Reggie’s Top 15 of 2012
Posted by Reggie
Just when I thought 2011 was a banner year for metal, I think 2012 might be equal to or better in terms of both quality music and sheer volume of albums released. It surely was not a dull moment if you ask me; it seemed like I was listening to at least a couple new albums each week. Interestingly, I can probably look at half my list and tell you that some of these albums, I had no idea were coming. They completely snuck on me or I never expected them like Kreator…a band I nearly forgot about came out with a killer album. The band at #15 I never knew existed until just a few weeks ago and I am still impressed with them. There are definitely some surprises on my list this year. Some of these bands have been around for years and I am only now getting into them. I hope you had a great 2012 in metal! Here are my Top 15 albums of 2012.
15. A Band of Orcs – Adding Heads to the Pile.
I had no intention of taking this band seriously based on band name and the fact that they dress like Orcs. I gave the album numerous listens to be sure I wasn’t being fooled into thinking they had talent. After some deliberation, I am convinced that they are quite brutal through and through. I like that fact that they play death metal and didn’t forget to throw in some creative guitar solos to spice things up and add a little flavor. I don’t care too much for their act on stage; I don’t feel it’s necessary, but I won’t hold that against them. They make solid Death metal and that’s the bottom line. Favorite song on the album: Of Broken Chains & Shattered Skulls. Click here for a sample.
14. Six Feet Under – Undead.
My expectations were pretty low when I caught wind of a new Six feet Under album. Don’t get me wrong I consider myself loyal fan, but over the years their recipe for Death metal has been getting a little stale. Then I heard that the majority of the band had been replaced with Kevin Talley, an accomplished drummer, and a couple former members of Chimaira. Then I got a bit more excited and was even more delighted when I heard the music. It’s a refresh the band needed. Since the album’s release there have been more lineup changes (Rob Arnold left), but I don’t think that has affected the band’s output and live shows. I haven’t seen them live yet, but they are on my radar. The video below is a cover of the song, but well-recorded and one of the better videos I could find. Favorite song on the album: Reckless. Click here for a sample.
13. Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones Part 1.
I see Corey Taylor as a man of many talents. He may be watering himself down fronting Slipknot, Stone Sour, and as a solo performer, but for now I like his projects. When it comes to Stone Sour’s music, it is much more accessible than that of Slipknot and I find it appealing; they are two separate bands in my opinion. After Audio Secrecy, I thought Stone Sour was going to continue on the path of the ballad and commercialized rock, but they seemed to have gone back to a more rock/metal with crunch. Sure, you will have a ballad or two, but less so than on their previous album. Favorite song on the album: Gone Sovereign. Click here for a sample.
12. Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol.
Paradise Lost is a band that has a wide spectrum of Doom/Goth metal. They started off heavy, moved into a more synthesized sound, and then began to sway back to the heavy side again. Their latest album, Tragic Idol, showed almost a full circle return to roots. They have been in the business a long time and their new album shows no evidence of the band winding down their career. Incidentally, they are a very nice group of guys; one of the very few bands I had a chance to meet. Personally, I am a fan of the doom and gloom vibe, so this album suits me well. Favorite song on the album: Fear of Impending Hell. Click here for a sample.
11. Baroness – Yellow and Green
Baroness is another band on my list I had no previous experience with. I think my horizons have been expanded this year especially with bands like Baroness and Orange Goblin. Yellow and Green is a great album experience. There are songs that rock (Take My Bones Away) and songs that take your mind to calm happy places (Eula). I don’t see a major difference between the Yellow and Green portions of the album; it’s all just a great listen. Now I need to start looking at some previous efforts of Baroness to strengthen my library. Favorite song on the album: Take My Bones Away. Click here for a sample.
10. Jeff Loomis – Plains of Oblivion.
I was mostly aware of who Jeff Loomis was. I knew of Nevermore, but only got into them in the last few years; unfortunately they have disbanded. Despite the dissolution of the band, Jeff Loomis will surely create more solo music or start another awesome band. His new album, Plains of Oblivion, is a great collection of Thrash metal guitar work with various guest musician and vocalists. If this video below doesn’t inspire you to buy or listen to the album I don’t know what will. For an instrumentalist album, there are collaborations and enough creativity to make it a very interesting album to listen to. Favorite song on the album: The Ultimatum. Click here for a sample.
9. Eluveitie – Helvetios.
I got my first taste of Swiss band Eluveitie when I saw them open for DevilDriver back in 2009. I had no idea what to expect especially since I never heard of them. Then I saw all these musicians come up on stage with things that weren’t all just guitars. It was instantly enjoyable and well-played Folk metal. Helvetios is a great mix of both heavy and melodic Folk metal. With both female musicians singing either backup or on lead provides a numerous avenues for songwriting for the Eluveitie. Favorite song on the album: Havoc. Click here for a sample.
8. Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes.
Ensiferum is another Folk-metal band that has made an impact on me over the last few years. They provide a heavier avenue than Folk metal counterpart Eluveitie. Their new album, Unsung Heroes, isn’t much of a departure of what they do best, but it is a great album to listen to. It is full of battle themed, sword wielding metal that is generally upbeat and fun. If I were to don sword and shield for battle I would want their music playing in the background. Favorite song on the album: In My Sword I Trust. Click here for a sample.
