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Dan Barkasi Best-of 2012

By: Dan Barkasi

The kamikaze duo that is Anaal Nathrakh...

Dan Barkasi Top 10 Songs of 2012

Now we arrive at the airing of grievances. I’ve got a lot of problems with you people! And now, you’re going to hear about them! Actually, this isn’t a Festivus celebration – props to those who know the reference. We’re here to present to you loyal subjects my top ten songs of the year. As I mentioned last year, this is even tougher than albums, as one need be very specific. This year was overflowing with worthy candidates. These are the ones that stood out amongst the rest.

*Click on each song title to listen*

1. Ne Obliviscaris – “Tapestry of the Starless Abstract” (from Portal of I)
Hard to pick a top song from this album, but this is the song that encompasses what Ne Obliviscaris is. It has it all – speed, loads of heavy portions, melody, beauty, and a craftsmanship that can be hard to find. This song has it all, and is the one recommended over any other to become familiar with this stunning group.

2. Katatonia – “The Racing Heart” (from Dead End Kings
If I were able to have a top 11 albums of the year, this album would be an easy 11. However, it isn’t the case, and it narrowly missed. A song like “The Racing Heart,” however, is one of the best songs this calendar year by miles. Jonas Renkse’s soft yet haunting vocals make this track soar, along with the gloomy and crushing atmosphere created.

3. Anathema – “Untouchable Part 1 & 2” (from Weather Systems
The most emotionally touching song of the year, Anathema’s two-part opus that kicks off their latest is nothing short of surreal. This is one of those songs that you feel as much as hear. One of the best songs that Anathema has ever made, and that’s significant for a band that has a long career full of classics.

4. Daylight Dies – “A Final Vestige” (from A Frail Becoming)
Daylight Dies know how to write dark and beautiful music, and “A Final Vestige” is the finest example from their intense fourth full-length. The harsh/soft tempo changes make the song a roller coaster of varying sounds and feelings, which is a running theme that has made them so adored.

5. The Foreshadowing – “Second World” (from Second World)
A good year for fans of doom with a lot of melody, and The Foreshadowing are one of the best at it. The title track from their latest, Second World, portrays the band in all of their glory – stingy and crunchy guitar work, a lush atmosphere, and the chilling vocals of Marco Benevento. With their first North American tour coming up, they have a chance to really explode on this side of the Atlantic. They definitely deserve it.

6. Anaal Nathrakh – “Forging Towards the Sunset” (from Vanitas)
The far and away winner for heaviest song of the year, as well as song to break a bunch of shit to. This is intensity and sheer brutality personified, and one can’t help but get into a headbanging frenzy here. It’s also impressive how Anaal Nathrakh managed to make a song sound even more intense with the incorporation of high operatic vocals from time to time. Let this song crush you.

7. Lahmia – “Into the Abyss” (from Into the Abyss) 
A certain possibility for lead guitar work of the year, “Into the Abyss” is a wonderful offering from Into the Abyss. These Italians put forth a melodic death metal sound that is unique to what they’re trying to do, but also managed to push the boundaries bit by bit with this album. Necessary listening.

8. Okera – “The Black Rain” (from A Beautiful Dystopia
Another monster of a song from another group of Aussie geniuses. This song opened their debut album, “A Beautiful Dystopia” in the most perfect way possible. The bands blackened, yet melancholic, sound aids them in caring out their own niche in the metal scene.

9. Mors Principium Est – “Departure” (from …and Death said Live)
This one beats you around from beginning to end. Mors Principium Est is melodic death metal done right and done so almost perfectly in every way. The excellent musicianship of which the band portrays propels them back into the scene with flying colors. “Departure” may be the best song on the new disc, and believe me; this album is loaded with gems.

10. Heidevolk – “Een Nieuw Begin” (from Batavi)
“Een Nieuw Begin” begins with an absolutely floor shaking riff – easily the best in folk metal this year – and never loses the listener’s attention one bit. Dual vocalists Joris Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht do a superb job, with their layered together vocals are awe-inspiring and fitting.

Biggest surprise of 2012: The emergence of the Australian metal scene. The amount of quality music coming from the land down under is unreal, proof being three Aussie bands making my list. With so many bands in the world that seem to enjoy pigeonholing themselves due to some misguided genre stereotype, seeing a scene where the opposite is happening – and with magnificent results – is inspiring. Bands like Ne Obliviscaris, Be’lakor (pictured), Okera, Arbrynth, Chaos Divine, Katabasis, A Million Dead Birds Laughing, Pilgrim, and many others are beginning to make a significant impact in the metal world. Check all of these bands out. I promise you’ll find something to love. This scene is what metal needs right now.

Best newcomer of 2012: Ne Obliviscaris. Even though their demo hit in 2007, their first full-length was released this year, so that qualifies for me. Enough praise cannot possibly be bestowed upon Ne Obliviscaris. Their sound is absolutely revolutionary, and have made the most unique and stunning piece of music this guy has heard in many years. I'm looking forward to a long career of mind blowing tunes from these dudes. To anybody who has yet to listen to them, please do yourself a favor and remedy this now. It'll be worth it!

Most disappointing album of 2012: Wintersun’s Time. I don’t know if it has something to do with the ridiculous delays and whatnot, but Time simply felt very overdone. It also lacked the powerful and intoxicating riffs that made Wintersun so good in the first place. Way too layered, and maybe a little over ambitious. A natural progression would have been nice – not an album-long symphonic interlude with the occasional guitar.

Most anticipated album of 2013: Omnium Gatherum. New World Shadows was an absolute masterpiece, and the mere thought of the next release has this guy salivating.

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