Well 2012 came and went, and I must say that with the impressive year that was 2011, 2012 was equally if not more so better for metal. I found myself constantly saying this has been a hell of a year for 'insert genre here'. Metal bands must have been trying to write their best albums to accompany the Mayan end of the world. whatever the reason, 2012 was fantastic. Which only made this list harder to pick through. There were plenty of excellent albums I wish I could put on here, but nobody really wants to read a top 30 to 50 albums list anyhow unless it's representing a decade.
(Oh and before I get started, I did a top 5 EP's list if you care to read that first.)
So without further ado, here is what this writer personally believes were the best albums 2012 had to offer:
15. Miseration – Tragedy Has Spoken
Not a whole lot of people were impressed by this album. I’m not entirely sure why. Yeah the production seems to have taken a small step back from The Mirroring Shadow, but it wasn't something that bothered me a whole lot. This album is fierce, and epic. The band has taken a step away from Melodic Death Metal and a step towards Technical Death Metal and I love it. I really love everything this band has put out and I’m glad each album is pretty unique.
14. Allegaeon – Formshifter (Review)I found Fragments Of Form And Function late last year and fell in love with Allegaeon. Then I was really excited to hear they would be having a new release this year. Formshifter is a solid step in the right direction for this band. They’ve gotten their song writing down to a T, and made a damn fine album. I think Fragments Of Form And Function is a catchier album overall, but Formshifter nails it in every other department.
When Jason Wisdom announced he was leaving Becoming The Archetype I became quite sad. Celestial Completion is probably their best work to date, but I Am definitely gives it a run for it’s money. New vocalist Chris McCane filled in rather well and if I hadn't known I might not have noticed the change. I Am is definitely the bands darkest and most technical release to date, and it’s definitely worth a listen.
12. The Faceless – Autotheism
I was a bit surprised with this album. I bought it a few weeks after it’s release after reading many positive reviews, and many less impressive ones. There seemed to be a lot of people upset that they took a significant step away from technical death metal but on the other side many people seemed really happy with the strides they made with their newer progressive sound. These guys essentially did the opposite of what Becoming The Archetype did. Regardless Autotheism is a really an impressive work.
11. Make Them Suffer – Neverbloom (Review)
I was blown away when I first heard Lord Of Woe. Make Them Suffer had a fantastic blend of symphonic elements and technical deathcore. Their debut LP Neverbloom is a great continuation of this sound. However they did add some more melodic elements to this album and there is a female backup vocalist on some songs which does add a nice touch here and there. The only problem I had was that at times it felt like the riffs were being recycled a bit, but this album overall kills it.
10. As I Lay Dying – Awakened (Review)
It appears it’s impossible for As I Lay Dying to put out a bad album. The only thing I can say that’s remotely bad about this album is that unlike every other albums they've put out I didn't immediately determine that this album was my new favorite mostly because The Powerless Rise was incredible. Awakened however is just a notch under The Powerless Rise in my book. These guys are titans and ten+ years later are still going strong.
9. Thy Art Is Murder – Hate (Review)
I’ll be honest I never got around to listening to Thy Art Is Murder until Hate released, but this album blew me away and quickly became a favorite for me. This album does a fantastic job being the pinnacle of what more straightforward deathcore should be. Angry, heavy, and not solely breakdown focused. They’re not a tech deathcore band but they are by no means simplistic in their writing. They know what they’re doing and this album sure shows it.
8. Wretched – Son Of Perdition (Review)
Wretched became a favorite of mine very quickly with this album. I had heard their previous album Beyond The Gate once or twice before but Son Of Perdition really solidified my opinion of this band and made me fall in love with them. They’re deathcore but fringing heavily on Melodic Death Metal that were it not for the occasional breakdown they’d probably be classified as such. They've got writing skills and the three instrumental tracks alone could show you that. It’s got great variety and hits hard where it needs to.
7. Hour Of Penance – Sedition
I found Hour Of Penance shortly after finding the beast that is Fleshgod Apocalypse. Hour Of Penance is no less impressive than the guys I found first, but they've not trickled into the symphonic parts of metal. Hour Of Penance’s Sedition is technical death metal at its purest and arguably it’s finest.
6. Derelict – Perpetuation (Review)
These guys need more exposure. They’re a killer band. I found them via bandcamp with their first release Unspoken Words and I was thoroughly impressed. Perpetuation is a really solid step forward in every department for them. Derelict is easily one of my favorite finds of the last two years.
5. Meshuggah – Koloss
Meshuggah kind of comes here as a no brainer. They’ve been a massive influence on most every band today, and many were curious of how they’d fare in the djent filled world they’d created with Obzen, well Koloss is here to tell us that Meshuggah is both Master and Commander. They’re still the controllers of this ‘genre’ they created. Koloss grooves incredibly hard and doesn't have a single boring moment.
4. Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme
Dying Fetus return with what I think is their best album to date. It’s brutal death metal at it’s finest with hints of technical flair all throughout the album. It begins with a bang and never lets up. Plus ‘From Womb To Waste’ easily has one of the heaviest hitting opening riffs I've ever heard. It’s pretty much earth shaking.
3. The Acacia Strain – Death Is the Only Mortal (Review)
I’m a little in the minority when it comes to The Acacia Strain, most every fan would say their favorite album is The Dead Walk or Continent but Wormwood is my favorite. Death Is The Only Mortal feels like a logical step forward from Wormwood in that it keeps many of the elements I loved from it and adds a ton of Meshuggah influence. This album was on repeat for me for a long while and will remain that way. Their blend of comically over the top dark lyrics and ‘epitome of hate’ hardcore/deathcore sound is pretty much pitch perfect.
2. Whitechapel – Whitechapel (Review)
Whitechapel is in a similar boat for me as The Acacia Strain. Most everyone loves the first two albums the best but A New Era Of Corruption is my favorite and I’d argue to my death that their latest to albums are easily their best work in every way. Their self-titled album takes their already well-established sound and adds in more ambiance, solo work, and overall great writing. This band is only getting better.
1. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
This took me a bit by surprise. Gojira is a band that I didn't get into until this release. It’s a sin I know but I had just never gotten around to checking them out. L’Enfant Sauvage blew me away though. It’s incredible from start to finish and in my personal opinion their best work to date although, From Mars To Sirius does give it a hell of a run. This album captured every aspect of things I’m looking for in metal and made Gojira one of my favorite bands.
Top Non-Metal Album Of 2012
JBM - Stray Ashes
JBM is a man who should be more well known. I was blessed with a chance to see him perform live about 2 years back and it was one of the best performances I've ever seen. I felt as though I was peering into his soul when he played. His heart was fully entwined in his music and his passion is felt outright. Stray Ashes is his second album and it's almost as good as his first Not Even In July. It's defintiely worth checking out if you like the one man and his acoustic guitar sort of thing.
Well that about wraps it up! I'm only a few days into 2013 and I've already heard some really impressive albums, the best so far being Moth's debut LP which my review for can be found here. Here's to hoping 2013 is an even better year!