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2012: Favourite To Least

One of likely hundreds of these, more for self-enjoyment (or something) above anything, but if it helps someone find a good album/albums they wouldn't've otherwise heard I'll be happy.

Created by: musclassia | 11.01.2012

1. Sylosis - Monolith
2012 [9.6] - (Warning: Mini-essay). My first introduction to this band was their 2008 debut Conclusion of an Age, an album with impressed me immediately and rapidly became one of my all-time favourite albums. As such, my anticipation for last year's sophomore, Edge Of The Earth, was huge, as well as my anxiety. In EOTE, Sylosis released an unbelievable effort and arguably my favourite album ever. So, against that kind of hype, can this album beat that? After first listenings, I would say no, simply because of just how revelatory that album was, one of those rare moments when 70+ minutes of superb material collided into a masterpiece. However, that doesn't take away from the fact that this is simply a brilliant album and a worthy follow-up. From front to back, this is a record full of great examples of Sylosis's unique blend of extreme thrash, highly melodic leads, progressive-style song structures, and elements from a multitude of metal subgenres. Whilst a couple of songs (Fear The World, Not All Is Well), won't go down as Sylosis classics, the likes of What Dwells Within, Behind The Sun, The River, Born Anew, etc., are amongst this year's standout tracks. Probably the only true complaint I can have is the stupid idea to have 10 minutes of silence in the middle of the final track - seriously, what gives guys??
2. Be'lakor - Of Breath And Bone
2012 [9.3] - Omnium Gatherum's New World Shadows was the standout release in this kind of 'epic melodeath' last year, and based off the first four tracks, which offered all the epic melodies you would hope for an expect from this kind of album, but perhaps without the killer touch, it looked like this would, at best, match NWS. But 'To Stir The Sea' is the turning point, and Be'lakor proceed to produce the three best songs of this style since... well at least since Stone's Reach. A very solid start with a genre-leading ending, overall an extremely strong record.
3. In The Silence - A Fair Dream Gone Mad
2012 [9.1] - An absolutely stunning debut. Probably the closest description I've seen is '00s Katatonia mixed with non-growling Ghost Brigade', which still doesn't tell the story, as neither of those bands (good as they are) can achieve the atmosphere and emotional highs of tracks like Serenity and All The Pieces, although mentioning any individual tracks seems unfair on the rest. Slightly proggy, very atmospheric, all brilliant.
4. Abigail Williams - Becoming
2012 [9.1] - Continuing their unorthodox musical development, AW release an 'atmospheric' black metal release which floored me. Admittedly no expert on the atmo-black universe, nevertheless I've heard a fair few releases from the field, and few, if any, have been such a great listen as something like Beyond The Veil. Fully recommended.
5. Enslaved - RIITIIR
2012 [8.8] - The astonishingly consistent yet adventurous Norwegians release a worthy follow-up to Axioma Ethica Odini. With a fulfilling mix of black metal atmosphere, great vocals (both BM croaks and melancholy cleans), and stellar instrumental work, combined with an ability to write songs that are both unorthodox and still cohesive, Enslaved continue one of the most consistent album streaks in metal.
6. Jeff Loomis - Plains Of Oblivion
2012 [8.7] - In a similar vein to Zero Order Phase, albeit with some actual songs included amongst the mix of solos and heavy riffs. Whether these vocal tracks are the high- or low-points of the album will likely depend on your feelings towards metal guitar solo excess, but again Loomis has released a very strong collection of music.
7. Barren Earth - The Devil's Resolve
2012 [8.7] - Its predecessor was a wonderful disc of progressive melodic death metal, and this one picks up where that left off. Rather Amorphis-infused, not surprising since it features ex-members of said bands, and contains the same ability of that band to make really pleasant mellow-but-not-depressive, folk-influenced-but-not-folk melodies, and well-crafted songs, although these are more complex than Amorphis. A highly enjoyable listen, and an early highlight of 2012.
8. Between The Buried And Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence
2012 [8.6] - Something magical happened to BTBAM after Alaska; a grand expansion of their sound and increased musical exploration produced the magnificent Colors and Great Misdirect albums, and whilst last year's Parallax prequel EP and this year's full-length aren't quite at the same quality level, they still feature all the characteristics that make this band so vital; the lovely, slightly robotic cleans vocals and furious roars, the equal competence of the guitars in beautiful solos, calm quiet melodies, enormous riffs and extreme terror, and the overall breathtaking scope of the music, covering so much territory. I'm still not a huge fan of the overly-extreme bludgeoning parts, but I've grown to accept them in order to hear the rest of the gorgeous package, here most spectacularly summed up in the epic 'Silent Flight Parliament', although all the epic tracks deliver, and the shorter tracks help the album flow. Another cracking release from one of the best bands to come under the grand '-core' label.
9. In Mourning - The Weight Of Oceans
2012 [8.6] - Possibly not quite at the level of Shrouded Divine and Monolith, but IM release another high-quality album with a healthy level of variety between and within songs to keep you occupied during their long durations.
10. Allegaeon - Formshifter
2012 [8.5] - Quality slab of melodic death metal, with both death and metal healthily represented. Can get a bit same-y by the end, most notably the similar rhythmic feel to a lot of the riffs causes a measure of merging into one; however, when 'same' is this good it's forgiveable.
11. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster - Exegesis
2012 [8.5] - A post-rock/metal band, but one which includes elements of God Is An Astronaut, Agalloch and others to diversify their sound somewhat, although they do have a somewhat similar sound to bands such as Long Distance Calling at times. One clear influence is 00s-Katatonia, both through the music and the vocals, which have a soft melancholy feel to them similar to Renkse, and which gladly avoid screams or growls. Nothing groundbreaking, and it does lose a bit of momentum beyond track 4, but it's a consistently good album, and a tracks such as Calligraphy and Wake are simply exceptional.
12. Accept - Stalingrad
2012 [8.5] - THIS is how to do an up-tempo heavy metal album. In some way reminds me of Overkill - two bands coming off the back of successful 2010 albums, similar vocalists, and sometimes the music too, especially on some of the more up-tempo tracks. What makes this great whilst Electric Age is only good is the sheer brilliance of the guitar work, on the album, especially the solos. Pretty much every song has a solo that takes the song to another level, one of the strongest recent albums for solos I can remember. No weak tracks, truly excellent.
13. Sigh - In Somniphobia
2012 [8.4] - Musically all over the place, with elements including 70s psychedelic/prog rock, horror/circus music, and riffs and motifs previously heard in bands as varied as Orphaned Land, Tyr and Kamelot, calling this black metal seems a complete misnomer. Sometimes the variety hits the spot better than other times, and it is occasionally jarring, but there are plenty of great elements in this album, and my favourite that I've heard from them so far.
14. Daylight Dies - A Frail Becoming
2012 [8.4] - This band's release Dismantling Devotion is one my favourite doom-related albums, but I'd previously failed to check out anything more by this band; as such, this seemed as good an opportunity as any to start. It's been a while since I heard DD, but, at least compared to my memory of that album, this one isn't quite in the same league; still, it's an excellent release. This doomy melodeath is not the single-digit BPM that doom can be - it's got a reasonable tempo, and isn't afraid to speed up at times. Whilst the clean vocal segments aren't the greatest, and are rather derivative of other bands of this style that employ cleans, the growls are punishing, the riffs are heavy, and the guitar melodies lovely. There's a decent amount of variation - compare the delightful, rather upbeat soloing at the end of 'Hold On To Nothing' to the crunching, crawling finale 'An Heir To Emptiness' and you'll see more than one face to this band. Not quite in the highest echelons of 2012 releases, nevertheless a fine album.
15. Les Discrets - Ariettes Oubliées...
2012 [8.3] - In the battle of the French metalgaze bands (fierce I know), Alcest definitely had the leading release of 2010 with the stunning Ecailles de Lune making Septembre... look okay in comparison. This year, Les Discrets have gone and released the follow-up to EdL Alcest should've. It manages the softer and more intense moments with equal competence to make a release which, whilst rarely truly enthralling, certainly is consistently moving, and is overall successful at what it set out to achieve. Powerful effort.
