2012 Top 20 Metal Releases – James Hibbert
I’ve paid little attention to the releases of this year and correspondingly the dramas surrounding them, such as last year’s Liturgy fiasco and Leviathan court case which felt almost unavoidable. For that reason I find myself largely unable to construct a list consisting solely of full-lengths or one that can be logically structured into any kind of order that runs from ‘worst’ to ‘best’ or vice versa (and so I opt for an alphabetic approach), something I struggle with in any and all cases anyway. None the less I’ve found myself revising this list a few times, removing releases (such as Deathspell Omega’s “Drought” – a release which just missed out on being included in this list) and replacing them with others and I’ve surely missed some off which I’ll later be kicking myself for. Some fantastic records such as Swan’s “the Seer” have been dropped for their not being a metal release and others such as Pallbearer & Hooded Menace have been removed in order to be replaced with releases that I’d forgotten had come out this year. Equally, I’ve removed albums that I hadn’t realised upon inclusion were actually released last year. Without further ado:
Aluk Todolo – Occult Rock
Another more exercise in repetition & darkness added to this trio’s discography as krautrock, noise and black metal collide in an hour long ritual comprising of VIII parts.
Anhedonist – Netherwards
The debut full-length from this Seatle death/doom quartet crawls through catacombs of eerie atmospherics and monstrous riffs, a formidable first effort.
Ash Borer – Cold of Ages
USBM newcomers release their second full-length displaying a more refined and matured Ash Borer. A fantastic release.
Bosse-de-Nage – III
Minimalist black metal outsiders further their math rock flirtation in a third installment of audio insanity.
Deiphago – Satan Alpha Omega
Third full-length from Filipino Antichrists, Deiphago. A pulverising war metal onslaught of pure black/death. Human race absolute end!
Evoken – Atra Mors
Another bleak and desolate demonstration of funeral doom/death mastery from these genre legends.
Faustcoven – Hellfire and Funeral Bells
Faustcoven’s third full-length put out by Nuclear War Now! displays a heavy, atmospheric and repeatably listenable exploration of black metal and doom.
Grave – Endless Procession of Souls
Swedish death metal old timers Grave demonstrate how so many years down the line they still have “it”.
Hermóðr – Hermóðr
Hands down one of my favourite releases of 2012, a mid-paced and dreamlike wandering through black metal territory that is neither folksy or DSBM but stands quite firmly on ground somewhere between the two. It might only be a demo cassette consisting of three tracks but each of these are great and every minute is worth your time.
Incantation – Vanguish in Vengeance
Incantation’s third outing featuring John McEntee’s vocals in contrast to those of Craig Pillard’s, an oftentimes unremarkable but nonetheless re-listenable and enjoyable effort from these US death metal pioneers. Legion of Dis, the album’s massive 11 minute closure, is crushing.
Martire – Brutal Legions of the Apocalypse
After nearly 25 years(!) of existence, Australia’s Martire got around to releasing their first(!) full-length this year. A raw and energetic bestial onslaught of thrashy old school black/death metal. There’s nothing innovative going on here but there’s not supposed to be, it does just what it had intended to and doesn’t fail to impress in doing so.
Master’s Hammer – Vracejte konve na místo
It may not be Ritual or the Jilemnice Occultist but Vracejte konve na místo presents the listener with an often catchy and even more often bizarre listening experience that proves how 20 years down the line Czech black metal legends, Master’s Hammer, are still going strong.
Check out samples from the album on the Master’s Hammer website.
Mgla – With Hearts Towards None
Often melodic and almost equally as often discordant, Mgla’s sophomore full-length might not massively progress upon it’s predecessor, Groza, but it’s certainly one worth paying attention to.
Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
Mutilation Rites’ black metal crossover shows promise for this up and coming NYC band and whilst it’s far from perfect it’s certainly engaging.
Odz Manouk – Odz Manouk (Profound Lore CD release)
Odz Manouk’s self-titled full-length first released in 2010 on cassette before being re-issued last year on vinyl was once more re-released on CD this year as the band’s first major label outing. Displaying a raw and aggressive black metal that in a lot of senses stands head and shoulders above it’s label mates, this persistent release is yet to grow tiresome and the brilliant packaging really adds to the appeal.
Revenge – Scum.Collapse.Eradication
All out Canadian war metal assault from Conqueror’s heir to the throne, Revenge. Perhaps the band’s strongest release to date. Exile or death!
Timeghoul – Discography 1992 – 1994
One of my favourite releases of last year was Beherit’s “At the Devil’s Studio 1990” and keeping with the theme of enjoying the re-issue and subsequent ease of access to rare demos, one of my favourite releases of this year is the digipak compilation release of Timeghoul’s two utterly remarkable early 90s classic death metal demos.
Weapon – Embers and Revelations
Canada’s occult-influenced blackened death metal horde, Weapon, here present a record evil in atmosphere and indicative of great things to come.
Witch in Her Tomb – Witch in Her Tomb
Witch in Her Tomb’s rather obscure and disappointingly short (although understandably so, as a demo) debut release isn’t particularly original but what it lacks in originality it makes up for in raw punk like energy and consistency of aesthetic. An entirely enjoyable release.
Wrathprayer – The Sun of Moloch: The Sublimation of Sulphur’s Essence Which Spawned Death and Life
Lastly Chile’s Wrathprayer debut after two demo releases with their first full-length: 40 minutes of bestial black/death metal chaos. Unpredictable, menacing and undeniably crushing.
Check out the guest list of Top 30 albums and Top 5 demos from Matthew “Witchfinder” Hopkins here.
Check out the list of top 10 albums by photographer/writer Rich Price here.
Check out the list of top 15 albums by writer Colum Bell here.
Check out the list of top 60 albums from writer Gary Lukes here.