December 28, 2012

Chester's Top 20 Albums of 2012

This is it, folks! Listmania is upon us and I am here with the list of my favorite albums from 2012. It's been another great year for metal and I can't wait to see what the next one will bring. This is my last post for the year, so have fun, take it easy, be cool and see you in 2013! Peace out!

** Please note that, despite the title, this is not actually a TOP 20. The albums are only listed in alphabetical order, their position on the list is irrelevant to my tastes.

1. Alcest - Les Voyages de L'Ame

This is the first time I'm listening to Alcest, but I'm willing to include them on my year-end list simply because I liked every song on this album, starting with the strong opener Autre Temps. It's beautiful and inspiring and the fact that the lyrics are in French lends it a certain elegance I find most appealing.

2. Burning Love - Rotten Thing to Say

Canadian hardcore bros Burning Love are responsible for my favorite sludge/hardcore album of the year. Explosive riffs, fast-burning bluesy licks, frantic drumming, great songwriting, cool lyrics and tons of screaming make Rotten Thing to Say a truly intense album that offers much more than its low-key cover might suggest.

3. Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity

Vegan warriors Cattle Decapitation have stepped up their game and came up with an insane deathgrind album which puts all of their previous output to shame. Travis Ryan is one hell of a vocalist, being able to produce all sorts of crazy vocals, and he is backed by a well-trained demolition crew, obliterating everything in their path.

4. Die Antwoord - Ten$ion

I non-ironically love Die Antwoord and I hope they keep making music and creepy/funny videos until they're too old to stand. Ten$ion sees the South-African crew maintaining their unique style and crafting some of their best and quirkiest songs to date. ZEF SIDE REPRESENT.

5. Dopethrone - III

With this crushing monster of an album, Dopethrone further cement their reputation as some of the best stoner doomsters around. It's heavier than a herd of mammoths stampeding all over you and catchier than toilet seat STDs. There is no excuse to miss out on this one.

6. Germ - Wish

Ex-Austere vocalist Tim Yatras is a true alchemist. I would have never imagined electronic trance music, black metal and post-rock could work so well together. But Germ's music merges these elements flawlessly into one of the most original and hopelessly addictive albums of 2012. All aboard for the cosmic journey of a lifetime!

7. Gorod - A Perfect Absolution

French tech-death overlords Gorod have released an impressive album which has been on my constant rotation ever since it came out. Fantastic vocals, hard-hitting riffs, soaring guitar solos, plenty of melody and impeccable production make A Perfect Absolution their best effort to date.

8. Graveyard - Lights Out

A more quiet, subdued album than last year's excellent Hisingen Blues, Lights Out sees the Swedish rockers preserving their vintage sounds and equally vintage looks and delivering another badass performance. Graveyard rule!

9. Horseback - Half Blood

A dark, ominous yet totally catchy album combining black metal, drone, shoegaze, doom metal and a touch of Americana twang? Sign me up! Arjuna = one of my favorite songs ever.

10. Muknal - Muknal


11. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal of I

Progressive metal doesn't get much more progressive than this. On their debut album, Ne Obliviscaris combine black/death/doom metal with jazz, classical and Oriental elements into a clusterfuck of all things awesome. Brilliant songwriting, harsh/clean vocals, fast tremolo-picked riffs, delicate acoustic passages, violins, brutality and beauty, all rolled into one. Portal of I is nothing short of a masterpiece and it begs the question: where will these guys go from here?

12. Nomega - Deimos

I'm always happy when I get the opportunity to include a Romanian band on this list. Last year it was Mediocracy. Now, it's Nomega's turn to step into the lime light. These stoner bros create half-improvised, loosely structured stoner/psychedelic/space rock anthems and boy oh boy, it's great! Taking cues from a slew of influencial stoner rock bands, Nomega do things their own way. Deimos is a dizzying 2001: A Space Odyssey-like journey through the fringes of outer space and inner conscience. There's not much else to say except... BLAST OFF!

13. OM - Advaitic Songs

OM are on my best-of list by default. Every year that they put something out is a year not wasted in vain. It may not be as good as some of their previous work, but it's still something to behold.

14. Panopticon - Kentucky

I was born in old Kentucky, in a coal camp born and bred.
I know all about the pinto beans, bulldog gravy and corn bread.
And I know how the coal miners slave and work in the coal mines every day 

For a dollar in the company store, for that is all they pay.

15. Rhinocervs - RH-12

A sparse, grim as fvck album that reminded me what black metal is really about. These three nameless songs are filled with a dark, foggy atmosphere and cold riffs, but there is also melody hidden among the raw ugliness of Rhinocervs' music.

16. Satan's Satyrs - Wild Beyond Belief

It took me a looooong time to get into this album. The fact that the production is so shitty that it sounds like the band is playing four blocks away inside a cardboard box isn't going to make Wild Beyond Belief a particularly easy listen. But, once I managed to unearth them from the heaps of fuzz drowning this album, I discovered some kickass riffage that practically begged me to take off my clothes, crush some cold cans and howl like a wild beast while my horrified neighbours were calling the police. Sweet!

17. Subcarpaţi - Underground Folclor

I was chomping at the bit to hear the new album by Subcarpaţi and it was exactly what I had hoped for. A whole bunch of dubstep/electro beats pounding over folk music samples and MC Bean's twisted lyrics about nationalism, hanging out with your grandma and listening to old songs on the radio. Good stuff.

18. Veil of Maya - Eclipse

I have no idea what keeps me coming back to this album. The percussive djenty riffs? The cool low/high dual vocal attack? The fact that they made fun of some YouTube kid on the song Punisher and modeled an entire riff after his online rant? Yeah, maybe.

19. Witchcraft - Legend

Five years after the release of The Alchemist, Witchcraft have made a long-awaited return with Legend. By lending a modern edge and a crisp production to their classic rock/doom songs about love, struggles and social issues, these Swedes have managed to helplessly ensnare me, which is why I've been listening to this since it came out. Somebody stop me!

20. Woods of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is a beautiful emotionally-charged black metal/post-rock album that adds to the late David Gold's already impressive legacy. It is at once moving and heavy and it explores so many sentimental themes that it's almost impossible not to relate with at least some of the songs. I'm notorious for getting excited about bands everyone else already knows about, so Woods of Ypres is my top musical discovery of the year. Always late to the party!

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