Saturday, November 24, 2012

10 of '12 - My Favorite Records from this Year

It's that time of year again. The release schedules peter out, I get busy with the usual holiday hubbub and my annual music acquisition pretty much dies until January. So, while 2012 seemed kinda weak compared to 2011, I still easily added double-digits worth of excellent albums to the library. From least best to most best and, for this year, a few almost-theres and a couple stinkers, here they are:

10. Phantom Antichrist - Kreator (Nuclear Blast)
A solid "classic-form" entry from these German thrashers barely beat out Testament's Dark Roots of Earth when it came to year-end summing up. While neither a stretch nor a surprise, Phantom Antichrist found Kreator doing what they do best and, frankly, in any given year that's almost a guaranteed spot in any favorite lists.

9. Monnos - Conan (Burning World Records)
The sleeve alone was nearly enough. Add in an utterly paralyzing sound that s l o w l y squeezes the breath from the listener and this Britdoom platter brings an ungodly weight to the Top Ten than none can match for unadorned heaviness for 2012.

8. Undead - Six Feet Under (Metal Blade Records)
Six Feet Under's Undead still ranks as "surprise of the year" for me, coming from a band whose catalogue I had barely sampled and knew was less than respected in terms of progression in quality. A zombie aesthetic rendered in audio that succeeds in a field overcrowded with much of the same, Undead still refuses to lay down and continues to haunt my regular listening rotation. My original review here.

7. we mean nothing.- Slaves BC (self-released)

Sludge that may or may not save your soul, Slaves BC dropped like a meteor into my 2012 and there has been little better than sifting through their dense sounds and potentially celestial origins. My original review here.

6. The Black Chord - Astra (Rise Above Records)
Prog throwback that somehow propels the genre forward, Astra's The Black Chord has the band at two for two, with a catalogue unmatched by any relative newcomers to the game and, for lack of a better term, progressively better with this, their sophomore release. My original review here.

5. The Electric Age - Overkill (eOne)
Still my favorite new "old" discovery in years, The Electric Age started a (still ongoing) backward acquisition of the Overkill discography, a gift that keeps on giving. In a year without a new Motörhead record, Overkill have more than filled the gap. My original review here.

4. Born of the Bomb - Lich King (self-released)
Thrashterpiece of 2012, Lich King's Born of the Bomb is their crowning achievement. It's well worth noting that their entry here at Number Four starts a run of self-released gems that rival hundreds of big label records, not only in terms of production and presentation, but, above all, composition and execution. My original review here.

3. Denied Salvation - Dismemberment (self-released)
Dismemberment hit #3 again this year with another killer that could have as easily ranked at any spot higher (with music this good separating the cream from the cream is so absolutely difficult). As with last year, I fully expect to see these guys atop this list next year with a well-known label following their name - it's just a matter of time before more of the music world takes notice. My original review here.

2. A King Reborn - Kingsblood (self-released)
My expectations were sky-high for the recorded debut of the revamped and reborn Kingsblood and they delivered in spades. A King Reborn provides an album's worth of power across four tracks. With the bar this high I can only imagine what a true full-length will sound like. My original review here.

1. Torture - Cannibal Corpse (Metal Blade Records)
The current pinnacle of an admirable career, Torture could have been an easy cruise for Cannibal Corpse. Rather than phone it in, the band instead presented an album that deserves an audience outside of its genre. The stellar musicianship and songwriting on Torture will find themselves limited only by reputation, subject matter and graphic presentation and it's a damn shame. This is a metal classic, not only for 2012, but for all time. My original review here.

Honorable Mentions
No one did hard rock better in 2012 than The Midnight Ghost Train and, lumbering as it may be, Buffalo handily beat a couple entries from a Crazy Horse to place; Frost Giant heaved three-fifths of a masterpiece onto the scene; Vitamin X put some punk back onto my shelves in a big way with About to Crack and PiL put a new album by an old punk onto the shelves as well; High on Fire dipped into Cthulhu and Witch Mountain brewed up Cauldron of the Wild.

Crushing Disappointments
KISS didn't disappoint so much as they delivered the turd I expected and it was a Monster; Classic rock cohort Joe Walsh spat up the halfhearted Analog Man; recent favorites Havok cashed in on some half-baked extras and Job for a Cowboy finally proved to me once and for all that they're horrible with Demonocracy, a record that makes me ashamed of their entry onto my 2011 list.


  1. I meant to do something like this last year. Let's see if I can do it this year. In the meantime, time to check out all this new music.

  2. Wow. thank you so much. I'm gonna cry. We need to send you a shirt or something!

    1. Dry those eyes - what I really want is some Slaves on wax to throw on the turntable!

    2. thats what we are saving for! for the full length!