15. Torche Ė Harmonicraft
Everybodyís favorite hipster metal band slaps some new music on the table this year with their third album, Harmonicraft. These guys write music that is self-pronounced ďthunder popĒ. And it sounds almost exactly like that. Short, catchy songs made of thunderous riffs. Songs range from fast and energetic, like Letting Go and Walk It off, or songs that are more relaxed and groovy, such as Reverse Inverted and Roaming. And of course there are tracks that fall in between Skin Moth and Kicking. Some songs also show of some really cool scaler licks like Snakes Are Charmed and the title track. But no matter what theyíre doing, every track gets your head bobbiní and in a good mood. There isnít really much more to say. This album is an incredibly fun listen full of awesome songs made of kickass riffs. Itís nothing groundbreaking, but they just do it so wonderfully I canít help but love it.
Snakes Are Charmed
14. Alcest - Les Voyages De L'¬me
There seems to have been some dispute with this record. People are either considering Alcestís third record, Les Voyages De L'¬me, to be the best or worst Alcest record to date. While I tend to side with the people who think itís the worst, I donít find it to be quite as disappointing, and still really love the record. It held number 1 on the list for quite a long time, but thatís due to the fact that this album was released January 6, 2012; very early in the year. One thing thatís really great about the album is the production. This things sound angelic. I can imagine Beings of Lights being the sound track to an angel descending from the heavens unto Earth to wipe the planet of all that is wrong with world. Most of the songs are more on the post-rock/shoegazing side than black metal, but there are black metal moments like on the second and fifth tracks, but thatís about it. Otherwise itís bright, uplifting, nostalgic side that weíve come to associate with Alcest. And itís done really well and is more rock based than the lighter side of Souvenirs D'un Autre Monde. But the only thing is that a lot of the songs do feel formulaic. It does feel kind of like Alcest by the numbers. But even if it doesnít feel as genuine as the first two records, itís definitely an impressive record with more colors explored than previously. The worst Alcest record is still an incredible one.
Lŗ Oý Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles
13. Neurosis Ė Honor Found In Decay
Neurosis are one of those bands I know Iíll love when I check out and explore, but just havenít gotten to yet. I did spin their acclaimed album, Through Silver In Blood, a few times about a year ago and remember really enjoying it but have yet to return to it. So when I heard they had a new album coming out this year, I decided to check it out, since checking out a bandís new material then going back has worked for me in a few cases. The record starts on a great note, with the pummeling track, We All Rage in Gold. The riffs are heavy, Scott Kellyís voice is mad and thereís even a flute solo at the end! Through out the record, many of the songs are consistent with the same, slow, pained, doom feel, yet it refrains from sounding repetitive. The songs build on themselves as they progress but come to climax in different ways. Like how on At The Well, the song ends with an aggressive chord progression while Scott yells like a tormented man and on the track My Heart For Deliverance the song ends with a slower, post-rock like ending with the guitars playing a pained melody that is massive. But even though the songs vary, the theme is pretty much the same through out the whole album. Other than that, Neurosis delivers an awesome atmospheric sludge record that is pummeling in every way possible.
At The Well
12. Old Man Gloom Ė No
8 years after their last album, Old Man Gloom come back with their crushing new album No. Old Man Gloom is a super group of sorts, featuring Aaron Turner of Isis fame and Nate Newton from Converge. Along with Santos Montano of Zozobra and Caleb Scofield of Cave In, they produce a really dark, gritty sludge that is riddled with elements of ambient and noise. The music is often slow, heavier than all hell, noisy and angry. Aaron Turnerís twisted screams are distorted, which gives Ďem a more sinister sound than ever before. One could compare the music to a heavier, crustier Isis, but thatís not the whole story. Along with heavy atmospheric sludge you also songs that sound like the tasteful are sludge of Baroness, like the track Regain/Rejoin. There is a heavier of electronics and noise, like on the track Shadowed Hand, or Rats. Along with that, the track lengths vary, with about half the album never reaching 5 minutes then four other tracks at least 8, with the final track, Shuddering Earth breaking 14 minutes. Old Man Gloom released a hell of a sludge album with No, full of tons of sounds from electronic and ambient music along side heavy, pained riffs. Dig it!
11. Enslaved Ė RIITIIR
Enslaved were one of those black metal bands that I meant to get into when I started exploring the genre but never got around. When I heard tons of praise for their 2010 effort, Axioma Ethica Odini, I thought Iíd give it a shot, because I was interested in what this so called progressive black metal would sound like. I was blown away with what I heard. Enslaved maintain the epic qualities of viking/black metal and through the power of excellent songwriting abilities, combine those elements with majesty of progressive rock to make some really heavy, brain-tingling, and really powerful music. On their new album, RIITIIR, Enslaved bump of the prog a notch or two. Thereís more clean singing on this album than the last, the guys are pulling out even more odd meters, jazzier chord voicings, and tasteful uplifting passages. The album has eight songs, most of which at least 9 minutes long, so the album gives you over an hour of incredible progressive black metal. Something worth mentioning is that every song seemingly seems to flow from one to another. It makes the album a fluid and flowing listen. Overall, the new Enslaved is a great step forward in this progressive direction.
Roots of the Mountain