Monday, January 28, 2013

Top 25 Albums of 2012

We meet again, shitty new blogger interface. As you can tell, I've redone the color scheme of the site and formatted it better to fit larger monitors. Hopefully it looks significantly better than the previous layout.

Overall I felt 2012 was a weak year in general for me. Music was no exception. I haven't even managed to review most of these albums so I've got quite a bit of work to do. Anyway these are the twenty-five albums that made it to the end. I hope you enjoy the list.

25. Wrathprayer - The Sun of Moloch: The Sublimation of Sulphur's Essence Which Spawned Death and Life

Chile's Wrathprayer were hyped ever since the first track was revealed to the interwebs. Bestial it was, revolutionary it was not, as expected nonetheless. Needless to say The Sun of Moloch is densely packed with quality riffs and a primitive atmosphere. The snare sound is also, for lack of a better word, intense.

24. Pulled Apart By Horses - Tough Love

Pulled Apart By Horses tricked me. At first I had dismissed this album thinking this Australian group had fallen into the "sophomore slump." What an idiot I was. On repeated listens the album became better and better, and it essentially became the soundtrack to my summer shenanigans. 

23. Blood Mortized - Key To A Black Heart

Can't ever go wrong with Swedeath. An improvement over their debut self-titled with better hooks and more nuances. Keep on rockin' Mortized.

22. Enabler - All Hail The Void

I think a large part of my love for All Hail The Void is the excess that carried over from Year One. What a fantastic chaotic hardcore album that one was. Enabler continue their pummeling, janky aggro-sound on this release, but with a bleaker outlook. It doesn't disappoint.

21. Evoken - Atra Mors

You know, I felt that this was one of Evoken's weaker releases. The fact it made it this far is a testament to how great this New Jersey funeral doom act really is. Synth-heavy at times but never cheesy, they continue to plod along, sowing despair. There are some issues with the production though and as many have voiced, there's a lot of compression. Luckily the band is addressing that according to their Facebook page.

20. Rise And Fall - Faith

My hardcore album of the year, Faith is everything I love about Rise And Fall repeated in a way that makes me feel that way about them all over again. Expressive greats like "Escapism" and "Burning At Both Ends" are tracks that while listening, you have to literally fight your body to stop it from moving.

19. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!

Perhaps heavier, and more noise and metal influenced, Godspeed! are back with a fantastic new album. The two long tracks, "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" are powerhouses that churn up a variety of emotions within the listener. The two ambient, noise-heavy atonal tracks serve as nice segways if a bit too ambient for their own good. A triumphant return if I may say so myself.

18. Desecresy - The Doom Skeptron

The Doom Skeptron is the sophomore release from Finnish death metal masters and former members of Slugathor. If that doesn't sell you on the album, I don't know what will.

17. Whirr - Pipe Dreams 

Pipe Dreams is a simple, relaxed shoegaze album. It's one that at times treads into the realm of fuzzed-out stoner rock and doom. The heavily distorted female vocals add to the whole hazey vibe it has going for it too. If you're looking to relax, this album is tops. It sure helped me earlier this year when winding down from all the bullshit I had to deal with in the Spring.

16.  Horseback - Half Blood

A potent album and one that I admittedly haven't listened to much, Half Blood is a stoner doom powerhouse. The synths eek out that '70s feel while black metal rasps kick you in the face when you thought you knew this music already. It's a unique combination that works.

15. Emptiness - Error

I'm told by many that this isn't even close to their best album. Error's greatness makes me just want to check out their back catalog. If you like original black/death metal that is anything but predictable, then Error is for you.

14. Wreck And Reference - No Youth

Now if you just listened to just a single track from No Youth, you'd probably think this album was awful. While the majority of the tracks initially come across as unwarranted noise and trying-too-hard, as a complete piece they work wonders. An interesting release in a genre that I'm not very familiar with.

13. 7 H.Target - Fast-Slow Demolition

Intelligent slam is no longer an oxymoron! Congratulations to Russia's insanely talented 7 H.Target  for injecting some originality into a subgenre that garners much unwarranted hate. Keep your eyes on these guys.

12. Dephosphorous - Night Sky Transform

I have an odd relationship with Night Sky Transform. Some days I find myself loving it, other days I find myself disliking it. However when I don't enjoy it, I still want to listen to it. It manages to stick with me in the end either way. Definitely a weird little album from a unique band that is a bit more hardcore-influenced this time around.

11. Whourkr - 4247 Snare Drums

Would you like some ear-splitting cacophony while the world's DNS servers self-implode, sending carnivorous packets to devour your social networking personas? That's what French glitch-deathgrind act Whourkr tends to sound like on 4247 Snare Drums. It is oddly danceable too which only adds to the album's fun factor.

