Sol's Top Albums of 2012
Well, it’s feels a little strange doing a Top 10 list since I haven’t completed a full year yet at MetalInjection. Also, I really haven’t had as much time as I wanted to listen to a lot of new albums that I didn’t end reviewing for the site. The lists of my fellow bloggers probably have a more eclectic and broader spectrum than mine has, but I’m not unhappy about my list; it was still a good year for metal for me. So this list contains a good amount of those I’ve reviewed myself, but with a couple others thrown in. Also, since I tend to review more metalcore-ish, mainstream type stuff, this list is going to have a few of those as well, and that pretty much covers all I need to disclaim, I suppose.
This first entry might make everyone want exit right away, but I just couldn’t resist. Rize was just too awesome. I, like tons of others was extremely excited when news that the D was releasing a new album after a pretty long hiatus was made public. It’s not just a novelty, comedy album, there are actually some really rockin’ tracks on this album. All in classic D style, Rize is just the perfect Tenacious D album.
Since we’re now in the holiday season I don’t have any more reservations on listening to this album whenever I want. I loved their “Carol of the Bells” cover from years ago, and never expected that a full-length LP of nothing but holiday songs would ever come from it. I think it’s the perfect blend of August Burns Red’s brand of metalcore mixed with my favorite holiday songs. It’s not exactly a serious album, but that probably makes me like it even more.
I mentioned when I reviewed it that this was a bit of a departure from Whitechapel’s regular sound. And a lot of their fans took to the album negatively as well. But I always love hearing an established band exercise the freedom to venture a little bit and do something different from their previous material. It definitely still had Whitechapel’s brand of deathcore, but now with an “…and now for something completely different…” vibe to it.
I didn’t have too much time to listen to a lot of the death metal releases this year, but I was able to catch this gem by Cattle Decapitation. Yes, I’ve seen the video for “Forced Gender Reassignment”, and yes it’s…well, I guess it is what it is from a goregrind band, can’t be too shocked from them releasing a video like that. And the rest of the album is all great stuff. Whenever I felt like I was missing some good death metal in my life, I would just turn to this album. It doesn’t lack in viciousness, and violence, which is what makes it such a great album.
I’ve always thought Bleeding Through has a pretty smart sound; it’s essentially deathcore for metalcore fans, and metalcore for deathcore fans. I felt like The Great Fire was kinda overlooked or underrated when it came out. But I loved this album almost immediately upon listening to it. It displayed intensification on each of the little facets on their signature sound; the metalcore aspect got better, the deathcore aspect got better, and even the melodic aspect got better as well. It just doesn’t sound like that cookie-cutter, pre-teen oriented metalcore sound they initially were famous for playing. If I were to introduce someone new to Bleeding Through, I’d start with The Great Fire, and not This is Love, This Is Murderous.
Napalm Death is just one of those bands you just have to like. I’ve just never heard anything from them that I flat-out did not like. Utilitarian was no different, and is definitely the Napalm Death we are accustomed to already. It’s never lacking in energy, nor ferocious brutality, just like any good Napalm Death LP. And it’s always just a major thrill to hear Barney Greenway’s voice on yet another new and great album for Napalm Death.
Similar to why I chose Whitechapel for this list, Job For A Cowboy has really changed for the better over the years. The new sound they have grown into is definitely their best sound, and suits them like a velvet glove. Gone are the deathcore clichés, and instead we get a great blend of death metal with just a smidge of tech. It only makes the experience sweeter that I know their original deathcore sound, only to hear what they are like now. This new and improved sound is definitely at it’s best on Demonocracy, which is why it has a top spot on the list.
I’m not really too deep in the prog genre, but I am a huge fan of BTBAM. However, I wasn’t completely into their previous LP, The Great Misdirect. I felt like the amount of overtly lengthy songs just kind of took away from being able to enjoy the whole LP as one unit. Parallax II took them back to the Colors era where the music is very much prog, but still highly memorable and enjoyable as the same time. It brought myself and other fans back to some of the elements that made BTBAM memorable in the first place. With me loving BTBAM so much, there’s just no way Parallax II couldn’t be at least somewhere on my Top 10.
Equilibrium was probably the most dynamic album I heard all year. God Forbid always has great albums because of the awesome balance between the fast-paced tracks and the more subdued ones, and Equilibrium is no different. Equilibrium really doesn’t depart too much, or not at all from their signature style, making it simply just good. I’m definitely running out of ways to call something good, but with Equilibrium there are absolutely no punches thrown while listening. If you want just a good metal album, you need to pick this one up.
I guess a bit of a running theme in this list is the new releases of familiar faces, and how much they’ve come over the years. As I Lay Dying used to be just a simple, metalcore band. I mean, they’re still metalcore, but over the years they’ve also grown into a unique sound that just works for them. Again, they’re still definitely metalcore, but now there is more double-picking, more technical rhythms, and even more melody. I’ve been following As I Lay Dying since the beginning, and following their journey has probably proved to be the most rewarding for me. That probably factors into a little bit of bias making this the #1 on the list, but I don’t care, it’s my list. And it was definitely my favorite album that I have heard throughout the whole year of 2012.
Also, just for kicks…
Least Favorite Album of the year:
In This Moment – Blood. I don't think I'll need to justify this one…