The return of Gorguts is an exciting prospect for many, something that’s been on the hook for the last 12 years. After all, their album Obscura spawned a new breed of prog and tech death and even became the namesake for one of our favorite bands in death metal. Hint: It’s Obscura.
I love a good split release. It allows me to branch out my musical taste in some ways and discover bands I wouldn’t have otherwise listened to if one of the bands involved is an established act that I’ve been aware of for some time. This year, split releases have been kind to us. Cough and Windhand released a stellar psychedelic doom split album Reflection of the Negative, Phil Anselmo and Warbeast wowed folks with their collaboration, and avant garde black metallers Smohalla and Omega Centauri came together for the post-black madness in Tellur — Epitome (more on that later this week!). The latest split that I’ve been enamored with is the atmospheric black metal release from Vestiges and Panopticon.
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.
Every so often there’s an album that can change someone’s perspective on music. For whatever reason, good or bad, this record alters the way a person thinks of music. Records like Gorguts‘ Obscura, Cynic‘s Traced in Air, or Primus‘ Frizzle Fry push musical boundaries and cause people to think of it in a whole new light. Behold the Arctopus‘ latest release, Horrorscension, has the potential to be one of those albums for a lot of people.
Black metal is a curious beast; it can either be really beautiful and transcend the five senses we are born with and expose us to new pleasures previously unknown, or it can unlock seething vitriol and hatred, eschewing the misanthrope, violence, and racism for which the genre is notorious. Whatever the case, it’s easily one of the most controversial and centralized of all metal sub-genres. Every brand has its clique: trve kvlt, atmospheric, post, experimental, progressive, etc. All of these separate sub-sections stay within their limits, and so do the fans. Now there are some exceptions to the rule, of course, and there will always be overlap for those who love all metal, but as a whole metal fans — and fans of music in general — tend stick to their own little sphere. Krallice fall in the gray area; an area in which all boundaries are knocked down and the music encompasses far more genres and influences than ever thought.
There is a reason I gave Krallice’s last record a perfect score. They do black metal so well that it’s hard not to take notice. Fanboy-ism aside, they are one of the few USBM bands that really capture my attention, and that have been able to keep it since I discovered them. I thought it was ridiculous when they announced a new record, roughly about a year and a half after their last one, was completed and is being released in three weeks. They posted a new song with the enigmatic title ‘IIIIIIII’ and while it’s definitely not their weirdest stuff, it’s still great. Exactly what I wanted to hear from Krallice. A brutal 10+ minute long black metal onslaught. Listen to the track below.
Since I’m not entirely in the fold when it comes to black metal, I don’t know if I’m off-base or not when I say that Krallice are one of the “biggest” and most-critically acclaimed bands in the North American black metal scene. Spencer claimed that their last album Diotima was one of the best black metal records he’s heard in some time, so I’ll just have to take his word for it. Here we are a year later and they’re back on the saddle again, teasing another forthcoming record.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Krallice has announced that they will be releasing their new album Years Past Matter (album art above) on August 25th. There’s not much else to say, but if you’re a Krallice fan, it’s time to get excited!
01. Tapestry Of The Starless Abstract
03. Of The Leper Butterflies
04. Forget Not
05. And Plague Flowers The Kaleidoscope
06. As Icicles Fall
07. Of Petrichor Weaves Black Noise
[Code 666 Records]
Black metal is quickly evolving from a one-off listen to a personal favorite of mine. There is just something about its music that entrances me, something other-worldly. I also happen to like its distant nature, by which I mean its ability to still sound heavy without downtuning a guitar. Take the first Mayhem record; standard tuning, but some of the heaviest songs I have ever heard. I also really enjoy some more relaxing non-metal acts, such as The Mars Volta and even (yes, true story) Dave Matthews Band. Part of what attracts me to both is not only their versatility, but their sometimes shocking surprises.
02. Pale Horse
03. III: Death Dimension Phantasma
04. The Monolith
05. An Extension Of His Arm And Will
06. Bring Out Your Dead
07. Come Perdition
09. The Dying Flame Of Existence
[Century Media Records]
Black metal is a curious beast. I didn’t even think to delve into this misunderstood genre of metal until I heard Mayhem’s debut record and the most recent release from Krallice, which I reviewed. It really is more of an acquired taste; something that the palate must be prepped for. When I first discovered metal, I was into Metallica and Iron Maiden, not Dimmu Borgir and Burzum. However, when your first taste black metal on a palate that is prepared for it, you will receive a healthy, hearty, and heavy treat.
03. The Clearing
05. Litany of Regrets
06. Telluric Rings
07. Dust and Light
2011 was arguably the best year I have ever personally seen in terms of album releases. We had great releases from Protest The Hero, Machine Head, Anthrax, Trivium, Textures — the list is mind-boggling. However, one enticing underground act from New York City released possibly the greatest Black Metal record of the past 10 years, and it went relatively unnoticed. It is my hope to change that today.