My Favorite Records of 2023

2023 was a really tough year. Like always, music is a great distraction when life throws you curveballs.

Another year continuing the upward trend of bombastic death metal records, and I am here for it.

Seems like there was a hole in my scrobbles from mid December to mid January. They changed up how their auth works across a few apps and I guess I didn’t notice.

Music I performed on in 2023

Prompt (Beta) by Synth8


I performed guitar on the tracks Prompt and Xenon with friend and former coworker Reuben, aka Synth8. These tracks came out great, awesome production and arrangement on these.

On to my favorites…

35.) TesseracT - War of Being

Youtube Music | Spotify

Maybe their best yet, or at least my favorite. I’m a big fan of Altered States and I think this one tops it. Great record. Especially the vocal performance from Daniel Tompkins (probably his best yet.)

34.) Xoth - Exogalactic

Youtube Music | Spotify

This band is ridiculous. Out of this world space death metal. Some of the most interesting dual guitar melodies of the year on display.

33.) Spotlights - Alchemy for the Dead

Youtube Music | Spotify

Such a deep and moody album. This is the only release I’m familiar with so apparently I have some discography diving to do, as I really enjoyed this one. Great arrangements and production. They released a nice mini doc about recording their album, that was great.

32.) Ok Goodnight - The Fox and the Bird

Youtube Music | Spotify

Absolutely stunning record. Wow. Vocal performance is incredible, everything about this is great. Progressive metal opus.

31.) Thin - Dusk

Youtube Music | Spotify

Grind core done right. This is wonderful. Really interesting rhythms and textures throughout. Guitar tone was the perfect middle ground of clean and filthy, I loved it.

Youtube Music | Spotify

Another grind core masterpiece. Apparently this is the last Gridlink record we get, and it’s a fitting end to an incredible project.

29.) Night Verses - Every Sound Has a Color in the Valley of the Night: Part 1

Youtube Music | Spotify

Some very interesting guitar sounds throughout this one. Progressive Metal can mean a lot of things. Night Verses really stands out with their arrangements and playing chops.

28.) Tideless - Eye of Water

Youtube Music | Spotify

This was excellent. Kind of reminded me of Sunbather but with growly vocals. Great melodies and arrangements. AND THEY LET THE SONGS PLAY OUT HOW THEY SHOULD, even if it’s 24 minutes long. Love it.

27.) Body Void - Atrocity Machine

Youtube Music | Spotify

Filthy, disgusting sludge metal. Just vicious. Killer guitar tone.

26.) Arkhtinn - 三​度​目​の​災​害


Fantasia but black metal. Outstanding record.

25.) Hiromi & Sonicwonder - Sonicwonderland

Youtube Music | Spotify

After watching the Tiny Desk I was hooked. This album is awesome. Some of the finest piano playing I’ve ever heard, and the rest of the band is great, too. Incredible.

24.) Panopticon - The Rime of Memory

Youtube Music | Spotify

Great record. A bit of a slow burn to start but once it’s smoldering you can’t put the fire out. Another classic from Austin Lunn.

23.) Pupil Slicer - Blossom

Youtube Music | Spotify

This band has grown and evolved so much on record in their sophomore release. The title track might be my favorite song of the year.

22.) Agriculture - Agriculture

Youtube Music | Spotify

Outstanding debut from a very promising black metal band. They get in and get out, this is a brief LP, 4 songs over 6 tracks, could have definitely been fine with another 6-10 minutes song but I get it. Leave them wanting more! Sign me up.

21.) Wayfarer - American Gothic

Youtube Music | Spotify

Wow, this band has grown a lot since A Romance with Violence in 2020. I loved that record (and World’s Blood before it) but American Gothic is something else entirely. The Spaghetti Western Black metal “thing” is really cool and Wayfarer does it really well. So good.

20.) Sulphur Aeon - Seven Crowns and Seven Seals

Youtube Music | Spotify

I was unfamiliar with Sulphur Aeon until I listened to this record. Holy shit, they’re incredible. Right up my alley. Blackened death metal burnt to a crisp.

19.) Outer Heaven - Infinite Psychic Depths

Youtube Music | Spotify

It’s funny that this ends up on my list and Tomb Mold is on the honorable mentions this year. I did like this a lot more than The Enduring Spirit. Incredible riffs.

18.) Begravement - Horrific Illusions Beckon

Youtube Music | Spotify

The basslines here are ridiculous. Great tone, great riffs, from both guitarists. Amazing overall. Intergalactic Espionage might be one of my favorite songs if the year.

17.) Witch Ripper - The Flight After The Fall

Youtube Music | Spotify

My band played with Witch Ripper at Chicago Doomed & Stoned 2019. Fine humans, they were wonderful. This record is so good. Prog metal at it’s finest. What a voyage!

16.) ††† (Crosses) - Goodnight, God Bless, I Love U, Delete.

Youtube Music | Spotify

Kind of surprised how low this ended up on my list. This album is really good. Love this band. The Robert Smith feature is wicked cool, I could go for an entire album of that.

15.) Mutoid Man - Mutants

Youtube Music | Spotify

The most fun you’ll have on record ever. Love this band. The addition of Jeff Matz puts them into another level on Mutants. You can instantly feel his presence in the song writing and arrangements.

14.) Paramore - This Is Why

Youtube Music | Spotify

I love this album. It made me relisten to Paramore’s discography, which I really enjoyed a lot more than I used to. Start to finish this was solid. Hayley Williams is one of the best vocalists out there right now.

