In my efforts to select my top 10 songs of the year, I find myself faced with the same conundrum that plagued me while compiling the album list…there’s just so many! My thoughts end up sounding something like “Ah yes, this one’s great…but so is that one! But gawd, the solo in that other one is just too good…”
And so, the following 10 tracks aren’t necessarily what I consider the “best” of the year, but they are most definitely my favorites, and prompted countless pressings of the “repeat” button. And at the end of the day, I believe a song’s replay factor is the truest way to gauge its quality. Let’s begin...
2. Lamb of God - “Ghost Walking” (from Resolution) Say what you will about LOG, this track slays. That blues-infested acoustic intro explodes into a miraculously groovy riff assault, and it’s nothing short of glorious. Despite coming from one of the very first albums of 2012, I just can’t get tired of this one.
3. Meshuggah - “Demiurge” (from Koloss) Absolute devastation, with killer groove to boot. A fitting closer for a great album, the song starts with a beyond-eerie intro and blossoms into a vicious monolith of awesomeness, bulldozing legions of imitators in the process. It’s a relatively simplistic effort from the masters of polyrhythm, but that what makes it so brutal. It just goes to show that no one does Meshuggah better than the band themselves.
4. Deftones - “Leathers” (from Koi No Yokan) I could barely handle myself after hearing this for the first time, it’s a concentrated burst of atmospheric colors, shimmering melodies and building tension that soars above almost everything else out there in terms of quality. Leathers is nothing less than a masterwork from a legendary group that continues to prove themselves time and time again.
5. Gojira - “L’Enfant Sauvage” (from L’Enfant Sauvage) Here’s another one that dropped my jaw when it premiered! Geez, this track is absolutely nuts. I feel like I could write a dissertation on the way countless musical elements work together in this song, from the transitions, to specifics in the instrumentals, and even symbolism in the lyrics. Joe Duplantier’s vocal style, especially in the verses, is unmatched. What a great song.
6. Marduk - “Souls For Belial” (from Serpent Sermon) Vicious, sinister, and brilliant, “Souls For Belial” stole my heart and swiftly cast it into the abyss. Oh and yeah, it’s pretty fast too. But much like the rest of the album, Marduk take advantage of varying tempos and moods - the mid-paced sections of the track are every bit as scathing as the blast-ridden sections.
8. Solace - “Naïve” (from Call & Response) I used to jam the demo version of this track non-stop. Despite various financial and label-related setbacks, Karl Schubach was finally able to record and release his solo material this year, and it turned out great. Melodic, rhythmic, and majestic, “Naïve” is one of my favorite songs, period.
9. Sylosis - “The River” (from Monolith) The UK crew really knows how to get things done- “The River” is chock full of tasty thrash goodness, skillful soloing, and some compelling melodic material as well. As I’ve said above concerning the whole album, these guys are just good.
10. Daylight Dies- “Ghosting” (from A Frail Becoming) Thanks to this year’s feature “A Portrait in Black: Blistering’s Top 10 Daylight Dies Songs”, I was finally able to gain an appreciation for this phenomenal band. I’d seen advertisements for album releases here and there over the years, but hadn’t really taken time to sit down and listen. Well I’m glad I did, because this is group is a class act in every sense of the phrase. “Ghosting” blew my mind with the first listen and continues to do so to this day- the riff at the 2:05 mark is something truly extraordinary.
Biggest surprise of 2012: Eryn Non Dae.Meliora was quite simply, an awesome record. Another group that I’d seen here and there on the interwebs but never really checked out, Eryn Non Dae are doing their own thing and doing it well. Recommended listening for those needing something drawn from sources outside the well-trodden thrash/death metal/metalcore route that dominates most of today’s releases.
Best newcomer of 2012: The Forsaken. While the Swedes aren’t “newcomers” in the traditional sense of the word, they are newly re-formed after a long nine-year absence, and their return record is one of my favorites of the year. Again, it may not be groundbreaking, but the riffs are oh so tasty, and sometimes that’s really all I need from a heavy record.
Biggest disappointment of 2012:All That Remains. In 2006, All That Remains released an album titled The Fall Of Ideals. It’s one of the very few albums that I consider perfect, and I’ll argue, fight, and debate in its favor till the cows come home. ATR’s two subsequent releases, while nowhere near the quality of TFOI and thus disappointing, weren’t too bad. But this year, Phil Labonte and co. dropped a musical turd called A War You Cannot Win. I really can’t find words to express how awful it is, but trust me, it is.
Most anticipated album of 2013: Killswitch Engage. While it’s not the appropriate “political” choice (the metal community at large would most likely have me go with a more ”kvlt” band, like friggin’ Kvelertak or something), KSE’s music saw me through all sorts of experiences, good and bad, and I definitely wouldn’t be the musician and metalhead I am today without them. With the reinstatement of Jesse Leach into the KSE ranks, I have full confidence that the band have been imbued with a newfound energy, and that it will be made fully audible in their new material.
A big, big thanks is in order to Blistering for bringing me into the fold this year. It’s been a pleasure!