Top 20 Albums of 2012!!!

Well it’s that glorious time of the year. I’ve been procrastinating and putting this off for far too long working and redrafting this list, but I’ve finally come up with a list I can be happy with and I hope you can respect it one way or another. I’m sure everyone has differing albums and that’s the beauty of this whole thing.

Now before I go into the actual list I just wanted to preface a few things. To me, this was a year of big, well-known bands putting out records that were really strong, but not quite on par with some of their past albums that have since become their claim to fame at this particular point in time. I also found that relatively new bands have been putting out records this year that are capable of launching them to the next level and with promoters and festival bookers already looking to book bands for the summer of 2013 and 2014, I think these bands are securing some solid spots for themselves.

I’d like to also preface this by saying that this has been an extremely hard to list these bands in any particular order and I have a separate 20 list of albums that I’d love to squeeze in, but didn’t so really this is a just a list of 18-19 albums I really liked any my all time record of the year. So without further ado, let’s begin.

20. For Today – Immortal

Another stormer of a record from the christian metal band For Today. God’s lightning struck twice for them.  Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with one of their shows. They were on fire that night, but it kept me from listening to their music and all the christian music that I enjoy listening to. So I think that the biggest thing keeping this album at the end of my list, but still a great album.

19. Upon a Burning Body – Red White and Green

How do you top an album like this band’s debut album. One of the best debut albums by any band of that genre and not only that, but the band proved that they have a live show to rival anyone else’s making them contenders for some prestigious headline slots. This second album wasn’t as good in my opinion, but it still has some of their best songs ever on it and I think 2013 will feature UABB on much higher festival slots.

18. Deftones – Koi No Yokan

This album to me is just about on par with Diamond Eyes and White Pony as being one the best from this band. I’m not the biggest fan of this band, but I really enjoyed this album and it made me want to go back and revisit their older albums, which to me is the sure sign of a good album. I still need to listen to it some more, but just the initial listen made enough of an impression with  to put it in my list so definitely check it out.

17. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth

One of the best modern thrash records of this new decade if i may be so bold. Not only is it one of the best Testament records, but an all around definitive thrash record. It seems to me like the more unlikely thrash bands are coming back and making hit records. Anthrax surprised everyone last year and even Overkill turned out a great record this year as well. Great job guys.

16. Rush – Clockwork Angels

Look…it’s fucking RUSH!! You can’t not have Rush in your top 20 and I’m shocked it’s this low on the list. In all seriousness though I thought this record was fantastic. Well written, great production, and of course fantastic songs. I think it’s on par with Snakes and Arrows and I thought that was one of the better records of their career and while they have some controversial albums, there’s no denying that Clockwork Angel‘s is killer.

15. Anathema – Weather Systems

So this album and band are completely new to me. I had heard a lot of buzz about this band through friends and fellow review sites, and when I finally got around to listening to it, it was clear to me why they were so popular. This album is amazing. Spectacular progressive rock (they used to be very heavy, which is kinda funny because it’s hard to give them any shred of metal credit on this album, but that’s ok) with some of the most beautiful arrangements and melodies. I only listened to it once which is why it’s so low on my list, but I nearly fell in love with it when I first heard it.

14. Mumford & Sons – Babel

Another killer album from these British folk heroes. A lot of people told me ‘oh it sounds too much like the first album’ and maybe I’m too in love with them to truly see through them, but I found this album to be a refreshing and natural progression to their first album. I feel the same way about the Upon a Burning Body album as well. It’s hard to recreate the buzz that initially made the band popular to begin with off the debut album. Some band get better with each album. Some bands have ups and downs, but I think we can rest assured knowing that this will not be the last album from this band.

13. Meshuggah – Koloss

Like I said before, one of the themes of this years list is band’s making strong records, but not quite on par with what is considered their best. Koloss is fantastic, but Obzen is almost a perfect record in my opinion and Koloss has some points where it gets a little lost instrumentally and certain passages just kinda drag on for the sake of going on. It’s not a major concern on this album, but it is preventing me from putting it higher on my list.

12. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

Same story as Meshuggah for me, but some people I know have this as their number one, which made me question myself and whether I missed something. I listened to it a couple of times and it still didn’t totally enthrall me like From Mars to Sirius or The Way of All Flesh. It’s certainly up there though. Gojira are a hard band to get to and you really need to give their albums your undivided attention when listening to them. This is still a phenomenal record from a phenomenal band.

11. The Faceless – Autotheism

Probably the most surprisingly unexpected album this year for me. I mean here’s a band that released two albums previously of straight forward death metal with some added bells and whistles here and there overall. This album however is very progressive, very diverse and eclectic kinda in the same way as The Discovery for Born if Osiris. Very unexpected, but very good.  Definitely worth checking out.

10. Every Time I Die – Ex Lives

Great record and it really harks back to some of their older albums. For me, I think Gutter Phenomenon and New Junkie Aesthetic will always be my personal favorites.

9. Baroness – Yellow and Green

Another really surprising album from a band this year. There’s a little less riffage on this album, but the hooks are plentiful and some of the songs are the best in the band’s career. Not only did they change the whole style of their music, but they debuted this new sound on a double album, which is extremely risky, but they pulled it off.

8. Jack White – Blunderbuss

This is the debut from Jack White as a solo artist and in my opinion, it’s the best thing he’s put his name in since Elephant by the White Stripes. He’s had a bunch of different projects since then, but I just really really loved this solo album and I can’t wait for more to come. I also think Jack White is an absolute songwriting legend and a musical god, but that’s just me.

7. Veil of Maya – Eclipse

Great album from a great fucking technical deathcore band. It’s a huge step up for them and a great follow-up to [ID]. I think it’s important to note the Misha Mansoor of Periphery produced this album, which further solidifies him as being a great producer outside of his own band. Very heavy album from a very heavy band and I think this is just an absolute killer album.

6. Cancer Bats – Dead Set on Living

If this band doesn’t make you want to just grab a beer and kill someone, then there is something desperately wrong with you. You might not even be human. This band solidified themselves as modern hardcore giants with Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones and have further raised the bar for themselves and other bands around them with this album.

5. Lamb of God – Resolution

The most diverse album from arguably the best heavy metal band around nowadays. There’s clean vox, there’s orchestras, and did I forget to mention…it’s Lamb of God!!! This band simply do not fail and this record is just so fucking phenomenal. Seeing the new songs live also helped to keep this band high on my list. I mean, it’s really hard to even try to keep Lamb of God out of your top 5 in my opinion and just listen to their music to see why.

4. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life

Probably the best hardcore, thrash, and all around metal record this year. It was miles ahead of Heavy Breathing and there’s something in there for everyone who likes heavy music. I honestly can’t express enough how good this album is and how much I love it. You need to listen to it yourself and get your face ripped off. It’s like Trap Them meets Megadeth so go check it out.

3. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time it’s Personal

These last three albums might not necessarily be my favorites, but I’ve definitely listened to these more than any other record on my list. This is also a phenomenal record. I mean, what a step up from the band that pioneered the whole “Djent” scene (as much as I hate that word/scene). Spencer’s vocals improved ten fold, the production is incredibly tight and the songs are much more complex and well written and overall there’s a lot more direction in my opinion than the debut record.

2. Lower Than Atlantis – Changing Tune

What can I say, I’m absolutely in love with this band and they can almost do no wrong in my eyes. For being a rising british punk band, I find their music drifting  more and more away from the punk rock scene to more of a Foo Fighters-esque rock and roll sound with punk aesthetics. I’m so in love with this band that I preordered the biggest bundle they had for this album over the summer and absolutely loved it when I first heard it. When I got over my starry eye and stepped back from it, I still think it s a fan-fucking-tastic album. I just really want to see them live so that I can put 2 and 2 together.

1. While She Sleeps – This is the Six

HO.LY. SHITBALLS!! The leap this band made from their first album to this is truly indescribable. They had so much potential on that first record and they just absolutely stormed the gates down on this record and put out a stormer of a record. One of the freshest and most exciting bands right now redefining metalcore. The riffs are compatible with the riffs off the Black Breath album and the choruses are as anthemic as a great power metal song. They’re flying the flag for the UK and they are damn lucky to have all these great metalcore and hardcore bands rights now.

 

Well, there you have it folks. Share yours on the facebook page. Thanks for reading.

Luke Helker

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