Angry Metal LisaI would say that 2012 has ranked among one of the better years in recent memory as far as metal goes (2009 was the best in recent memory). That said, personally this has been a difficult year. While the music that I’m going to list off here has brought me a range of emotions and been there to help me, many will have noticed that I have been playing less and less of a role in the website as Steel Druhm and others (many others) pick up the slack. This is not how it is supposed to be, but it is how it’s going to be for a while. In fact, as of this post I am going on sabbatical until I am finished with my masters thesis. So it’s with some bittersweetness that I leave this – my Top 10(ish) of 2012. Don’t worry, I’ll be back. But I am going to be living, bleeding and eating sociological theory and methods for the next 5 months and until someone can give me money to do AMG, that takes precedence.

All that aside, thanks again for making 2012 a new record year for us. We’re always growing in perspective and I would like to thank all the writers – new and old – for keeping AMG afloat. You guys rule.

Vindicator - United We Fall#Ish: Vindicator // United We Fall – Everyone knows I am notoriously unimpressed by re-thrash. But Vindictator really fucking rocked this new record really hard and I totally love it. As I mentioned in the review, the riffs are what really made this record special and it still does. Those beastly riffs combined the new and lively vocal performance of Vic Stown – which may evoke Dave Mustaine for you – adds a level of dynamism that the previous record lacked. Mix in new and excellent solos and you’ve got one of the best records of the year. In a sea of re-thrash Vindicator stands tall in their fat-tongued high tops and bullet belts.

Wildernessking - The Writing of Gods in the Sand#10: Wildernessking // The Writing of Gods in the Sand – Seriously, these South African kids may smoke too much pot and take a little long to get places musically at times, but their riffs and song construction are some of the best we’ve heard in this year o’ 2012. I don’t normally get stupid about this new wave of post-black metal, but Wildernessking does what I encourage in all walks of metal: they write good songs and complete albums. This record was good enough to purchase on vinyl. Black metal done right for 2012.

Borknagar - Urd cover#9: Borknagar // Urd – You’d not think that Borknagar could be as relevant and awesome in 2012 as they were when they were “peaking” with Quintessence but you’d be wrong (shame on you!). Instead, Urd was released to a mighty fanfare worthy of only the most mighty of records. The combination of three of metal’s finest vocalists – Vintersorg, ICS Vortex and that guy from Solefald whose name I can never remember but whose voice I love – makes for an extremely entertaining and gigantic album that I will be listening to for years to come. Well done, lads! Comeback band of the year, for sure.

Be'lakor - Of Breath and Bone#8: Be’lakor // Of Breath and Bone – This record got a fine review from Gemma, but when I posted the review I wasn’t convinced. Of Breath and Bone proved to be tremendously addictive in the end, however, and now it won’t go away and I’ll be getting a restraining order on these Australian lads. The record is a tad long and isn’t as heavy as the new Mors Principium Est but it is perfect for what it is. The beauty of it, too, is that despite comparisons to other bands in a scene that has been overplayed as fuck, Be’lakor really stands alone.

Ofermod - Thaumiel#7: Ofermod // Thaumiel – What a goddamned surprise this was for me. I am not generally a huge fan of “orthodox black metal” so when I popped in the new Ofermod record I was stunned with the strength of the writing, the perfection of the production and the depth of the record as a whole. Suffering from only a single mediocre track, Thaumiel is a tour de force of how to do traditional black metal right in 2012. These guys sound disturbed, evil and are phenomenally good.

Dodecahedron - Dodecahedron (Gatefold Double Vinyl Cover)#6: Dodecahedron // Dodecahedron – Seriously. This fucking record. While I need to be in the right mood to listen to it, these Dutch black metallers put together one of the most evil, extreme sounding records I can ever remember hearing. There is something truly enormous about the cacophony that they inflict upon the listener. It is disconcerting and it is deep, disgusting and simultaneously has a sickly beauty. If you’re going to pick up a single black metal record this year, pick up this one.

Anathema - Weather Systems#5: Anathema // Weather Systems – Easily Anathema‘s best work in years, Weather Systems has been on constant rotation since I got it. While the back end of the record tapers off a bit, I still can’t get over how solid this album is. The song writing is epic in a metal sense, but it’s still got that Pink Floyd meets British alt rock thing you’ve come to know and love. All feelings all the time. Anathema still rules and Weather Systems is a triumph.

The 11th Hour - Lacrima Mortis#4: The 11th Hour // Lacrima Mortis – I know, I know. I’ve been going on about this record for a whole year now. Yet somehow, I keep coming around to it! And while it’s not the slab of pure perfection that its predecessor was – it’s still made of fucking gold (albeit, very depressing gold). Ed Warby has to be among my favorite writers in metal today and I look forward to everything he puts out in the future. That you don’t own this album is a shame (though if you’ve been reading AMG all year, you probably do own it). This powerful, superbly written doom metal record should be on your shelf. Not an ounce of hipster pretentiousness; just amazing doom metal.

Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Pinata#3: Diablo Swing Orchestra // Pandora’s Piñata – I admit, I’d never heard this band before I got the promo, but I am a die-hard convert now (and converts are the worst). Pandora’s Piñata is a rip-roaring romp of raucous rock n’ roll + opera + swing + balkan music + whatever else you can possibly think of that should be addictive to everyone who listens to it. While it apparently gives some people headaches for being too dense, I find it suits my Angry Metal Attention Deficit Disorder (AMADD) just fine.

Sophicide - Perdition of the Sublime#2: Sophicide // Perdition of the Sublime – Melodic technical death? Why didn’t anyone tell me that this band was going to kick my ass? Instead, I had no warning and got totally blindsided by this German dude and his mad-ass shredding, fantastic production and performances. Every song on this record is a ripper and the whole album demands to be listened to again after the first time through (it threatened my family, I had no choice!). Jolly good show!

#1: Sabaton // Carolus Rex (Swedish) – This is the year’s biggest surprise. This record didn’t get a perfect score, but here it is sitting at Record o’ the Year. That’s because Sabaton managed to do two things: first, they wrote a record that is meaty, thoughtful and interesting. They made it feel cohesive and they made it kick ass. Two: they wrote it in Swedish. This allowed them to really deal with the material in a way that was worth hearing, leaving no brutality aside and treating the historical material with intelligence and smart poetry – something the English translation definitely lacks. Even if they fall for the “nationalism in the 1400s” myth, they still have produced a record that is ultimately deserving of this award because I can’t stop coming back to this album. Carolus Rex is an amazing piece of work and it deserves your respect. Now learn Swedish so you can really appreciate it.

Sabaton - Carolus Rex (Svenskt omslag)

Honorable Mentions: This list was so much harder than the 2011 one. Forcing me TWICE to go back and move shit around after thinking the list was written. Here’s a few that competed hard for the crowning list.

Sigh // In Somniphobia – So close. This record is like an audial hallucinogen.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen // Lost in the New Real – Loved this record. While not as strong as the brilliant Guilt Machine there were some real lovely highlights here.
Vintersorg // Orkan  – Hard not to put this record in the top 10. You should know that it really is just as good as anything that Vintersorg has put out in the modern era. Great record, stellar songs. 
Blood Mortized // Keys to a Black Heart – I probably don’t even need to say anything, given that Steel Druhm has been beating this drum all year. Beef. 
King of Asgard // …To North – Very close to making the list. A solid piece of Viking metal; a genre that’s going the way of melodeath (that is: “OH GOD! MAKE IT STOP!”).
Hail Spirit Noir // Pneuma – Loved this trippy record. Similar to Sigh and worth a listen.
Sylosis // Monolith – These guys are “metalcore” but they sound like melodeath to me. Loved this album.

Mors Principium Est - ...and Death Said LiveRecord o’ the Month: December – Mors Principium Est // …and Death Said Live – 46 minutes of ball-breaking melodeath from this Finnish act makes for what was the finest record released in December. This thing takes me back to a time when melodic death metal sounded heavy, was fun to listen to and no one felt annoyed by the fact that Björriffs (At The Gates riffs) were everywhere. Amazing guitar work, great song writing and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s out in January in the US. You’ll hopefully see a review soon.

Biggest Disappointment of 2012: Gotta be a tie for me between Ihsahn‘s deeply boring Eremita and Enslaved‘s overwrought new record RIITIIR. Two of my favorite bands drop disappointing records on unsuspecting fanbases (that proceeded to shit themselves like they were brilliant anyway). WTF mate?

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  • Juular

    Different strokes for different folks. I thoroughly enjoyed both the new Ihsahn and the new Enslaved. While the new Enslaved was a far shot away from the dynamic Axioma Ethica Odini, it was still a very enjoyable (if not repetitive) release from the band. Would have loved to hear more adventurous sounds from the band, but I still enjoy spinning it when I’m in the mood for some drawn out music.

    As for the rest of the list, well there’s quite a few albums I have yet to devote any time to, but since there won’t be many releases for the next few weeks, I think I have time to mull these over.

  • Wow, Sabaton’s album is your Number 1 of the year??? I did not expect that. I mean, I understand just about 5 Swedish words, but I love singing along to the lyrics.
    Which makes me wonder why Vintersorg isn’t in the top 5 at least – been a massive fan of his ever since I first visited your site.
    Good list, it’s really difficult to disagree with AMG ;)

  • Tim Larsen

    Good luck with your thesis! You’ll be missed.

