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Best of 2012

Kit Brown's Top Albums of 2012

Posted by on December 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Here are my favorite albums of the year:

15. Pig Destroyer – Book Burner 

While it may not be a huge departure for the band, Pig Destroyer’s fifth full-length is filled to the brim with ravaging riffs, blistering blasts and J.R. Hayes’ textbook vitriol. It may not be the band’s strongest album to date, but it definitely solidifies them as one of the finest grindcore bands to ever grace the genre. (Essential track: "The Bug")

14. Bereft – Leichenhaus 

The best new “supergroup” of the year, bar none. Featuring members of Intronaut, Abysmal Dawn, and The Faceless, Leichenhaus is as melodic as it is crushing. This California-based quartet makes the modest production work to their advantage, creating a wonderfully haunting atmosphere throughout. For fans of guttural vocals that would make bands like Ahab blush. (Essential track: "Ethereal Dispersal")

13. Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence 

Every time BTBAM finishes up an album, I always assume the band has nowhere left to go. Once again, I’ve been proven wrong. The second and final installment of the Parallax series shows the band sacrificing chops for songwriting, while still smoking most of their peers in the process. While it may be the band’s longest album to date, it's got more flow than their previous LP, which was twenty minutes shorter. I don't care what hate I might get for this comment, but these guys really are the new Dream Theater. (Essential track: "Lay Your Ghosts to Rest")

12. Narrows – Painted 

The undisputed champions of the underground hardcore/metalcore scene return for their second full-length and improve on an already impressive sound. Twisting, atonal metalcore riffs mesh together with crushing sludginess and a healthy dose of noise. Vocalist Dave Verellen (ex-Botch) has never sounded more menacing, as his trademark snarl has lost none of its potency. Pseudo-metalcore bands, take note: this is how the genre should be done. Now lose the dubstep-drops and stupid haircuts, already. (Essential track: "Under the Guillotine")

11. Gojira – L'Enfant Sauvage 

Why should you care about yet another groove metal album in 2012? Because Gojira don’t seem like they’re trying. L’Enfant Sauvage seems almost effortless, and shows that the band know exactly what they need to sound like to get heads a-bobbing and fists a-pumping. No frills, no unnecessary technicality, and certainly no mindless electronic interludes. If Meshuggah are the Melvins of groove metal (the weird band everyone tries to rip off), then Gojira are the genre’s High on Fire (dependable as hell and incredibly heavy). (Essential track: "The Axe")

 

10. Arkaik – Metamorphignition

Sorry, The Faceless, your reign on California’s flourishing progressive/death metal scene has been overthrown by Unique Leader’s Arkaik. Metamorphignition is a huge step up from the band’s previous work and should hopefully launch the band to bigger and better tours in the near future. There’s a little something for everyone here, whether it be scorching technicality, unpredictable song structures or catchy melodies. If Arkaik isn’t huge in the next few years, I’ve lost hope in the technical metal scene. (Essential track: "Blade Grasp Priesthood")

9. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It's Personal 

The heavy parts are heavier, and the catchy parts are definitely catchier. Sure, the superfluous electronic interludes are still here, there’s no “Racecar”, and a few ideas may get repeated. But overall, Periphery is clearly onto something huge. Mark my words; these guys will be replacing Protest the Hero as the fresh, interesting progressive metal band, and maybe even one of the biggest American metal bands within the next five years. Overall, a roaring success worth the attention of any metal enthusiast. (Essential track: "Luck as a Constant")

8. The Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud 

After blowing his complicated load all over us with Deconstruction, Devin simmers things down and reminds us that sometimes we just need to forget all the bullshit and ROCK. Epicloud is hands down the most fun heavy album of the year, thanks to its incessant hooks, simplistic riffing and less-than-serious subject matter. If you’re a metal fan and you’re not immediately sucked in by Devin’s ironic and infectious tunes, you probably take yourself way, way too seriously. (Essential track: "Grace")

 
7.

