2012 has been a phenomenal year in music. Huge bands came out with some of the best music I’ve heard my entire life. Bands were coming out with such amazing stuff; it felt like they actually believed this to be the last year for humanity and had to come out with the best music they’ve ever created. This year was the year of many things; post-rock, progressive metal, comebacks, djent etc. but to me this was mainly the year of death-metal. With stellar releases by industry veterans like Cannibal Corpse, Nile, Cryptopsy and Dying Fetus, as well as newer bands like Cattle Decapitation, Pathology and Dyscarnate, I have never heard this much death-metal at once. I used to shun the genre, but this year, I converted. I came over to the dark-side (partly because they had cookie… monster. Lelelelelel. No? Okay, no more horrible puns). It was also this year that I started listening to some new genres, mainly grind and slam. I knew they existed but I didn’t see the thrill in them till recently. Boy, was I wrong. So let this year be the “Year of Resolution” on my new found sense of taste.
Reflecting back on 2012, it’s difficult not to think about some of the downright horrible news that came out this year. With the closing down of Hydra Head Records, Laurent Schroeder-Lebec leaving Pelican and the shocking death of Mitch Lucker vocalist of Suicide Silence, it had its ups and downs but I guess that’s just life’s way of reminding us that we have to take the good with the bad. Here’s to trying to keep positive for the next year.
This year is also the year I started writing for HBIH and my opinion on music started to mean something. I had been a reader of this blog for 3 years until I was approached by Alkahest to write for HBIH. Having been a jobless Indian living in New Delhi, I instantly accepted the offer and now I can pose as an online music hipster and look down on other people’s music taste with unabashed glee. Thanks again, Jimmy!
Unlike many of my co-workers here at HBIH, I opted to have my list consist only of 10 albums. I’m old-school that way. Yes, they were many albums I wanted to add to my list but I’m going to stick to the tried and tested way of the Top 10. So without any further ado, here are my Top 10 Albums Of 2012.
10. Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis EP
Pelican hold a very special place in my heart. Ever since I started listening to post-metal when I was a teenager, with the likes of Tool, Isis and Cult Of Luna, Pelican was that one band that felt pleasant listening to. Dont get me wrong, they really know how to rock out, but their post-rock moments felt very happy compared to every other band in the genre. If it were up to me, I’d put this album all the way at the top. Sadly, this is not a full length album, it’s just an EP. So for that reason, I’ll keep it at the bottom, just to be fair to all the other albums on this list.
Standout track: ‘Parasite Colony’
9. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
There were many WTF moments in 2012, but nothing compares to Godspeed You! Black Emperor coming out with an album after almost a decade and in complete secrecy. I will always remember how the entire internet went berserk when rumours of the album started to come out. No one had anticipated such a thing and they were just being disregarded as hear-say. But then links of the album started to appear and rumours slowly started turning into fact. What a day that was! Like all other GY!BE albums, this is an amazing album. It has one of the greatest tracks they’ve ever written, and though the album is a lot easier to listen compared to their previous efforts (a 20 minute track is not easy-listening, though), it’s still one of the most amazing post-rock albums this year, which isn’t an easy thing to say when you’ve got so many other stellar releases in the genre.
Standout track: ‘We Drift Like Worried Fire’
8. The Faceless – Autotheism
Autotheism is an atheist’s wet-dream. There’s nothing much to say other than that.It is also my first The Faceless album. I know I’m late to the party. But I’m glad I caught up. These guys are amazing. The precision and technicality in their playing is jaw-dropping. Michael Keene’s writing is great and it’s nice to see him doing clean vocals as well. He might not be the greatest singer out there, but his parts fit very well with the songs. It’s good that The Faceless aren’t deathcore any more and it’s also great to see a band evolve like they have. Autotheism is a fantastic technical album and I enjoyed it immensely, and whether or not I believe in its atheistic message did not hinder with my enjoyment.
