Terrible Certainty Presents: The Best Metal of 2012
Posted by Terrible Certainty Zine
The Christmas season: the time we’re all busily making our lists and checking them twice, pouring over release dates and stacks of albums, wringing our hands over the precise ordering… That’s right, it’s end of the year list time (which seems to come earlier each year), and I’m happy to unveil Terrible Certainty’s inaugural list of the best albums and EPs of the year. So without further ado, here’s the year’s best metal. Get busy buyin’ or get busy dyin’.
1) Hellwell – Beyond the Boundaries of Sin (Shadow Kingdom Records)
Described by Mark Shelton as Manilla Road‘s evil cousin, Hellwell truly knocked it out of the park with their debut album. Far from a Mark Shelton solo effort, Beyond the Boundaries of Sin is the product of collaboration with band namesake E.C. Hellwell and Johnny Benson. A very welcome variation to the Manilla Road sound, and an absolutely massive, expectation-eclipsing album.
2) Pharaoh - Bury the Light (Cruz Del Sur)
Pharaoh continues to release stellar American metal to widespread critical acclaim but have yet to realize the commercial success they deserve. Bury the Light sees the band infuse its mix of power and traditional metal with a pronounced progressive element. Contemporary metal that honors the past without being restricted by it.
3) Fall of the Idols – Solemn Verses (I Hate)
It’s been a long wait for a new Fall of the Idols album, but Solemn Verses was well worth it. A more textured and mature album from these immensely talented Finnish doomsters.
4) Enslaved – RITIIR (Nuclear Blast)
Enslaved managed to dazzle yet again with RIITIIR. Perhaps the band’s best since 2004′s Isa, RIITTIIR is a masterful display of textured, epic, progressive black metal.
5) Dordeduh – Dar de Duh (Prophecy Productions)
The fact that the long awaited full-length from Dordeduh is excellent surprised no one. Still, Hupogrammos and Sol Faur managed to surpass expectations with their first post-Negura Bunget album, proving the Valea Omului EP was just a warm up. Dar de Duh is fantastic from the drop but is a grower to boot, with fantastic depth and nuance.
6) Altar of Oblivion – Grand Gesture of Defiance (Shadow Kingdom Records)
The second full-length from Altar of Oblivion followed the Salvation EP early in the year, and cements these Danes’ status as serious contenders in the realm of epic doom. A mature, confident album that recalls the classics but sounds fresh.
7) Ufomammut - Oro: Opus Primum & Opus Alter (Supernatural Cat)
The two part Oro albums serve up both more of what you love from these Italian space cowboys, plus a good deal more. Oro: Opus Primum is a more typical Ufomammut display of luscious atmospheric doom, while Oro: Opus Alter is a jarring, offensive-minded beast. Excellent craftsmanship of a two-act drama.
8) Nekromantheon – Rise, Vulcan Spectre (Indie Recordings)
There’s been an influx of quality black thrash and these Norwegians are among the best. Rise, Vulcan Spectre is a more polished but no less deadly assault.
9) High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis (eOne Music)
Matt Pike and Co. are as consistent as a band can be, and De Vermis Mysteriis is more of the rumbling rifftastic High on Fire we’ve come to expect, and perhaps even take for granted. This one got lots of fanfare initially, but for my money hasn’t maintained the attention is deserves.
10) Incantation – Vanquish in Vengeance (Listenable Records)
After a six year layoff these death metal stalwarts are back with an absolutely monstrous new full length. Vanquish in Vengeance is getting glowing praise in reviews and from fans, and is hailed as both a familiar sound but the most vital the band has sounded in a good while.
11) Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay (Neurot Recordings)
Like High on Fire and Enslaved above, Neurosis is a master-class, built to last outfit. They just don’t misstep. The Americana ethos of Honor Found in Decay provides a slightly different take on the band’s familiar sound.
12) Malignancy – Eugenics (Willowtip Records)
Eugenics is the twisted, barbaric technical death metal you’d expect from these NY vets. As much fun as death metal gets in 2012, but you’d better eat your Wheaties.
13) Witchcraft - Legend (Nuclear Blast)
Yes, it’s got a modern polish, but Witchcraft‘s outstanding songwriting easily withstands the transition. Not the Witchcraft album you were expecting, but no less excellent for it.
14) God Seed – I Begin (Indie Recordings)
The return of Gaahl and King ov Hell after the Gorgoroth drama is a massive blend of traditional black metal with modern melodic flourish. I Begin exceeds expectations in a big, big way.
15) Revelation – Inner Harbor (Bland Hand)
The trend of increasingly increasingly progressive-tinged doom continues on Inner Harbor, which sounds like the intersection of Revelation and mid-period Against Nature. This is currently an independent release on the band’s Bland Hand label, but will see vinyl and cd versions in the new year.
16) Wodensthrone – Curse (Candlelight Records)
Loss was a monstrously impressive debut, and Wodensthrone‘s have followed it up with a more polished, mature display of atmospheric, layered black metal. This band has managed two stunners in its young career.
17) Pig Destroyer – Book Burner (Relapse)
Pig Destroyer has been on one hell of a roll, and some will complain that Book Burner can’t keep the pace of Phantom Limb and Terrifyer, but it’s still a frighteningly good display of crisp, whiplash-inducing modern grind.
18) Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore Records)
The debut from these Arkansas doomhounds has gotten boatloads of critical acclaim for its raw, mournful doom. A fully realized debut and a more than ample payoff on the promise of the band’s lauded 2010 demo.
19) Evoken – Atra Mors (Profound Lore Records)
Another veteran, incredibly reliable act. Atra Mors is soul-crushing doom desolation.
20) Asphyx – Deathhammer (Century Media)
The Dutch masters are two for two since their comeback, and Deathhammer is more of the classic Asphyx doom-addled death metal brutality. One of the most successful reunions in death metal.
The Year’s best EPs
1) Blut Aus Nord – What Once Was…Liber II (Debemur Morti Productions)
This crushing display of Blut Aus Nord‘s patented black metal is almost enough to make me forgive the flaccid conclusion to the 777 trilogy.
2) Agalloch – Faustian Echoes (Dammerung Arts)
A masterful mix of the band’s harsh aggression and reflective sides into a cohesive and utterly engrossing 20-minute composition.
3) A Tree of Signs - Salt (Self Released)
This enormously promising trio play vintage occult doom in the vein of Totem/Jex Thoth, and Salt has dominated my playlist lately. There’s been a flood of bands in this style lately, but this one just leaped to the pack of front runners.
4) Argus – Blood, Fire, Beer (Self Released)
This limited EP contains only a single new original, or it would chart higher. But it’s packaged with Pink Floyd and Thin Lizzy covers and live tracks that fans will prize.
5) Down – IVPart I – The Purple EP (Self Released)
Although it is a bit uneven, The Purple EP offers up more than enough of the classic Down Nola swamp boogie to make it a must-buy.
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Posted on December 8, 2012, in Lists and tagged A Tree of Signs, Agalloch, Altar of Oblivion, Argus, Best Metal Albums of 2012, Blut Aus Nord, Dordeduh, Down, Enslaved, Evoken, Fall of the Idols, God Seed, Hellwell, High on Fire, Incantation, Malignancy, Manilla Road, Metal Album Reviews, Nekromantheon, Neurosis, Pallbearer, Pharaoh, Pig Destroyer, Revelation, Terrible Certainty, Ufomammut, Witchcraft, Wodensthrone. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.