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Ken McGrath Best-of 2012

By: Ken McGrath

Ihsahn, still patrolling nature after all these years...

Ken McGrath Top 10 Songs of 2012

Sometimes the best songs of the year, the ones you’ve listened to the most or that have stuck with you, that have somehow grafted themselves onto a particular memory or feeling aren’t from the ‘top’ albums of the year. So here you go, a look at what kept my head banging, my foot tapping and my heart soaring in 2012.

*Click each song title to listen*

1. Ihsahn – “Departure” (from Eremita)
From an album laden with stone-cold classics this, the closing track, is a standout. Perfectly measured it’s made up of sections that seem to have nothing in common yet tie together perfectly, emphasising Ihsahn’s status as a great composer.

2. Every Time I Die – “A Wild, Shameless Plain” (from Ex Lives)
Fast, feisty, get up and shout along. It’s everything that makes ETID great. A badass song.

3. OSI – “For Nothing” (from Fire Make Thunder)
Nostalgic, sad and wistful. One of the most beautifully heartbreaking songs released this year thanks to that vocal delivery.

4. Baroness – “Stretchmarker” (from Yellow & Green)
A lonely, melancholic little instrumental tucked away at the end of this double album that might seem like an odd choice when there are such big thumping songs on Yellow & Green, that is until you stick it on repeat and let it caress you. Bon Ivor fans would do well to check this one out.

5. Crypts – “Bloods” (from Crypts)
Dark, ambient electronica featuring Steve Snere from These Arms Are Snakes on vocals. A total downer of a track.

6. Necro Deathmort – “Endless Vertex” (from The Colonial Script)
Slowly building heaviness and electronic swirls. The sound of some nightmare entity rising from the murk and shadows. Horror soundtrack stuff.

7. MAKE – “Surrounded By Silent Lies” (from Trephine)
Another slowing building post-metal monster that captures your attention with doomy, heavy repetition then releases you under a massive crush at the end. Brilliant.

8. No Spill Blood – “No Retreat” (from Street Meat)
A full pelt rampage of a song that’s all growls and synths and crashing drums and pummelling bass. And it’s great.

9. Plan B – “ill Manors” (from ill Manors
Intelligent lyrics, delivered with precision and bite. An infectious tune that’ll get under your skin in no small part thanks to the punchy chorus. It’s not metal but it’s going on the list because it’s so damn good.

10. Torche – “Kicking” (from Harmonicraft)
Upbeat, sunshine metal, perfect for those summer days when you’re sitting outside with your friends having a few cans. Who says just because it’s loud it has to be dark?

Biggest surprise of 2012: Steel Panther live. Having pretty much ignored everything they’d done up until this point seeing Steel Panther live at Download 2012 was breathtaking. A joyfully debauched show. I’ll be seeing these guys again, mark my words.

Best newcomer of 2012: Crypts and No Spill Blood (pictured). 

Biggest disappointment of 2012: The demise of Hydra Head Records and Richter Collective. Two unique labels working at very different levels but which both released lasting, inspiring music and will be hugely missed. Also, Zakk Wylde’s extended guitar solo during Black Label Society’s set at Download gets a special mention, just for being ridiculously ill-judged and rubbish.

Most anticipated album of 2013: Palms. Palms is the new project from Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and former Isis members Jeff Caxide, Bryant Clifford Meyer, and Aaron Harris, and the excitement levels are set very high to hear what they’ll produce together. New records from Cult of Luna and Adebisi Shank are also much anticipated. And apparently some band called Alice in Chains have a new album coming out. Anyone out there interested in hearing that one? Yeah, I thought so.

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