Angry Metal LisaIn our first (well, actually second) of many lists, we will focus on the greatest songs from the year 2012. I started this last year because I thought it was important to point out that just ’cause a whole record isn’t amazing doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of brilliance even on the most banal of records. This year, I’m happy to say many of the best songs are from very good records, but that’s not true across the board. Instead, I’ve compiled songs that have forced me back to them again and again, like some sort of Angry Metal Obsessive Compulsive. Over and over I have listened to these songs and I’ve narrowed it down to the 10(ish) that I think really stand out from the year 2012. I’m assuming no one will agree with me. But hey, who has the eponymous website? Yeah, that’s motherfucking right, bitches. This year, you can either watch the videos inline here; or I’ve also created a YouTube Playlist!

#(ish): Katatonia - “Leech” – I know this record wasn’t exactly the best, but I got stuck on “Leech” something fierce. Borrowing from Jan Johansson’s masterful Jazz på svenska the guys from Katatonia managed to write a song that burrowed under my skin and just stuck with me. I’ve pretty much stopped listening to this album completely, but “Leech” is among my most played tracks of the year.

#10: Vintersorg - “Ur stjärnstoft är vi komna” – Vintersorg‘s second record in as many years was definitely a great album filled with fantastic songs, but the one that stuck for me was this mighty piece of progressive writing. It really reminds me of Till fjälls in its soaring nature, but still with that modern progressive feel that Vintersorg has developed and the melodies just never let go for me. A brilliant track from a brilliant mind.

#9: Ofermod - “Calling of Setnacht: Twofold Triunity” – Black metal done right, with a touch of melody for the uninitiated, “Setnacht” is probably my favorite track from Ofermod‘s brilliant Thaumiel. It starts out simple enough, but really all 6 and a half minutes rub me the right way. They offset chunk with blast and the blast with groove, there’s a great clean part and there’s a vocal performance that speaks to the strength of sounding completely fucking ill when you’re writing your vocals (mentally ill, not physically).

#8: Alcest - “Faiseurs de mondes” – I don’t really like Alcest a lot. I tend to think their music is boring and lacking in substance. I don’t smoke pot and therefore I don’t appreciate the “zoning out” thing that they seem to induce in others. But every once in a while they piece together a song that just makes me ecstatic. “Faiseurs de mondes” is one of the best songs of the year, without a doubt. The song starts out lazily, building up an intensity that finally reaches a peak at about 4 minutes and it is just an ear orgasm from thereon out. I am blown the fuck away. Every second of this song.

#7: Borknagar - “The Beauty of Dead Cities” – When I first got a hold of Urd I was skeptical. “The Beauty of Dead Cities” was one of the songs that convinced me. The beautiful intertwining of vocals, with the brilliant drum performance from the now sadly-retired David Kincade was genius and Simen as good as he’s sounded since “Chaos Path” from La Masquerade InfernaleBorknagar is probably my comeback band of the year, to be honest, and “The Beauty of Dead Cities” is one of several songs on this album that could have made the list. Brilliance.

#6: King of Asgard - “The Nine Worlds Burn” – This may have been the biggest surprise of the year. After what I thought was a pretty banal debut, these guys really roared back with a fantastic sophomore release. What got me hooked on this record, you might ask? It was the opening track “The Nine Worlds Burn” which starts out amazing, but really grabs you by the short hairs and doesn’t let go when the female vocals come in. Groovy as fuck. Competition for Riff o’ the Year. Bra jobbat, grabbar.

#5: Anathema - “The Gathering of Clouds” – Anathema is a lovely band. They’re not super metal anymore (as all the haters reminded me when I made them Record o’ the Month) but I don’t give a fuck. They’re metal in construction if not execution and “The Gathering of Clouds” is the perfect example of a perfect build. This song is just a massive, epic build and I can’t get enough of it.

#4: [Luca Turilli’s] Rhapsody [of Fire] - “Tormento e Passione” – As Mr. Alex Franquelli likes to point out, Italians have problems with English. But what they don’t have issues with? Opera. Luca Turilli teamed up his new vocalist with a female opera singer and wrote one of the most entertaining songs of the year – and frankly the only metal duet I can think of that I love. This song is epic as fuck, with amazing vocal performances and expert writing. I cannot recommend this song high enough; easily one of the highlights of my year. Love. Every. Second.

#3: The 11th Hour - “Rain on Me” – I have to say that this record got teased pretty hard for me. I actually have a copy of this song in .wav format with Ed Warby’s whisper growls on my desktop. I have loved it from the second I heard it. The main riff is amazing with Warby’s vocalists being among the best clean vocals in the history of doom metal (you fucking heard me). The production is thick, ballsy and moves every muscle in my body towards misery as it pounds through me. What tops this song off, though? It’s the 8th note chug for the last minute and 9 seconds. After all the build, this is perfect release. Hit me again, Warby! I’m coming down!

