I know a lot of people find these list exhaustive and repetitive but I love them. Most of the year I stick to my personal tastes and recommendations but at the end of the year when all the lists come out I find so much that I missed or hadn’t even considered. Every year I find an album or a comic I hadn’t heard of that completely blows my mind or makes me rethink the possibilities of what is capable in that medium. Stand outs from previous years would be the comic Daytripper or the album Sonic Mass by Amebix.
The other reason I love these lists is it gives people the chance to share all the wonderful things they saw, read or heard that year. There is no end to the awesome stuff that comes out every year and that stuff was made to be seen, heard and read. The idea is that maybe some of these things are new to you and you may find the same enjoyment in them as I did.
With that being said these lists are a collection of my favorites from comics, webcomics, movies and music from 2012. I am not going to take a stance and say these are the best things of 2012 because I don’t believe I have the authority or know how to proclaim that. These are simply lists of things that affected me in some way or the other or I just simply enjoyed the heck out of in 2012.
I have spent a lot of time this year listening to music. Sure mostly metal but the genre excites me more than any other music being created today. The amount of experimentation, amazing composition and masterful musicians is astounding and almost every day of 2012 I was surprised to find yet another amazing band. There is no drought of amazing music coming out these days.
My friend Ben Smasher mentioned to me while creating his own year end list at hearholeaholics that this year being good wasn’t enough. Good is now the new average. I think he is right. There were plenty of bands, bands that I love that put out “good” albums and any other time that may have been enough but this year the bar was raised exceptionally high.
Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
I was not a huge Kreator fan previous to this year. I have their classic Pleasure to Kill but more for a historical context. I like it but never really returned to it much. I heard they were putting out a new one so I thought I might check it out and see what 2012 Kreator had to offer. Oh man, the riffs! The riffs! I don’t really pay attention to lyrics much anymore and one could say that mid life germans raging about society is kind of lame but the music that backs their rage is furious and riff crazy. Kreator is not breaking new ground but they are keeping the bar high for good old traditional thrash which so long into their career says a lot especially compared to some of the other thrash standard bands that have long let the torch go out.
Anathema – Weather Systems
I always look forward to a new Anathema release and in a year where the old doom stalwarts put out masterful records (My Dying Bride, Katatonia) Anathema’s Weather Systems seemed to connect with me the most. There was a week where I listened to it almost exclusively. It may be hard to label them as metal anymore but the sound they have been refining over the past couple albums is both tranquil, beautiful and heavy. The album plays almost as one long song moving seamlessly between tracks carrying the theme of love, loss and death throughout.
Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
As a kid I had always wondered what kind of music Wyld Stallyns could make that would bring harmony to the universe. When it was revealed to be KISS lipped sync through Bill and Ted at the end of the second movie I was a bit disappointed. Long has it been since I thought metal could bring peace to the world until I heard Devin Townsend’s Epicloud. Soaring in scope, heavy at heart and all around emotional if this is what extraterrestrial life hold as the high mark of our society I would be completely content with that.
3 way tie
Royal Thunder – CVI
Witch Mountain – Cauldron of the Wild
Christian Mistress – Possession
2012 saw a lot of what has been referred to has “vest metal” meaning bands that play a sort of throwback 70’s/80’s classic cult style metal fused commonly with satanic or dark themes. I for one really have been enjoying this trend and three of the strongest of these bands released new material this year. All three feature female vocalists and just flat out rock. There are differences here and there but overall they are similar. Bluesy, doomy, Sabbathy, Motorheadish type stuff here. Grab the jean vests kids and hail Satan!
Royal Thunder – Listen to No Good
Witch Mountain – Listen to Aurelia
Christian Mistress – Listen to Black to Gold
Germ – Loss
This was sent to me by my friend Ben Smasher with the description of “David Bowie meets black metal” and that is a fairly accurate description. Both intense and cosmic, experimental and traditional Germ is a shining example of what can be done with not only black metal but with music in general. The are parts of blistering intensity coupled with tear jerking emotion. Germ was a complete random surprise that turned out to be some of the best music I have ever heard.
Mgla – With Hearts Toward None
One thing I love about black metal is bands that experiment with it and take it in new directions helping to expand what it can be. Another thing I like is when a band just goes back to the roots and delivers a blistering orthodox traditional black metal album. While Mgla keeps their black metal firmly in the traditional styling they manage to make is sound fresh. Mgla’s intensity is full on and the styling impeccable. This is black metal done traditionally with the greatest results.
