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The Pussiest Poser Guide To 2012 - Iron's Favorites

A list of 2012 albums I found good, interesting or just worth checking out - and some I reviewed that turned out to be crap.

The albums are in order of preference down to and not including those ranked 3/5. Those and below are grouped by style, so that you can easily find similar recommendations.

You can find several full reviews on my RYM list. Check it out.

4,5/5: Extraordinary
4/5: Excellent
3,5/5: Very Good
3//5: Good Stuff
2,5/5: Quite Listenable
2/5: Unimpressive

Created by: IronAngel | 18.02.2012

1. Susanne Sundfør - The Silicone Veil
Singer-Songwriter/Electronic/Chamber Pop. Norway's greatest songbird has made another amazing fusion of genres and sounds and breathtaking songs. Though lacking the kind of perfect song Turkish Delight was, as a whole it's her strongest. It's amazing how she just walks over veteran singer-songwriters and into a league of her own. 4,5/5.
2. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Piano Rock/Singer-Songwriter. Her most mature album, and quite possibly her best. She conveys a messed-up personality (whether real or an artist persona) with such frightening force you can't but reel. The instrumentation is stripped-down and dry. The production is perfect, detailed but organic and intimate at the same time. Originally I thought this was a little overrated and not as catchy as some other singer-songwriter albums of the year, but it grew on me a lot. 4/5.
3. Mount Eerie - Clear Moon
Lo-Fi Singer-Songwriter/Psych Folk/Drone. Current project of Phil Elverum, of The Microphones fame. Less wacky and ambitious than Wind's Poem, but more coherent and likeable. Strong songwriting and masterfully crafted atmosphere. 4/5.
4. A Forest of Stars - A Shadowplay for Yesterdays
Atmospheric/Avant-garde BM. Surprise of the year. The first time I got really into them. Warm and organic, with plenty of memorable riffs. A seamless blend. The whole Victorian image and spoken word thing is a little pretentious, but who can argue with songs as epic as A Prophet for a Pound of Flesh? 4/5.
5. Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock
Krautrock/Psychedelic/Noise Rock. The album title says exactly what this album is about, even if it's not really occult rock. Two discs of trippy, dark instrumentals. Twisted, menacing, laid-back and hypnotic. I could lose myself into this. 4/5.
6. Hanne Hukkelberg - Featherbrain
Art Pop/Experimental. A dizzying rollercoaster ride through influences of experimental jazz, traditional balladry and art pop. Wonderful vocal performance, in-your-face confidence, brilliant songwriting. I didn't originally think I'd grow to like it this much. 4/5.
7. Regina Spektor - What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
Singer-Songwriter. It's a little overproduced, but harkens back to her old stuff: more focus on piano, not so many pop anthem choruses, and some oddball shit. (Figures, since some of the songs are 10 years old.) Very nice songs especially towards the end of the album, doesn't drag nearly as bad as Far (the previous album). Few larger-than-life songs, but a strong addition to her catalog. 4/5.
8. Kerkko Koskinen Kollektiivi - Kerkko Koskinen Kollektiivi
Jazz Pop/Chamber Pop. In the spirit of the late and great Ultra Bra (but without the playful and would-be-clever tendencies), melancholy and bombast join hands. Four lead singers, an orchestra, a choir. It gets pretty massive at times, but the jazzy pieces are ultimately very intimate. 4/5.
9. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
Indie Folk. Don't let the tag fool you: this is not some artsy fey folk. Earthy, country-tinged folk pop with vocal harmonies from heaven. 4/5.
10. Menace Ruine - Alight In Ashes
Drone/Doom/Darkwave. Nico gone medieval. In the same vein as the previous two albums. It's drony, but the production is cleaner and the vocals are higher in the mix. I wouldn't say it's their strongest, but this is music pretty much tailor-made for my preferences. 4/5.
11. Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
Atmospheric Black Metal/Folk Metal. Had you asked me what albums will show up on my year-end list in January, I wouldn't have guessed two black metal albums to be at the top. Even less would I have expected folk metal. But here it is. One of the most tasteful, ambitious and still accessible folk black albums there is. 4/5.
12. Dead Can Dance - Anastasis
Neoclassical Darkwave. Their first album in 16 years. This is big. When Introspekrieg said it might be their most consistent album ever, I was hesitant. But it's really grown on me and falls in their top three with Spleen and Ideal, and Within the Realm of a Dying Sun. Considering those albums were released over 25 years ago, it's an amazing feat. 4/5.
13. PMMP - Rakkaudesta
Alternative/Art Pop. More simplified and straightforward than their previous album, and also their softest. Lyrically very "adult", and the arrangements are really tasteful. I don't imagine this will appeal to many of you, but it's absolutely great. 4/5.
14. Faal - The Clouds Are Burning
Blackened Doom Metal. With a shitload of influences from funeral, death-doom, post-rock tremolo picking, etc. Very dynamic and exciting throughout. Takes a page from Esoteric's book, but maybe sounds more like Arcana Coelestia with better production. Strong songwriting overall, but the first and last tracks are stellar. 4/5.
15. A Whisper In The Noise - To Forget
Slowcore/Post-Rock. An interesting blend of slowcore, post-rock, dream pop, ambient and chamber music influences. Hushed, lush and pretty. If you like Low, Slowdive, Sigur Rós, Yann Tiersen or Julianna Barwick, check this out. 3,5/5.
16. The Gathering - Disclosure
Alternative Rock. A very strong comeback after an unfocused transition album. Covering new ground with their sound but sticking to some familiar strengths of post-Nighttime Birds The Gathering. It sounds light and effortless without compromising their dreamy expansiveness. Silje Wergeland has really found her place and voice in the band. Better than Home or if_then_else. 3,5/5.
17. Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
Traditional/Epic Doom. I get strong Warning vibes especially from the vocal melodies, but the riffs are more dynamic. It's not as heavy, and the production (especially the vocals) could be better. It's grown on me and earned half a point more. It would be an easy four stars if the last two tracks maintained the quality of the first three. 3,5/5.
18. Monolithe - Interlude Second
Post-Metal/Spacey Frone. Blut Aus Nord meets Goldflesh meets Tool on Mars, in slow motion. Check out J.O.O.E.'s review/staff pick. I pretty much agree with him. This is awesome. 3,5/5.
19. Waxahatchee - American Weekend
Lo-Fi/Singer-Songwriter. Really raw, simple folky stuff with a girl and a guitar. It kind of reminds me of Lisa Germano. 3,5/5.
20. Bersarin Quartett - II
Ambient. Dark, smoky and elegant. Organic chamber music shakes hands with electronic beats and drones. The best ambient record of the year and a step up from their debut. 3,5/5.
21. Ryan Teague - Field Drawings
Ambient/Modern Classical/Minimalism. A nice change from his last LP, the overall sound and the timbre of the instruments is airy and sober. He mostly uses acoustic instruments but sometimes loops them electronically. 3,5/5.
22. Orcas - Orcas
Ambient Pop. Collaboration of Benoît Pioulard and Rafael Anton Irisarri. How cool is that? Kinda like the male counterpart to Mirrorring, except this has more traditional songwriting. Sort of reminds me of Ulver's Shadows of the Sun, though it's not as dense. The Broadcast cover Until Then is breathtaking. 3,5/5.
23. Profetus - ...To Open the Passages in Dusk
Funeral Doom. Atmosphere oozing out of every orifice. Foreboding organs, sorrowful guitar melodies, low rumbling vocals, the works. No gimmicks, just instantly memorable melodies and a warm sound. It sounds thoroughly traditional, but stands out from the masses of mediocrity. Easily the funeral doom album of the year. 3,5/5.
24. Tindersticks - The Something Rain
Chamber Pop/Art Rock. These chamber pop veterans have thrown some jazz into their mix and made one of their best, most stylish albums to date. Very chilled, somewhat melancholy, definetely brilliant. 3,5/5.
25. Jessica Bailiff - At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky
Slowcore/Dream Pop. This album is soft, fuzzy, and a little bit noisy. There's a core of dreamy, hypnotic tracks 3-7 framed by bookends of more guitar-driven dream pop in 1-2 and 8-9. As solid as they come. 3,5/5.
26. Zelienople - The World Is a House on Fire
Slowcore/Ambient. As soft and warm as Jesus pissing honey into your ear. A lot like Slowdive's Pygmalion without so many electronic effects. Warm bass, subtle percussions, washes of guitar reverb, hushed vocals. The songwriting could be more eventful, but everything else is just right. 3,5/5.
27. Anna von Hausswolff - Ceremony
Art Pop/Ambient Pop. On Deathbed, she sounds so much like Kate Bush it's uncanny. Unfortunately, the other songs are different. There are long ambient interludes, dramatic vocal melodies, and some vaguely Celtic moments. A bit incoherent, but very memorable and fun. 3,5/5.
28. Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy
