Hammer of Doom News Report 01.09.13: Top 50 Metal Albums of 2012 (#10 - #1)
Posted by Robert Cooper on 01.09.2013
From Rush's Clockwork Angels and Testament's Dark Roots of Earth to Overkill's The Electric Age and more, 411's Robert Cooper concludes his look at the top 50 albums of 2012 with #10 - 1!
Welcome, Metal Faithful, to only place more popular on New Years than a toilet bowl, the Hammer of Doom. Before I get into the metal, I, your metal missionary, Robert Cooper, have something to announce. This pains me greatly, like I'm not gonna lie, I'm getting a little emotional typing this out (very wussy thing to admit, I know), that as a weekly column, this column will be going on a hiatus until March, or later. Reason being, life is a real thing, and I'm in college, I have a Spanish class that I'm taking again, because it whooped my ass last semester, a phys ed class that is taught by a teacher who treats it as a boot camp, and a chemistry class. So in all, as much I want to, I have to put this a little bit back, and get a handle on classes before I start this thing back again as a full column again. I will get out a "month in review" column out every month that I'm not doing this weekly. I also will try to get a metal album review out every week that has a round-up of all the other albums for the week. I want to apologize to you, Metal Faithful, for having to do this, because while this will sound silly, I cherish your readership (all 10 of you). But I think it'll work for the best, besides, I'll come back renewed, and fondness does make the heart grow fonder.
So this week, my last weekly column for a few months, I've decided to send this off with a bang, we have a bit of metal news, the rest of 411 PRESENTS: the Top 50 Metal Albums of 2012!, as well as some bonus features, free music, and I answer YOUR reader comments!
So enough of my mushy shit, let's get this bitch a'rollin' with...
THE CRIES FROM THE CRYPT!
Behemoth To Take Part In This Summer's ROCKSTAR ENERGY DRINK MAYHEM FESTIVAL, Says Bassist
I'm really stoked for this show if they really are on the card, because while a good half to three quarters of the line-up sucks, there is usually a reason to go, a band like this is a reason to go. If they come back to NC, that is.
Guitarist Rob Caggiano Quits Anthrax
This makes me VERY sad, I really loved Rob in Anthrax, his solos were killer as all hell. I guess this brings back the people who want Dan Spitz to come back for the bands' stint on the Metal Alliance Tour 2013, and I hope to go to that when it hits NC. If I do go, you'd better believe that I'll be reporting it on the site!
Morgoth To Continue With 'A Few Casual Shows'
As long as these dudes are operating on some level of touring, I'm happy with it, because they're a damn good old school band.
Oblivion Myth Guitarist Charged With Attempted Murder
Never heard of this band, but apparently the dude was arguing with a woman and tried to throw her over a third story railing, and he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling cops and their stupid gun. In all seriousness, the dude deserves whatever he gets if they find him guilty.
Geoff Tate: My Former QUEENSRŸCHE Bandmates Are 'Cowards Who Wouldn't Stand Up For Themselves'
And you're an asshole who runs his mouth over the internet, yet wont say it to their faces. Kind of like me!
Bad Brains Hot Sauce Now Available
This is a random ass thing to brand, yet all these band keep doing it. Oh well, go find it HERE!
Slayer, Exodus, Amen Members Join Forces In New Project
Don't know a damn thing about the vocalist, Casey Chaos, but Gary Holt and Dave Lombardo should be fun!
Forbidden Has Probably 'Seen Its Last Days As A Recording Band,' Says Guitarist
Every fun ride has to stop eventually, as long as they're still around, playing the classics, I'm sure their fans will be happy.
Kiss's 'I Was Made For Lovin' You' Is Biggest Party Hit Of All Time
This is a weird pick, Germany, what the hell? All of the other songs are pop and party songs, so this is a really weird #1, then again I don't go clubbing, so I don't know party music all that well.
Lostprophets Frontman To Remain In Custody Until March
Good, he should sit there until they have his trial ready, can't risk someone with charges like that on the outside.
Speaking of things that shouldn't be on the outside, here is the finale to my...
THE PSALMS FOR THE DEAD!
