2012 has been a weird year when it comes to music. I still looked to expand my musical horizon, but I wasn’t casting my net out quite as far for some reason. By times I was a little disappointed by that. However in hindsight I think it was a good thing. Sometimes sticking to what you’re most passionate about can be even more rewarding than discovering a bunch of new bands. So in 2012 I let quality rule over quantity.
So these twenty albums might not be as eclectic as they have in previous years, but I can say with confidence they are all killer and no filler. I’ve spent countless hours (in some cases days) enjoying every single one of them. Don’t worry too much about reading my write-ups. If anything just check out the song clips/videos linked below and hopefully you might discover something you like. If you do, be sure to support the artists and buy their music, then spread the word.
01. Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to see Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light by Woods of Ypres at the top of this list. However there was a time a few weeks ago I thought that wasn’t going to be the case. It was in the top five, but not number one.
It’s been almost exactly a year since I first heard Woods 5 and I couldn’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve listened to it over the past twelve months. But like any album you love, eventually you’ll end up letting it sit for a bit. Which is what I had been doing the past couple of months. During that time I found myself branching out and enjoying some really great music by other artists. Along the way I think I sort of forgot how good Woods 5 was. Until last week.
To get this post in order I started revisiting the albums I was shortlisting and giving them each a few more listens. The first one I listened to was Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light and it’s been in constant rotation ever since. Everything I love about the album came flooding back to me immediately and I knew there was no way anything else was going to top it.
- Adora Vivos
- Kiss My Ashes (Goodbye) Part 2
It was quite a challenge to sum up my thoughts on the album when I reviewed it back in July. Read the review if you’d like, it should explain why Woods 5 stood out high above everything else that came out this year. But you’d be much better off to stop reading, shut out life’s distractions and listen to this. You won’t regret it.
Thank you David and Joel.
02. Horseback – Half Blood
I don’t know how music this creepy can be so damn relaxing to listen to. Yet here I am with my headphones on nodding along enthusiastically as Jenks Miller’s raspy vocals and dry bone riffs are pushed along by a steady driving rhythm. My co-workers just peeked over their monitors giving me that WTF look. I said nothing and turned on my speakers. Calm washed over the room and now we all nod in unison.
03. The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicentre
I was going to be a smart ass and copy/paste some random satanic quote here. But I couldn’t find anything that sounded cool. So instead I poured blood over myself, went to the basement, put on The Thousandfold Epicentre and drew pentagrams on the floor. Okay, fine. I didn’t do that either. But thanks to the massive hooks and crafty songwriting of the Devil’s Blood, I have tricked many a Christian Solider into worshiping the southern lord this year. Hails.
04. Ufomammut – ORO: Opus Primum/Opus Alter
Ufomammut are on to some next level shit. I’ve been a fan of them for years, but with their last few albums they really have found their niche. Sonically they are hands down my favorite band. These guys just get it. Plain and simple. Technically ORO: Opus Primum/Opus Alter is two albums. Opus Primum being part one and Opus Alter part two. But I choose to digest this beast as a whole and I recommend you do the same.
05. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
I wanted to let you all know the Deftones will be doing a lunch and learn every second Thursday on how to age gracefully as a band. Future sessions will also be scheduled that touch on avoiding identity crises, bucking trends and how to churn out consistently strong music when you are 24 years into your career. Seriously, pay attention to this band. They are onto something.
06. Baroness – Yellow & Green
I don’t have a problem with the AC/DC formula. If you figured out something that works that well, then go ahead and make the same album over and over. But I also have a fondness for bands who want to push their sound in new directions. Baroness are definitely the latter. Never content to stay in one spot and become stagnant, the band hands down made their strongest statement to date with Yellow & Green. It also looks pretty.
07. Royal Thunder – CVI
I was a fan of Royal Thunder’s self-titled EP and was confident the band would put out a solid follow-up. But CVI was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. The album is a perfect example of a band taking huge strides as songwriters, honing in on their strong points and expanding their sound by just the right amount. They didn’t reinvent themselves, they just figured out what works and made it better. Much fucking better.
08. Kadavar – Kadavar
Judging by the photo on their album cover, Kadavar are oblivious to the fact that it is 2012 and listening the album only cements that even more. I can only assume this was recorded in Tony Iommi’s basement straight after a three day bender with Pentagram. Well maybe not, but until anyone tells me any different, I’m treating that is the stone cold truth. Inhale and worship the riff.
09. Alcest – Les Voyages de L’Âme
Parfois, il peut être difficile à mettre en mots ce que vous pensez d’un album. Surtout quand vous êtes en train de dire quelque chose d’intéressant vingtaine d’albums différents. J’ai donc décidé de sortir de ma zone de confort et écrire celui-ci en français. Cela seul suffisait de travail, je ne vais pas la peine d’aller sur comment super Les Voyages de L’Âme est. Je suppose que si vous êtes sur ce site et parler le français, vous avez probablement déjà tout savoir sur Alcest toute façon.