Atmospheric... stuff. A stellar closer to a great trilogy. This celestial affair is slightly second to the cold and twisted Desanctification, but still some of their better work. 3,5/5.
29. Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
Psychedelic Black Metal. At first I thought it was gimmicky and shallow, but it's grown to be one of my favorite black metal albums of the year. It's strange, but always with musical purpose. It goes well with Sigh and Diablo Swing Orchestra, but it's the darkest, grittiest and most serious of the three. 3,5/5.
30. CSSABA - Underground Lo-Fi Songs
Industrial/Black Metal. A swirling vortex of soulless cold. Sounds like Godflesh playing black metal with a thick modern production. RIYL: Blut Aus Nord, P.H.O.B.O.S. and Terra Tenebrosa, too. 3,5/5.
31. P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia
Industrial Drone Metal. A drony, slow-paced piece of distorted horror. It's blatant Blut Aus Nord worship, in their more industrial moments. Who could resist that? 3,5/5.
32. Ilyas Ahmed - With Endless Fire
Drone/Folk. Psychedelic stuff somewhere between Grouper, Forest Swords and Mount Eerie. Also check out if you're a fan of Barn Owl, Expo ´70 or Earth. 3,5/5.
33. TwinSisterMoon - Bodyrealm Vessels
Free Folk/Ambient. Mehdi Ameziane, the other half of Natural Snow Buildings. Awesome mix of stargazing ambient and very fragile, quite abstract folk. 3,5/5.
34. Saturnus - Saturn In Ascension
Death Doom. The funny thing about Saturnus is that their debut sounds the most fresh and original thing they've done, and I would be just as awestruck if it was released today. And yet every album they've released after that, in the 3rd millenium, sounds more 90s than their only 90s album. Strong guitar work and mediocre vocals. Romantic cheese, but who cares. 3,5/5.
35. The 11th Hour - Lacrima Mortis
Death Doom Metal. Clean production, good vocals, catchy melodies. I hear some epic doom elements. Pulls of this style of melodic death-doom without a hint of cheese, which is a feat. Solid throughout, with a few highlights (particularly Bury Me). 3,5/5.
36. Igorrr - Hallelujah
Breakcore/Cybergrind. Yeaaah... if you've followed the forums at all, you know what this is about. I don't think it's amazing, but it's tons of fun and I love the contrast of abrasiveness, wacky catchiness and high-brow artsiness. 3,5/5.
37. Cloak Of Altering - Ancient Paths Through Timeless Voids
Avant-Garde Black Metal. The debut was already awesome, and Ancient Paths solidifies CoA's place as probably my favorite Mories projects. Cosmic, sprawling, overflowing, difficult to fully grasp but easy to like. 3,5/5.
38. Ancestors - In Dreams and Time
Progressive Rock/Stoner Metal. Very tasteful and atmospheric prog played with a heavy hand. Fuzzy guitars, psychedelic organs, powerful vocals and hypnotic songwriting. Took me completely by surprise, and I've never heard anything quite like it. 3,5/5.
39. Pike - To Cross the Great Divide
Doom/Sludge? Don't really know how to classify this album, but it's pretty bleak stuff with heavy riffs and cleanish vocals that remind me of Nemtheanga or Vincent Cavanagh. In fact, it sounds a lot like Primordial without the epic folk elements. Ranges from frantically fast to a doom crawl. Great stuff. 3,5/5.
40. Sigh - In Somniphobia
Avant-Garde Metal. Castlevania soundtracks meet Malice Mizer meet extreme metal. It's an exciting ride that doesn't feel gimmicky despite its oddness. 3,5/5.
41. Max Richter - Recomposed: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons
Neoclassical. A heavily rewritten interpretation of Vivaldi's original, adding that somber modern touch to the baroque piece. It strips away much of the decorum but preserves the iconic themes. More to my liking than the original, to be honest. 3,5/5.
42. Undersmile - Narwhal
Doom/Sludge/Drone. I can't make up my mind about this album. It's heavy as a fucking planet. It's one of the most mesmerizing and disturbing things I've heard all year. For a while, anyway. Something this oppressive shouldn't be allowed to be this long. It's abuse! I love everything about their style, from the vocals (they remind me of Subrosa) to the ambient interludes and primitive riffs. But why does it have to be so hard to listen to!? 3,5/5.
43. Sunpocrisy - Samaroid Dioramas
Progressive Space Sludge? Tool meets Rosetta and they add some melodic fun to the mix. In space! The cover art suggests power metal, but ultimately catches the spirit of this joyful trek through the stars. It's pretty stellar. 3,5/5.
44. Opium Warlords - We Meditate Under The Pussy In The Sky
Experimental Drone Doom. Sami Albert "Witchfinder" Hynninen's project. The first track is just ambient, the second one is a psychedelic mammoth with vocals, and the last three tracks are closer to traditional, mind-melting guitar drone. A positive surprise and a drone doom album that's actually easy to listen to. 3,5/5.
45. Julia Holter - Ekstasis
Art Pop. Layered vocals, synth loops, the soft thud of a drum machine. Fairly abstract but still accessible structures and unassuming melodies. It's a very subtle and gentle pop album, in many ways owing to recent trends in indie and synth pop but also reaching to 20th century minimalism (like Glass's opera Einstein on the Beach) for inspiration. 3,5/5.
46. Swans - The Seer
Experimental Rock. An exhausting 2-hour trudge through a bleak mire of drones, cacophony and monotony. In other words, another good album from Swans. It's ambitious and oppressive, but there's some boring material here. The title track is the worst offender. I'd probably drop another song and cut some fat from a third one, and it would be one hell of an album. Returning to it after some months, it surprised me positively and gained half a star. 3,5/5.
47. Circle Takes The Square - Decompositions: Volume Number One
Screamo. This is probably as bombastic and progressive as screamo gets (without being twitchy math-rock wankery). The late release date didn't give me time to digest it before a preliminary rating, but everything about it suggests an epic grower. 3,5/5.
48. Hexvessel - No Holier Temple
Psychedelic Folk. Much more of a band album than the debut. I think that's a step up. It's full, rich, and very organic. The fuzzy guitar sound isn't corny at all, despite being clearly nostalgic. I don't quite get some of the hype, but it's very atmospheric and competent. 3,5/5.
49. Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar
Lo-Fi/Drone/Folk. The second Mount Eerie album in one year. Couldn't ask for more. This noisier and dronier than its sister album. That may sound great, but I think Clear Moon is more balanced and has better songwriting. You'll find some crazy jams bordering on black metal here. 3,5/5.
50. Altar Of Oblivion - Grand Gesture Of Defiance
Epic Doom. Ballsy and cheesy in the vein of Solitude Aeturnus or something. The highest vocals are pretty forced and they make me cringe in the first track, but after that it really gets going. Nothing groundbreaking, but keeps you going while you wait for the new Procession and recover from the disappointment that was Psalms For The Dead. 3,5/5.
51. Earthen Grave - Earthen Grave
Doom/Heavy Metal. With a violin. But it's not used in a pussy, romantic way! Maybe a hint of southern rock, great vocal melodies and riffs. Memorable, traditional and fresh. 3,5/5.
52. Enslaved - RIITIIR
Progressive Black. Another solid album from one of the most reliable bands in metal. I think I liked the power of the predecessor more, these tracks are very much on the proggier end of the spectrum. 3,5/5.
53. Derkéta - In Death We Meet
Death Doom. Refreshingly old school without coming off as intentionally retro. Raw and groovy death doom owing more Winter than My Dying Bride. Killer riffs. 3,5/5.
54. Anhedonist - Netherwards
Death Doom. This has all the elements of high-quality old-school doom death. Much like Inverloch or Ophis, they draw from the tradition of Winter and Disembowelment to conjure up grimy grooves and gut-wrenching horror. 3,5/5.
55. Hooded Menace - Effigies of Evil
Death Doom. Another solid album of groovy death doom. One of the strongest bands in the genre currently. 3,5/5.
56. Lurk - Lurk
Doom/Sludge Metal. Plays the heavy, majestic melodies of death doom with a fuzzy and filthy sludge edge. The result is pretty spooky; the riffs at around 3:20 in Fire The Blood Sky could be the theme of a horror flick. 3,5/5.
57. Alkerdeel - Morinde
Sludgy Black Metal. Alternates between blastbeats and a creeping doom crawl. Sounds raw and old-school in a way, but it's ultimately an original beast. 3,5/5.
58. The Pirate Ship Quintet - Rope For No-Hopers
Post-Rock, with strings and some screamo. A really good debut LP after years of waiting. 3,5/5.
59. Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
Black Metal. Noisy, industrial, cacophonous but also crystal clear and infectiously catchy. Never thought I'd rediscover this band and enjoy something as slick as this. Pure fun. 3,5/5.
60. Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind
Metalcore/Mathcore. Violent and unrelenting, this is one of their dirtier albums. It shows considerably more hardcore influence. But it's also pretty melodic. 3,5/5.
61. Mirrorring - Foreign Body
