This is the countdown of my 15 best albums of 2023. As some of you probably have noticed, I have once again lost control of the death metal, black metal and doom metal 2023 summations. And I think the reason is quite obvious; I just don’t listen to enough extreme metal anymore. Due to that, I’ll probably stop trying to do this lists, and figure out some other way to recommend music. Anyway, enough excuses! These are my top 15 albums of 2023.

About me –, music and more

Stefan Nordström - metal musician and content creator
  • Stefan Nordström
  • Musician, songwriter, content creator, digital freelancer
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Bands: Desolator, Soliloquium, Ending Quest, Ashes of Life, Trees of Daymare, The Ashen Tree
  • Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Top 15 albums of 2023: 15-10

Dawn of Ouroboros - Velvet Incandescence - one of my top 15 best albums of 2023

My overall assessment of 2023 as a musical year is that it’s been a relatively weak one. However, a relatively weak musical year still means many great albums! Speaking of that, here are some albums that almost made it: Voyager, Crosses, Acres and Deadly Carnage.

15. Marianas Rest – Auer

This band has always been a quality guarantee, and “Auer” is no exception. Marianas Rest are bringers of classic Finnish darkness, in the absolute best sense of the word. A must for fans of death/doom and melodic death metal!

14. Dawn of Ouroboros – Velvet Incandescence

I’ve always advocated for this band, so I’m glad to see that people are opening their eyes to the awesomeness of DoO. The band’s sophomore album is another varied offering that merges different extreme and non-extreme styles into an awesome, coherent mix.

Listen: “Rise from Disillusion”

13. Sleep Token – Take Me Back to Eden

Not quite sure what do with this album. On one hand, many of the songs are among my most listened during 2023. On the other hand, it doesn’t flow well at all as an album, and some songs are pure throwaways. I’m pretty sure Sleep Token peaked with album 2 already. Can’t deny there’s some ear-candy on this one, though, even if the hype is a bit out of sync with the band’s musical trajectory.

12. Suffocation – Hymns From the Apocrypha

Judging by the 2022 live performances and the long window since the latest album, I figured this would be a banger. And it is! It’s brutal and technical as hell, filled with the psychotic grinding and chugging that is synonymous with Suffocation.

11. Katatonia – Sky Void of Stars

It’s always a weird one when one of your favorite bands kind of disappoints you, but you still listen to the album a lot. How do you rate it? Well, I don’t know exactly. I do know that “Sky Void of Stars” is one of my least favorite Katatonia albums, and that’s unlikely to change.

As much as I dig the opening and closing tracks, as well as “Opaline” and “Author”, this just doesn’t get there. I think it’s a lot thanks to the album’s one-sided tempo and nature. It might be also simply be due to the fact that I just don’t like Katatonia as much as I used to.

Top 15 albums of 2023: 10-6

The Wounded - The Sky is Yours - one of my top 10 favorite albums of 2023

10. Insomnium – Anno 1696

In the wake of “Heart Like a Grave”, I wasn’t sure if I needed a new Insomnium album yet, especially with a historical theme that doesn’t quite resonate with me. But I’ve grown to like “Anno 1696”, and the epic “Godforsaken” in particular. Really impressive how they keep releasing such high-quality material so far into their career.

9. Ocean of Grief – Pale Existence

I usually describe this band as guitar melody porn. Initially, I wasn’t sure if this album was as strong as the band’s debut, but over time it has proven to be. If you like melodic death/doom metal in the style of Slumber, Enshine and Daylight Dies, you will no doubt love this!

Listen: “Dale of Haunted Shades”

8. The Wounded – The Sky is Yours

One of the most underrated dark bands ever sneakily put out an album in 2023. And it’s wonderful, of course! So much emotion, and I will definitely continue my work in showing the world the beauty of The Wounded. Some of the most genuinely sad music out there.

Listen: “White Spider”

7. Depeche Mode – Memento Mori

It was very surprising to see Depeche Mode come out with their best album since “Playing the Angel”. But damn, it’s a pleasant surprise! “Memento Mori” is a lovely existentially drenched album, featuring several of my favorite songs of 2023. So why isn’t it higher on the list, then? Well, the downside is that the album is slightly uneven, with a few songs I tend to skip.

6. Cattle Decapitation – Terrasite

Even with my raging old guy sellout tendencies, there are extreme metal bands I just can’t avoid spinning. Cattle Decapitation is probably the best example at this point. For me, this is the third excellent album in a row from the band, really proving that they’re way ahead of most of the pack. “Terrasite” is both brutal, epic and catchy, with a 10/10 vocal performance to match the music.

Top 15 albums of 2023: 5-1

Kaunis Kuolematon - Mielenvalta - one of my top 5 albums of 2023

5. Silent Skies – Dormant

I’ve always had a thing for Tom Englund’s slick and emotional voice, but damn, it really excels in this environment. Silent Skies is a piano-oriented collaboration with virtuoso Vikram Shankar that grew on me immensely during 2023. Wonderful album and unexpected top 5 entry.

4. Kaunis Kuolematon – Mielenvalta

A new Kaunis album is always a highlight, and “Mielenvalta” is no exception. I just can’t get enough of the band’s unique mix of extreme metal rage, Nordic melodies and Mikko’s clean vocals. Once again, some of the most intense parts are absolutely goosebump-inducing. Such a special band!

Listen: “Peilikuva”

3. Slowdive – Everything is Alive

I loved Slowdive’s self-titled comeback album, and luckily “Everything is Alive” is exactly follow-up that I wanted. Another dreamy, nostalgic, happy-sad release filled with beauty and nice hooks. Not much innvoation going on, but who needs that when the atmosphere is this damn good?

2. Klone – Meanwhile

Klone has been one of my most listened bands over the past few years. It’s unlikely to stop, since “Meanwhile” is right on par with previous strong releases. As always, the band relies heavily on vocalist Yann Ligner’s sharp and emotional voice. The album might not have the standouts like “Yonder”, “Nebulous” or “Immersion” from the previous two, but it stands strong on its own merit.

1. Riverside – ID.Entity

“ID.Entity” became my favorite album early on and stayed there throughout 2023. Riverside really reinvigorated themself with this album, that somehow reminds me a lot of Rush’s 80’s pop-driven “Power Windows” album. Only, this one is somehow about social media and polarization instead. I dig the crap out of everything, from songwriting to energy and music style. Truly a unique, standout album in their long discography, and a worthy 2023 album of the year.

Listen: “Friend or Foe?”

Best albums of 2023 – summary

What does your list look like? Did you find something interesting in mine? Feel free to hit me up on Instagram, and if you appreciate my content, the best way to show it is to check out my band Soliloquium and buy some merch.

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