Articles : Mitch Booth’s Not-So-Unexpected Best Of 2012 List(s)
2012 has been a ridiculously good year. I’ve been working on this list for days now; flicking through my music collection, adding and removing bands over and over again. In fact, they started as top 10’s, but it simply wasn’t enough. And neither is 15 really. Dodecahedron, Car Bomb, Dragged Into Sunlight, Whourkr, Devin Townsend, Enslaved, Idylls and so many dropped superb albums. Hell, even Wintersun got off their arse and released a pretty good album. But top 20’s would be a bit excessive (plus, I’d probably then just push it to 25, and so on…).
For Australians, we’ve been a bit spoilt on the live front too. Rosetta returned to Australia in even finer form than before (who knew that was possible?), Loma Prieta absolutely destroyed (and churned out one of the best releases of the year), people stood awestruck watching Animals As Leaders’ first ever Australian performances, and Earth mesmerized. Plus there was At The Gates, Cannibal Corpse, High On Fire, Apocalyptica, Nasum and a whole bunch of other bands that I’m not personally fussed on, but a lot of other people were. Shockingly enough, 2013 is actually somehow shaping up to be even better. Yep. Fuck my wallet.
THE AUSTRALIAN LIST
15. Fvck Mountain – EP
Twenty minutes of raw hardcore from Brisbane. Perfect when you’re craving a quick burst of aggression. It’s a free download too.
Listen to “Gifts”
14. Echotide – As Our Floodlights Gave Way to Dawn
On the complete opposite end of the musical scale, but also from Brisbane and also a free download, Echotide debuted with an album of absolute bliss; seventy minutes of stunning ambient/post-rock. Not for those that lack patience.
Listen to “Embers Glow”
13. The Stealth Creeping Apocalypse – The Stealth Creeping Apocalypse
One of the most surprising releases of the year, and one that didn’t receive anywhere near enough recognition. There’s a touch of technical death metal, a sprinkling of black metal, and a hint of Opeth. It’s nothing if not varied.
Listen to “Resolve”
12. Roussemoff – Roussemoff: Special Long Decay Version
Recorded in an abandoned warehouse shortly before it was demolished, it’s hard to tell whether the focus is more on the band or the echoes. This is two bassists and a drummer doing minimalism very, very well.
Listen to “Slow Numbers”
11. Subterranean Disposition – Subterranean Disposition
A death-doom release of monstrous proportions where each track offers something a little different, whether it be female vocals, jarring pseudo-industrial sounds, or saxophone.
Listen to “Seven Sisters of Sleep”
10. Beyond Terror Beyond Grace – Nadir
They have really left the grind behind with this one, instead heading in an intense, dissonant death metal direction. Oddly enough, there’s some subtle beauty in there too. For those who, rightfully, enjoy Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega.
Listen to “Embracing Null”
9. Okera – A Beautiful Dystopia
The kind of melancholic-ish, melodic death/doom that you’d expect from Europe, not Melbourne. These guys will be big.
Listen to “In Solitude”
8. Quiet Waters – Comfort
From the guy that brought you the brutality of Meticulous Despoilment, Separatist and Departe, comes a worship album that’s part post-rock and part normal-rock. It’s a truly uplifting album full of memorable vocal melodies. All profits are donated directly to the A21 Campaign against human trafficking and sex slavery.
Listen to “Emmanuel”
7. Battle Pope – The Holy Trinity: Bitches, Dicks and Gonorrhea
One of the most ridiculous releases of the year, but also one of the most entertaining. Swingin’, funky grind with a harmonica and an unlimited supply of obscenities. Ultimate party music.
Listen to “Cocaine Yeehah Muthafucka Yeah!”
6. The Broderick – Free To Rot, Free Of Sin
Huge, crushing hardcore that is best experienced very fucking loud via headphones (yeah, yeah, we know, it’s bad for your ears). They will break you.
Listen to “Low Sky”
5. The Mung – Showering In Shit
There is very little on this earth that’s as fun as a Mung live show. Filthy, slammy grind with spoken samples that your Mum wouldn’t approve of.
Listen to “Crappy Nappies Make Me Happy”
4. A Million Dead Birds Laughing – Xen
It’s ridiculous how much these guys manage to fit in songs that rarely reach the 2 minute mark. One of the most unique bands in the country. It’ll be interesting to see how their sound evolves now that they have a new vocalist.
Listen to “Hydra”
3. Nontinuum – The Stars You Gathered, The Stars I Destroyed
Where the hell did these guys come from? Dense, atmospheric post-black metal with a layer of sludge. It’s hauntingly beautiful, in the most devastating way. This is something special.