Gorod – A Perfect Absolution

It's really a shame that Gorod hasn't been embraced as one of the truly amazing faces of modern death metal like German overnight sensations Necrophagist, but hopefully with the band's fourth full-length album, that should soon change. This album is as catchy as something you'd expect from any mainstream act, but with twice the balls. A Perfect Absolution comes unconditionally recommended to all fans of metal, whether you're looking for a clinic in music theory or simply trying to bang your head in the car. (Essential track: "Carved in the Wind")

6. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind 

Converge ditch the outside influences and collaborations and take time to re-examine why people have clung to this band for over two decades. All We Love We Leave Behind is a stripped-down approach to the band’s caustic sound, but still manages to once again leave all of their peers in the dust. Ballou’s production has never sounded more clear, but keeps the band’s dangerous live approach very present. Also, Ben Koller’s drum performance here may be my favorite of anyone in 2012. Absolutely devastating. (Essential track: "A Glacial Pace")

5. Cannibal Corpse – Torture 

The most successful and one of the most consistent bands in the death metal genre have returned in 2012 with what is essentially a clinic in how to write catchy and brutal songs without ever seeming overly showy. Mind you, they're still schooling most bands in the genre half their age. Torture is one of the finest releases in the band’s discography. And for a band that’s been around for almost 25 years, that warrants a very high spot on the list alone. Engineer Erik Rutan’s production has also never sounded better. A must-have for fans of any era of the Corpse’s lauded career. This was probably my most consistently listened-to album of 2012. (Essential track: "Scourge of Iron")

4. Meshuggah – Koloss 

When you really think about it, Sweden’s Meshuggah is extreme metal’s answer to Tool. Both bands have some of the most supportive and staunch fanbases in their respective genres and both remain enigmatic and reserved despite almost universal critical acclaim. The band's seventh LP is only bested by their previous masterworks, Nothing and Catch 33. If anything, Koloss shows once again how consistent this group has been over the years. Just take some advice from the band, and do not look down. That’s Meshugah’s job. (Essential track: "The Hurt that Finds You First")

3. Spawn of Possession – Incurso 

Incurso isn’t an album for passive listeners, even in the extreme metal community. This is fifty-two minutes of incredibly demanding riffage, most of which turns and changes at the drop of a hat. Sections of songs are rarely repeated, guitar riffs change at a second’s notice, and standard rules of music theory and structure are essentially abandoned. While this may seem like a turn-off to casual fans of the genre, that’s precisely the point; Spawn of Possession want to scare the shit out of you and force you to take notice. I feel comfortable in saying these guys are the most interesting technical death metal band in the business. (Essential track: "The Evangelist")

 

2. Gaza – No Absolutes in Human Suffering 

Heavier than the heaviest of heavies, plus atheism. Gaza is a band of indeterminate genre, and No Absolutes in Human Suffering showcases their unpredictability perfectly. When I interviewed the band in June and they revealed to me that their new album would be darker than their previous material, I really wanted to doubt them. Because honestly, how could something be darker than “How It Is, How It’s Going To Be?” Thanks for proving my dumbass wrong, Gaza. The band also gets my vote for best lyrics of the year in “The Truth Weighs Nothing,” where the band takes on Christian posterboy and NFL disappointment Tim Tebow. An absolutely essential piece of hateful music. (Essential track: "Not With All the Hope in the World")

 

1. Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay 

In a completely unsurprising fashion, Neurosis release the best album of the year. While the band’s tenth LP may not be any of the hyperbolic terms used to describe heavy metal, it sure seems like their most focused effort to date. Few bands can manage to combine the best elements of their previous masterworks into something entirely original, but then again, Neurosis is one of the most regarded and unique bands in heavy music. If you’re into an album that manages to combine the murkiness of Given to the Rising with the somber nature of The Eye of Every Storm, listen up. Hell, everyone should hear this. (Essential track: "My Heart For Deliverance")

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  1. The Contortionist – Intrinsic
  2. Dysrhythmia – Test of Submission
  3. Wretched – Son of Perdition
  4. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
  5. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
  6. Overkill – The Electric Age
  7. Daylight Dies – A Frail Becoming
  8. 7 Horns 7 Eyes – Throes of Absolution
  9. Napalm Death – Utilitarian
  10. Wintersun – Time I

EPs:

  1. Arsis – Lepers Caress
  2. Down – Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
  3. Agalloch – Faustian Echoes
  4. Melvins – The Bulls and the Bees
  5. Napalm Death/Converge – Split

NON-METAL ALBUMS:

  1. Swans – The Seer
  2. Propagandhi – Failed States
  3. Baroness – Yellow & Green
  4. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  5. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
  6. Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion
  7. Death Grips – The Money Store
  8. Om – Adavaitic Songs
  9. The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
  10. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Thanks for reading! See you guys in 2013!

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