STAFF AWARDS FOR 2012: BRAD CAPLAN, Greg Watson, David Loveless, EC, Frank Hill, VINAYA

EC Top 15 Of 2013
1. Bring Me The Horizon - "Sempiternal"
2. Amoprhis - "Circle"
3. Annihilator - "Feast"
4. Soilwork - "The Living Infinite"
5. Avenged Sevenfold - "Hail To The King"
6. Metal Church - "Generation Nothing"
7. Rob Zombie - "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor"
8. Killswitch Engage - "Dissarm The Dissent"
9. Megadeth - "Super Collider"
10. Calabrese - "Born With A Scorpion's Tale"
11. Aska - "Fire Eater"
12. Carcass - "Surgical Steel"
13. Vengeance - "Piece Of Cake"
14. Saxon - "Sacrifice"
15. Pop Evil - "Onyx"

Biggest Disappointment
Alice In Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

Surprise Find Of The Year
The Ramones discography

Best Non-Metal Albums
Hank Williams III - 4x4
Alan Jackson - Bluegrass

New Albums Needed For 2014
Tesla, Burn Halo, Mustasch, Iced Earth, Bullet For My Valentinem, Paradise Lost, Motorjesus, Primal Fear, Adrenaline Mob, Blind Guardian

Frank Hill Favorites of 2013
1. Audrey Horne: Youngblood  --classic sounding hard rock from extreme musicians.   Great retro sound without being too derivative.  Grew on me with each listen so it slowly earned my top spot.
2. Primitai: Rise Again  --bullying combo of traditional early 80s guitar work with modern drumming. Solid vocals and harmonies.
3. Motorhead: Aftershock  --some tracks to skip, but enough burners to sound like Motorhead should.

DVD Choice: Nightwish "Showtime, Storytime" --their entire August performance at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany with new vocalist Floor Jansen. Her addition to the band revitalized Nightwish and her charisma onstage is fantastic to see.

VINAYA  Year End Awards
Overall, I found this to be a much more inspired year for new metal releases than 2012, when I found myself struggling to fill my year-end list. This year, I almost had the opposite problem: being able to keep up with all the good stuff that seemed to be coming out! However, as much as I've liked traditional metal genres like power metal in the past, these past two years have found me increasingly getting into more progressive, experimental and less traditional forms, some of which really begin to stretch the definition of metal in my opinion. Hence the "Best Not-so-Metal ALbums" category! This list of favorites was also kind of hard for me to finalize, because I found a handful of releases REALLY stood head and shoulders above the rest, while the lower spots could have ended up in a different order or included different titles (Lalu, Scale the Summit and Black Star Riders being among those that "almost" made it), depending on my mood that day. So, as usual, this "top 15" (10 was too few, 20 too many!) is arranged in VERY rough order of preference, as of this writing!

Best Metal Albums of 2013:
Voivod: Target Earth
Avatarium: S/T
Sahg: Delusions of Grandeur
True Widow: Circumambulation
Protest the Hero: Volition
Dream Theater: S/T
Varga: Enter The Metal
Satan: Life Sentence
Luder: Adelphophagia
Kryptos: The Coils of Apollyon
Felix Martin: The Scenic Album
Enforcer: Death By Fire
Black Sabbath: 13
Kylesa: Ultraviolet
In Solitude: Sister

Best Not-so-Metal Albums of 2013:
Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing And Other Stories
Chelsea Wolfe: Pain Is Beauty
Riverside: Shrine of New Generation Slaves
Anneke van Giersbergen: Drive
Divine Circles: Oblivion Songs

Killer Shows Seen:
Opeth, Steven Wilson w/ Katatonia at Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park, NY
Oz & October 31,w/ Thrillhouse, FUKK at O'Brien's Pub, Allston, MA
Something Bloody Metal Fest (Cauchemar, Nightbitch, Elder, Hessian, Seax, Gravewurm, etc.) , Dusk, Providence, RI
Kylesa, Blood Ceremony, White Hills, Lazer/Wulf at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA

Good News: Lots of great comeback albums and tours, including Voivod, Satan (the band!) and Oz, the latter maing their first appearance EVER on American soil.
Bad News: The passing of riffmaster Jeff Hanneman of Slayer. May he rest in peace!

What I'm looking forward to in 2014: I don't have a long list for this yet, but I have heard (or, more often, heard of) a few promising releases, including an EXCELLENT one by Boston-based prog-metallers Protean Collective. I don't know... Other than that, I look forward to being surprised!

Greg Watson YEAR END

Top 10 Albums of 2013
1. Bring Me The Horizon-Sempiternal
2. Audrey Horne - Youngblood
3. Heart of a Coward-Severance
4. Crossfaith-Apocalyze
5. The Defiled-Daggers
6. Ghost BC-Infestissimam
7. Warbringer-IV-Empires Collapse
8. Soilwork-The Living Infinite
9. Watain-The Wild Hunt
10. Darkane-The Sinister Supremacy

Most Disappointing Releases of 2013
1. Queensryche w/Todd La Torre-Queensryche-This album was supposed to usher in the new era of Queensryche sans Geoff Tate.  This album fell incredibly short of expectations from longtime Ryche fans and left much to be desired.  Hopefully going forward the next album will be a bit better but this album was just a huge let down.