Ambient Folk. Collaboration of Grouper (Liz Harris) and Tiny Vipers (Jesy Fortino). It's the best of both worlds, Jesy's haunting vocals floating over Liz's soundscapes. 3,5/5.
62. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
Alternative Rock/Indie Folk. If you like Anneke van Giersbergen, check this out. Somewhat softer, but way superior songwriting. Give Out is one of the best songs of the year. 3,5/5.
63. Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas
Singer-Songwriter/Contemporary Folk. One of the world's most distinctive voices and lyricists is back with a tasteful, contemplative record. It's safe to say he's not exactly pushing the envelope anymore, which makes for a very safe but solid album. 3,5/5.
64. Anoice - The Black Rain
Modern Classical. Dynamic stuff, flirting with outright post-rock. The occasional ambient track, too. Nocturnal, urban, dramatic. The kind of pretty, brief chamber music pieces you might expect in an art film or documentary. 3,5/5.
65. Jodis - Black Curtain
Drone/Experimental Rock. Given that Aaron "Boring Man's Metal" Turner is behind this album, I was surprised by how original and good it sounds. Repetitive guitar motifs, quietly humming drones and bland clean vocals. It's a cold and unwelcoming sound, but I like it. A cross between Codeine and 21st century Earth, perhaps. 3,5/5.
66. Obsidian Kingdom - Mantiis
Progressive Metal. It's pretty hard to pigeonhole these guys. One moment they're airy prog rock, the next they're crunching out mathy death metal. I hear some hints of black and post-metal too, but mostly it's just a skilled band doing their own unique thing. It could be more memorable and the sound is a bit sterile for my tastes, but their talent is impressive. 3,5/5.
67. Inverloch - Dusk / Subside
Death Doom. An EP from some diSEMBOWELMENT members. If you're a fan, you won't be disappointed. It's got those same blistering dynamics of crawling, almost funeral-paced doom and bursts of almost-grindcore aggression. The production is cleaner and the atmosphere not as mysterious and dream-like. Leaves me wanting more, both in length and experimentation. 3,5/5.
68. Horseback - Half Blood
Psychedelic Rock/Metal. Laid-back desert jams. It's actually quite brilliant at times, especially the first two tracks. Something fans of modern Earth would appreciate. It closes with a drone trilogy that isn't quite on par with the first half of the album or consistent with the sound. 3,25/5.
69. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
Post-Rock. Two proper pieces and two harmless drones. Especially since they've played the material live for years (previously called Albanian and Gamelan), it's a pretty light offering. Still, they're one of the best at noisy, neoclassical build-ups. Might rate higher with further listens. 3,25/5.
70. Grimes - Visions
Electropop/Synth Pop/Dreamy Indie. Light and energetic with several tunes that stick in the back of your head. I'm not sure if there's enough substance to warrant such a high position in my list, but it's way infectious. 3,25/5.
71. Angel Olsen - Half Way Home
Alt-Country/Contemporary Folk. She's toured with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, and it's pretty obvious in the music. Soulful, frail old-school americana. A huge change from her previous work, which was a stripped-down indie singer-songwriter album kinda like Waxahatchee. Not sure what I think about her vocals, they're expressive and fitting but maybe a little overdone. 3,25/5.
72. Beau Navire - Lumens
Screamo. Ridicilously violent, crushing and noisy stuff. If you like real screamo, you'll like these guys. They do it just right. 3,25/5.
73. Loma Prieta - I.V.
Screamo. Very aggressive and robust for a screamo record. It's almost like grindcore. Crushes. 3,25/5.
74. Birds In Row - You, Me, & The Violence
Hardcore Punk. Some melodic post-hardcore and screamo influences, but fairly straightforward and raw. Check out if you like Touché Amoré, Defeater or La Dispute, but wish they were a little manlier. The opener "Pilori" is flawless. 3,25/5.
75. Anguish - Through the Archdemons Head
Epic Doom. Crunching riffs, sinister raspy vocals, and the perfect sound make for one of the year's stronger doom records. I originally liked it more but the songwriting isn't quite engaging to keep rewarding new listenings. 3,25/5.
76. Anaïs Mitchell - Young Man in America
Americana/Indie Folk. Anaïs is one of the better indie-folkers around. She has this nasal voice that reminds me a little of Joanna Newsom, but it's more balanced and not at all irritating. An earthy, warm and catchy album. 3,25/5.
77. Monarch! - Omens
Drone Doom. Two malicious, looming tracks of Khanate-like agony, and a softer drone interlude. This album is shrill and eerie, well worth multiple listens. 3,25/5.
78. Wreck and Reference - No Youth
Experimental Rock/Noise/Sludge Metal/Screamo/Hardcore Punk/Something. It's hard to categorize this album, but check it out. Sinister and grating, but pretty moody and laid-back at the same time. Shifting between clean vocals and shrieks, shrill drones, heavy riffs and outright pretty parts. 3,25/5.
79. Monolithe - Monolithe III
Death Doom/Post-Metal/Progressive Funeral Doom. They scaled back the strangeness of the EP, and the single track is a bit unwieldy, but it's still pretty exceptional. Sort of progressive and original, which is a feat in extreme doom. 3/5
80. Indesinence - Vessels Of Light And Decay
Death Doom. Didn't really click with me for some reason. Sure, it's good, but in a year saturated with quality extreme doom it didn't stand out as much as the hype promised. Some of the tracks meander, and I really don't get the ambient interlude. Last year I would have appreciated it much more, I suspect. 3/5.
81. Evoken - Atra Mors
Death Doom/Funeral Doom. They don't really introduce any new elements, but they polish their sound. The album is fairly lively and dynamic for what it is; there's always something going on. 3/5.
82. Worship - Terranean Wake
Funeral Doom. A good and solid album, but nothing to write home about. Literally. I can't think of anything to say about this album that wouldn't apply to a template of a generic funeral doom album. Straightforward, no-nonsense, melodic guitar leads, non-existent bass, pretty uneventful riffs. It's actually good, but I'm not sure why I would pick it up over a band with personality. 3/5.
83. Towards Darkness - Barren
Funeral Doom. Melodic and accessible without losing anything in heaviness. The way they use keyboard riffs to accent the heaviness reminds me of Skepticism. Somewhat predictable but well executed funeral doom. 3/5.
84. Abske Fides - Abske Fides
Death Doom/Atmospheric Sludge. When doom is mixed with post-metal, I usually find myself either longing for more grooves and riffs, or more space for ambient build-ups. Process of Guilt and Ahab both failed to get the mixture right on their latest albums, but Abske Fides pull it off. Nothing we haven't heard before, but competently executed. 3/5.
85. Hellvetron - Death Scroll of Seven Hells and Its Infernal Majesties
Death Doom. Or maybe it's just doomy death. Either way, it sounds evil (even in the context of ugly death doom). Very short tracks, from 2:30 to well under 5 minutes, except for the longer opener. They also stand out for their thin, raw sound. 3/5.
86. Vulgaari - Vulgaari
Death-Doom/Stoner. A nice blend of stoner grooves and solos in meat-and-potatoes death-doom. It's competent and sounds heavy, but unfortunately all the best parts are pure death-doom making the stoner thing seem unessential. Some gorgeous guitar melodies. 3/5.
87. Nachtvorst - Silence
Black Metal/Doom Metal. A very varied affair, to the point of sounding somewhat incoherent. The performance is top-notch. 3/5.
88. Witchsorrow - God Curse Us
Doom Metal. Joe compared them to Cathedral. It's something along those lines: dirty and pretty slow traditional doom. 3/5.
89. Rituals of the Oak - Come Taste the Doom
Traditional Doom. Clean female vocals, catchy vocal melodies, good riffs. A little samey, and the sound pallette they operate with is extremely limited. I don't mind because it's good stuff, some variety could take this to the next level. 3/5.
90. Hour of 13 - 333
Traditional Doom. MId-paced doom taking cues from NWOBHM, a bit like Pagan Altar. I think the bassier production sounds better than The Ritualist, though not that much has changed in songwriting. 3/5.
91. Northwinds - Winter
Traditional Doom/Progressive Rock. Black Sabbath meets Jethro Tull. Honest rock'n'roll whose aesthetic is more due to love for the style than a conscious choice to be retro. That's what it sounds like, anyway, and their real motives hardly matter. Not as good as Earthen Grave, but recommended for their fans. 3/5.
92. Obsidian Sea - Between Two Deserts
Traditional Doom. 3/5.
93. Huata - Atavist of Mann
Doom/Stoner Metal. A hearty blend of the two genres. A bit like Electric Wizard without as much dirt and distortion. It's heavy and simple, but retro-sounding organs add some flavor. 3/5.
94. Conan - Monnos
Sludgy Doom. People seem to have enjoyed this because it's unapologetically heavy and straightforward. True enough. I wish it had some more substance to chew on. 3/5.
95. Candlemass - Psalms for the Dead
Traditional/Epic Doom/Heavy Metal. Mid-paced and straightforward. Not an ideal swansong, only a few good tracks. 3/5.
