After 12 months of bickering, debating, fighting and general disagreement, the Thrash Hits contributors have finally settled on their records of the year. Later this week we’ll be publishing Raz and Hugh’s lists, as well as the final, collaborative, everyone-from-Thrash-Hits mathematically-calculated Albums Of The Year list, but for the time being, here’s (part 1) of what our contributors thought were the best and the brightest of 2012.
This year we’re feeling particularly generous, so gone are the days of Top 10s – we’re making the step up to the big boy’s table with Top 20s for 2012. We’ve also asked our contributors to explain why they settled on their top choice, and as many other of their lists as they care to. Because, y’know, publishing just the straight lists would be super boring. We’ve also got as open a policy as they come for what we allowed our contributors to nominate – EPs, live albums, no genre boundaries, whatever – the only rules were that it had to have received its first release in 2012, and it couldn’t be a Best-Of or some nonsense like that.
Tom Dare listens to far too much power and black metal than is either healthy or sensible, and while we often take the piss out of him because of this, there’s no doubt that he knows his onions when it comes to heavy music. That’s why Metal Hammer headhunted him as a writer, and it’s why his list is the first one we’re publishing.
1. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Why The Parallax II: Future Sequenceis his album of 2012: It’s insanely catchy, it’s completely bonkers, it’s 72 minutes that flash by in what feel like seconds, it’s seamlessly written to sound like one entire work, it runs from brutal metal to Cole Porter choruses that make you do jazz hands to textured prog to twelve bar blues. Joyous perfection.
2. Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay
Hypnotic, mesmeric emotional honesty from one of the greatest bands to ever exist.
3. Kontinuum – Earth Blood Magic
An Icelandic band that appeared out of nowhere to produce a distinctive masterpiece of a debut. Bleak, elegantly simple post rock meets gloomy metal, occasionally flavoured with black metal fury, all wrapped up in a weirdness that’s deeply unsettling. Astonishing misery.
4. Ihsahn – Eremita
It’s the best, most personal, most immediate thing he’s done since Emperor’s demise. A genuine unique voice at his most honed.
5. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Âme
If ever a metal record made you feel like the world is a wonderful place full of joy, it’s this one. Bathe in the Gallic glory and feel complete bliss.
6. Gojira – L’Elephant Sausage
Un riffgasm extraordinaire pour le XXIle siècle, c’est plus fucking crushing que un avalanche et joué du cœur. Gojira méritent d’être énorme. Fantastique.
7. Killing Joke – MMXII
The last album was brilliant, this one’s even better. Dark, sinister, genuinely frightening and dangerous. 30+ years and 15 albums in, they’re still one of the most extreme bands around.
8. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
Devin doing pop metal as brilliantly as he does everything else. Clone the man immediately for the good of future generations of humanity.
9. Sabaton – Carolus Rex
Chorus follows chorus follows chorus follows chorus and if you still aren’t smiling, you’re dead to me.
10. Dyscarnate – And So It Came To Pass
The catchiest, most infectious, and generally best new death metal band in the world. Fact. RISE RISE! RISE RISE! RISE RISE! AND RISE AGAIN!
11. Anathema – Weather Systems
About as metal as true love, constant optimism and pink ribbons. Which, coincidentally, is what it’s about (not the ribbons), and what it inspires. Beautiful.
12. God Seed – I Begin
Filth. Gaahl and King Ov Hell doing what they do best – making fiery, hateful, evil black metal that scares the fuck out of you. Marvellous!
13. Dordeduh – Dar De Duh
Earthy, rich, atmospheric black metal with touches of Isa/Ruun era Enslaved. Like going for a wander in a misty Romanian forest.
14. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
It’s Converge playing new Converge songs. Do you really need another reason?
15. Asphyx – Deathhammer
This is true death metal, you bastards. Bow down to the Deathhammer. KNEEL! You dogs…
16. Meshuggah – Koloss
Just because everyone and his civil partner have now ripped them off hasn’t stopped them being able to completely fuck with your head. Thank Sathanas.
17. Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
Fucking angry riffbastards playing big grooving songs while shouting like they mean it. Very nearly as good as Hail Destroyer. Which is unbelievably hard to achieve.
18. Kreator – Phantom Antichrist
The thrash album of the year. The best riffs, the best melodies, the biggest song (‘Civilisation Collapse’). Classic, modern Kreator.
19. Katatonia – Dead End Kings
Subtle, elegant and beautiful melancholy that enraptures, ensnares and makes your heart weep. Oh, and Jonas Renkse’s voice is still astounding.
20. Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned
Big fat riffs, a big fat fuck-you attitude and a big fat stoner song that starts out sounding like ‘Call From The Grave’ by Bathory. Yes please.
Alex Andrews has writing for us since 2011, and in between his real-world life of covering the exciting world of corporate jet investment, he likes to listen to punk and hardcore. He only submitted a Top 15 because that’s how many records he wanted to put in his list. Rules? Forget about ’em.
1. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
Why Celebration Rock is his album of 2012: If anything else this year managed to cram in quite as many beers-in-the-air, goose bump-inducing moments of pure exhilaration, then I certainly haven’t heard it. Springing from the shadows like an amped-up Springsteen or the Replacements-on-rocket fuel, on the aptly-named Celebration Rock, Japandroids emerge not only as the world’s most formidable two-piece, but as exceptional songwriters, with almost every song sounding like a single. The hipster haircuts and indie-rock affiliations will no doubt have some readers of this site running for the hills already, but there’s no reason why fans of Against Me!, Gaslight Anthem or even Fucked Up won’t find plenty to enjoy here.
2. Pacer – Making Plans
2012 was a good year for punk rock and Pacer’s low-key debut album was the pick of the bunch. Having formed from the still cooling ashes of The Steal, Pacer continued to carry the flame for UK DIY punk, channelling much of the same immediacy and positive energy, whilst proving themselves to be a step-up in every way. Making Plans is a meticulously melodic and instantly connectable effort. It buzzes and zips along from start to finish, with vocalist Mark Pavey – now singing rather than shouting – chronicling his own journey of self-improvement with real warmth and humility.
3. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
4. Basement – Colourmeinkindness
5. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
6. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
7. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
8. The Men – Open Your Heart
9. Frank Ocean – Channel Orange
10. Propagandhi – Failed States
11. Merchandise – Children Of Desire
12. Whirr – Pipe Dreams
13. Gnarwolves – CRU
14. Masked Intruder – Masked Intruder
15. The Long Haul – Debtors
Andy Parker is not only a dab hand with a camera, but he’s also one of the finest UX specialists you’re ever likely to meet. If you don’t know what a UX specialist is, then don’t worry about it. Just got check out his album choices, okay?
1. Brotherhood Of The Lake – Desperation Is The English Way Vol.1
Why Desperation Is The English Way Vol. 1 is his album of 2012: Providing these boys can keep together, unlike their peers Bastions and Kerouac, BHOTL have a long career ahead of them producing a new sound of Britain. It’s fucking miserable, it is pretty dark and then shanks you with a pop tune.
2. Polar – Iron Lungs
Another example of best of British, Polar bring a solid first time at bat with a hardcore record that Jersey would be proud of. The Surrey lads throw down in the style of Madball and Sick of it All without being faux yankee doodle.
3. Architects – Daybreaker
Two albums in just over the space of a year – what does that tell you? Yep, these Brighton boys weren’t totally sold on The Here And Now (a bit like us), but the good news is that Daybreaker brought back some of that batshit crazy droppage that was found on Hollow Crown. ‘Devil’s Island’ is exactly what I wanted to hear from Architects.
4. Every Time I Die – Ex Lives
Let me put this simply for you: in the last ten years ETID haven’t released a single shit record. They fuse rock, metal, punk and hardcore like no other. Keith Buckley is a lyricist like no other painting tales of frustration, confusion, fear and personal doubt in a farytale land I pray I never visit. Every track gives you what you expect from ETID and nothing more and nothing less. Keep it simple, keep it catchy, keep it fucking rocking.
5. Narrows – Painted Smiles
The members of Narrows who span several continents put together the entire record without a single instance of them all being in the same room. Welcome to modern music folks! While this is nothing new (pop artists have been doing this for years – do you think Beyonce and Lady Gaga recorded vocals in the same room for their collaborations?), unlike the cold distant world of pop, when you’re orchestrating a moody mathy broth you have to be able to push that emotional chord. The expanse of the briney deep couldn’t stop the former and/or current members of Botch, These Arms Are Snakes and Tropics from smashing this one out at the start of the year.
6. Single Mothers – Single Mothers
The first signing to Secret Voice (the label run by Touche Amore’s Jeremy Bolm), and distributed by Deathwish Inc over the summer, these guys are my top tip for 2013. Four tracks recorded at such a high volume that everything sounds like distorted, battered and mangled vinyl, the first few seconds of opener ‘Christian Girls’ got my hair standing on end. By the time the chorus came in on ‘Baby’ I was hooked and instantly looped the record for an hour. Single Mothers are like a loud Shudder To Think, taking the post-rock sound and funnel it through a shoe lost in a mosh at an ATDI show in 98 only to resurface on a shipping tanker owned by Steve Albini. The tracks are catchy as fuck and have the titles to boot. Get me their merch, all of it right now!
7. Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
8. Loma Prieta – I.V
9. Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
10. The Chariot – One Wing
11. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
12. Gallows – Gallows
13. Parkway Drive – Atlas
14. Blackstorm – The Darkness Is Getting Closer
15. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
16. Devil Sold His Soul – Empire of Light
17. Down – Down IV Part I – The Purple EP
18. Vision of Disorder – The Cursed Remain Cursed
19. As I Lay Dying – Awakened
20. Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
Ben Gibson loves hardcore, photography, trainers, and eating his own bodyweight in pulled pork. His life is basically an instagram account. When he’s not shooting for us, you can find his work in Rock Sound, who have wisely recognised his skills with a camera.
