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Kenneth Gallant Best-of 2012

By: Kenneth Gallant

Wearing a Slayer shirt = being contemplative

I can’t believe another year has come and gone and usually at this time we get inundated with a myriad of year-end lists good and bad. I can’t ever recall having the opportunity to offer my opinion of what was considered the best of the best, but this year in 2012, that is changing. I joined Blistering earlier in the year, and what an honor it was to be given this chance to write for the site knowing full well that I would finally be given a chance to produce a best-of list at year’s end.

When I sat down to think things through, I immediately drew a blank. I had to slap my palm to forehead many times because I was stumped. I knew this day would come, but I didn’t anticipate falling short when the time came to create this list. Anyhow, after much “tugging and pulling” on the brain, I came up with a list of 10 albums I considered outstanding. So without further adieu, I present to you ten albums I was enamored about and clamoring to crown as the best of the best! When I say go, we rattle them off one by one…so let’s cue up the music and kick start the proceedings…ready…set…go…

1. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)
The return of the mighty Testament means these musical thrash darlings are indeed the real deal. Much like last year with Anthrax’s stunning return to form with Worship Music, Dark Roots of Earth is equally a huge monster of a record in every possible way. All the cuts from this release are memorable and the riffs are original and plentiful throughout this disc. With a renewed commitment from all the original members (sans drummer Louie Clemente), this is guaranteed to become a thrash classic in years to come.

2. Sylosis – Monolith (Nuclear Blast)
They say the third time is the charm, and this being the third release from these British upstarts is a true gem of a record. Josh Middelton proves his meddle here in spades and all that rage and pent up frustration comes spewing out in the form of Monolith. The band’s take on melodic death/thrash is fresh as hell and startling beyond belief, now that Middleton has taken centre stage as the frontman of the band. When all is said and done, this may very well be the record Sylosis will be remembered for the most.

3. Rush – Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)
Being Canadian and being a total Rush fanatic, there’s total optimism for this concept record. Perhaps Clockwork Angels is the 2112 of this decade, but more importantly this release proves to be a unique listening experience replete with a speculative narrative and stunning music to go hand in hand. There’s even a tie in with fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson to truly make this prog rock album an instant classic. The band is truly at the height of their powers and this disc deserves to be heard.

4. Threshold – March of Progress (Nuclear Blast)
Much like Rush’s Clockwork Angels, Threshold deliver an album of sheer importance in the prog metal field. This album marks the triumphant return of original vocalist Damien Wilson into the fold, and he clearly takes command early on and never lets go of the reins. The music is breathtaking and painstakingly crafted around Wilson’s skills as lead vocalist, so this should go a long way to prove Threshold as a force to be reckoned with on the festival circuit.

5. Entropy – E3 (Self-Released)
Okay a curious choice on my list this year, especially since Entropy disbanded in the mid 90’s after releasing just two albums. Their style of technical thrash metal proved these Canadian lads to be quite unique for the time, but fizzled out during the height of the grunge era. The band’s reformation earlier this year resulted in the recording of E3 and it is a stunning return to form through and through. The music is relenting and this is how thrash metal was meant to be heard.

6. Grand Magus – The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)
You have to love a band like Grand Magus simply because they have an original and distinct sound. The Hunt is album #6 for this Swedish power trio and the music is rife with bluesy riffs and epic melodies. They continue to wave the flag for pure and unadulterated heavy metal and you won’t find a bad song here. The album is solid, and holds together nicely with the teeming themes of paganism colliding into a melting pot of thick riffs and blazing solos. This is a must for doom metal fans.

7. My Dying Bride – A Map of All Our Failures (Peaceville)
My Dying Bride are true pioneers of doom/death and every album they record is an engaging palette of pain and despair. A Map of All Our Failures is exceptionally doomy, allowing every track to seep out tumultuous emotions and feelings of utter darkness. Aaron Stainthorpe is at the height of his artistic ambitions with this latest effort...

8. Odium – Burning the Bridges to Nowhere (Sun)
Here comes a young band with lofty ambitions what with a well worn melodic death metal blueprint as their mantra. The comparisons to many Swedish melo death metal bands is quite evident, but don’t let that stop you from giving this album a go. The sheer breadth of the compositions alone is well worth it and the quality found in the musicianship is what truly impresses me the most. This is a band on the rise and Burning Bridges to Nowhere is the start of something special.

9. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)
These French dynamos continue to steamroll ahead with their fifth full-length release. L’Enfant Sauvage – meaning "Wild Child," continues to explore the sounds of groovy, complex death metal in a unique brand that has served this band well over the course of a decade. With this release, Gojira mellow a bit and trade in some of that youthful rage for more mature sounds of complexity. It should help to cement their legacy in years to come, so long live the wild child!

10. Tygers of Pan Tang – Ambush (Rocksector)
You might even be wondering how this long time NWOBHM band could make the cut this year in my top 10 list, but they did. The musicianship is solid and sole original member Rob Weir continues to take up the cause for the Tygers, proving the band’s recent resurgence in popularity is no fluke. This band can still rock hard and you won’t find a bad song here in the bunch. Ambush is as good as it gets.

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