7. God Forbid – Equilibrium.
Once again, I barely heard much of God Forbid before this album was released. I even caught their set at Download one year (2009) and never followed up. I was blown away by not only the musicianship of Equilibrium, but also the production. It’s an amazing piece of work that landed God Forbid on my radar. I need to start looking at the back catalogue. These guys are quality musicians who know how to string together tight rhythms and still keep it heavy. Favorite song on the album: Equilibrium. Click here for a sample.
6. Overkill – The Electric Age.
Overkill is a long time favorite band of mine. Their latest effort, The Electric Age, amazes me that they can keep this tempo after all these years in the business. If there are bands out there that have stuck to their roots, Overkill would/should be at the top of the list. Perhaps that is one reason they never achieved the level of fame I think they should have. At the end of the day Overkill fans are loyal and I think the band is happy with that or they wouldn’t be doing it 16 albums later. The Electric Age is a full-frontal Thrash assault…no room for ballads on this one. Favorite song on the album: Save Yourself. Click here for a sample.
5. Kreator – Phantom Antichrist.
I have no idea why, but I literally forgot about Kreator. I was a huge fan of Terrible Certainty, Extreme Aggression, and Coma of Souls. Somehow I lost track of Kreator over the years and I have no idea why. When Phantom Antichrist was released I bought it without sampling it and it pretty much knocked my socks off. Though I read that they tried a few different things over the years, Phantom sounds like a pure Thrash album to me; they must have reached back to their roots a bit for this one. I can’t think of a bad song on the album. In addition to my favorite listed below, I also love Victory Will Come…a great anthem-type song. Favorite song on the album: Phantom Antichrist. Click here for a sample.
4. The Sword – Apocryphon
The anticipation for this new release paid off; probably one of my most anticipated albums of the year. I have been so impressed with The Sword over the years and they just keep getting better. Their newest album is everything you would expect as a fan, but so much more. They stick to the overall 70s sludge vibe, but always come out sounding fresh. With The Sword you get a package deal with quality song writing, storytelling, and groovy music. Apocryphon is no exception; an entertaining album from start to finish. Their cover of Cheap Sunglasses is a cover song that should make the list of anyone’s favorite covers…truly great. Favorite song on the album: Apocryphon. Click here for a sample
3. Katatonia – Dead End Kings
This is one of a few bands in my life that I have only gotten to know over the last four years or so that has made a huge impact on me. When I discovered The Great Cold Distance, I have been basically hooked. Their new album isn’t far removed from anything I would expect from Katatonia. It is a bit heavier and darker, but at the same time boasts some quite mellow tracks perfect for that gray cold day when you need music to help your mind wander. This album received a heavy dose of play at home, in the car, and in the office. Katatonia is one of those bands I keep at least one of their albums in my player at all times. Dead End Kings is a great strong effort from the Swedes. I don’ think it’s their best album, but damn good to say the least. My favorite song on the album: The Act of Darkening. Click here for a sample of Dead Letters.
2. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth.
I have been a long time fan of Testament; since the mid-80s. Over the years, they opted for some vocal and tempo changes, but with their recent resurgence they are back to ball-busting Thrash with the grunting vocals Chuck Billy does so well. Don’t get me wrong, I like his signing ability as well…see Practice What You Preach. Their last few albums were pretty good; I definitely appreciated their return to roots. However, Dark Roots of Earth took me by complete surprise. I kind of expected more of the same we heard on Formation of Damnation and The Gathering…good, but not great. Dark Roots of Earth is just amazing Thrash metal. It’s new, refreshing, and bone crushing. I am happy to see the return of so many quality Thrash albums. Favorite song on the album: True American Hate. Click here for a sample.
1. Rush – Clockwork Angels.
I am sad to say it took me this long to truly appreciate Rush. I have known about this band since I was single digits. I heard their music throughout my life and for some reason never sat down and “listened” to their music for what it is; great progressive rock! I have a live album and another (best of) album and that was it until Clockwork Angels was released this year. I definitely epitomize late bloomer with this band. It’s never too late as they say. Clockwork Angels is a great album. I initially had it at #2, but after thinking about the depth on this album (like most progressive albums), I had to slide Testament back one. Now, if I can only catch this amazing band live…one of my few final frontiers of live shows I need to see. Favorite song on the album: Seven Cities of Gold. Click here for a sample.
Of course, there are other albums I thoroughly enjoyed and well worthy of an honorable mention. Without overloading this particular post, I will just list the name of the band and the album. If this were a top 22 list, these seven bands would make up the rest of the list. Click on the name of the band for a link to a video. I hope you enjoyed my list and enjoyed an awesome year in metal!
Kamelot – Silverthorn
Drakkar – When Lightning Strikes
Soen – Cognitive
Def-Con-One – Warface
Hollow Haze – Poison in Black
Kill Devil Hill – Kill Devil Hill
Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned
About ReggieJust a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!
Posted on January 4, 2013, in Best of 2012, Metal Lists and tagged A Band of Orcs, A Eulogy for the Damned, Adding Heads to the Pile, Baroness, Biker, Clockwork Angels, Dark Roots of Earth, Eluveitie, Ensiferum, Equilibrium, God Forbid, Helvetios, House of Gold and Bones Part I, jeff loomis, Kill Devil Hill, Kreator, metal, Orange Goblin, Overkill, Paradise Lost, Phantom Antichrist, Plains of Oblivion, Rock, Rush, Six Feet Under, sludge, Stone Sour, Testament, The Electric Age, Thrash, Top 15 of 2012, Tragic Idol, Undead, Unsung Heroes, Yellow and Green. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.