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Mike Sloan Best-of 2012

By: Mike Sloan

Mike Sloan and the guy nicknamed "Timmy T" from Jacky's Hotdogs in Chicago, the best hot dogs on the planet...

Another year, another few hundred albums consumed through the ears and it’s time yet again for my favorite time of the season. Like last year, this top ten list was an extremely close race because of four brilliant albums that vied for the top spot. What it boiled down to was an old veteran group against two experienced kind-of-veteran groups against a relatively new non-veteran group. For 2012, however, it was the year of the cagey, crafty old fighter who used every trick in the book to secure the win.

2013 looks to be another sensational year for metal, if the past few years are any indication. Below is really the only year-end best-of list that matters, regardless of what the other Blistering staffers say (I’m sure they’d all agree with that, too). One thing that always bums me out, though, is that I didn’t get to listen to every album released because I’m sure there are a few albums or songs that would have landed somewhere in this feature. Oh well…

Also, The Devil’s Blood’s The Thousandfold Epicentre would have landed on this (or last year’s list) as would standout track “She” but the album came out in late 2011, after I wrote that year’s best-of list and before the start of 2012. What a bummer! So, don’t waste any more time and read on to see what I feel are the best entrants of 2012!

1. Napalm Death – Utilitarian (Century Media)
There are few bands in the world like the mighty Napalm Death. You know; bands that never, ever disappoint you. Deceased, Unleashed, Master, Amorphis, Atheist, Bolt Thrower and a few others are the rare breed of metal acts that release nothing but quality year in and year out. However, whenever the Gods of Grind create something as potent and devastating as Utilitarian, it’s almost impossible to top. Though the British legends have unleashed a steady helping of excellent albums over the years, they haven’t been able to eclipse what is without question their exemplary masterpiece in Enemy of the Music Business. Well, in 2012 Napalm Death came close with Utilitarian. This year was a tight race, but it’s hard to argue against a band as stellar as Napalm Death when they unleashed something this wicked.

2. Antietam 1862 – Life, Death Entwined (Self-Released)
Holy Hell if this monster was more than just five songs, there’s no telling how deadly it would have been! It is a crushing monstrosity of aural carnage; an album that is just as savage as it is catchy. To make matters even better, the sonofabitch never relents. It’s virtually a perfect mix of Goatwhore and Absu, if you somehow haven’t listened to this one. Hopefully the fact that guitarist/vocalist Brent Purgason decided to join GWAR doesn’t spell the end of this unbelievably violent band. If that’s the case, then this was one hell of an explosive run.

3. Goatwhore – Blood for the Master (Metal Blade)
It’s hard to argue that this is not Goatwhore’s best album. They’ve never disappointed anybody by releasing subpar material and they’re just as good live as they are “on tape.” However, the NOLA boys upped the ante with Blood for the Master, an album that instantly catapulted itself to the upper ranks of this list back in January. It’s classic Goatwhore through and through, though they’ve probably gotten a bit more vitriolic as well as catchy. As always, you can never go wrong with Goatwhore and Blood for the Master amplifies that fact.

4. Aura Noir – Out to Die (Indie Recordings)
Easily the best black/punk band out there, Aura Noir killed it with Out to Die, the Norwegians’ best album to date. This beast slays from start to finish and its aggressive nature, coupled with it’s simplistic patterns, is as infectious as it’s nasty. With not a single song to bring down the festivities, it’ll be tough for Aura Noir to top this. Then again, these dudes continuously keep getting better and better each time out, so who knows what’s in store for the follow-up? Either way, I can’t wait.

5. Unleashed – Odalheim (Nuclear Blast)
If bands were to be compared to Hollywood actors, Unleashed is the metal version of William H. Macy. Always delivering the goods, though universally overlooked compared the bigger stars of the industry. Since their debut album way back in 1991, Unleashed has delivered nothing but a steady stream of quality albums. In my opinion, Shadows of the Deep has always been their benchmark release. However, it’s a tough call now because Unleashed arguably has trumped that crown jewel with Odalheim. Yeah, it’s that’s good.

6. Cryptopsy – Cryptopsy (Century Media)
For whatever reason, the cool kids have bashed Montreal’s greatest export for releasing their best album in seven years. The cool kids have globally claimed that Cryptopsy “sold out” because they created an album that is, uh, just like their first five albums. Can someone please explain this to me? Yes, The Unspoken King was a black eye for Cryptopsy; we get that. Whatever the case may be for their self-titled return to glory, the album crushed like it should have. Whether Flo & co. made Cryptopsy sound the way it did because they wanted to pretend TUK never existed doesn’t matter; this one is a killing machine. Someone please explain this to the cool kids.

7. Nile – At the Gate of Sethu (Nuclear Blast)
Another band on the short list of always being reliable, Nile did it again with their latest full-length At the Gate of Sethu. Sporting a cleaner production than ever before, Nile somehow managed to retain all the bite and energy from their instruments. The album is as pulverizing and complex as ever, a trademark of these vets. While it’s not their greatest release to date, it’s still strong enough to land on this list. Nile = Quality.

8. Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph (Candlelight)
These Brits seem to get better and better with each release and The Threnody of Triumph is proof of that. Arguably their best effort to date (that seems to be a trend on this list, no?), the album hits all the marks of blistering black metal and atmospheric, haunting melodies mixed together. The album ebbs and flows like the ocean and it’s as chilly as a November night. Awesome work indeed, Winterfylleth might be one of the leading bands in the entire metal world for the next decade. So far they are walking the same path as the awesome Moonsorrow; will they eventually eclipse their Finnish counterparts? Only time will tell.

9. Immolith – Storm Dragon (Metalhit.com)
What a kickass little album this is! Total vintage black metal that sounds like it’s from the frosty region of Scandinavia, this New Jersey outfit nails the BM target squarely in the bullseye. Like vintage Emperor and the better albums from 1349, Immolith also add bits of melodies into the concoction and the end result is one hell of an album that needs to be scooped up. A surprise entrant for sure and what’s even more impressive is that Storm Dragon was able to stay on the top ten list since January. The only drawback to Immolith is that though this is their debut full length album, the band is reportedly “on hold.” Now that’s a damned shame…

10. Terrorizer – Hordes of Zombies (Season of Mist)
Terrorizer’s comeback album a few years ago was a complete letdown, but Commando & co. bounced back with the destructive monstrosity that is Hordes of Zombies. It’s everything a fanboy of World Downfall coveted when Terrorizer reformed several years back. While it’s not as legendary as their magnificent debut from 25-plus years ago, Hordes of Zombies is essential to any collection and it rounds out my top ten albums of 2012 list.

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