The Razor’s Edge – Album of the Year 2023

The Razor's Edge - Album of the Year 2023

It's been one hell of a year for us here at The Razor's Edge. New music being released on record has gone from strength to strength again this year!

All of our staff have sat and listened to literally hundreds of albums, bringing you reviews of some of the best new music, and some maybe not so good releases too. But now the year is drawing to a close, we've all sat down and drawn up our lists of our own top five albums for 2023.

Cat Finch - Editor in Chief


1. Green Lung - This Heathen Land
2. Prong - State Of Emergency
3. Urne - A Feast On Sorrow
4. Hellripper - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
5. Svalbard - The Weight Of The Mask

Although a late release in the year, Green Lung's album 'This Heathen Land' jumps straight to the top spot for 2023, a great follow up to 'Black Harvest' which was my album of the year in 2021. There are great things to come from this band.

Apart from New York's finest Prong, the rest of my top five are taken by British talent. 2023 has been a great year for British rock and metal, seeing a lot of diverse homegrown talent releasing stunning new music this year. The festival season also showcased a lot of UK talent which was excellent to see and may this continue into 2024.

Tim Finch - Deputy Editor / Photographer


1. Avatar - Dance Devil Dance
2. Green Lung - This Heathen Land
3. Baroness - Stone
4. Metallica - 72 Seasons
5. Urne - A Feast On Sorrow

It was a year with a lot of good albums yet again, and one that saw the strength of the current generation of British bands shine through, and bands like Svalbard and Those Damn Crows who sit just outside my top five also need a mention.

The likes of Urne, Metallica and Baroness released some truely inspired new music but the stand outs really were Green Lung's 'This Heathen Land' and Avatar's 'Dance Devil Dance'. Avatar joined my favourits list early in the year, and in all honesty I've not stopped listeneing to it since. Their style and image is somewhat out of left field, but this album is truely magical.

Dan Barnes - Writer

Dan Barnes

1. King 810 – K5: Follow My Tears
2. Cattle Decapitation - Terrasite
3. Godflesh - Purge
4. Shining – Shining
5. Rancid - Tomorrow Never Come

So, it’s that time again when we’re led to consider the past year’s work. The remit of a Top 5 rather than a Top 10 makes it even more difficult to choose, but here goes…

My number one release for 2023 is King 810’s Follow the Tears EP. Although only five songs and barely twenty minutes in length, this release was a bridging of the gap between AK Concerto No 47, 11th Movement in G Major and the next record and is a collection of songs, according to David Gunn, with no unifying concept. Instead, we got the confrontational Brains on the Asphalt and Holy War, the upbeat Isobel and Say Cheese and Die and the grinding Widdershins. The image might have softened a little, but the power of the music certainly hasn’t and seeing three of the five included in the live shows and being greeted with such fervour, suggests the direction of the new album will be interesting. King might be a Marmite-band, but there are enough of us devotees to lap up everything the Flint residents create. Long may they continue to do so.

In a year of awesome Death Metal, it was always going to be difficult to isolate one stand-out release. But, I managed the impossible and have gone for Cattle Decapitation’s imperious ten-track Terrasite. Just when we thought Godflesh had run out of nihilistic misery to heap on us all, we have the third new record since the World Lit Only by Fire comeback with Purge. Auteur musician, Niklas Kvarforth ended Shining’s five-year hiatus with a self-titled, unnumbered record that turned depression and sorrow into an art form. Counter to that, Rancid’s Tomorrow Never Comes was a life-affirming thirty-minutes as only the Californians – in their capacity as the greatest punk band of their generation – can manage.

Tom Atkin - Photographer

Tom Atkin

1. Pendulum - Enima
2. Metallica - 72 Seasons
3. Dope - Blood Money Part Zer0
4. Skindred - Smile
5. Godsmack - Lighting Up The Sky

Whilst being mostly alternative music since the age of 13 ( damn that makes me feel old now). Ever since hearing 'Slam' back when I was 19/20. I have had a lot of time for Pendulum. I think it was around May time they teased new music for this year, with a clip from the studio. On that you could hear a very distinctive scream. Straight away realising that it was Matt Tuck. Initially I thought this was just going to be a remix of a Bullet For My Valentine song. How wrong was i! 'Halo' was an absolutely beautiful return for them.

