Don’t you just hate long winded, self important intros to year end lists? When the author rambles on and on about how “2012 was a great year for metal” and “I sifted through hundreds of releases…” or some such drivel. They seem to never end, and they really don’t serve a purpose outside of written masturbation; “Hi, this is a list. I made it. You know who I am. You’ve read other posts by me. But before I get down to business, here’s three paragraphs on raccoon sexuality and how it affected my decision making process this year.” Yeah, I don’t like them either. So I’m going to make a point not to have some self indulgent, distracting intro that’s inevitably going to be glossed over by the readers who really only clicked this link so they could see if their favorite albums were on the list and maybe leave a comment and we can posit over why that album is “totally rad” and should, like, be everyone’s favorite and we’ll be best friends forever and ever!
Or maybe you just want to tell me that my taste in music is shit and I have no concept of “art” and “melody” and “feelings”. Well, if you think that, you’re right. I hate everything you like, anyway.
So, without further adieu, here’s my list. (Now without an intro!)
Devin’s at it again, this time with a “sequel” to has awesomely catchy pop metal album Addicted. Epicloud picks up right where Addicted left off, with catchy grooves, a pop mentality, and a “time to forget all the bullshit and rock!” attitude. He’s once again joined by vocalist Anneke Van Giersbergen, who appeared on Addicted, and her swooning melodies aid in making this one of the best happy-dance metal albums of all time.
Blending electro, death metal, industrial, ambient, and everything in between, this group of avant Frenchmen really raised the bar for experimetal with their sophomore release. I’m not even a fan of two of the genres listed above, but when filtered through the minds of Hypno5e they really work well. I have no idea what the album title means, but nonetheless, this is one badass record that will keep you on your proverbial toes.
When a year goes by that Rotten Sound releases no new music, I get a little sad in my grind pants. All is not lost however, because Afgrund are here and they mean fucking business. To the point grindcore that never lets up and has the riffs to prove it. Pulling from the Nasum-worship style of grind, this album proves that originality isn’t everything if you can fuck your listeners’ faces off for a solid 30 minutes.
Modern tech-death is fucking boring. Too much wankery at the expense of songwriting and structure. Psycroptic take that notion and toss it out the window by proving that technicality does not bequeath songwriting. This album grooves like no other and has some of the most impressive fret and drum work of the year. Aussie death FTW!
In less than a week we will find out if the Mayans were in fact correct in predicting the end of the world. No matter either way, we’ve got Anaal Nathrakh to play us out. Combining the best elements of their past 2 records, Vanitas is a serious step in the right direction for these guys. It absolutely rips, destroying the Earth and humanity in the process.
Following the death of vocalist Makh Daniels, Early Graves came back with their best record yet. The production’s a little sloppy, but I think it adds to the grittiness of the record overall. Combining thrash, death metal, prog, and grind is a tough feat to accomplish, but these guys did it in spades. Easily the surprise record of the year.
With possibly the most unmarketable album title in history, and the music to go along with it, Car Bomb have become a band not only great at math, but at writing memorable songs to boot. The old form of stop-starts and ever-shifting structure is still there, but this record sees the band more focused and tuned it. The inclusion of “clean singing” really adds to the atmosphere as well. Let’s hope it’s not another 5 years until the next one.
Sickened blackened hardcore with a hint of grind is probably the best way to describe these Italian lunatics. Their first record was great, but lacked too much in the way of memorability. Agnus Dei fixes all that. It’s still sludgy and messy, but it manages to capture the anger and persistence of a band with a lot to say, and they’re going to scream it in your face.
With the all star cast the band is comprised of, it’s not wonder they’re never less than on point. This record is dirty and fun, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, but more of the same to remain grounded.
When Discordance Axis disbanded oh so long ago, the grind world wept long and hard. Thankfully we’ve got Jon Chang‘s new juggernaut GridLink and Noisear to keep us happy. With the interweaving riffage of D.A. and the relentless power of Human Remains, these grindcore titans have managed to craft another “48 hour” album that actually tops their outstanding sophomore album, Subverting The Dominant Paradigm. Bravo, fellas.
The Chariot have never been a band to take lightly. For better or worse (lately better) each album offers up something a little bit different while still sticking with their trademarked formula. One Wing takes this experimentation to the extreme, and sees The Chariot going off in directions I never thought they would. Though I’m very glad they did. While not always 100% as a whole album, the overall product is ballsy and awesome, with some of the most memorable songs of the year.
