2013 was a keystone year for the alternative music community for a number of reasons, and probably one of the best in the last decade. This year introduced us to albums that are arguably the Magnum Opus for a handful of artists and iconic songs in the eyes of many. Here are the 10 albums our staff decided were the most noteworthy.
State Champs – The Finer Things
If you never knew where the crowd favorite, Easy Enough originated from, this album is the one that birthed it.
We Came As Romans – Tracing Back Roots
Not only did Tracing Back Roots land We Came As Romans on the charts, but served as a collection of powerful messages for many.
10. The Plot In You – Could You Watch Your Children Burn
Unapologetically barring nothing, Landon Tewers’ outspoken lyrical genius took centre stage on The Plot In You’s record Could You Watch Your Children Burn. The record challenged the ignorance and closed-mindedness of others, religion, and reprehensible acts people succumb to committing— delivering some of the band’s heaviest material to date, literally and figuratively. In case you forgot, Could You Watch Your Children Burn also gave us Digging Your Grave, one of the greatest diss tracks of all time.
9. I See Stars – New Demons
Embellished with melodies that would get stuck in your head for days, New Demons manifested an arguably perfect mix of breakdowns, beats, and layered synths at the time and took a new approach to the elements of heavy music listeners love. New Demons set I See Stars apart from the rest with its unique sound— it’s brutal, it’s intense, and it’s full of excitement— with much credit to the band’s growth as songwriters and Devin Oliver’s outstanding talent as a vocalist.
8. blessthefall – Hollow Bodies
There’s one thing everyone who knows blessthefall can probably agree on— Hollow Bodies is the heaviest album blessthefall has ever released. Putting the more melodic elements of their sound on the back burner, the band showcased how they evolved as musicians with some of the most interesting riffs in their entire discography and a strong emphasis on screams that can’t help but control listeners’ attention.
7. Northlane – Singularity
To this day, Singularity holds some of my favorite songs in all of metalcore— Scarab and Masquerade are just *that* good. This was the album that put Northlane on the map and the band didn’t seem the slightest bit ashamed to showcase how their talents had progressed since the release of their debut. What really makes Singularity so noteworthy, though, is how fluidly it combines ambience and chaos— all while letting every instrument have its time to take center stage— and Adrian Fitipaldes’ screams, some of the most insane, chilling, and brutal vocals you could listen to.
6. Sworn In – The Death Card
The Death Card isn’t just an allusion to tarot decks or symbolism for death and rebirth— for Sworn In, it was an album so influential it brought them to the forefront of conversation within the scene following its release. Some might argue it’s Sworn In’s perfect album, but what’s most interesting about The Death Card is how real it is. It doesn’t touch on the slightest bit of positive emotion— it’s entirely the opposite; the album’s narrative conveys a dark, downward spiral from a place of vulnerability some musicians might not be comfortable writing from, and listeners will find themselves taken aback by how engrossing the relentless anger in Tyler Dennen’s cadence is.
5. letlive. – The Blackest Beautiful
Say what you will, this is letlive.’s best album. The Blackest Beautiful seamlessly combined styles from opposite genres and showed Jason Aalon Butler’s confidence as a frontman. Aggressive, compelling, and captivating start to finish, a lot of the album’s songwriting was far ahead of other artists within their niche and rightfully proved the album would have longevity to it.
4. The Story So Far – What You Don’t See
What You Don’t See might’ve been one of the most anticipated and most loved records to come from 2013, and if you gave it an honest listen you’d probably understand why. The Story So Far’s heavy approach to pop-punk and well-written hooks brought them much deserved recognition only two albums into their careers. It’s emotional, honest, and no song feels out of place.
3. Dance Gavin Dance – Acceptance Speech
Before we knew this band was capable of writing a masterpiece like Mothership, Acceptance Speech single-handedly proved recruiting Tilian Pearson as the new vocalist of Dance Gavin Dance was the best decision the band ever made. If that’s a hot take, go listen to “Strawberry Swisher Pt. 3”
2. Citizen – Youth
To be real, it felt like this album popped out of nowhere and suddenly everyone was talking about it. Citizen’s Youth earns its spot as second on this list for its raw, vulnerable, and angsty energy listeners found to be so relatable and genuine. This record might not have been an all-out attempt to boast sonic diversity, but it perfectly described emotions struggles many of us go through and showed itself to be versatile, immersive, and *not* the typical pop-punk record you would expect.
1. Bring Me The Horizon – Sempiternal
Arguably the most influential album to come out of heavy music community in the last decade, Bring Me The Horizon carved the path as predecessors for future acts in metalcore, post hardcore, and rock with their album Sempiternal. Some of Bring Me The Horizon’s most iconic songs come from this record, including the song, Shadow Moses, which inspired the writing of anthemic, grandiose choruses for many acts to follow and might as well be the national anthem of its genre and community.