Picky Nocturnal Stalker's Humble List Of Favourite Albums Of 2012

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It is time to make a list of the albums released in 2012 that managed to move my heart or at least made me enjoy myself. Let's go!

Created by: NocturnalStalker | 22.04.2012

1. Enslaved - RIITIIR
Another masterpiece of progressive black metal by Norwegian masters of the sub-genre. It can be a matter of discussion whether they managed to overcome "Axioma Ethica Odini" with this album but there shouldn't be any room for discussion whether "RIITIIR" worth listening to or not.
2. My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures
Yorkshire gentleman (and a lady) bestowed upon us their new creation which is entitled "A Map of All Our Failures". Contrary to the title, I think this album is a success in showing the band's strong points. While it is not a masterpiece, neither it is the best offering on the altar of Doom, it still contains all the necessary elements - haunting vocals, hypnotic guitar riffs and drumming that sets the rhythm of the story-telling. I just wish that one of my favourite musical instruments, which is violin, would have more room to shine in the darkness of this record.
3. Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion
The album doesn't have to be heavy to make you experience "heaviness". A new collaboration of Steven Wilson and Mikael Åkerfeldt brought forth a weird kid. This album doesn't sound particularly complex (what you might expect from progressive music) but it's bleak and eerie-sounding (especially the first track) on one hand and... Well, as I already mentioned, "weird"-sounding on the other. So it doesn't appear to be an easy listening experience in the end and it might take some time to get into but be sure that this album is rewarding for those with patience.
4. Moonspell - Alpha Noir / Omega White
Maybe not the Opus Magnum of the most renowned Portuguese metal band, but still a great pair of albums, one of which is like a fierce beast unleashed, while the other is a lover mourning the untimely demise of his beloved.
5. Sigh - In Somniphobia
Sigh continues to tread the same path they took on two previous albums - avant-garde, neoclassical metal accompanied by infernal shrieks and grunts - which doesn't mean that the band doesn't evolve. Just the difference this time isn't as striking as between Gallows Gallery and Hangman's Hymn. Kawashima-san and his bandmates still strive to create their own kind of musical expression. Do they succeed? I say, definitely they do.
6. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata
If you like DSO's "riot opera" music then you will likely enjoy this album to a great extent. If you don't... Well, this album won't change your opinion but let me tell you that it's your loss. And if you never listened to their music before, you must give this album a try. There aren't that many unique bands in metal these days after all...
7. Ahab - The Giant
This time Ahab released the album that is more atmospheric and post-metal. Does it make it worse than their previous records? You should decide for yourself. Personally, I really like it. Oh, and Enslaved admirers should notice Herbrand Larsen's vocals on two tracks.
8. Borknagar - Urd
It seems that the return of Mr. Hestnes to Borknagar had a positive effect on the band. Not that they were going downhill musically or suffered from a lack of inspiration, but his vocal duet with Vintersorg brought new colours to already vast palette of Borknagar's sound.
9. Vintersorg - Orkan
Lately Mr. Hedlund keeps swaying between the more avant-garde and the more folkish side of his music. While his previous work leaned slightly toward the avant-garde side, Orkan shows us the author's respect for the Scandinavian cultural legacy (e.g. some of the melodies made me reminiscent of Edvard Grieg's pieces).
10. Psilocybe Larvae - The Labyrinth Of Penumbra
This great new album from the Russian dark metal sorcerers Psilocybe Larvae mustn't be overlooked 'cause it manages to sound even better than their 2008 effort "Non-Existence" offering you a pleasant trip in the labyrinth of intricate riffs and melodies.
11. The 11th Hour - Lacrima Mortis
Once again a great doom metal album. It may not be a masterpiece, but I like it and I'm pretty picky when it comes to doom metal.
12. Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
This album is in the same vein as its predecessor, Hordes of Chaos, which isn't bad at all. A marriage of melody and brutality proves to be a strong one.
13. Anathema - Weather Systems
It's an album that is hard to get into. If you can find some personal relation to those songs, it become easier. Otherwise... It may just miss you completely. Anyway, please, give it a chance.
14. A Forest Of Stars - A Shadowplay For Yesterdays
If someone ever tells you that black metal is in stagnation and emerging bands have nothing new to offer let him/her listen to this album. These Englishmen manages to create their own musical entity using mostly a traditional black metal palette.
15. Agalloch - Faustian Echoes
Do Agalloch and Goethe fit together? It may seem to be a strange question but this musical piece shows us that they do. Desire and agony played out in one 20+ minutes long song.
