So yeah, you’ve checked out Part 1 of our contributors’ Albums of the Year lists, and you’re hungry for more, right? Well, stop reading this and click the ‘Read More…’ link to find out what the other half of our contributing writers and photographers thought were the best releases of 2012.
As we said in part one, the rules are simple this year. We asked our contributors to give us between 10 and 20 of their favourite records that were released in 2012. Any genre, any length, so long as they weren’t re-releases or Best-Ofs or any cop-out stuff like that.
David Keevill has been with us since 2011, but he also moonlights on some other, not-as-good-as-Thrash Hits websites as well as Classic Rock Presents Prog. No surprise what his top album of 2012 is then….
1. Anathema – Weather Systems
Why Weather Systems is his album of 2012: Often harrowing and always beautiful, Weather Systems continues along the kind of ethereal and instinctive paths that Anathema forged on We’re Here Because We’re Here. Making more use of Lee Douglas’ vocals as the swirling counterpoint to Vincent Cavanagh’s grimmer tones, the album feels developed and swollen to magnificence by each of its carefully considered parts. Over twenty years into the game, Anathema are still at the forefront of the many albums this year that use atmospheric passages as the main thrust of their sound.
2. The Menzingers – On The Impossible Past
3. Katatonia – Dead End Kings
4. Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
5. Gallows i Gallows
6. Rival Sons – Head Down
7. Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
8. Hawk Eyes – Ideas
9. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
10. Enslaved – RIITIIR
11. Parkway Drive – Atlas
12. Torche – Harmonicraft
13 .Hot Water Music – Exister
14. Architects – Daybreaker
15. Brotherhood of The Lake – Desperation Is the English Way Vol. 1
16. Make Do and Mend – Everything You Ever Loved
17. While She Sleeps – This Is the Six
18. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
19. We Are the Ocean – Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow
20. Lamb of God – Resolution
Jon Kerr hasn’t written much for Thrash Hits in 2012, but that’s because he’s been off being a teacher and actively making the world a better place by educating children. What have you done in 2012? Sat on your fat arse and bickered about stuff on the internet. I think Jon made the better choice.
1. Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Why Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light is his album of 2012: This is a work of exquisite beauty and a sombre farewell from David Gold. Nothing like the nutty fun of my number 2 or 3 choices but the one I know will outlast them both my memory. Raw power, raw emotion, start to finish.
2. Infected Mushrooms – Army of Mushrooms
3. Enter Shikari – A Flash Flood of Colour
4. Our Time Down Here – Midnight Mass
5. Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
6. Therapy? – A Brief Crack of Light
7. ††† – EP 2
8. Orange Goblin – A Eulogy for the Damned
9. Your Demise – The Golden Age
10. Down – Down IV Part I – The Purple EP
11. Every Time I Die – Ex Lives
12. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
13. Between the Buried and Me – The Parralax II: Future Sequence
14. Lamb of God – Resolution
15. Gallows – Gallows
16. Soundgarden – King Animal
17. Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
18. Soen – Cognitive
19. Stone Sour – House of Gold & Bones Part 1
20. Stam1na – Nocebo
Matt Thomas is another of our photographers – one of four that we have who come from “the North”. What is it about The North and photographers? Regardless, he takes good photos, and once drove a battered car all over Mongolia. That’s pretty damn cool in our estimations.
1. Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
Why Blues Funeral is his album of 2011: Overlooked and understated, a true follow up to ‘Bubblegum’ in my ears. Frankly, I love this guy and his voice so much that he could of sang Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ over and over and I’d of still have voted it at number 1. Can’t wait to hear him on the new Queens of the Stone Age record.
2. Conan – Monnos
Photographed these guys recording this album out in the legendary Foel Studio with Chris Fielding. Kind of weird because I never got the chance to hear it all together during my time with them. When it came out I was blown away. There’s truely nothing heavier going it’s as simple as that. Some big names in the scene on their list of fans too. I’m not gonna argue with Matt Pike.
3. Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay
4. Ministry – Relapse
5. Orange Goblin – A Eulogy for the Damned
6. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
7. Black Moth – The Killing Jar
8. Hawk Eyes – Ideas
9. Swans – The Seer
10. Baroness – Yellow & Green
Ruth Booth is – somewhat alarmingly – the only female voice in our Record of the Year lists for 2012. We did ask our other female contributors, but they didn’t get back to us in time. Ruth is the clear winner of “most influential female voice” in the Thrash Hits 2012 critics poll.
