Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lord Bling's Top 15 Albums of 2012

I usually do a Top Ten album list, but it's been a really good year for the music I listen to, so I figured I'd expand it to 15.  Like usual, if you're not into metal, a good part of this list won't pertain to you, but stick around and you might find a few surprises.

(Band names link to Wikipedia.  Album names link to Amazon.)

15.  Storm Corrosion -- self-titled.  The prog-rock super group brought it mellow and dark.  Nothing like Opeth or Porcupine Tree, but fans of both will appreciate it.  Great for overcast weather.  Favorite Song (and possibly best video of the year?): Drag Ropes

14.  Converge -- All We Love We Leave Behind. How does these guys still do it?  Over 20 years of consistently great (and more importantly, relevant) hardcore?  They continue to amaze me.  Favorite Song:  Sadness Comes Home

13.  Toadies -- Play.Rock.Music.  Gritty southern rock is a consistent listen throughout.  Their strongest overall album since Hell Below Stars Above.  Favorite Song: We Burned the City Down

12.  Testament -- Dark Roots of Earth.  A band that deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as the Big Four.  They're still writing music that's better than anything those four bands have released in years.  Favorite Song: Native Blood

11.  Napalm Death -- Utilitarian.  Having grown up with this band, I'd kind of grown out of them in the past decade. Then I saw the album was on sale for $5 on Amazon and I bought it, and I'm really glad I did.  In fact, it has me wondering what I've missed over the past decade.  Favorite Song: Errors in the Signals

10.  Deftones -- Koi No Yokan. This one didn't grab me as instantly as their last two, but it's still a strong record.  I'm glad they're still plugging away, and hopefully Chi can make it back to them someday.  Favorite Song: Entombed

9.  Sylosis -- Monolith.  Probably their best overall album, even if it lacks a true 'home run' song like Empyreal.  If you're a fan of Lamb of God, this will be your new favorite band.  Favorite Song: What Dwells Within

8.  Periphery -- II: This Time It's Personal.  Not as strong as their debut, but that one came from out of nowhere so expectations were higher here. The technical prowess is there (of course), but the biggest gain has to be Spencer's vocals.  He really upped his game, and pulls it all off live too.  Favorite Song: Scarlet

7.  Car Bomb -- w^w^^w^w.  Left for dead years ago, these math metal survivors returned with an album so important, it could not be ignored.  This is the kind of music Dillinger Escape Plan used to make, before they started listening to the hype about themselves.  Favorite Songs: Finish It / Lower the Blade

6.  7 Horns 7 Eyes -- Throes of Absolution.  The only debut album on my list comes from a Christian prog/tech/death band.  Wholly deserving of all the praise it received in the metal underground in the months leading up to its release.  I can't wait to see what they do for an encore.  Favorite Song: Cycle of Self

5.  Pig Destroyer -- Book Burner.  Their best album since Prowler in the Yard.  Don't listen to this band while you're driving, or you'll end up with a few speeding tickets.  Favorite Song (and a close second for best video of the year): The Diplomat

4.  The Faceless -- Autotheism.  This one took a long time to grow on me.  While the tech-death parts still exist, they injected a lot of Between the Buried and Me / Devin Townsend-like progressive rock into the songwriting.  This may have upset some of their long-time fans, but I actually think it works better than anything else they've ever written.  Favorite Song: Emancipate

3.  The Devin Townsend Project -- Epicloud.  While not as poppy as his 'Dev Leppard' comments hinted, it still brings enough 'catchy' to warrant the tag.  His lyrics have become more hopeful over the years, but without being too 'soft'.  This is his finest solo album since Infinity.  Favorite Songs: Liberation / Grace

2.  Cattle Decapitation -- Monolith of Inhumanity.  A concept album about how humanity is slowly killing itself, set to music that sounds like the end of the world.  Travis Ryan has proven himself to be the best vocalist in extreme music today, by combining guttural and melodic in a way that only Mike Patton could have dreamed of.  Metal album of the year.  Favorite Song: Your Disposal

1.  Anathema -- Weather Systems.  They've done it again.  Last year, they released "We're Here Because We're Here" in the US, and I named the 'Pink Floyd-on-downers' prog-rock record my top pick of 2011.  Now we get this, which is more subtle, but reveals itself to be the better record with repeated listens.  Their lyrics continue to revolve around dealing with the loss of loved ones, and the last thoughts people have before passing on.  It has moments of darkness, but still manages to feel hopeful, and extracts emotions out of me unlike any other band I've ever heard.  Favorite Songs: Untouchable Pts 1 & 2 / Lightning Song / The Lost Child

"I've never seen a light that's so bright
The light that shines behind your eyes
I had to let you go
To the setting sun
I had to let you go
To find your way back home"


Lord Bling said...

One thing to note -- if the new Tesseract album is half as good as the single they released this year (Nocturne), that one may end up being my #1 in 2013.

Ryan the Angry Midget said...

Glad to see Converge, Periphery, DTP, Toadies and Deftones made the list. It was a damned good year for music.

I'm a little surprised that BTBAM, Dethklok and Gojira were absent, but I can't make a strong case for those over anything you have here. I Ejaculate Fire by Dethklok receives my nod for song title of the year, though.

Lord Bling said...

BTBAM's new one would've been 'honorable mention' but I figured if I'm extending the list to 15, I've been wordy enough. It's pretty good but I don't think it's as good as The Great Misdirect. They need to learn how to edit themselves. I know that's easier said than done for a prog-metal band that does these weird concept albums, but still.

The new Gojira and the new Ihsahn both were really disappointing to me. Gojira just rehashed their last two albums, recycling parts of a lot of other riffs. I hope they're not out of ideas. And Ihsahn's record isn't bad but lacked the majesty of his last one.

As for Dethklok, well, I still like the show (and that song title is lulzy), but I can't really say I'm in a hurry to buy their albums anymore. The joke is pretty much over with me.