Happy early New Year! Here are Jibbies' Top 10 metal albums of 2012, brought to you just in time to add some heavy to your NYE playlist. Dive in!
1. Abrahama – ‘Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives’ – Small Stone – Producer: Jason Groves, Abrahma
Abrahma delivers the kind of album I remember once being made: epic, expertly performed, textured, cohesive, song-laden…..in short, as close to perfect as you’re likely to get. This is classic rock at its finest. And that would be the case even without guest cameos by the likes of Ed Mundell (for studio track from album click here).
2. Enabler – ‘All Hail The Void’ – Southern Lord – Producer: Greg Thomas
If there is a place where crust, punk, and rock n’ roll meet Enabler is standing there waiting for you. Driving, fiercely independent, yet catchy as hell and more than capable of bringing the heavy. But what would you expect from a band whose members include alumni from the likes of Dead To Fall, Trap Them, Shai Hulud, Today Is The Day, The Damned Things, and Fall Out Boy? (for studio track from album click here).
3. Burning Love – ‘Rotten Thing To Say’ – Southern Lord – Producer: Kurt Ballou
The rock n’ roll album of the year. Period. Turn it up and pick up your air guitars. Right in the mix with the Clash’s debut and Hellacopters ‘Supershittytothemax.’ Good folks to hang with too. Quoth one after the Houston show when looking for a place to crash: “Seriously though, as long as you’re not just gonna stand around all night cooking a big pan of ground beef and talking about how wonderful it is, we’re good.” (for studio track from album click here).
4. Hawk Eyes – ‘Ideas’ – Fierce Panda – Producer: Andy Hawkins
Like a poppy-er Quicksand or a heavier Therapy? (anybody else remember Kerbdog?) Hawk Eyes produce music that might not be metal, but IS both heavy and instantly accessible. Better yet, it keeps growing on you the more often you spin it. If this is what kids listened to by the millions right now (instead of emo or screamo or whatever) , the world would be an infinitely better place.
5. Testament – ‘Dark Roots of Earth’ – Nuclear Blast – Producer: Andy Sneap
The resurgence of traditional thrash metal continued in 2012, and though some of the progenitors might be younger, none are currently doing it better than Testament. ‘DRoE’ isn’t so much a return to form as the continued assertion of dominance by the masters of the art. A 2013 tour with Overkill and Flotsam & Jetsam looms! (for studio track from album click here).
6. Baroness – ‘Yellow & Green’ – Relapse – Producer: John Congleton
Baroness has always managed to imbue its music with atmosphere to match its weight. On ‘Y&G’ these ratios skew even more sharply in the direction of atmosphere. The overall effect is not so much to take the listener on a journey as it is to create a soundscape allowing the mind to wander as it will. This is something music is uniquely qualified to do, and ‘Y&G’ did it particularly well in 2012.
7. Pig Destroyer – ‘Book Burner’ – Relapse – Producer: Scott Hull
Sporadically recording grind crew Pig Destroyer returned in full glory in 2012 and raised the bar on the genre in the process. The blast beats, tempo changes, and power riffs are all there in spades. And like Brutal Truth, PD has the rare ability to create a fully formed song in 1:12 or so. But what sets ‘BB’ apart is its production. Gone is the cement truck rumble, replaced by the ability to hear every strong of every instrument at every moment.
8. The Sword – ‘Apocryphon’ – Razor & Tie – Producer: J. Robbins
The Sword returns with….a heavy boogie record!, and a damn fine one at that. When I first heard their cover of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ I figured it was a goof, but the band’s Texas roots shine throughout ‘Apocryphon.’ There’re still plenty of hard edges, spacemen, and epic adventures, but the overall vibe is distinctly dustier than ever before and in selecting J. Robbins to produce the band found just the man to bring this side of their aesthetic to the fore.
9. Mangoo – ‘Neverland’ – Small Stone – Producer: Niklas ‘Nicke’ Bjorklund, Mangoo
‘Neverland’ joins ‘Through The Dusty Paths Of Our Lives’ in bringing back the album-as-epic-journey, in the process raising Small Stone’s profile in the new wave of classic rock to the same stature it has long enjoyed in stoner and fuzz.. But while Abrahma sticks exclusively to axes and sticks, Mangoo adds (occasionally ‘80s-style) keyboards to the mix. What makes it work is a combination of perfect pacing and strong songcraft, each piece standing on its own even while forming the whole. It’s also interesting to note that Mangoo (Finland) and Abrahma (France) are both European and produced their records on their own.
10. Converge – ‘All You Love You Leave Behind’ – Epitaph – Producer: Kurt Ballou
The godfathers of crust display intricate-but-still-bludegeoning musicianship on ‘AYLYLB,’ Kurt Ballou shining as both a guitarist of stunning precision and a producer who allows both his own and his band mates’ talents to shine. While some at the dark end of hardcore seem content to smother the listener while simultaneously beating them around the head and shoulders, Converge let just enough shards of light in to severely lacerate as well.
With Ballou having also produced both Burning Love’s ‘Rotten Thing To Say’ and last-year’s J&L #1, Trap Them’s ‘Darker Handcraft,’ it’s easy to start getting excited for what lies ahead in 2013. After all, how bad could a year which includes a Ballou/Kvelertak combination as just one of its offerings possibly be?