10. Ides of Gemini – Constantinople
According to Ides of Gemini it’s dark and cold in California. Or at least that’s the mood that is captured so eloquently on Constantinople through J. Bennett’s distant trancelike riffing, Sera Timms haunting vocals and Kelly Johnston’s subtle drum fills. There’s lots to dig into here and the band draws from a number of influences that compliment each other perfectly. With each repeat listen of Constantinople it climbs up this list one more notch. Nine more spins and it very well could have been sitting at the top of the pile.
11. Ancestors – In Dreams and Time
Last year Ancestors dropped a three song EP titled Invisible White. It was some mellow shit. The kind of mellow Ancestors occasionally drop in the middle some epic space rock jam that just finished burning off your eyebrows. Good news. They’re back to business with In Dreams and Time. Everything we all loved about their past two full lengths is here and accounted for. So bust out your space suit, get ready for liftoff and put something over your eyebrows.
12. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth
See that album cover? Metal as fuck, isn’t it? My theory is the cover came first, then the music. You always hear about the bar being set high for a new album. Usually it’s based on the band’s last recording, or in some cases their peers. But if this cover was created before the band started writing Dark Roots of Earth, then that bar was set pretty goddamned high. There is no way a band would put out something with that on the front and not have it blow your balls off. Don’t worry, my balls are okay. When I saw the album cover I held a plate in front of them for my first listen. The plate didn’t make it.
13. DZ Deathrays – Bloodstreams
This sounds pretty much like Death From Above 1979. Which is kind of odd because DZ Deathrays is a guitar/drum duo and not a bass/drum duo, yet they sound like a bass/drum duo. It doesn’t matter though because DFA1979 are so damn good that I’m not going to hate on any band that sounds like them. Especially when their songs are this good.
14. Torche – Harmonicraft
Despite a valiant effort by Torche to throw me off this killer album by confusing me with whatever the hell is going on in that album cover, I was not deterred. Heaps of praise has been given to pretty much every album Torche has released. But around here Harmonicraft is sitting high on the pedestal. Apparently they get their power from rainbows, waterfalls and mutant My Little Ponies.
15. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
I finally get it. I’ve had some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s other albums for a few years now, but they never really clicked. I’m not put off by long assed post rock, but holy crap, it seemed like it took forever for something to happen when I was listening to this band. But one listen to Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! and I now get it. Back catalogue rediscovery in full effect. Come back to Halifax!
16. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life
Sentenced to Life didn’t grab me by the junk quite like 2010’s Heavy Breathing did. But this is still heavy as a bag of sand in the face swung by Entombed while Converge kick your legs out from under you. If that’s your kind of thing, then get on board and watch out for Swedish sandbaggers and sneaky American hardcore bands who will take the legs out from under you at any chance they’ll get.
17. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
I’m as surprised as you to see Converge this far down my list. Especially after they totally floored me with Axe to Fall in 2009. To be honest there’s nothing to dislike about All We Love We Leave Behind. If anything Converge just set the bar a little too high the last time around. However I do expect after spending some more time with this beast, I’ll look back and kick myself for not putting it at least in the top ten. Oh and in case you didn’t know, Ben Koller is hands down the best drummer in metal. Now you know.
18. Lantlôs – Agape
Even though Alcest mastermind Neige is also a member of Lantlôs, we’ll stick with writing this one in English. Plus I think Neige’s bandmate Herbst is German and I already used up all my Google Translate credits. So no German for you! Anyway, Agape brings more solid dark wave, post black metal to the party. If that sounds like your kind of party, then pull up a chair, dim the lights and let some seasonal affective disorder set in. Also, on the way to the party, pick up the deluxe version of Agape that includes the cover of “Where Have You Gone My Friend” by Asylum Party. Super dark, depressing and hauntingly beautiful all at once.
19. Witchcraft – Legend
Unlike Kadavar, Witchcraft seem to be aware that it is 2012. Sort of. Yes, their sound is still firmly rooted in the 70’s, but when they hit the studio to record Legend, the band opted to forgo the vintage feel of their past albums. Despite this and a major lineup change, this is undeniably Witchcraft, just with a little more weight sonically. As always, quality stuff.
20. Turbonegro – Sexual Harassment
A little less homoerrotic and a little more gruff. Other than that not too much else has changed with the departure of Hank From Hell and the arrival of Tony “The Duke of Nothing” Sylvester behind the microphone at Turbojugend HQ. So don’t let the somewhat mixed reviews of Sexual Harassment deter you. This is not a misstep, but rather a rebirth and the party animals never sounded better.