(With this post TheMadIsraeli begins a multi-part rollout of his list of 2012’s best metal. Sample songs are at the end of the post.)
I needed a break from Kataklysm. I’ve hit the point in the discography where listening hurts right now, so I figure it’s time for me to do that top albums of the year list thing.
Putting together this list has been easy and hard at the same time. 2012 in hindsight for me didn’t provide as consistently killer of a bounty as 2011 did. However, what was killer still results in a bunch of excellent bands fighting tooth and nail in my head to be on this list. For me, this was a year for death metal and melodic death metal. Most of what really caught my ear saw either of those two styles being done well, being done excellently with old school aesthetics, or being so well written and cohesive it obviously stood above the rest.
First, I thought we’d start with the more prog or melodic stuff on my list. There will be proggy and melodic shit later on in this list, but it’ll be under a different category. I mostly stuck to more recent bands or first time releases for this section.
So without further ado, here is the first part of my top 20. These first five albums are presented in no particular order because I couldn’t even possibly begin that level of scrutiny amongst a collage of already stellar works.
1: Bloodshot Dawn – S/T
I think Bloodshot Dawn surprised us at NCS, as well as what is now their fan base , when they sprang from the depths of inferno to bring forth some of the most brutal, yet majestic and powerful, melodic death metal that’s been written and played in a long time. The riffs are pummeling, the melodies passionate, and the brutality unrelenting amongst it all, especially combined with the dual guitar and shred antics of guitarists Josh McMorran and Benjamin Ellis. The Vader-like blasting intensity of songs like “Godless” or the old school Soilwork attack of songs like “Dedication To A Dead Cause” are absolutely impossible to deny. I look forward to what this band has in store for the future, as the new song they released after this album’s release (“Theoktony”) was a skin-peeling blowback of explosiveness.
2: In Mourning – The Weight of Oceans
Ask me to tell you a band who are filled with emotional depth and depressive gravitas and manage to permeate every fiber of their music with it, and I’d tell you In Mourning is such a band. Their brand of depressive melodic death metal takes cues from some of the genre’s less energetic, more somber proponents (Daylight Dies and Insomnium) and they’ve proven not to be a one-album fluke as far as its excellence is concerned. I started to be worried when Monolith came out, fearing the band had resolved to completely ditch what made them “them”. The Weight of Oceans, however, is a return to the sound found on their debut, as well as a massive improvement and evolution of that sound. Songs such as the now infamous “A Vow to Conquer the Ocean” should go down as melodic death metal classics. This is definitely the band’s strongest effort to date, an opus that will be hard to surpass, but something tells me we have yet to see the extent of the abyss these guys live in yet.
3: Outcast – Awaken the Reason
It drives me insane that this band is simply as unnoticed as they are. While Gojira have taken their sound in a less alien, but just as envelope-pushing direction, Outcast takes that alien sound of old Gojira and pushes it to its limits. They’ve done this for three albums now, and the third, Awaken the Reason, is definitely the most powerful, most colossal of them. Sacrificing (for the most part) their thrash sensibilities to produce something groovy, yet filthy, messy, proggy, and overall filled with pure nastiness. I guess it’s more groove thrash than actual thrash, but that doesn’t mean the band still can’t absolutely brutalize you into oblivion. Their tech-death elements are still present and strong and seem to function better in a groove setting. I present the absolutely devastating verse riff of “Elements”as evidence. Excellent band, they push the limits of modern metal more than anyone else right now.
4: Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. And here I was thinking melodic death metal was pretty much stagnating. Ne Obliviscarus wowed the metal world when their debut Portal of I hit the stage with Opeth-ian grandeur, Wintersun grandiosity, and the tastefully incorporated violin that penetrates its way into your soul and causes it to weep and forfeit. There is no way to really elaborate on this album. It is riveting, engrossing, compelling, yet still vicious, feral, and menacing. I need this band to make more music stat.
5: Shatter Silence – Glory Will under the Sun
I am actually currently writing my review for this album as I figure out this list [it’s now published here]. Shatter Silence are a melodic death metal band hailing from Osaka Japan, and they fucking rip, shred, and whatever else the kids say these days in a way that brims with energy. Their brand of melodeath is fast as fuck, riffy out the ass, yet compelling, with technical shredderific guitar work and an interesting choral clean vocal style that gives the parts where this appears an ethereal quality. So fucking good.
Next five? The br00tz. Stay tuned.