16. Vesperian Sorrow - Stormwinds Of Ages
2012 [8.3] - A high-quality symphonic black metal release, in which the keyboards act as a melodic layer to the black metal assault (actually, a bit of an overstatement) without making the package sound overly cheesy. Whilst sometimes the songs seem a little lost in terms of where to go, they then kick out into one of the many great riffs and cracking solo parts found on the album, whilst the keys occasionally attempt to stretch themselves beyond basic lines. A thoroughly enjoyable synth-meloblack release, well worth a listen.
17. Dissona - Dissona
2012 [8.3] - A very wide-reaching and quirky prog release with some fine tunes. Sometimes the experimentation gets too far and it starts to sound messy, and sometimes the sound of the album is a little thin, but there are also some fine moments found at the beginning, middle and end, and overall one of the better prog releases of 2012.
18. Xandria - Neverworld's End
2012 [8.3] - No matter how brilliant this was, it could never get full marks just due to the sheer levels of rip-off/homage going on towards Nightwish. The uninitiated Nightwish fan could easily be duped into thinking this was an early 00s NW release. And yet, it's hard to be too mad, because of just how great a rip-off it is - all the songs have all the bombast, vocal operatics, and powerful musicianship you would expect from early-mid NW. A thoroughly enjoyable listen, even if it is not to the quality of the likes of Oceanborn or Century Child; and anyway, it creams anything NW have done from Once-onwards.
19. Ne Obliviscaris - Portal Of I
2012 [8.3] - This year's explosively praised debut had received some criticism for problems with song structure, and after the first track (Tapestry...) was over, I was worried about the complaints - the track had a powerful conclusion marred by a mediocre first 6-7 minutes. Thankfully, after this track song structure was not particularly an issue, and the stellar emotional peaks of each track, augmented by the oft-well used violin, promised much. However, two things hold this release back from true excellence: sometimes mediocre clean vocals, and poorly written soft, acoustic sections - for example, the first third of Forget Not and middle third of the above-mentioned opener were sorely lacking, with slow, aimless acoustics trundling by. If the band can build on the strengths of this record and address the problems, their sophomore record could be a solid 9/10.
20. Beyond The Bridge - The Old Man And The Spirit
2012 [8.2] - With all the endless doors prog opens, sometimes it's nice to have a band that vetoes excessively long and overblown soloing or constantly shifting segments in favour of using prog to write grand songs, with a clear focus on vocal melodies, solos that augment the song as a whole, instead of acting as a technical workout. BTB's debut, a concept album, is a band with a clear emphasis on songwriting and accessibility, with a range of influences - different songs brought bands as varied as Myrath and Trans-Siberian Orchestra to mind. They have a dual vocal approach: on the plus side, the male singer has great pipes, at times bringing Jorn Lande to mind, and has some great melodies; sadly the female singer sounds like a poor man's Sharon Den Adel or Simone Simons, kinda weak and not fitting so well. Also, whilst the album starts out with a trio of ace songs, it then loses something as the following songs lack something. Regardless, an enjoyable listen, far easier than the Dissonas of the world.
21. Bend The Sky - Origins
2012 [8.2] - Well-done instrumental djent-y prog, using a lavishing of keyboards to enhance the music greatly. Whilst you could easily argue the album was too long given the lack of variety throughout, simply looking at the quality of the music, it's a fully worthwhile listen.
22. Borknagar - Urd
2012 [8.2] - Not quite sure of my opinions on this album; on the one hand, it has some great melodies, each song manages at least some moments of true greatness, and additionally, the vocals, especially those of ICS Vortex, are outstanding; on the other hand, none of the songs (the stellar Frostrite and maybe The Winter Eclipse aside) manage a truly cohesive feel to them to give the consistency required to reach into the highest echelons. Nevertheless, a very enjoyable release.
23. Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy
2012 [8.2] - From the industrial dissonance of Sects, through the more direct and melodic Descantification, now we have the highly melodic and atmospheric Cosmosophy. With its quiet, gradual build-ups, regular use of soft mellow tones, riffs that wouldn't sound out of place from later Agalloch-style music, and the use of half-decent clean vocals, it's a completely different beast to the one that recorded Sects. On the one hand, I much prefer this style of music, so it's a plus for me; on the other hand, there's many bands already doing this - maybe the band lost something in the way of uniqueness on this release. Still, a good 'epic' release.
24. Before The Dawn - Rise Of The Phoenix
2012 [8.2] - Passed listening to their 2011 offering but decided to give this a go. It's not terribly original melodeath, but since I love the genre it's not necessarily a biggie. What was more concerning initially was how shallow the first couple of songs sounded - generic death-y parts with typical 'nice' lead guitar choruses. But Cross To Bear acts as a definite changing point where the music stops being completely generic and actually gains some of the feel expected from Finnish melodeath, and the album becomes drastically stronger right up until the gorgeous closer, 'Closure'. Possibly not quite good enough to make me regret skipping last year's but nevertheless a fine, if unoriginal, melodeath release.
25. Headspace - I Am Anonymous
2012 [8.2] - A solid melodic prog metal release, with some very prominent keyboards, which can act as both a plus, in their ability to shape and enhance the songs, and as a downside, with their sometimes obnoxious solos a downer on the album. Over-extension is a general point of contention - some of the songs feel unnecessarily long with some of the soloing, most notably 15-minute Daddy F*cking Loves You, where excessive solos dilute the emotional peaks of the song (as do the horrible radio-friendly soft rock bookending fragments of the song). Nevertheless, some solid songwriting going on in the midst of this, and the band is capable at a range of styles, so a rather promising album.
26. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata
2012 [8.2] - DSO are back, slightly less crazy than before, but still clearly on a similar broad path (see the operatic Aurora for proof). None of the songs stand out as truly sensational (the closing two tracks aside), but the general quality level very high (although perhaps not quite as high as The Butcher's Ballroom). Thoroughly engaging release, although perhaps not their best. SPOILER: One last point - not even DSO can make dubstep listenable. Shame on ye!
27. Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
2012 [8.2] - Kreator continue with their successful reinvention as a Gothenburg/Thrash band. If you've heard Violent Revolution or Enemy Of God, you'll know what to expect. However, this style is far more up my street than their 80s style, and they continue with it with undeniable skill. There are more good melodeath riffs and thrash riffs on these albums than many bands in these styles manage in their careers. It's not perfect - sometimes the switches between thrash verses and the soaring leads in the choruses can be jarring, the vocals are by no mean perfect, and there's been very little variation in sound in the past decade, this album included. Regardless, it is a very catchy and fun album which is right up the street of people who like thrash with a heavy hint of melody.
28. Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage
2012 [8.1] - Rating Gojira albums is hard when I struggle to form a clear-cut opinion over them. With everything From Mars To L'enfant, I'll really enjoy several parts of the albums, then another part, commonly in the same song, will do nothing for me. Case in point, The Gift Of Guilt: a quality lead-riff part which is utilised to great effect in periods of the song, but other (what I imagine are verse) parts bring it down with their shapelessness. Overall, this release is of similar quality to the previous one, but I still don't know quite how much I like that, so feel a bit wrong giving this a number. Check out nevertheless, a sizeable amount of truly great parts located in the album amongst the slightly lesser parts.
29. Testament - Dark Roots Of Earth
