Best of 2012: 30-21

Enslaved - RIITIIR - Artwork

30. ENSLAVED, “RIITIIR” (Nuclear Blast) – Nordic black/Viking metal veterans never deliver the same record twice. It isn’t in their DNA. We’re thankful for that because, although they certainly could get away with doing the same thing all the time, they continually push themselves. Their 12th album still has rough edges, monstrous growls, and punishment, but they expand their progressive tendencies even further, making some of the most imaginative, listenable songs of their career. Some may bitch they’ve changed so much since their inception. Those people aren’t accounting for the talent these guys possess and their ability to make great metal. (Sept. 28)

To buy the album, go here:

knelt rote

29. KNELT ROTE, “Trespass”  (Nuclear War Now!) – Originally practicing the fine arts of power-violence and later evolving more into a black-and-death-influenced grind machine, Portland, Ore., punishers Knelt Rote have developed with bloodthirsty tenacity. Their third album “Trespass” was an eye-opener in the sense that they grab your lids, rip them off, and force you to watch the furious carnage they create. Here’s a band that’s traveled far under the radar but have taken the shroud of mystery to become merchants of total death. Once an unsuspecting public starts paying attention, it’ll be too late to thwart their assault. (Oct. 23)

To buy the album, go here:

samothrace cover

28. SAMOTHRACE, “Reverence to Stone” (20 Buck Spin) – It had been four years since Seattle-based sludge doom band Samothrace offered up their incredible debut “Life’s Trade,” but it turns out personal issues and other matters delayed their sophomore platter. With those conquered, the band returned with a two-track, 35-minute album that seems like a short document upon first glance but is full of torment and explosive wonder that insists this is one of the finest, most unpredictable bands in all of doom. Nice to have this band back, and hopefully we hear back sooner rather than later. (July 31)

To buy the album, go here:


27. DAWNBRINGER, “Into the Lair of the Sun God” (Profound Lore) – If I called this album the most ridiculous record on this entire list, would anyone argue? It also happens to be one great blast of traditional heavy metal, with mastermind Chris Black coming up with incredible power metal-flavored songs that follow a warrior’s misguided attempt to murder the sun. It has hooks galore, epic-powered guitar work, and even a power ballad that won’t embarrass you one bit to play out loud. This band just keeps getting better. (May 29)

To buy the album, go here:


26. DERKETA, “In Death We Meet” (self-released) – This record from these Pittsburgh death metal veterans almost never came to be. The all-female squad has its roots in the late 1980s, but they dissolved before they ever made their move and only recently reunited to finally issue their debut full-length. And what an album it is. It’s doom-filled, slithering, brutal, and bloody, and the eight-track, 49-minute record will remind you how ugly and evil death metal is supposed to sound. So great to have this crew back together, and long may they reign in tyranny.  (May 24)

To buy the album, go here:

witchsorrow cover

25. WITCHSORROW, “God Curse Us” (Metal Blade) – The English trio Witchsorrow sometimes catch grief for their sound, that can sound similar to Electric Wizard, but this band is hardly some knock-off act. The band’s chops have improved markedly since their debut record, and they slowly, drubbingly tell their tales of witches and other horrors. On top of that, the title cut is one of their best songs to date, with a chorus that should make you smirk with evil glee. Killer sophomore set. (May 28)

To buy the album, go here:


24. INDESINENCE, “Vessels of Light and Decay” (Profound Lore) – Profound Lore seemingly teased the world all year long about the greatness of the record, its importance to the label, and the incredible book-bound treatment the record would get. Well, the music finally arrived, and it turns out the six-years-in-the-making follow up to their “Noctambulism” debut was everything boasted, a powerful, dream-influenced record that runs for 62 impressive minutes. This band is the future of death metal, and it all truly started with this album. (Oct. 16)

To buy the album, go here:

oak cover

23. OAK PANTHEON, “From a Whisper” (Broken Limbs Recordings) – The world isn’t exactly at a shortage of atmospheric, woodsy black metal that practically hails Agalloch as source material. But sometimes a band uses that formula (and maybe not explicitly) and really gets it right, like Oak Pantheon did with their breathtaking debut. The songs are flushed with emotion, the musical compositions show depth and imagination, and the lyrics are personal and, at times, vulnerable. It’s amazing to me that this band didn’t get more attention across the board this year, as this band overflows with promise and musical ambition. Search them out and be ahead of the curve. (Sept. 25)

To buy the album, go here:

Or here (CD currently sold out, though)

black breath

22. BLACK BREATH, “Sentenced to Life” (Southern Lord) – Blackened hardcore maulers Black Breath don’t seem able to do anything even remotely disappointing. Their third full-length is chock full of filthy, menacing songs that sound violent and will get you stomped at a live show. With Southern Lord’s current penchant for unearthing underground hardcore bands, they’re going to be hard pressed to top what Black Breath brings to the table, as each time they report back with a new record, they top themselves as far as bleakness and poke-in-the-eye sarcasm are concerned. “Sentenced” also is one of my favorite album covers of the year. (March 27)

To buy the album, go here:

c mistress

21. CHRISTIAN MISTRESS, “Possession” (Relapse) – As far as traditional, pure heavy metal is concerned, you’re hard pressed to deny Christian Mistress do it better than anyone. Led by the smoky, sexy, charismatic vocals of Christine Davis and a dual-guitar attack that would have sounded innovative in 1980 (I mean that as a compliment), the band scores again and again with this excellent nine-track album that’ll make you want to sit in a candlelit room with a libation and some wolves and just rock the fuck out. Check out “Pentagram and Crucifix,” “Black to Gold” and “Haunted Hunted,” and meet your new obsession. (Feb. 28)

To buy the album, go here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.