Just as I said in the last two parts of this in Part 1 and Part 2, I have a song in the title of every album, so that you can get more than one song to hear from this article for each band.
Starting up the final section of the countdown is an album that I really hadn't heard of before I listened to it, and didn't really think that it would be all that great. I was blown away by what I heard. This album had a mix of power metal and folk metal that I really loved. Because while I'm a bit new to folk metal, I'm pretty well acquainted with power metal, and I have a fond spot for it. This album has elements of power metal, but most of it is just seeping of power metal. You have songs about the story of Little Red Writing Hood, from the POV of the Wolf, of course. There are fun, catchy sections, and an overall happy atmosphere. This does right what I didn't like all that much from stuff like Freedom Call that I feel had more sweetness than it did substance. This album is more substance than sweet, for sure. I really dig it, I think my favorite track on the whole album is the under two minutes,"A Song for the People, it was a short but beautiful folk track with a great duet in it. I really wanted more of it, I was actually kind of sad that we didn't get that more that I wanted. The only thing that I wasn't quite used to until the end of the album was the singing of Damna, it took a bit of warming up to me, but after I finished listening to it. I found myself needing to listen to the album again.
Best Tracks: "The Loser", "I Am the Monster", "A Song for the People", "Through Wolf's Eyes", "Poor Little Baroness".
It's not often that I talk about a thrash band like Kreator and speak about things such as diversifying their sound. While I'm not exactly one of the people that you would come and look for when it comes to knowing it all about Teutonic Thrash, because honestly, I've always listened to the American stuff a little more (I can name you every Megadeth song if you give me long enough), so I kind of thought that we'd be getting a straight thrashterpice. But as I type this up, I'm singing and chanting along with the song, "From Flood into Fire", like it was off of the album above. That song along has a lumbering and catchy beat to it that feels like a power metal album, but about halfway through it, it hits a thrash metal speed boost solo, and then actually has clean vocals, which still blow me away, because this is a Kreator record, it should not have clean vocals. About half of the songs are mostly thrash, though not even the pure thrash songs are safe from little bits of melodious wonder. I came into this album expecting everything to sound like the lead single, "Phantom Antichrist", a razor sharp cut of thrash that is ready to kill. But we don't quite get that, and it's refreshing. Actually, I think that they made that the lead single be your typical thrash fare, because it makes the album a bit more of a surprise, and when a good surprise falls in my lap, I tend to like the album just a bit more. I still do love my fast thrash, but this brings a little more than I had bargained for, and it only helps with the lovability of this record.
Best Tracks: "Phantom Antichrist", "From Flood to Fire", "Civilization Collapse", "United in Hate".
Death metal and doom metal are two of my favorite genres, and they go hand in hand. This album, hell, this band, is the perfect marriage to the perfect marriage of death and doom. This album is heavier than a a truck full of bricks and hits you in the face harder than a sock full of batteries. I know I talk a lot about albums that will get you headbanging, well this album does just that. There is no dull moment here, every second is full of either a fast death metal edge, or a blunt doom assault. The title of this album says it all, it is a "Deathhammer". There are some really doom heavy songs as well, like the wonderfullly title, "We Doom you to Death". It chugs along with a scary ferocity that would make your average middle school poser run back to their mothers. Every song on here has a guitar tone that oozes heavy distortion, and every note will slowly rip a metal fist in your ass. The vocals of the legendary Martin Van Drunen put a nice cap on this amazing album, then again, most Asphyx albums are great, even the Asphyx offshot album, that we've already seen by Grand Supreme Blood Court, was awesome, so I'd say that this album fits the usual Asphyx mold of being great, heavy, and ready to kill.
Best Tracks: "Into the Timewastes", "Deathhammer", "We Doom You to Death", "As the Magma Mammoth Rises".