2012 [8.1] - Given that The Formation Of Damnation is my favourite Testament album, this one was right up my street - the two albums are definitely similar in style and sound, albeit this one is slightly more melodic. It starts to drag slightly with tracks 5-7 before picking it up for the finale, but in general it is a hooky, heavy, catchy album, perhaps not thrashy enough for some people's needs but nevertheless very good. Some of the vocal lines lack a bit, and generally the album isn't quite as hard-hitting and hooky as the previous album, and bar Throne of Thorns and perhaps one or two others, generally doesn't have truly standout tracks. Regardless, a solid addition to Testament's discography, and the successful comeback continues. BONUS EDITION: Don't bother, just adds nothing of worth.
30. Ahab - The Giant
2012 [8.0] - This album had taken a fair amount of flak for being a post-metal bandwagon-jumper who failed to make the doom and post- elements cohesive. To be honest, aside from the disappointing opener Further South, the post- elements really weren't hugely noticeable - and when they were, they sounded far more cohesive than fellow 'post-doomers' Process of Guilt's 2012 album. There's still plenty of HEAVY doom, with sorrowful melodic leads and competent cleans and growls just some of the assorted elements. Don't believe the (bad) hype, it's really rather good extreme doom.
31. Aborted - Global Flatline
2012 [8.0] - With a genre description of 'brutal death metal', was half-expecting a wall of tedious blast-beats and growls a la Cannibal Corpse - not to be. Great production highlights the range of styles of playing, from slow and chugging, slow and melodic, hyperspeed-shredding, fast and melodic, growls, shrieks, riff segments that wouldn't be out of place on a Gojira album to others that could be realistically heard on a deathcore album, such a wide variety makes it an extreme but engaging and vibrant listen. And the final song Endstille - shit on a popsicle stick that is some great soloing, albeit rather different to the rest of the album. Far exceeded expectations.
32. Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
2012 [8.0] - The intriguing spiritual successor to Negura Bunget's OM, it follows in the same kind of vein of black metal fused with traditional folk music and instruments. In contrast to many 'folk black' bands, neither the BM assaults nor the proper folkiness of the music is compromised - the folk feels authentic and the BM rip-roaring. There is a large amount of variety in terms of the mix of elements during the album, such as extreme and clean vocals, black metal assaults, acoustic guitar sections, folk parts, but it all feels largely cohesive. Additionally, the production is far more ear-friendly than the almost painful extremity often found on OM. Some parts of the album may lack some of the grandeur of the peaks (the BM parts can sometimes come off as a tad dry), but all in all a solid atmos-black/folk metal album.
33. Bloodshot Dawn - Bloodshot Dawn
2012 [7.9] - Another entry for the 'non-standard melodeath' club. With elements of pure death, thrash, techdeath, and some -core elements too, it's an interesting blend spiced up with plenty of solid melodic leads. The style is not too far away from the likes of Allegaeon, if not quite as accomplished. But still, it's a solid release from a promising band.
34. Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme
2012 [7.9] - Still a very pretty and enjoyable listen, but the complaints of it lacking in some areas are fairly justified. Sounds like a mixture of Souvenirs and Ecailles, but not quite at the same level of dreaminess or enthrallment of either.
35. Devin Townsend - Epicloud
2012 [7.9] - I fell in love with DT when I saw him live with no prior studio experience. Whilst I enjoyed subsequently checking out his studio stuff, nothing quite excelled. Terria, Biomech, Ziltoid, Deconstruction are all good albums that perhaps lacked that slight touch. This is arguably the most I've ever enjoyed a DT album. Very poppy and melodic yet heavy, interesting song structures, lots of vibrant energy. Some songs don't work quite so well e.g. Save Our Now is almost Top40 rock, whilst Divine is a somewhat lacking mellow ballad, but in general, it's a very fun release. And the re-recording of Kingdom? Wow, just wow.
36. Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
2012 [7.9] - Highly melodic doom/gothic metal, with a mix of sung and shouted vocals, and a general feel of 'heard it before, but happy to hear it again'. Nothing wildly original, at a basic level an update of Draconian Times with a more modern production and more melodic, and it works well. Some of the early tracks inspire a feeling of 'okay but repetitive', but, along with early highlight 'Fear of impending hell', the album really picks up the melodicism and heaviness from track 5, and really comes into its own. Very strong release.
37. Gory Blister - Earth-Sick
2012 [7.9] - I guess if the melodeath sound wasn't so fixed now, this could probably approach classification as it, due to the significant presence of melodic solos and riffs amongst the brutal death segments. This helps it rise high above the tedium of brutal death and makes it an engaging listen that, combined with its blissfully short running time, manages to carry its momentum for its duration without dragging. An intensely heavy, modern-sounding take on the whole 'melody in death metal' idea, which, particularly considering its brevity, is worth at least a quick glance.
38. Desultor - Masters Of Hate
2012 [7.9] - On a purely instrumental footing, it's a slightly blackened-tinged death metal album, something perhaps in the vein of Demigod-era Behemoth. Nothing particularly wrong with it, but very little to set it out from the crowd. What makes this special is the (mostly) clean vocals. At times, they can be grating (intros/verses to Black Monday and Division Insane perhaps questionable), but when they're on, they are ON - the soaring leads go remarkably well with the extreme-metal riffs. And brief segments of shrieked vocals only enhance the experience. Plus, these guys know how to write KILLER SOLOS - I mean, solos of album-defining quality. One criticism - on a 33-minute album, is it really possible to justify short intro, interlude AND outro tracks?
39. Favna Abisal - Rerum Imaginaria
2012 [7.9] - Chilean avant-garde metal, done pretty darn well. The music has the unpredictability and some of the quirkiness that comes with the avant-garde territory, but without the obnoxious OTT-ness that bands like Unexpect and Akphaezya can sometimes have. A fairly chilled-out feel to it, built around guitar leads, background keys, and unusual but interesting vocals sung in Spanish. All in all, a good solid effort.
40. Overkill - The Electric Age
2012 [7.9] - Pretty much an extension of Ironbound, without quite the same pizzazz. All the songs are great, and as a whole the album is solid, but it passed by without leaving too much in the way of an impact.
41. Litrosis - I Am Death
2012 [7.9] - A solid mix of meloblack, (extreme) power and Ensiferum-style folk. The keyboards are good, the riffs do their job, the guitar solos are blistering and infectious, the vocals are standard but adequate. Everything is fine... bar the poorly-produced, messy and completely out-of-place blastbeats that make whole sections sound lesser than the sum of their parts. This is the oh-so-easily identifiable flaw holding back an otherwise very strong release from fully fulfilling its potential. Oh, and also the shit clean vocals on 'In The Grave You Go Alone'. F*ck you, Zak Stevens, whoever you are, for ruining a half-decent song.
42. Evoken - Atra Mors
2012 [7.8] - Funeral Doom has never been my favourite genre; I'm kinda fond of Ahab's most recent 2 albums, but neither of them have been flat-out FD, and aside from that and one of this band's earlier efforts, my knowledge is pretty minimal on the subject. The slow, textured, crushing sound I associate with the genre is present here, but also some other parts; the slow, clean guitar leads at the end of track 2 bring to mind the old Draconian-type doom style, a welcome shift in the tone of the music. Whilst this isn't essential enough for me to make it a permanent part of my listening material, it's well-made, heavy stuff that I would imagine will please fans of the genre greatly.
43. Wintersun - Time I
2012 [7.8] - Whilst by no means being a Wintersun fanboy, I strongly enjoy the debut album and have been looking forward to the release of Time, which has infuriatingly been split into 2 parts. This really buys me, as when it comes to music, a whole is a much better listen than 2 halves. Onto the music itself - it's pretty different to the debut. It's missing a lot of the 'power' of the previous album; quite a lot more mid-paced, and keyboard&orchestral-based, to try and make an 'epic' feel. Does it work? Kinda, I guess. The three full songs are nothing on the likes of Death and the Healing, Starchild and Sadness and Hate, but they're okay. Pretty different from and rather inferior to the debut, but it's still a decent enough listen.
44. Psycroptic - The Inherited Repression