#2. Sophicide - “Freedom of Mind” – It takes a lot to outdo the visceral beauty that is The 11th Hour, but this Swedish melodeath inspired technical death track from German solo tech death project Sophicide does just that. Hitting all the right notes, with riffs that make the brain bleed (of awesome not tech) and solos that make the fingers bleed – I came back to this record over and over. This track really just nailed all the things that made this record awesome and I still am not over it. In fact, if you haven’t checked this record out, you should do it now. If this song doesn’t hook you.. well, fuck. You should get your metal creds checked out.

#1. Diablo Swing Orchestra - “Justice for Saint Mary” – In some ways this wasn’t hard and in other ways it was really hard. This track is 8 minutes and not super “metal” per se. But on the other hand, it moves this Angry Metal Guy to the Angry Metal Equivalent of Tears™. It’s got a slow build, with beautiful orchestrations and a fantastic vocal performance. And even though I’ve been informed that the industrial stuff at the end is now called “Dubstep” and that I’m supposed to hate it because Jonathan Davis likes it (a fair argument), I just can’t. I’m a sucker for the epic, the melodramatic and a minor key. “Justice for Saint Mary” has that in spades. The most brilliant song from a brilliant record and the best song I heard this year. Eat it up; because you won’t hear a song equally as good for a long time.

Extra: 

Riff of the year: Dim Mak - “Between Immensity and Eternity” – Seriously, the most beefy fucking riff all year was the opening one to this song that repeats from 0-25. The finger exercises that followed kept the whole track off my list, but every time that riff shows up I want to sacrifice a mentally ill inmate to Cthulhu.

Runners Up:

Soen – “Last Light”; Arjen Lucassen - “Our Imperfect Race”; Vintersorg – “Polarnatten”; Swallow the Sun - “Hate, Lead the Way”; Jeff Loomis – “Surrender”; Sigh - “Equale”; and Sabaton – “En livstid i krig”; Shining - “Du, Mitt Konstverk”; Aeternam - “Cosmogony”;

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=697382206 Félix Feu Arsenault

    Good choice on diablo swing orchestra and alcest. These two songs would probably be in my own top 10 too. Overall great top 10 by the way.

  • Grbby

    I can imagine you like the Diablo Swing Orchestra, but I am unable to listen to more than three songs in a row. Way too freaky for me, but brilliantly executed.

  • SMOHLG

    So what changed over the months that put “The Beauty of Dead Cities” over “Frostrite”???

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      It was always a toss up between Frostrite, The Beauty of Dead Cities and The Earthling. Had Frostrite on the list and changed it at the last minute.

  • http://www.facebook.com/xkevinc Kevin Chung

    DSO’s album was really good, and that song is probably their best ever.

    And I like almost all blackgaze, so Alcest is okay with me. Though, they’re honestly not that close to my favorite band in that ‘genre.’

  • http://twitter.com/GuitarSniper GuitarSniper

    I’d have put Sacrimony by kamelot on the list, but other than that it seems pretty solid

  • http://blog.punman.net/ punman

    I would agree with your #1 song of the year had there not been a song called “Ire” by Oddland. :)

  • Zadion

    Great list. Like five of the ten bands here made my top ten as well, though I included a couple different songs.

    Sigh deserves more than runner up spot, though, IMO. “The Transfiguration Fear” made my song of the year.

  • http://www.metalvortex.net/ [HKK] Hell³

    Frankly, I don’t care if Diablo Swing Orchestra used meowing cats in a gospel Christmas record praising the return of the lawd. They take everything I love in music, any music, and make it somehow better. I personally like “Of Kali ma Calibre” and “Guerrilla Laments” a bit more. But over the years it has been the only band that I really and honestly like *everything* they have done, so I’m really biased when it comes to them. I’m glad they took the top spot on this list.

    The track from Anathema was also my favorite from that record. The structure and production are flawless. The progression to the next track is also great, it’s almost like parabol and parabola from Tool in that it maybe sometimes it’s better to think of them as two movements of the same song. But “Lightning Song” while good it’s not as great as “The Gathering of the Clouds”

    Great list, looking forward to the rest. Can we look forward to lists from the others? Natalie? Madam X? HMG? FAG?

  • Mumukai

    DSO are my favourite band and that’s my favourite song on Pandora’s Pinata. 100% agree.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I can’t really understand why you keep choosing Turilli’s stuff over these last years. The guy has been ree doing the same kind of things over and over agaian. IMO, it’s become very boring.

    Alcest, Anathema and DSO are amazing options.

