When I look back on 2013 musically, I’ll remember a 3-4 month period where I really came to love post metal. Not that I didn’t enjoy any post metal bands before, but I really came to embrace it this year, and it all started with Cult of Luna’s Vertikal. The album came out at the beginning of the year, but after the first listen I played it over and over again as the months rolled by, knowing for sure it would end up being one of my favorites. So many different layers of sound with songs that thunder your ears like “In Awe Of”, but can also strike an eerie chord within you on the album closer “Passing Through”. It’s one of my newest favorites and I’ll be spinning Vertikal long after 2013 ends.
I’ll be honest when I say that my opinion on TesseracT’s debut album could be summed up by a resounding “meh”. I didn’t think it was bad, but it didn’t really hold my interest for some reason. So imagine my surprise when Altered State made me pull a total 180 and fall in love with the band. My favorite aspect about this album is not only how the album flows seamlessly from track to track, but that the band decided to focus more on making a beautiful piece of music without much in the way of being flashy or showing off. The star of the record is vocalist Ashe O’Hara, who decided to forgo growling vocals in favor of a gorgeous, soaring voice that works like an instrument of his own. TesseracT has come ahead by leaps and bounds with this album and I hope they continue to bring such quality material in the future.
Alright, I know someone is going to point out that this album is actually a progressive rock album, but 1) I pretty much worship Steven Wilson, and 2) the album is so damn great that it wouldn’t feel right not to include it on my list. The first notes of the 12-minute opener “Luminol” grab your attention with an infectious bassline and the virtuosic drumming of Marco Minnemann. It’s immediately noticeable that the production quality of the album is of the finest, which isn’t surprising considering it features the duo of Steven Wilson and Alan Parsons (yes, THAT Alan Parsons). Each song tells a story and it should be noted that the title track is one of the saddest damn songs I’ve ever heard. If you’ve been waiting for a new Porcupine Tree album, get this. You won’t regret it one bit.