96. My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures
Doom Metal. It's MDB alright: patchy, predictable, often boring, and occasionally heart-wrenching. They could have (and have) done worse, but this isn't exactly a return to form. Nonetheless, they craft a delicate atmosphere and manage some great songs. Better than I expected, but modern competition is just too much for them to remain relevant. 3/5.
97. Occultation - Three & Seven
Psychedelic Rock/Doom. Really great sound and atmosphere, but the songwriting is a bit dull. It's a bit like a lightweight Subrosa gone surfing. I wanted to like it more, but don't really feel like going back to it. Worth checking out. 3/5.
98. Seremonia - Seremonia
Occult Rock/Heavy Psych. Corny but catchy. 3/5.
99. Corrosion of Conformity - Corrosion of Conformity
Stoner Metal. Hectic and catchy stuff to pass the time. I'm not intimately familiar with their discography, but it seems like a return to (metal) form. 3/5.
100. Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Primum
Psychedelic Sludge. 3/5.
101. Ufomammut - Oro - Opus Alter
Psychedelic Sludge. 3/5.
102. Strage - The Fire In Hell
Instrumental Atmosludge. It starts out pretty heavy and generic, but things get softer and better until track 4, the climax of the album. A few guitar riffs repeated over and over, but it's short and dynamic enough not to get boring at any stage. It's a great way to spend half an hour. 3/5.
103. Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay
Atmospheric Sludge. Not sure how I feel. I've always been rather selective with Neurosis, only really falling in love with A Sun That Never Sets. This is heavy and oppressive, but it's also very straightforward and not that innovative. 3/5.
104. Rituals - Rituals
Atmospheric Sludge. Pretty much by-the-book post-metal, but why not? It's noisy and raw beyond the norm, and good at what it does. 3/5.
105. Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster - Exegesis
Atmospheric Sludge/Post-Rock. 3/5.
106. Old Man Gloom - No
Sludge/Post-Hardcore. Big sound, smaller songwriting. 3/5.
107. Samothrace - Reverence To Stone
Sludge/Doom. In many ways it's what you'd expect from the labels: heavy, massive, fuzzy, meandering, with a slight, bleak post-metal flavor. But it's also fairly unique. It somehow manages to be slow as fuck and still groovy. 3/5.
108. Gaza - No Absolutes in Human Suffering
Sludge/Mathcore. 3/5.
109. Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships
Sludge/Noise Rock/Hardcore. Punishing, no-BS beatdown. 3/5.
110. Adrift - Black Heart Bleeds Black
Atmospheric Sludge/Mathcore. 3/5.
111. Planks - Funeral Mouth
Atmospheric Sludge. 3/5.
112. Black Sheep Wall - No Matter Where It Ends
(Atmospheric) Sludge. Fucking heavy and well produced, if generic. 3/5.
113. High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Stoner/Sludge. 3/5.
114. Tort - Tort
Sludge Metal. Thrashy and angry. 3/5.
115. Lord Mantis - Pervertor
Blackened Sludge. Filthy and straightforward. Punches you in the guts and urinates in your mouth when you gasp for air. Not sophisticated, but fun. 3/5.
116. Devil Sold His Soul - Empire Of Light
Post-Hardcore. Check if you like Amia Venera Landscape. 3/5.
117. Suis La Lune - Riala
Screamo. A melodic, light, old-school feel to it. Above average. 3/5.
118. State Faults - Desolate Peaks
Screamo. Some pretty sick high-pitched vocals on this one. The instrumental work evokes post-rock. 3/5.
119. Incantation - Vanquish In Vengeance
Death Metal. Not as horrifying and all-consuming as their cavernous debut, but a solid comeback. 3/5.
120. Coffins - March Of Despair
Sludgy/Doomy Death. EP. Guaranteed Coffins quality, filthy and grimy. 3/5.
121. Sonne Adam - Messengers Of Desolate Ways
Doomy Death Metal. A compilation of limited-availability material. A pretty hefty package of old-school death. 3/5.
122. Diskord - Dystopics
Experimental Death Metal. Pretty original proggy death, a little bit in the spirit of Voivod or Atheist. Or as J.O.O.E. put it, Virus playing death metal. Love the bass. 3/5.
123. Flourishing - Intersubjectivity
(Post-) Death Metal. 3/5.
124. Arkhamin kirjasto - Torches Ablaze
Death Metal. A pretty surprising dish of groovy death metal from Finnish singer-songwriter Samae Koskinen and Circle-member Jussi Lehtisalo. Not what you'd expect from them, but very solid. 3/5.
125. Reverence - The Asthenic Ascension
Industrial Black Metal. There's something in the water, in France. The production on this album is great, and the songwriting's none too shabby. I enjoy this more than the Merrimack album, but it's very much in that same Axis of Perdition/BaN vein. Reverence go a bit more epic and proggy, with clean vocals, synths and solos almost reminiscent of Arcturus or Borknagar. Only a lot more menacing. 3/5.
126. Winterfylleth - The Threnody Of Triumph
Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal. This is the kind of folky post-BM you've come to know with Fen and Wodensthrone. Competent, well-produced and occasionally memorable, if far from original. 3/5.
127. Elysian Blaze - Blood Geometry
Atmospheric Black Metal. And I really mean atmospheric. The band paints with vivid colors, and there are some awesome moments. But this thing is over two hours. Why? I would like it so much more if it was actually listenable and I could get to know it better. 3/5.
128. Bosse-de-Nage - III
Depressive Black Metal. With some Slint-like post-rock elements. 3/5.
129. Stagnant Waters - Stagnant Waters
Avant-Garde Black. 3/5.
130. Ash Borer - Cold Of Ages
Atmospheric Black Metal. 3/5.
131. Blut Aus Nord - What Once Was... Liber II
Black Metal. 3/5.
132. Nachtmystium - Silencing Machine
Psychedelic Black Metal. 3/5.
133. Wodensthrone - Curse
Atmospheric/Folk Black Metal. 3/5.
134. Mgła - With Hearts Toward None
Black Metal. Meat and potatoes old school black metal. Innovation or variation aren't part of their arsenal, but there's a charm to their primitive approach. It gets tiresome before the album is over, though. The production is quite nice. 3/5.
135. Merrimack - The Acausal Mass
Industrial Black Metal. They've taken a turn towards BaN/The Axis of Perdition inspired industrial stuff. It works pretty well. Relentless and violent. Maybe a little derivative, but enjoyable. 3/5.
136. An Autumn For Crippled Children - Only The Ocean Knows
Blackgaze. 3/5.
137. Gojira - L'enfant sauvage
Would-Be-Progressive Death Metal. Unlike many, I like many of the melodic parts with clean vocals. It's fairly bland compared to their previous work, but it's still better than most other "groove metal." 3/5.
138. Borknagar - Urd
Progressive Metal. I hadn't listened to Borknagar in years, but now I wonder why. This album has some really good tunes. Spacey and new age in a good cheesy way. Some of the songs are pretty straightforward for my tastes, and it's pretty polished. Could be further out there. 3/5.
139. Vintersorg - Orkan
Progressive Folk Metal or whatever. 3/5.Between The Buried And Me
140. Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piñata
Progressive Big Band Metal/Avant-garde. Enjoyable, entertaining and interesting all the way through. It doesn't connect with me on a deeper level, though. At its best when it's not metal. 3/5.
141. Earthlimb - Origin
Alt-Rock/Math-Rock/Progressive Metal. This is a band that can't decide what they want to be. They have several personalities, which makes the album weak. Half the songs, specifically the more Toolesque post/math metal tracks, are actually very enjoyable. The more anthemic alt-rock tracks really rub me the wrong way, sadly. Especially the vocals. 3/5.
142. Necro Deathmort - The Colonial Script
Industrial. Bleak soundscapes and occasional black metal vibes (except not at all). It's pretty nice. 3/5.
143. JK Flesh - Posthuman
Industrial Metal. It's another Justin Broadrick project, and it sounds like one. 3/5.
144. WHOURKR - 4247 Snare Drums
Cybergrind/Breakcore. 3/5.
145. Kayo Dot - Gamma Knife
Avant-Garde Metal. I'm not sure what to make of this. There are some stellar moments, the the opening track, and some pretty boring chaos. Definetely not their strongest work, but brilliant at its best. 3/5.
146. Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud
Progressive Pop Metal. Not as good as Addicted, but I do like Devin when he's no-BS straightforward. 3/5.
147. Antimatter - Fear Of A Unique Identity
Art Rock. 3/5.
148. Anathema - Weather Systems
Alt Rock/Progressive. I can't really decide how I feel about this album. It's their lightest and brightest by far, which is fine by me. Their lyrics and the whole mood is pretty juvenile, going on about setting suns and such. There are some really awesome songs here, but overall it's perhaps one of their slightly weaker records. 3/5.
149. L' Alba di Morrigan - The Essence Remains
Progressive/Post-Rock. I can see fans of modern Katatonia digging this, though it's nowhere near as boring. 3/5.
150. The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
Progressive Rock. A genuine evolution of their sound to a more accessible, sleek, electronic direction. Some really catchy songs, but not at the expense of wacky complexity. I was never a huge fan of the band, but I feel like I may finally become one. 3/5.
151. Crippled Black Phoenix - (Mankind) The Crafty Ape
Progressive Rock. 3/5.
152. Heavy Metal Perse - Aikakirjat
