HOWLING GIANT pick their top 10 albums of 2023.

Written by Featured

Our curated end-of-year series continues with one of our most recent heartstoppers: Tennessee’s fast-rising and unstoppable heavy prog machine HOWLING GIANT. We couldn’t be happier to have these super-skilled and super-cool dudes on board to reveal their favorite albums of the year for us.

Guitarist and vocalist Tom Polzine’s Top Albums of 2023

Dozer “Drifting in the Endless Void” (Blues Funeral Recordings)

In my opinion, Dozer is the king of current-day desert rock, and “Drifting in the Endless Void” is a jewel studded in the center of their twisted crown. Between the strong melodic hooks, and the wide dynamic range, this album has everything to offer and nothing to apologize for. If you’re new to Dozer this is the record to start with, and if you’re a returning fan this is the album you’ve been waiting for. 

REZN “Solace” (S/R)

Solace is a hazy, reverent, and heavy offering of doom and psychedelia. While listening to this record I like to imagine a version of myself walking down an infinitely winding, serpentine canyon, guided by a disembodied voice echoing off the rocks and crags. 

Restless Spirit “Afterimage” (Magnetic Eye Records)

Imagine you’re wielding a battle axe, seeking vengeance against a tyrant and his demonic horde. You’ve just carved a path through his ill-fated minions and now stand before your quarry. Perhaps it’s just a trick of the light, a reflection of the torches burning angrily on the castle walls… or perhaps there’s a glimmer of fear glistening in the eyes of your doomed nemesis. That’s what Afterimage sounds like.

Spotlights “Alchemy for the Dead” (Ipecac Recordings)

Industrial elements, with beautifully dynamic peaks and valleys. I love the contrast between clean spacey guitars/synths and the heavy wall of sound guitars. The guitar tones on this record feel like a swirling nebulous cocoon, surrounding the ever marching drum and bass groove. Some spicy production choices keep me hooked, including (but not limited to) the saxophone and slide guitars on “False Gods”. This album is melodic and patient, without sacrificing a powerful sense of drive. 

Friendship Commanders “Mass” (S/R)

Mass is an offering of heavy groove, powerful walls of riff, interwoven by vocal melodies that live rent-free in my brain for days at a time. I think what I love the most about Friendship Commanders is their ability to write a bulletproof song. “Mass” is all killer and no filler, from start to finish. It’s one thing to be able to write a riff, but to write a song that gets stuck in your head after the first listen takes years of dedication to the craft. In my opinion, this album is a masterclass on songwriting, and a roadmap to the tone zone.

Bassist Sebastian “SeaBass” Baltes’ Top Albums of 2023

1. U.D.O. “Touchdown” (Atomic Fire Records)

This record really encompasses Udo’s sound, mixing an older Accept style with fresh new grooves and riffs. It absolutely rips. 

2. Katatonia – Sky Void of Stars (Napalm Records)

This album has really been blowing me away. Their songwriting blends catchy and sometimes uplifting choruses with heavy and dark riffs. It is super fun to rock out to or even just relax and chill too. 

3. Metallica “72 Seasons” (Blackened Records)

Another record with absolutely thrashing riffs. To me, it feels very much like their classic sounds from the early records. James Hetfield is an absolute legend. 

4. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “Weathervanes (Southeastern)

Little switch up from the rest here, but I absolutely love Jason Isbell. Not only are his playing and singing phenomenal, but his songwriting is unmatched, and that’s clear in this record. Every note, beat and lyric feel like they have so much meaning behind them. 

5. Foo Fighters “But Here We Are(Roswell Records)

It’s always fun to listen to Foo Fighters records, but this one hits on a heavier level due to Taylor Hawkins. The sound of this record harkens back to older Foo records, but the intensity in the lyrics and meaning behind each song hit the hardest.

Find HOWLING GIANT on Facebook, Bandcamp and Instagram. Their new album “Glass Future” is out now on Magnetic Eye Records.

Last modified: 18 December 2023