Monday, January 7, 2013

2012: The Year In Metal - Top 20

So here it is, a few weeks late. I'm going to limit my commentary to albums that got less attention from other sources and sites; this might also be the only 2012 metal top 20 you'll see without Pallbearer. Enjoy.

#20: Goatwhore - Blood For The Master

At this point, everyone just expects these guys to put out solid albums every two years. That's no easy task, especially considering they're on the road more often than not. 10 more excellent slabs of black/death/thrash. Hail!

#19: Orange Goblin - A Eulogy For The Damned

Another band that's been around forever without a single dud in their discography. They should be way more popular than they are.

#18: Dying Fetus - Reign Supreme

This one took me by surprise. It's definitely their best album since Destroy The Opposition.

#17: Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships

The last great album of 2012, metal or otherwise.

#16: Gaza - No Absolutes In Human Suffering


#15: Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay


#14: Lecherous Gaze - On The Skids

From the ashes of Annihilation Time comes a band that sounds like Alice Cooper jamming with Blue Oyster Cult and Ted Nugent. Your favorite driving album is here.

#13: Corrosion Of Conformity - COC

Back to their Pepper-less power trio, COC revisits their hardcore punk roots while incorporating the stoner groove that put them on the map. A unique album, and a real grower.

#12: Hooded Menace - Effigies Of Evil

The audio version of The Blind Dead films. Keep it creepy.

#11: Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance

Roaring back with their best album in years, Incantation buries their second-rate imitators. Fools!

#10: Unsane - Wreck

In Unsane's world, the Lower East Side is still scary to walk through at night and Helmet are still relevant. Who wouldn't want to live there?


   #9: Bone Dance - Bone Dance

An amalgamation of sludge, grindcore, noise and nihilism - straight from Boise. You might wanna move the furniture if you're blasting this on 11.

#8: Pig Destroyer - Book Burner


#7: Torche - Harmonicraft

The album with my favorite song of 2012. 


#6: Evoken - Atra Mors


#5: Baroness - Yellow & Green


#4: High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis


#3: Napalm Death - Utilitarian


#2: 16 - Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds

This album was inexplicably missing from multiple (usually) reliable end-of-year lists. Considering how much doom dominated 2012, I figured people wouldn't be turned off by the depressive weight that 16 conveys. Maybe it's that after 20 years, in age of countless microgenres, this band is still undefinable. Sludge, noise, doom, whatever else; it's pop music for junkies. Tune in, turn up, burn out.

#1: Serpentine Path - Serpentine Path

This didn't get nearly as much attention as I thought it would. All the members of Unearthly Trance plus Tim Bagshaw (Electric Wizard/Ramesses)? Done deal. And unlike certain other "supergroups", the sum is indeed equal to the parts. This is death/doom that can crush worlds. As I said earlier, there were a ton of options in 2012 for this kind of thing. I say Serpentine Path did it best.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012: The Year In Metal, #40-21

#40: Grave - Endless Procession Of Souls

Death metal has mutated wildly over the years, to the point that there is an entire subgenre of revivalists keeping it "old school". It doesn't get much older than Grave; 25 years in, these guys are still putting out top-notch albums. They have more groove than many of the new breed bands, something I wish the young'uns would pick up on.

#39: Cannibal Corpse - Torture

Speaking of old-school...yep, CC will never die. You know exactly what you're getting here, and that's a compliment. There's also the added bonus of a few Alex Webster bass solos; that guy is a beast.

#38: Panopticon - Kentucky

Bluegrass black metal. Don't ask my how or why, but it works. Really well.

#37: Inverloch - Dusk...Subside

Were you ever in a groundbreaking band that produced a single amazing album, then years later played in a sort-of tribute band to your own band, then decided the other guys in the tribute band were good enough to start a new band with you that sounds almost as good as your first band? Me too!

#36: Fight Amp - Birth Control

This band has been consistently excellent over the course of their existence, and Birth Control continues the tradition of ugly, grooving noise rock. Memorable hooks get filtered through a grimy sieve of abrasiveness, and it all fits together like a demented child's puzzle.

#35: Dragged Into Sunlight - Widowmaker

A three-track lumbering beast, Widowmaker lulls you into a false relaxation with a long, ambient Western Gothic passage that abruptly lurches into full blown death metal that also incorporates some thrash and sludge elements. This is not for everybody, and I'd like it to stay that way.

#34: Bison B.C. - Lovelessness

This is a departure from Bison B.C.'s last two albums, with much longer songs and a "less is more" approach. Songs replete with twin guitar leads and instantly headbangable riffs abolish all notions of songs possibly dragging.

#33: Witchcraft - Legend

To be honest, this is a really overrated record. It's great, but it's not "this is my new favorite thing" great. 70s proto-doom is easy to do, and there is no shortage of bands aping that sound right now. Legend doesn't hold up to Witchcraft's previous output, but it's much better than a lot of what passes for "retro" these days.

#32: Black Breath - Sentenced To Life

These guys love Entombed, but who doesn't? Every song on this album is a mosh anthem, and it's really hard not to nod your head or pump your fist at any given second. Don't be surprised if you get caught speeding if you play this in your car.

#31: Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast

Another case of "yep, I know it before I hear it, and it's awesome." Plus, one of the greatest music videos ever made.

#30: Dopethrone - III

Canadian Sleep/Electric Wizard worship with Iron Monkey vocals. Love it or hate it.


#29: Like Rats - Like Rats

They don't sound like Godflesh at all, but they still rule. It's d-beat metallic hardcore that rises above the million other bands with the same descriptor. Push and pull.

#28: Alcest - Les voyages de l'ame

It's weepy, melancholic and Young Werther would have been their #1 fan. But these songs also have threads of uplifting, youthful tones. Happy black metal? Not quite, but close enough.

#27: Overkill - The Electric Age

#26: Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth

#25: Kreator - Phantom Antichrist

I didn't group these because they are interchangeable; to the contrary, each of these thrash institutions established their respective sound and identity decades ago. It's the fact that all three are still capable of producing quality music and finding new fans in a scene with more and more young, cynical know-it-alls.     

#24: Ilsa - Intoxicantations

A late November release meant this album flew under a lot of radars, and that's a shame. A mashup of crust, hardcore, death/doom and sludge, Intoxicantations is simply crushing. 

#23: Samothrace - Reverence To Stone

 Two songs, a galaxy of layers, 100% kinetic.

#22: St. Vitus - Lillie: F-65

No, it's not a fighter jet. It's a few old guys that have seen it all before and still write creative, memorable doom epics like no one else. Wino should be America's Poet Laureate.

#21: Satan's Wrath - Galloping Blasphemy

Everything your parents ever thought heavy metal was, turned up to 11.