2013: Year End Review by Jose Da Costa

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ThePunkSite.com’s Best Of 2013

The Best of 2013Once again all of us here at ThePunkSite.com have taken the holidays to sit back and revisit all of our favourite albums of the year. Narrowing them down into easy-to-consume list forms – here’s what the people behind the website you’re currently browsing thought of this year’s music output.


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2013: Year End Review by Jose Da Costa

2013 will go down as the year where I realized I had finally completed the hazy shift from adolescence to adulthood; the impetus? A mortgage. At any rate, this is year eight or nine doing these year in reviews. My eyes almost begin to well up thinking that I was but a whelp of fifteen or sixteen when I compiled my first attempt at quantifying my favourite pieces of music. It was almost assuredly riddled with definite statements on a subjective topic, but I like to think that perhaps in my ten years of writing, I’ll be able to avoid being a jerk.  Here are a number of statements regarding music that I enjoyed from 2013. You may be able to figure out what I preferred from the way I worded my brief overviews, but the order is not particular. Hopefully this will provide a worthwhile contrast to TPS’ other Year In lists (since my taste seems to occasionally vary wildly from the other contributors).

Top Albums Of The Year

Cult of Luna- Vertikal

Cult of LunaVertikal – Tonteknik Recording

Everything about this record is incredible. Every song seems to strike the perfect balance between experimentation and convention. The individual components of their songs (riffs and whatnot) are never excessively complicated, rather they rely heavily on repetition and layering of individual parts to suck a listener in by setting a mood rather than displaying technical wizardry or by using poppy hooks. The record is apparently inspired by the film Metropolis and after each listen, that influence becomes more and more evident.

Ash Borer- Bloodlands

Ash BorerBloodlandsGilead Media:

This was my soundtrack to every gloomy winter day or summer storm. The instruments are veiled behind a curtain of reverb. The vocals are almost entirely buried, you can miss them entirely if you’re not paying attention, straining to catch the tail-end of a scream. Bloodlands is the embodiment of “dark” music; the despair is quite palpable. Essentially, if you’re not upset after listening to this, you’ve not listened properly.

Year of No Light- Vampyr

Year of No LightVampyrInit Records

Year of No Light wrote this record as a soundtrack for C.T. Dreyer’s film of the same name. To say that it’s impressive could be one of the most understated compliments I’m capable of giving. I actually ended up writing a grad paper on it, specifically on the qualities of the audio-visual amalgamation of the two pieces. It is in that capacity that I would suggest listening/watching Vampyr (It’s on YouTube). I’ve never listened to movie soundtrack that’s given me anxiety problems. If there is one thing on this list that you follow up on, please, let it be this one.

Year of No Light- Tocsin

Year of No LightTocsin – Debemur Morti Productions

Besides releasing a movie soundtrack, Year of No Light also did a full length (and a seemingly infinite number of splits). When you’ve already done something unimaginably ambitious, why not follow it up with another record that strives for the same? Tocsin carries on in the same vein as Persephone – which Year of No Light released a couple years ago – epic, instrumental, post-metal music. Lately, whenever people have asked me what my favourite band is I respond with, “Year of No Light,” without any hesitation.

Kylesa- Ultraviolet

Kylesa- UltravioletSeason of Mist

I never quite “got” why Kylesa had such a huge following. I’d listened to them a few times and wasn’t really blown away. When I finally heard Ultraviolet, everything clicked. I could listen to just the bass lines all day, the tone is immense (I’m trying not to nerd out on music gear). Admittedly, my knowledge of sludge is quite limited, but I think what Kylesa is doing is pretty interesting. I’m going to be looping this record for many months to come.

Deafheaven- Sunbather

DeafheavenSunbather – Deathwish Inc.

When I saw this record labeled as “post-black metal” I thought I was going to puke. I put off listening to it for months, but when I finally got around to checking it out, Sunbather turned out to be really good; upsettingly good. I wanted to hate this, but the music is strangely pretty while retaining the characteristic intensity that makes black metal so enticing for some. The title track is really quite exceptional.

