Lambgoat's Albums of the Year 2023
The Lambgoat team list their favorite albums of 2023.
As we wrap up another trip around the sun, the variety of albums that have been released this year are nothing short of a wild ride, and here at Lambgoat we're ready to say definitively which were our favorite of the year. Whether you're into headbanging metal, hardcore, metalcore, or whatever else we get into around here, this list will have something for you. Forget about formalities – this list is a celebration of the artists who've taken us on a musical joyride through the highs and lows of the past year. So, grab your earbuds, crank up the volume, and let's dive into the records that made 2023 a year to remember
Baroness - Stone
Choosing the top albums of the year is never an easy task, especially with so many great releases. Digging into more albums this year to pick top ones for each quarter has been quite the challenge. My Spotify Wrapped stats definitely show which albums I couldn't get enough of. I had to pick just one out of my top five worn-out albums, and it was a tough call. Three of them are still in heavy rotation, and two of those were released in the first quarter. After some serious debate, I have to go with Baroness' Stone. This album is solid from start to finish, which is a big deal for me. The diverse singles leading up to the album really hooked me, and the full release lived up to the hype. It didn't take multiple listens to enjoy; it grabbed me right from the first spin and continues to do so every time. It's a great starting point for new fans and a satisfying listen for long-time Baroness followers.
Katatonia - A Sky Void Of Stars
Big | Brave - Nature Morte
END - The Sin Of Human Frailty
Fires in the Distance- Air Not Meant For Us
Incendiary - Change The Way You Think About Pain
Great Falls – Objects Without Pain
Great Falls have been putting out high quality sludgy noise rock for well over a decade—and 2/3 of its members have been making music together even longer than that—but they seem to have truly locked into something on Objects Without Pain. The songs move in more dynamic ways, incorporating a mellower aspect of the band only previously hinted it, and vocalist Demian Johnston’s voice is the sound of pure agony. Objects Without Pain isn’t a departure for the band, it’s more a dialing in on everything they’ve done well up to this point.
Oxbow – Love’s Holiday
Envision – The Gods That Built Tomorrow
Mutoid Man – Mutants
Broken Vow - Anthropocene
Green Lung - This Heathen Land
2023 was a great year for new music. How the hell are we supposed to pick one album out of the pack to be our favorite? It used to be, “pick the album I listened to most” or “did my favorite artist release something this year?” and quite frankly those metrics are flawed. What it should be is “which album made you feel something every time you listened to it?” For 2023, that album for me was This Heathen Land by Green Lung. Great songwriting, excellent production, massive vocal harmonies, and the catchiest of riffs. All backed up by adding in stories from epic folklore and history along with the best parts of decadent 70s rock and roll. This Heathen Land has it all.
The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons
Moonlight Sorcery – Horned Lord of the Thorned Castle
Bell Witch – Future’s Shadow Part I: The Clandestine Gate
Insomnium – Anno 1696
Exmortus - Necrophony
Svalbard - The Weight of the Mask
Svalbard have the ability to blend multiple genres together without making a jumbled mess. It was no surprise that after the band’s 2020 release When I Die, Will I Get Better?, they signed with Nuclear Blast for the release of their next album The Weight of the Mask. Back again is the dual vocal attack from Serena Cherry and Liam Phelan with production handled by Lewis Johns who has worked on arguably some of the best heavy records in the last decade. What immediately attracted me to the band is their straightforward lyrics tackling mental health, discrimination, death, and abuse while creating music that paired so well with difficult subject matter. Tracks like “Faking It”, “Defiance” and “Be My Tomb” are perfect examples of the ability the band has for their sound and lyrics to work hand-in-hand. This album is another example of the band perfecting their craft on all levels and I hope in 2024, the band is able to make an even bigger impact on the metal scene.
Full of Hell/Nothing - When No Birds Sang
Baroness - Stone
Harms Way - Common Suffering
Magnitude - Of Days Renewed
The Acacia Strain - Step Into The Light/Failure Will Follow
2020’s Slow Decay was a watershed moment for The Acacia Strain, injecting a newfound level of intensity into the band’s sound and bringing in a wide variety of dynamic influences from other genres outside their main lane that were previously only hinted at. It felt like a hard record to follow, but this year’s double album release of Step Into The Light/Failure Will Follow not only met the high expectations of a follow up that record set, it changed the game for the band completely. Released as a pair on the same day, these two records took every sonic change the band experimented with on previous releases and dove deeper into that multi genre exploration than ever before. While Step Into The Light showcases the band’s metallic hardcore sound at it’s sharpest, fastest and hardest hitting yet, Failure Will Follow’s 3 lengthy songs find the band going all in on the doom metal influences hinted at on previous releases Coma Witch and Gravebloom to great effect, and while the pacing of each record is starkly different, thematic linking via artwork, lyrics and the song themselves make them feel like two sides of the same coin. It’s rare to see a band becoming this ambitious so late into their existence, and it’s even rarer that it pays off with their most rewarding and memorable material to date.
Soft Kill-Metta World Peace
Raw Brigade-Aggressive City
Pain of Truth-Not Through Blood
Jarhead Fertilizer-Carceral Warfare
Rid Of Me - Access To The Lonely
Cry recency bias all you want, the fact of the matter is no other album this year has burrowed into my head more than Rid Of Me’s Access To The Lonely since it released in early November. Though each member is plenty seasoned, their short time together has already shown exponential growth anchored by Itarya Rosenberg’s (Low Dose, ex-Legendary Divorce) raw emotionality on vocals in addition to bass. This is catchy-as-hell melodic grunge-punk with a lot of weight and edge. Poetic lyrics meld with massive guitar leads, absolutely ass-beating drums, and bass that resonates in your bones.
Endless, Nameless - Living Without
Burner - It All Returns to Nothing
Celestial Sanctuary - Insatiable Thirst For Torment
Friendship Commanders - MASS
Afterbirth - In But Not Of
There were tons of amazing albums out this year but Afterbirth is the band that I think made the greatest stamp on 2023, specifically in the death metal and adjacent scene in which I spend most of my time. In But Not Of opens with a quick tumble into a bespoke realm of chaos which only they could create that expands as it goes with increasingly complex but very accessible songs that sound like nothing else. This is a band I have enjoyed for years but this is by far their strongest and most cohesive work to date. I expect In But Not Of to stick with me far beyond the end of this year.
Enslaved - Heimdal
Dying Fetus - Make Them Beg For Death
Wayfarer - American Gothic
Torture Rack - Primeval Onslaught