Best of 2012 – Monika Deviat
My top 15 are listed in alphabetical order. We were of course supposed to come up with 20, but as I started putting together this list I realized that there weren’t really much more than these fifteen bands that stood out for me this year. I also know I missed out on a bunch of new albums, so hopefully I will get to them eventually. The list tends towards death, black and thrash. I’ve also made sure to add a couple Alberta locals that made quite an impact with their newest releases.
1. Aura Noir – Out to Die [Indie Recordings, March 2012]
The latest offering from Norway’s blackened thrash group Aura Noir is as raw and ugly as anything they have put out. The production is quite good and just rough enough around the edges to give the expected dirty sound but allows for the instruments and vocals to mix together well.
2. Begrime Exemious – Visions of the Scourge [Dark Descent Records, April 2012]
Begrime Exemious from Edmonton, Alta., is a great band to see live and their second full length album gives you a taste of what the live experience could be like. Their harsh and aggressive mix of death and black metal is unleashed in the speed and energy of the songs.
3. Cannibal Corpse – Torture [Metal Blade, March 2012]
The thing that is most often said about this album is along the lines of, “it is just another Cannibal Corpse album”. For this band however, it’s a good thing. The twelfth album from Cannibal Corpse gives fans exactly what they want but with just enough to differentiate it from the eleven preceding albums. It’s a solid brutal death metal album.
4. The Devil’s Blood – The Thousandfold Epicentre [Metal Blade, January 2012]
The Devils Blood is one of the few bands categorized in the heavy metal genre that actually puts together first-rate occult rock styled music. In their second full length the heaviness and sense of a prevalent malevolence is skillfully melded with satanic lyrics and 70’s psychedelic influence.
5. Devin Townsend – Epicloud [HevyDevy, September 2012]
Epicloud contains all the variety that has been seen from Townsend’s catalogue of albums and then some. This album also leans towards the lighter side of the spectrum but does include some heavier tunes. The execution and composition is brilliant.
6. Enslaved – RIITIIR [Nuclear Blast, October 2012]
RITTIIR is a great album from Norway’s Enslaved. The sound on this album is very well produced. Enslaved also shows their more progressive nature – straying a bit further from their black metal roots, while still showing consistency in the blackened and mythical elements.
7. Goatwhore – Blood For Master [Metal Blade, February 2012]
The fury and sharp riffs really stand out in Goatwhore’s latest album. The individual songs sometimes lean a little to thrash or more to black but overall this album is excellent blackened thrash.
8. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage [Roadrunner, June 2012]
Gorija delivers their unique sound with some different twists on the newest album. The new creation by the French quartet is heavy and contains that groove that is a part of Gojira’s style.
9. Incantation – Vanquish In Vengeance [Listenable Records, November 2012]
John McEntee has created a killer album with a new line up for Incantation. This is the first album in six years and the ninth in their entire catalogue. The singular Incantation sound is prevalent along with a fresh ferocity. The production on the album is superb and every song is either a bludgeoning barrage of technically impressive speed or a brooding piece of evil in the slower tracks.
10. Kreator – Phantom Antichrist [Nuclear Blast, June 2012]
The thirteenth studio album from the German thrashers is an outstanding collection of songs that have the essential Kreator style but with some new elements involved. As promised by frontman Mille Petrozza, the album leans toward an epic style but is still fast and fierce.
11. Marduk – Serpent Sermon [Century Media Records, June 2012]
Marduk’s newest album assaults listeners with malevolent growls, shredding guitars and blistering drums. Serpent Sermon shows Marduk is still working hard and can continue to deliver consistent black metal wrath.
12. Overkill –The Electric Age [Century Media Records, March 2012]
Overkill has packed some tremendous energy into their sixteenth studio album. The band has always put out quality albums and this new one definitely stands out. From the first track, the music grabs you and pulls you through a heavy thrashing worthy of Overkills reputation.
13. Secrets of the Moon – Seven Bells [Lupus Lounge, March 2012]
Seven Bells offers seven tracks that each have incredible atmosphere. The fifth album from Secrets of the Moon shows some experimentation and leads to an innovative black metal album.
14. Testament – Dark Roots of the Earth [Nuclear Blast, July 2012]
Right from the first track, Dark Roots of the Earth sets the tempo for the whole album with shredding riffs, masterful solos and thundering bass and drums. The album returns to a classic Testament sound with some melodic additions to all the heaviness.
15. Weapon – Embers and Revelations [Relapse Records, October 2012]
Weapon is another accomplished band from Edmonton, Alta., that has created an album where they mix death metal and black metal with engaging melodies. Frontman Vetis Monarch has always excelled at delivering malice and venom live and in studio and the darkness is apparent in Embers and Revelations. The album shows well thought out arrangements and production allowing the listener to take in the instrumentation and atmosphere.
The Decibel Magazine tour with Watain, The Devil’s Blood, Behemoth and In Solitude in Vancouver B.C., at the Rickshaw Theater.
Best Festival (I’m cheating and picking two)
On Land: Noctis V – Baphomiss. Scarab Productions never fails to put on an amazing festival and conference. This year headliner Venom was brought back to Canada for the first time in 27 years and it was a big draw for the fans. The reputation that the Noctis festivals have built has created a loyal local fan base and has started drawing people from across the globe. Usually held at the very end of September, it is worth the trip out to Calgary Alta.
On Sea: Barge to Hell. Being on a cruise ship packed only with metalheads and metal bands was one of the best (working) vacations I’ve ever been on. I would recommend UMC’s heavy metal cruises to everyone. It’s not just a concert, it’s an amazing experience and you will meet some of the best people – and this is not just in reference to the band members that are hanging out around the ship with you.