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Matthew Bowling Best-of 2012

By: Matthew Bowling

Gojira, looking for a tree (or whale) to hug

As noted in the album prelude, I don’t wind up attaching to songs purely based on their ‘songness’, so catchy choruses and similar attributes usually don’t carry very long with me (there are notable exceptions below, however). Something that leaves an impression on a bigger scale, however, is likely to stick with me much longer and find itself on a list like this…though whether or not the bands in question will like to hear that is another matter entirely! Once again there is no particular order to these, they’re simply a list of ten songs I really fell in love with as the year went on. A notable absence is The Devil’s Blood as it’s fuckin’ impossible to find a Youtube-able version of “The Thousandfold Epicentre.”

*Click on each song title to listen*

Deftones – "Tempest" (from Koi No Yokan)
No song better defines the band in this or any other era. The best song on Koi No Yokan and arguably their best work period.

Converge – "Trespasses" (from All We Love We Leave Behind)
While Converge still exists somewhat in the shadow of the world-sundering Jane Doe, both this song and the album it in which it resides (All We Love We Leave Behind) are fantastic and body shredding pieces of work.

Gojira – "The Gift Of Guilt" (from L’Enfant Sauvage)
While L’Enfant Sauvage barely missed my album list, this song stands out as my favorite work of the band… period.

Chromatics – "These Streets Will Never Look the Same" (from Kill for Love)
This ‘song’ sums up everything I love about this group and the moods they create. Cold and infinite city streets, blanketed in rain and impossibly desperate, equally broken and beautiful. The trance-inducing effect never loses its touch.

Evoken – "Into Aphotic Devastation" (from Atra Mors)
What a giant masterwork of hatred and desolation this song is, indicative of the band at its best and the world at large in 2012. Unpleasant times we live in, unpleasant times indeed.

Wodensthrone – "The Name of the Wind" (from Curse)
While Winterfylleth wound up releasing a better album, this monster kills almost everything else. Colossal in size and scope, the finish tops is what tops it all, for Esoteric’s Greg Chandler comes in and absolutely crushes. It knocked me out from the get-go and long after the dust settles on everything else from 2012, this song will remain strong.

Deathspell Omega – "The Crackled Book of Life" (from Drought)
Of all of the indulgences on Drought this one is the most haunting. The band channels its melodic sense in a way it’s never attempted before and the results are stunning.

Vesperian Sorrow – "Of Opiates And Accolades" (from Stormwinds of Ages)
After my initial listen of Stormwinds of Ages this song stuck out most. A few dozen listens later that’s still the case, this monster summarizing everything that was fantastic about the album and hopefully playing prophet for the direction the band will go in the future. MONSTROUS!

The Mars Volta – "In Absentia" (from Nocturniquet)
The keyboard heavy and largely guitarless Nocturniquet was a fantastic release on a whole, and little more better personified everything that was fantastic about its atmosphere than this particular song.

Anathema – "Internal Landscapes" (from Weather Systems)
Plenty here have already poured ample praise upon the fantastic “Untouchable” duo, and rightly so, but given that I decided to pay attention to an equally fantastic piece. Illustrative of the band’s spiritual slant and post/art/ rock leanings of the modern day, I could think of nothing better to close out this list.

Biggest surprise of 2012: No single entity really gets this banner, as it was a year rife with awesome. Meshuggah still swinging with unparalleled intensity (listen to “Do Not Look Down” and tell me otherwise), black metal exploding in a thousand different directions, bands who’ve been inactive for ages all coming out of the wood work with new albums. Dragonforce pulled out a surprising win with The Power Within and “Seasons” almost made my song list; it was a fantastic foray into what the band could do once they…ahem, slowed down.

Best newcomer of 2012: Skyharbor. Existing on the fringe of the widely loved/hated djent movement, this Indian group put out one of the most melodically fantastic releases of the year with the Illusion half of their Blinding White Noise album. Aided with the phenomenal vocals of Dan Tompkins, “Maeva” stands out like nothing else, every fantastic aspect of the band distilled into six and a half minutes of awesome.

Most disappointing album of 2012: Fucking Nile! With all the buildup that surrounded At the Gates of Sethu, for me things started looking sour when initial single “The Fiends Who Come to Steal the Magick of the Deceased” released and the shoddy sound erupted from my speakers. It’s mindboggling to imagine how inconsistent the production on the band’s past four albums have been considering they’ve used the same producer each time, but alas, such was the case here. Muddy and truncated, the sound issues made it largely impossible to listen to the album repeatedly and actually find out if it made a fantastic follow-up to Those Whom the Gods Detest.

Most anticipated album of 2013: Behemoth, Mastodon, Opeth, Ghost, Steven Wilson, not to mention half a dozen others that look to release new stuff in 2013! All kinds across all genres. No one album or band in particular, just a wealth of new material by a fantastic assortment of groups from around the world. Bring on the beast!

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