16. Be'lakor - Of Breath And Bone
This band is peculiar as they manage to stick close to the standards set by the progenitors of melodic death metal yet somehow they recycled that sound and made it their own.
17. Master's Hammer - Vracejte Konve Na Místo
This Czech band's approach to black metal is surely unorthodox. While their black metal sound isn't ground-breaking they add to it some nice spices that make it taste better.
18. Grand Magus - The Hunt
New album of Swedish viking-themed heavy metal band Grand Magus proved to be a nice listen. While it won't make you see heavy metal (or even the band itself) in the new light spending 45 (or 60 if you got your hands on limited edition) minutes of your time won't be a waste at all.
19. Europe - Bag Of Bones
I don't know if they are really "not supposed to sing the blues" in Sweden but it is a well-known fact that Swedes know how to rock. And rock is just what you will find on this record. This is what I call a "mature record".
20. Cannibal Corpse - Torture
I don't know about you, but sometimes I just get in the mood for some straight-forward, relentless and brutal death metal. This year CC just happened to deliver an album that is perfect for such moments. It's a "torture" for the unprepared ears, but a pleasure for the connoisseurs.
21. Asphyx - Deathhammer
Do you feel like me, tired of all that modern death metal and deathcore? You like your death metal with a doomy touch? Then this album is for you.
22. Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Katatonia, a band that in the early years made some significant musical style changes, for the last decade followed pretty much the same musical pattern, gradually evolving and honing their skills. As their previous record was a disappointment for me I was anxious about this new record and, after listening to it, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. This time the band emphasized more their atmospheric and, at times, progressive sides which led to the album that doesn't have any smashing hits unlike "The Great Cold Distance" and 'Night Is the New Day" but has a whole lot of songs which can appear to be similar-sounding. That's the downside of 'Dead End Kings" and the upside is that the album sounds more consistent and I feel that it can better be enjoyed as a full instead of separate songs. Also lucky owners of limited deluxe edition may enjoy the bonus song The Act of Darkening which shows a new fresh side to the band's music.
23. Secrets Of The Moon - Seven Bells
What separates Secrets Of The Moon from the bigger part of black metal scene is their ability to perform their music with progressive and atmospheric tinges while not sacrificing the relentlessness of the archetypal black metal.
24. Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées...
This kind of music doesn't seem original now that there are plenty of bands playing in this field. But still there are the bands that do it better and the ones that do it worse. French band Les Discrets with their new album tries to assure us that they belong to the former category. Do you agree? I think I do.
25. Sear Bliss - Eternal Recurrence
I have a soft spot for intelligent black metal or black metal with a bit of progressive elements. And this album may be my favourite release from these Hungarian guys yet.
26. Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme
While "Les voyages de l'âme" didn't live up to my expectations that were quite high after listening to its predecessor, it's still a nice album to listen to on a rainy day.
27. Dol Ammad - Cosmic Gods: Episode I - Hyperspeed
A journey through majestic cosmic spheres awaits you. The hyperspeed train is preparing to leave. Will you board it or miss your chance to witness the universal grandeur? The choice is up to you.
28. The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
Not a metal album but who cares as long as it is as good as "Noctourniquet"? Progressive rock that is relatively accessible but still not too easy to digest.
29. Anneke Van Giersbergen - Everything Is Changing
It's true that everything is changing and this album sounds a bit heavier than its predecessors. But, in the end, it's still the same beautiful kind of music accompanied by not-less-beautiful Anneque Van Giersbergen's voice.
30. The Foreshadowing - Second World
A nice example of gothic metal that doesn't try to captivate you via hit songs but rather via gloomy atmosphere and deep emotions expressed by the usage of musical palette.
31. Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife
Even if there is no metal in their music anymore, it doesn't make it less interesting. A recommendation for the lovers of avant-garde and unorthodox music.
32. Waylander - Kindred Spirits
This is a straight and honest pagan metal album that doesn't open up new horisons but offers you a bunch of pleasant melodies intertwined with rough metal riffs and the vocalist's rasping.
33. Zonaria - Arrival Of The Red Sun
Finally my dream came true! I found a new melodeath album that has everything in proper proportions: it's melodic but not too melodic, it has keyboards but not too much of keyboard presence and surely it has death metal riffs and vocals that fit the music (luckily for me, there is no abundance of "clean" vocals that turn me off the most of the modern melodic death releases). Along with Be'lakor's new record this album makes me turn back to the metal subgenre I abandoned some years ago.