10. Behold! The Monolith - Defender, Redeemist

Does imagining yourself as a dragon-riding High Elf Spaceknight sound awesome to you? How about after imbibing a copious amount of whatever illicit substance you can? Still not awesome enough? Take a large dose of riffs, haze, and fun: you have yourself Defender, Redeemist.

9. Pseudogod - Deathwomb Catechesis

Bestial black metal is a fad that is more painful to bear with each album. This release goes a bit beyond the whole fad and actually creates the atmosphere so many mediocre bestial black metal albums aim for. The result is blistering metal with a bit of an orthodox feel to it. See album closer "The Triangular Phosphorescence" for example.

8. Spectral Lore - Sentinel

I feel bad including this in my top ten. I think I've made it through the thirty-minute "Atlus - A World Within A World" a total of once without falling asleep. With that said Sentinel is sprawling in scope. I have a lot of respect for Ayloss and I wish I had his penchant for composing complex and linear music. Each track on Sentinel goes beyond what the listener expects. It's an album that requires more than a single listen, and one that rewards you for doing so.

7. Black Pyramid - II

Not sure why I chose this art over the other one to show the album. Anyway Black Pyramid released this beast early in the year and it got swept away in the tide of new releases. I had only listened to it maybe twice until about two months ago. It hasn't been out of rotation since. Now that I think about it, 2012 was a really strong year for stoner doom. Black Pyramid's II definitely helped.

6. Putrevore - Macabre Kingdom

Rogga delivered with this riff-heavy slab of old school, Rottrevore-sounding death metal. There's not much more to say other than this album delivers ferocity in doses that will leave your skull in shambles.

5. Rahu - Quest For The Vajra Of Shadows

Primitive black metal masterwork from Finland. Shame it couldn't retain it's position higher on the list. Initially it was my top album of the year, but as time passed the predictable nature of the music began to wear on me. Still a fantastic, mystical piece of art.

4. Azoic - Gateways

The debut album from this Icelandic group featuring members from brutal death band Beneath. Far more dark, but not as a consequence of that darkness "blackened," this album impressed me for a multitude of reasons. It's nuanced despite being murky, and the way each track builds is inspiring. I tend to love those kinds of build-up tracks in extreme metal. Another act to keep your eyes on.

3. Abyssal - Denouement

An early release and one of the year's strongest, Denouement is my favorite debut of the year. The atmosphere of this album is peculiar. It feels like a war of attrition that's lasted for centuries: you're trapped in a ditch with nothing but a battered trench knife, your fellow soldiers are all dying of sickness and starvation, and the enemy is closing in. With all the tattered shreds of hope you can muster you decide it's time for a final surge before you and your friends waste away, but you end up leading your comrades to a victory that endures forever in the annals of history. Remember how I said I liked tracks that build to an apex? Denouement is chock-full of them.

2. Diskord - Dystopics

Dystopics, like Diskord's previous album Doomscapes, is unique in the realm of death metal. The phrase "off-kilter" doesn't begin to describe their style of music. It's something that has to be heard to understand, and something that has to be heard quite a few times at that. This album is still growing on me as I discover new features in its deeply-textured sound.

1. A Million Dead Birds Laughing - Xen

"Xen is believing." A Million Dead Birds Laughing are a relatively new technical deathgrind band with some of the most bizarrely brilliant lyrics I've ever heard. That brilliance carries over to their hook-heavy, richly textured, and unpredictable sound. Their debut Force-Fed Enlightenment surely would have made my top twenty-five list from last year had I listened to it at the time, but this album surpasses it in nearly every way. Adam Stewart, their immensely talented (both in clean and harsh styles) vocalist, left the band at the end of 2012. I've got no doubt in my mind that the new vocalist will be just as skilled. Keep an eye out for them in the new year.


Best EP: Flourishing - Intersubjectivity
Best Split: Adversarial / Antediluvian - Initiated in Impiety as Mysteries
Best Mixtape: Action Bronson - Blue Chips
Biggest Surprise: Cattle Decapitation - Monolith Of Inhumanity
Biggest Disappointment: Weapon - Embers And Revelations followed by Death Grips -The Money Store
Worst Album: Grimes - Visions (I couldn't finish it, sorry)
Needs more listens: Dødsengel - Imperator
Still haven't listened to and probably should: Saltillo - Monocyte


  1. Thanks! I honestly had a hard time with this list. I felt that the year was lacking all around, but that might have been due to my other obligations taking time away from music.