Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best Metal and Hard Rock Albums of 2012

"What was old is new again and what is new will soon be old...once Lemmy dies*". Or however it fucking goes. 2012 revived the careers of a lot of great metal bands, and a lot of new bands blatantly stole from the past to get their "new sound". Thankfully the old guys didn't suck, and the new kids didn't steal their sound from ABBA. So, here are the top 10 best hard rockin' blast-beats from the past year. Please turn your laptop speakers up to 11.

*P.S. Lemmy will never die because he is The Lord. AAAAHMEN.

10. Cannibal Corpse - Torture
Over the past few years Cannibal Corpse has had a creative resurgence. With "Torture" the band re-teamed with Wonder-Producer Erik Rutan and has crafted the most varied and complex album to date. Now, for many death metal fans that isn't necessarily a good thing, but this albums plays as a "greatest hits" of the past 20 years of death metal, which I think is pretty fucking cool.

9. Serpentine Path - Serpentine Path
Serpentine Path sounds like a lone Sauropod thundering across an open plain during the Triassic Period. Each chord smashes like a foot with 200 tons behind it landing on the barren earth, the sound resonating until enough energy is built up for the next step. In other words, Serpentine Path is doom metal done right.

8. Graveyard - Lights Out
Graveyard are a blend of the best hard blues bands from the 60s and 70s. And I use the word "blend" because the album doesn't have a by-the-numbers "Black Sabbath song" followed by a "Deep Purple song". Graveyard definitely wears their influences on their sleeve (the likes of Cream, The Allman Brothers and Blue Cheer), but thankfully the band isn't crushed under their weight and honest, heartfelt, hard rocking songs shine through.

7. Encrust - From Birth to Soil
The crustiest hardcore mixed with anthemic songwriting makes for a powerful combination. Encrust doesn't pull punches. Even their vocals go overboard, hitting a guttural death metal growl instead of the standard crust-punk rasp. Deep southern fried blues riffs help the whole thing melt evenly, delivering a perfect dance-able mix of a hoedown/brodown.

6. Royal Thunder - Cvi
Royal Thunder plays it loose. Now, that doesn't mean they aren't loud (because they are) or powerful (because they FUCKING are!), but instead of playing their 70s inspired stoner rock tight and on-the-nose they have loosened up their style. This album allows the dreamlike quality of their music to take them to parts unknown. That makes Cvi their best record yet and makes Royal Thunder one of the bands to keep an eye on for years to come.

5. High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Hurt so good
Come on baby, make it hurt so good
Sometimes love don't feel like it should
You make it hurt so good

-Cougar pretty much summed up this whole album decades before its inevitable release.

4. Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity
I have to be honest, Cattle Decapitation was not on my radar at all until they played a free show at Gunner's Run. That show blew the mooring off my brain-stem and I immediately bought this record. Monolith of Inhumanity is brutal death metal with clarity injected into the production. Each song is less than 5 minutes so there isn't any technical wanking or progressive ass holding. These songs get to the fucking point and add a little dark texture for good measure before moving onto the next one.

3. Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity
The "original" three piece line-up of COC are back and they sound revitalized and better than ever. Ugly 80s hardcore is once again prominent in their songwriting, but they haven't abandoned their kings-of-the-southern-sludge sound that made them popular in the 90s. This record effortlessly combines the two styles and makes this self-titled album one of COC's best. The musicianship is smoother and more assured, but the sound is just as loud. It's beautiful.

2. Pig Destroyer - Book Burner
This is why the terrorists hate us. Pig Destroyer is what makes America great.

1. The Devil's Blood - The Thousandfolde Epicentre
Thundering and in-your-face yet slinky and mysterious, The Devil's Blood takes the idea of 70s metal (riff based psychedelic journeys) and modernizes it with complex melodies and GASP (!) a female vocalist. The singing is deep and sultry and filled with enough occult imagery that listening to this hypnotic record alone will create a multi-dimensional third eye that astral projects you straight into the land of fuzz and fists; right where you should be.

This list has been committed to the internet. So it must be true.



  1. The Devil's Blood is amazing, thanks again for introducing me to them!

  2. Yea man. A lot of great female-fronted rock bands this year; The Devil's Blood, Royal Thunder and Christian Mistress all had great records. Christian Mistress may have been left out of the top 10 but they are still pretty awesome.