2012 [7.8] - Builds off of Ob(Servant), my personal favourite of the band. Basically technical metal (will be labelled death but is only very loosely connected to the genre) with dark hardcore shouts. I'd heard complaints about the vocals, and they were initially offputting, but soon came to sound alright. Whilst sometimes the songs can pass without any real hooks, there are plenty of great guitar leads, drum patterns and all the usual technical stuff to sink your teeth into if this is your thing. Standout cuts include Unmasking the Traitors and closer The Sleepers Have Awoken.
45. Process Of Guilt - Fæmin
2012 [7.8] - My first introduction to the band, and I can definitely hear the post-metal that reviews have mentioned. Having subsequently heard the previous offering Erosion, this album feels a bit of a step down - the doom and post features worked excellently on that album, whilst this album has a harsher, slightly more alienating sound. Tracks like Harvest and Cleanse are great tracks, but the album as a whole isn't quite the same level as greats of the genre such as Isis and Cult of Luna.
46. Epica - Requiem For The Indifferent
2012 [7.8] - It's a step below previous releases, Simons' vocals sound notably weak by themselves, some of the structures sound faulty and parts out of place, the band parts often sound unimaginative... and yet despite all the obvious faults, it's still highly enjoyable to listen to. Part of that is likely due to my relatively low standards, and the rather accessible musical style this band has compared to some other similar bands, but part of it is down to it being rather good still at some things. The orchestration and interplay of orchestra and band, and of lead vocals and choirs, when done right, eg in several parts of Deter The Tyrant, as well as many other parts, sound as majestic as they should and all the blatant faults fade away. By no means a classic album, but I would be a liar if I said I didn't find it a rather desirable listen at regular points throughout its rather lengthy playtime.
47. Periphery - Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
2012 [7.8] - I remember being mostly indifferent towards their debut, but having seen them support Between The Buried and Me and been impressed by their performance, I decided to give this one a go. I don't know whether they've improved in the 2 years or whether my tastes have adapted in between, but this one was on the whole more enjoyable. Yes, there are the mathcore-ish stuff, with the djent-y riffs which aren't my cup of tea and screams that don't particularly appeal, but when they whip out some of the dazzling guitar leads, the cool electro-chill parts, and generally the rest of the non-core musical side, it's pretty neat. And the vocalist has some cool cleans too - kind of like Protest The Hero's Rody Walker, if not as good. They occasionally grated but for the most part helped complement the music. On the whole, a pretty neat release and a pleasant surprise.
48. The Firstborn - Lions Among Men
2012 [7.8] - Tagged by MS as prog black/melodeath, to be honest I can't see much in the way of prog or melodeath in this album. Above all, it sounds like someone heard The Epigenesis (the song) by Melechesh and decided to turn it into an entire album - similar motifs, similar sound, same use of oriental instruments. But, I love that song, so this does appeal, despite the lack of variation over the album, which can get pretty dull at times. It also has a post-metal vibe to it, especially in the way some of the songs develop. It's an interesting album, if not quite fully accomplished.
49. Atoma - Skylight
2012 [7.8] - The intro track, almost like atmospheric dance music, was slightly worrying, but that worry went away with the stunning title track that followed, with its lush strings and powerful instrumentation. The rest of the album was rather varied, with occasionally electronic detours, whilst others somewhat more in vein with the traditional 'post-rock/metal' sound. The variety does help to give the album an extra bit of personality, but conversely makes it a tad more hit and miss; whilst tracks like Resonance, Rainmen and Bermuda Riviera are excellent, others like Solaris and Cloud Nine lack some of that spark. Still, an interesting release.
50. A Forest Of Stars - A Shadowplay For Yesterdays
2012 [7.8] - After the magnificence that was AFOS's debut The Corpse Of Rebirth, I was somewhat disappointed by their sophomore. So now we're here, and with their third release. For a start, it's far more 'broken down' into segments than the monolithic tracks off previous release. Which does help to identify stronger and weaker parts, but does also highlight the slight unevenness of the record. There is some solid material on here, and 'A Prophet For A Pound Of Flesh' could yet be AFOS's best song, absolutely stellar. And yet, too many songs are either 'good without the spark for greatness', or in the cases of tracks 1 and 5, not all that. It's a cool listen, and arguably an improvement on their second album, but doesn't compete with their debut.
51. Swallow The Sun - Emerald Forest And The Blackbird
2012 [7.8] - Over the years StS have steadily softened their approach, gradually including more acoustic guitars, clean vocals etc., and this album is a continuation along those lines. To be honest, at this stage of the game, leaving the doom in the genre description seems a little stretched; they're very close to the Insomnium school of melodeath. Whilst StS are still good what at they do, I feel their releases have been progressively ever so slightly weaker than the last, and this continues the trend. There are still all the usual climaxes to die for that StS are known for, but the journeys to them are regular not to previous levels - clean vocal parts regularly go nowhere, and the acoustics vary in their effectiveness. Nevertheless, there are regular enough highlights to make this an acceptable addition to StS's discography.
52. Therion - Les Fleurs Du Mal
2012 [7.7] - By no means this great band's greatest effort, but this collection of French covers is still a rather strong and very intriguing effort. With no prior knowledge of the songs or the album concept, one would quite likely be unaware of anything unusual with the style - the band adapts the songs to their style successfully. The songs themselves are not the most exciting, but are a pleasant listen and include the usual perks of this band. Not an essential part of this band's discography by any means, but a reasonable listen and, as this is likely Therion's last album in a while, there have been worse send-offs from a band.
53. Dark Tranquillity - Zero Distance
[7.7] - A collection of bonus tracks from We Are The Void, and it has the same general sound of the last 2 records, even if they do sound somewhat distinct from those albums. A perfectly good listen, and the tracks wouldn't've disgraced WATV, but no more than a solid stop-gap until their next release.
54. Step In Fluid - One Step Beyond
2012 [7.7] - Jazz fusion this is supposed to be, ey? Bar some moments here and there, not sure what makes this quite so notably jazzy, unless I've heard the wrong thing, sounds rather like instrumental progressive metal in the vein of Spastic Ink, Liquid Tension Experiment, Joe Satriani, and bands which I know sound very much like this but can't remember the names of sadly. Ignoring that, the album is a perfectly solid, if rather short and not truly spectacular, release with a good collection of instrumental goodness, with a distinct lack of hyperspeed wankery and a rather chilled-out feel. Not groundbreaking, but perfectly enjoyable.
55. Ihsahn - Eremita
2012 [7.7] - A varied effort that results in a hit-and-miss outcome. Whilst tracks like The Paranoid, with it's excessive black metal side, lack any real cohesion, there are great parts to be found in tracks such as Eagle and the Snake and Something Out There. This inconsistency does leave it difficult to truly judge the album, but the overall feelings are reservedly positive. Oh, and nice touch getting Devin Townsend's wonderful vocals onto some of the tracks.
56. Ensiferum - Unsung Heroes
2012 [7.7] - Having recently heard and hugely enjoyed From Afar, in my personal opinion the peak of Ensiferum's career, I was interested to hear the follow-up, and was fairly worried following the initial response. A lot of what was said is true - the extreme power folk style is significantly reduced in prominence - there's several mid-paced tracks, and multiple folk ballad-y tracks, both male- and female-vocal-led. This wide spread is less convincing than their previous albums, but generally the music is solid, and has something of a grandiose feel to it that is new. This can't claim to be their strongest effort, and will probably battle it out with Victory Songs over being their weakest, but in general it's still a pleasant, moving listen, and not really the trainwreck some comments make it out to be.
57. Sedulus - Sedulus [EP]
2012 [7.7] - A pretty interesting little EP we have here. The first track is definitely from the same general post-metal school as Isis, with a similar but distinct sound from said band, and a very solid track. From there, the second track takes on a rather different sound, still with elements of the previous track, but definitely further along the spectrum towards the sludge/stoner sound - notably more riff-driven than the first track. All in all, an interesting 12-minute post-y, sludge-y tour de force, all available off their bandcamp for a whole £1 - bargain.