Colourfast felt like a return to In Silico era Pendulum. With what felt like a more classic Drum and Bass influence. Then there is Mercy Killing with Scarlxrd ( who is joining Pendulum on their 2024 tour) Starting with a very soft build up before an absolute assault on your ears.

The last song on the EP, Silent Spinner, Just seems like a fitting track, Slowed right down with a heavy bass line, with a sort of Nine Inch Nails style influence. It's weird, I can't put my finger on it. Non the less, I approve!
The EP is only 15 minutes long. But in my opinion, those are 15 minutes that are almost perfect. Pendulum are often my goto music when I want to get stuff done and I can not wait for new music from them.

Carl Black - Writer

Carl Black

1. Prong - State of Emergency
2. Gross Reality – Return to Ruin
3. Kobold - Chaos Head
4. Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite
5. Code Orange – The Above

Tommy Victor has come in at the end of the year and swiped the spoils. He's walked that delicate line between catchy hooks, aggression and groove. He has produced a greatest hits, with new songs. He’s produced a dream set list from new material only. It's one of those albums where you press play and 41 minutes later you are still waiting for the lull. That's why Prong’s State of Emergency is my album of 2023.

Rick Eaglestone - Writer

Rick Eaglestone

1. Ofnus – Time Held Me Grey and Dying
2. Wytch Hazel – IV: Sacrament
3. The Suns Journey Through the Night – Wordless
4. Host – IX
5. Weald and Woe – For The Good of The Realm

It may cliché but once again 2023 has provided another great year for studio albums.

My top five albums of 2023 have all in their own way connected with me from varying reasons such as high levels of anticipation to overall presentation and course great riffs, some where immediately given their slot positions where are others had been juggled around a bit throughout the year and even at the time of writing this. These are the albums I haven’t stopped playing or talking about throughout the year.

Even though there a three black metal albums on this list there are also sprinkles of both god and goth so you can only imagine what my streaming service site algorithm is like going into 2024, I have yet to see the top 2 on my list in a live setting, but by the end of this year and the start of the next they will be ticked of the list and the others I hope with have some UK dates in the not too distant future.

Sam Jones - Writer

Sam Jones

1. Cattle Decapitation - Terrasite
2. Sulphur Aeon - Seven Crowns and Seven Seals
3. Ascended Dead – Evenfall Of The Apocalypse
4. Horrendous – Ontological Mysterium
5. Memoriam – Rise To Power

For #1, despite all my thoughts ensuring I wouldn’t be biased, my Album Of The Year for 2023 is Cattle Decapitation’s Terrasite. Death Atlas was my 2019 Album Of The Year, just as Manufactured Extinction was my 2015 Album Of The Year too. Now, for the third time running since being a Cattle Decapitation fan, their newest record has taken my top spot for the year. Releasing singles We Eat Our Young, followed by the meteoric Scourge Of The Offspring, the band were already flexing their ability and demonstrating they still knew where to grow and evolve even after the success Death Atlas brought them. But even as the full album dropped, it became evident the band had, somehow, managed to top themselves in quality. Terrasite sees Cattle Decapitation bring their misanthropic mantra into the daylight and it may just be all the more virulent and revolting for it. Even as the record winds down, the band still hit us with monstrous pieces such as A Photic Doom, Solastalgia and the sombre closer, Just Another Body. With the album, top to tail, released it went instantly to the top of my list and, as we’ve demonstrated, nothing could shift it. Cattle Decapitation are amongst my favourite bands of all time but not without reasons why; their songwriting and evolution is simply Herculean and I’m so excited to see where they go next.

