END OF YEAR GUEST POST: Justin Pierrot of Stormland – Top 15 Albums of 2023

We are still wrapping up all the goodness of 2023 with some fun guest posts from bands, friends, and fiends! Check out this list from Mobile-suit Gundam-inspired Technical Death Metal artist Justin Pierrot of Stormland! Justin is working on a new release for 2024, following his stellar last album, The Human Cost!

First off, I want to thank Keefy and the Ghost Cult Gang for giving me the opportunity to shout out some of my favourite releases of 2023. They’re a great lot, and a pleasure to work with. I’m not going to list these in any particular order, but here are 15 albums I listened to a bunch this year. Some of these show up on some lists, but a surprising amount may be new to you. I hope you’ll take the time to check out at least one of these albums and hopefully find a new song/LP/band to nerd out over!
Justin Pierrot, Stormland

Afterbirth – In But Not Of
I firmly believe that with the release of In But Not Of, New York’s Afterbirth expanded the horizons of what’s possible in terms of progressive brutal death metal. Is it heavy as Hell? Absolutely. But it also possesses a stark, otherworldly beauty in many places and does so in a way that’s separate from deathgazers like Ulcerate and Kardashev. A stunning listen for any fan of forward-thinking metal.


Extermination Dismemberment – Dehumanization Protocol
Belarusian slam kings Extermination Dismemberment returned this year after a long absence, and they hit hard. Ostensibly a concept album about a robot uprising that is in the process of wiping out humanity, these 12 songs hit hard like tank cannons. In fact, in a unique production decision, the band makes use of overwhelming bass drops throughout the album that simulate the temporarily deafening effects of explosions. With riffs for lifts, catchy slams, and a lyrical story worth paying attention to, it’s no wonder this album kept my attention all through 2023.


The Beaches – Blame My Ex
For my money, The Beaches are one of Canada’s best active rock bands. A mix of indie-ish rock and new wave, the band’s charming emotional honesty and bluntly wry lyrical tendencies set them apart from their more pretentious contemporaries (Alvvays would never include the line “itty bitty titty committee” in a song, much less in a radio single). Their latest album, inspired by a bad break-up on the part of frontwoman Jordan Miller, hits every point on the emotional spectrum from brash impulsivity to wistful introspection. It’s not what you’d expect on a “metal” list, but it’s absolutely, 100% worth your time.


Zenith Passage – Datalysium
Zenith Passage’s Datalysium was, per Spotify, my most listened to new release of 2023. And with good reason! With a mix of finger-twisting guitar work, funkily technical grooves, lush layering, and superb songwriting, Justin McKinney and Co.’s latest album sunk its hooks into my brain and didn’t let go. A treatise on loneliness in the age of technology, unimpeachably produced by the modern master of metal production, Dave Otero, Datalysium reaches out like a ghost in the machine to wrap itself around your brain and never let go.


Adzes – Inver
It takes a special post-metal album to really catch my ears, and Adzes’ Inver is one of those special albums. That’s because of how multi-instrumentalist Forest Bohrer smartly alloys grunge, shoegaze, and sludge elements together in one captivating package. The songs have a wonderful flow to them, with structures fine-tuned to keep the album engaging through the entirety of its 52 minute run-time. It’s a beautiful listen, especially for a rainy day.


Sol Negate – On the Verge of Dreaming Again
The debut album from Seattle-based multi-instrumentalist Edoardo, Sol Negate’s debut album is fully realized and engaging work of symphonic progressive death metal. Featuring ex-Allegaeon vocalist Riley MacShane and Obsidious drummer Sebastian Lanser as studio musicians, this concept album on death and dreaming flew under most people’s radars in 2023 and that’s truly a shame.

Wormhole – Almost Human
“Eerie” is not an adjective one would expect to hear when describing a slam album, but Wormhole aren’t your average slam band. No, the self-described “Tech-Slam” act bring a tasteful use of dissonant lead guitar work to the table along with their future-bred, neck-snapping rhythms. It is brutality at its most brutal, but for the refined metalheads among us.