If 2010's awesome Accept album, 'Blood of the Nations' (and my favorite album to slay a history to) didn't tell you what Accept would sound like if you picked them out of the 80s, gave them modern equipment, and put Udo on the Lion King broadway show as Pumba (that's an inside joke between my friends and I, it boils down to modern day Udo looks like a warthog), this album further shows what it would sound like. This album is nothing short of brilliant. Every track will have you falling even further in love with this album. The lead section is great, with the solos coming in force and speed, and the vocals can be summed up as "A pissed-off Brian Johnson". This album is nostalgia to the max, and I wasn't even around for the classic heavy metal. As I said earlier, every song on this is a winner, the songs all have a similar song to them, but just like the next album, that wont bore you, it will excite you, because you get more of the same awesomeness that you had in the song before. This album is great, it is very accessible, too. This album is definitely for the people that bitch about metal not being what it used to be, at least they have this to relive those heavy metal memories of old.
Best Tracks: "Hung, Drawn, and Quartered", "Stalingrad", "Shadown Soldiers", "The Quick and the Dead".
If there was one great thing about the thrash revival that we got last decade, is that bands like Overkill really got their shit together by the end of the decade. I think that 'Ironbound' is one of the best albums that came from the thrash revival. This album does what 'Ironbound' did, but steps up just a little bit. While there were some amazing tracks on that album, I feel like there are some tracks on here that rival the greatness that the last album had. This album is what everyone wanted Overkill to follow up their modern day thrashterpiece with. This album has almost every song as an aural assault, and it is beautiful and glorious for that. There is a thin line in thrash between repetitive and great, because with thrash, it's all about speed. This album manages to hit the great side, because just as I said above, this album smoke more than your average Disney star trying to be adult. This album will blow your pants off, and if you crank it up to 11, I will guarantee the pants of your neighbors will blow off as well.
Best Tracks: "Come and Get It", "Electric Rattlesnake", "Drop the Hammer Down", "Good Night".
Have you ever listened to a band that made you say, "What Da Hale?". Well, Metal Faithful, this is that band. Everyone sees Japan as this crazy place with anime and shit, and most things, in reality, do not fit that description. I'd say that this band is definitely worthy of an anime. This band can only be described as avante-garde metal, that basically means that they do so many damn things, I can't put it in any other box besides, the "other" box. The one thing that is consistent in this album are the vocals, they are tinged in black evil, and I love that. This album goes from black metal, to jazz, with guitars, saxophones, choruses, bongos, flutes, accordions, I'm sure there is even a didgeridoo somewhere if you listen hard enough. Hell, I think I heard the sounds of someone rubbing their shirt with a balloon. Though that is one drawback to this album, it's an album that is best listened to in a total package, though it can be hard to listen to at once if you aren't in the mood for something like this. Though I can attest that it's not hard to listen to multiple times, it's a ton of fun and you will find something new every time you listen. This is for that really weird kid that you knew in high school, or the really pretentious asshole that you wanted to kick down the stairs. There are parts of this album that work as songs for people who just want straight metal, but other parts are not, but they are worth the listen, because it makes the straight metal songs sound that much richer.
Best Tracks: While you should really listen to it in one sitting, the standout tracks for me are, "Purgatorium", "The Transfiguration Fear", "Somniphobia", "Far Beneath the In-Between", "Equale".
I had never heard of this band before this year. I am so happy that I've found them, because my life was missing something like this. Every song on this album has something to it that will stay in your musical memory for a week, at least. Majority of this album has a great headbanging quality to it. With all but two songs going longer than five and a half minutes. The anchors to almost all of these songs are the driving beat, and the vocals of JB Christoffersson, who is now among my favorite vocals. His vocals have such a warm richness to them that have enough gruffness to them to that push along the doom filled power metal that they string along. I don't like to call things epic too often, but the two part song, "Son of the Last Breath", builds up beautifully and by the time the second part hits, the band will have you in the palm of its' hand. It then leads you straight into the sing-a-long worthy, "Iron Hand". All of the songs up to those two are more than worthy of any mix CD, with them all being fun and they never get old, no matter how many listens. The album ends with a song that is a bit more different than the rest, "Draksådd", which the intro, for some reason, reminds me of Black Sabbath's, "Planet Caravan". All in all, if you like driving power metal, and catchy headbangers, all wrapped up in an awesome vocal package, give this a few spins, and soak up the glory.
Best Tracks: "Sword of the Ocean", "Starlight Slaughter", "Valhalla Rising", "Son of the Last Breath", "Silver Moon".
