Some of you may be aware of who I am. AlucardXIX on youtube, amongst other websites. The guy who does all the Veil of Maya covers, the mind behind Encircle, and another writer on this here great ol’ blog. 2012 was both an interesting and disappointing year to me, musically. Some absolutely astounding albums came out this year, and some serious let downs as well (The Faceless, The Contortionist). Originally it was hard for me to pick a top ten; I thought about all the albums I’ve heard that I abandoned after a few listens, albums I loved at first listen and then wondered how I even thought that to begin with. I thought I could barely muster together 10 albums to begin with, but remembering back to the beginning of the year, I managed this humble fifteen:
15. Veil of Maya – Eclipse
If anyone reading this knows who I am, they know I love Veil of Maya. Why aren’t they higher on the list? Because this album was not what I was hoping it would be in the end, but it’s still one of my favorite releases from this year. Marc Okubo’s guitar playing is one of the biggest influences to my own playing, and even though this album was far shorter than I was hoping, and in some places dissapointing, it still hit me harder than most albums released this year.
Standout Track: ‘The Glass Slide’
14. Whitechapel – Whitechapel
The best guitar tone I’ve heard all year is on this album. I’m a production junky and this album was perfect to me in that aspect. The songs are more interesting, often more technical than previous releases as well. Less reliant on breakdowns, and more on using all three of their guitarists to the fullest on every song.
Standout Track: ‘Make It Bleed’
13. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
Its Gojira. The band have shown that they haven’t lost the touch yet. L’Enfant Sauvage is like a blend of The Link and From Mars To Sirius, with touches of The Way of All Flesh at times. Not to mention Gojira have one of the meanest guitar tones ever and constantly bring you aggressive metal with a positive message.
Standout Track: ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’
12. Trifonic – Ninth Wave
Seeing as Blackmill didn’t release an album this year, I felt that I needed to have at least one electronic release on my top, and this is the one that sat the best with me. Trifonic deliver an interesting blend of drum and bass, slight dubstep influences, and ambient music to the table, this album being even more well composed than their debut Emergence. An outstanding album to drive to at night, or listen to if you want something minimalist at times, upbeat and pulsing at others.
Standout Track: ‘Night Run’
11. Monuments – Gnosis
Monuments‘ long awaited debut did not disappoint. Even people who typically hate djent seemed to like this album. Ditching their original vocalists and picking up Matt Rose was a very smart move in my opinion. Matt’s vocals sometimes feel reminiscent of Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan which, according to what John Browne has told me, was exactly what he wanted for the band. The songs definitely would have had more power if the album were released in 2010, or 2011, but it makes them no less great being late to the party.
Standout Track: ‘Doxa‘
10. Zelliack – Noir Tone EP
Not metal in the slightest, but Zack Ordway and Elliot Coleman. Do I need say more? The two are an untouchable duo, and Noir Tone was probably the thing I listened to the most this year. The songs are beyond emotional and excellently composed. Elliot’s voice was made for this kind of music, and Zack’s inhuman guitar playing even shines through his outstanding guitar solos. Their full length album will be one to look out for in the future.
Standout Track: ‘Autumn In Analog’
9. Intandem – Intandem EP
For those who don’t know, this is Kyle McKnight’s (founding member of Threat Signal) new musical endeavour. I’ve always been a huge fan of Kyle’s riffs, solos, everything. This EP has given me plenty of repeated listens thanks to its density. I’m extremely anxious to see where Kyle takes the band from here!
Standout Track: ‘Adaption‘
8. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza IIII – The Alpha The Omega
I love some chaos in my music from time to time, and Danza have always supplied it as well as anyone could. Sadly enough, this was their final album. Though not as crazy as Danza III was, it’s still got that vibe throughout and plenty of that Josh Travis melody to do along with it. Overall it was a solid farewell for the band.
Standout Track: ‘Rudy x3′
7. Slice the Cake – Other Slices
Better late than never, eh? Other Slices is astounding. Full of surprises in every song. Brutality, melody, and perfection. Slice the Cake have released two stellar albums this year, but this one takes the cake for me. It’s more varied than The Man With No Face (which could easily be on this list as well), and the closing track is easily one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, and the best song they’ve written to date!
Standout Track: ‘The Siren’s Song’
6. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
I’ll be “that guy” for a minute and admit that I’ve been a fan of Misha Mansoor’s work for a good six or seven years now, following him back on the Meshuggah forums, and I’ve never not liked what he’s done. Periphery II is no different. The songs are perfectly crafted, every riff and melody flowing into the next with the utmost care for the overall picture. While many of my blog-mates seem to harbor ill will towards the band and this album, I still love it and it’s still one of my favorite this year.
Standout Track: ‘Have a Blast‘
5. Beneath the Massacre – Incongrous
To me, Beneath the Massacre are the epitome of technical death metal. They’re fast as all hell, more aggressive than most bands could imagine to be, and more technical than you’d believe. Incongrous does not shy from their sound in the least, and has some of the most brutal music I’ve heard this year on it. The best part of it all, to go with their over the top technicallity, Beneath the Massacre weave a kind of sinister melody into all of their songs, never straying into the territory of pure noise.
Standout Track: ‘Hopes‘
4. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
This should be a no brainer, Devin Townsend is a musical genius, hands down. The last few years he’s written some of the best music I’ve ever heard with Deconstruction being my album of the year for 2011. Epicloud is no different. It’s like Addicted 2.0 but heavier at times and more emotional at others. The second disc of B-sides is just as good, and in some instances better than the main album. Epicloud was one of the albums I had been looking forward to most this year and it did not disappoint.
Standout Track: ‘Where We Belong‘
3. Enslaved – Riitiir
Enslaved blew my mind with Riitiir on first listen. The band have had an interesting progression over the years, always having a progressive side but sometimes teetering on full on black metal at times. This album is just full of expertly written songs, amazing melodies, and unexpected twists that make sense in the grand scheme of things. Definitely an album to check out if you’ve never given Enslaved a listen as it’s easily their most accessible too.
Standout Track: ‘Death in the Eyes of Dawn‘
2. Katatonia – Dead End Kings
I’ve been a huge Katatonia fan for years. To me, they’ve just been getting better and better with every album since Viva Emptiness. Each one more interesting, heartfelt, and exciting than the last, in their dark way. Dead End Kings is no different, and the bonus track ‘The Act of Darkening’ is the best single song I’ve heard all year.
1. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
I was extremely skeptical going into Parallax II. I felt the Parallax EP was a weak rehash of riffs from The Great Misdirect, it did nothing for me on multiple plays. On first listen, Parallax II put all of my doubts to rest and I knew immediately that it was by far the best thing I had heard all year. Even on repeated listens you constantly hear new things, understand things in a new context, and it just doesn’t get old.