Scandinavian progressive metal tends to have a certain grandiosity and bombast about it that seems unparallelled by the rest of the world. We’ve been singing the praises of this particular subsection of music for some time now, what with Ihsahn, Enslaved, SHINING, Vintersorg, and more coming out over the years with strong records that capture the region’s unique musical nuance. One band in particular that has engrained themselves as a part of the growing attention brought to the region is Norway’s Leprous. Breaking out with the critical hit of their sophomore record Bilateral in 2011 and gaining notoriety as Ihsahn’s designated live band, they became a band to watch in 2013 as they prepared their follow-up, Coal. It’s certainly one of our most anticipated records this year, and we’re proud to present the band’s first single from the album, ‘Chronic,’ below.
There’s something in the water out there in Scandinavia that makes prog metal so wild, fun, and thought-provoking, a la Ihsahn, SHINING,Enslaved, and up-and-comers Leprous. Leprous have had us captivated since the release of their third record Bilateral. We featured Leprous on our list of albums to look out for in 2013, and the good news is finally starting to come in.
If I had my say, there would be a top one hundred list, because I enjoyed so many different albums this year. I’ve changed this list fifty seven times over the past week, so this list is me finally making a decision. It’s honestly been harder choosing this list than it has been choosing classes for next semester. I must say that 2012 has shown that music has not totally gone down the drain, because there are still so many amazing bands I’m just now hearing about, and so many great albums to listen to. So, without further ado, here are the twenty best albums to come out in 2012, and the six best albums that would be twenty one through twenty six that just didn’t make the cut.
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:
2012 has been an amazing year for music, and I find myself hard pressed to pick fifteen releases that I would consider to be the best and cover everything I want to cover. Nevertheless, here are the fifteen best albums of the year, in my humble opinion.
Funny story; while doing the Ancient VVisdom post from earlier, I realized that we totally forgot to run the news of this upcoming Enslaved, Pallbearer, and Ancient VVisdom North American tour. Whoops! Consider this my rectification.
We won’t be seeing any shortage of killer tours come 2013, as there are already at least three that I myself am stoked for. While the upcoming Coheed and Cambria and Meshuggah headlining tours will surely gather the attention of various prog fans, those with more of a streamlined “real” metal taste will find this Enslaved tour more up their alley.
Here are the dates:
01/30/13 Underground Arts – Philadelphia, PA
01/31/13 Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
02/01/13 Mr. Smalls Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA
02/02/13 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI
02/03/13 Reggie’s Rock Club – Chicago, IL
02/04/13 Mill City Nights – Minneapolis, MN
02/06/13 Marquis Theater – Denver, CO
02/08/13 The Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA
02/09/13 Slim’s – San Francisco, CA
02/10/13 Branx – Portland, OR
02/11/13 The Highline – Seattle, WA
02/12/13 Biltmore Cabaret – Vancouver, B.C. – CANADA
02/14/13 The Pawn Shop – Edmonton, AB – CANADA
02/15/13 Dickens Pub – Calgary, AB – CANADA
02/16/13 The Exchange – Regina, SK – CANADA
02/17/13 Osborne Village Inn – Winnipeg, MB – CANADA
02/19/13 The Opera House – Toronto, ON – CANADA
02/20/13 Les Foufounes Electriques – Montreal, QC – CANADA
02/21/13 The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
02/22/13 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
Nothing close to Heavy Blog HQ, which is a bummer. This promises to be a great tour! Make it out if you can, and relay the experience back to me so I can live vicariously!
Two years ago, Barcelona, Spain based progressive metal act Obsidian Kingdom released an EP titled 3:11, which we featured alongside an interview. Now the band are back with a new full-length album titled Mantiis, a rock-opera the melds genres from across a rich and varied palette. Classic progressive metal, post-metal, and black metal all come together in powerful influence to carry the story through bouts of despair and violence. Making comparison is difficult, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to associate Obsidian Kingdom with the likes of Opeth, Katatonia, Enslaved, and Ihsahn.
If you enjoy the album enough, there’s also a marvelous physical copy of the album with artwork curated by minimalist artist Ritxi Ostáriz (Ihsahn, Ulver) and fashion designer Elena Gallen (Kulte, VICE). If you’re one to collect outstanding physical albums, make this one a part of your collection.
Have we talked about how awesome the new Enslaved album is? Oh, we have. Well, what about the debut album from Pallbearer? Oh, we talked about that too. Huh. Well I guess you fine folks already have all the information you need! Go see this fucking tour!
Okay, okay. You probably need a little bit more information. Having just released their latest full-length, RIITIR, Enslaved are preparing for a headlining tour of North America early 2013. Coming along with them are the formidable young doom metallers, Pallbearer, whose debut full length knocked me off my toes and has kept me coming back time and time again since I first heard it earlier this year, and Ancient VVisdom, who I must confess, I’m not too knowledgeable about. There’s a lot of music out there, and some things are bound to fall through the cracks.
The tour will be called the Winter Rite 2013. Here’s what Enslaved had to say regarding the tour:
North America has become like a second home-shore to us; the rising support we’ve been getting for the last albums and tours has been amazing! We’re more than ready to come over again and play our new album Riitiir live to show that the new material is extremely well-fitted for a live setting, and to reflect the enthusiasm and dedication we’ve been getting from the fans over there! See you on the road!
We’ve raved about the former bands new albums enough, and while I would love to see both Enslaved and Pallbearer in a live setting, unfortunately there just isn’t a date near enough to me. Hopefully all of you fair better. So see if your local venue is on this list, and prepare yourself for one hell of a night. You can view the dates below, as well as the full press release.
I love Enslaved (you can read my review of their new album RIITIIRhere), and everything they do attracts my attention. For no apparent reason, they got on a Norwegian talk show, and performed a cover of my favorite Led Zeppelin song, ‘Immigrant Song’. Funnily enough, they do it in a way so that it is both very faithful and also very Enslaved. It’s quite weird, but glorious. Check it out above.
In other Enslaved video news, the band have unveiled their new video for the single ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’ in conjunction with Scion A/V. It’s basically just shots of water and stuff, but whatever works, right?
Enslaved’s new album RIITIIR is out now on Nuclear Blast!