Top 10 Albums of 2013

What are the best albums of the year? The votes have been counted, and it's time to find out the winner.

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What is the best rock or metal album of 2013? We asked Ultimate Guitar readers to nominate and vote for the best albums of the year as part of our annual awards ceremonies. The result is a list of records which should land straight on your shopping list, if they haven't already appeared in your collection. We still love to hear about your personal favorites from the year, even if they didn't make it to the top 10 this time. Share your reaction in the comments below. In the meanwhile, enjoy this playlist and pass on the heavy love with the 'Like' button at the end!

10. The Dillinger Escape Plan "One of Us Is the Killer"

This band have been pushing the concept of crazy kinetic music past the fringe since long before it was cool. Today they're one of the most forward-thinking bands and have the most frantic live show you'll ever see. This album takes inspiration from their early days, which sounds great with their 2013 production values.

9. Amon Amarth "Deceiver of the Gods"

If you've ever been curious about how it would sound for Vikings to travel forward in time and churn out shuddering anthemic metal on their pure instinct alone, this is it.

8. Dream Theater "Dream Theater"

Although drummer Mike Mangini played drums on Dream Theater's last album after replacing Mike Portnoy, he didn't get a chance to fully unleash his creativity until songwriting for this record began. And wow, what a drummer. Hear him smack the bajeezus out of his kit in "Illumination Theory" from their awesomely heavy new self-titled album here.

7. TesseracT "Altered State"

TesseracT gave us a progressive masterpiece in this album, which took a big stride forward from previous efforts partly thanks to new singer Amos Williams whose clean vocals helped inspire the rest of the band. "We’re still Tesseract, but with a slightly more energetic and vibrant colour about us now," says bassist Amos Williams. Sounds like a fair trade to us.

6. Protest the Hero "Volition"

These young Canadian heroes went without a record label and trust fans to stump up $125,000 on a crowdfunding site to fund this album. It worked, and the result was a stunning technical tapestry which sent Ultimate Guitar readers wild.

5. Black Sabbath "13"

It's still a little hard to believe that Black Sabbath came back and recorded a new album after decades on other projects. It almost didn't happen at all; guitarist and lead songwriter Tony Iommi was diagnosed with cancer early in the recording process. Thankfully, his recovery seems to be going well and the resulting album lived up to high expectations.

4. Alter Bridge "Fortress"

The superstar members of Alter Bridge are often on the road with other rock projects alongside the likes of Slash and others, but every time they get back together, they sure know how to make an incredible rock record. And if you have the edition with the bonus track called "Outright," consider yourself lucky: it's actually a misprint and will be corrected with the real title "Never Say Die" in the future.

3. Alice in Chains "The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here"

The second album since Alice in Chains reunited over the past decade proves that they're just as talented now as at any point in their career. Controversial words, but it's hard for an act to live up to old expectations - which makes this mighty album even more impressive.

2. Steven Wilson "The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)"

What happens when you pair one of the most respected progressive rock songwriters and producers in the world with legendary Pink Floyd engineer Alan Parsons? Why, one of the most beautiful albums of the year. Each song is based on a supernatural story, and features lyrics that will chill you to the bone and musicianship that will warm your heart.

1. Queens of the Stone Age "...Like Clockwork"

Remember last year when we polled for the most anticipated album of 2013? QOTSA were the winners by a long shot, so they had a lot to live up to. Thankfully they did, and they did it with aplomb. A series of exciting teaser animations gradually revealed the album and had fans scrapping together theories tying the animations to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. But in the end, all that mattered was how the album sounded - and it sounded f--king great.

That's the end of our official Top 10 Albums of 2013, as voted for by Ultimate Guitar readers. Do you agree with the final list? What is your favorite release? Let us know what you think in the comments, and hit the 'like' button below to share these great records with your friends.