58. Rush - Clockwork Angels
2012 [7.7] - Builds upon the hard rock style of Snakes And Arrows (the most recent Rush album I've heard since Presto, so my only recent reference point), but backed up with a heavier sound, a far stronger prog touch and a concept story to direct the album. The album contains some excellent playing (Especially the prominent bass) and in general sounds more natural than S&A, as decent as that was. Still not a style that I can truly love, but still a solid release and arguably Rush's best in quite a while. Oh, and The Garden is one of the best songs Rush have ever released, gorgeous.
59. Agalloch - Faustian Echoes
2012 [7.7] - Was all set to give this a seven based on the first half or so - bland black metal blast-and-shriek mixed with some decent more melancholy moments. However, the Agalloch I fell in love with on Ashes Against The Grain reared its delightful head slowly in the second half of the song, producing a vastly improved finale. Giving the song a single rating seems unfair because of this, but I guess a bit below 8 would average out over the course of the song.
60. Crescent Moon - The Wall Of Light
2012 [7.7] - A perfectly competent but not hugely original attempt at death/doom, admittedly not a genre I'm particularly strong in. However, it was a good listen, particularly the 'spacy' second half of Alleys of Negation, and several portions of the standout track Beyond Redemption, and given that it's free, can't really complain. Good effort.
61. High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
[7.6] - First real introduction to one of the big names in a genre I have no major interest in. The first 3 tracks were okay bludgenours, if a bit tiring after a while, but the healthy variety of slowed-down doomers (Madness of the Architect), delicious instrumentals (Samsara) and outrageously melodic epics like King of Days, helps make this a solid album, and helps make the heavier pounders more attractive in the process.
62. Wilds Forlorn - We, The Damned
2012 [7.6] - An atmos/depressive black release which covers a wide spread of music, from simple freezing black sounds to piano solo stretches, to what is arguably the strongest point of the album, powerful orchestral backing parts, shown at their greatest in the first and third tracks. These two tracks (in particular the gorgeous outro solo/symphony of Traces) show great promise of a potentially stunning release, but the other tracks simply fail to match them. The overall feeling is one of satisfaction, but the inconsistency leaves you wondering what could've been.
63. Taranis - Kingdom
2012 [7.6] - Pleasant listen, instruments all played well and great voice, but the whole package comes off as good and enjoyable but nothing more. Very likeable but lacks the spark to push it to greatness.
64. The Sword - Apocryphon
2012 [7.5] - This is a rather good album. It has all that you'd expect from a solid band like The Sword... and that's its weakness. It's exactly what you'd expect from a Sword album, and that near-complete lack of novelty holds it back from greatness, because the band's already made 3 albums very similar to this, and it just adds nothing new to the table. The riffs still ROCK, the guitar leads still have that southern American goodness, the vocals are still decent, everything's good. But unless you're a big fan of the band/genre, it won't truly excite you unless this is your first entry to the band. It's still a fine listen, but nothing more than that really.
65. Eïs - Wetterkreuz
2012 [7.5] - Very competently done and often enjoyable black metal release; however it is rather lacking in originality. Mostly mid-tempo, (relatively) clear-sounding lengthy BM, with a slight tendency towards melody but for the most part with riffs that will sound familiar and not a whole lot of variety, if you're a regular listener to this style, this will add nothing new. A relatively approachable intro album to this area of metal though.
66. The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
2012 [7.5] - TMV have always been something of a hit-and-miss band for me; the obscure sounds they throw in can be very off-putting but there are also many interesting parts, and the sheer character of the band is appealing. 2009's Octahedron was more song-based, and I found it thoroughly tedious, so when I heard something similar for this album I was concerned. However, the personality is back - yes the album is hit-and-miss with it's comprising elements, yes it's song-based, and some of those songs aren't great. But there's something about it that's just appealing on a personal level, so even if things like LT's Rhapsody and Circus Maximus are arguably 'better' listens, this just has something they lack with all their talents - a soul. Unaccomplished yet endearing.
67. Wilderun - Olden Tales & Deathly Trails
2012 [7.5] - A 'different' folk metal album; distinct from the cheese school of Korpiklaani and the extreme power/folk school of Ensiferum and Equilibrium. This band instead focuses on long, mid-paced, 'epic' tracks with a mix of folk instrument melodies and clean vocals together with heavy riffs and growled vocals. The approach is interesting and at times appealing, and yet there's some hidden something missing. There's times when it tries to feel powerful and epic, but it lacks the feel that, for example, Turisas would achieve doing the same thing. I don't know if it's down to production or instrumentation, but there's that intangible something lacking throughout the album which holds it back from the greatness it could achieve.
68. Stolen Babies - Naught
2012 [7.5] - This very quirky band returns. The album regularly has a very 'French gypsy-folk' feel to it, that is rather unusual and helps give the album an unique feel. Whether it always works is a different matter - some tracks really hit the spot, some are hit and miss, and some can be done away with without too much remorse. It's very uncertain whether a listener will enjoy the album but it's worth a shot - if you like your music different, chances are at least one of the songs on offer here will rub you up the right way.
69. Becoming The Archetype - I Am
2012 [7.5] - An improvement on the crushing disappointment that was Celestial Completion, but it's still missing the spark of the first 3 albums. It lacks the great melodies and hooks, the song structures aren't great, too many breakdowns, and the clean vocals really aren't very good. But there's still a solid collection of riffs and guitar lines, so it's not all bad. It still doesn't feel like the BTA I fell in love with though, it lacks that special atmosphere; this is just a technically gifted standard prog metal/deathcore band now.
70. Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Ascending To Infinity
2012 [7.5] - The main problem this album has is the past. Most of the material on here is great, but none of it is particularly different to anything Rhapsody (Of Fire) has recently released. And whilst I do enjoy this style to some degree, with extended listens it gets tedious, with the OTT bombast of everything melding into a cheesy blur. Whilst as a standalone release it's very good, it simply isn't different enough from the previous releases that drained my appetite for this kind of things, and so I can't have any true enthusiasm towards it despite enjoying it.
71. OSI - Fire Make Thunder
2012 [7.4] - Pleasant mix of electronics and semi-heavy riffs from this super-combo. Nothing wildly different from previous efforts but a nice enough listen, even if it has no real killer touch to it.
72. Circus Maximus - Nine
2012 [7.4] - Their first two albums sounded to me like a derivative, if solid, mesh of post-Metropolis Dream Theater and Pagan's Mind. This one has minor elements of that sound, most clearly bookending the album, but has quite a wide variety across the album. The middle of the album has been fairly categorized as 'pop/prog', although a far stronger attempt at it than Flying Colors. Most of the songs are very nice listens, albeit with a couple lacking, and the closing duo are particular standouts, but at this stage of the game, there's just not enough of a killer touch to the album to make it stand out against the storm of quality 21st century prog metal.
73. Coheed & Cambria - The Afterman: Ascension
2012 [7.4] - After the largely run-of-the-mill Year Of The Black Rainbow, I was hoping for a return to form on the first of the band's upcoming two-parter. And upon hearing single Domino The Destitute, one of the band's best songs, my hopes were very high. Did the rest of the album live up to it? Well, no. After DtD, the rest of the songs simply don't compete, and only tracks 7&8 help raise the album up again, solid tracks they be. But on the whole, not in the same league as the Good Apollo albums and something of a disappointment.
74. Anathema - Weather Systems
2012 [7.4] - I can hear what it's aiming for, the whole beautiful music thing, and often it feels like it's achieved it, but only rarely does it have the impact I expect it to; in all honesty a bit of a disappointment. Only the stellar 'The Beginning Is The End' keeps its head above water.