1. Every Time I Die – Ex Lives
Why Ex Lives is his album of 2012: My most played album of the year, simply it just ticks all the boxes. Heavy where it needs to be, and well written throughout. Massive vocals and riffs. Chocked full of hits to bang your head to. What an album.
2. Upon a Burning Body – Red. White. Green
3. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
4. Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood of Colour
5. Don Broco – Priorities
6. Die Antwoord – Ten$ion
7. The Chariot – One Wing
8. Gallows – Gallows
9. Death Grips – No Love Deep Web
10. Alexisonfire – Death Letter
11. While She Sleeps – This Is The Six
12. Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
13. Feed The Rhino – Bastard Sons
14. Your Demise – The Golden Age
15. Devil Sold His Soul – Empire of Light
Tom Doyle is the king of accidental shit-stirring. Not only will we never let him forget about The Lower Than Atlantis Headbutt Incident, but this year we can add upsetting the reliably awful Blessed By A Broken Heart to his resume of evil. Good work, Doyle!
1. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
Why On The Impossible Past is his album of 2012: On The Impossible Past is a gift that keeps on giving, when I reviewed it for Thrash Hits earlier in the year I recognised its brilliance but not quite how deeply that brilliance ran. It is possessed of hidden strengths, superb narrative, exemplary song writing and moments of truly touching honesty. It is a record capable of producing a new emotion in the listener with every spin and that is the sign of a genuinely great album if ever there was one. What makes On The Impossible Past even more remarkable is how much better it is than Menzingers previous effort Chamberlain Waits, they have turned knockabout punk rock into something absolutely invigorating for both mind and spirit like the alchemists that they are. To live with this album over weeks, months and indeed the year is to love it – truly, truly beautiful stuff.
2. Code Orange Kids – Love is Love/Return to Dust
The Deathwish hype machine is going into overdrive on this lot but my God you can see why. Bold, impassioned and shot through with the sort of spitting-blood anger that can sometimes become unwieldy but that is distilled here into an album as sharp as an arrowhead. Code Orange Kids represent everything that is good about hardcore in the 21st century, expect to hear a LOT more from these guys in 2013.
3. The Gaslight Anthem – Handwritten
Already the fourth full-length from a band who seem incapable of writing a bad song; the quality of composition all the way through Handwritten is so exemplary it is almost overwhelming. No doubt one of the editors will write a bit about Something About Death Or Dying here but this is a record of such beautiful craft and soulful performance it deserves to be at the sharp end this list on merit.
4. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
Converge do a Converge and produce one of the albums of the year with seeming ease, no one is shocked.
5. The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza – Danza IIII: The Alpha – The Omega
A ferocious parting shot from one of the most overlooked bands in their genre. Face melting from note one, Danza IIII contains one of the guitar performances of the year from creative main man Josh Travis. They will be sorely missed.
6. Title Fight – Floral Green
Every hardcore kids favourite pseudo-emo mob come around again with an album that probably isn’t quite as good as their debut full length ’Shed’ but is still better than pretty much everything else out there. This is the most reflective and atmospheric thing they have ever produced but still retains a suitable amount of punch (especially in the first half) to raise your blood temperature – an extremely complete and competent album from a still-young band.
7. Between the Buried and Me – Parallax II: Future Sequence
Parallax II sees BTBAM show pretty much every other ‘technical’ band up as the pathetic shitmunchers that they are. Unsurpassable musicianship, breathtaking rise and fall and a capacity to make ‘proggy bits’ seem not like total bollocks. Mesmeric.
8. Primitive Weapons – The Shadow Gallery
One from leftfield. Mental Brooklyn noiseniks giving it the big one with the assistance of former ‘Gay For Johnny Depp’ frontman Arty Shepard. Angular, brash and constantly in your face but with a sweet sideline in deliciously deranged hooks.
9. Hot Water Music – Exister
Wollard, Ragan and co. are back with an album that makes you wonder why the ever went away, whisky soaked brilliance from the band that inspired a thousand gruff punks.
10. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life
If riffs were money then this lot would be millionaires, disgusting tone, pure rage, solid gold. Buy it and headbang.
11. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
12. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
13. Narrows – Painted
14. Worn in Red – Banshees
15. Propagandhi – Failed States
16. Birds In Row – You, me and the violence
17. Torche – Harmonicraft
18. Verse – Bitter Clarity, Uncommon Grace
19. Apologies, I Have None – London
20. Shores – Leavening
You want even more lists? Here’s part 2 of our contributors’ Albums of the Year lists. Want EVEN MORE? Then come back tomorrow when we’ll be revealing Raz and Hugh’s records of the year, as well as the giant, combined, everyone’s-votes-taken-into-account definitive Thrash Hits Album Of The Year list.