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January 2013 Best Heavy Metal Albums

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2013 is off to a busy start. We have already reviewed more than 70 albums this month, and have culled out the best five. If January is any indication, this will be another great year for metal. Here's our first monthly best metal album list of the year.

1. Voivod - 'Target Earth' (Century Media)

Voivod - Target Earth
Century Media Records

Anticipation is high for Target Earth. What is striking about new guitarist Chewy’s work on the album is how much different his style of songwriting is as a member of Voivod than with his older material from Martyr, an entirely different animal. Chewy is fully embracing the style of Voivod laid down by Piggy’s singular, and signature, style of guitar playing and songwriting. Riffs are angular, the melodies flow, and the carefully applied moments of jazz improvisation are peppered throughout.

Stylistically, the album is a solidly progressive metal album that harkens back to the Nothingface-era of Voivod, a time that saw the band fully embrace their progressive tendencies. Target Earth is a fantastic return for one of metal’s most dynamic and interesting bands

Read the complete Voivod - Target Earth Review

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2. Cult Of Luna - 'Vertikal' (Density)

Cult Of Luna - Vertikal
Density Records

Cult of Luna have consistently delivered exciting, abrasive music on a regular basis, to the point where their continued greatness has come to be almost expected. Vertikal, however, thrums and vibrates with a new life and presents a remarkable progression of textures, from light and ethereal ambient moments to vast and crushing crescendos.

Vertikal is a challenging and extraordinary album, complex and aching. Like a great city that is also a machine, it has moments of great beauty, technical wonder and a deep, gaping pit of cost and loss. Cult of Luna have created a wondrous musical engine.

Read the complete Cult Of Luna - Vertikal Review

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3. Fen - 'Dustwalker' (Code666)

Fen - Dustwalker
Code666 Records

With British black metal acts Winterfylleth and Wodensthrone luxuriating in praise for their 2012 releases, fellow countrymen Fen have stepped up to take the lead in 2013. Fen’s third full-length, Dustwalker, continues their lengthy explorations of misty moors and murky greenwoods.

Acoustic passages, atmospheric whirls and whispering vocals are counterpointed and crushed beneath grotesque riffing and growls from the shadowy heath. Post-black metal, Albion folk and post-rock have strong roles to play throughout, and the magnificently expressive and textural arrangements make the album a richly evocative success. Dustwalker is sure to be an end of year candidate in 2013.

4. Thy Art Is Murder - 'Hate' (Distort)

Thy Art Is Murder - Hate
Distort Records

Kings of the new Australian brutal music scene, Thy Art Is Murder’s sophomore release Hate is another slab of skull crushing death metal. Still packing enormous amounts of blastbeats and hammering breakdowns, the addition of blackened passages on tracks like “Shadow of Eternal Sin” and “Doomed From Birth” shows off a new, fresh side to the band.

Topped off with an amazing Will Putney production job, Hate is a total world beater, and an album that all deathcore albums should be judged against.

5. Hatebreed - 'The Divinity Of Purpose' (Razor & Tie)

Hatebreed - The Divinity Of Purpose
Razor & Tie

Their legion of rabid fans know what they are going to be getting with a new Hatebreed album, and The Divinity Of Purpose certainly delivers. Jamey Jasta and company blaze through the album's 12 tracks in under 40 minutes, with nary an ounce of filler. The songs are focused and potent, and even though they follow the usual Hatebreed template, the energy and passion make them sound fresh.

The more than three year gap since their last album has made The Divinity Of Purpose highly anticipated for Hatebreed fans, and it meets all expectations.

Read the complete Hatebreed - Divinity Of Purpose Review

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