Hailing from the Portland area and playing some great doom; itís Uta Plotkinís vocals that take Witch Mountainís music to another level. I realize that female vocals in doom arenít a new thing, but the tone of her voice and emotive delivery are excellent. This record is filled with great doom riffs that are just as memorable as the lyrics. Each song is memorable and I personally donít think there is a weak track to be found. I was really impress that Uta was able to deliver the vocals live and sound just like the performance on the record.
You could call this album the comeback of the year; Derketa has been a band since Ď88 but this is actually their first LP and the death/doom that they deliver was well worth the wait. Sharon Bascovsky and Mary Bielich, the remaining founding members and guitarists of Derketa, prove that the ladies can bring riffs heavier than most men in the game. Iím a sucker for doom paced death metal and this is one of the gems of the genre this year. The production on this one makes it sound like itís straight out of Ď91. The band also self-financed this release, so if you like it I recommend you buy it straight from them.
Goddess of Death
So, if you hadnít noticed already, I really like death/doom and with a major emphasis on the death Incantation are among the grandfathers of the genre. Jon McEntee is the only remaining original member in Incantation at this point, but the brutal riffs heís created on Vanquish in Vengeance instantly skyrockets this album to the upper echelon of their discography. This album has the cleanest production of any Incantation record, but it doesnít detract from the overall feel and the excellent musicianship shines. There are so many Incantation-style bands in the underground death metal scene but itís awesome that Incantation themselves are hammering out evil metal that is relevant as ever. Much more than we can say about the current output of Morbid Angel.
Transcend into Absolute Dissolution
Ever since 2001ís Jane Doe Converge has been creating hands down the best metalcore out there. And I use the term metalcore in the purest sense, a combination of hardcore and metal; but they do so without evoking tough guy bullshit or angsty screamo. The extreme talent found in the duo of Jacob Bannon and Kurt Ballou put Converge a step ahead of their peers. Bannon brings the emotive lyrics, scathing delivery and now iconic album art while Ballouís creative guitar work and excellent production combine in a brutally beautiful way. This release has achieved widespread acclaim and with good reason, itís the culmination of everything Converge has been building towards on their last few albums. Memorable melodies and brutal hooks fill the record and are performed in a way that captures the energy of their live performance.
All We Love We Leave Behind
2012 has been a year of ups and downs for Matt Pike. High on Fire made an excellent showing at SXSW this year and some would say a return to form in sound with their new record. They were then slotted to hit Mayhem fest, which would have exposed them to a new audience, however Mattís trademark beer gut finally caught up with him and he went to rehab for alcohol. The fall 2012 High on Fire headlining tourís highlight was a revitalized Matt Pike, who sounded as good as ever on both guitar and vocals. You canít keep a good man and his band down. For me De Vermis Mysteriis
surpasses itís predecessor in every way and is a great addition to their catalog.
Wino, Chandler and co. return with an album that everyone knew they were capable of crafting, but unsure they would actually deliver. Looking over their discography and history, one could basically consider these guys the kings of the metal underground. Every single track on Lillie F:650
is powerful and the stories of loss, depression and addiction told within are visceral and real. This is classic Vitus through and through and is one of the best albums of their 30 plus year career. As proven on tour, these songs fit right in with their back catalog and are as memorable as the classics.
Let Them Fall
In a year of great releases in the grind and death metal I would previously not have pinned Cattle Decapitation to land this high on my list. However, Monolith of Inhumanity
is a high water point for both their career and modern death metal. This album marks just one of two stellar vocal performances delivered by the dominant Travis Ryan. (The other being the sophomore Murder Construct disc, Results
) This album has a cleaner production than Cattle has had in the past and this record is the better for it. The instruments are distinguishable from one another and musicianship is killer. If America finally collapses into an insane nightmarish apocalypse this album will be both the soundtrack to the end times and an auditory weapon to fend off the flesh eating hordes.
Epic black metal full of second wave atmosphere but without pretension. Polandís two man black metal assault force delivers an album comprised of nothing but killer, memorable riffs and songs that are distinguishable from each other. (Which is not always the case with this style of black metal) There are melodies in this album that stand out in a deliberate way. With so many black metal bands around now, creating something that sounds unique while retaining a familiar form is a true feat. Mesmerizing and brutal, uncompromising and precise, all of the things that good black metal needs. Fans of Watain take note; Mgla just might be crowned the new princes of modern black metal darkness; seated at the left hand ov Satan.
Who wouldíve thought that the yearís best doom release would come out of Arkansas? They absolutely blew me away playing their debut EP in itís entirety in December 2011 at their post-Rites of Darkness 3 show at the Mohawk in Austin and Sorrow and Extinction did the same. After seeing them 5 more times in 2012, every track from Sorrow and Extinction has wormed itís way into the deep recesses of my brain. You can read a billion write-ups around the web on this one, as it seems to have made it onto a ton of year end lists, for good reason. Brettís haunting vocals complement the music and never sound forced. If you are interested in doom at all Iím sure youíve already heard this one but if not, do so now.
Devoid of Redemption
The kings of grind return with another scathing release. Utilitarian takes the modern Napalm Death sound and combines their more traditional grind sensibilities with some avant-garde moments (see John Zornís saxophone solo on ĎEveryday Poxí) without compromising one bit. Even with age Napalm doesnít seem to be slowing down and are a band that is sticking to their story in the best way possible. Itís still the band that many extreme metal fans have come to know and love or hate, meaning they are as inaccessible to the uninitiated as ever, but isnít that what Napalm Death should be? The punk ferocity, hardcore attitude and metal brutality that comprise Napalm and grind in general are alive and well in Utilitarian
and itís the record of 2012 that I keep coming back to over and over again without a scrap of boredom.
Errors in the Signals