Well, here we are, the day before Thanksgiving, and year-end listmania is already upon us. Shit, most people don’t even turn on Christmas lights and start playing carols until the day after Thanksgiving. But DECIBEL magazine has broken the ice. Their January 2013 issue is in the mail, with Phil Anselmo’s baleful stare gracing the cover, and inside is the magazine’s list of the Top 40 Albums of 2012.
We previously reported that DECIBEL named All We Love We Leave Behind by Converge as Album of the Year, and now we know which albums fill out the other 39 spots.
Half the fun of year-end lists is the controversy they generate. It’s virtually a given that no serious fan of metal is going to agree 100% with any other fan’s list of any year’s best albums, because, after all, being disagreeable is one of the hallmarks of metal culture. And so there will be disagreements with DECIBEL’s list. I have a few of my own already. But let’s also be clear: in my humble opinion, DECIBEL is far and away the best metal print mag in existence, I certainly respect the opinions of their writers, and I think this list is definitely worthy reading.
Apart from generating controversy and discussion, year-end lists are worthwhile because they’re a source of new discoveries, and at least in my case that’s certainly true of the DECIBEL list. It makes me want to track down some albums I overlooked.
After today, we’ll be continuing our own Listmania series at NCS — and there will be more details about that (and invitations for your lists) in a special Thanksgiving Day post tomorrow. For now, check the DECIBEL list after the jump . . . prefaced by a few random observations.
First, though I’ve listened to a shitload of albums this year, 14 of these 40 albums I haven’t heard, including the one that got the No. 2 pick (Baroness). And of those I haven’t heard, there are only two I strongly wanted to hear but just haven’t done it yet — the new ones from Incantation and Gaza. In some cases, I know next to nothing about the bands (The Shrine, Samothrace, Farsot, Inverloch). I should check them out. But do I really need to hear Swans and Torche?
Second, I was amazed to see Author & Punisher on the list (at No. 30). BadWolf introduced me to Author & Punisher, and I think the music is very cool — but I sure didn’t expect to see it become so high-profile. And I certainly didn’t expect it to come in 10 spots ahead of Gojira. Speaking of which, is anyone else stunned that Gojira is at the very bottom of this list? And that Meshuggah is next to last? I sure am.
Third, I’m happy to see so much old school death metal on the list. In addition to Incantation, it includes Asphyx and Grave. I also got a kick out of seeing Horrendous and Satan’s Wrath on here, too, and was very pleasantly surprised to see Evoken coming in at the No. 3 position. I really didn’t see that coming.
Fourth, where da black metal at?
Fifth, the list doesn’t include . . . well, I shouldn’t go down that path or we’ll be here all day. Check this out and let us know what you think in the comments.
DECIBEL’S TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2012
40 Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
39 Meshuggah – Koloss
38 Agalloch – Faustian Echoes EP
37 The Shrine – Primitive Blast
36 Incantation – Vanquish In Vengeance
35 Samothrace – Reverence To Stone
34 Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
33 Panopticon – Kentucky
32 Saint Vitus – LILLIE: F-65
31 Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
30 Author & Punisher – Urus Americanus
29 A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance
28 Asphyx – Deathhammer
27 Farsot – Insects
26 Gaza – No Absolute For Human Suffering
25 Inverloch – Dark/Subside
24 Swans – The Seer
23 Horrendous – The Chills
22 Killing Joke – MMXII
21 Early Graves – Red Horse
20 Liberteer – Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees
19 High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
18 Napalm Death – Utiltarian
17 Torche – Harmonicraft
16 Grave – Endless Procession Of Souls
15 Satan’s Wrath – Galloping Blasphemy
14 Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
13 Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity
12 Blut Aus Nord – 777: Cosmosophy
11 Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast
10 Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
09 Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
08 Royal Thunder – CVI
07 Enslaved – Riitiir
06 Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay
05 Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
04 Witchcraft – Legend
03 Evoken – Atra Mors
02 Baroness – Yellow & Green
01 Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Missing Car Bomb, Cannibal Corpse, Deftones, Dying Fetus and Anaal Nathrakh. Lots of surprising choices on here, and very surprised Municipal Waste (while good) is so high.