Listen to III
Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God
Dawnbringer’s last album Nucleus was on my year end list 2 years ago so I was eager for this years release. I don’t think Dawnbringer fall into any genre other than just metal. Not metal you hear on local radio however more like in the veins of old Judas Priest, Iron Maiden or even Manilla Road. Epic in scope Into the Lair of the Sun God weaves a tale of hubris, loss and eventually tragedy but the record itself is a modern classic.
Anaal Nathrakh – Vanitas
Anaal Nathrakh have become one of the most reliably impressive bands I have been into for the past couple years. Consistently prolific Anaal Nathrakh doesn’t leave many surprises as to what kind of music they will create – blasting industrial infused black metal – but the surprise is that every time they knock it out of the park. Consistency can sometimes be boring but in Anaal Nathrakh’s case, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Propaghandi – Failed States
Speaking of formulaic, punk rock has left me with little to be excited about over the past couple years. Sure I still like the old standbys and always check out their new works but for the most part they have only been ok. I stumbled on to numerous reviews praising the new Propaghandi album and I was surprised they were still around. Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I checked it out. Good thing I did. Gone are the silly early 90’s punk styles and what we have left is a forward thinking, honest, genre bending punk masterpiece. I never expected to feel the same way about punk as I did as a kid and furthermore I didn’t expect it would come from a band I thought was a throw away 16 years ago.
Listen to Note to Self
Allegaeon – Formshifter
Some local boys here to Colorado I have been waiting for this album for a couple years. melodic death metal that doesn’t skip on the death or relegate it to just the occasional chorus vocals like so many others. And the riffs, oh the riffs, combined with one of my weaknesses, classical guitar in metal (done well), Allegaeon have outdone their previous works and I hope they keep the fire burning.
Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity
2012 was an exceptional year for death metal all around. Some old soldiers returning to form and proving their viability but the one that took my by surprise the most was Cattle Decapitation. Again, a band I dismissed years ago but felt compelled to give a second shot. Intense, brutal and blasting Cattle Decapitation have made a modern death metal masterpiece with plenty of the old stylings. Contagious riffs and vocal I am glad I tried them out for a second spin.
Panopticon – Kentucky
I was not prepared for Kentucky. I saw a preview for it on the Decibel website and noticed that is was from a friends label and gave it a try. What I heard was not only some of the best metal I have ever heard but some of the best music I have ever heard. Kentucky changed my world this year and I have played this album to the extant some might say is burning into the ground. But it isn’t. Every time through there is more to find, more feelings to explore, more sounds to hear. An intensely personal and emotion album with themes surrounding the Kentucky coal mining industry, Panopticon fuses black metal with traditional folk/bluesgrass and coal miners personal accounts to weave what I think is a triumphant masterpiece of art and music. And to think it was all done by just one guy. Amazing. This one will be hard to top by anybody else except Panopticon and I can’t even dare to dream what the next one will be like.
Listen to Black Soot and Red Blood
Any one of these albums could be interchanged with any of my top 12 and I would still be satisfied. So much great music in 2012.
Bastard Sapling – Dragged From Our Restless Trance
Killing Joke – MMXII
Woods of Ypres – Wood 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Christian Mistress – Possession
High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
Thy Catafalque – Rengeteg
Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
Liberteer – Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees
Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph
Bosse-De-Nage – III
Vattnet Viskar – Self Titled
Black Breath – Sentenced to Life
Wodensthrone – Curse
Green Day – Tre!
Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Âme
Nekromantheon – Rise, Vulcan Spectre
Lunar Aurora – Hoagascht
Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
Deathspell Omega – Drought EP
Argyle Goolsby – A Dream Not Quite Remembered
Enslaved – RIITIIR
Baroness – Yellow & Green
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Hot Water Music – Exister
My Dying Bride – A Map of All Our Failures
Katatonia – Dead End Kings
Hell – III
Asphyx – Deathhammer
Ash Borer – Cold of Ages
Borknager – Urd
Weapon – Embers and Revelations
Unleashed – Odalheim
Sigh – In Somniphobia
Desaster – The Arts of Destruction