Top 5:The Afterman: Descension - Coheed and Cambria (Progressive rock; United States)
Nightmare Ending - Eluvium (Ambient; United States)
Eluvium double album. Enough said.
Seventh Swamphony - Kalmah (Melodic death metal; Finland)
Interesting new Kalmah album featuring further explorations into life in the Finnish countryside, and interesting slower songs like "Hollo" above and "The Trapper". See also "Pikemaster".
Live - From Chaos to Eternity - Rhapsody of Fire (Symphonic Power Metal; Italy)
Rhapsody of Fire's D&D metal bombast reaches new levels of epic on this new live album.
Nemesis - Stratovarius (Power Metal; Finland)
Other 2013 Recommendations:The Nexus - Amaranthe (Melodic death/power/pop metal; Denmark/Sweden)
It's basically Swedish melodic death metal on a sugar rush.
Deceiver of the Gods - Amon Amarth (Melodic death metal; Sweden)
Wagner Reloaded - Apocalyptica (Symphonic metal/Classical; Finland)
Apocalyptica's first live album is a very interesting mix of cello-powered metal and classical music. Possibly their first album meriting the separate genre of "cello metal".
Rescue & Restore - August Burns Red (Progressive metalcore; United States)
Sleddin' Hill - August Burns Red (Progressive metalcore; United States)
This is basically a whole album version of ABR's cover of Carol of the Bells (which is on here in rerecorded form).
The Mystery of Time - Avantasia (Symphonic power/progressive metal; Germany)
The Theory of Everything - Ayreon (Progressive metal; Netherlands)
The rivalry continues: arguably better than Avantasia's new album.
Dream Theater - Dream Theater (Progressive Metal; United states)
Yes, I finally cracked and got Dream Theater's post-Portnoy albums. Drumming aside, they don't feel as distinctively Dream Theater as their earlier work, but are still interesting.
Saivon Lapsi - Eternal Tears of Sorrow (Symphonic/melodic death metal; Finland)
Skull - Evile (Thrash Metal; United Kingdom)
Blodsvept - Finntroll (Death/folk metal; Finland)
Straight Out of Hell - Helloween (Power metal; Germany)
Impermanent Resonance - James LaBrie (Progressive metal/hard rock; United States)
Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came - Jesu
Pure Heroine - Lorde (Pop; New Zealand)
Blame Marissa for getting me into this one, but it has grown on me.
Through Our Darkest Days - Mercenary (Melodic death/power metal; Denmark)
Though still not at the level of Kral or Mikkel, Rene Pedersen does a much better job carrying the band's vocal duties here.
Planetary Breathing - MyGrain (Melodic death metal; Finland)
Dark Wings of Steel - Rhapsody of Fire (Symphonic Power Metal; Italy)
RoF's new studio album is interestingly slower than usual, but certainly lived up to my expectations as a devoted fan.
The Migration - Scale the Summit (Instrumental progressive metal; United States)
Pacifica - Segue (Ambient/Electronic; United States)
As my friend Evan pointed out, this album sounds exactly like the cover looks.
Kveikur - Sigur Rós (Post rock; Iceland)
Rise - Skillet (Modern hard rock; United States)
Skillet's first concept album is a very pleasant suprise. See also some of the more anthemic tracks like "Rise" and "Circus for a Psycho".
The Living Infinite - Soilwork (Melodic death metal; Sweden)
Also a pleasant surprise: a double album of very solid melodeath from Soilwork.
Cupid's Head - The Field (Electronic/ambient; United States)
Vengeance Falls - Trivium (Metalcore/thrash; United States)
Vermis - Ulcerate (Technical death metal; New Zealand)
We As Human - We As Human (Hard rock/metal; United States)
Up-and-coming We As Human does a good job of working their Christian faith into their lyrics without beating you over the head with it. The only one of these bands I've seen live this year.
Pre-2013 Albums I Missed:The Void - Beardfish (Progressive rock; Sweden)
The Parallax II: Future Sequence - Between the Buried and Me (Progressive deathcore; United States)
Dethalbum II - Dethklok (Melodic death metal; United States)
A hilarious affectionate parody of Scandanavian death metal.
A Dramatic Turn of Events - Dream Theater (Progressive Metal; United states)
The Fall - Gorillaz (Alternative hip hop/electronic; United Kingdom)
This album is basically a series of musical reflections from the eclectic English virtual band as they toured the United States.