Car Bomb and Deftones are two more albums I want to hear and still haven’t caught up with. I’m also disappointed that Anaal Nathrakh, Dying Fetus, and Cannibal Corpse are missing — especially Anaal Nathrakh.
Well I like the w^w^^w^w more than Koi No Yokan and more than most other albums this year, so I’d say get on Car Bomb immediately if possible. Definitely agreeing with you on Anaal Nathrakh, too–it’s such an evolution for them.
Lemme know how you like LMNTS btw 😉
Just got the Car Bomb. And as for LMNTS, you’ll be seeing some reactions soonish. 🙂
To answer your “Fourth”… I’ve asked myself that same question trying to assemble my own list. This year has been really underwhelming for BM. Faustian Echoes was neat I guess, but nothing I would call earth-shattering. Until last week I couldn’t name one black metal album that I felt was worth sharing or putting on a list. Porta Nigra is just amazing though.
Make note that I’m not into the fury/blood/thrash/traditional types of BM, so that probably excludes quite a few BM releases for me. Saw a lot of “return to roots” types of BM albums this year
Even leaving out the the fury/blood/thrash/traditional types of BM, I really enjoyed the 2012 releases by Ash Borer, Nachtmystium, The Howling Wind, Khors, Wildernessking, and Secrets of the Moon. And for shorter releases, I thought the Deathspell Omega EP and the split by deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage were great.
Yet another album I’ve been meaning to catch up to. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it.
Pact’s Dragon Lineage of Satan is quite good. Also, Royal Arch Blaspheme (II) and Serpent Sermon from Marduk (maybe not their best, but it has some great songs on it) are good.
I’m looking forward to the new one from Paragon Belial as well, and really hope that Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult’s new album comes out this year, otherwise I’d have to wait longer for it, which would suck, because they’re awesome.
I’ve also been meaning to write about 3 atmospheric, melodic black metal EPs recommended to me by one of our readers, all of which are excellent and are on Bandcamp: Obolus, Barrowlands, and Cursed Altar.
I’m worried I won’t have the patience to appreciate another Ash Borer album. They’re good, but man they push even my patience with some of their songs, haha. Not big on Nachtmystium. Not that they are bad, just not my thing. Their production holds their music back for me more than it should. While its certainly their best sounding release, I just think the album could’ve been so much bigger with a more balanced mix. There are parts that literally hurt my ears with the excessive 4kHz – 8kHz range.
The Howling Wind release was a bit of a bummer. I loooooooooved “Into the Cryosphere”. So much. Probably too much. I really dug that groovy, sludgey BM vibe they had going, with just a touch of atmosphere and dynamic range. This release felt like a more traditional BM album in comparison. Not a bad release, but just more straight-forward. Vocals were still killer though.
Your 6 other suggestions I’ve never heard of, so I’ve got some year-end homework. And I did enjoy the bosse-de-neige/deafheaven split, thanks for reminding me! Though I enjoyed the deafheaven side a bit more. Deathspell Omega traditionally fall into the “not my thing” category as well, but I suppose I should give the new EP a listen out of fairness.
I have to agree with you about The Howlind Wind’s latest album — I thought “Into the Cryosphere” was more interesting and the new one more traditional (but I still liked it).
And if you decide to take the Deathspell Omega plunge, “Drought” is streaming here:
Holy shit. Is this what you would call tech-black? What have I been doing with my life? I’ll jam to Drought more when I’m out of the office for sure.
“I really dug that groovy, sludgey BM vibe they had going”
Did you check out that Wound Upon Wound album I reviewed by any chance? More doomy, than sludgy, but might be what you’re looking for!
Lunar Aurora is my top BM album of the year. I’m not usually one to get super excited by the atmospheric approach to the genre, but I absolutely love that album. And as I discovered about 10 seconds ago, they’ve recently split up. Luckily they have a nice back catalog, but still, fuck.
