2012 has been a long year, and I’m glad it’s over. Usually I can count on heavy music to get me through the tough times, but this year I had to survive on extra helpings of bad retro thrash, bad retro death metal, and countless doom bands trying to bore me to death [whatmoss peeping ain't good enough for ya?? ---  Steel Druhm].

Luckily, many of the old masters came through for me with quality stuff, and a few newer bands gave me hope as well. 2012 punched me in the head repeatedly until I blacked out, but when I regained consciousness, these are the parts I remembered. Enjoy.

(ish): Down // Down IV Part I: The Purple EP
Being an EP, I couldn’t really justify putting this in the top 10. Regardless, Down IV got some serious replay action from me this past summer. It was nice to see Down ditch the overblown production of their last couple albums and return to (more or less) the stripped-down approach that put them on the map in the first place. If you liked NOLA, give this one a try.

#10: Van Halen // A Different Kind Of Truth
David Lee Roth may have retired the high kicks (and probably doesn’t snort coke like a vacuum anymore), but his first record with VH in 28 years was surprisingly good. Using a mix of old and new material turned out to be a smart move, giving Truth some continuity with the classic-era albums. Eddie Van Halen is still a mad scientist on the guitar, but the real shock was that his son Wolfgang happens to be a bass virtuoso as well. I’m still expecting these guys to break up any second now.

#9: Testament // Dark Roots Of Earth
With their second post-reunion album, thrash legends Testament expand their sound to its pre-‘90s borders. There’s plenty of furious riffs on here, but there’s also more melodic input from guitar genius Alex Skolnick, and even a ballad, the band’s first in years. As a fan of Testament’s heavier material, I wish Dark Roots skewed more in that direction, but hey, I’m not complaining.

#8: Woods of Ypres // Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
On what turned out to be their final album, Woods of Ypres take their Darkthrone-meets-Type O hybrid to its logical conclusion. Lyrically, almost the entire album is fixated on death, which is chilling considering Woods vocalist David Gold’s untimely demise just prior to this album’s release.

#7: Rush // Clockwork Angels – Rush is seriously not fucking around anymore. Since their excellent last album Snakes and Arrows, our favorite Canadians have embarked on several massive tours, appeared in a documentary that finally made them non-threatening to women (my wife thinks they’re cute old men now), and then upped the musical ante considerably on Clockwork Angels. The progressive songcraft, instrumental prowess and smart lyrics that you’ve come to expect are all here in heaping portions. This album feels like a triumphant comeback, even though these guys never went away.

#6: Corrosion Of Conformity // Corrosion Of Conformity
This back-to-basics incarnation of COC (Pepper Keenan out, Reed Mullin back in) bashed out a surprising return to form on this self-titled album. As someone who enjoyed their Keenan-era material and didn’t really give a shit about their hardcore years, I was not really sure what to expect here.  Never fear – this record is an expert blend of the old and the new, and compared to COC’s last couple albums, actually ups the energy level considerably.

#5: Killing Joke // MMXII
All your favorite black and death metal bands are full of shit. If you want to hear some people who are serious about the end of the world, with a frontman who actually IS completely batshit insane, Killing Joke is where it’s at. Their new record MMXII is just the latest in a long line of quality albums.

#4: Gojira // L’Enfant Sauvage
Gojira is not about songs or albums, as much as an overall sound and feel. That said, I felt like their last album The Way Of All Flesh was a half-assed, mostly-filler record that I didn’t get all the fuss over. L’Enfant Sauvage is a huge step in the right direction. The songwriting here is significantly better and more memorable than on Flesh, while keeping the Gojira trademarks (insane drumming, bizarre guitar noises, lyrics about hugging trees) firmly in place.

#3: Baroness // Yellow & Green
On Yellow and Green, Baroness made the transition from “stoner/sludge/metal band” to “guys who write really fucking good songs.” This development seems to have rubbed the metal purists the wrong way, but they can eat shit. “Take My Bones Away”, “Eula” and “March To The Sea” are all classics in the making.

#2: Night Flight Orchestra // Internal Affairs
NFO is basically Bjorn Strid (Soilwork) living out his ‘70s rock fantasy, with a little help from some other Swedish metal all-stars. A lot of albums like this are cropping up lately, and most of them suck ass. Luckily, NFO has the chops and the cred to pull it off, paying homage to Rainbow, Heart, Molly Hatchet and even fucking ABBA. The result is a damn
fun record that has not left my car for the last six months.

#1: Devin Townsend Project // Epicloud
Devin Townsend subverts the entire metal aesthetic, using the heaviest tools in his arsenal (downtuned guitars, massive production) to create the most positive, feel-good record imaginable. I still can’t figure out how that works, but it does. Like the Baroness record, Epicloud seemed to bother the more closed-minded among us, and their discomfort amused me greatly. But more importantly, songs like “Where We Belong,” “More”, and “Save Our Now” are expertly crafted and instantly memorable. This record grabbed me pretty hard this year and didn’t let go.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Kreator // Phantom Antichrist
Prong // Carved Into Stone
Deftones // Koi No Yokan
The Devil’s Blood // The Thousandfold Epicentre
Sithu Aye // Isles EP

 

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

    Dayman! Aaahhhh-AAAHHHHH-aaaaahhhhhhh!

