Top Ten Of 2023: Josh Schneider

There are more and more incredible albums released each year and this doesn’t get easier. The first year I had a few albums extra on my list that were tough to cut out, but this year there is an exorbitant amount of music that could make the top ten. A mix of well-established bands and new bands have created albums that have been the soundtrack to my year.

Josh Schneider - 2023

I’m grateful to be able to compile a Top Ten that people will actually read (hopefully) and enough of my whining about how hard it was to choose, let’s get to it!

10. All Hell ‘All Hail The Night’

All Hell 'All Hail The Night' Artwork

I’m not a big fan of fast paced blackish metal. The slow droning doom is more my speed. But All Hell have changed that with their recent EP All Hail The Night. The energy exuded through the speakers is unmatched and hook you from the start. Seeing these songs live also helped solidify my love for the band and having guest vocals from Skeletonwitch‘s Nate Garnette is epic.

Label: Terminus Hate City Records

9. Auralayer ‘Thousand Petals’

Auralayer 'Thousand Petals' Artwork

The album art is unique with a giant pink flower but still has a dark vibe. It’s perfect for their unique blend of inspiration found in the members of Auralayer and combining those to create a distinctive take on heavy music with catchy hooks. King Volume Records has quite a lineup of bands and adding Auralayer was a perfect fit! The band are at the beginning of their story and people will be talking about Thousand Petals for years to come.

Label: King Volume Records

8. Restless Spirit ‘Afterimage’

Restless Spirit 'Afterimage' Artwork

Speaking of labels having killer lineups, let’s talk about Magnetic Eye Records. They are stock full of amazing bands and two have landed on this list. Each release is killer and Restless Spirit is the perfect addition to an impeccable lineup. Afterimage expands on the band’s previous work but is also fueled by some dark times that lead singer Paul Aloisio experienced, and as the songs were written during this challenging period, the result is an album of extremely powerful and thought-provoking music.

Label: Magnetic Eye Records

7. 20 Watt Tombstone ‘The Chosen Few’

20 Watt Tombstone ‘The Chosen Few’ Artwork

Heavy blues with some country twists but can keep up with doom/stoner bands is an impressive feat that I believe only 20 Watt Tombstone can accomplish. The Chosen Few is outstanding, opening with the powerful Prophet Man while Black Top Sorrow is my current favorite and one of the heavier songs on the album. The band also incorporates not one, but two covers, something that I don’t normally like to see on an album. However, the artists chosen included Chris Stapleton and ZZ Top and were intensified from the original tracks that fitted perfectly in the mix of their own material.

Label: Independent

6. Stoned Jesus ‘Father Light’

Stoned Jesus 'Father Light' Artwork

Seven Thunders Roar shook up my musical world and changed the way I thought of music and when Stoned Jesus announced Father Light, it was tough to contain my excitement. The minimalist album cover is eye-catching, but the emotionally fueled music truly grabs and holds your attention, and the album has solidified me as a lifelong fan. On top of that, the band has been through a lot over the last couple of years. Fellow scribe Lee Beamish said it best in his review of Father LightThe best way to beat an oppressive regime is to rise beyond, and show that you won’t be beaten, and with this new album, Stoned Jesus prove they aren’t bowing down to anyone’.

Label: Season Of Mist

5. Howling Giant ‘Glass Future’

Howling Giant 'Glass Future' Artwork

Howling Giant is as grand as the fantasy worlds they create and Glass Future has pushed the band to new heights as each groove of the vinyl builds vast worlds with soaring vocals and heavy riffs. The three musicians are incredibly talented and put their heart and soul into creating a complete piece of art from the album cover to the music within. Combining my love for metal and sci-fi/fantasy novels, this album was a no brainer for my top ten list.

Label: Magnetic Eye Records

4. Modern Technology ‘Conditions Of Worth’

Modern Technology 'Conditions Of Worth' Artwork

I jumped on the chance to review this album because their prior long-player was amazing. The London noise-rock duo Modern Technology are ferocious with pummeling drums, fuzzed low end bass riffs and soul wrenching growling vocals. Each track coincides with the last and the listener weaves through the album seamlessly and I said it before, but I’ll say it again the drum tone is flawless.

Label: Human Worth

3. REZN & Vinnum Sabbathi ‘Silent Future’

REZN & Vinnum Sabbathi 'Silent Future' Artwork

REZN put two albums out this year and both could be on this list easily. I chose Silent Future because I was blown away by it. The introduction to Vinnum Sabbathi was huge as well because I’ve soaked up all their releases since! This isn’t a split, but a true collaboration fusing their unique elements creating a beautiful piece of art. REZN and Vinnum Sabbathi have exceeded expectations which were already so high when I heard this was going to be released.

Label: Blues Funeral Recordings

2. Spotlights ‘Alchemy For The Dead’

Spotlights 'Alchemy For The Dead'

Spotlights are a band that Blues Funeral had on their PostWax series and I wasn’t sure anything could top We Are All Atomic as Part II is one of my all-time favorite songs, but then they released Alchemy For The Dead through their new home Ipecac Recordings. False Gods quickly became a common thing to hear at home and Mario Quintero‘s vocals toward the end are impressive. Chris Enriquez memorable drum beats accompanied by Sara Quintero‘s driving bass create moments that the listener craves to hear again and again.

Label: Ipecac Recordings

1. We Follow The Earth ‘Lightbearer’

We Follow The Earth 'Lightbearer' Artwork

I love coming across a band that were never on the radar and become an all-consuming listening adventure. We Follow The Earth are exactly that. This post-metal band released their first album Lightbearer earlier this year and was created and recorded by Matthew Crotts. The atmospheric metal takes you in a journey through space where Earth is dying, and a crew are attempting to find a new habitat for humans. Spoken word sections of communication between Earth and the crew of the exploration ship are haunting moments between the powerful music.

Crotts vocals are phenomenal and channeling some of my favorite band such as ISIS, Ufomammut and Neurosis. One particular moment that leaves chills every time I listen to it is in Lost In Silence where the more serene moments explode with forceful screams at the around minute mark. This is the music I’ve been searching for and finding it so close to home is beyond belief.

Label: Independent

Honourable Mentions

Borracho ‘Burning The Lines Of Reality’
Perfect moly fuzzed out riffs that remind me of Truckfighters with powerful vocals in the style of Clutch. What’s not to love about this album and band.

Ufomammut ‘Crookhead’ EP
Three astonishing songs on this EP to build anticipation for a killer LP hopefully arriving in early 2024, I love this band.

Friendship Commanders ‘Mass’
I missed them coming through Asheville recently but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this album and the stories told.

REZN ‘Solace’
This could have easily made my top ten but since their collaboration with Vinnum Sabbathi is on it, I’ll put this exceptional album here.

Scribed by: Josh Schneider