I love Listmania. It’s one of my favorite features this website does — the compilation of all the best-of lists have inspired this list
Which means I always have something on hand to listen to that somewhere, someone loved.
I’d really like to see what you’ve done, but I get an error message when I try that link.
Panopticon is way too low on the list. Plenty of garbage on here, too.
Wow, I think can count about 7 on there that work for me.
Guess I’m not the Decibel demographic.
I’m with ya buddy. Certain things and styles and bands are just very Decibel, though. I’m not trying to get down on them, either. But for instance: Baroness at number two? I don’t know many extreme music fans that would agree with that. Especially in the face of Dragged Into Sunlight, Anaal, and Aborted. That said, If memory serves, Decibel only gave Global Flatline a seven. Also, not that I have a damn thing against them but, High on Fire could shit on a scrap of vinyl and Decibel would spread love and joy throughout the land.
My Top 40 is:
1. Cattle Decapitation
I agree with half of your list, which is a pretty good percentage. I actually like both albums but Cattle Decap is the one that would be on my own top whatever. Probably at number 1.
Yeah, no matter what I pick up from this year (I’ve only picked up three albums this year, one wasn’t released in 2012), Cattle is probably going to override it.
I’ve actually listened to 32 of the albums on Decibel’s list. While I think many of them are good, only a handful would end up on my own best of. I need to get around to listening to Panopticon and Napalm Death though.
I’ve only listened to one Panopticon song. Given how often the name has been appearing in these comments, it sounds like yet another album I ought to check out.
Well, there are a few picks on here I totally agree with, though there are a lot I’m not crazy about, too.
Wow, there is 1album there that would make any Top 10-20 list I had: Gojira, nothing else
CRIPPER easily has the best thrash album of the year. The Asphyx and Grave ain’t anywhere close to being worthy of any top list either. New AEON is the best pure death metal release.
Agree about Grave and Asphyx (and I love Asphyx), but Binah has the best pure death metal album this year
It was good, but I liked Drawn and Quartered (Feeding Hell’s Furnace) and Nocturnal Torment (They Come at Night) more, at least so far. I should probably listen to Binah more though.
Necrovation for me, with close competition from Gorephilia and Degial. I’ll have to check out Nocturnal Torment. I hadn’t heard their name before.
Necrovation was good, it was on my halfway list, but overall it didnt grab me like the first full length. I forgot Deigal and Gorephilia released this year. Nocturnal Torment I did not like, but I enjoyed the track I just previewed from Drawn and Quartered. Theit were a few other osdm bands this year that I really liked (Revel in Flesh, Horrendous) but to me Binah did the best job forging their own way rather than being a direct copy of the classic bands
Gorephilia was great, as was Horrendous. Degial didn’t grab me at first, but that’s another one I need to listen to more. Deserted Fear (My Empire), Beheaded (Never to Dawn), and Putrevore (Macabre Kingdom) are also looking very good. I think there will be a lot of death metal albums on my list this year for sure.
Goreaphilia and Corpsessed are too run of the mill. Nt bad but just old school worship and too late to the party with silly band names 🙂
Didn’t have a lot of albums that blew me away this year. Sure didn’t have A Life Once Lost on my list that album was a real letdown. But seeing Gojira @ 40 thought it was mandatory for every metal outlet to suck them off. Not that they aren’t awesome, but the lovefest for them goes a little far sometimes. I still would have had that album in my top 10 this year. Just not 1 but sure as hell not 40. Sure would have had 7 Horns 7 Eyes on there.
A lot missing for me. In fact, this list completely misses the mark for me. I guess I have very different taste buds from the Deci crew–albeit just as eclectic.
Judging by some of the recommendations in the responses, I have a lot more to check out from 2012. That said, based on the nonetheless big pile of metal releases I heard this year, here are my thoughts for now… Mostly in alphabetical order…
Vying for my #1-10 would be Anathema, Anaal Nathrak, Bel’akor, Borknagar, Gojira, Katatonia, Konkeror, Ne Obliviscaris, Neurosis, Saturnus, Wildernessking.
