Kenneth Gallant Best-of 2012
By: Kenneth Gallant
Grand Magus, unaware that finger-pointing is rude
Kenneth Gallant Top 10 Songs of 2012
I often wonder what constitutes a good song, and what ingredients you need to make that one song in particular stand out from all the rest. This year, I would say those ingredients are barbed wire riffs, galloping tempos and thought-provoking lyrics. These said ingredients are all indicative of my top ten list of songs to debut in the last 12 months.
So with this being said, Testament’s “Rise Up” takes top spot this year. It has all the ingredients needed to induce the sheer flexing abilities of fist pumping headbangers all across the globe. It doesn’t take long for Chuck Billy to get you to shout out “Rise Up” over and over again, working oneself up into a tizzy. The song is that good, so without further adieu let’s start with that song and go through the list…
*Click on each song title to listen*
1. Testament – “Rise Up” (from Dark Roots of Earth)
It just might be a clean sweep this year for Testament; not only did I pick them as my top album of the year, but I also picked this as my top song of the year too. "Rise Up" is simply too huge of a tune not to declare at the top of the heap. The song is a vintage thrash anthem, complete with a sing-along chorus and some very fast guitar solos to make most headbangers proud as hell.
2. Grand Magus – “Starlight Slaughter” (from The Hunt)
This is another great example of a song that opens an album to such great acclaim. "Starlight Slaughter" is massive with its crashing opening chords and coupled with JB’s hard rock like vocals to match it. The chorus hooks you immediately and again, it’s one of those songs that get the blood pumping and rushing quickly through your veins. This is a bonna fide metal classic and will probably be the song every fan remembers on this release.
3. Kreator – “Phantom Antichrist” (from Phantom Antichrist)
Much like Testament, Kreator have been cutting a path of destruction with their renewed interest in thrash metal, so it comes as no surprise behind the brilliance of the title track. "Phantom Antichrist" cuts straight into the heart of the matter with the infectious speed of the opening moments and it dives head first into the thrash blueprint of old. The galloping riffs are beautiful music to my ears and it proves this band can still write masterful songs like this.
4. Huntress – “Eight of Swords” (from Spell Eater)
The necromantic screams of Jill Janus come across with much conviction on this debut single that ushered in Huntress to the masses. The album overall might not live up to the hype, but "Eight of Swords" grabbed my attention right away. She comes across with rock ‘n roll swagger in bunches and she’s easy on the eyes too!
5. Rush – “Caravan” (from Clockwork Angels)
Rush’s devotion to technically-sound music is as tight as ever on Clockwork Angels, and the opening song "Caravan" is proof in the pudding. "Caravan" sets the stage for this album perfectly, and it is the most accessible song in the bunch. It’s catchy, and exhibits an addictive melody that hooks the listener right from the get-go. This is also a song that tells a great story, so listen closely to the lyrical narrative for the setup.
6. Down – “Witchtripper” (from IV Part 1 – The Purple EP)
I really dig this song for a variety of reasons. It’s trippy, sludgy and one of the catchiest songs on this EP and therefore I nominate it for a spot on the top ten list. The song is straightforward, but Phil Anselmo’s vocals work best here and standout for the most part. It just reaps a certain amount of heaviness that I find totally appealing.
7. Prong – “Revenge Best Served Cold” (from Carved in Stone)
Another giant among the crossover bands that fuse thrash and punk into their overall sound. This time Prong bounce back with a strong effort and the song "Revenge Best Served Cold" is catchy as hell and it sounds like it could have been placed on Cleansing.
8. Gojira – “Liquid Fire” (from L’Enfant Sauvage)
I’m going to echo editor in chief David E. Gehlke’s sentiment about this song and say the heaviness is on par with "The Heaviest Matter of the Universe" from their From Mars to Sirius album. I totally agree with that assessment of the song, and I would go one further and say the use of entertaining vocal effects provides the number with a robotic tone reminiscent of say Pink Floyd. It’s truly a standout track.
9. 3 Inches of Blood – “Leather Lord” (from Long Live Heavy Metal)
Here’s another song with the mantra heavy metal done right. I picked this song because I have a soft spot for Canadian metal and I enjoy the moshing aggression found in this number in particular. The song conjures the spirit of Rob Halford and although it might come across a bit clichéd, it works best for the fist pumping attitude it projects.
10. Sylosis - “A Dying Vine” (from Monolith)
All those special ingredients I mentioned at the top of this list are summed up in "A Dying Vine." The galloping stomp of brutality rages throughout and Josh Middleton’s gnarly vocals caps off a truly bestial number. The precision riffing also helps to slice through the backbone of the song, blending into one of the most satisfying moments for me.
Biggest surprise of 2012: Angel Witch. Angel Witch is probably the band that surprised me the most simply because it took them 26 years to record a new album. The material on As Above, So Below is competent enough, but definitely a slow burner and it took some time to make an impression on me. The sound is progressive at times, but generally classy overall for a band that hasn’t played much over the years.
Best newcomer of 2012: Horrendous. Horrendous is my choice for new band this year and I must say this is quite exquisite stuff, considering how rotten they sounded on The Chills. They reminded me of early Dismember and Asphyx what with their lyrical content emboldened by tales of butchery, apocalyptic gore and unholy rituals. This is definitely old-school death metal at its finest.
Most disappointing album of 2012: Huntress. This is an easy one for me, as hands-down the band that fell short was Huntress. So much hype surrounded this band, especially since frontwoman Jill Janus came loaded for bear. Yes she can flat-out sing, but the majority of the songs lacked dynamism, despite Janus’s charisma.
Most anticipated album of 2013: Voivod. I am quite excited about the prospects of 2013 and in late March, Voivod is expected to hit us with Target Earth. The new music is said to be in the vein of Nothingface and it’s got this scribe in a tizzy already. I can’t wait!
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