Heaven In Her Arms/Cohol  - Split

Heaven In Her Arms/Cohol  – SplitDaymare Records

The Heaven in Her Arms side of this split reminds me how badly I pine for them to record a full length. Insanely talented people playing really technical, heavy emo with ambient breaks. Cohol is so fucking metal and I am not familiar enough with what they’re playing to adequately describe what’s going on during their side of the split.

Chelsea Wolfe- Pain is Beauty

Chelsea WolfePain is Beauty – Sargent House Records

Gloomy pop from a lady whose over-the-top goth affectations took a while for me to overcome. Pain is Beauty isn’t as folk oriented as some of her older material (granted, if I want to listen to Chelsea Wolfe make folk music, I’d just listen to Apokalypsis), but it’s a really diverse and interesting record. She’s quite unafraid to dabble in the unfamiliar and she has a great voice.

June Paik- S/T

June Paik S/TReact With Protest Records

This isn’t June Paik’s first self titled release, nor is it June Paik’s first time demonstrating that they are one of the finest hardcore bands currently creating music.

Pity Sex- Feast of Love

Pity Sex- Feast of LoveRun For Cover Records

This album is insanely catchy. It keeps reminding me of Lemuria, if only they played shoe-gaze and used the perfect amount of fuzz pedals on their guitar. There’s something undeniably alluring about bands that can properly use both male and female vocal parts. Pity Sex makes the dynamic work really well for them.

Celeste- Animale(s)

CelesteAnimale(s)Denovali Records

This band has been progressively releasing the same album since Nihiliste(s) came out in 2007. I loved Nihiliste(s), therefore I love Animale(s). This particular album might be slightly sludgier, maybe it has more black metal influence than Celeste’s previous forays into LP-releasedom? It’s all quite difficult to quantify. At any rate, I would suggest listening to it because it will crush you.

Russian Circles- Memorial

Russian CirclesMemorialSargent House Records

A lot of year end lists have included this album, which makes sense, it’s really good. What a lot of them don’t really talk about that I think is really special about Russian Circles is how well these guys play music together. They’re all evidently exceptionally talented, but their band dynamic seems perfect. There isn’t a stray beat or riff that seems out of place (except the riff in 1777 that sounds like Miserlou); every song flows seamlessly. Also, the last track with Chelsea Wolfe providing vocals is probably one of the best pieces of music that either artist has ever released.

Grouper- The Man Who Died in His Boat

GrouperThe Man Who Died in His BoatKranky

Listening to this album is like listening to a lullaby. The songs are all really quite beautiful and Liz Harris sounds like she’s singing at you from the back of a cave. If you feel like being way too calm, listen to this on repeat.

Light Bearer- Silver Tongue

Light BearerSilver Tongue – Self Released

I don’t understand why I haven’t experienced more people talking about this album. People lost their minds over Fall of Efrafa and Lapsus had tons of clout. Silver Tongue, which is arguably an even loftier achievement than Lapsus, has been flying under peoples radar. If you liked any of the things I just mentioned and haven’t listened to this album, feel really stupid and then go find it, play it, and feel really stupid again. Not many bands do the whole concept album thing as well as Light Bearer. They’re talented people playing exceptional music.

Julia Kent- Character

Julia Kent- CharacterThe Leaf Label

*I will not pretend for a single moment to know a thing about instrumental cello music. Please pardon my continuous ignorance.* I like how moody this album is almost as much as I like when musicians use loops (a repetition of a phrase of music) as well as Julia Kent. It invariably creates drones and repetition that slowly increases in complexity. It’s a really natural way to build a song one piece at a time and, as a song plods along, it’s really interesting to hear how the different pieces of a single song interact. This is music that you get lost listening to.

Todos Caeran- Town of Cats

Todos CaeranTown of Cats, Tel Fyr Split, Kaddish/Bonehouse/Polina Split – A few different labels

I’m going to self promote for a moment. The band I’m in released a bunch of music this year. If you enjoy bands like Portraits of Past, Daitro, Funeral Diner, Orchid, etc. you could very well take pleasure into listening to one of our musical offerings. These records are the culmination of several years of writing and we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished. It’s all free to download on our bandcamp page.

Jose Da Costa is a Reviewer and Forum moderator for ThePunksite.com