And with that, we look onwards to 2024…

Matt Noble - Writer

Matt Noble
1. Baroness - Stone
2. Tortured Demon - Rise of the Lifeless
4. Netherhall - Process
5. The Sound of Origin - Man in the Arena

In another strong year for musical releases I kept going back to 'Stone' by Baroness... and back, and back, and back again. Their first album not named after a colour, it shows this current lineup in their best light to date. Baroness have always been strong on twin-guitar melodies, but with the addition of Gina in 2017 we began to hear more in the way of rich vocal harmonies within the band. 'Gold & Grey', the first with the current lineup, didn't quite fire on all cylinders all of the time, but 'Stone' brings its best elements to the front. It feels like a real return to form, with everything that Baroness did well in the 2010s condensed into one disc. It's not reasonable to expect a return to their vintage sound, especially given that only one member from that era is left, but the catchy 'Last Word', the groovy 'Anodyne', the gentle 'Bloom' or the haunting interlude 'The Dirge' offers a lot to the Baroness listener of 2023.

Patrick O'Reilly - Writer

Patrick O'Reilly
1.  Green Lung - This Heathen Land 
2. Incantation - Unholy Deification
3. Crepitation - Monstrous Eruption of Impetuous Preposterosity
4. The Hirsch Effekt - Urian 
5. Godflesh - Purge

Catchy, groovy, retro occult rock played with passion and supreme musicianship. A trip through the darker side of the British Isles and a worthy descendent of the Gods of metal Black Sabbath. An album of quality that stirs the imagination with tales of the otherwordly and mysterious. Pure folk horror worship for the heavy metal head.

Richard Oliver - Writer

Richard Oliver

1. Wytch Hazel - IV: Sacrament
2. Green Lung - This Heathen Land
3. Insomnium - Anno 1686
4. Host - IX
5. Hellripper - Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags

It gets increasingly difficult to narrow down my favourite albums of the year with each consecutive year as I find myself listening to more and more new bands and new albums rather than slowing down and sticking to what I know and am comfortable with. It’s a year where I have rediscovered my love for more traditional metal sounds as can be seen with the bands who made the top two spots. Wytch Hazel took the top spot with their glorious “IV: Sacrament” album which is an album which wouldn’t have sounded out of place in 1979 with its mix of Thin Lizzy meets Wishbone Ash meets NWOBHM. It is uplifting and feel-good hard rock and heavy metal which lifts my mood every time I hear it.

Green Lung took second place and I have no doubt will be on a lot of lists this year. It is for good reason as “This Heathen Land” saw the band expand their sound but remain true to what has made them a force to be reckoned with in the UK heavy metal scene. Their new album is quintessentially Green Lung with those groovy stoner metal riffs but there is an extra degree of theatricality as well as boldness. Things take a darker turn for my third place album with “Anno 1696” by Insomnium which sees the band continue to release their brand of melancholic and gloomy melodic death metal but with further ventures into a more gothic sound as well as a vaster and more cinematic sound. It is absolutely beautiful stuff.

A surprising entry for fourth place was “IX” by Host which is the side project of Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh from Paradise Lost. Named after the derided “Host” album from their parent band, this sees them explore a more electronic, alternative and gothic rock sound with the album paying tribute to the alternative music scenes of the 1980’s. It’s not right if I don’t include some gnarly thrash in my top album list and quite rightly fifth place goes to Hellripper with “Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags” which is a whirlwind of gnarly thrash, old school speed metal and black metal evil. Delving into Scottish mythology for the lyrical content and with a more epic and melodic leaning, this is the most accomplished album from the Hellripper mastermind James McBain to date.

Julian Pepper - Writer

Julian Pepper

1. Domkraft – Sonic Moons
2. Din of Celestial Birds – The Night is for Dreamers
3. Ritual King – The Infinite Mirror
4. Slomatics – Strontium Fields
5. Green Lung – This Heathen Land

Swedish three piece Domkraft pull out all the stops on their fourth and strongest album to date 'Sonic Moons'. If you like your stoner/doom/sludge laced with a fair dose of psychedelic and space rock then this is the album for you. And the riffs are just AMAZING! I’ve not stopped listening to this since it was released and keep finding new things to love about it. If this one has slipped passed you this year, I suggest that your rectify that oversight immediately!