Heavy/Power. 3/5.
153. Pharaoh - Bury The Light
Heavy/Power. 3/5.
154. Dweller on the Threshold - Dweller on the Threshold
Lo-Fi/Folk/Post-Rock/Kitchen Sink. A really eclectic mess of things. It has that typical Enemies List doom and gloom about it. Giles Corey, Have A Nice Life, Planning for Burial, you know the deal. Heavy and dark post-rock alternates with resigned slowcore tunes. But then there's a hardcore punk song? One moment it's quiet, the other it's really heavy and big. Plenty to love here, but it doesn't really feel like an album. 3/5.
155. Bitcrush - Collapse
Post-Rock/Shoegaze. 3/5.
156. Planning for Burial - Quietly
Drone/Shoegaze. 3/5.
157. Constants - Pasiflora
Shoegaze. These guys used to play a blend of progressive, post-rock and even metal, but they've given it up for straight-up shoegaze. True to the legacy of My Bloody Valentine, it's a noisy and sugary blur of bright colors. Shoegazing is in vogue, but few sound as 90s as these guys. Well, except maybe... 3/5.
158. Whirr - Pipe Dreams
Shoegaze. A noisier, more energetic counterpart to Pasiflora. The vocals are buried a bit too deep into the mix, but otherwise I prefer to crunchier sound. Another top notch nostalgia trip. 3/5.
159. Nadja - Dagdrøm
Drone/Shoegaze. Unusually rocking. 3/5.
160. Asobi Seksu x Boris - Split
Shoegaze/Drone. 3/5.
161. Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun
Post-Rock. I didn't even know these 90s legends were still active until I heard about this album. Warren Ellis is a violin god, and this has a really down-to-earth, warm tone. Gently plucked guitar, the hissing drone of the violin, and impressive, jazzy drum work. Not the best 2012 post-rock record (and not the band's strongest), but probably the most unique. Which is especially impressive considering how long they've been doing this. 3/5.
162. Zombie Western - The Great Migration
Post-Rock. Doesn't really remind me of zombies, but the guitar tone has a bit of a Western twang to it. Above-average post-rock, with emphasis on the rock. 3/5.
163. Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson - Small Changes We Hardly Notice
Post-Rock/Indie. They've always mixed emo/indie rock into their post-rock, but the vocals are even more prominent here. Don't let that put you off, this is instrumentally one of the year's more interesting post-rock records. 3/5.
164. Einar Stray - For The Country
Chamber Pop/Post-Rock. A disappointing EP after the tremendous debut, but OK. 3/5.
165. Dustin Wong - Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads
Post-Rock/Minimalism. Solid take at combining Steve Reich -like repetition with a light post-rock sound. 3/5.
166. Balmorhea - Stranger
Post-Rock/Modern Classical. 3/5.
167. Helios - Moiety
Ambient/Post-Rock. The more (post-)rocking side of Keith Kenniff/Goldmund. It's still pretty ambient, though. A bit like Hammock. Pretty, short and sweet. 3/5.
168. Les Discrets - Ariettes oubliées...
Post-Rock. Nothing shoegaze or "blackgaze" about it. If the vocals didn't distract people, it would never be labelled anything but post-rock. Not as exciting as the debut. 3/5.
169. Sigur Rós - Valtari
Post-Rock. More ambient than anything they've done before. Less vocals and pop anthems. It's the least cheesy and sugary thing they've done since the debut. That's a good thing in my books, but it's admittedly not as catchy if that's what you're looking for. 3/5.
170. Hammock - Departure Songs
Ambient/Post-Rock. 3/5.
171. Athletics - Who You Are Is Not Enough
Post-Rock/Emo. And if you think emo is lame, you're dumb. Cool clean vocals, sometimes breaking into a pained shout. The EITS-brand tremolo picking is a bit overused here, but it's a balanced sound. Not too loud for the sake of loud, fairly straightforward. 3/5.
172. Fabrizio Paterlini - Autumn Stories
Modern Classical/Minimalism. Brief, naked piano tunes with plenty of hooks. Beautiful, albeit a bit splintered with 14 tracks on the short side. 3/5.
173. Dustin O'Halloran • Hauschka • Jóhann Jóhannsson - Transcendentalism
Modern Classical. 3/5.
174. Greg Haines - Moments Eluding (Solo Piano Series Vol. 3)
Modern Classical/Ambient. Naked piano tunes. Nothing groundbreaking, but Greg is good with classy and minimalistic. 3/5.
175. Hilary Hahn & Hauschka - Silfra
Modern Classical. A lively and warm collaboration between an experimental pianist and a violinist. Highly recommended. 3/5.
176. Hildur Guðnadóttir - Leyfðu ljósinu
Modern Classical/Ambient. 3/5.
177. Ólafur Arnalds - Another Happy Day
Film Soundtrack/Modern Classical. 3/5.
178. David Cordero & Carles Guajardo - Emma
Film Soundtrack/Modern Classical. 3/5.
179. Jessica Curry - Dear Esther
Video Game Soundtrack/Modern Classical. 3/5.
180. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Visiting This World
Drone/Ambient. 3/5.
181. Kreng - Works for Abattoir Fermé 2007 - 2011
Dark Ambient. 3/5.
182. Gareth Davis & Frances-Marie Uitti - Gramercy
Modern Classical/Dark Ambient. A smokey and dark collaboration of cello and clarinet. Fans of Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation etc. should check this out, though it's more abstract than those "jazz noir" bands. 3/5.
183. Kane Ikin + David Wenngren - Strangers
Ambient. Droney tunes in listenable chunks (all tracks are under 10 minutes). 3/5.
184. Karol Gwóźdź - Tamte Czasy
Ambient/Modern Classical. Aquatic but organic. 3/5.
185. Olan Mill - Paths
Ambient. Fuller arrangements than on the great debut. The strings sound acoustic and natural, making it seem like a chamber music record. The lack of structure or clear melody keeps it firmly in ambient territory, though. Pretty nice. 3/5.
186. Olan Mill - Home
Ambient. 3/5.
187. From the Mouth of the Sun - Woven Tide
Ambient. A really beautiful, unassuming piece of ambient. 3/5.
188. Kyle Bobby Dunn - Bring Me The Head Of Kyle Bobby Dunn
Ambient/Drone. 3/5.
189. Windy & Carl - We Will Always Be
Ambient. Floating drones and atmospheres from these veterans. The album opens with an earthy note on acoustic guitar, but otherwise it's pretty out in space. Pleasant but hardly groundbreaking. 3/5.
190. Peter Broderick -
Modern Classical/Folk/Ambient. This is pretty messy and confusing. He still has a talent for great tunes, but this is not the album to start checking him out with. 3/5.
191. The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation - Erop
Dark Ambient/Jazz. Better than their last album. Sonically glorious, professionally performed and produced as always. I wish it had a bit more melody on its drone bones. 3/5.
192. Portico Quartet - Portico Quartet
Nu Jazz/Electronic/Ambient. 3/5.
193. Niechęć - Śmierć w miękkim futerku
Fusion/Avant-Garde Jazz. 3/5.
194. Jenny Scheinman - Mischief & Mayhem
Avant-Garde Jazz/Modern Classical/World Music. 3/5.
195. Maxence Cyrin - The Fantasist
Modern Classical/Progressive Electronic. 3/5.
196. Om - Advaitic Songs
Psychedelic/World Music. Very little metal about this. It has its ups and downs. It sounds soft and warm, especially the bass is lovely. I wish it played a slightly larger role, though. Don't care for Al's vocals. 3/5.
197. Arcana - As Bright as a Thousand Suns
Neoclassical Darkwave. Pretty much what you'd expect from Arcana. They're somewhere between Dead Can Dance and Elend: gloomier than DCD and strictly Western/medieval, but without the noisiness of Elend. It's a beautiful album, but I'm not sure there's a reason to return to it over some other albums in this fairly predictable genre. Plays more like a soundtrack. 3/5.
198. Kreuzweg Ost - Gott Mit Uns
Martial Industrial/Darkwave. I've never got the point of martial industrial sampling some generic German phrases. It sounds cheesy. That said, this is competent and catchy darkwave with medieval melodies and an industrial march beat. The songs and the whole album are probably a little longer than necessary. 3/5.
199. Andreas Gross - Grounds To Ashes
Darkwave. A really catchy, unknown and underrated band. The gothic synth pop type of darkwave. 3/5.
200. Rome - Hell Money
Neofolk. 3/5.
201. Weh - En natt kom doed
Neofolk. 3/5.
202. Sieben - No Less Than All
Neofolk. Nice, dark neofolk in the spirit of Rome or Spiritual Front. 3/5.
203. Boy Friend - Egyptian Wrinkle
Ambient/Dream Pop. Sweet, sugary and dreamy. Takes cues from the Cocteau Twins but paints with lighter colors. The synth textures sound a little artificial and it may be too sweet for me, but it's also really catchy and has genuinely good songs. A more contemplative counterpart to Grimes and iamamiwhoami. 3/5.
204. Brother Sun, Sister Moon - Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Ambient Pop. Really nice and organic texture, with plenty of instruments and details. Typical dreamy sighs from the female singer. The songwriting is a but flimsy, bit justifies the sonic revelry well enough. Check if you like Boy Friend's album; this is not as sugary, but neither as catchy. 3/5.
205. Soap&Skin - Narrow
Art Pop/Darkwave. Nico-esque indie which might get irritating if the album wasn't so short and good. 3/5.
206. Efterklang - Piramida
Indie Pop/Chamber Pop. Awesome soundscapes and sonic experimentation. Structurally too simple and straightforward, compared to their past glory as one of the best post-rock bands ever. 3/5.
207. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