102 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jody97
    Some honorable mentions: Ghost - Infestissumam Gorguts - Colored Sands Deafheaven - Sunbather Bad Religion - True North & Christmas Songs Voivod - Target Earth Volbeat - Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies Kvelertak - Meir Clutch - Earth Rocker August Burns Red - Rescue and Restore Motorhead - Aftershock Red Fang - Whales and Leeches Arctic Monkeys - AM Some from above deserve place IMO
    Kaseke
    I would have liked The Oceans new effort on this list as well... It was one solid album
    bevski208
    Not a bad list at all. Not entirely convinced about DT, I thought this album wasn't as good as recent efforts, but still a solid album. Hopefully we'll see Tool up here next year...
    Witt1975
    I'm with you on DT. It's a good album, but I'm a fan of the heavier DT stuff. Train Of Thought is hands down my favorite of theirs. Systematic Chaos is pretty damn good too. Having said that, way way better than anything I could ever put out...
    Darth Crow
    Actually I think that DT should be higher on the list... I definately liked it more than the new Sabbath, for example. But I'm just really glad they made it on the list
    iommi600
    Some albums that deserve a mention, IMO (not that anyone cares, of course): God is an Astronaut - Origins My Bloody Valentine - MBV Death Grips - Government Plates Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 The Fall - Re-Mit Arctic Monkeys - AM Beady Eye - BE Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks Johnny Marr - The Messenger Arcade Fire - Reflektor Sebadoh - Defend Yourself
    The Spoon
    Amos Williams is just the bassist of Tesseract. Their new singer's name is Ashe O'Hara
    LynchMobster
    I think i would have put Disarm the Descent - Killswitch Engage in place of Amon Amarth but that's just me
    Spoony_Bard
    I'm sure someone has already mentioned this, but there's an error in the Tesseract entry. Amos Williams is their bassist. The new singer is Ashe O'Hara. Pretty great list, though, all things considered.
    fugazimats
    Deafhaven, Comadre, Touche Amore, Bosnian Rainbows, Foals, Palm Reader, Wounds, Defeater... The list of great albums is endless.
    mokeefe4
    Very glad that Steven Wilson's work was recognized! Fantastic album by a fantastic musician.
    DowntownRascal
    1. Disclosure - Settle 2. Bonobo - The North Borders 3. Toro Y Moi - Anything in Return 4. AlunaGeorge - Body Music 5. James Blake - Overgrown 6. Arcade Fire - Reflector 7. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city 8. Daft Punk - Random Acces memories 9. Kanye West - Yeezus 10. Empire of the Sun - DNA
    skeetlzz
    You know it was a good year for music when good kid, m.A.A.d. city was nominated for best album and best rap album but won't in either.
    Kueller917
    Pretty representative list. Really been getting more into Steven wilson's album recently. Also giving a shout out to Sigur Ros' Kveikur, Mesita's Future Proof, and 65daysofstatic's Wild Light. So much music out there. I wish I could hear it all.
    ibanez124
    I would have put "Fortress" above "TDPDH", but that is just my personal opinion
    rkeane32
    today is not wednesday jeremey, now run off and go fetch me the newly fresh paint before the sun comes down. and dont you dare get that fair trade coffee again
    jody97
    No Sunbather from Deafheaven? Oh maybe the album is just not for ug community.
    Chickendirt
    10. Hesitation Marks-NIN (A brilliant comeback album filled with a variety of genres) 9. Overgrown-James Blake (A beautiful mix of Dubstep and Ambient elements with that voice) 8. AM-Arctic Monkeys (Just a great, sexy rock album) 7. Asymmetry-Karnivool (An amazing prog record which gets better by age) 6. Kveikur-Sigur Ros (Just beautiful) 5. Hungry Ghost-Violent Soho (As an Aussie this album just brings out everything awesome about being Aussie) 4. RAM-Daft Punk (Awesome funk and disco music where every song is different) 3. Rookie-The Trouble With Templeton (An unknown Brisbane folk band who's album brings back memories of 90sRadiohead, Jeff Buckley and even at times Portishead) 2. ...Like Clockwork-QOTSA (Above description sums it up) 1. Not Art-Big Scary (A flawless album where each song individually is great and together they sound even better. Mixes bluesy rock riffs, garage rock drums, classical piano and beautiful ballads in one album, lead by the whispery voice of Jo and the Jeff Buckley-esque voice of Tom)
