Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012: Albums

So here we are. After 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days we have now reached the end of 2012. And what better way to celebrate this year with a big bang. Oh yeah, and also my top 20 albums of 2012. I have listened to 177 albums this year. Some were good, others were mediocre and some was just awful. But a handful of artists raised to the occasion and delivered some great albums. Let us check them out.

20. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I

Exciting new band from Australia that blew me away with their long, symphonic melodies. But it takes a couple of listening sessions to remember the beautiful and stunning music.

19. Meshuggah - Koloss

Well I have to say the name fits perfectly with this album. This album takes a hold of you, shatters you into a thousand pieces, run you over with a steam roller and then backing you over. Really, really heavy s**t.

18. Battle Beast - Steel

These guys won Wacken Open Air in 2010. The album "Steel" shows why they won. So much power and punch in the music. A band that you really have to watch out for in the future.

17. Katatonia - Dead End Kings

If you want a band that has music that is remembering you of Tool then Katatonia is the band you are looking for. "Dead End Kings" is filled with music that is hard to catch and has a feeling that it is not of this world. Easy listening, metal style.

16. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & 
Electric Lights

The death of David Gold was indeed tragic but where there is sadness there is hope. Woods of Ypres fifth album is a dark history but the mood is stunning and everything is done with such a delicate touch. It is such a shame that this will probably be Woods of Ypres last album.

15. The Very End - Turn Off The World

The best with The Very End is not the awesome songs or the darkness they bring. It is the uniqueness of their style that is really pushing their latest release up in this list. Great modern dark metal that has never been seen before. And the variation is not bad either.

14. Grave Digger - Clash of The Gods

I usually say that if your band is doing a concept album you have to go big or go home. And Grave Digger sure went big with their album about the Greek mythology. "Clash of The Gods" may not be a perfect concept album but the band made sure to pack the album with some killer songs. Music worthy enough for Zeus and the others.

13. Serj Tankian - Harakiri

Thank god that Serj did not do as the title suggested and instead went back to a more SoAD sound in his music. Wild accusations here and there from reality TV to democracy and Serj has several valid points to back them up. oh, and the music is great as well.

12. Katana - Storms of War

Katana may be the ultimate culture crash. A Swedish band playing NWOBHM-styled music with lyrics about the Japanese culture. "Storms of War" takes everything that made "Heads Will Roll" great and adds  an upgrade to the band chemistry. I am very intrigued about how far this band will go.

11. Engel - Blood of Saints

Engel keeps evolving and with "Blood of Saints" the band is securing their status of being one of the best in industrial metal. The speed and passion the band is bringing is just astounding. And to top it off, an evenness that is very hard to match.

10. Accept - Stalingrad

I have to admit that this is no new "Blood of The Nations" but "Stalingrad" is confirming the fact that the new Accept is the real thing. A even album with true heavy metal a la Accept. And with the theme I think even Mother Russia must be very proud of the Germans.

9. Herman Frank - Right In The Guts

From Accept to present guitarist for... Accept. Herman Frank has had a wonderful 2012 with the releases of "Stalingrad" and "Right In The Guts". But his solo album is better because it has more power and more variety in the music. And the singer, Rick Altzi of At Vance, is sounding better than he usually does.

8. Sparzanza - Death Is Certain, Life Is Not

These guys are pretty dark for being so popular. For every album Sparzanza steps one more steps into the shadows and the darker side and with those steps comes some fantastic and stunning music. Cannot wait to see how much darker this band can get.

7. Shadows Fall - Fire From The Sky

Probably one of the biggest surprises all year. After some rough years I did not believe that Shadows Fall would deliver such a assault as "Fire From The Sky" did. Filled with great modern metal and a hard to match evenness. Best album from the band since "The War Within".

6. Gojira - L'Enfant Sauvage

The Frenchmen of Gojira has really outdone themselves this time. "L'Enfant Sauvage" is just as a awesome groovy death metal album should sound like. Heavy riffs, good craftsmanship and a groove that is virtually irresistible. So much genius and care going through the entire album. And just as the band, it is environmental friendly.

5. Overkill - The Electric Age

I thought "Ironbound" was great but "The Electric Age" may even be better than its predecessor. Lot of "up your ass" attitude and groovy thrash metal makes this release one of the best the band has ever released. Never one quiet moment on the entire album. A true sign that Overkill is back in the game.

4. Rush - Clockwork Angels

What do you do if you and your band mates have been in business for over forty years, reached great commercial success and been introducted to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame? Well, how about releasing another stunning album. That is exactly what the Canadian trio Rush did. "Clockwork Angels" is as grand, diverse and deep as some of the bands greatest albums. It may miss some overall strength in the concept but it is still a proof of that these old men still can make awesome music.

3. Testament - Dark Roots of Earth

"Dark Roots of Earth" is like a 2.0 version of Testaments last album "The Formation of Damnation" but this release beats its predecessor in a couple of elements. It still has the same speed as TFoD had but the songs are much more diverse and the lyrics a little more sharpened. And it also feels like the band has moved up a notch in the performance as well. This is definitely an album that just makes me think if we should at least have a "Big 5" in thrash metal instead of "Big 4".

2. Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud

When the Canadian mad man Devin Townsend sets his mind into something he does not give up (except when he tries to make a follow up to "Ziltoid The Omniscient") and when I heard that he was doing a pop-metal album I was thinking "Has he finally lost his mind?". As it turned out, he did not. Instead he released one of the most surprising albums I have ever experienced. "Epicloud" was so epic that I almost fainted. Devin made the most out of Anneke and the quire to make this album perfect. But the best part is that the pop did not take over the album. Effervescent quality!!!

And the best album of 2012 is ( insert drum roll)...

1. Between The Buried And Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence

After a promising EP I looked forward to the second part of the parallax saga but I never thought that BTBAM would deliver one of the best albums the band has ever made. A wide variety of songs, styles and beats together with an exciting concept makes this album as close to perfection that you can come in musical form. Not one boring second on this record. So thank you Tommy Giles Rogers, Paul Waggoner, Dustie Waring, Dan Briggs and Blake Richardson for making this masterpiece of a album. You have made my year much more exciting and better.

Which album of 2012 is your favourite and which album sucked worst? Write in the comments below. Also, a happy new year to everyone. See you in 2013.

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