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Thursday 28 December 2023

AOTY 2023: Paul Hutchings Top 10

Top 10 Albums – 2023 - Hutch

It never gets any easier to pick ten albums that really set your world on fire, especially when you review almost one a day. The joy of returning to Musipedia Of Metal kind of eclipses all those albums that kept you going through a year of highs and lows but here’s ten that really did float my boat … a lot. 

1. Cirith Ungol – The Dark Parade

Whilst 2024 is their live swansong, it is hoped that the band may continue to record. If they continue to create music as powerful as The Dark Parade, it would be travesty if they didn’t. Full of classic Cirith Ungol sound, the mix of traditional heavy metal put this album firmly in my top spot.

2. Green Lung – This Heathen Land

A band that are destined to be huge, their third album is simply brilliant. A mix of the old in their Sabbath worship combined with a contemporary feel, the pagan occult style works on every level and this album has rarely left the playlist since being released last month. 

3. Obituary – Dying Of Everything

Their best album for many years, Dying of Everything saw the Floridan death metal legends start off the year with a ferocity that few could match. Adding a thrashier element to their sound, this was an album that demonstrated that Obituary still stand at the top of their genre.

4. King Kraken – MCLXXX

The debut album by the South Wales quintet contained some huge tracks. Heavy on the riff count, the green terrors rightly received high praise for this release. 2024 looks to be an exciting year as well.

5. Blind River – Bones For The Skeleton Thief

One of my favourite all-time live bands, Blind River’s third release continued their rich vein of form with another album that captures their live sound. Recorded with no wizardry or click tracks, it’s their honesty that makes them such a great outfit. It’s a rip snorting hard rocker that ticks every box.

6. Overkill – Scorched

Probably my favourite thrash album of 2023, the New Jersey band had the audacity to go head-to-head with legends Metallica on the same release day as 72 Seasons, and to my mind blew their peers away with an album that is as essential today as Feel the Fire was all those years ago.

7. Empyre – Relentless

The second album by the miserable quartet from Northampton, Relentless is an album that grows on every play. They backed it with plenty of live shows this year, including a sold-out evening to remember at The Patriot – Home of Rock. 

8. Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – Kings Of The Aslyum

Without doubt their most assured release, Kings of the Aslyum saw PCATBS move a little bit further towards their own sound. An album full of anthems and earworms, the debut recording of singer Joel Peters is full of passion and energy. Just brilliant stuff.

9. Voyager – Fearless In Love

Ridiculed by many for their foray into Eurovision, this album is the perfect blend of metal and pop. I had it on repeat for months and couldn’t stop playing it. Catchy and fresh, I just found this an album that worked on every level. 

10. Frozen Soul – Glacial Domination

It was between Enforced’s War Remains and Frozen Soul’s latest for the final slot. It could have been, but I went with the ice obsessed Texans for the sheer savagery that they delivered on this album. Their live shows were intense too!

I could have added another 40 albums to this list. A shout out to The Answer who saw a fine return after a six-year absence with Sundowners, South Wales black metallers Ofnus whose debut Time Held Me Grey and Dying would have sneaked in at another time, the brutality of Scottish blackened thrashers Hellripper’s Warlocks Grim and Withered Hags, the beauty of Swedes Soen with Memorial, the delicacy of Bruce Soord’s solo release Luminescence, and the fine debut Reinvent Me from Swansea’s Zac And The New Men.  Here’s to 2024 and music just as excellent. Cheers!

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