  • Madam__X

    Great list! I definitely need to check out Killing Joke along with a few others.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Yeah you do. I’d start with either their self-titled from 2003, or “Absolute Dissent” from a couple years ago. “MMXII” is great but maybe not the best starting point if you’re new.

      • Madam__X

        Great stuff, I’ll pick up the albums you mention and go from there – thanks :)

  • HohenheimOL

    Pretty shit-tier list you got going there. Not much metal on it, and what metal there is mostly sucks.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Agreed that there isn’t much straight-up metal on here — it’s not my fault that those bands didn’t make music that was good enough to make my top 10 this year. On the other hand, I hardly think anything on this list “sucks.”

      • HohenheimOL

        Goddammit, stop being so gracious about things. I was trying to troll.

        • http://Angrymetalguy.com Steel Druhm

          We at AMG are taught to be classy at all times. It’s like the Frasier Crane Metal Symposium around here.

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            Awww shit, I should’ve used Frasier as my profile pic!

            Seriously though: if there WERE any other really good metal releases, and I somehow missed them, please let me know ’cause I want to hear them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-González/100003860419187 Jeremy González

            Since you mentioned that there been a lot of bad retro-thrash this year which is true, I recommend Tantara and Nekromantheon. Both bands are from Norway and released some top-notch albums.

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            This Tantara stuff is pretty solid!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-González/100003860419187 Jeremy González

            Yeah. Their influences are obvious and it’s nothing new, but it sounds fresh and more importantly, it’s good.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-González/100003860419187 Jeremy González

    I don’t know, but for a double album that got 3.5 for the yellow album and 2.0 for the green album, it’s pretty high in the list. Did the green album grew on you since the review? BTW nice list, love the different styles and genres.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Two things happened. One, the good songs from the Baroness record did grow on me. Two, nobody else put out anything else that I thought was better (except for NFO and Devin). And thanks, btw.

  • Michael Imbornoni

    I think all those punches to the head may have given you brain damage…

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.walford Nick Walford

    Good list – some fine choices, and nice to see such a diverse selection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.cofer.9 Jason Cofer

    I have read top 10’s and 50’s all over the place this week and I really like where your head is at Mr. Fisting. As huge an all around metal fan across most genres as I am, I agree with the vast majority of what you have here. The Devil’s Blood is really damn fine and I will have to listen to NFO and perhaps dust off some old Killing Joke.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Do it! Thanks for the kind words, man.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=823035384 Dean Hili

    Everyone seems to be putting the Baroness record on their end of year top 10… and knowing full well Baroness make the most amazing vinyl pressings, me being a sucker for vinyl, I decided to give this one another go. I now love it. Need to be in the right mood for it, but there are some winners on here definitely; and I usually don’t like double albums either.

  • Guest

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a beath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Guest

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a beath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Guest

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a beath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Guest

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a beath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Luís Pedro Coutinho

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a breath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Luís Pedro Coutinho

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a breath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

  • Luís Pedro Coutinho

    It’s what I say. This webzine maybe needs a breath of fresh air. I love this blog really…and respect all the people that contributes…but, you know… it gives me that sensation / feeling that needs someone more extreme like me for example…well i’m into extreme metal, but I like power or gothic metal too.

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

    I am weird, and I say this to preface that I haven’t had the heart to listen to Woods 5, even when I have been consistently told that it’s a great record, the death of David Gold was a great shock. Woods 4 was a pearl of sad, depressive and oppressive music. Very delightful in it’s own way, but learning of Davis’s passing gave it a whole another dimension of sadness. Maybe this year I will find the strength and ease of mind.

    Great list!

  • Ar318307

    “”Take My Bones Away”, “Eula” and “March To The Sea” are all classics in the making.”

    Aaannd that’s the problem. Those are the *only* memorable songs in the entire album(s). Everything else is extremely boring filler. I just can’t see how anyone could have been impressed by their latest offering.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      I could’ve named more, but we have word limits on these posts. And even if it was just those three…Name one doom/re-thrash/djent/black metal album from this year with 3 songs that anyone will give a shit about in 5 years. Try me.

      • Ar318307

        “Name one doom/re-thrash/djent/black metal album from this year with 3 songs that anyone will give a shit about in 5 years.”

        This is completely irrelevant to whether or not *this* is a good album. If out of 18 songs only 3 are memorable then quite simply you do *not* have a great album in your hands. And you have no way of knowing what the metal community will give a shit about in 5 years so you can’t use what people *may or may not* care about in 5 years as a reason to praise an album *now*.

        Those 3 songs are good, but the album is crap.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001604760522 Erik Levitsky

      Yellow is flawless if you’re a fan of straight forward psychedelic rock or 70s era prog. I counted so many throw backs to bands like Queen, King Crimson, Yes, etc. The beauty of Yellow is that they fit it all into short, tasteful songs with lots of personal and direct lyrics this time. Green on the other hand…they dropped the ball on that one. I don’t like it at all.

  • RU63

    Glad to see Testament on here, and I’m totally with you in liking their heavier stuff. I’d like to see Chuck fully embrace this heavy, dark voice for their next album, as it’s one of the best!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001604760522 Erik Levitsky

    Thank you for giving Baroness the respect they deserve. I’ve been following these guys since before the RED album – They have come a long way and are definitely the best band to come out in a long time. Yellow is probably one of my favorite records of all time – modern psychedelic rock and roll done right. This is a really good list and I respect your picks. I can see that you a fan of “music” and not just “metal”.