    But to me, the unquestionable song of the year is the opus “Sons of Winter and Stars” by Wintersun. But that album was beaten down in your review so I didn’t expect it to be in your top ten.

    What happened to Agalloch’s “Faustian Echoes”?

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      To be so bold as to quote myself: “Luca didn’t budge an inch from this formula and Ascending to Infinity is better for it. One of the reasons that Rhapsodyhas managed to avoid the problems of being “stuck” in a specific stylistic sound is because the music is naturally entertaining enough that you always keep coming back. Sure, you know the tropes: the emphatic enunciation of certain notes with orchestral blasts; the “Village of the Dwarves” flute shows up on “Excalibur”, despite having a new “more modern” look and feel; the Latin choirs singing latinus soundingus stuffus in the background. And each time these hit home with a kind of ecstatic accuracy that leaves this Angry Metal Nerd in a reverie.”

      Yeah. That about covers it. The reason I keep choosing his stuff is because it’s fucking good, dude. And even though he’s running in a rut, his rut is so naturally entertaining in its sheer variation that it’s entertaining to the last.

      • Ernesto Aimar

        Well, yeah I’ve noticed that you love that sound…I did also, but until “Symphony of…” part II maybe. I can’t stand their succesive records, eventhough I’d given a chance to each and every one of them. Anyway, when I’m in a mood for that kind of epicness I’ll always choose one of his earlier releases instead of the stuff he is now doing. Even his solo debut was way better than this. But hey, it’s all about personal taste,

  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.shepherd.397 Greg Shepherd

    I love to see the variations in these lists. All of Dead End Kings (C’mon, AMG!) could be on this list!

    Time – Wintersun
    Carolus Rex – Sabaton
    The Parting – Katatonia
    Red Tide Rising – Orange Goblin
    Untouchable, Part 1 – Anathema
    Eight Of Swords – Huntress
    The Sound Of Dying Demons – Candlemass
    L’Enfant Sauvage – Gojira
    Revenge Best Served Cold – Prong
    The Industrialist – Fear Factory
    This Cut Is The Deepest – Swallow The Sun
    Meet The Enemy – Eluveitie
    In My Time – Cowboys & Aliens
    Undaunted – Adrenaline Mob
    Thoughts Like Hammers – Enslaved

  • http://www.oculusinfernus.com/ Professor D. Grover the XIIIth

    Excellent choice of DSO songs. It wasn’t immediately one of my favorites, but it grew on me after a few listens, and that electronic freakout at the end is brilliant.

  • nunka

    Happy to see Swallow the Sun on this list, even if it’s just in the runners up section! I understand the low rating for their latest release as it’s pretty uneven. But “Hate, Lead the Way!” has this Bodom-esque quality to it that was really unexpected and really catchy. Great song.

  • Vinod

    The Safety Fire’s ending riff from Huge Hammers is THE riff of the year. AMG, check it out.

  • Gipson

    Cool to see DSO at the top, though I really think “Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball” is the song of the album.

  • http://www.tyrantofterror.com/ Chris Crawford

    Really nice lists everyone! Some of this I haven’t even gotten around to hearing yet, looks like I need to do some catching up. I have a lot of overlap from AMG and Steel Druhm.

    Seven Kingdoms – After the Fall
    Kamelot – Sacrimony
    Anathema – The Storm Before the Calm
    Diablo Swing Orchestra – Voodoo Mon Amour
    King of Asgard – Nine Worlds Burn
    Carach Angren – The Funerary Dirge of a Violinist
    Grand Magus – Son of the Last Breath
    Sabaton – Carolus Rex
    Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Where Pigs Fly
    Wintersun – Sons of Winter and Stars OR Time

  • ZacP

    A delicious spread of songs! A cornucopia of musical youtube goodness! Thanks for all the hours you guys slave over the mouse and keyboard preparing such well written guides for our aural perusal and pleasure.

    I have spent the most time this year listening to The Great Sadness Descends/Half Open Gates by Shroud of Despondency. ( http://shroudofdespondency.bandcamp.com/album/pine ) Really tracks 4-7 are one complete song. So dark, brooding and furious. Not a big fan of the new vocalist, but the riffs throughout and the guitar that starts halfway through Half Open Gates is so great.

  • http://twitter.com/pythoned Shanks

    Dismal list. Pales in comparison to 2011’s list, which had more memorable songs, atleast for me.

    • http://www.angrymetalguy.com Angry Metal Guy

      Dismal? I thought it was a great list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andres.nocerino Andres Pintos Nocerino

    storms of memories Enslaved best of 2012, and you need to coment often some southamerican heavy metal band or you can´t search it? ex Woslom, Khrophus, KroW from BRAZIL, Eclampsy, Reytoro from Uruguay and The Grief from Equador