75. Shadowdance - Future Negative Fantasy
2012 [7.3] - Reasonably solid melodic metal (probably closest stylistically to power metal) with a decent vocalist and a band able to write interesting guitar parts and songs. Nothing truly special going down, but the band is clearly competent across the board, and have come up with a perfectly decent metal album with little to really complain about.
76. Burning Circle - Ruins Of Mankind
2012 [7.3] - Melodic power-ish prog, done reasonably well, if never truly gripping. The vocals are a poor man's mix of Russell Allen and Matt Barlow, but they do the job well enough. Only occasionally do tracks truly shine (Dies Irae, and epic Ghosts Crying), but overall it's a decent release, if lesser than some of the prog greats of the year. ALSO: Funk-tastic bonus track Murphy's Law creams pretty much everything that made the album.
77. Soen - Cognitive
2012 [7.3] - The debut album of this 'supergroup' had brought regular comparisons to Tool. Upon listening, it is clear why these comparisons are made, especially on the first full track, Fraccions, and in general across the instrumental/vocal board, but there are still other non-Toolish elements. At times, a more 'emotional', melancholy vibe comes to the front not regularly witnessed in the aforementioned band, and other elements are present too. However, the music itself, regardless of its derivation from Tool, is not much more than simply 'good', and adding in the originality front, it's hard to give it much stronger praise than 'decent'. But it's still a decent listen.
78. Abske Fides - Abske Fides
2012 [7.3] - The debut full-length by this Brazilian death/doom album is an interesting effort, with a range of elements such as clean lead guitars, both metal-based and, at times, kinda blues-y and dirge-y parts mixed in with the usual slow, heavy riffs that come with the death/doom territory. Not my favourite genre, and not a standout release of what I've heard of the genre, so it doesn't fully enthuse me, but it's still a solid, interesting effort, and definitely worth a listen if this is your particular area of interest. I would probably recommend the track "Aesthetic Hallucination of Reality" at the best demonstration of their varying style.
79. The Agonist - Prisoners
2012 [7.3] - A metalcore/extreme metal mesh with some promising elements alongside some less promising ones. There is a trifecta of vocal attacks - black metal-esque shrieks, growls, and clean vocals, all (As far as I can tell) delivered by the competent frontwoman. The cleans are somewhat unrefined and don't always seem to suit the specific song how they're used, but they do their job. The instrumental work is varied in both style and quality - some dark, aggressive extreme parts sound great, as well as some other interesting riffs and guitar leads and solos, but at other times they embrace bog-standard -core riffs and guitar leads which bring nothing new or interesting and diminish any passion for the music. Overall, a decent but mixed-bag release.
80. Grand Master - The Dream Alive
2012 [7.2] - A relatively solid prog metal effort, which demonstrates the guitarists' chops admirably, and shows reasonably good songwriting skills, although there are regular portions of average music, most notably the oft-tedious-yet-sometimes-good final track. The production job is less of a success though; the drums are very prominent, sometimes too prominent, and the production doesn't manage to improve on fairly limited vocals, causing them to drag the rest of the album down somewhat. A nice listen, but like Circus Maximus above, it doesn't have that magic to make it stand out, with what it could gain from instrumental chops brought back down by the vocals, and ends up being nothing more than good.
81. Trepalium - H.N.P.
2012 [7.2] - A kind of extreme groove metal which brings to mind Meshuggah, Gojira and a more extreme Lamb Of God through the course of the album. However, whilst the album is a decent listen, with some alright riffs and quirky grooves, there's not enough truly gripping material to really captivate.
82. Karybdis - From The Depths
2012 [7.2] - Mix of metalcore, melodeath, and slight elements of groove and techdeath. It's a decent album but it gets stale; whilst guitar leads interspersed in the album keep it relatively interesting, the Black Dahlia Murder-esque mix of high and low pitched screams/growls lacks a strong voice in either department, the riffs do their job but aren't great, and the breakdowns are unfortunately regular and not great when they come. The clear bright spot of the album is closer Deathtoll, which acts as a compilation of the best moments of the album whilst lacking most of the weaker parts. There's some good stuff going on, but it's not quite special enough to stand out from the crowd of similar-sounding bands (despite the mild uniqueness of the genre alchemy attempt).
83. Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
2012 [7.2] - An original and interesting mix of black metal, 70s prog and psychedelia amongst other stuff. So props for that. Less props for the grating extreme vocals and the regular lack of interesting instrumentation. There are good parts sure, and it gets plus marks for trying something different, but you have to feel that someone could make a much better stab at this sound.
84. Diskord - Dystopics
2012 [7.2] - A quirky proggy/techy death metal album with an OSDM-style production. It's an interesting listen, and certainly more vital and engaging than the endless straightforward OSDM ripoffs or rehashed outputs of older bands. The album mixes it up with speed and feel a fair bit - some riffs brought stoner metal to mind, some doom, and the bass playing sometimes had a Pestilence/Atheist feel to it. Possibly the closest comparison for weirdness may be Demilich without the insane vocals. But whilst all of this is true, it's hard to be too passionate about such an album, without anything to really emotionally hook on to - it's just a proficient technical, murky and unique DM release.
85. Monolithe - Interlude Second
2012 [7.2] - Takes two things (amongst other elements) that I have no interest in (industrial and drone) and produce something highly listenable. Not necessarily my complete cup of tea, but the style of slow, textured build-up and sonic landscaping is nevertheless a worthwhile listen even for me. Those more interested in this kind of genre will doubtless find even more to enjoy from this.
86. Moonspell - Alpha Noir / Omega White
2012 [7.1] - Two different albums packed in one. I've heard the first two albums of this band and found them distinctly 'eh', but the praise for this one and general concept intrigued. Alpha Noir, fairly in line with what I last heard of them, is a solid attempt at playing a limited style, although the vocalist's barks are a sore point. Interesting enough riffs, melodies, and the solo in standout 'Em Nome do Medo' is excellent, however the general sound is just too drab to truly enjoy. Whist AN is a solid attempt at a limited style, Omega White is a decent but slightly unconvincing attempt at a very interesting style, which is best realised on the excellent 'Sacrificial'. The vocal melodies too often are found lacking, and the verses can often sound shapeless, but there is plenty of promise there for a great release if Moonspell pursue this style. OW [7.3] is a slightly better album than AN [7.1], but could've been even better, which is slightly disappointing. An not particularly special but decent release.
87. Asphyx - Deathhammer
2012 [7.1] - Straight-forward OSDM with prominent death/doom elements. Well-played with decent if not vitalizing riffs, so makes for a decent listen. However, fails to make a regularly stale sound engaging, and fails to make any real emotional connection, so no real appetite to listen again.
88. Down - Down IV Part I - The Purple EP
2012 [7.1] - NOLA is one of my all-time favourites, but having skipped Down II and only briefly having heard III, I'm not all that clued up on their post-NOLA exploits. This 4-EP run they're about to embark on is as good a time as any. So what we have here is some stoner/sludge-y stuff, which is done competently but really not all that. The guitars sound pretty weak a lot of the time, Anselmo's vocals sound unusually muted and sometimes off-key, and the songs generally don't grip - but there are still some solid riffs and solos, and for the short play-time, it's an okay listen. Still, something of a disappointment; only Levitation really stands out, although huge closer Misfortune Teller is solid too.
89. Pharaoh - Bury The Light
2012 [7.0] - Virgin Steele-esque heavy/power metal, with similar problems to that band, only exacerbated - the guitar riffs are often banal, and the vocals, whilst passionate, simply sound weak, and often have thoroughly unimaginative vocal lines. The saving grace of this album is the final 3 songs, where the band embraces obvious guitar melody, and in doing so writes three very solid songs, or in the case of Graveyard of Empires, with its melo-metalcore-ish parts, excellent. The improvements in the melodic guitars also support the vocals better. All in all, an average album saved by the three closing tracks.