Indie/Art Pop. Her most straightforward, cohesive and mainstream album to date. Some neat synthpop sounds. Nothing great, but a satisfying listen nonetheless. 3/5.
208. I Was A Teenage Satan Worshipper - There
Indie Rock. They mostly ditched their electropop roots and went for a fuzzy, shoegazey indie rock style reminiscent of Magenta Skycode. Memorable and intimate. 3/5.
209. Husky Rescue - Deep Forest Green
Dream Pop/Electronic Indie. 3/5.
210. Burning Hearts - Extinctions
Indie Pop. I may like this more than I should, because they're Finnish. And there's not a lot of good fuzzy, a bit electronic indie in Finland. 3/5.
211. Beach House - Bloom
Dream Pop. They perfected their sound on Teen Dream and now stick to it, only adding some drums. The band's aesthetic is the best thing about them, but the songs aren't bad either. A reliable dose of dreamy melancholy, if not very surprising or challenging. 3/5.
212. Wovenhand - The Laughing Stalk
Gothic Americana. Another good album from the snake-handling madman of Colorado. Edwards doesn't really reinvent himself, but there's no need to. 3/5.
213. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
Country/Psychedelic Rock. Some drawn-out jams, wicked solos and solid Americana. A few brilliant tracks, and a lot of average stuff. 3/5.
214. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy & Trembling Bells - The Marble Downs
Americana/Folk Rock. Pretty cheerful and lush British folk with Will Oldham's iconic country vocals. Nice and unusual mix, though I rather prefer him darker and stripped down. 3/5.
215. Laura Gibson - La Grande
Indie Folk. Murky, country-tinged folk with wonderful vocals. Somewhat bland songwriting. 3/5
216. Scott Kelly/Steve Von Till/Wino - Songs of Townes Van Zandt
A tribute album to perhaps the greatest country artist of all time. These guys are probably better known as metalheads, but especially Steve Von Till is great with americana. It's hard to rate a tribute album: the covers are good, but close enough to the originals not to add a new level of value. I'm not a huge fan of Wino's voice (with americana or otherwise). The original material, of course, is as good as they come. Worth checking out as a curiosity. 3/5.
217. Marissa Nadler - The Sister
Singer-Songwriter/Contemporary Folk. Pretty, sparse, mostly acoustic and a bit folky. Darker than her previous album, which is a plus. No acrobatics here, just good songs and a good singer. It might interest metalheads that she's the woman who did vocals on Xasthur's Portal of Sorrow (but her own work is better). 3/5.
218. Chelsea Wolfe - Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs
Singer-Songwriter/Alternative Folk. A bit of a disappointment. I wasn't a HUGE fan of her heavier electric work either, but they had a disturbing aura about them. This is much more vanilla. 3/5.
219. Low - Plays Nice Places
Slowcore. Free live EP. It's Low. It's got "Words" on it. Nothing you couldn't live without, but is there ever a reason not to listen to more Low? 3/5 (or 3,5/5 judged in a vacuum).
220. Gravenhurst - The Ghost In Daylight
Slowcore/Contemporary Folk
221. LUIK - Owls
Slowcore. Pretty straightforward, folky stuff in the Red House Painters vein. Pleasant and occasionally memorable. 3/5.
222. Gareth Dickson - Quite A Way Away
Folk/Ambient. 3/5.
223. Katie Kim - Cover & Flood
Lo-Fi Folk. Nice, gloomy tunes in a Lisa Germano/Mirel Wagner/Chelsea Wolfe type of vein. It's too unfocused and very much style over substance, though The Feast is an awesome song worth checking out. 3/5.
224. Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery
Blues/Folk. Think Nick Drake meets Tom Waits. 3/5.
225. Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself
Chamber Pop. Carefully arranged, lush chamber pop that reminds me a little of Owen Pallett especially in the vocal melodies. Paul Simon, too. I wish the songwriting was more energetic, bold and memorable, though. 3/5.
226. Matt Elliott - The Broken Man
Singer-Songwriter/Chamber Music. Rather strange blend of folky songs, flamenco and instrumental chamber music. Melancholy and wistful. I think deeper listening would have opened the album more, but I had more interesting albums to explore. A shame, because I suspect this is actually better than I realize. 3/5.
227. Beth Orton - Sugaring Season
Folk Pop. Her brand of singer-songwriter folk is fairly energetic, with a full band. Piano and strings are very prominent. Her voice is strong and warm, with a dusky tone. I know these are really bad comparisons, but somehow she makes me think of Dido and Suzanne Vega (who have very little to do with each other). Check out "Dawn Chorus". 3/5.
228. Cat Power - Sun
Alternative Singer-Songwriter. A bold rebirth into a mature pop artist. After years of pouting over the same sadfolk hole, she's drawing from a sunnier place. Yet she can still be realistic and poignant despite her new energy. A positive surprise. Sounds like 80s and 90s synth pop and singer-songwriters. 3/5.
229. Lana Del Rey - Born to Die
(Chamber) Pop. Worth checking out for the hype. Neither as good nor as bad as rumored. Great production, some perfect pop songs (Born To Die, Video Games, Blue Jeans etc.) but also plenty of filler. Riding the well-deserved success of the singles, but lacks the chops for a great full-length. 3/5.
230. Lana Del Rey - Paradise
(Chamber) Pop. This "EP" fixes the problems I had with Born to Die. It's stylistically coherent, the quality is consistent, and it's pretty much the perfect length for a quick pop fix. Unfortunately, the highs aren't quite as high. Had I first heard her with this album, she probably wouldn't have caught my attention. Nonetheless, I'm not a single song kind of listener, so the stronger whole probably makes this my Lana album of choice to return to. 3/5.
231. Tori Amos - Gold Dust
Neoclassical/Singer-Songwriter. New orchestral arrangements of her songs. A selection like this can't be bad, and they do sound good. But it's too safe and conservative. She could have picked more surprising songs and changed them around drastically. 3/5.
232. Norah Jones - ...Little Broken Hearts
Pop. She's the epitome of classy, jazz-flavored smooth pop for dinner parties. She is more about sound and aesthetic than substance. That's OK, her voice is velvet and the production perfect. 3/5.
233. Kuusumun Profeetta - Huutoja hiljaisesta huoneesta
Progressive Rock/Art Pop. Not their strongest, but they're one of a kind. 3/5.
234. Moonface with Siinai - Heartbreaking Bravery
Post-Punk/Krautrock/Art Rock. The Finnish krautrockers Siinai join up with Canadian Spencer Krug for an intense, jarring, rich and fun album. Plenty of good songs and extended jams. 3/5.
235. Beak> - >>
Krautrock. From Portishead's Geoff Barrow. Fun and jarring, if unoriginal. 3/5.
236. Richard Youngs - Core to the Brave
Noise/Experimental/Singer-Songwriter. Pretty strange, jarring and monotonous songs. 3/5.
237. Laura Sheeran - What The World Knows
Experimental/Electronic/Folk. Dark and twisted indie girl in her bedroom with a bowed saw and some beats. I started out hating it, but it gets better towards the end. Actually pretty neat in a disturbing way, and points for personality in this crowded scene, but there are better albums out there. 3/5.
238. Tyme. x Tujiko - GYU
J-Pop/Progressive/Electronic/whatever. I don't know what the hell this is, but it sounds hilarious. 3/5.
239. Micachu - Never
Lo-Fi/Experimental Pop/Noise Pop/Art Punk. Makes me dizzy, in a good way. 3/5.
240. The Eye of Time - The Eye of Time
Electronic/Dark Ambient. Very dramatic and dark, horns and glitchy beats and stuff. 3/5.
241. The Flashbulb - Opus At The End Of Everything
Electronic Ambient/IDM. Very sleek, very classy. Too many tracks make it a little inconsistent though. 3/5.
242. Yoshinori Takezawa - Dream Line
Electronic/Ambient Pop. Mellow electronic tunes with some (fake?) classical instruments and a few drony moments. Short, catchy instrumental pieces. It sounds pretty organic, a nice album to chill out to. 3/5.
243. iamamiwhoami - kin
Electropop. Nice and catchy stuff in the vein of The Knife (if nowhere near as dark and twisted), Austra or Grimes. Adding reverb to your voice doesn't make your music more artistic, though, and you'll never be anything compared to Elizabeth Fraser. In other words, the production tries to make it seem ethereal and dreamy, but it's still a bunch of shameless dance tunes. 3/5.
244. Yppah - Eighty One
Electronic Ambient/IDM. 3/5.
245. Crystal Castles - (III)
Synth Pop/Electropop. Not as crazy and aggressive as the previous, a darker and more balanced affair. 3/5.
246. Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror
Noise Pop. More mature and serious than their debut. The sound is often thicker but not quite as abrasive. The debut was catchier, I wasn't as excited about this as I could have. 3/5.
247. Jack White - Blunderbuss
Blues/Garage. Actually my first time listening to a full album by this guy, never got into The White Stripes before. This is more stripped-down than that, and occasionally bluesy. Too many mediocre songs, but the few highlights (Sixteen Saltines, Weep Themselves To Sleep, Love Interruption) are glorious, some of the best rock around. 3/5.
248. Gallon Drunk - The Road Gets Darker From Here
Alternative Rock. In a dirty, Grindermanish way bordering on garage rock. 3/5.
249. Swearin' - Swearin'