Listen to “Waiting With You”
2. Adrift For Days – Come Midnight…
“Smoked-out psychedelic dronefuzz”. Think Pink Floyd meets Earth meets Sleep. Phenomenal vocals, and a droney, laid-back vibe.
Listen to “House of Cards”
1. Encircling Sea – A Forgotten Land
Ok, sure, this isn’t even out yet. And no, I haven’t heard it early. But, when it comes out in a few days, there is zero doubt in my mind that it will be album of the year. The amount of end-of-year lists that won’t feature this album purely because of the late release date is one of the biggest disasters in human history. [edit: after now having listened to it, many times, I stand by this decision]
Listen to “Transcend”.
THE EVERYWHERE ELSE LIST
15. Dordeduh – Dar de Duh
Pretty much a continuation of Negură Bunget. If you pretend that this is under the old name, and that Negru isn’t out there destroying their good name with subpar albums, it’s like the whole split never even happened.
Listen to “Caleo Rotilor De Foc”
14. Addaura – Burning For The Ancient
One of the best recent releases from that whole Cascadian black metal circle, and a spectacular debut.
Listen to “City Light (In Still Dark Forenoon Silence)”
13. Nachtmystium – Silencing Machine
While it seems most people want more Pink Floyd tribute albums from them, their newie heads back into black metal territory. The psychedelic influence is definitely still there, but it’s a much more balanced sound.
Listen to “I Wait In Hell”
12. Earth – Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II
If they hadn’t toured then this might not even be on the list. But they did, and it was amazing, so here we are. It’s more of the same droney, western goodness that they do so well, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Listen to “A Multiplicity of Doors”
11. Ash Borer – Cold of Ages
More Cascadian/atmospheric black metal and, like Addaura above, comprised of four lengthy songs. Ash Borer practically perfected this style with their self titled debut, but this is certainly no disappointment.
Listen to “Convict All Flesh”
10. Death Grips – The Money Store & NO LOVE DEEP WEB
Trying to pick between these two albums is a task that I’m not even going to attempt, largely because I’m still struggling to really take it all in. Death Grips is a hectic listen. Don’t let the “hip hop” tag turn you off.
Listen to “No Love”
9. Cloudkicker – Fade
The big riffs of his early technical material mixed in with the chill of his latter, Fade seems like the complete Cloudkicker album. It’s still astounding to think that this is one guy sitting at his computer with a guitar.
Listen to “Making Will Mad”
8. A Forest of Stars – A Shadowplay For Yesterday
Bizarre Victorian-themed psychedelic black metal. Their first two albums were great but a bit messy, this one less so. How does a combination this bizarre work so well?
Listen to “Gatherer of the Pure”
7. Bosse-De-Nage – III
The type of album that Pitchfork masturbates furiously to while the “real metal” community go around writing them off as hipster garbage on every website with a comment section even though it’s probably more chaotic than whatever they’re listening to. One of the drumming highlights of the year.
Listen to “Desuetude”
6. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Ame
The pinnacle of shoegazing pseudo-black metal. French things are so pretty.
Listen to “Là Où Naissent Les Couleurs Nouvelles”
5. Loma Prieta – I.V.
If there’s anything near you that’s expensive and breakable, now is not the right time to listen to Loma Prieta.
Listen to “Trilogy 6 “Forgetting””
4. Horseback – Half Blood
I feel like I’m mentioning Earth too many times in this list, but there’s definitely some mixed into Horseback’s new album. Plus a whole bunch of weird ambient sounds and harsh vocals. Best experienced as a full album.
Listen to “Mithras”
3. Panopticon – Kentucky
Three ten minute black metal tracks, two acoustic tracks, and three covers of traditional folk songs. Black metal and American folk music might sound like an odd blend, but somehow A. Lundr (the one man behind Panopticon) make it work.
Listen to “Black Soot and Red Blood”
2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Don’t Bend, Ascend!
The gods of music are back. Magical.
Listen to “We Drift Like Worried Fire”
1. Saltillo – Monocyte
You know when you hear an album early in the year and do the whole “oh my, this is definitely AOTY already”, but then it turns out not to be because there is still a fuckton of other albums still to come? Yeah, nah, this is still #1. Dark, beat-heavy trip hop overflowing with classical instruments and old spoken samples. It’s the soundtrack to a comic book, although an arty black and white “film” would be more fitting.
Listen to “Forced Vision”