The 30 Best Albums of 2013 — So Far

The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us is the KillerThe Dillinger Escape PlanOne of Us is the Killer
(Sumerian)
Buy at Insound

Math-metal masters take listeners to school on their latest collection of complex and eclectic compositions, evolving song by song. If you dare skip one, you could be missing some of the most rewarding music moments of the year. – CG

One of Us Is the Killer

Disclosure - SettleDisclosureSettle
(PMR)
Buy at Insound

Dance music doesn’t have to be needlessly complicated to be intelligent, despite what you may have heard. Nor does it have to sacrifice fun. UK duo Disclosure’s debut is both fun and intelligent, an innovative mixture of interesting textures and angles, with beats that don’t stop. – JT

When a Fire Starts to Burn

The Haxan Cloak - ExcavationThe Haxan CloakExcavation
(Tri Angle)
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I keep saying The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation arrived too early. There’s too much damn sun and heat to get the full effect of something this dark and eerie. But apparitions can be year-round visitations; this chilling set of ambiance, sparse beats and demonic buzz might be what ends up bringing them out. – JT

The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2)

Iceage - You're NothingIceageYou’re Nothing
(Matador)
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The release of Iceage’s Matador Records debut dredged up some familiar (and bunk) controversies surrounding the Danish post-punks, but you don’t get to be infamous unless you do something noteworthy. In this case, they made a blistering 28-minute set of riffs, angst and energy. Vicious, and essential. – JT

Coalition

Inter Arma - Sky BurialInter ArmaSky Burial
(Relapse)
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In the mind of this reviewer, Inter Arma released the best metal album (and one of the best overall albums) of the year in Sky Burial. Instead of following any beaten stylistic path, Sky Burial blows up the entire metal playbook, creating a seamless fusion of multiple strands of metal and non-metal genres and pairing it with incredible, Eno-eqsue production to render an epic existential masterpiece. – CB

Sblood

KEN Mode - EntrenchKEN ModeEntrench
(Season of Mist)
Buy at Insound

Winnipeg trio KEN Mode doesn’t fall comfortably into any one category. Sludge metal? Maybe. Post-hardcore? Possibly. Noise rock? Probably. But they do blur lines by obliterating them via decibels. They’re one of the most intense bands out there today, and on Entrench, clearly some of the best songwriters in heavy music as well. – JT

The Terror Pulse

The Knife - Shaking the HabitualThe KnifeShaking the Habitual
(Mute)
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Anyone who listened to 2010’s Tomorrow, in a Year may have had a feeling that The Knife’s proper follow-up to Silent Shout probably wouldn’t resemble that album, but I’m not sure many were prepared for the radical departure that is Shaking the Habitual. As a 95-minute saga ranging from drones to chaos, it’s pretty much stating the obvious to say to the record is challenging. As difficult as it may be, it’s also consistently rewarding. – CK

Full of Fire

Kvelertak - MeirKvelertakMeir
(Roadrunner)
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Meir means “more.” It means more riffs. It means more hooks. It means more guitars (yes, more guitars). It means more choruses to sing along to (in Norwegian). It means more solos along with to practice air guitar. It means more Kvelertak — and that’s the one that counts the most. – JT

Spring Fra Livet

Kylesa - UltravioletKylesaUltraviolet
(Season of Mist)
Buy at Insound

Kylesa has done dark music in the past — it’s hard to be a metal band and not, really. But Ultraviolet is a different kind of dark; it’s practically gothic. Some personal demons went into it, but the band’s psychedelic sludge sausage factory cranked out something stunning in its sonic expanse. – JT

Unspoken

Local Natives - HummingbirdLocal NativesHummingbird
(Frenchkiss)
Buy at Insound

There has been a lot of growth between Local Natives’ 2010 album Gorilla Manor and Hummingbird, which the L.A. band released in January. Then they were a melodic indie rock band with hooks and promise. Now they’ve arrived, much more soulful, with a more careful ear for craftsmanship, and for that matter, even better hooks. – JT

Heavy Feet

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