Monday, January 7, 2013

The Dirty Dozen

The Top 12 Metal Albums of 2012
 (and some other stuff)

Muthas, 2012 was a great year in Metal, and we here at The Metal Blog Of Metal have picked the twelve best albums of the year.  We have also picked the best reissues of the year, the best concert of the year, the best live albums of the year, and the worst releases of the year.  Read on!

The Twelve Best Albums of 2012

2012 proved to be a very good year for Metal and we got great releases from across the various genres.  We won’t number these this year, but encourage you to check out all the skullcrushers below.  These twelve dominated the turntables, CD players and MP3 players at The Metal Blog Of Metal. 

The Sword -  Apocryphon (Razor & Tie)

Back with more 70s influenced awesomeness, The Sword cranked out the excellent Apocryphon.  It’s another superb entry into their growing discography and features the band really exploring the power of the mid-paced song.  Every track is superb and we have listened to this album countless times.  Get it.

Gypsyhawk – Revelry & Resilience (Metal Blade)

Another band that channels all that was great about 70s Metal, Gypsyhawk kills it Thin Lizzy style with this awesome disc.  Check out the snaking and twisting guitar melodies, as well as the sweet fantasy based lyrics.  These guys are doing it right.

Orchid – Heretic (Nuclear Blast)

This band can do no wrong.  Period.  Sure, it’s only a 4 song EP, but damn, do they know how to craft witchy, hooky and crushing Doom Metal.  We love this band and eagerly await their next LP.


Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)

Thrash legends Testament really know how to write wicked good songs that are both melodic and heavy as hell.  There’s a reason why they were able to soldier on when so many other lesser Thrash bands shit the bed in the 90s.  Dark Roots of Earth is an excellent platter that surpasses their previous album and is a fine addition to their legacy (Get it? See what I did there?  Ah, forget it.)

Accept – Stalingrad (Nuclear Blast)

Damn fine follow-up to Blood of the Nations, which erases any doubts about the new Accept lineup (not that there should have been any doubts.) Stalingrad kicks ass as only Wolf and the boys know how, with anthemic, rifftacular, melodic Metal.  Poor Udo, his latest album, Rev-Raptor, really sounds like complete shit next to this. 

3 Inches of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal (Century Media)

Canadian crushers 3IOB came roaring into 2012 with a killer album that celebrated all that is great about Heavy Metal.  Long Live Heavy Metal featured tracks reminiscent of Priest, Dio, Rainbow and other legends of the genre, as well as 3IOB’s own brand of shredding Metal.  Check out the infectious “4000 Torches,” “Metal Woman,” “Leather Lord” and “Look Out” for a taste of their steely mastery.  Posers leave the hall!

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (Interscope)

This was easily the biggest surprise of the year.  We expected this album to be a crapfest of old man rock.  You know, a mid-paced collection of boring garbage that some out-of-touch 50 year-old would pen in hopes of staying relevant.  The first single, “Tattoo,” did little to change our opinion because that song is complete shit.  Why in the hell was that chosen as the lead single?  Thankfully, the rest of the songs are absolutely primo DLR-era Van Halen.  The swaggering, balls-out hard rock that everybody wanted them to make was finally delivered!  Sure, Dave’s voice is a bit limited by age and Michael Anthony’s harmonies are sorely missed, but the songs are damn good.  Ed had the good sense to go back to all of his old demos and pull out some 70s and 80s cuts and flesh them out.  Well done gents, now get back out on tour.

Cauldron – Tomorrow’s Lost (Earache Records)

Canuckistani Metal maniacs, Cauldron, forged another LP that celebrates the glory of mid-80s Heavy Metal.  It’s great that there is a band out there that eagerly embraces the more commercial side of classic Metal.  Jay Decay and Ian Chains know how to write a memorable and heavy mid-paced tune that would fit beautifully on Metal Massacre’s I-IX.  Buy the LP, get their patch and sew it on your vest. We did!

Grand Magus – The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)

Do you like Vikings and Metal?  You do?  Well go buy this album immediately because Grand Magus loves both more than you do and are masters of their craft to boot.  The Hunt features nothing but songs about Vikings, wolves, Odin, Thor, ravens, longships, etc…  You’ll want to grab a longsword and run out to the nearest monastery for some plundering!  Think of them as the traditional Metal brother of Amon Amarth and you’ll get the right idea.  The band has completely moved away from Doom Metal and focuses entirely on Scandinavian Glory Metal a la Heavy Load, Overdrive or Torch.  Join them in the mead hall, won’t you?  To Valhalla!

Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell (UKJ Records)

Yes, that’s right, Ugly Kid Joe actually made it into the best albums of 2012 with this awesome EP of new material.  UKJ have managed to record six cuts of snarling, venomous hard rock that has Whitfield Crane sounding like Bon Scott.  Damn it’s good.  Check out “Devil’s Paradise” or “You Make Me Sick” for a taste of hate, or get the funk out with “I’m Alright.”  It’s good to have these guys back and we hope they crank out a full length LP soon.