    AdrianShreds97
    Tesseract, DEP, and PTH were among my favorites. Pelagial by The Ocean, Revocations self titled, ABR's "Rescue and Restore", Mandroid Echostar's "Citadels", Misery Signals "Absent Light", Singularity by Northlane and Mouth of Swords from The Safety Fire are up there too.
    godisasniper
    Sad to not see Deafheaven on here, Sunbather is a fantastic album (with some really interesting guitar parts!).
    Maximusofmetal
    Quite perfect ! ...Like Clockwork is one of the best albums of the decade ! I wouldd just add Kveikur from Sigur Ros, a very good album too
    xbgeox
    Uuuuh I thought hesitation marks was insane. They let Trent slip in the top 10 songs as well... Where is the nin love?
    Freddiez79
    the new queens of the stone age was not that damn good. they could have done better and have.
    GodzillaRAWRRR
    So was I the only person who thought that Like Clockwork album was crap?
    Doctor.Dolittle
    For ****s sake, I hate comments like this. There are more than 7 billion people on the planet. No, you aren't the only person that thinks Like Clockwork was crap.
    robo37
    No... just there were a lot more people who thought it was a stellar album.
    utopiakorn
    This list mostly sucks, but only in my opinion. But I guess that is the good part is that it is all subjective and to each his own.
    Toadvine
    Queens of the Stone Age was my vote. I really wanted to vote for Lightning Bolt, but alas I was sorely disappointed when it finally came out.
    Dalamander
    Take out Alter Bridge and replace it with MBV, then this list is perfect.
    Jigsawwill
    Alter Bridge's album was amazing.
    Logan_B
    Alter Bridge and Alice In Chains, two very deserving bands on this list. They brought some amazing tunes to the table this year!!!!
    acdcfan34
    Alter Bridge definitely belongs here. It was amazing and was actually higher than that on a lot of lists I've seen.
    TaV0
    I agree with this, My Bloody Valentine's MBV is awesome, but hey, people has voted and this are the winners. All in all, this is a solid list.
    CJSchecter96
    so replace one of the most real hard rock bands with some winy little wannabe rock band? no thanks. Alter Bridge deserves its place there.
    xHayZ
    Not bad, just wish Daft Punk, Cage the Elephant, Portugal the Man, or Vampire Weekend were on there.
    padrah
    I don't think Daft Punk really deserve to be on this list. Don't get me wrong, I liked the album. But I still think they're dance music: thus, it doesn't really fit in here.
    Kueller917
    It's the top albums of 2013, not the top rock albums of 2013, or top albums of 2013 that are similar. Although I wouldn't put it either just cause I only found a few tracks memorable.
    jonathan.keeler
    I was honestly a little disappointing TesseracT album. I think the lack of screams was a little lackluster.
    ledzep426
    I totally agree on #1 completely, but I think Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire and Paul McCartney deserve more love than some generic metal bands on the lower half of the list.
    isaac.diskin
    So no Cage the Elephant or Arctic Monkeys? Not to mention tons of other indie/alt rock bands with new albums
    CWhiteGuitar
    Am was the second worse album released by The Arctic Monkeys. I like trashy song lyrics and lazy riffs as much as the next guy, but we all know they can do better. Am and Suck It and See, just makes it seem like The Arctic Monkeys are somewhat through being an alternative rock band and want to transform into the British Maroon 5.
    s.m.boyt
    'The raven...' was lined up to be my album of the year until i heard Hell's 'Curse and chapter'. Honestly one of the most underrated bands around, and maybe the most underrated live band...
    Arthurman
    Hatebreed - Divinity of Purpose, ffs -.- whats with that Clocwork hype. Getting real tired of this shit...