1. Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
2. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
3. Enslaved – Riitiir
4. Enthroned – Obsidium
5. Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph
6. Lamb Of God – Resolution
7. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
8. Sabaton – Carolus Rex
9. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Tyrants
10. Gorath – The Chronicles of Khiliasmos
11. Anathema – Weather Systems
12. Ahab – The Giant
13. Cauldron – Tomorrows Love
14. Eluveitie – Helvetios
15. Napalm Death – Utilitarian
16. Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
17. Wintersun – Time I
18. Savage Messiah – Plague Of Conscience
19. Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes
20. Marduk – Serpent Sermon
Best Live Album
Machine Head – Machine F**king Head Live
Having been around for many years, this band are still proving to be going strong and making more & more fans every year!
Ancient Ascendant – Into the Dark
This band are a hybrid of genres mixed together and spitting out something truly spectacular. With Into the Dark, these guys have really found their sound, moving away from their death-thrash sound and adding a healthy dose of black into the mix, somehow still managing to avoid the technical route, keeping strong rhythmic grooves throughout the EP. On the surface, catchy and enjoyable, but with so much more going on underneath it keeps you listening again and again. Only one downside, where’s the rest of it?
Best Covers Album
Darkthrone – Holy Darkthrone
I’ve never been a big fan of cover albums, they always seem to be a number of bands attempting a song in a style that doesn’t suit them, producing mediocre results. This album, however, is one of the only cover albums I can honestly say I like every track on the album. Perhaps it’s the careful selection of artists of the fact that each band brings something new to each song while staying true to the old sound but these set of covers are really not to be missed by any black metal fan.
Black Metal: Beyond the Darkness: The best place to start with this book is the very striking cover. With it’s black and white colour scheme, inverted forest picture and simple font, it is a clever nod to the black metal aesthetics and fundamental ideals. The contents of the book are equally as exciting, covering all areas of the genre, from a brief overview of the events that started the movement, right up to the modern day bands, lifestyle and aesthetics. The thing I enjoy most about this book is the distinct lack of focus on the Scandinavian scene, which, although interesting and majorly influential, is starting to become a little over published in music literature. This book has something to offer both the avid black metal listener and the person only just starting out. A must read for anyone interested in the genre.
Behemoth @ Bloodstock Open Air: After waiting a year to see Behemoth after they pulled out of Bloodstock 2011 due to illness, I had very high expectations for them. From the very first song, they were everything I could have hoped for and more. Skull crushingly heavy, exceptionally tight and flanked with a pair of burning inverted crosses, they secured themselves as both the highlight of bloodstock and of the year for me.
Best local band
Craven Idol: London based band dishing out their own brand of blackened-thrash, bathed in reverb and packed with atmosphere. These guys are a little quiet when it comes to social media, making it a little hard to know what and when things are happening with them but when it does happen, it’s definitely worth the wait. With the release of their EP Etherial Alters in 2010, it’s been a long wait for the followup album, although there are hints it may be out next year.
Best new band
Saturnian With their first album being released this year and opening up Bloodstock Open Air this year, this band are quickly asserting themselves as a major player in the British metal scene. With their own brand of extreme symphonic metal, this band are a must for fans of Dimmu Borgir, Septic Flesh and Cradle of Filth’s early work.
Wodensthrone Discovering this band while browsing through the Damnation Festival line-up this year, its hard to see how I missed this band. Black metal from the frozen north lands of… well England, these guys have risen fast, signing a contract with candlelight records to release both their albums.
Major events in the Metal world
Tony Iommi being diagnosed with lymphoma. One of the founders of Heavy Metal and Black Sabbath guitarist, Tony Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma early this year, a type of blood cancer. One of my personal heroes and an influence sited by just about every metal band ever, the decline in his health is a sad day for all in metal.
Randy Blythe was arrested on manslaughter charges Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe was arrested on June 28 by police in the Czech Republic accused of manslaughter. Everyone has already made their own mind up on the charges, however a guilty charge could leave many bands defenceless against fans that insist on climbing onstage. Hydra Head Records closes its doors. American record label Hydra head records closed its doors this year due to financial difficulties. Able to boast signings such as Sunn O))), Cult of Luna and Isis, its a shame this label never gained the recognition they deserved.
Jim Marshall died at 88 Founder of Marshall Amps, Jim Marshall, dies at 88. Perhaps not directly metal, he created an amp used by so many in the scene, influencing the sound of so many major metal artists. Roadrunner shut down their UK and Canadian offices Due to a merger between Roadrunner and Warner Brothers, the decision was made to shut down both the Canadian and Uk offices. A lot of good people lost their jobs that day and good artists lost their contracts.
Nergal charged with offending religious feelings Behemoth frontman Nergal has been arrested for a second time for offending religious feelings after he ripped up a Bible onstage. This charge is a violation of freedom of speech and artistic licence and a threat to extreme metal in Poland and other religiously dominated countries.. Lets hope he gets off with a light sentence.
Biggest Disappointments 2012
Sonisphere being cancelled in the UK
Disbanding of Cathedral I never really appreciated Cathedral for a long time, until my recent discovery of how brilliant doom metal is. So when I finally begin to explore the works of this great band, I was devastated to hear a few months later that they are calling it quits after 23 years.
Predictions for 2013
Finntroll’s new album will be incredible These scandinavian folk-metal gods have returned to the studio to followup 2010’s Nifelvind. I’m hoping this album will be just as good as every other album they’ve done. Fingers crossed for a UK tour so I can see them for the millionth time. Charges will be dropped against Randy Blythe I may not be a Lamb of God fan, but I don’t want to see the man go down on such ridiculous charges. Free Randy Blythe!
People will stop complaining about Bloodstock Because they’re probably going to do what they do every year and announce loads of amazing bands on the Sophie Lancaster stage!