I do this list every year and it seems to get harder and harder to narrow it down to 10 releases. I listen to so much music, that it really is painful to pick only 10, and to be honest I don't have time to do 20 releases on both lists(I do a "rock" list as well. This year was no exception, there were so many fantastic releases, and I had to leave so many off that were good enough to be on the list(ie; Menace Ruine, Pig Destroyer, Anhedonist, Ghoulgotha, Revenge, and many more).But anyways, I am SURE that there is at least 2 records that I absolutely loved this year, that I just FORGOT to include. Like I said, when you listen to so much, it's hard to keep tabs. But here are the Ten that I remember, and I LOVED this year:
10.Liberteer-Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees:
This record was one that I listened to the whole year, and it stayed on my Ipod the whole time(one mean feat)! This record is sort of an anomaly to what I usually listen to, it's Grindcore, with military-styled cadences and horn sections. It sounds stranger than it is, and the effect is massive, and still very catchy(not in a "poppy" way, by any means). It is a side project of Matt from Cretin, and about a 1,000 other bands, check it out.
9.Circle Of Ouroborus-Abrahadabra:
Yes I know, that is also the name of the last Dimmu Borgir release. I really doubt that CoO knew this though. These 2 gentlemen live in their own universe, where all they do is make this other worldly music. I would almost hesitate to call them Metal, but I really don't know what else I would classify them as. They are extremely prolific, and no two records sound the same, which in my mind, is the main reason that the band is so relevant and mind blowing. If you haven't heard them, describing them is a very hard thing to do, but I like to call them "Ectoplasm Rock" because to me, if ghosts could make music, it would sound exactly like Circle Of Ouroborus!
For some reason I was not that familiar with Vassafor before this release. It could be that most of their previous releases were either Demo or limited releases, or done on very small labels. Anyway, this new record is fan-fucking-tastic! It would be easy to dismiss them as part of this new dirty,super sludgy, evil Death Metal renaissance that has been going on the past few years, if it weren't for the fact that they were doing it before everyone else!! I would say that Vassafor has 3 main elements to their music: Death Metal/Doom Metal/ Black Metal....and you never know which style they are gonna pummel you with! Any true headbanger should do themselves a favor and go and pick up the Obsidian Codex now(or ask for it from Santa)!
Jute Gyte is a very prolific Black Metal band from Missouri. It is made by one member, Adam Kalmbach, but don't dismiss this as your average USBM one man band project. This sounds absolutely NOTHING like Xasthur!! Adam also releases electronic music under the same name, so if you are not interested at all in that genre, you might wanna investigate before you get his music. His Black Metal is something that I cannot get enough of, it is so chaotic but has a way of sticking with you long after you've heard it. It's almost like the musical equivalent of being attack by a swarm of hornets and taking off running, then stepping on a broken soda bottle and having your foot cut to hell and back!! This shit is vicious! Adam has a Bandcamp page where you can buy his CD's(which are always housed in DVD cases) and the Black Metal ones are usually adorned with some amazing paintings. You can listen to them all, and he usually has a few that you can download totally free of charge!! Please stop by and support the guy. This is the kind of stuff that Southern Lord & Profound Lore need to be signing.
This oddly monikered band hail from San Fransisco, and if you judge your Metal bands on appearances then you will surely be calling them Hipsters. That is......until you play this record!! This shit will rip your face off! This is one of the best Black Metal records to come out of the US in quite some time! It sort of reminds me of the last Cobalt record(minus the interludes), yes it's that good. It just sucks that Metalheads have a horrible habit of listening with their eyes. It sucks because there are many fantastic bands slipping through the cracks because purists look at their short hair and non-Metal appearance, and instantly scream"Hipster", and then of course, they are blacklisted(pun intended)! I can totally understand the Liturgy thing, because that guy just talks too much!! I hope that the reason people hated them so, was that, and because he spends too much time writing thesis statements about Black Metal. But of course, it's probably because he wears flannel shirts and braids? So Metal brothers, grow up and drop the pretense, bands can look like what ever they want, as long as they produce quality music, that is what it says it is:Heavy Fucking Metal, in some shape or form!! Well, this tangent has gone on too long, pick up the new Bosse-De-Nage record, even though they have short hair, and don't wear spikes, because it will blow you away!!
It was definitely the right time for Incantation to come out of the shadows and releasing this fucking beast of an album! There are about 200 bands in the underground aping the classic Incantation sound, but there are only a few that do it right(and they will make appearances on this list). Incantation are not like many of the classic-era Death Metal bands, they have not broken up(they haven taken long breaks), and they have never made a bad record(they might have made some that needed better production). I know that I can always count on this band since the day I purchased Golgotha, they have not let me down. So not much more to say, Incantation has made a new record, and it's fantastic, go out and BUY it, don't download it.....they are on a small record label.
