I'm feeling ambitious...top 40 of 2012.
Deconsecrated and Pure
There's nothing all that profound at work here; a beautiful and relaxing ambient
Speak Loud Say Nothing
A curious mix of what could best be described as Melvins meets Dillinger Escape
Plan, all done under one of the greatest monikers of all time.
Bosse-De-Nage are more than your run of the mill metrosexual black
metal/shoegaze/hardcore/cum bands. On III, the foursome separate the cumulative
aesthetic qualities of a group like Wolves in the Throne Room or Deafheaven into
their own separate ideas, yet manage to meld them together coolly and seamlessly
throughout the course of a single composition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
An idiosyncratic blend of neoclassical, glitch, and black metal and one of the oddest
albums I've listened to all year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKp30C3MwVk
Therefore the Illusion of Density...
Japanese instrumental math/post-rock.
|35||Devil Sold His Soul|
Empire of Light
It may not reach the tragic zeniths that Blessed & Cursed strived towards, but Empire
of Light is still an intense and gripping mix of post-metal and emo, this time with a bit
more of a concentrated focus on melodic tendencies.
Koi No Yokan
I would wager that Koi No Yokan is the most comfortable release Deftones have put
out yet...but these guys just gel so well together after nearly 20 years a band that
they still managed to pump out some of their strongest material since Saturday Night
All We Love We Leave Behind
RAAAHHREEEEH with slightly less RAAAAAHRAAAAHH and more Slayer riffs.
I've never been much of a Chariot fan until the release of One Wing. Who the fuck
tacks on a Spaghetti-Western outro, trumpet and all, to the end of a hardcore song?
|31||Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster|
Silly band-name aside, TNBD managed to release a really solid and gimmick-free
post-metal album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPMDDP8xPEc
Aluk Todolo are one of the more interesting bands I've listened to in...probably
forever actually. The 85-minute runtime is certainly daunting, but does not feel
unwelcome given the trance-like nature of the album. Picture a black-metal versipn
of the band Tortoise, and you would not be far off from the meandering compositions
Aluk Todolo offer on Occult Rock. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ow1g4xd7gTM
If We Get There One Day Will You Please Open The
Really well-done and imaginative post-rock, hampered slightly by its 80-minute run
Sunpocrisy's brand of sludgy post-metal is certainly not the most innovative in the
scene, but with tracks as well-executed as "Apophenia", I've no qualms.
Templars-In Sacred Blood
The sixth album with John Zorn's Moonchild band (featuring the likes of Mike Patton
and Trevor Dunn). Patton steals the show on this one with his ludicrous vocal
|26||Coheed and Cambria|
The Afterman: Ascension
It's disappointingly short as the first half of a double-album, but Afterman is still the
most fun I've had listening to a Coheed Album since Good Apollo I.
No Absolutes in Human Suffering
|24||Downfall of Gaia|
Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes
Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes suffers slightly from a lack of variation, but the
freezing atmosphere it conveys makes up for any of its shortcomings.
Amenra released a better Neurosis album than Neurosis did this year. Facetiousness
aside, the wall of sound Amenra create on Mass V is absolutely monolithic.
On the Void, prog-veterans Beardish managed to take the popular metal-evolution
path taken by many of their contemporaries, without devolving into inanity (well,
Toward the Low Sun
A delightful post-rock/krautrock hybrid that jams harder than anything these Aussie
Vets have released. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhzdjcGx2s8
A Lament For the Lamb
Polish Avant-Garde/Post-Rock/Jazz. One of the most overlooked albums of the year.
Scott Walker is a lunatic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ih7KzKLLWA
Norwegian Avant-Garde/Black Metal/Grind/Electronica. There's a ridiculous amalgam
of influences going on here, so I'll stop after four superfluous genre tags. Think the
Norwegian "Shining" but less prog, and more spastic.
My review covers my thoughts on Toby's latest return to growl city.
Smierc w Miekkim Futerku
Avant-jazz to quench all of your cigar-smoking and forehead-wrinkling thirsts.
|15||Twelve Foot Ninja|
I don't think there's any 2012 I've listened to as much as Silent Machine. Twelve Foot
Ninja essentially play popular chillout genres such as reggae, dub, and flamenco
through a metallic lense. If Mr. Bungle had mainstream appeal, they would be these
These Serbians clearly have an affinity for GY!BE, and while Small Years isn't
particularly new or innovative, the climaxes reach such heights that I couldn't care
much less. At 75 purely instrumental minutes, it's certainly a little long, but it's the
perfect release to put on in the background while you perform inspirational acts
(essay-writing, exam-studying, rooster-asphyxiating, etc.)
|13||Godspeed You! Black Emperor|
'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Godspeed are the voluptuous T&A of the post-rock world. Next.