  • Enslaved and Sigh tied for my album of the year, rated Alcest, A Forest of Stars, Kreator, Wodensthrone and Overkill highly too. Cant say much of this list did anythong for me other than the hugely entertaining Sabaton. Shows the diversity of the scene I gueas.

    • Metal has become tremendously diverse in the last 20 years, I think. It just keeps getting more and more diverse, too.

  • Major surprise seeing Sabaton at number one, and I remember in your original review reading about how great the complexities of the Swedish version were lyrically speaking. I’m partially envious that you’re able to enjoy that album on level I can’t but I loved the album all the same. Good luck on the thesis and hiatus, hope its a great 2013 for you dude.

    • TRUST ME. It surprised the fuck out of me, too.

      • Takira .

        I’m not sure why the lyrics are so different in Swedish and English. The Swedish version of for example “Ett slag färgat rött” talks about lost honor due to mass slaughter/murder of defenseless Russians who begs for mercy, while the English version rounds it up with the words “Victory and great defeat”.
        The lyrics are so different they give the listener two completely different messages of how the band looks at what happened.

        The discrepancies are huge!

        I guess some of it has to do with the Swedish mentality about the fact that it’s big no-no to sound too patriotic. If you get that label you’re only a very small step from being called nationalist, fascist, nazi, racist etc.

        Anyway, a great album.

  • Sad to see you go AMG, real life can be a drag. My favorite album of the year ended up being the Swans album “The Seer” which isn’t even a metal release, go figure.
    I never made an actual top ten list, but Pneuma, Weather Systems, and Pandora’s Pinata would have made it for sure. The Writing of Gods in the Sand would have most likely been my -ish.
    Thanks for all the hard work you’ve put in over the years; this little site that could helped broaden my musical horizons more than I ever would’ve imagined. Cheers AMG.

  • George Bowles

    I totally agree on the rethrash, I haven’t heard an album yet that I’ve been greatly impressed by (still not the worst thing though to retread). as for my list, our overlap is Dodecahedron… that is some serious stuff.

  • SuperBakaKing


  • wildernessking’s album was pretty damn good, i almost forgot it came out this year. 5 of these would be pretty close to my top ten, if not actually in it, too.

  • First comment around these parts even though I’ve been reading most stuff (and getting some sweet recommendations in the process) since some time in August.

    I couldnt help but emmit a strange sound of glee when I saw Mors Principium Est’s latest album as record o’the month, being that it was my pick for Album of the Year. The guitar work on that album is fantastic and the album closer Dead Winds of Hope is almost orgasmically intense.

    On another note, its strange for me seeing Sophicide so high on the list because, while I enjoyed the album, I thought it was not as overwhelming as Spawn of Possession’s Incurso (another favorite of the year), or even Gorod’s last album.

    I completely agree with you on DSO. That album is just so much fun to listen to. Other favorites of mine were Kreator, Alcest, Katatonia, Kamelot, Killing Joke (lots of K’s), Sabaton and Asphyx.

    Best of luck on your thesis (something that awaits in me 2 years) and have a great 2013!

    • I think it’s impossible to make a record released in December the Record o’ the Year, you know? Part of Records o’ the Year are longevity.

      But yeah, I actually thought Incurso was a disappointment and Gorod’s record WAS great, but I thought Sophicide was much better.

  • Oh wow, not putting Vintersorg in your top ten must have been VERY hard, knowing your love for them, but I guess it was such a good year that it was to be expected to make some difficult calls. Totally agree on Dodecahedron, it just has a sound so *dense* that is hard no to be in awe, I put them on equal ground as Portal and even Deathspell Omega and perhaps at moments they surpass them with ease.

    Best of luck with your thesis AMG, we will be anxiously waiting for your glorious return!

    • Yeah, man, it was difficult. But it really was a good year in a lot of ways.

  • Agree

  • DrMopinker

    Wow, I was sure that In Somniphobia would make it to at least the top 5

    • Me too!

    • Likewise…That album was amazing, easily in the top 3 for me. I preferred In Somniphobia to the Sabaton record to be honest

  • D.F.A.

    ish: Anathema – Weather Seasons
    ish: Be’lak’ooo’oor – Why does this album feel soo’o long?

    10: Converge – Corrosion of Conformity
    8: Threshold – RIP (insert musician name here)
    7: Winersun – stfu
    6: Witchcraft – Legend of Doorsmetal
    6: Pallbearer – We’re Sabbathy Doom and it’s our first album, love us!
    6: Sabaton – Swedish history lesson, pt1-11(Sverige)
    3: Alcest – J’Adore Blackgaze
    2: Agalloch – Faustian Afros
    1: PSY – Gangnam Style (dubstep/metal remix)

    Honored guests:
    Candlemass – Psalms for the cheesy
    Deftones – Koi Pond
    Katatonia – Layers/Layers/Layers
    Les Discrets – Je t’aime

    Horrible Mentions:
    Down – The Purple EP
    Ensiferum – Unhung Weirdos
    Grand Magus – The Cunt
    In Mourning – The Weight of Expectations
    Opeth – Maybe next time

    • You funny.