1. Katatonia – Dead End Kings
Why Dead End Kings is her album of 2011: It’s a clever name. Katatonia’s latest record proves them masters of an understated yet immense melancholy, unmatched in its subtlety by anyone else in the field. That it gets a nudge this time of year, I can’t deny – Dead End Kings is, essentially, the soundtrack of couples in long black coats having relationship issues in snow-covered forests. Yet it doesn’t shove angst in your face, only choosing to overwhelm you with its quiet strength when necessary. A gentle, yet powerful record, it’s a lesson in tailored quality – and absolutely ruddy essential.
2. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
After the heavy message of his four album opus, on Epicloud Devin Townsend declared verily it was time to rock the fuck out. A shot of aural vitamin D, Epicloud blends power metal, gospel, garage rock and new age into songs uplifting beyond the bounds of the heliosphere.
3. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Pinata
DSO took their own brand of operatic jazz metal south of the border on their third record. Blending gin-soaked, blackened-teeth cabaret smiles with Mexican shootouts and post-apocalyptic lounge slide, this still ranks as the Ultimate Dia de los Muertos Party album.
4. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal
Periphery are the quintessence of that perfect balance between glorious anthems and the challenging potential of truly progressive metal – and their second album says no different. Periphery II continues to weave those Meshuggah and Dream Theater tendencies into their unique genetic deviant pop. An embryonic snapshot of potential figureheads of the genre.
5. Ancients – Star Showers on the Euphrates
Last year’s 6/6-rated EP Constellations was a snapshot, a mere muscle flex of potential of these ex-members of Rinoa and Mahumodo when compared with this, their first album proper. Now set in context, Star Showers on the Euphrates is a work of remarkable subtlety and strength, taking its time to produce some of the most stunning aural atmospheres our ears have witnessed in 2012.
6. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
As Diamond Eyes was the most accomplished so-called rush job you’re ever likely to hear, it may surprise to hear the first in sequence Deftones album since Saturday Night Wrist is no game-changer. Koi No Yokan juices up the generator again, smoothes the edges of that familiar aching drift over buzzing traffic, and sends it juddering and screaming across the midnight city. Let’s face it – treading water for Deftones would still mean drowning for most other bands.
7. Exotic Animal Petting Zoo – Tree of Tongues
As if that Cronenberg-esque (Cronenbergundian?) cover wasn’t enough, EAPZ second record distilled nightmare logic into a heady, hallucinogenic blend of DEP, My Bloody Valentine, and Fair To Midland meets Mr Bungle in Hell. At the time, I compared it to the horrific pleasure of ‘Shivers’ or the X-Files episode ‘Firewall’ – little did I realise, even then, how insidious this evil aphrodisiac of a record could be. Lord help me, tracks from this album have been circulating my playlists all year.
8. Various – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria soundtrack
Nerd cred aside, the soundtrack to WoW’s new oriental themed expansion is a soul-soaring triumph, suffused with shimmering flutes and epic sweeping strings to tug the hardest heart clean wide open. With a team of acclaimed composers (including Russell Brower and Tracy Bush), this is a permanent fixture in my top ten this Autumn – and I’ve yet to even play the new expansion yet.
9. Torche – Harmonicraft
There are some records whose full glory cannot be appreciated within the limits of your average PC speaker. Records that require stadium size bastards, plugged to massive generators rigged at the rooves of magnificent awe-inspiring features of astounding natural beauty. Torche’s Harmonicraft is a paragon of its kind, boasting songs vast in scope – yet none of which outstay their individual welcome. There’s a promontory of the Grand Canyon Foo Fighters never quite thought big enough for.
10. Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
There must come a time in the life of every god-afearing, baccy’n’bourbon spittin, weed ensorcelled blues man that he must conquer the many-headed demon of disco. This is the tale of the time a man named Lanegan took his blues to the desert, faced down the synth shimmered creature, and did take it into himself, absorbing its power and making its sound a part of his own.
11. Constants – Pasiflora
Far less bombastic than 2011’s If Tomorrow The War, Pasiflora saw Constants explore the shoegaze side to their billowing walls of noise. Calling music background is usually an insult, but Pasiflora is background like magic eye wallpaper. You can treat it as a bunch of pretty patterns, but a little focus and it shapeshifts into myriad dimensions.
12. Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis
This experiment for the now geographically disparate Pelican produced unexpected results. Amongst the usual dense low slung riffs, the title tracks were a pair of atmospheric, pared back tunes that played as much to the spaces in the spectrum of sound as the melodies. An intriguing promise that distance may be the making of them.