13.) Thantifaxath - Hive Mind Narcosis

Youtube Music | Spotify

This band crafts some of the gnarliest guitar chords and sounds. The opening notes on Solar Witch really drive home the eerie and creepy factors. Quite interesting, and they bring something really unique to the table from start to finish on this record.

12.) Liturgy - 93696

Youtube Music | Spotify

This is probably my new favorite Liturgy record. The glitch beats are at a frenzied high and I am here for it. This feels like a great followup to Origin of the Alimonies. They seem to really lean hard into the electronic elements, it really adds a lot to the arrangements and the flow of the record. Outstanding vocal performance again. The title track is just breathtaking. If this came out in a different year it would likely be my top of the year (well, the same can be said for anything here, I suppose.)

11.) Cattle Decapitation - Terrasite

Youtube Music | Spotify

I love Cattle Decapitation. Great band, they never disappoint. Terrasite is flawless. Not much else to say, it shreds.

10.) Ὁπλίτης - Τρωθησομένη / Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η / Ἀ​ν​τ​ι​τ​ι​μ​ω​ρ​ο​υ​μ​έ​ν​η

Youtube Music | Spotify

Youtube Music | Spotify

Youtube Music | Spotify

Three albums from a difficult to pronounce one person Chinese black metal project based loosely on Greek mythology and fantasy. All three of these records absolutely shred. Each one is pretty unique in sound and arrangement, they’re all great and worth your time and attention.

9.) Blut Aus Nord - Disharmonium - Nahab

Youtube Music | Spotify

Psychedelic atmospheric black metal. Hypnotic riffs to lull you into a false sense of security before your head gets ripped off by what lies ahead. Or something like that. This record is wild.

8.) boygenius - the record / the rest

Youtube Music | Spotify the record

Youtube Music | Spotify the rest

One of my most listened to records of 2023. SO GOOD. Phoebe, Julien, and Lucy seem like they are having a blast together and the music they are making is out of this world. the record is perfect, front to back. Satanist is probably my favorite on there, if I had to pick one, but they’re all great in their own way. And the rest is pretty great, too!

7.) Black Thought & El Michels Affair - Glorious Game

Youtube Music | Spotify

One year removed from Cheat Codes, Black Thought enlists the help of El Michels Affair to release a legendary hip hop record. This sounds like it was directly inspired by Do You Want More?!!!??! by The Roots (one of my favorite hip hop records of all time.) Every track on this is an instant classic. Black Thought continues to be my favorite MC nowadays.

6.) Nothingness - Supraliminal

Youtube Music | Spotify

This was my tops for a long time after it came out in January. Top tier death metal riffs on display for all to enjoy.

5.) Horrendous - Ontological Mysterium

Youtube Music | Spotify

Some of the best bass playing of the year found on Ontological Mysterium. Great record, but especially the bass. Ough. Excellent record. A very progressive death metal opus.

4.) Ulthar - Anthronomicon / Helionomicon

Youtube Music | Spotify Anthronomicon

Youtube Music | Spotify Helionomicon

Ulthar put out not one, but two of the best death metal records in recent memory. I remember being so excited when they dropped the teaser single with the double record announcement. They delivered. I’m glad they chose to have one album be traditional song structures at a reasonable 4-5 minutes length, and then the second album is just two songs, each about 20 minutes. Superb themes and melodies throughout. And the artwork continues Ulthar’s history of batshit wild and wacky album covers.

3.) Baroness - STONE

Youtube Music | Spotify

I love Baroness. Every record they’ve released I’ve had a pretty strong connection to, for one reason or another. Baizley & Co. have a knack for writing songs that pique my curiosity and interests time and time again.

Stone is no different. In fact, it’s probably the best sounding Baroness record since Yellow & Green, as they have eased up on the “clipping as an artistic device” it seems. Great songs as always, and Gina seems to be getting more comfortable in the band, both on guitar and singing. The interplay and chemistry amongst the group is on full display throughout the runtime here and I can’t wait to see where they go next. Incredible record.

2.) Anti-God Hand - Blight Year

Youtube Music | Spotify

I learned about this record from the Best Metal on Bandcamp August 2023 article. Listened to it for approximately a fortnight straight after the initial spin. This band does some really interesting things with the black metal genre that really spice things up. The keys are really well done and accent the wild guitars perfectly (as evidenced by the opening of the album with the slow filter roll up.) The frenetic drumming throughout makes me want to pick up the drumsticks and get a workout on the kit. The rhythms are so infectious and a truly unique point of interest throughout.

What really sets this band apart, though, is the taste and delivery in their spikes of energy. They don’t overstay their welcome, but when they’re front and center they are demanding your attention and wielding the songwriter’s wand. So good, if you’re unfamiliar you owe it to yourself to check it out at least once. And don’t be surprised when the rhythm to Endless Brightness gets lodged into your brain for weeks…

1.) Queens of the Stone Age - In Times New Roman…

Youtube Music | Spotify

Easily my most listened to albums of the year. Every song is my most listened to song (with the addition of Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” which is undoubtedly my most listened to song of 2023.) Homme & co. brought the ultimate swagger to every riff on this record, and you feel it in the production and performances. It’s impossible to not dance and tap your feet throughout this record. It’s an instant classic and fits right in alongside the best of QOTSA discography.

I described In Times New Roman as sounding like if the band had recorded the follow up to Songs for the Deaf immediately following that record session, in an alternate reality. Everything sounds like it belongs right in that same era.

Standouts for me are Obscenery, Paper Machete, and Made to Parade, but every single song on this record is a 10 out of 10. Hands down my favorite record of the year.

Honorable Mentions


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