Anyone who knows me, or at least my tastes in metal, I love doom. (as my 411 podcast co-host noted during our Top 5 podcast, "you really seem to like doom and slow stuff") It kind of makes of funny marriage in my Cd collection, a lot of thrash and death metal, but now I'm starting to amass doom and stoner metal slowly. Candlemass are a band that I had latched on to one day after falling across and listening their album, 'Epicus Doomicus Metallicus' all due to the awesome album cover. I was hooked from then on just based off of the song, "Solitude", which was so grim, dark, and hopeless. I loved it, and still sing along to it every time it comes on my iPod. Well, 26 year removed from the debut of that album, the mighty Candlemass have left a final sullen kiss of doom as a swansong to their epic career, at least when it comes to releasing new materials. I come from the, "there is no bad Candlemass song", tribe, and this album delivers on that promise that I give to people. There are a few roads that this band has crossed before that this album comes over, and you will get a few moments of deja vu in this album. But the band makes it to where even those moments are a high spot, because they manage to pull them off as if they were new again. The added orchestral and keyboard driven elements (featured former Opeth keyboardist, Per Wiburg) really add something to Candlemass that helps elevate the already epic feel to this album. There are so many damn good songs here, my personal favorite is the opener, "Prophet", which is so great, and heavy, and memorable. Almost every song is like that though, which really brings a smile to my face. There is only one single bitching point I have on this album, though, it's that the intro to the closing song, "Black as Time", has an incredibly boring and British opening monologue to it that really wasn't need. But otherwise, this album is yet another classic from one of the greatest doom metal bands, EVER!
Best Tracks: "Prophet", "The Sound of Dying Demons", "Dancing in the Temple(of the Mad Queen Bee)", "The Lights of Thebe", "The Killing of the Sun".
It's safe to say that when it comes to thrash metal, this was my favorite album of the year. My hopes were VERY high for this album, especially when you consider that I'm one of the people that think Testament has never had a bad album. I heard, and downloaded the free single, "True American Hate", and I had this pegged as my album of the year before it had even come out. Luckily, I was not saddened when I cobbled together $8 in change to go buy this album on day one. This album does everything that the last one did, but I think that it does it just a little better. I think that the reason is, that while Paul Bostaph is a very good drummer in his own right, I don't think you can beat Gene Hoglan as a choice to replace him.(though Richard Christy is my favorite drummer, I'm the only one) Hoglan brings in his usual awesome drumming, even bringing in blast beats in "Native Blood". We get the rest of the crew that we all know and love from most Testament albums. On vocals is Chuck Billy, who does his usual growls and even has some nice sung sections. On guitars is one of the best duos in all of music, Eric Peterson, who actually lays down some damn good solos, and Alex Skolnick, who is seen by many as one of the best guitarist in the world of metal, and I can't disagree with that statement a bit. On bass, is Greg Christen, and while you don't hear him as much as you would the guitars, he has some very good parts, and great intros that really set the mood to the songs he has the intro to.There isn't much to complain about with this album, with even the longer songs not suffering from any sort of fatigue to them. The closest thing to a ballad we get is, "Cold Embrace", which has great vocal work and the solos trade off beautifully. The star of this album is, "Rise Up". That song is built to be the standout of any live show with the call and response of, "When I say rise up, you say war." "RISE UP!", "WAR!". This album should still be pretty cheap retail wise, and it's worth every penny and there is not a second you will regret.
Best Tracks: "Rise Up", "Native Blood", "Dark Roots of Earth", "True American Hate", "Cold Embrace".