The Hives – The Death of Randy Fitzsimmons
One of the most unexpected surprises of 2023 for me was the return of the Hives, with their first full-length in 11 years. An exhilarating garage rock buzzbomb, the album quickly reaches the heights of the bands initial peak in the 00s and stays there on the strength of its short, snappy songs and snark-inflected lyrical delivery. A great return to form for band in their middle age.


Filth Is Eternal – Find Out
It’s been a great year for Seattle in terms of quality releases, as Filth Is Eternal is the second band to make my favourites list in 2023. Their latest album, Find Out, is a vicious hardcore punk album with tinges of grunge and riot grrl rounding out the sound. The songs are hooky, short, and to the point, with the whole album clocking in at less than half an hour. Seriously, what else are you going to do with that time? Watch a random sitcom re-run? Trust me, listening to Filth Is Eternal’s Find Out is a far better use of your 28 minutes.


Cannibal Corpse – Chaos Horrific
Look, it’s a Cannibal Corpse album. Their quality control is second to none, and they’ve hit new peaks with the addition and integration of Erik Rutan. There is absolutely no reason not to get down with this. Put it on and start headbanging as hard as you can in the desperate hope you’ll have a neck as glorious as Corpsegrinder’s one day.


Necropanther – Betrayal
Colorado’s Necropanther continues their ascent to the highest of rocky mountain highs with their latest album,” Betrayal”! An absolute ripper of vaguely blackened death-thrash, this album showcases the band’s ever-improving songwriting and some tasty, tasty leads from guitarists Paul Anop and Joe Johnson. Be sure to give this one a listen!


Entheos – Time Will Take Us
Time Will Take Us is an album that finds Entheos in an interesting place. It’s a strong album, absolutely, but it’s also the sound of a band in a chrysalis. You can hear where they’ve been, what they were, certainly. But you also hear that the band is in the middle of evolving into something ne¡w and different. The duo of Navene Koperweis and Chaney Crabb are pushing their technical progressive death metal into new and moodier corners and if this is what they’re doing in the bands pupal stage, I can’t wait to see what kind of butterfly the band will emerge as.

Nuclear Power Trio – Wet Ass Plutonium
So, let me get this out of the way first: I know some of you didn’t check this out for a variety of reason. You don’t like fusion, you don’t like the gimmick, you’re a fun-hating dork who’d rather listen to some quacking panda yowling about Satan over tremolo-picked minor thirds on a poorly recorded guitar for 80 minutes at a time, yada yada yada. It is what it is, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you’re intentionally missing out on the most fun instru-metal album of 2023. Donnie, Kim, and Vlad (we’re keeping kayfabe, here) have levelled up their “Latin Fusdjent” stylings and brought a whole gaggle of friends along for the ride. So lighten up, turn it up, and take a moment to “Nyetflix and Chill” with the Nuclear Power Trio!

Lightbreaker – The Annihilation of the Annealids
You may have been wondering what guitarist Leon del Muerte has been up to these days. In between various hired-gun gigs and re-appearing as an extended member of the Exhumed family, Leon’s been busy at home recording a death metal space opera of all things! And a damn good one at that! Del Muerte teams with co-vocalists Uta Plotkin (Witch Mountain), Quinton Gardner, and Elizabeth Schall (Dreaming Dead, Cretin) to deliver an experience that wouldn’t be out of place being performed on a proper theatre stage.


Sublation – On the Advancement of Decay
While there may be debate as to whether or not this is an album or an EP – the band calls it an EP, but its length and scope make it a full-length in my mind – one thing is for certain: Sublation ended 2023 on a high note with the release of On the Advancement of Decay. Taking the titular concept into practice both in terms of songwriting and in production methodology, the band starts the album with high-precision technical death metal and gradually devolves it into something rawer, blacker, and bleaker.