Daniel Phipps - Writer

Daniel Phipps

1. Afterbirth - In But Not Of
2. Cruciamentum - Obsidian Refractions
3. Darkall Slaves - Mephitic Redolence of the Decomposed
4. Suffocation - Hymns of Apocrypha
5. Orphalis - As The Ashes Settle

This was a tough one, was my personal album of the year, an experimental death metal masterpiece or a record I have been anticipating for months from one of the premier acts of the genre. In But Not Of is a whirlwind of a record, as it twists and turns through a variety of death metal styles culminating in an exceptional collection of tracks full of technical precision, brutality and creativity. At times where people complain that death metal is too monotonous bands like Afterbirth are here to tell them they don't know a thing they are talking about.


Gareth Pugh - Writer


1. Cirith Ungol - Dark Parade
2. Raven - All Hell's Breaking Loose
3. Green Lung - This Heathen Land
4. Overkill - Scorched
5. Autopsy - Ashes, Organs, Blood and Crypts

My top albums of the year mainly consist of old stagers, US doomsters Cirith Ungol returned with an absolutely stunning sixth album Dark Parade, quite extraordinary for a band that started in 1971! Relative newbies Raven (they only started in 1974) also impressed with their 15th studio album All Hell's Breaking Loose, the Gallagher Brothers; John and Mark have been given an extra boost by the machine that is drummer Mike Heller.

Elsewhere veterans Overkill and Autopsy proved that they both have few peers in the Thrash and Death metal genres respectively, Overkill with an amazing 20th album in Scorched and Autopsy with the gruesomely titled Ashes, Organs, Blood, and Crypts. Taking up the remaining place is possibly the best UK band around at the moment, the stunning Green Lung and their highly impressive third full length This Heathen Land, a band that just keeps getting better with every release. A tough job to whittle what has been a great year for music down to just 5 albums, and theses are some honorary mentions: Sylosis, Holy Moses, Enforced, Enforcer, Torture Squad, Hellripper, Imperium, Therapy, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse. I could go on….

Jacob Schwar - Photographer

Jacob Schwar
1. Narrow Head – Moments Of Clarity
Code Orange – The Above
3. Pupil Slicer – Blossom
4. Scowl – Psychic Dance Routine EP
5. VV – Neon Noir

Ever since seeing Narrow Head at this year’s edition of Outbreak Festival in Manchester, Moments of Clarity has been on non-stop rotation for me! To be honest, at first listen it didn’t totally click, it may have come across too ‘dreamy’ or ‘soppy’ but with some patience and many re-listens it soon became my new favourite, with tracks such as the euphoric ‘Sunday’, the menacingly grungy ‘Fine Day’ and the of course the ferocious ‘Flesh & Solitude’ being amongst my anthems of the year. On the topic of Outbreak Fest, I got to see both Code Orange and Scowl again who’s 2023 releases both made it into my top 5 respectively, The Above and Psychic Dance Routine EP were progressively different from any of the bands previous releases with tracks such as Code’s ‘I Fly’ or Scowl’s ‘Opening Night’ making for a more feelgood listen as opposed to intimidating hardcore, though that’s no say that either album was missing that hardcore edge!

My favourite release from a British band this year was with the album Blossom by Pupil Slicer, from start to finish this album is masterful in that it conveys such intense emotion both within the vocals and the extreme musicianship which has hints of both mathcore and blackened metal, really looking forward to seeing them next month as my first concert of 2024. Finally, my list wouldn’t be complete without some form of ‘gothic’ metal/rock so I had to include the album Neon Noir by VV, a fantastically bittersweet, romantic and almost sexy release which sees the official return of former HIM frontman Ville Valo as a solo artist, from the sorrowful atmosphere to the overall passion in Valo’s performance, it’s everything I love in an album and was a truly great companion during the few lowpoints of 2023.

