Thursday, January 3, 2013
Top 40 Metal Albums of 2012: 20-11
There were a number of venerable thrash metal giants that released new albums this year. A surprising number of them were very impressive. Kreator is one of my favorite German thrash metal bands with a remarkably consistent output. This release is not quite as powerful as their last couple of albums but still possesses that anger and razor-sharp riffing style that the band has perfected over the course of their long career.
I have enjoyed a couple of 3 Inches of Blood's albums in the past, but after their second vocalist left the band, they seemed less exciting. They kind of phoned in their previous album. But on this one, the band sounds rejuvenated and possibly better than they ever have. That is saying something in my eyes. This album is a hell of a lot of fun, exactly what 3 Inches of Blood set out to do.
Like Kreator, Overkill is another long-running thrash metal titan that released an incredible new album in 2012. Overkill is quite possibly the most consistent thrash metal band going which is saying quite a bit. Their recent albums have actually proven to be better than the Big 4 of thrash metal, not bad for a band that existed in their shadow for years. Overkill never disappoints me.
Weapon is a band that I have heard great things about for years but never really checked out until this year. Now I am kicking myself because I really enjoyed this one. Weapon has a surprisingly original take on blackened death metal and can not easily be compared to other bands in their genre. The music is ominous and powerful. It is an album I come back to time and time again.
Martin Van Drunen has long been one of my favorite death metal vocalists. I try to pick up every project that he is attached to. Asphyx is one of the bands that is most associated with Van Drunen and their sound matches his psychotic roaring better than most. This album is yet another reason why Van Drunen is one of the most influential death metal vocalists of all time.
The third longtime thrash metal band to release a strong album in 2012, Testament's newest is the best of the three and is also one of the best albums the band has released since Low. It is one of the best thrash metal albums of the year and featured the terrific "Native Blood", a tribute to singer Chuck Billy's Native American ancestry.
High on Fire is one of the leaders of the stoner doom metal genre and they have once again shown why on this album. Their last album had somewhat weak production but was otherwise a very strong release. This album fixes the mistakes of the last album's production with a much meatier and heavier sound. The strong production lead to an even stronger overall feel with this release.
I have been a big fan of Paradise Lost for years, ever since I got Draconian Times for Christmas back in around 1996. Unfortunately the band has not put out an album quite as impressive since that one including a long foray into gothic rock. But unlike some bands that went that direction (ahem Tiamat), Paradise Lost has found their way back out of it. This is easily Paradise Lost's best album since that one.
Like Weapon, I have heard a lot of great things about Witchcraft over the years but simply never got around to checking them out. I read great things about this release before deciding to pick it up as well, but I am definitely glad that I did. This is another very strong album influenced mainly by the old school heavy metal masters. It rocks, quite simply.
Wow. I was not expecting to be blown away by a Cattle Decapitation album. There were a ton of great death metal albums in 2012 and Cattle Decapitation was one of the strongest. This was the first Cattle Decapitation album I ever checked out due to their politics and being a run-of-the-mill deathgrind band, but this album elevated Cattle Decapitation to the top of the pack.