As Groza is one of my favorite black metal albums I had some very high expectations for Mgla’s latest album With Hearts Toward None. The album follows in Groza’s footsteps with some very infectious riffs and great vocal delivery. I find it hard to put into words what it is that Mgla do so right, which usually means that it is not only one thing, but the excellence of all parts and the composition thereof. Even though you might think that they have hardly broken new ground, I feel that the album excels where others have failed and I have a hard time believing that I will tire of them. The fact that they also get to grace the top of my 2012 list, above bands such as Deathspell Omega and Anaal Nathrakh should also speak volumes for this album.
2. Be’lakor – Of Breath and Bone
Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of well made melodic death metal. And there are few who can compete with Be’lakor in that category. Of Breath and Bone comes three years after the excellent Stone’s Reach, and while it did not impress me so much at the first few listens, it has since grown immensely. The album consists of signature Be’lakor melodies mixing with a more doomy feeling than before. I feel that the two opening tracks still stand out the most, and anyone who enjoys some melody in their death should listen to this to hear how it should be done. http://belakor.bandcamp.com/album/of-breath-and-bone
This is probably the album on my top list that surprised me the most this year. If I had to pigeonhole Porta Nigra, I would place them into the genre Black Metal, but I feel that Porta Nigra are so much more. With chanting clean vocals, weird interludes, blistering vocals, and some truly great riffs, Porta Nigra place themselves on the map as one of the bands that you must keep an eye on for the future. In a genre where few advances are made, this album goes far and beyond. http://dmp666.bandcamp.com/track/porta-nigra-megalomaniac
Ah, good old Anaal Nathrakh. Ever since Eschaton I have been a huge fan of their musings. With Vanitas I feel that we got an album that was Anaal Nathrakh back in form. I was a bit worried that they had reached their peak and would be releasing the same album over and over again. But while Vanitas is most definately an Anaal Nathrakh album, it also goes beyond what they have made before. The choruses are bigger, the blasts are faster, and the vocals are nothing short of insane. http://candlelightrecordsusa.bandcamp.com/album/vanitas
Wildernessking is a band I can be grateful to NCS for introducing me to. Hardly a traditional Black Metal band, these guys not only hail from South Africa, but they play a style of Black Metal heavily influenced by the “”cascadian black metal”" movement. Long songs filled with post-rock-like riffs, acoustic passages, and furious blasts make this one of my favourites this year. The double gatefold vinyl release is also recommended, as it comes with a poster of the insane artwork for this album. http://wildernessking.bandcamp.com/album/the-writing-of-gods-in-the-sand
So, this is Deathspell Omega after the so critically acclaimed trilogy. This EP consists of 6 songs (2 instrumental), and going by normal DsO song lengths you would expect an album ranging at the 60 min+ mark. However, these 6 songs clock in at 21 minutes exactly, meaning that the songs on average are a bit over 3 minutes. However, fret not, most of these songs flow into each other quite nicely and the signature DsO sound is most definitely there. http://seasonofmistcatalogue.bandcamp.com/album/drought
With L’Enfant Sauvage Gojira continue with their trademark sound of crushing heavyness and cleaver melodies. As I love the previous two Gojira albums, it is a bit difficult to critique this one, but it does feel like they have found their formula and are sticking to it. I think that is for me the major reason why I was not as excited about this album as I have been earlier about Gojira. While the album is most excellent, it does not stray far from their previous efforts. Do keep in mind that they are still on my top 10, which means the album is brilliant. I perhaps had just gotten used to expecting more mindbreaking things from Gojira.
TGOO was another band that I discovered this year and boy am I glad I did. Al Azif is an album consisting of 6 tracks with the shortest tracking coming in just short of 6 minutes, and the longest one breaking 10. They use long, slow guitar riffs, crushing drums, and well-screamed vocals to create a crescendo of insanity throughout the album. This is an album I listen to from start to finish always as the songs flow together perfectly and build upon each other. Best way to enjoy this is with a tall whiskey, the white & blue DLP spinning, volume cranked all the way up, and leaning back to soak up the waves of madness this album spews out. http://thegreatoldones.bandcamp.com/
Enslaved have never really released a bad album, however they have released some less than stellar ones. With Riitiir they are back with a vengeance. This album has everything that I want out of an Enslaved album. Great vocal melodies, filled with prog sections, yet still able to maintain that extreme edge with some great guitar work and Grutle’s patented growl.
Probably one of the more fun albums for 2012 for me. This is pure death-thrash. Fast, pummeling, and filled to the brim with some truly great guitar work. Amazing solos in just about every song and riffs that you can’t not headbang to. Looking forward to hearing what they will come up with next! http://bloodshotdawn.bandcamp.com/album/bloodshot-dawn