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Monday, December 30, 2013

The 10 Best Bay Area Metal Albums of 2013

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 10:40 AM

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Hot Lunch, Hot Lunch (Tee Pee)

The band may be more proto-metal than true metal, but the self-titled debut of local quartet Hot Lunch packs more than enough heft to make S.F.'s list of heavy-rock triumphs for 2013. Nodding to the Detroit's MC5/Stooges school of volatility as well as the more obscure '70s riff rock of Sir Lord Baltimore and Dust, Hot Lunch delivers fuzzed-out frenzy on "She Wants More" and the wah-powered "Killer Smile." The band earns bonus points for transforming Emerson, Lake & Palmer's prog-rock anthem "Knife Edge" from a virtuoso keyboard workout to a doom-laden dose of guitar mayhem. Even as things get weirder and more psychedelic on the album's second side, Hot Lunch consistently serves up a banquet of head-nodding guitar crunch. DP


Bl'ast, Blood! (Southern Lord)

The new version of the 1987 album It's In My Blood from Santa Cruz punk legends Bl'ast put out by Southern Lord stands as more of a complete rebirth than a reissue. Using the famed Neve console featured in his Sound City documentary, remixer Dave Grohl stripped away from the original effort's dated reverb-heavy '80s production and reintroduced tracks played by briefly tenured second guitarist William "Kip" Duvall (better known as the current singer with Alice in Chains) to stunning effect. The violent, visceral results reveal the envelope-pushing mix of headlong hardcore fury and dissonant, metallic riffs that made Bl'ast one of the leading lights of the West Coast scene during the post-Black Flag era. DP


Vastum, Patricidal Lust (20 Buck Spin)

Vastum's second full-length proved to a tired Bay Area scene that old-school death metal can still be exciting, inspired, and even shocking in 2013. It's a maddening mix of filthy riffs and unsettlingly sexual lyrics featuring members of Acephalix and Hammers of Misfortune and one of the last albums produced by the late Jeff "Leppard" Davis. CS


Orchid, The Mouths of Madness (Nuclear Blast)

While some might fault the single-minded Sabbath worship S.F. band Orchid exhibits on its second album and first effort for Nuclear Blast, the group deserves credit for exploring oft-forgotten side of metal's founding fathers. Looking beyond the down-tuned drone that dominates the music of many Iommi acolytes, the band captures Sabbath's relentless groove, and bluesy, jazz-inflected swing on "Silent One" and "Mountains of Steel." Despite the numerous connect-the-dot moments audibly referencing specific tunes from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage, singer Theo Mindell's powerful vocals and catchy, chugging riffs -- like the one that drives "Wizards of War" --  place Orchid firmly in line with past doom disciples Pentagram, St. Vitus, and Trouble. DP


Deafheaven, Sunbather (Deathwish)

While the purists argue whether Deafheaven is metal enough, the rest of us will resume scraping our jaws off floor, where they've been since this album came out in June. The San Francisco outfit Deafheaven -- which began the year as a duo, but fleshed out a full band later on -- unleashed a stunning mix of brutality and sublimity on Sunbather, and deserved the praise it got. (And it got a lot.) Alternately majestic, ruthless, and subdued, Deafheaven leaps from one mode to another in songs that stretch from three minutes to more than 14. Long tracks, pummeling guitars, and howling, unintelligible vocals might not seem like a recipe for mainstream breakthrough, but this album will all make sense once you get into it. Ian S. Port

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