Indie Rock/Punk. This is what indie rock should sound like. Catchy, heartfelt, and dirty enough to sound good on the ears. The singer, Allison Crutchfield, is apparently Katie Crutchfield's (Waxahatchee) twin sister. It's neat to notice how similar they sound. 3/5.
250. Dunes - Noctiluca
Post-Punk/Indie Pop. Wonderfully 80s in their sound, drawing on all the best alternative influences. I love their sound, and there's some catchy songs here. 3/5.
251. Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves
Contemporary Folk. Another forlorn, stripped down album from Mark Kozelek (former Red House Painters frontman). I suspect it will grow on me, but right now it seems unusually underwhelming. He still has a good sense of melody and above-average lyrics, but as a huge fan I was expecting more and judge this too harshly. 2,75/5.
252. Desiderii Marginis - Procession
Dark Ambient. More abstract and uneventful than in the past. 2,75/5.
253. Nadja - Excision
Drone Metal. Compilation of material that has been released on formats other than CD long-plays. Heavy on the drone and light on the metal. That is to say, nowhere near as riff-centered as Nadja's best work in Touched '07 or Desire in Uneasiness. Not bad but not great either. Long and unessential. Fans only. 2,75/5.
254. Toundra - Toundra (III)
Post-Rock. Pretty heavy and generic, but I imagine it will appeal to many MSers. Avoids the worst crescendo wankery. 2,75/5.
255. Gustaf Hildebrand - Heliopause
Dark Ambient. 2,5/5.
256. Mulm - The End of Greatness
Dark Ambient. Gloomy, a little spooky, but not too harsh. Sonically quite reminiscent of Silent Hill (which isn't all too unusual in the genre), specifically something you might hear out on the streets of the cursed town. Successful at evoking an atmosphere, but too uneventful to really make an impact. Torn between enjoying the sound and not really having much interest in listening to it. 2,5/5.
257. Aidan Baker - The Spectrum of Distraction
Drone/Noise Rock. Extremely short songs organized in suites, apparently supposed to be played on shuffle. Interesting, and not unenjoyable. It's a bit disjointed, which I know is the point but it does take something away from it. 2,5/5.
258. Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist
Ambient. 2,5/5.
259. Worm Ouroboros - Come the Thaw
Ambient/Post-Rock/Something. Atmospheric, laid-back stuff. Lots of haunting female vocals, a pretty prominent bass, some twinkling guitars. This album is very quiet. There's not a lot going on. Way too much filler and too little music, even if the best moments are quite nice. 2,5/5.
260. Heroin And Your Veins - Regret
Ambient/Surf Noir. I would describe this Finnish artist as Bohren & Der Club Of Gore without the jazz, but this album feels somehow clunky and corny. The keyboard sound is extremely out-of-place. Overall decent, but disappointing. 2,5/5.
261. Gauchiste - Gauchiste
Dark Ambient/Metal. Freaky stuff incorporating some metal elements (the occasional vocals or drums) a bit like Gnaw Their Tongues or the latest Abruptum. I should like it more than I actually do; there's nothing wrong with it, but I don't find myself wanting to listen to it that much. Worth checking out if you're at all interested in the style. 2,5/5.
262. Anneke van Giersbergen - Everything Is Changing
Alternative Rock. Doesn't get more vanilla than this. If you liked her previous stuff, you'll like this. Some say it sounds more like the Gathering, but I don't really hear it. It's not bad, but it's nothing dozens of singer-songwriters wouldn't do better. (See: Sharon Van Etten.) 2,5/5.
263. The Cranberries - Roses
Rock. Legendary band with two really great albums, but this is pretty mediocre like everything they've done after 1994. [i]Tomorrow[/i] is a highlight track worth checking out. 2,5/5.
264. Angel Witch - As Above, So Below
Heavy Metal. Solid album, but not that exciting. 2,5/5.
265. Alcest - Les voyages de l'âme
Softy Metal. You know the deal. Unsurprising but not unenjoyable. 2,5/5.
266. Lunar Aurora - Hoagascht
Atmospheric Black Metal. Likeable but ultimately mediocre and forgettable. Very little variation in intensity. 2,5/5.
267. Verwüstung - I First Saw You on That Snowy Night and Couldn't Shake an Overwhelming Feeling of Sadness
Black Metal/Post-Rock/Ambient. Uneven, nowhere as good as Watercolor Sunset. 2,5/5.
268. Drudkh - Eternal Turn of the Wheel
Atmospheric Black Metal. Not unlistenable, but I simply found no reason to listen to this over their other work and that of many contemporaries with fresh ideas. I didn't find it very "atmospheric" either. 2,5/5.
269. Asphyx - Deathhammer
Death Metal. It's derivative for sure, but that's not the problem. It just isn't as good as their best work. There are young bands doing grimy, doomy old school death metal better. Maybe a little overproduced, too. 2,5/5.
270. The Howling Void - The Womb Beyond The World
Funeral Doom. It's not every day you come across an instrumental album of symphonic funeral doom. Ok, so there are some vocals, but they're rare enough as to be altogether absent. Keyboards shoved in your face. For all that, it manages to sound pretty unoriginal. It's of the "melodic melancholy" funeral variant, and doesn't really bring anything new to that genre. The synthesized symphonics sound nowhere as big and organic as Shape of Despair. Too little filth, too few riffs, and it's not really heavy enough (in the context of the genre) to tickle me fancy. If you're into this stuff (Ea, Shape of Despair, Mournful Congregation etc.) you'll probably enjoy this. 2,5/5.
271. Process of Guilt - FÆMIN
Sludge/Doom. They always had post-metal sensibilities, but now they've ditched the death doom melodies and the feeling they had. Perhaps it's a matter of expectations for the band, or maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but I wasn't impressed. 2,5/5.
272. Okera - A Beautiful Dystopia
Death Doom. Modern, sleek, melodic stuff. For fans of October Tide, Slumber or something. Unoriginal but competent. 2,5/5.
273. Saint Vitus - Lillie: F-65
Traditional Doom. They can do better. Sounds kinda routine and tired. At first I thought it was better, but then I went back and listened to Die Healing and realized just how inferior this is. 2,5/5.
274. Windhand - Windhand
Stoner Doom. True or not, these guys sound like bandwagon-riders. Poorly produced retro doom is hip, and so they thought they'd try it out. Electric Wizard is an obvious inspiration, but it's nowhere as heavy, dirty or well-written. A decent trip for hardcore fans of the style, I guess. 2,5/5.
275. Torche - Harmonicraft
Stoner Metal. Energetic and straightforward, like power pop. It's better on paper than in reality. Too many tracks with too little variation. Some good moments, but I feel they could have done a lot more with their intriguing formula. 2,5/5.
276. Whales And Aurora - The Shipwreck
Atmospheric Sludge. Whalecore is gaining ground, but in the process it's become watered-down. This is decent stuff, but ultimately nothing but a blip on the sonar. Can't say I had a whale of a time with this album. Not bad, but way too mediocre to be worthwhile when there are plenty of bigger fish in the sea. 2,5/5.
277. Xerxes - Our Home Is a Deathbed
Screamo/Post-Hardcore. Nothing new, like Pianos Become the Teeth or a heavier Touché Amoré. 2,5/5.
278. Katatonia - Dead End Kings
Bore Metal. It may not be any worse than the last few albums. But that's not saying a lot. Hitting a single chord over and over does not make you as good as Tool, no matter how much you want to sound like them. They keep heading down the path of mediocrity in melody, feeling and songwriting. 2,5/5.
279. The Samuel Jackson Five - The Samuel Jackson Five
Post-Rock/Progressive. Closer to prog rock than before. A bit like the latest Mars Volta. The shiny production is lifeless, and they just didn't hit the mark this time. 2,5/5.
280. Scott Walker - Bish Bosch
Experimental Rock. This is fucking weird, even compared to his recent work. Some really cool sounds, but it's just too unmusical and disjointed to be interesting. A disappointment for a pleb like me, a revelation for connoisseurs of fine art (apparently). 2/5.
281. The Elijah - I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created
Post-Hardcore/Post-Rock. There's something appealing in the idea of blending post-hardcore with post-rock, but this sounds cheesy, trite and toothless. I you like Amia Venera Landscape, Devil Sold His Soul or Envy you might want to check this out, but it's much weaker. 2/5.
282. Landforge - Servitude to Earth
Atmospheric Sludge/Post-Rock. About as generic as they come, if not outright unpleasant. Not much reason to pick this up over some better instrumental sludge or post-rock record. 2/5.
283. Uzala - Uzala
Psychedelic Doom with a female singer. Has this lazy atmosludge vibe to it. The Reaping, Cataract, Plague and Gloomy Sunday could have made a great EP. Unfortunately, too much filler and crappy, flat production. 2/5.
284. Krautnaut - Planet Absinthe
Instrumental Doom. Some heavy, occasionally psychedelic noodling with a few highlights (such as In The Woods). Way too monotonous on average to make me want to return to it over and over again, and the crappy sound doesn't help. 2/5.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by IronAngel ]