This is the most literally badass album of the year. The fucking riffs!! I’ve been over “straight up metal” for a little while now, but thankfully Enabler have been able to restore in me what I loved about it in the first place. It’s heavy, catchy, headbangable, mosh-worthy, and just all around badass. The “metal” record of the year.
Rock n’ roll is not fucking dead, not if Burning Love have anything to say about it! Featuring former Cursed vocalist Chris Colohan, these guys managed to release a true hardcore-tinged rock record the likes the world has rarely seen. Put this on before you go out, or during a fight, and get fuckin’ pumped. The most danceable metal record of the year.
Horror and metal? Yes please! Not since Entombed‘s Left Hand Path has a horror-themed death n’ roll record been so potent. Part re-thrash, part death metal, and part hardcore, Black Breath prove once again why they are a force to be reckoned with. The opening to “Endless Corpse” should be all you need to fall head over heels with this band.
Another example of why tech-death doesn’t have to suck. This record has some of the grooviest and catchiest riffs of the year on it, and it’s so well crafted, and each song differs from the last, that you will never be bored or unconvinced of this band’s relevance. It’s still sad to me that they’re not more widely known, but if they keep putting out records like this, it’s really only a matter of time.
Ben Sharp‘s one man band has really come into its own on his newest release. Fade is by far the best thing he’s ever released. He’s no longer aping anyone else, he has become his own songwriter, and the results are stunning. I’ve always been a huge fan, but this was not what I was expecting. No “djent”, no frills, no “metal” at all really, at least not in the typical sense. This is a soaring rock record that has so many intricate layers and nuances that it begs listen after listen, and it grows with each one. I truly hope he keeps expanding his sound like this; he’s well on his way to the top.
What’s there to say? It’s fucking Converge, and it doesn’t disappoint. Read my review here.
As an unabashed lover of grindcore, I’m not afraid to say that for the most part the genre has become stagnant; up and comers end up aping the veterans and the veterans end up aping themselves and it’s become one over-saturated breed that can be treacherous and tiring to sift through. Murder Construct must have realized this and decided to make the most refreshing and unrelenting grind record of the year. It’s most certainly the sum of its parts, and each member stands on their own without compromising the band’s integrity as a whole. The album absolutely rips. Fuck the new Pig Destroyer (sorry, but it’s true), this is the only grind you need this year!
I hate this band. I’ll never fully understand how the brothers Duplantier can write such simple, yet complex and effective music. L’Enfant Sauvage sees the band ditching a lot of the sludging drone of past releases and writing more succinct and to-the-point songs, rather than an entire album. While some of the tracks don’t grab you as much as some on The Way Of All Flesh, this album as a whole is much better conceived and cohesive. And Mario continues to craft the most intricate and unique drum parts this side of the galaxy. Motherfucker should be banned from all drum sets for life, he’s making the rest of us look terrible in comparison.
1. Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering
This is the album to end all albums. There’s no turning back, no outrunning it, to respite; you will be slaughtered. Captured, tortured, and slowly murdered at the hands of these Utahan madmen. Combining elements of grind, sludge, hardcore, doom, and noise, Gaza manages to sift through all of the bullshit of each respective genre, pick it apart, and use only what they need to make some of the filthiest music on the planet. And they manage to put every one of those genres to shame in the process.
What sets the record apart isn’t just how gritty and filthy it is, but how simultaneously beautiful and ethereal it is. The band shifts seamlessly from bone crushing sludge to spaced out and open melodic passages with ease, and the shift never seems out of place or cocky. The musicianship is excellent and extremely inventive; you never know what drummer Mike Mason is going to do next, not once, and I haven’t heard such thick, heavy, and menacing sounds come out of one guitar since Pig Destroyer‘s Terrifyer. Not to mention the vocals. Jon Parkin‘s throat tearing screams are belted out with such passion and honesty that I at times expect his larynx to just hop out of his throat and say “Fuck this. I give up.”
If you don’t know who these guys are, or just haven’t listened to this album yet, you are doing yourself a terrible disservice. I hope you know you’re missing out on the most visceral and terrifying musical experience of the year.