The Great Metal Year of 2012: Top 10 albums

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The List

Blut Aus Nord – 777 – Cosmosophy (BaN – Epitome XIV)

One of the most important bands in black metal today, BaN finally ushered in an age of black metal that is now visible as an admirable bunch of bands attempting to innovate and experiment within the framework of the genre. But the reason why this band remains at the apex is that it does not recognize a framework. Cosmosophy, like most great music, is the culmination of a personal vision, namely a thematic exploration which is the 777 trilogy. As cosmic as it is visceral, and as grand as it is subtle, I refrained from reviewing an album to which I could not do proper justice given time constraints. Beware of trip-hop moments and other unexpected elements.

Deathspell Omega – Drought (EP) (DsO – Salowe Vision)

This won’t be the only EP in the list. My review for it can be found in the review section. Another black metal act that continues to evolve and consolidate its sound on every release, Drought received much less attention than it should have. A perfect monsoon release for us in the Indian subcontinent.

Eryn Non Dae. – Meliora (END. – Hidden Lotus)

Solid composition, a bleak and modern sound and a mature melodic structure has made this a treat to listen to. Another criminally underrated band, read my review for a slightly premature impression which should in spite of it’s hasty concoction convince the reader to give it a shot.

Kayo Dot – Gamma Knife (Kayo Dot – Ocellated God)

To quote the most interesting man in the world, Kayo Dot aren’t always metal, but when they are, you still can’t say for sure. Gamma Knife is a mix of heavy-as-fuck riffing, free jazz saxophone solos and certain indescribable moments that can only stem from the recesses of Toby Driver’s mind. This was released independently on bandcamp where it is available as an online stream in its entirety. Do pleasure yourself.

Spawn of Possession – Incurso (SoP – Apparition)

Though lacking the inhuman consistency of the band’s masterpiece and undoubtedly the pinnacle of technical death (or for me, any) metal Noctambulant, Incurso has its moments. And those moments will haunt you for quite some time. Be it Bryssling’s painfully exact technique, Muenzner’s impressive soloing or Erlend’s slap-happy bass (Rondum should’ve stuck to drums, Schonstrom is great but doesn’t come close), songs like Bodiless Sleeper, The Evangelist and the beyond-epic Apparition are way ahead of their time. With the promise of composing for a full orchestra on the next record by Bryssling, I would really like to see a band that can come anywhere close to such a full and cerebral sound.

Krallice – Years Past Matter (Krallice – Years Past Matter)

Krallice have always received mixed reactions, ranging from ‘oh-so-kvlt’ to ‘boringly repetitive’. Bridging this divide with a release that had song names as bad as the music is good (the song titles are all composed of the letter I, all capital), Mick Barr, Colin Marston and Lev Weinstein have created an aural juggernaut. This isn’t black metal anymore. Seeming more and more like Mick Barr’s chaotic vision of formative tremolo picked madness that is Orthrelm, Krallice have tempered aggression with structure, and a modern attack with traditional sensibilities, all of which makes it an incredibly dense record.

Bosse-de-Nage – III (Bosee-de-Nage – Cells)

I was drawn to this band initially upon seeing their track titles for the previous album – Marie Pisses Upon The Count, Van Gogh Cooks His Hands… something charming about the way they seemed to be going about this whole S&M thing. This album forgoes theatrics for pure musicianship and has given them a rightful place of their own on the borders of metal, if not within the capital where the junta congregates and worships its ageing and irrelevant Gods.

Amenra – Mass V (Amenra – Boden)

Sometimes, the painfully slow can be palpably exquisite. Amenra isn’t that well known a name in metal perhaps, but definitely one of the towering giants of the sludge scene. Returning after four long years to release a full length with just four songs to the fans’ initial disappointment, the intensity and merciless doom-tempo sonic attack spanked the living fuck out of doubters, and added new members to the ‘Church of Ra’.

Solar Deity – The Darkness of Being (Solar Deity – Towards The Horizon)

Initially ambivalent to this sneakily experimental approach to black metal, this was a grower. A major one. Though by no means a perfect release, this is the kind of egoistic output that merits attention and not impatient refusal, though it will stand its ground irrespective of what ensues. ‘Towards The Horizon’ is one of the best things I’ve heard in Indian rock music this year. The bassline kills it br0.

Gorod –  A Perfect Absolution (Gorod – Birds of Sulphur)

Smart, quick and ruthless, this album is a cornucopia of demented melodic riffing. You cannot possibly ignore the unrelenting grooves, the effortlessly executed sweeps and the insanely catchy melodic lines acting as strong and stable leitmotifs. Tech death done right. Are you listening, progenitor of Autotheism?

Honourable mentions:

Limit Zero – Graveyard Constellations (managed to impress highly in spite of personal bias against djent while reviewing, must be really fucking good)

Nachtmystium – Silencing Machine (managed to finally release an album I really liked)

Ihsahn – Eremita, Enslaved – RIITIIR, Gojira – Explosia (I haven’t listened to these enough)

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