No one is more surprised than I am that there is so much Death Metal on this list! I am usually not much of a DM fan. Don't get me wrong, as a Metal lifer in my 40's, I was there since the beginning, and I LOVE the CLASSIC, evil, rank, and atmospheric Death Metal sound. Just like so many metalheads, I got burnt out on the 1,000's of cookie-cutter DM bands that ruined the scene. But like always, younger guys have came along, and listened to the right records enough to know what true DM is supposed to sound like. Aevangelist are one of those bands, and is the side-project of Rueben of BM beasts, Benighted In Sodom. Influenced of course by Possessed(Seven Churches), Incantation(of course), the good Death records, and a dash of Portal to fuck things up in a good way! This goddamn record is amazing!! If you like sick as hell, festering DM......RUN and get this record, you're ears will be festering!
Holy Fucking Hell!! Another masterpiece of Death Metal!! 2012 will not be the end of the word, but it will be known as the year that Death Metal starting ruling again! FB is another band that look to Incantation for inspiration(they are the best at it, and probably the first of this current"scene"). Justin Stubbs also known as Ghoat has been in the scene since he was just a youngster making some hellish BM as Hills Of Sefiroth. I have known him for a long time, and he is a honest, sincere, brother that lives and breathes METAL!! While most people like to focus on his day job as a mortician, I don't think he gets his due as a vocalist and guitarist. The whole fucking band is phenomenal(especially the ubiquitous Wayne on drums, who is a beast), but Justin can bend a riff and twist it, and slow it down till it sounds like it was created by Satan himself, as music for his house parties! His vocals are so deep that they almost occupy a(sub)level of their own. Sometimes I cannot even hear them, but they rumble in my guts, and let me know the devil is serenading me. This is the best Father Befouled record so far, the songs are really memorable this time. According to my Ipod counts, this was my 2nd most listened record this year. Do I really need to tell you to go and get this?
The elitist in me still loves to find that underground band that not many have heard of, If you are a Metalhead, then you know that feeling. Vampyric Blood is a relatively new Black Metal band out of Finland(the home of many of the best BM bands these days), and Ordo Dracul is their debut record. With only one Demo, and one split(with Drowning The Light) to their credit, this is a young band to have such a great sound. I continue to call them a band, but in fact, it's a one man project, but definitely has the vibe of a full band. This record snuck up and got me real good(hence it's high position), and quite honestly, I can't quit listening to it. It is one of the rare records that I have came across that actually has the vibe and atmosphere of a classic Black Metal band. In fact, if you had this recorded on a cassette and passed it on to a BM fan, I am sure they would believe that it was recorded in 1993. Don't expect this to have a great, or "studio" sound, because it doesn't, it sounds cavernous and hollow, and like it was recorded on a 4-track. But like I said, the atmosphere is so thick & heavy, if you are a sucker for such, this record will obsess you as well. Like the name, the sound is very "Vampyric", I can definitely say that Black Funeral and Crimson Moon are big influences. Also, Emperor's "Wrath Of The Tyrant" demo is not a long shot when giving a reference point for this record. If this had been released back in 1993, it might not be that special, because everyone was releasing similar product, with similar vibes. But now, in 2012, where this record sticks out like a juggalo at a Klan Rally, and NO ONE is doing anything similar to this, I fucking love it!! Cult as Fuck, and you will know it if it's for you!!
WOW! How in the fuck did this happen? Didn't Panopticon top my Metal list last year? Absolutely! This band(again, just one gentleman) makes quality Black Metal. Well, to be fair, Black Metal is just a springboard for what he does. This record is a first of sorts, or least the first time I have heard Bluegrass being woven or used in Black Metal in any form. As strange as that might sound to your ears, the results are fantastic, and that is why Panopticon takes my top spot again this year. From my listening(which my Ipod says I listened to Kentucky more than any other record this year), Kentucky is a concept record about his home state, and the context in which coal mining simultaneously helped and destroyed the state. It is a debate which still goes on today, where some citizens still want the valuable resource mined from the hills, while others know the destruction that it does to the land, and miners which do it. Austin adds 3 traditional songs from that period, and it makes the record even more authentic. I have applaud his decision not to "Metalize" the cover songs, and to do them similar in style to the originals. The way that those songs contrast with the epic, Black Metal songs, is original and awe inspiring. This is one, if not the most, original Black Metal record I have ever had the pleasure to listen to. It's a shame not that many people have had the same chance. All of the"hip" labels need to pull their heads outta their asses and release some REAL music. In a perfect world, Metal labels would would have had a bidding war to release this masterpiece. But of course Southern Lord, Profound Lore, and many others just sat idly by, and let the record of the year(and possibly the Decade) through their slimy fingers. Listen up bros(and chickies) you DO NOT wanna miss out on this record, if you haven't heard it yet, let me stress this BIG TIME: GO OUT AND BY THIS FUCKING RECORD!! It will change your mindset, while it educates you. It's the most honest, heartfelt, and genuine records(despite the genre), I've heard in years. Guys will listen to many a record about Vikings prancing through the snow, and now we have bullshit like Pirate Metal(??), but here is a record that explores the roots of one of the richest heritages of a state in our own Country.....and YOU don't own it???