Overkill – The Electric Age (Nuclear Blast)

New Jersey’s favorite bangers unleash another superb album that harkens back to their more groove oriented late 90s albums.  It’s a bit more From The Underground and Below and a bit less IronboundOverkill never fail to deliver the goods and they do it once again.  Fuck the Big Four, Overkill has been defending the faith while those assholes meandered aimlessly from one mediocre album to the next.  Hello from the gutter! 

Icarus Witch – Rise (Cleopatra Records)

Want a more modern sounding album stuffed full of anthem after anthem?  Well, then Rise is exactly what you are looking for.  The album was a real shocker following the tired-sounding Draw Down The Moon and the departure of former vocalist Matthew Bizilia.  All signs pointed to Icarus Witch disappearing into obscurity, but instead they roared back to life with this LP of peppy and hooky melodic Metal.  New singer Christopher Shaner fits the new style perfectly and adds much needed energy to the songs. Hopefully Icarus Witch will continue rocking for years to come!

The Best Reissues

DioHoly Diver & The Last In Line (Audio Fidelity Reissues)

If you want to hear how remasters should be done, check out these two releases from the sonic wizards at Audio Fidelity.  We have all heard these albums a million times before, but these remasters uncover all sorts of sounds that were previously buried in lesser versions of this album.  Superb!

Dio – Holy Diver, The Last In Line & Sacred Heart  (Deluxe Editions from Universal Music)

More Dio?  Yep.  These UK Imports have nice mastering and tons of bonus tracks.  Essentially, you get every single and B-side released by Dio during this period, as well as the entire Intermission EP. They may be expensive imports but the value is incredible for what you get.  Buy!

Dammaj – Mutiny (Skol Records)

It’s awesome!  We reviewed it here and we still urge you to buy this album of rock-solid, blistering, U.S. Power Metal.  This is Heavy Metal at its very best.  Hailz!

Desolation Angels – Desolation Angels (Buried By Time and Dust)

Another very late NWOBHM album that got lost in the Thrash deluge.  Thankfully, the Metal archivists at Buried By Time and Dust records have resurrected this gem in both vinyl and CD formats.  They have also included the Valhalla/Boedicea single as a bonus in both formats!  We will review this in depth coming up, but get out there and buy it because supplies are limited.   

Witch Cross Fit For Fight (Hells Headbangers)

It’s about damn time that this legendary 1984 album from the not-so-melancholy Danes of Witch Cross got reissued!  Hells Headbangers serve up Fit For Fight on CD, vinyl and, believe it or not, on cassette, with good remastering and lyrics for the whole shebang.  We’ll review this album in the near future, but get out there and buy it. 

The Best Live Albums

Pickings were a bit slim this year so we only picked these two:

Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder – Live Eagles Over Wacken (UDR)

Bangers, gorge on this metal feast from the venerable Saxon!  This is an essential release because it includes a DVD that features 31 tracks from three different years at the massive Wacken Open Air festival.  The band sounds great as they crush and destroy the huge crowds of Metalheads.  Also included are two bonus CDs recorded at a Glasgow show in 2011, which feature many new songs from their latest studio effort, Call To Arms.  It’s well worth the coin.

Vicious Rumors – Live You to Death (SPV)

Keeping up their momentum from last year’s Razorback Killers, Vicious Rumors offers up this single disc live show that was recorded on their 2011 European tour.  The album features nine live cuts, including two songs from Razorback Killers alongside other classics such as “Digital Dictator,” “Down To The Temple,” “Abandoned” and “Don’t Wait For Me.”  The band is tight and Brian Allen does a commendable job on both the new and old material.  The album also includes two new studio tracks: a cover of Black Sabbath’s “The Sign of the Southern Cross” and Judas Priest’s ”Running Wild.”  Pick this up if you are a VR fan or if you like music that’s not terrible shit.

Best Live Show

Accept – The Newport Music Hall Columbus, Ohio 9/14/2012

The Teutonic Terrors absolutely killed it on a beautiful Friday night in Ohio and blew the roof off the place with pure Metallic fury!  Wolf Hoffman appeared to be having the time of his life as he blasted out riff after riff of molten steel.  Mark Tornillo was in fine form and sounded great.  Udo who?  Poor old Kreator was a mere afterthought when Accept left the stage.  The only complaint was they still didn’t play ”Midnight Mover.”  Damn it!  Even so, it was a great night of Metal in the Buckeye State!  Catch them live if you can.

Worst Shit Foisted on Metaldom in 2012

Metallica – Beyond Magnetic (Warner Brothers Records)

We reviewed it here and it still sucks ass.  Sometimes talent just dries up like an old turd left in the sun.  

Chris Holmes They All Lie And Cheat

Holy shit!  This makes Beyond Magnetic sound like a choir of angels.  What the fuck is going on here?  Holmes looks and acts like the alcoholic, toothless bum that he was always destined to be (see here.) Who is the random crackwhore swearing in the video?  Is this the worst lip-synching since Milli Vanilli? Why was this made?  Baffling.

Have a great 2013 and may your year be Metal! 

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