2. Hatebreed-Divinity of Purpose-I've been a pretty big fan of Hatebreed for a bit but this album was a big disappointment. It sounds like so many previous releases and while I enjoy the bands trademark sound, I was hoping for a bit of new edge to this album.    Unfortunately it was very similar to the last two releases and it doesn't seem as though the band has any indication of tweaking its sound a little.

3. Avenged Sevenfold-Hail to the King-I know I'll catch some flack for this but this was my biggest letdown of the year.  Maybe because it had been so hyped that contributed somewhat but I was just totally underwhelmed with this album.  This was a more hard rock album than a metal album.  While that's not a bad thing, hard rock is not what A7X is really known for.  The album has a bit of Metallica "Black Album" feel to it and has a few bright spots but didn't deliver the blockbuster album that "King" was being made out to sound.

Best Unsigned Bands of 2013
1. Immension-This English thrash unit thoroughly impressed me with their 4 song EP "The Enemy Within".  Delivering solid, in your face incredible thrash, this band has captured my attention and is on my radar for a full length to turn the metal world upside down.  If you've not heard this band yet, you should do yourself a favor.  Kick yourself in the arse, find them online and let the head banging commence.

2. Svet Kant-Loneliness-This band is an Argentinian act based in Dublin, Ireland.    Progressive metal with a tinge of black and death metal make this album something worth spinning.  Fans of Opeth, old Anathema and Paradise Lost will dig this band.   Check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.

David Loveless Top 20 Metal Albums of 2013
Another great year for metal, including many surprises! Out of my top 20, I'd say the biggest surprise was the new Stryper album , “No More Hell To Pay”. I was a Stryper fan back in the late 80's but lost track of them for many years. A friend told me to check out the new album and my jaw hit the floor! Also great to finally get a new killer albums by Fates Warning and Death Angel. \m/

1. Altar of Plagues – Teethed Glory and Injury
2. Cult Of Luna – Vertikal
3. Oranssi Pazuzu – Velonielu
4. Paysage D'hiver – Das Tor
5. Vaura – The Missing
6. Stryper – No More Hell To Pay
7. Celeste – Animale(S)
8. Death Angel – The Dream Calls for Blood
9. Toxic Holocaust – Chemistry of Consciousness
10. Castevet – Obsian
11. Dead Letter Circus – The Catalyst Fire
12. Agrypnie – Aetas Cineris
13. The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer
14. Inferno – Omniabsence Filled By His Greatness
15. The Safety Fire – Mouth Of Swords
16. Locrian – Return To Annihilation
17. Gorguts – Colored Sands
18. Fates Warning – Darkness In A Different Light
19. Gigan – Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery And Super Science
20. Ulcerate - Vermis

Non-Metal Favorites of 2013:
1. Chelsea Wolfe – Pain Is Beauty
2. Azar Swan – Dance Before The War
3. LowCityRain – LowCityRain
4. Lustmord – The Word As Power
5. Pinkish Black – Razed To The Ground
6. Steve Moore – Pangaea Ultima
7. Weekend – Jinx
8. Zevious – Passing Through The Walls

BRAD CAPLAN Metal/Hard Rock Albums of the Year
While not all these selections are technically metal, they are all metal in some way to my ears. I have been a fan of Volbeat for a long time and I cannot stop playing their latest ("Outlaw Gentlemen..."). It was tough to put them ahead of Dream Theater as it was a close race for #1 this year. If someone wants to get a feel for the great Devin Townsend, then the live performances on "The Retinal Circus" is the place to start. I was not very aware of the talents of Richie Kotzen, but he really shines on the Winery Dogs debut. I had zero expectations for the Queensryche album sans Geoff Tate, but I was really pleased with their new album. This sounds more like Queensryche than the past 3-4 albums with Tate on vocals. Definitely worth a listen if you were ever into this band. Rush continued their roll from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to Clockwork Angels to their C.A. Tour and this live release. If you are a Rush fan, then you already own it. Enjoy!

1. Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies
2. Dream Theater - Dream Theater
3. Alter Bridge – Fortress
4. Avenged Sevenfold - Hail to the King
5. Devin Townsend - The Retinal Circus (Live)
6. The Winery Dogs - The Winery Dogs
7. Alice in Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
8. Soilwork - Living Infinite
9. Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Discent
10. All That Remains - War You Cannot Win
11. Queensryche - Queensryche
12. Hell or Highwater - The Other Side EP
13. Rush - Clockwork Angels Tour (Live)
14. Stone Sour - House of Gold & Bones Pt. 2
15. Avantasia - The Mystery of Time
16. Megadeth - Super Collider
17. Five Finger Death Punch - Wrong Side of Heaven & Righteous Side of Hell
18. Ghost - Infestissumam
19. Def Leppard - Viva! Hysteria (Live)
20. KoRn - The Paradigm Shift
21. Black Sabbath - 13
22. Children of Bodom - Halo of Blood
23. In This Moment - Blood
24. Riverside - Shrine of New Generation Slaves
25. Deep Purple - Now What!

I also enjoyed some great non-metal albums in 2013 from the following artist:
John Mayer, Beth Hart, Bruno Mars, Gavin DeGraw, Robbie Williams, Eminem and Green Day.