter Bridge – “Fortress”
It is sickening how much better Alter Bride gets with each album and I loved the first album. Not only do the songs get better with each album but also the musicianship kicks up a notch. Myles Kennedy has the best voice going today and Mark Tremonti is becoming the guitar god of his generation. The riffs on this album are insane.
2) Ghost BC – “Infestissumam”
There’s just something beautiful about this band. I like the satanic gimmick, but the music is so amazing, beautiful and creepy that if I didn’t know better I’d think they were real. The band is often fairly compared to Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult. They’re not for everybody, especially if you think the devil is real and it scares you. But if you enjoy good music and horror movies then I highly highly recommend this band.
1) The Winery Dogs – “The Winery Dogs”
Mike Portnoy knocks it out of the park again. Last year Flying Colors topped my list and this year The Winery Dogs do. There is so much talent in this power trio that when I saw them live I didn’t know which guy to look at. Even when one of them was doing a solo the other guys were playing such complex pieces of music that I found my head spinning. With as talented as this band is, the music never gets in the way of the songs. This isn’t a prog rock band, this is a modern day classic rock band…they just happen to be the best in the world at their instruments. Please Portnoy, Sheehan and Kotzen…stay together, keep making music.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.