34. Rush - Clockwork Angels
This album clearly shows in how good of a form this Canadian trio currently is. It doesn't sound tired or strained at all. On contrary, "Clockwork Angels" can be used as a good example for younger bands showing how much dedication and love for the music one should put into every single song.
35. Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth
A new dose of thrash from the masters. Not as memorable as their previous work but still a worthwhile listen.
36. Asia - XXX
Surely this album is not a revelation for it won't make you look at the band from a different angle but still it's that good old Asia with beautiful and memorable melodies so, if you liked their older works there is a good chance you will come to like this one too (just like me).
37. Tiamat - The Scarred People
This new Tiamat record, in a way, continues from where "Amanethes" stopped but, at the same time, has a somehow more relaxed atmosphere. I also must note that the new guitar player could bring in more rock-like kind of feeling in a band's music. Then again, maybe it was what Johan Edlund intended from the start.
38. Ereb Altor - Gastrike
Mixing the elements of viking metal and doom metal may not be the most original thing to do but, in my opinion, these Swedes managed to do it quite well. Though, I must admit I liked their previous record more.
39. Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
Despite the name that sounds a bit... strange (especially, in Russian :D) Anaal Nathrakh proved to be a fine example of extreme metal act. They have everything needed - brutality and ferocity, melodies and clean vocals - and they have it mixed in just right proportions.
40. Doro - Raise Your Fist
The Queen of Rock is back with her new album. Surely you can't expect Doro to release anything groundbreaking, she sticks up to her good old recipe - powerful hard rocking numbers (e.g. Raise Your Fist In The Air) accompanied by emotional ballads (Hero, dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, is the most beautiful one). All in all, this is a good hard rock album.
41. Mekong Delta - Intersections
Progressive thrash was never the most popular metal sub-genre, and this fact doesn't seem to change with the passing of years. Yet, its admirers needn't grieve for we still have Mekong Delta and this German band continues to supply us with quality progressive thrash. "Intersections", I think, will take its well-deserved place among the band's best releases.
42. Monolithe - Monolithe III
In my opinion, there weren't many albums in extreme doom metal category that can rival this one. At least, not in its monumentality. This French band once again lives up to its name.
43. Shining - Redefining Darkness
To redefine darkness is by no means an easy task and everyone will judge for themselves if Niklas Kvarforth and his colleagues were successful or not. But one thing can be said for sure - as a result we got one unorthodox album, which is a nice thing.
44. Woods Of Ypres - Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
Gradually moving from their black metal roots towards more doom/gothic metal sound Woods of Ypres caught my attention with their previous work which impressed me with its unusual approach towards this kind of music. Sadly 'Woods 5" is gonna be the last album for this band and a swan song for David Gold who proved to be an unorthodox musician.
45. Evoken - Atra Mors
Evoken is a band that always makes you feel your own insignificance before the perpetual flow of time. This album is no exception. You will soon feel crushed under the weight of massive riffs and monumental keyboards.
46. Funeral - Oratorium
A lot of time has passed since I first listened to Funeral brilliant "From These Wounds". They released a couple of more albums and changed the vocalist since then but, in my opinion, they couldn't come close to the level achieved on that recorded again. "Oratorium" doesn't sound anything like "From These Wounds" either but it doesn't mean it's a bad album - quite on the contrary. Without trying to reinvent doom metal Funeral just recorded seven songs that come straight from the soul - the soul drifting between the bitter melancholy and utter despair...
47. Graveyard - Lights Out
I was amongst those fair people who were surprised by the previous record of these Swedes. And surprised in a positive way. "Lights Out" is pretty much more of the same bluesy rock with a hard edge. It sounds more professional to my ears but, at the same time, it feels like some of that raw energy they had on "Hisingen Blues" is lost. Then again... It may be just me.
48. Tenochtitlan - Sotvorenie Mira
This new record of ethnic doom metal band Tenochtitlan tells the Aztec story of creation of the world and the music fits this concept well - dark, ritualistic and spiritual. Therefore one can only enjoy this album by getting into the atmosphere. If you will able to achieve it, I assure you that you won't be disappointed.
49. My Sleeping Karma - Soma
This is a purely instrumental album but it doesn't subtract from the pleasant listening experience it provides - the riffs are groovy and the atmospheres are fitting. I never considered myself a fan of this kind of music but My Sleeping Karma may change my views.
50. Moonloop - Deeply From The Earth
One of the overlooked albums. A jewel for the lovers of progressive death metal.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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