Standout track: ‘Autotheist Movement I – Create‘
7. Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay
Soon after I joined HBIH, I was given the opportunity of reviewing this album. For almost a month I kept listening to it over and over and yet could come up with nothing to say other than it was amazing. Honor Found In Decay is the most dense album I’ve heard all year. A very difficult listen but it makes so much sense after quite a few listens. It’s clear that Neurosis have aged and this reflects well on their music. Yes, they’re slower and a lot more introspective (not like they never were) and yet they seem a lot wiser. I guess age does that to you. This album will take many, many listens to fully comprehend.
Standout track: ‘My Heart For Deliverance.‘
6. The Contortionist – Intrinsic
What a game changer! This was one of my most anticipated albums of 2012. I was so excited for this album. If you’ve heard The Contortionist’s 2010 masterpiece Exoplanet, I’m sure you’re aware how they can mesh progressive deathcore along with post-rock to create some awe-inspiring climaxes. On Intrinsic, they took my favourite post-rock parts and expanded on them while still keeping their deathcore influence intact. It’s not as crushing and deathcore-ish as Exoplanet but it is a lot more soothing and spacey.
Standout track: ‘Holomovement.’
5. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
This album… wow. Only Between The Buried And Me could write such a riveting story that spans (at least) two albums wide. And no one does genre bending better than them either. It goes seamlessly through different genres and yet never feels random or like it’s straying from the story-line. Truly an epic album in every sense of the word and an immense accomplishment by the band. I know I’m going to get a lot of flak for putting BtBaM so far down the list but there were so many others that connected with me better on a personal level than this one. I also don’t think BtBaM can top The Great Misdirect or Colors for that matter, so this gets the #5 spot this year. I love this album. I really do. But there were a few others that I held closer to my heart.
Standout track: ‘Silent Flight Parliament.‘
4. Gojira – L’enfant Sauvage
What can I say about Gojira? They’re the main reason why I got into death-metal. Before them, I regarded the genre to be nothing but something to be made fun of. I admit it. I’m an idiot. They hold a very special place in my heart. Though, I don’t think anything can top The Way Of All Flesh, which is one of my all time favourite albums, but this time we saw Gojira slowing down a bit. They turned a lot more introspective and wrote just one of their most emotional albums. Dont get me wrong, it’s still Gojira. All the crazy drumming and mammoth riffs are here. Yet, it’s so much more heart-felt this time around.
Standout track: ‘Explosia.’
3. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity
2012 was without a doubt the year of death-metal. So many amazing death-metal albums came out this year including Nile, Dying Fetus, Cryptopsy, Pathology and Dyscarnate. It was hard for me to choose but I had to go with just one that stood out the most for me. Monolith Of Inhumanity has been the craziest death-metal album, mostly due to Travis’ amazing vocals. Probably the angriest vocalist in death-metal and the funniest with his Captain Barbossa style of screeching. The guitar work on the album is so crazy and it has the best sounding production in a death-metal album I’ve heard all year. For quite a while, I held this to be my Album Of The Year, but I later realised that technical prowess was never my main factor for consideration.
Standout track: ‘A Living Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat.’
2. The Safety Fire – Grind The Ocean
Djent was pretty lackluster this year, in my opinion. But one album stood out like no other. The Safety Fire’s Grind The Ocean. When they came out with Grind The Ocean, this album took the genre into a whole different direction. Not only is this a phenomenal metal album but I also believe it to be the album non-metalheads could get into.
Standout track: ‘Huge Hammers.’
1. Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering
So, here you are, ladies and gentlemen. I bring to you the most uncomfortable album I’ve heard all year. When I say “uncomfortable” I don’t mean that in the sense of how doom-metal can be depressing. “Uncomfortable” as in, how every aspect of this album is just purely disturbing. I LOVE IT! It’s a perfect blend of grind and post-metal and is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.
Standout track: (Are you seriously asking me this on my #1 album?! The entire thing, dammit! Okay, I’ll humour you.) ‘This We Celebrate.’