As promised, I will put down a few words for the albums in my TOP20. Closing in to my TOP10 the picks became more difficult and with extra time I could have easily introduced a different order. No excuses though, I need to get this list down so I cannot second guess it anymore. Here we go!
20. Pallbearer: Sorrow and Extinction
(Doom Metal, USA)
Pallbearer's debut album is a storm warning for all classic doom lovers. The four piece band hails from Little Rock, Arkansas and has been formed in 2008. Their sound could be compared to Warning as the songs are slow and melodic with less poignant vocals yet solid and emotional vocal delivery from Mr Brett Campbell. The album consists of five epic songs clocking close to 50 minutes where two tracks break the 10 minute mark. The song writing is versatile and the sound is classic 80's doom combining melodic guitars and heavy, distorted bass. The production sounds a bit muddy to my ears, but I have a strong feeling it is done on purpose to salute the classic doom roots. There is really nothing bad I can say about this record, so you should definitely check these guys out.
19. Cattle Decapitation: Monolith Of Inhumanity
(Death Metal / Grindcore, USA)
Preview: A Living, Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat
This is probably the most metal and ugliest album on my list. I am not going to lie: when I first heard this album, I didn't like it that much. Why? It has all the elements of brilliant Grindcore/Brutal Death metal album: it is fast, it is brutal, the drummer is clearly inhuman, the lyrics are explicit & gross and the vocals are nasty and fierce. So what was my problem? Not knowing their previous works they sounded too brvtal and extreme to be true. So I did my homework and learnt that these guys have been pretty much declaring the message since their 2002 debut album To Serve Man. Their video for Forced Gender Reassignment is the sickest, most disgusting and controversial video I have ever seen. Don't know why I even took the time to watch it, so if you decide to look it up prepare to be shocked big time. Ultimately why they did break my TOP20 was the reason that this year I listened to a lot of grindcore, hardcore and brutal death metal and in comparison to the other material, they pretty much rule this genre.
18. Kretor: Phantom Antichrist
(Thrash Metal, Germany)
Preview: Civilization Collapse
All five of my great 80's thrash icons: Overkill, Tankard, Paradox, Testament and Kreator released brilliant albums in 2012. Only two of them made my TOP40 based on the fact that I wanted to give the possibility for the underground and less known bands. Kreator has been on a winning strike since Sami Yli-Sirniö joined the band in 2001 when they released Violent Revolution. What makes them so great in my book is the stellar song writing they possess. Mille clearly isn't the world's most talented vocalist, but he serves his purpose well. Currently the band is in stellar form: all the band members know their position and do not fail. There is basically not one weak track in the album and my personal highlights are the title track, Death To The World, Civilization Collapse and The Few, The Proud, The Broken. I have seen them live a few times now and each time they deliver. Especially the ending is classy when Mille walks to the stage holding a white flag...yup, it is TIME TO RAISE THE FLAG OF HATE!
17. Eluveitie: Helvetios
(Folk / Melodic Death Metal, Switzerland)
Preview: A Rose For Epona
I have been a sucker for Eluveitie since I first saw them live. I love the way all the folk elements are incorporated into their songs: you have Uilleann pipes, tin and low whistles, fiddle, Hurdy gurdy and bagpipes in addition to the basic metal instruments. Sounds messy? In fact they make it work beautifully and once you get their gear on, you'll be stuck with them for a long time. Helvetios is a concept album and has 17 tracks and a running time of an hour. The growls are handled by a male vocalist Chrigel Glanzmann and the softer, ethereal female vocals by Meri Tadic. There are spoken parts, interludes, slow and fast songs and the package holds together nicely. They have already produced six albums in their 10 year existence, so these guys are productive too. Still I want my Eluveitie to sound awesome in the future, so hopefully they give enough time for their creativity to reach its absolute full potential.
16. Alcest: Les voyages de l'âme
Preview: Les voyages de l'âme
My friend introduced me to Alcest about two years ago. Their previous album, Écailles de lune, had already been released at that time and he urged me to check it out. I did and now I have their entire discography and had the privilege to catch them live twice in 2012. Their sound has evolved from harder black metallish to softer and lighter shoegaze. We could argue whether this album has the right to stand on a metal year-end list, but there are still songs with harsh vocals e.g. Là où naissent les couleurs nouvelles and Faiseurs de mondes so I keep my justification valid. Their sound is evolving and the mastermind Neige has said that probably all the harsh vocals will be gone in the next Alcest record. Les voyages de l'âme is 50 minute journey to your soul where the atmosphere is fragile, light, ethereal and soothing.