Top 5 Rock-Distorting Albums of 2023 to End The World (and The Year)
Year-End Top 5
As another year burns away, I ask myself, “How the fuck haven’t we blown ourselves up yet?” 2023 is almost closed, but the madness on Earth doesn’t stop. Pop open a stolen Veuve Clicquot, sit on the steps of Capitol Hill and drone out the vaporizing mushroom clouds with five of the best rock albums from this year.
Dog Show Records/Atlantic Records
100 gecs = Death Grips + Sleigh Bells^(an acid trip in Nickelcade)
Okay, I might be stretching the definition of “rock” to an extent. But c’mon, an album like 10,000 gecs that butchers all implicit labels is as punk rock as it gets! Laura Les and Dylan Brady, the two bandmates who don’t take life too seriously, jury-rig childish electronic glitches with hardened, brain-splattering Fender riffs, making an almost unearthly vibration. It’s not quite nu-metal and not quite post-EDM—a mega dose mushroom escapade I wouldn’t mind taking with me in a fallout shelter. I don’t know about you, but nothing kickstarts my Monday morning more than gassing it to “Dumbest Girl Alive.”
Ozzy Osbourne = Black Sabbath – Ronnie James Dio (It’s Ozzy Fucking Osbourne)
The Prince of Darkness has risen from his platinum coffin to unleash a firestorm calling back to the early stages of heavy metal. I have a sneaking suspicion that Osbourne’s 2020 album Ordinary Man was a warning for the oncoming pandemic, while Patient Number 9 is a grizzly reflection on his declining health. Tracks such as “Mr. Darkness (feat. Zakk Wylde)” and “Evil Shuffle (feat. Zakk Wylde)” welcome death as more of a friend than a foe, while the thunderous roar of unadulterated energy tears open the sky. He’s 75 years old and still cranking out beastly tracks? It beats the hell out of watching KISS hiccup their way through a full set.
Viagra Boys = Clutch x Bloodhound Gang + √The Voidz
The first time I dove deep into this Stockholm-dwelling punk band was on a camping trip. While hazily inebriated and staggering away to find the Egyptian god Khonsu, the icky, thumping sounds of “Troglodyte” brought me back to the warm glow of the fire pit. The raspy, fast-forward demeanor of Cave World jazzes up any kegger. With an edgy sense of humor and a zap-pack sprinkle of quippy social commentary throughout, it’s an album meant for laughing instead of questioning. If you’re lingering in post-punk territory or looking for a fresh revival on a classic genre, Viagra Boys comes to you large and in charge.
Ghost = Judas Priest x Stryper x the Ouija board in The Tabernacle Choir basement
Gone are the days of the TikTok-viral triumph “Mary On A Cross,” but Ghost is back from the Underworld with Phantomime, the unholy (yet comforting) offspring of hauntingly beautiful rock ballads and neo-gothic, Satan-worshiping lyricism. It’s the orchestrated complexity in tracks such as “Phantom Of The Opera” that harvests a curtain proxy of Victorian-era ambiance and heavy metal. Today, Ghost is regarded as “that scary band,” but in the end times, this ghoulish entity of Papa Emeritus IV and his masked specters might be our only hope. Blessed be the burning day, for whom the bell tolls!
Linkin Park = Audioslave + Radiohead x my suppressed teenage angst
Chester Bennington was the burning flame of a generation and snuffed out too soon. 20 years later, his work as the frontman for Linkin Park continues to entertain and embrace those who are going through the darkest of times. Meteora 20th Anniversary Edition can be seen as a controversial pick, as some listeners might call it a tasteless cash grab. Repeats of decade-old tracks such as “Breaking the Habit” hold most of the album, yet the never-before-seen recording of “Lost” harkens back to Bennington’s craft. In turn, Meteora is an homage to the old days—both the good and the bad. Thank you for everything, Chester.
Read more Year-End Top 5 Reviews from past years here:
Top 5 Ladies and Theys of Metal Albums 2021
10 Experimental Albums That Made 2017 Slightly More Bearable