13. Baroness – Yellow & Green
For those keeping track of the United Colours of Baroness, Yellow & Green are the more contemplative cousins of their Red and Blue predecessors. Though we still get our pounding in the likes of ‘Take My Bones Away’, its heart is in lovely moments like the harmonies of Twinkler or the low chimes of ‘If I Forget Thee, Lowcountry’ – making this the sunset oasis in Baroness’s stoner soundscape.
14. Sigur Rós – Valtari
You know the drill by now – Valtari, Sigur Rós’s sixth record is an innocent’s picture of heaven on earth, sweeping and shimmering like heaven in a heatwave. Yes, Jónsi could release a record of humpback whale farts and you could probably still serenade your kids to sleep with it, but consistent brilliance isn’t a reason to write off an album as beautiful as this.
15. Linkin Park – Living Things
The other day, a good friend asked, “how come Linkin Park are the last nu-metal band left standing, and they still aren’t terrible somehow, and they still sell records?” Because all their songs are about sticking it to the haters, I replied. All their songs are about sticking it to the haters.
16. Killing Joke – MMXII
That Jaz Coleman’s a bit of a one, isn’t he? Still in a year where most of Metal refuses to get sucked into Mayan misinterpretation, he can be relied upon to show us exactly how fundamentally clusterfucked we are, and in the most concrete block brutal way possible.
17. Hawk Eyes – Ideas
The biggest changes for the former Chickenhawk may have been forced on them, but their latest album makes a meal of their former output. With Paul Astick’s vocals on medical warning, they’ve amped the melody and ramped up the Sabbath touches – meaning a sweet slugfest by another name still hits damned hard.
18. Further Seems Forever – Black Penny
Famous as much for their rotating vocalists as being the band responsible for Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba’s return to Further Seems Forever is two jump-leads to the band’s hiatus corpse. It wears its Christian heart less prominently than the lauded pre-split record Hide Nothing, but sparks with the youthful enthusiasm of The Moon Is Down, tempered with the collective experience of years apart – if not quite the potential. This is a promising restart.
19. The Algorithim – Polymorphic Code
Adding electronica to hardcore isn’t new (Mark Trombino, Refused, The Postal Service), nor is adding dance music to metal (Prodigy, etc, etc). But as all true innovation shows, it takes smart cookies to take what’s been done and completely undo it. Here’s to the folks who open their eyes a little wider – folks like The Algorithim.
20. Two Steps From Hell – SkyWorld
Skyworld is a return to epic form for composers Nick Phoenix and Thomas J Bergerson – creators of dramatic themes from the 2009 Star Trek Trailers to those annoying medieval Sky adverts. Whereas the duo’s previous commercial records were very much polished edits of their work for TV and film, this feels like an album of its own, mixing their sonic and genre palattes a lot more, culminating in the goosebump-inducing title track. Still, like sugar coated sour candy, this is an album of sweet sticky treats to give you chills.
Will Beardmore might not be a name that’s familiar to Thrash Hits readers, but when he’s not doing clever digital things for a major record label, Will can be found fixing our technical bugs and working on the long, long, long-delayed visual revamp of Thrash Hits.
1. Torche – Harmonicraft
Why Harmonicraft is his album of 2012: Harmonicraft was my first introduction to Torche and they’ve since become one of my favourite bands. Tracks like “Skin Moth” and “Sky Trails” are masterclasses in how to write catchy heavy music and I hope they become bloody massive.
2. Baroness – Yellow & Green
I fucking loved the Blue Record, I thought they had no chance at topping it for me. Then they released this wonderful journey of audio magic, now I rarely listen to Blue. I’m sure the more eloquent of Thrash Hits writers will sum it up better (hey, I’m just the web guy) – but it’s just flawless.
3. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
4. Orange Goblin – A Eulogy For The Damned
5. Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph
6. Witchcraft – Legend
7. While She Sleeps – This Is The Six
8. Tweak Bird – Undercover Crops
9. Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe
10. Hawk Eyes – Ideas
11. And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – Lost Songs
12. BATS – The Sleep Of Reason
13. Cancer Bats – Dead Set On Living
14. Bat For Lashes – The Haunted Man
15. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
16. Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pablos Pinata
17. Sacred Mother Tongue – A Light Shines
18. Black Moth – The Killing Jar
19. Black Breath – Sentenced To Life
20. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis