Nicholas’ Top Ten of 2012

Year-end best-of lists suck.  I haven’t listened to everything that came out this year that I wanted to hear yet (Neurosis, High On Fire, Melvins, etc. fucking etc).  There’s just too much.  And 2012 was pretty God damn good year for music.  So, this is not a best of list.  This is simply my favorites.  The albums I spun the most.  The ones I like more than the ones I hated (Muse).

In no particular order…

(Edit: Ryan is making me do a numbered list even though I don’t want to.  So now the albums are numbered.)



Royal Thunder


Relapse Records

Another kick-ass debut album.  Royal Thunder’s CVI is a super dose of hard rock a la Black Sabbath doomage.  Everything about this album kicks ass.  Front woman Mlny Parsonz has a strong voice that leads the monstrous riffs through the seedy, dimly lit, back alleys the music feels like it’s bringing you to.  This is a band that must be seen live as well.  They were easily one of the best performances I saw this year.  If you like your hard rock to rock hard, pick this album up immediately.

Best Track:  “Parsonz Curse


Corrosion of Conformity

Corrosion of Conformity



I am huge COC fan.  I dig their early hardcore punk stuff, but I really love once Pepper Keenan joined and they kicked up into a more straight-forward metal sound.  So, with Keenan not on this album and the line-up from their Animosity days, people were wondering what sound we would get.  Cross-over thrash or later day southern stoner metal?  Well the result was a bit of both.  They seamlessly blend their two sounds together on this release.  They lean, which shouldn’t be a surprise, more to their later sound than the punk sound, but they are both there.  I’m a sucker for those Sabbath influenced thick riffs, and COC delivers on that front as per usual.  I need stuff like this to balance all the pretentious prog-rock and metal I listen to.

Best Track:  “River of Stone


Portal of 1

Ne Obliviscaris


Aural Music

An insanely awesome shot of Australian progressive metal seemed to sneak into my view this year.  This is extreme prog at its finest.  Opening with lightening fast blast beats and riffing before simmering down into a groovy horn and acoustic jazz section, Portal of I drags the listener through so many sounds at an incredible speed, you’ll need to pause for a breath in between tracks.  Black metal, jazz, violins, and many more surprises lie ahead.  I am anxiously awaiting Blood Music’s vinyl release of this bad boy.

Best Track:  “Forget Not





Indie/Nuclear Blast

Now up is RIITIIR by mega titans of progressive metal, Enslaved.  Enslaved is awesome, always; they do not have the ability to create a bad album.  Whether it’s straight black metal like their early days or metal with a strong mix of progressive rock, they excel at whatever it is they are doing.  RIITIIR injects even more prog-rock than the last few albums and beefs up Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals.  His vocals are equally shared with Grutle’s harsh rasps.  Being Enslaved’s longest album to date, RIITIIR is still never boring.  Main songwriter, and giant viking teddy bear, Ivar Bjornson explores an excellent mix of softer and heavier melodies.  Enslaved is a band that comes highly recommended to prog and metal fans alike.

Best Track:  “RIITIIR


Separate Realities



Metal Blade

Trioscapes is a side project of Between The Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs, with Separate Realities an instrumental jazz fan’s wet dream.  Consisting entirely of bass, drums, and sax, this is a must have of the year. All three of these guys are musicians in the truest sense of the word.  Locked into each other with clear and accurate precision, everybody shines.  There isn’t really much more to say about this one.  They strike a perfect balance between showing off their chops and keeping the songs sounding melodic.  It never ventures into “wank” territory.  But then again, you could argue most jazz is just wanking anyway.

Best Track:  “Blast Off



Devin Townsend


Hevy Devy

Coming in to play is my spiritual guru, and no list would be complete without Devin Townsend on it somewhere.  Taking cues from his Addicted! release, Devin goes down the infectiously catchy pop-metal route (albeit more varied this time around).  Joining him again is the super talented Anneke van Giersbergen providing vocals.  In the normal Devin Townsend fashion, the album jumps around from crazy sound to sound all while retaining Townsend’s signature tap-your-foot-along quirkiness.

Best Track:  “Grace


Sorrow and Extinction



Profound Lore

Pallbearer’s debut is quite the extraordinary one.  Five long, slow, heavy songs of doom and gloom.  This really is a haunting album.  Everything is played so slow, it creeps and gets under your skin.  Heavy rhythm and lots fuzz back front-man Brett Campbell’s awesome ghostly wail.  And if you like riffs, this album has ’em, though they are played at a mid-tempo crawl-along pace.  Sorrow and Extinction is a wonderful debut album, an excellent dose of doom.

Best Track:  “The Legend



Dragged Into Sunlight



Dragged Into Sunlight’s debut Hatred for Mankind is a full plate of hate-filled, nasty sounding doom/death/black metal.  It is an intense listening experience.  I for one was wondering how they were going to follow it up.  Well, they did with one forty minute song split into three parts.  Opening with a fifteen minute acoustic/ambient piece, when it kicks in, it kicks in hard.  This is an album to listen to with the lights out when you can give it your undivided attention.

Best, and only, Track:  “Widowmaker



The Faceless



The Faceless is a band that keeps improving with every release.  Michael Keene has some serious skill on his instrument (The GUITAR), and his songwriting skills are improving more and more.  Mixing Devin Townsendisms, Betweenisms, and technical death metal, The Faceless achieved a full progressive metal sound with their third album, Autotheism.  I am excited to see what they do in the future, and I am hoping they continue down the proggy route they are taking.

Best Track:  “Autotheist Movement II: Emancipate


Storm Corrosion

Storm Corrosion


Roadrunner Records

An album many, many people looked forward too.  The long-awaited collaboration between prog idols Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt.  Many hated the final product while many loved it.  We didn’t get a progressive rock wank fest; instead we got what sounds like the soundtrack to a lost euro-horror art house flick.  I for one loved what they rubbed out for us. Is it pretentious? Of course it is, but if you listen in the right frame of mind, it is a truly unique musical experience.  Know what you’re in for with this one, and I’m sure you will enjoy it.  It’s a dark ride.

Best Track:  “Drag Ropes

Honorable mentions:  Alcest – Les Voyages de l’ame, Pig Destroyer – Book Burner, Between The Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence, Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity, Jess and The Ancient Ones – S/T, Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind, Derketa – In Death We Meet, Baroness – Yellow and Green, Witch Mountain – Cauldron of The Wild, Bloody Hammers – S/T, Down – The Purple EP, and Agalloch – Faustian Echoes



2 Responses to “Nicholas’ Top Ten of 2012”

  1. Nick, there are other genres besides metal. Almost all of which aren’t as fucking boring.

  2. […] Ryan, and me anyway) are great, big Royal Thunder fans.  Their debut CVI ranked on a couple of our year end lists.  This time the group was rocking their somewhat new drummer and down their second […]

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