Here is the top pick of the musical litter in the genre of heavy metal. Though some may say that this is more hard rock than metal, I think that all will agree that this album deserves to be on every list. To anyone who has heard this album, this placement can't be of any surprise. Rush are a legendary band, this album is yet another affirmation of that status. The band is still all here, Geddy Lee still sounds amazing after all of these years, and his bass playing is something to behold. Alex Lifeson has great riffs and solos. Neal Peart is still the greatest drummer in the history of ever (not my favorite, but still the best). They show that after nearly 45 years, they can still bring new tricks to the table. They have lots of progressive goodness, which is to be expected, but my favorite song on this album, "Headlong Flight", proves that they still have some heaviness in them, creating what can be argued to be one of their heavier songs ever. like the opener, "Caravan"so much that I think that it may be one of my favorite songs of the year, as well as the already mentioned, "Headlong Flight". This album is infiinitely catchy, there are so many songs that you'll be singing to yourself for weeks. They manage to do catchiness well, not the guilty pleasure type of catchiness, but the air guitar in the middle of the grocery store type of catchy. (I want the record to show that I do that). I think that will help with the staying power of this album when everyone looks back on 2012 in music. You'll have all of your typical pop acts, but you'll also have this old band still releasing music that is up to date, fresh, and still enjoyable in every little way. Every song is great, catchy, beautiful crafted, nicely lyriced, and there is only enough filler on here to keep your head from literally exploding due to the greatness of this album. In short, I absolutely adore this album.
Best Tracks: "Caravan", "BU2B", "Carnies", "Seven Cities of Gold", "Headlong Flight".
I figure that if this is my last weekly column for a little while, I'll go the extra mile by giving you the albums that missed the list, either because they were too late of a listen, or just plain not good enough.
First off, we have the two tracks from the Candlemass VS. Entombed split that is coming from Sweden Rock Magazine. Is it sad that as much of a fanboy of Candlemass as I am, I find the Entombed cover to be better and fit their overall sound more. Candlemass should have chosen Entombed's cover of, "Night of the Vampire", would have fit their doom sound so much more.
Here's Candlemass covering, "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth"
Now here's Entombed covering, "Black Dwarf"
Finally, comes some New Jersey power metal from Attacker.
Speaking of music, let us take yet another visit to....
THE TEMPLE OF THE DEAD!
I still can't find anything of note for this upcoming week, but I think that I'm going to try and review an album every week here on 411mania, and in that review, I'm going to try and cover all of the releases that week in that way. Since as I've said before, this column is going to go on hiatus for a few months, gotta get some college things sorted before I return to doing th.is column full time.
But enough about me, let's here from YOU...
WHERE THE RUNES STILL SPEAK!
The first comment (and highest voted with what looks like a column record of 9 votes, mine included) this week is from Rock'N'Roll.
"The pigeonholing of rock 'n' roll has always irked me. "Doom metal, Metalcore, One man with a leg on a donkey metal" It's all meaningless and detracts from the strength and unity of rock 'n' roll. The pigeonholing and separation into millions of little categories was the beginning of the friggin' end.
I side with Lemmy, remember, he was there BEFORE rock 'n' roll and saw it all happen. Just because you add some incomprehensible screaming and down-tune your guitar doesn't mean it isn't the logical extension of rock 'n' roll. It is rebellious music created on the same surmise and for the same purpose as rock 'n' roll originally was.
Little Richard was just as outrageous as any of the more outlandish bands today because of his voice. People are just too young now to comprehend.
You can sit there all day talking about all of these silly "metal" categories, they are so ridiculously obscure now it's stupid. I saw post-hardcore black stoner metal earlier, I mean WHAT THE HELL?"
I wish I was Lemmy replied to this with, "Wow, this is the best comment I have read on here in a long time."
Electrichotdog replied to this with,
"Yes, it's all Rock'n'Roll but people have genres and there is a reason. Saying Van Halen is metal is like saying Journey is metal. Metal is basically New Wave British, Thrash, Speed, and Death then a bunch of sub genres were it really gets confusing. But on no planet is Van Halen(Hard Rock ala ZZ Top, Styxx, Led Zepplin, REO, Aerosmith..etc.) a metal band. You might as well say Billy Idol is metal."
Which I responded with (though I might have misinterpreted his example as Van Halen as metal as a comment on my inclusion of Van Halen on my list, oops).
This is true, I did say that I had 3 hard rock albums in this section of the Top 50 , I have one more left. I don't see Van Halen as metal, but I think they've earned enough respect to be considered for the list. Their new album was very good, and if it beats out some of the metal albums on my list, so be it.