      • D.F.A.

        Danke. Great site. I wanted to contribute.

  • bayger

    No Ne Obliviscaris / Portal Of I? Weird…

    • ‘Twas not I who enjoyed that record. I thought it was kind of a snooze, apparently.

      • bayger

        Oh right, it was HMG. :)
        Anyway, all those labels should pay you guys real money for your damn good job (reviews). I stopped counting albums I bought after your reviews. Only 4 from your list alone.

        • Thanks! I agree with you. They should treat us as promotional staff.. haha.

  • Faustian Bargain

    You indeed do have a strange taste in metal. #6 is good, balance, blah……Bizarre indeed…

    • Strange taste? Hm, I like to think of my taste as being diverse.

  • Wemund Eriksen

    Damn, Carolus Rex really came as a huge surprise, first for being your first pick, and second for being so fucking awesome. The songs doesn’t translate well, so swedish version wins without a doubt.

  • I’d have put Silverthorn by Kamelot and Requiem for the Indifferent by Epica on that list as well, but that’s mostly due to my personal taste for ridiculous overblown symphonic/power metal

    • Ergh, that Epica record was bad IMO. I appreciate that band, but they’re getting pretty fucking silly lyrically.

  • Luís Pedro Coutinho

    I’ll start to follow your site this year… only this one!! Stay with this design…I love it!! Greetings from Portugal!!

    • Haha, thanks. The design will change depending on the Record o’ the Month.

  • “2012 has ranked among one of the better years in recent memory”
    *Scrolls down to #1*

    Hahaha, let’s agree to disagree. Not sure what I’d replace it with, though.

    • This is true. But in terms of general quality I had a much harder time making the list. I guess it could have been a down year in a sense because it didn’t have an Orphaned Land or Moonsorrow type release. But on the other hand, there was a lot of stuff I’ll be back to.

      • I guess I’m not as much into the extreme stuff as you guys seem to be. I have to say, though, that I’ve found or become interested in more than one quality release since I started reading this blog. The latest Sybreed album absolutely blew my mind, so thx for that!

  • Rob Mcdermott

    Thanks AMG. I’m relatively new around here (since around March ’12) and have already added about 5 discs to my collection… You are the best music writer I have read, ever, so don’t go gettin’ lost in academia. The real world needs more Angry.
    ’12 metal highlight for me was your highlight for ’11… the unsurpassable Moonsorrow. I have yet to listen to that thaing without playing it end to end. Maybe I’ll get over it enough to give something else in your list some decent air time (or maybe not). Cheers!

    • It’s hard to see how Sabaton’s new record lives up to previous Records o’ the Year in terms of quality, but it was still the record I came back to the most this year.

  • Tanuki

    Great list and a surprisingly great year. Did happy metal guy get a list in? Good to see borky in your list but Ne Obliviscaris I thought would rate a mention in someone’s list…

  • for me Enslaved Riitiir is the record of the year

    • A lot of people feel that way. You saw where it landed on my list…

      • yes, ok i’m from uruguay and i live in brazil yet, please do review with bands of south america there are a lot of great bands

        • We try to review the ones we get, but we don’t get a ton. It’s weird, ’cause I’ve always been aware that SA has an awesome scene but no one ever gets signed.

        • We try to review the ones we get, but we don’t get a ton. It’s weird, ’cause I’ve always been aware that SA has an awesome scene but no one ever gets signed.

        • We try to review the ones we get, but we don’t get a ton. It’s weird, ’cause I’ve always been aware that SA has an awesome scene but no one ever gets signed.

  • Super late to the party, but here are my 5-star albums from 2012:

    Ne Obliviscaris
    A Forest of Stars
    (Enslaved, Sigh, Atoma, Sophicide, and others came close!)

    I discovered AMG in 2012, and I am looking forward to more :)

  • Notrap

    Yeah, Carolus Rex was definitely one of ’12 most interesting releases.

  • André-Michel Goulet

    As if the new Sigh and Vintersorg albums were tossed in the “honorable mentions” section. WTF is wrong with you? Obviously Angry Metal Guys wouldn’t know genius if it pottied in their mouths. Shame on you.

  • Nick Maestas

    1. Necrovation- Necrovation
    2. Kreator- Phantom Antichrist
    3. Sabaton- Carolus Rex
    4. Wintersun- Time I
    5. Blood Mortized- The Key to a Black Heart

  • Nick Maestas

    1. Necrovation- Necrovation
    2. Kreator- Phantom Antichrist
    3. Sabaton- Carolus Rex
    4. Wintersun- Time I
    5. Blood Mortized- The Key to a Black Heart