90. Pantera - Piss
2012 [7.0] - Standard 90s filler Pantera song. Wouldn't've improved any of the 90s albums but not a bad song.
91. Lamb Of God - Resolution
2012 [6.9] - Fun, aggressive album, but the lack of variation combined with the long running time causes the album to drag, and often it sounds like 'LOG by numbers' without the 'personality' as it were of previous albums. The inclusion of a couple of very catchy tracks towards the end (e.g. Insurrection, Terminally Unique) gives the album a strong finish, and King Me is a particular standout track, however by that point, the album's appeal has firmly worn off. Decent, but a level below Wrath.
92. Rodha - Raw
2012 [6.7] - A demo EP from the stoner/sludge metallers (can't say I'm an expert on what classes as which of the two genres), nothing particularly original is found in the album - the shouty vocals, heavy riff-fest that comes with the territory makes up the entirety of the release. Nevertheless, a competent release, and a couple of the tracks do have a little something to them, most notably Fast Forward, although the 7-minute closer does drag significantly. And anyway, with the whole album streaming and available for a free download at, it's difficult to say no to at least a cursory listen.
93. Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost In The New Real
2012 [6.7] - So, Arjen's solo project - separate from Ayreon, but nevertheless with a pretty similar style, albeit perhaps a bit quirkier. The first disc is okay, but is mostly unnoteworthy bar the decent title track; in general it sounds like a poor man's Dream Sequencer. The second disc is a definite improvement (although with half of it being covers, not sure how much of a compliment that is), but overall, it's an okay release but nothing to go out of your way to hear.
94. Firewind - Few Against Many
2012 [6.5] - Decent power metal with a good vocalist and guitarist, but the songs just don't have any of the same power and catchiness as some of the stuff on The Premonition and previous. The last 3 songs are about the closest they get to matching previous efforts, but still don't excel. Alright listen, but nothing more and a disappointment.
95. The Gathering - Disclosure
2012 [6.5] - After the first 3 tracks I was already to bomb this with a 4 and the worst album of 2012 - three truly empty and dour tracks. But then Heroes For Ghosts begins, and I fear I may have to eat my words - what a stunning track this is. Gemini I then starts and I turn on the oven to cook said words. Thankfully, afterwards things calm down a bit and I no longer have to worry so. Whilst decent (I Can See Four Miles is the final highlight of the album, albeit less so than the previous two mentioned tracks), they are nothing more than okay. So 3 turds, 3 decents, and 2 greats - a nice, imbalanced mess of an album, but not as bad as the introduction hinted.
96. Incoming Cerebral Overdrive - Le Stelle: A Voyage Adrift
2012 [6.4] - A thoroughly frustrating album. There's some decent bits, with some cool spaced-out section and some decent instrumental sections, but the overriding style in this album is one of my ultimate turn-offs: mathcore. Stupid shouted/shrieked vocals and that tedious math sound of the Dillinger Escape Plan ilk ruin something that I could've really enjoyed. Arguably more of a commentary on the style than the album, but I don't care; take the other elements of the album and it could've been really good with less/without the mathcore.
97. Pseudogod - Deathwomb Catechesis
2012 [6.4] - Initial started as a bland black-tinged death metal album with the usual fast blasting section and mid-tempo riffing parts with deep growls. Halfway through Azazel, a solid doomy part begins, the peak of the album. Whilst there are decent doom/death parts in the second part of the album, it's a shame the tedious blasts and atonal hyperspeed riffing kills any enthusiasm. It's a case of heard-it-before, and with a genre with as little stylistic variation and lack of hooks in individual songs a la power metal/melodeath, there's really nothing to sell this CD when the originators do it as well/better.
98. Storm Corrosion - Storm Corrosion
2012 [6.3] - Went into this expecting to give it a 7-ish mark, then was prepared to eat my words after Drag Ropes - although containing some parts which don't really work, there were some bits that wouldn't've sounded out of place on Damnation, they were so haunting. This haunting atmosphere is then partially maintained throughout the rest of the album; however it fails to truly live up to the best of the first track and rolls along in a blaze of pretty melancholy with very little substance. A nice listen, but not particularly riveting or even moving, although give Drag Ropes a listen; if you like it, you may yet dig the album.
99. Unipolar Manic-Depressive Psychosis - Psychodelicus Decibeli
2012 [6.3] - Has some really decent instrumental song parts - at times it has a slightly post-metal feel with the long, building atmospheric parts, and other riffs are of interest, particularly the more 'space-y' sounding parts; however, generally the instrumental side is decent but not great, and the song structures are inconsistent. Which leaves it more vulnerable to the impact of poor vocals, and the attempted shout-y vocals on here just sound terrible, whilst the semi-spoken ones are listenable but limited. Has some bright spot but could've been better.
100. Slash - Apocalyptic Love
2012 [6.0] - Heard a hard rock album? Cool, you've probably heard this album. It's got some energy, and Myles Kennedy's a decent singer, but it's just so bog-standard, unless you have an insatiable thirst for mid/uptempo hard rock, you'll quickly get sick of this, especially with the long duration. It covers faster, slower, ballad-y songs, but whilst they're vaguely catchy and there's solid guitar leads, it's just really not all that. Anastasia, with it's Bach-inspired lead melody, is the obvious highlight. Alright, but just too derivative and bland - at least the 2010 self-titled had the variety of all the different singers doing they're thing - this all just blends together into a sea of 'meh'.
101. Steve Harris - British Lion
2012 [6.0] - A relatively okay listen, basically a midpaced melodic heavy album. The album is not remotely original, and has little variety. In addition, the instrumental arrangements aren't particularly adventurous, the vocals are passable but not great and sometimes sound quite weak, and the album sound in general is rather muted, stopping it making any real impact. However, there are some alright guitar parts, the solos are okay and the vocals can sometimes be half-decent. Still, it's an okay, vaguely pleasant, if rather dull, listen.
102. Midnight - Complete And Total Hell
2012 [5.8] - A compilation of early material, basically blackened Motorhead. There is a certain amount of stylistic variation between the songs depending on the black:Motorhead ratio of the music: all hail hell is 100% Motorhead worship whilst Strike Of Midnight is notably more black. The album has a raw production, and the vocals vary from being a poor man's Angelripper to a poor man's Attila. In all honesty, not a great collection of music; listenable but that's about it.
103. Verwüstung - I First Saw You On That Snowy Night And Couldn't Shake An Overwhelming Feeling Of Sadness
2012 [5.5] - An album that mixes drone-y doom, blackgaze, post-rock and more. It's just a shame they don't really do any of it particularly well.
104. Katatonia - Dead End Kings
2012 [5.5] - It has the basic elements of modern Katatonia, a sound that I have mild but not strong interest in, but lacks all the spark and produces a collection of songs with only very brief moments of worth. Nothing drastically wrong with it (except on occasion the almost invisibility of backing instruments), but apart from brief moments in songs like Buildings, and potential standout song Ambitions, it generally lacks any real personality. Simply empty.
105. Flying Colors - Flying Colors
2012 [5.2] - The album starts well, up until about track 4, when it turns into what I originally thought was watered-down Spock's Beard, then recognised as actually a clear pop-rock feel amidst the still-present proggy leanings of Morse, Portnoy et al. Whilst they do the slow, slightly-poppy style reasonably well, no worse than mainstream acts in a similar vein, these are by no means the most interesting songs the musicians responsible for it have come up with, especially in the second half of the album. There's some good soloing amongst all of the rest, which lifts the album up a couple notches, but by no means the most exciting prog or rock release of the year. Unsurprisingly, the proggiest song on the album, 12-minute closer Infinite Fire, is also the most convincing.
106. De Magia Veterum - The Deification
2012 [4.5] - 'Furious DISharmony'? More like furious diarrhea. Horrendous.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
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Comments: 8   Visited by: 87 users
07.10.2012 - 21:53