|12||The Pirate Ship Quintet|
Rope For No-Hopers
Post-Rock/Emo with sparse vocal freakouts sprinkled throughout. Think Explosions in
the Sky + Violins - boring. Marvelous album. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
|11||Circle Takes the Square|
Decompositions: Volume Number One
Surprise! Decompositions slightly ditches the messy screamo entropy of As the Roots
Undo in favor of a more focused, and perhaps metallic aesthetic. However, CTTS are
still masters of spastic tension and release. Check out the cathartic closing track,
"North Star, Inverted" for verification. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
No matter the moniker he records under, Phil Elverum has been one of the most
prolific performers of lo-fi/experimental folk. Clear Moon is the more subdued
counterpart to the harsher drone of "Ocean Roar", and is as chilling in its simplicity
as the scene portrayed in the album cover. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
|9||Vampillia and Nadja|
The Primitive World
I've had past listening encounters with both drone metal titans Nadja, and Japanese
neoclassical group Vampillia in the past," but I've always considered their releases to
have hyperspecific appeal. This year, the two groups collaborated on "The Primitive
World" and in doing so, have surpassed each of their individual works. As ghostly as
it is beautiful as it is enthralling and terrifying, The Primitive World is certainly not a
release to be overlooked. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KZCe6bYjzI
The World is a House on Fire
Zelienople are a difficult band to categorize, with drone, post-rock, ambient, slow
core, metal, and jazz coming to mind as clear influences to their monochromatic
kaleidoscope of sound. The World is a House on Fire is perhaps their most subdued
work to date, with the volume scarcely rising above a mezzo-forte. In spite of the
quiet-quieter-quietest schematic of volume practiced on the album, Zelienople
manage to remain consistently interesting do their attention to detail. The World is a
House on Fire is one of the most nuanced, defeated records I've ever listened to, and
is one of the strongest releases in their vast discography.
Enslaved are one of the forefathers of the progressive black-metal scene, but on
RIITIIR, much of the black metal elements Enslaved entered the genre emulating are
gone, or at least submerged under a sea sprawling epics. RIITIIR is the longest
album Enslaved have released, with the average track length falling into the seven to
eight minute range. However, the variety track to track is at an all time high, and
triumphant highs reached in tracks such as "Death in the Eyes of Dawn" and most
especially "Roots of the Mountain" have never quite been exploited with such depth in
the past 20+ years of Enslaved's career. RIITIIR is a monumental release for
Enslaved, and it may just be their strongest release yet.
Portal of I
Portal of I has probably been the most divisive metal release of 2012, with ideologies
of superfluity and unoriginality being lobbed internet-wide. While it's certainly a bit
lengthy, I've found Portal of I to be an incrediibly well-excuted progressive metal
album. Ne Obliviscaris do a phenomenal job of mixing some of the most extreme
styles of metal with other seemingly less-homogenous genres such as flamenco or
classical. Really, the only gripe I have with this album is that the bass and violin are
a little too low in the mix for my liking - they're the most unique aspects of the band.
Regardless, Ne Obliviscaris proved with Portal of I that there aren't many new
progressive-metal bands out there as ambitious as they are, the scary thing being
that they appear to have the chops to improve and become something truly special.
The Seer is a monstrous release, but you guys already knew that.
Acid Mist Tomorrow
Hypno5e's play a unique brand of metal that smashes hardcore, death metal,
ambient, and trance in a press to create a unique and cinematic metalloid
experience. Much of Hypno5e's music has been composted with the band's
independent film-making in mind, but the material on Acid Mist Tomorrow is
interesting enough to stand on its own without the aid of a visual medium.
John Zorn is likely the most prolific avant-garde composer we've seen in the past
several generations, with his name becoming synonymous with the off-kilter and
experimental. Perhaps that's what makes Mount Analogue, one of his several 2012
releases, as enthralling as it is. Mount Analogue is the most "normal" sounding
composition this listener has ever heard from Mr. Zorn. Mount Analogue is a single
40-minute composition that explores genres such as modern classical, brazilian folk,
native-american chant, traditional hebrew music, and latin jazz-funk. The grouip of
performers John has orchestrated for this release are clearly among the most gifted
in the business, with the pianist and vibraphone player standing out particularly to
myself as a percussionist. Zorn has stated himself that unlike many of his
compositions, Mount Analogue was composed fully on sheet music, and it is a
composition I would love to analyze with my own eyes.
|2||We Lost the Sea|
The Quietest Place on Earth
Once it's been decided that the brand of music released by a band falls into the
"post-metal" category, the comparison to genre stalwarts Neurosis, Isis, and Rosetta
are inevitable. We Lost the Sea's take on the genre, is certainly similar to Rosetta's,
given their implementation of hardcore archetypes and their affinity for astronauts,
but there's so much more on display here than a mere carbon-copy. "The Quietest
Place On Earth" is a sprawling and emotional masterpiece, where sludgel is as much
the focal point as classical piano or climactic post-rock. The fourth track, "Forgotten
People", is entirely driven by its female vocal performance, and with a little more
bombast, would not be out of place on the latest Anathema release. However, it's the
first track, titled "A Quiet Place", which has my vote as the strongest track on the
album, and one of my personal favorites all year. http://welostthesea.bandcamp.com
In years past, the album I've deemed my album of the year has often been a wire-
to-wire contender. Beforemath does not continue that idiosyncratic habit, and was
instead an album I stumbled upon in November of this year. I've had to have
listened to the album 20+ times since then, and I swear that its appeal grows on me
exponentially with each spin. Gatling are a young Canadian band whose previous
releases have dabbled solely in instrumental/experimental metal. For Beforemath,
they recruited a vocalist and released a more standard progressive-metal album. At
least, that's what I'm going to assume their sentiment was; Beforemath is perhaps
inadvertently one of the most unique albums I've ever listened to. Outside of the
vocalist, the band is clearly immensely talented, with many of the songs being driven
by very complex guitar lines. The vocalist, in comparison, sounds quite amateurish
and actually brings to mind emo music such as Sunny Day Real Estate, or a less
bombastic Coheed and Cambria. The complexity of the music, the sci-fi concept
lyrics, and the contrasting vocals, mixed in a clear, but thin ether of production gives
this album and atmosphere that's comparable with an album like Coheed & Cambria's
Second Stage Turbine Blade. The shortest track on the album, "Glass Room" even
brings to mind a math/indie-rock band like Minus the Bear or This Town Needs Guns,
and ultimately is one of the loveliest and most charming songs I've listened to all