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I like to wait a couple weeks after the end of the year to try and catch up on any great records I may have missed. Glad I did, some good stuff slipped past me through 2012. That Kowloon Walled City record just snuck in there by the skin of its teeth. All Gilead Media related releases are off limits.
These are in no specific order, aside from Neurosis, which is definitely #1.
Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay (Neurot Recordings)
My favorite band, a new album. I was initially concerned, but for no real good reason. I did enjoy Given to the Rising, but it didn’t have the pull with me that their past works had. I felt like Neurosis was finally on a slow decline, never to regain the power of their past. Not that I ever thought they’d release a bad record, because they were still better than just about any band out there. It was solely the feeling that they wouldn’t release a record that would touch me on such a deep level again. I was so terribly mistaken in this assumption. Honor Found in Decay is emotionally powerful, and I think it actually reaches a more intense level than their past work. I find myself far more immersed in the songs, their story, the journey. It sounds so much more personal, and effects me that way. This record definitely ranks highly in the Neurosis catalog.
Generation of Vipers – Howl & Filth (Translation Loss/Inherent Record)
I’m not sure why or how this flew under the radar of so many people in the heavy music world. It’s sort of makes me think of older Young Widows w/more of an abrasive edge, more of a “hardcore” vibe I suppose. Whatever, the riffs are incredible, the pacing of the album rules, and it’s one of my favorite records to jam on at work.
Hell – III (Eternal Warfare/Pesanta Urfolk)
Definitely my doom record of the year. I’ve been following Hell since the release of the first LP and the progression the music has taken has been beautiful. III brings the Hell trilogy to a close in the perfect way, this is how it needed to end. Melodic and flowing while retaining the groundwork of doom atmosphere that MSW has so wonderfully put forth over the last two records. Seeing Hell perform the opening track of this album at Gilead Fest back in April still sits with me as one of the most memorable moments of the weekend.
Mike Scheidt – Stay Awake (Thrill Jockey)
I haven’t seen this on any other year-end lists, and I have no idea why. Maybe because it’s on Thrill Jockey folks that would probably loved this record aren’t giving it a chance? If that is the reason it’s ridiculous on a number of levels. Stay Awake was an album I gravitated towards far quicker than most this year, and find myself revisiting it far more frequently. Mike’s voice is haunting, and his ability to craft an acoustic record rivals the composition of his other work with Yob. It’s difficult to believe this is his first solo album. What an incredible addition to his recorded output.
Blut Aus Nord – 777: Cosmosophy (Debemur Morti Productions)
Another trilogy draws to an end this year. In a similar fashion to the Hell records, the 777 trilogy from Blut Aus Nord took an increasingly melodic turn with each new installment. I remember reading an update from the label on Cosmosophy earlier in 2012, that it would be delayed due to the band’s discontent with the new songs. Considering the result of that delay, it was well worth the wait. Without a doubt my favorite installment in the 777 series. BAN’s songwriting almost abandoned any metal sub-genre classification, and has almost entirely planted itself in the realm of industrial. Although that sound has been long-present in their style it has become much more of a focus, and is particularly effective with the slower, plodding guitar work on Cosmosophy. Just like the Hell trilogy, this third installment stands as my favorite in the series.
Rush – Clockwork Angels (Anthem/Roadrunner)
After hearing the two singles from this album last year I was a bit concerned that Snakes and Arrows–a record I loved–was an anomaly in this recently reinvigorated Rush. When I picked up Clockwork Angels, I admittedly was expecting fairly mediocre songwriting that left me wanting more. Thankfully Clockwork Angels shows the band progressing with their newfound energy, and returning to the realm of storytelling I’ve always loved them for. It’s great to see an overarching narrative throughout the songs here, and see one of my favorite bands continuing to offer up incredible albums after 45 years.
Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity (Metalblade)
I never would’ve expected a Cattle Decapitation record to appear on my list, not at all. Especially considering how I felt when the album was released, when my friend Scott would listen to it constantly at work. I heard this record daily, oftentimes first thing in the morning, for at least a few weeks. It got to the point where I had to limit how much he could play it because I couldn’t stand it. After a few months blissfully devoid of Cattle Decapitation I actually found myself missing the songs and the vocals that had grated so harshly on my ears. Well, now I love it. Like the flick of a switch. I love the ferocity, I love the bizarre vocals. I didn’t watch that music video everyone was all up in arms about, I never will. But this record shreds.
Scott Kelly and The Road Home – The Forgiven Ghost in Me (Neurot Recordings)
I was reluctant to pick up this record initially. I’ve always enjoyed Kelly’s solo work, and Blood & Time ruled. At the Foot of the Garden is undeniably one of the greatest dark-folk/whatever albums I’ve ever heard. But that was TEN years ago with a much larger cast of players, and Kelly’s solo work since then hasn’t stuck with me as much. All those complaints changed with The Forgiven Ghost in Me. The songs here are so well composed and performed, it’s great to hear Kelly take this sort of leap with his acoustic song writing. I hope there is another record like this in his future, somewhere down the line.
Kowloon Walled City – Container Ships LP (Brutal Panda)
KWC was a band that always seemed to be just beyond my arena of listening. Their records landed in some sort of realm where I felt like I should be into them, but there was some sort of fundamental disconnection. Despite this, I gave Container Ships a try. My initial listen can most accurately be described as an exercise in palate cleansing. I had to try and erase my idea of what I thought the record would be. I would consider the second pass my first true listen. Container Ships hits all the marks that past KWC albums missed with me. This is what a noise-rock record should be in 2012/2013. An updated sound, sludgy feel, amazing guitar tone. This isn’t a metal record, no matter which way you try to cut it. It’s a rock album, and it absolutely fantastic. Also, A+ on the cover photo. Admittedly may be the reason I gave this record a sincere try.
Bastard Sapling – Dragged From Our Restless Trance (Forcefield Records)
Some of the Bastard Sapling guys are also part of Inter Arma–whom are a band I obviously have great affection for–and I have no idea how these dudes can deliver so much fantastic material. I love how, despite the style, Richmond, VA seems to be a hotbed of incredible talent and top notch bands. Dragged From Our Restless Trance is comprised of some of the most exciting black metal I’ve heard in a long time. The dynamics I love about Inter Arma are present here, but with creepy ferocity. That feeling is totally driven home by Mike’s vocals, which are quickly becoming some of my favorite in metal.
Other records from 2012 I enjoyed, no particular order:
Profetus – …To Open the Passages in Dusk (Contagion Releasing/RCR)
Worm Ouroboros – Come the Thaw (Profound Lore/Flenser Records)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
Ash Borer – Cold of Ages (Profound Lore/Pesanta Urfolk)
Swans – The Seer (Young God)
Deathspell Omega – Drought LP (World Terror Committee)
Pallbearer – Sorrow & Extinction CD/2LP (Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin)
Anhedonist – Netherwards LP (Parasitic)
Samothrace – Reverence to Stone LP (20 Buck Spin)
Panopticon – Kentucky 2LP (Handmade Birds)
Subservient Fuck – S/T 7″ (Human Resources)
Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light vol II (Southern Lord)
Northless – Valley of Lead 10″ (Halo of Flies)
Northless/Light Bearer – Split LP (Halo Of Flies)
Velnias – RuneEater LP (Pesanta Urfolk)
Evan Caminiti – Night Dust (Immune Recordings)
Painted Cave – Not Here Not There CS (Dust Editions)
Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph (Candlelight)
Guzzlemug – Nervously Counting Rosary Beads (Self-released)