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19.12.2012 - 00:51

Written by InnerSelf on 19.12.2012 at 00:23

Iron, dude ... The Silicone Veil is so freaking good, what an awesome voice she has !

Awesome. I wish I could recommend you something similar, but I can't really think of anything. The Hanne Hukkelberg album in my list is pretty good. Her voice is quite similar, if not as powerful. You might like Anna von Hausswolff's 2012 album too, though it meanders more. She sounds quite a bit like Kate Bush, actually. Susanne's previous album reminded me of Tori Amos' From The Choirgirl Hotel, which is her darkest album. Vocally they're nothing alike, though. For dark electropop, Fever Ray's self-titled is amazing.

In terms of vocals, she reminds me most of Anneke van Giersbergen. Particularly in the low-mid register. But her glass-shattering high notes are even better.
20.12.2012 - 16:18
proofread free
Written by IronAngel on 19.12.2012 at 00:51

Awesome. I wish I could recommend you something similar, but I can't really think of anything. The Hanne Hukkelberg album in my list is pretty good. Her voice is quite similar, if not as powerful. You might like Anna von Hausswolff's 2012 album too, though it meanders more. She sounds quite a bit like Kate Bush, actually. Susanne's previous album reminded me of Tori Amos' From The Choirgirl Hotel, which is her darkest album. Vocally they're nothing alike, though. For dark electropop, Fever Ray's self-titled is amazing.

In terms of vocals, she reminds me most of Anneke van Giersbergen. Particularly in the low-mid register. But her glass-shattering high notes are even better.

The jazz reference in your mini-review of Hanne Hukkelberg's album intrigued me so I'm checking it next.
Will probably go through everything that Susanne has done too.
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
20.12.2012 - 21:51

Written by InnerSelf on 20.12.2012 at 16:18

The jazz reference in your mini-review of Hanne Hukkelberg's album intrigued me so I'm checking it next.

In retrospect, that was poorly worded. Yeah it's pretty experimental and a little bit jazzy, but setting those jazz influences side-by-side with the art pop and singer-songwriter material here is misleading. But still, it's pretty strange and fascinating.

Anyhow, I'm slowly starting to get the list into order for the year's end. Still a few big albums to review and decide on a rating, but it's mostly all there. I'll probably do some pruning with albums that I ultimately didn't listen to enough (already removed 20-30 I think), and reconsider some ratings. It's painful rating albums when there's so much good stuff, when you're listening to them it feels like they all deserve special attention. I don't know if it's just me, but this feels like a better year than 2011.
20.12.2012 - 22:01
proofread free
Written by IronAngel on 20.12.2012 at 21:51

In retrospect, that was poorly worded. Yeah it's pretty experimental and a little bit jazzy, but setting those jazz influences side-by-side with the art pop and singer-songwriter material here is misleading. But still, it's pretty strange and fascinating.

Anyhow, I'm slowly starting to get the list into order for the year's end. Still a few big albums to review and decide on a rating, but it's mostly all there. I'll probably do some pruning with albums that I ultimately didn't listen to enough (already removed 20-30 I think), and reconsider some ratings. It's painful rating albums when there's so much good stuff, when you're listening to them it feels like they all deserve special attention. I don't know if it's just me, but this feels like a better year than 2011.

I definitely enjoyed 2012 more than 2011 although I thought last year was really good too. I like how this list is finally shaping, I'll probably hang around here a lot in the coming days as I feel that most of the non-metal stuff will appeal to me
Concerning list construction, I only add albums I absolutely love to my lists as I try to keep them as "top of" lists ... will surely be hard if it was a "guide to *enter year*" list.
He who is not bold enough
to be stared at from across the abyss
is not bold enough
to stare into it himself.
20.12.2012 - 22:47

Written by InnerSelf on 20.12.2012 at 22:01

Concerning list construction, I only add albums I absolutely love to my lists as I try to keep them as "top of" lists ... will surely be hard if it was a "guide to *enter year*" list.

For me, it's as much a memo for myself as it is recommendations for other people, so I tend to add albums as soon as I hear them if I think they'll be interesting, or albums it turns out I've listened to quite a lot despite initial expectations. Some genres get pretty much automatically added when I get my hands on them. Then I remove them later, as I go through the rating process. Might be easier for readers if it was just a top list, but it's hard to juggle all these albums without a list to fall back on and remind myself what was released six months ago.
21.12.2012 - 02:57
ex-News Man
Regarding to Susanne Sundfør I'm totally agree with you guys. Rome is one of my favorite non-metal songs of the year. Pure magic in her voice...
05.01.2013 - 13:45

Fuck, literally running out of lines. Already lost a few of the bottom albums to the abyss. Nothing dramatically good I think, so I can't be bothered to check what's missing. Already reviewed and rated the important ones anyway. I had to cut out some good but generic albums I had nothing to say about to facilitate longer descriptions, but I think I'll just rate the remaining albums. They're in order of preference down to 3,5, but I'm sorting the 3s into groups by genre. At that point the rankings get too arbitrary to have any value.
09.01.2013 - 22:34

It's finally done, I think. I may tweak or add some descriptions, adjust a few ratings, maybe mess around with the order of the top albums. But the number one album is a clear winner and will defend its place in any case, and everything with 4/5 is extremely good. 3,5/5 is also "very good" on my scale, so I'm happy to recommend everything down to Inverloch to anyone. Below that, I've organized albums into groups by style. One quick look at whatever floats your boat should give you plenty of recommendations, then. Not that everything with 3/5 isn't worth checking out anyway.

For those of you too lazy to read, here's my top 15 of Metal Storm featured albums:
A Forest of Stars - A Shadowplay for Yesterdays
Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock
Menace Ruine - Alight In Ashes
Dordeduh - Dar De Duh
Faal - The Clouds Are Burning
The Gathering - Disclosure
Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction
Monolithe - Interlude Second
Profetus - ...To Open the Passages in Dusk
Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Cosmosophy
Hail Spirit Noir - Pneuma
CSSABA - Underground Lo-Fi Songs
P.H.O.B.O.S. - Atonal Hypermnesia
Saturnus - Saturn In Ascension
The 11th Hour - Lacrima Mortis
31.01.2013 - 12:09
Au Pays Natal
Some good 2012 stuff still filtering in. I apologize if this is on your massive list, I have to post this then run. Check out Bauda. His latest is a terrific atmospheric post rock album. Highly recommended.

I get floored when I hear music this good from independent or underground bands.

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