The 10 Best Bay Area Metal Albums of 2013

It was a big year for metal in the Bay Area, the year one band caught the attention of pretty much everyone, including the advertising team at Apple. That breakthrough album made our list, of course, but so did a number of other excellent local metal releases you may not have heard. Here's our roundup of the 10 best heavy local records of the year.

Grayceon, Pearl and the End of Days (Flenser)
The term "progressive" when applied to music has been muddied in the last 30 years or so. Images of dinosaur rockers overplaying their Chapman Sticks usually come to mind, rather than a certain group of rock bands that transcended genre to create their own sound. San Francisco trio Grayceon definitely subscribe to the latter definition on their latest and best release. No other metal album this year was as haunting, ferocious, and beautiful. Cory Sklar

Vhöl, Vhöl (Profound Lore)
We love supergroups. It's like when Hanna Barbera would have The Laff-A-Lympics and Yogi Bear would hang with Snagglepuss. We got similarly excited when we heard vocalist Mike Schiet of Yob would be teaming up with Bay Area veterans John Cobbett, Aesop Dekker, and Sigrid Shele (Ludicra, Hammers Of Misfortune) on the epic Vhöl project. Blackened speed metal with a hint of crusty hardcore done to perfection. Vhöl is the Damn Yankees -- nay -- The Travelling Wilburys of metal! CS

Lycus, Tempest (20 Buck Spin)
Tony Iommi can't swing his signature Epiphone these days without hitting a doom band, but this debut from Oakland's Lycus cuts straight through the murk. In three colossal tracks, Lycus shifts gracefully from cavernous majesty to pummeling suffocation, particularly on the 20-minute title track. Lycus seems to have picked up where Oakland's now-defunct Asunder left off; it will be a treat to hear where the band goes from this promising beginning. Beth Winegarner

Death Angel, The Dream Calls For Blood (Nuclear Blast)
An ever-growing legion of neo-thrash bands may be vying for the T-shirt and back-patch allegiance of metal fans, but pioneering local quintet Death Angel proved the young apostles can't touch the original masters with The Dream Calls For Blood. Still anchored by founding members Rob Cavestany and Mark Osegueda on guitar and vocals respectively, the band blazes through new thrash anthems "Left For Dead," "Fallen," and "Empty," which deliver furious riffs and memorable melodies with neck-snapping intensity. Even moodier tracks like "Detonate" (with its dramatic Morricone-esque intro) and the acoustic-tinged closing workout "Territorial Instinct - Bloodlust" bristle with a ferocity few bands three decades into their career can muster. Dave Pehling

Apocryphon/Fabricant Split EP (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
Any old, bitter metalhead will tell you that they are kind of tired of death metal. It's a tough scene to be into when every show features 14 bands playing similar riffs for hours. Luckily a bit of light in the drab darkness of DM shined through when this split was released featuring Oakland's Apocryphon and Lafayette's Fabricant. Both bands have entirely different takes -- Apocryphon is completely spazzed-out psychedelic, while Fabricant harsh and demonic -- but their EP helped us remember why we loved this music in the first place. CS

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