Lana Teramae - Writer

Lana Teramae
1. Rival Sons - Darkfighter
2. Dirty Honey - Can’t Find the Brakes
3. Withering Scorn - Prophets of Demise
4. The Rolling Stones - Hackney Diamonds
5. Overkill - Scorched

2023 was a great year for new music. From experienced veterans like Overkill and Tygers of Pan Tang, to young hopefuls like Rival Sons and Dirty Honey, there was something for everyone to enjoy! When I first heard that Overkill were releasing a new studio album in 2023, I thought for sure it was going to be my album of the year because of how good their previous album, ‘The Wings of War’ (2019), was. However, I found myself going back to Rival Sons’ ‘Darkfighter’ quite often this year, even more so after I saw them live back in August. Rival Sons are one of the best modern rock bands out there today because they blend old school rock ‘n’ roll with current rock really well. Highlights from ‘Darkfighter’ include “Mirrors,” “Guillotine,” “Rapture,” “Bird in the Hand,” and “Horses Breath.”

Also, props to The Rolling Stones for ‘Hackney Diamonds,’ an album that sounds so fresh and current, while staying true to their blues roots. I mean, their last studio album of original material was from 18 years ago. So, for them to put out a solid album many years later is incredible. For the albums that didn’t make my list, I’d love to give a shout out to Spirit Adrift’s ‘Ghost at the Gallows,’ Black Stone Cherry’s ‘Screaming at the Sky,’ Alcatrazz’s ‘Take No Prisoners,’ and Elegant Weapons’ ‘Horns for a Halo.’ Can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store for new music!

Liam True - Writer

Liam True

1. Urne – A Feast On Sorrow
2. Vexed – Negative Energy
3. Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite
4. Hellripper – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
5. Fuming Mouth – Last Day Of Sun

2023 has been a great year for British metal. While Cattle Decap & Fuming Mouth hail from the states and they’re keeping their side of the pond on their shoulders with their scorching albums, Britain has retained top spot for me. Scotland's own Hellripper released a, well an absolute ripper of you’ll excuse the pun, of an album this year. Vexed released one of the most potent, diabolically heavy albums this side of 2020 & Urne dropped the most poetic & chaotic offering that blends thrashy elements with somber melodic notes that make it uncomfortable at some points.

Jon Wigg - Writer

Jon Wigg
1. Cirith Ungol - Dark Parade
2. Tribulation - Hamartia

If this ends up being Cirith Ungol's last release following their announcement that 2024 will be their last year touring, then what a way to go out. Doomy, atmospheric and quintessentially Ungol, this is the band at their heaviest, showing the youngsters how to do it. Majestic.

Matthew Williams - Writer

Matthew Williams

1. Hellripper – Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags
2. Clouds Taste Satanic – Tales of Demonic Possession
3. Coffin Mulch – Spectral Intercession
4. Green Lung – This Heathen Land
5. Fire Down Below – Low Desert Surf Club

This has been another amazing year for all genres of music, and I had this list whittled down to about 30 albums, but there was only ever going to be one that made the top spot, the February release from the magical, mythical world of James McBain, aka Hellripper.

Here you have 8 wonderfully crafted and scripted songs, exploring the darker side of Scottish history and folklore, and he’s combined that with songs that are faster than anything he’s written before, 'The Cursed Carrion Crown', with new crowd favourites such as 'The Nuckelavee' and 'Goat Vomit Nightmare'. From the first listen to every time I’ve played it since, which is quite often, I’m gobsmacked as to how brilliant it is. It’s a record that I haven’t got tired of listening to, as it’s got everything that I love about music, speed, power, aggression and brilliant content from start to finish. This album will thrust Hellripper to new heights as it shows the genius shining through and McBain is writing his own chapter into Scottish folklore.

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