After a year of concerts, interviews, and non-stop listening, these are my picks for the best in rock and metal for 2013! Share your favorites in the comments.
10. Butcher Babies – Goliath

Century Media’s Butcher Babies are the epicenter of hard rock and metal. Everywhere you go, this band either pops up in the conversation or, if you reside in LA, literally pops up. The band’s members are constantly making cameos on stages, appearing on red carpets, crowd surfing at the Palladium, or taking shots at the bar — the energy of this band is insane. Butcher Babies’ debut album with Century Media showcases the dynamic vocals of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, backed by the impressive musicianship of their band members. “I Smell A Massacre” is the band in a microcosm: fast, heavy, melodic, sexy, and everything metal is moving towards in 2014. Listen: “I Smell A Massacre

9. Nothing More – Self Titled

Nothing More Rock’s best kept secret (for now) is Nothing More. Hailing from Texas, these alternative rockers made their big debut on the main stage at this year’s Aftershock Festival, and their Coheed and Cambria-meets-Rage Against the Machine style resulted in one of the most refreshing and unique releases of 2013. The album’s insanely addictive tracks such as “Christ Copyright” and “Sex & Lies” should (hopefully) hit the airwaves sooner rather than later because there is no reason Nothing More shouldn’t be a household name. Listen: “Christ Copyright

8. Escape the Fate – Ungrateful Escape-the-Fate ungrateful

A departure from the dance tracks that put them on the map, the fourth studio album by Las Vegas’ Escape the Fate was referred to by the band’s management as the “graduation” of ETF. The no-b.s. album dove into the darker side of ETF, and heavy rock tracks such as “Ungrateful” and “Insane” were a big statement to the rock and metal world that Escape the Fate is not only back, but ready to mix it up with the genre’s heaviest hitters. Listen: “Ungrateful

7. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 2 ffdp volume 2

Five Finger Death Punch’s second volume of The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell was a not-so-subtle reminder that FFDP virtually dominated hard rock and metal in 2013. Both offerings (Volume 1 & Volume 2) were front-to-back examples of why Ivan Moody and company are some of the best songwriters, performers, and artists in active rock. The lead single, “Battle Born,” is a perfect example of how the LA/Vegas rockers are making heavy music accessible to mainstream audiences. Listen: “Battle Born

6. Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks nine inch nails hesitation marks

Anything Trent Reznor touches turns to gold (albums, Oscars…), which is why Hesitation Marks was one of the most anticipated releases of not just 2013, but the past five years — considering that was the last time NIN released a record. Probably the best “mood” album of the year, Hesitation Marks makes you want to light candles and lock the doors…. Listen: “Came Back Haunted

5. Ministry – From Beer to Eternity Ministry From-Beer-To-Eternity

The farewell album for the six-time Grammy-nominated Ministry is a testament to why Al Jourgensen is an industrial metal icon. From Beer to Eternity features some of the best songwriting, engineering, and sheer musicality of the year – across all genres. The album should be listened to from start to finish with no breaks in between to fully appreciate the sonic genius of the effort. Listen: “Hail to His Majesty (Peasants)

4. Killswitch Engage – Disarm the Descent Killswitch engage disarm

With the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, Killswitch Engage has resurrected the sound that put the Massachusetts band on the map ten years ago with the release of Alive or Just Breathing. The lead single, “In Due Time,” is one of the best melodic metal offerings of the year and the rest of the album follows suit. Listen: “In Due Time

3. Volbeat – Outlaw Gentleman & Shady Ladies volbeat_ogsl

Drawing inspiration from spaghetti Westerns, the latest offering from Volbeat takes listeners through a series of stories brought to life in the band’s rock-meets-rocakbilly-meets-metal style. The addition of former Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano is what pushed this record and Volbeat’s live show over the edge in 2013. Listen: “Lola Montez

2. Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King Avenged-Sevenfold-Hail-to-the-King-New-Single-Art

Arguably the most hyped hard rock album of the year, Hail to the King was all anyone (in this world) talked about this summer. Luckily, the album lived up to its insane hype, and the throwback style united metal purists and mainstream listeners alike, proving that rock can still survive in radio. The title single, “Hail to the King,” reigns as the best single musical offering the genre saw in all of 2013. Listen: “Hail to the King

1. Five Finger Death Punch – The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell, Vol. 1 ffdp wrong side 1

Five Finger Death Punch’s biggest dilemma in 2013 was narrowing down which tracks made the cut for the band’s fourth studio album. Luckily, the Las Vegas/Los Angeles outfit had so many songs to choose from, they decided to release two volumes. The Wrong Side of Heaven & The Righteous Side of Hell, Volume 1 tops the list for several reasons, mainly because it is the most complete hard rock release of the year. Volume 1 is reminiscent of the fast and heavy The Way of the Fist, while also showing the maturation of FFDP’s signature heavy, ultra-melodic style. Volume 1 features some of rock’s best collaborations of the year, including the album’s first single, “Lift Me Up,” featuring Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Listen: “Lift Me Up” (Feat. Rob Halford) Up Next: The Top Five Rock | Metal Albums by SoCal Artists…