Fighting for my other spots would probably be…
Black-ened Metal: Enslaved, Ihsahn, Shining, Vintersorg, Wintersun (maybe), Woods of Ypres
Death-ish Metal: Allegaeon, Ataraxy, Blood Mortized, Daylight Dies, In Mourning, Unleashed, Zonaria
Thrash-y Metal: Kreator, Testament (not much unfortunately)
Other Metal: Diablo Swing Orchestra, Gathering, Grand Magus, Moonspell
Oh, and Christina Aguilera of course. No tech-death or Djenty releases really grasped me this year–then again I’m not a big fan of those umbrellas..
As for my #1 disappointment of the year, it would be Paradise Lost–it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t memorable either.
You’ll need to come back here and copy this comment, because tomorrow I’m putting up our annual place for readers’ best-of-year list so we’ll have everyone’s recommendations in one place.
Damn I missed a lot of albums this year….
I find Baroness a strange choice for number two….but I’m not really familiar with their music. Maybe I’m missing some greatness.
On a related note, I just listened to their number 20 album, by Liberteer, today and it’s pretty interesting. It’s split into 17 short songs which isn’t unusual for grind but really it’s one long song. There’s a lot of influences from non-extreme music that pop up unexpectedly too. I’d call it avant-garde except it doesn’t sound weird at all- they make it work.
I really liked the Liberteer release — it was another one that I was surprised to see on this list. Despite the fact that it was a Relapse release, it was still pretty under the radar.
I have a love / hate relationship with year end best of lists. Most of the time it either proves that me or the rest of the world has horrible taste in music.
Seriously, no Between the Buried and Me, Sylosis, or Gorod?
Oooooh! Good call on the Gorod!
Damn…what a seriously wretched list. Theres maybe three albums off of here that Id consider keeping. The lack of almost any black metal is especially sad
Some good choices there. Of course gotta respect the choice of one.
I would put :
Anaal Nathrakh’s “Vanitas”
Ne Obliviscaris – The Portal of I
Conan – Monnos
Hour of Penance – Sedition
Ereb Altor – Gastrike
Jess and The Ancient Ones -Jess And The Ancient Ones
Desultor – Masters of Hate
Unfathomable Ruination – Misshapen Congenital Entropy
Seriously, how anyone can leave Gorod or Ne Obliviscaris off a Top 40 list for this year is beyond me. Those two albums were brilliant, and the latter may well be considered a classic some day. Also, all the OSDM love is a great thing, but where are Ataraxy and Putrevore? I just checked out Binah recently, too, and they, too, have a claim.
The biggest problem with such an early list is that there’s still a month to go in 2012 (probably 2 or 3 when it was written) and there are still 2012 albums dropping. Xanthochroid and Sulphur Aeon are forthcoming, end of December 2012 releases that may be “Top of 2012 List” worthy. Lest we forget, early lists last year missed the brilliant albums from Vektor and Cormorant, so shouldn’t the Best of 2012 lists really be in the February or even March issues of magazines?
One final note: Woods of Ypres’ Of Grey Skies and Electric Light had its official release in March of 2012… just saying.
Oh, also, why isn’t Encrust getting the love they deserve. That album is stellar!
Thanks for mentioning Ataraxy – I just checked them out and I really like what I’ve heard so far. Putrevore is also excellent (and I don’t disagree about Binah, despite any apparent lack of enthusiasm from me upthread).
I disagree a little about Binah. I thought they create a really cool atmosphere on the album but the songs themselves didn’t grab me as much as some other releases in the genre. I’d still say they show a lot of potential though, being that it was just a debut.
Ataraxy has been an extremely under the radar release. I’ve simply been blown away by the quality of the OSDM coming from Spain across the board, so they caught my eye. Maybe one of us should send Islander a review of Revelations, and help spread their name further afield?
How Sigh’s “In Somniphobia” is left off anyone’s top albums list is beyond me.
Yeah, I’ve heard surprisingly few people mention it in that context. It will be high on my own list.