Exclaim!'s Best of 2013: Top 10 Metal & Hardcore Albums

10. Windhand

Despite this being their second album, these Richmond, VA doomsters seemingly appeared out of nowhere this year. They released a critically acclaimed split EP with Cough before dropping this full-length consisting of introspective yet punishing groove-heavy tracks, anchored by singer Dorthia Cottrell's plaintive, androgynous vocals.

Like Pallbearer on 2012's Sorrow and Extinction, Windhand aims to provide emotionally heavy riffage and modernize the doom scene with a deceptively gentle feel. Cottrell's lyrics, while impressive, are pretty miserable, but her delivery makes the tales about misery and Satan weirdly sensual. While there is a danger in the monolithic nature of their music — they don't deviate too much from their preferred chord progressions — they change things up just enough to keep things interesting, as with the beautiful harmonies of the acoustic standout "Evergreen." Do they reinvent the doom/stoner wheel? No, but their flourishes make Soma a definite standout. (Laina Dawes)