(At my invitation, former metal blogger Tr00 Nate shares with us his list of 2012’s best albums, and a kvlt list it is.)
Hello everyone, it’s me Tr00 Nate, of the former Number of the Blog. It’s been awhile since I last wrote something for the internet (the last thing I wrote was my 2011 list actually), so please excuse me if I’m more incoherant than usual.
So despite the fact that there’s a ton of shit I still want to listen to, I have managed to sit down and assemble a list of my favorite 30 albums of 2012. However, I’ve only felt composed enough to actually write shit out for the top ten. So yeah, whatever. Each Band – Album Title thingy should take you to a song from that album, because honestly, the music does these albums much more justice than any words that I could say.
#30. Necrovation – Necrovation [Death]
#29. Morbid Saint – Thrashaholic [Thrash]
#28. Desaster – The Arts of Destruction [Black/Thrash]
#27. Entrapment – The Obscurity Within [Death]
#26. Desolate Shrine – The Sanctum of Human Darkness [Finn Death]
#25. Ultra Beast – Out For Too Long [Speed]
#24. Rottrevore – Blind Sided Attack [Death]
#23. Lustre – They Awoke to the Scent of Spring [Black/Ambient]
#22. Deiphago – Satan Alpha Omega [Black]
#21. Aluk Todolo – Occult Rock [Black/Drone]
#20. Seven Kingdoms – The Fire is Mine [Power]
#19. Blut Aus Nord – 777-Cosmosophy [Black]
#18. Blood of the Black Owl – Light the Fires! [Native American Drone]
#17. Ketzer – Endzeit Metropolis [Black/Thrash]
#16. Rome – Hell Money [Neofolk]
#15. Christian Mistress – Possession [Trad]
#14. Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God [Trad]
#13. Verdunkeln – Weder Licht noch Schatten [Black]
#12. Dead Can Dance – Anastasis [Neoclassical Darkwave]
#11. Timeghoul – Anthology [Death]
And now for something a bit more substantive: My top 10 of 2012.
#10. Mgla – With Hearts Toward None
This album has been getting quite the amount of attention from black metal fans, and I was relatively late in jumping on the Mgla bandwagon. Hearts Toward None is a subtly melodic epic of black metal riffing that reminds me more than anything of Arckanum’s excellent ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ. Excellent memorable music for any black metal fan.
#9. Beherit – Celebrate the Dead
Beherit fucking rule. Black metal legends have returned this year with a two-song EP that harkens back to the ritualistic classic Drawing Down the Moon. The subdued nature of the music doesn’t diminish how sinister and unsettling the EP actually manages to be. If you like Beherit, this fucking rules.
#8. Natur – Head of Death
Natur is one of the best Neo-Trad bands out there, falling just under heavyweights Skull Fist and Zuul on the totem pole for me. Head of Death is Natur’s debut, and it’s full of riffs riffs, riffs, and solos. Catchy vocals from a vocalist who sounds like a not-quite-as-operatic Bruce Dickinson and great audible bass playing round out the album. It’s Fenriz-approved, so you really have no excuse not to listen to this.
#7. Menace Ruine – Alight in Ashes
Menace Ruine continue to evolve into whatever the fuck they are. Holding back on some of the harsher noise/drone elements of Union of Irreconcilables, Alight in Ashes goes for a cleaner, more occult atmosphere. Harsh vocals have been almost entirely replaced by Genevieve’s clean chanting. This is a really great album honestly, but here, have a review that does this album better justice than my words can.
#6. Hammock – Departure Songs
Seeing as how this is the highest-ranking album that isn’t metal, I guess this is my favorite non-metal album of the year. If you’ve never heard of Hammock before, they play a very dreamlike mix of ambient and post-rock. Departure Songs is a double-album that harkens back to the more vocally driven early days of the band. Many of the songs on this album are driven by high-pitched, ethereal singing that melds with the music perfectly, and makes for a very dreamy album. Just relaxing and romantic from start to finish.
#5. Hellwell – Beyond the Boundaries of Sin
A Manilla Road album in all but name, even if the production is surprisingly decent. Mark fucking Shelton bitches.
#4. Trappazat – From Dusk Till Dawn
A late entry on the list. As of the time of writing I’ve had this album for about a month now, and I think I’ve listened to at least once a day. Trappazat originally started out way back in 1989. Unhappy with the original results, they never had an official release. That is until now. For this album, they brought in veteran NWOBHM singer Paul Britton of Scarab fame, and his vocals are quite wonderful. Mid-range vocals that edge upon the higher range, they’re quite distinctive, and he makes the choruses so wonderfully catchy. Musically, these guys sound a lot like Maiden. Melodic dual leads, prominent bass, and pitch-perfect production (seriously, this album is how you introduce modern production values to old school music). Easily the catchiest album I heard all year, and one that will be stuck in my car for months to come.
#3. Pseudogod – Deathwomb Catechesis
On the complete opposite end from Trappazat we have the mighty Pseudogod. Relentless Russian black/death with a surprisingly complex wall of noise that is incredibly ferocious. It’s impossible to truly describe just how relentlessly pummeling this album is, and it’s a force of sonic extremity that every fan of extreme metal should listen to.
#2. Panopticon – Kentucky
Ah, here’s the requisite Panopticon album. People who know me know I love Panopticon, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that I rank Kentucky so highly. This is a left wing, pro-labor, anti-capitalist album celebrating the history and people of Kentucky, especially in its relationship to coal mining. The whole gimmick that has gotten people’s attention with this album is the heavy presence of bluegrass on the album, but for me, the draw is the emotional metal songs that manage to be both sorrowful and uplifting.
The stand-out track for me is “Black Soot and Red Blood”, a lengthy song about unionization anchored by a spoken word section of an old coal miner recounting his struggle in unionizing. It’s an emotional piece that manages to send chills down my spine every time I listen to it. And really, it’s this emotional content that drives everything Panopticon does, and it’s why I love the band.
#1. Saturnus – Saturn in Ascension
The long dormant Saturnus returns! Six years since their last album, my favorite doom metal band has returned with Saturn in Ascension. Amazingly, they don’t seem to have missed a beat at all, and it hardly sounds like six years have passed since their last album. This is beautiful melodic doom, and the main draw here are the excellent melodies that weave throughout each and every song. Even though guitarist Kim Larsen (now better known for his neofolk project Of the Wand and the Moon) left long ago, I sometimes swear he never left. Many of the riffs and melodies remind me of their first and best album Paradise Belongs to You, though the vocals and atmosphere are more reminiscent of Martyre. I don’t quite know why I’m ranking this so highly, other than my own blind fanboyism for the band. Whatever, this album fucking rules. If you like doom at all, listen to this album.