The final response to Rock'N'Roll was Alan
At least it wasn't crabcore. I still have no idea what the hell that was supposed to mean.
There is a lot of merit in what you are saying, Rock'N'Roll, because I believe that there is a point to where genre means nothing because it has gotten so convoluted. There is a reason I use these silly "metal" categories. I use them because it's how I inform the reader/listener/what have you as to what sound you should expect from a band. If all metal bands were still under the rock n' roll umbrella, it'd make my job a lot harder. Let's say I'm trying to explain to you the band Vital Remains. If I were to say that they're a rock band, then I have to go through a whole process of, "they're kinda like this band, they do this, this, and this". I find that genres, when kept simple to traditional, power, doom, thrash, death, and black (with metalcore being used for those bands) being simple enough, make things much easier. There is a certain sound that goes with each genre that makes identifying them easy, with the only one that I ever have problem explaining is the difference between death and black. This is why I use genres, so if you like a certain type of band, I can recommend you something based on the genre that they reside in. I think genres are one of those things that if you can't explain why you can't keep it simple, then you should keep it simple.
By the way, Alan, I think I have your crabcore beat with crunkcore!
Next comment came from Ric Switzer
"Very happy to see Woods of Ypres and BCC on your list. Very interested to see if Pallbearer's "Sorrow & Extinction" makes your Top 10 as it was easily my favorite album of the year."
I responded with "Never heard of them, but metal-archives says they're doom, I love doom. Now on my "to do" list!
My Top 10 is kinda diverse, but I'm sure they wont be a surprise."
Ric Switzer responded to me with
They put me in mind of a sludgier down tempo Sabbath. If Doom's your thing then you'll likely love them. S&E is their debut full length and they also have a 5 song EP.
Next comment came from Sam
Good list, glad to see Psycroptic in there! One of the best bands from here in Australia hands down!
Thanks, man, that album was great. Are there any Australian bands you could recommend to me, I'm not hugely knowledgeable on their music scene.
Next comment came from cyberalienfreak
I had no idea that someone was actually writing columns about metal on this site since Dan Haggerty left (with his "best of" list stopping at 1998 :( ). Nice to see the list so far, hoping to see Testament, Rush, Overkill, Kreator and Accept on this. Definitely want to check out BTBAM as a big prog fan.
This was like the worst week for you to come across this column, because it's going on a bit of a hiatus until maybe March, though I will be doing month-end columns at the end of the months I wont be here for. I really miss Dan's old Mosh Pit column, and it was a shame that he didn't give us his Top Albums of All Time like he promised, but I can attest to the fact that life can get in the way of these things, but his column definitely did me many favors, because some of my favorite bands were discovered because of his column, like Sigh, Orphaned Land, Destroyer 666, and Orange Goblin. You'll be very happy with my Top 10, because it has all 5 bands. And I remember you from the comment section, I was Str8EdgeCoop.
The penultimate comment came from Ryan Haseldine
"You are so right about Theory of a Deadman. There was a time where I liked them, then I realized all their songs sound the same. And haven't listened to them since. It's been a few years."
Yeah, I think I've heard about one or two songs since I threw them out the window, I don't miss them, at all!
The FINAL comment was from Diavo
"Hoping that Ne Obiliviscaris is in the top 10!"
I said that I've never heard of them, but I'd add them on my "to do" list, Diavo responded with
"AOTY for me but I haven't listened to as much stuff as you. Hope you enjoy!"
GLOBAL METAL will be back will be back when I get back.
Now for self plug time, if you love tokusatsu, like Power Rangers, Godzilla, Super Sentai, Kamen Rider, etc. Check out Episode 1 of my podcast, the Sentai Rider Podcast!
Also, if you want a spoiler on what my Top 5 albums are for the year, check out myself and 411's own Mark Radulich talk the Top 5(or in Mark's case, Top 5, and one from 2010) Metal/Hard Rock albums of 2012.
Alright,so if you have any opinions on the column, some genre or country that you want me to feature in the global metal column, or if you just want to talk metal you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me at @themetalcoop or comment below! I swore I'd never do this, but if any of you guys want to add me on facebook and talk metal, I'm on there very often.