Awesome man you have put so much work into this, nicely done
07.10.2012 - 22:47

Written by 1Yossarian1 on 07.10.2012 at 21:53

Awesome man you have put so much work into this, nicely done

Thanks man, nah I haven't done too much, just taken advantage of a relatively free summer to try and find the great and good of the year - for every turd like Midnight or Flying Colors I find, there's something lovely like In The Silence or Tacoma Narrows... as a great discovery, as well as old favourites delivering. Thought I'd throw in the descriptions to try and justify the ratings, and to try and distinguish between all the albums wedged into the 8.1-7.5 window, all the good-but-not-quite-special albums. Hopefully you find an album or two off here that you like and wouldn't've found otherwise, makes this kind of thing more worthwhile than just a personal semi-blog or whatever.
08.10.2012 - 23:18
This list is very well-done. Definitely amongst the best 2012 lists.
In that case, man is only air as well.
09.10.2012 - 01:37

Written by Oaken on 08.10.2012 at 23:18

This list is very well-done. Definitely amongst the best 2012 lists.

thanks man
10.10.2012 - 02:06

Agreed with the first few comments, really well done, musclassia, obviously a lot of work went into. Thumbs up (especially for the pic lol).
07.02.2013 - 15:26
Burning Circle

Jeez laddie - make up your mind, one can't tell from your review if we kick ass or suck!!!
07.02.2013 - 20:59

Written by Burning Circle on 07.02.2013 at 15:26

Jeez laddie - make up your mind, one can't tell from your review if we kick ass or suck!!!

Haha my apologies; quite a lot of my summaries are rather mixed. It's been quite a while since I heard the album so can't give any really strong opinions, but if I recall correctly it was a reasonably good album which wasn't quite up there with the great prog releases of the year, but again it wasn't quite the style I usually enjoy so that probably has a slight dampener on my tastes. Given that it's a debut, it's a 'room for improvement, but still a good first effort'
25.03.2013 - 12:26
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I agree with the other posters, one of the best toplists of 2012, must have been a lot of work (even if you don't think so ) Although i haven't heard most of these albums, I found some that we both enjoyed. Especially Beyond The Bridge, that album was a great find for me, quite underrated here (didn't see in many toplists). I agree with most of your description, good songwriting and melodies instead of "overblown soloing or constantly shifting segments":P. Also, Epica's and Wintersun's new albums were disappointing for many people, but we both liked them.
anyway, great list

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