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2023: A Year In Review

My top to bottom list of everything from 2022 I've spent time with and have also purchased either physically or digitally (which is why most of them have high ratings). Releases featured on MS only. Whole number ratings out of 10 and my personal opinions included.

UPDATE: I am no longer updating this list. Unsure if a 2024 list will happen at this time...

Created by: ProgVet | 11.04.2023

1. Ne Obliviscaris - Exul
With Ne Obliviscaris you expect nothing short of exquisite extreme progressive metal - and with ‘Exul’ you will get just that. Once again their signature sound of dueling vocals, violin, and progressive passages, all performed with a high degree of grace, leaves me thoroughly speechless. Simply pure perfection. 10/10
2. Thy Catafalque - Alföld
Tamás Kátai has been absurdly consistent in creating approachable and unique progressive, avant-garde, folk infused metal. ‘Alföld’ is no exception to that and is yet another stellar release to be added to an already impressive catalog. 9/10
3. Gravesend - Gowanus Death Stomp
New York City’s angriest band have returned with a 35 minute devolution of pure visceral rage in auditory form. Unique and hyper-aggressive blackened deathgrind. Gravesend are unforgivingly relentless and I love it. 9/10
4. Sermon - Of Golden Verse
To me this sounds like a darker, heavier version of Soen, combined with a simpler version of Tool, with vocals that vaguely remind me of ICS Vortex. All of these are good things. The last 3 tracks are killer. A very strong offering of progressive metal. 8/10
5. Nightmarer - Deformity Adrift
There are a lot flat out banging dissonant releases from 2023 and ‘Deformity Adrift’ has got to be close to the front of that pack, if not leading it. The second half of the album is especially exemplary. True chaotic sonic total dissonant worship. 8/10
6. The Ocean - Holocene
The Ocean take a slightly more stripped down approach on this album while stepping up the post and industrial influences. A smart and logical continuation of their overall concept that is equally as effective. I am interested to see what path they take next now that this career chapter is over. 8/10
7. Katatonia - Sky Void Of Stars
A less riff-driven and progressive approach compared to some previous releases, ‘Sky Void of Stars’ feels like a natural continuation of their more atmospheric and post-forward 2020 release ‘City Burials.’ And similar to that release it has taken me several listens to fully appreciate its scope. 8/10
8. Mithridatum - Harrowing
Heavily dissonant blackened death metal. A pummeling performance from start to finish. The guitar tones are inharmonious but not abrasive which allows the musicianship to shine. Great production too. Hell of a debut record; I will bee keeping an eye out for their future releases. 8/10
9. Fathomage - Autumn's Dawn, Winter's Darkness
A wondrously elegant atmospheric black metal experience that truly captures the spirit of late autumn. Structurally sound songwriting and musicianship backed up with great production quality to give depth and a well rounded package. 8/10
10. Cattle Decapitation - Terrasite
Cattle Decapitation is a band that didn’t really click with me for one reason or another until 2019’s ‘Death Atlas.’ Now 4 years later they have returned with ‘Terrasite’ which is a fine offering of their unique deathgrind stylizations, but a small step backwards for me. Travis Ryan’s vocals are S tier as expected. 7/10
11. Steven Wilson - The Harmony Codex
A heavily electronic progressive rock/pop experiment that is a step in the right direction for Steven Wilson. The complex layering of instruments (especially the Prohoet-6 synthesizer) and overall mixing/production is done expertly. There are moments I don't care for, but overall an enjoyable release. 7/10
12. Bell Witch - Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate
Bell Witch's slow and brooding funeral doom metal cannot be matched however their newest release admittedly is not my favorite of theirs. The ominous atmosphere is there but the overall length and performance seems to cause it to get lost in itself. It's good, just a little boring. 7/10
13. Esoctrilihum - Astraal Constellations Of The Majickal Zodiac
A cosmic cornucopia of tales of astral beasts and zodiac warfare. Asthâghul the prolific has returned with his grandest work to date showcasing his bizarre black metal stylings over the span of 3 glorious discs. 7/10
14. Chained To The Bottom Of The Ocean - Obsession Destruction
The tones are aggressively sludgy. The riffs are bludgeoning with enough subtle groove to keep things interesting. The vocals are harshly evil. The Lewandowski cover art is an excellent bonus. When you put it all together it makes a fairly effective package. 7/10
15. Carnosus - Visions Of Infinihility
A solid offering of technical death metal with flat out absurd amounts of riffage and groove. Overall a good release but I think I slightly prefer their debut from 2020. I will always be excited for new Carnosus in the future. 7/10
16. None - Inevitable
On ‘Inevitable’ None give us an extremely atmospheric approach to DSBM. Wonderfully bleak and haunting, parts of this album will make you feel desolate. That being said there is a little too much prolonged ambient songs and passages for my taste. Overall it’s still a solid album. 7/10
17. Grîmmöld - Forgotten Sorrows
A wonderful compilation of past memories assembled and restored for a great cause. The new track ‘Home’ is simply exceptional. I will support this one-man underground project whenever I can, especially when it is for a charitable cause. 7/10
18. Sadness (USA) - Cherish
A punky shoegaze experience from both sides of the split. There is a lot of energy here that superficially feels joyful, however after several listens an underlying melancholy is appreciated. A unique and emotional presentation. [Split] 7/10
19. Ὁπλίτης - Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η
Intense, aggressive, loud, chaotic, and dense black metal. Tons of death elements and excessively dissonant, this album is a lot to digest. It’s a little much for me but I can easily see why this album has gained a following. 6/10

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by ProgVet ]

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