2012 will remain in history as a mediocre year. Some of my old favourites (My Dying Bride, Drudkh, Turbonegro, Aura Noir) managed to deliver “only” decent albums – or maybe I just expected more from them. Also some albums are waiting to reveal their secrets (Neurosis) or waiting to be bought (Swans, Vemod). Besides these reasons/excuses, I spent lots of time with demos and 7”s but it’s hard to me to see these kinds of releases in “the best of” lists. And by the way, if you’re into more mainstream recommendations, go for Choir Of Young Believers‘ Rhine Gold, Bat For Lashes‘ The Haunted Man, Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die or Smashing Pumpkins‘ Oceania for example.
You can always check my “The Chosen Three” lists from the links below, but they don’t give you the whole truth: some months were better than others, that’s how it goes. But here’s something that will stay in my record player also in 2013 and beyond.
NOTE: “More of this” additions have only slight stylistical similarites.
HEXVESSEL: No Holier Temple (Svart)
Mat McNerney made a huge impact with the debut Dawnbearer but the even bigger surprise was how Hexvessel managed to climb even higher with No Holier Temple. This album gives you more nuances, more instruments, more tricks and treats and more everything but still everything is in a great balance. And the core of Hexvessel – folky melodies and McNerney’s nostalgic voice – is present too, sharper than ever. Nowadays when many bands just act to be retro or psychedelic or spiritual, Hexvessel is the real deal.
More of this: ULVER: Childhood’s End, ANTERO LINDGREN: Mother, TERVAHÄÄT: Kalmonsäie – Patria, JOOSE KESKITALO & KOLMAS MAAILMANPALO: Vyötä kupeesi ja tule
SATAN’S SATYRS: Wild Beyond Belief! (Trash King)
Here’s some dirt to you. It’s not a miracle that Satan’s Satyrs has only one member, because if you listen to this album, it’s easy to imagine a mainman Claythanas as a violent, unpredictable rebel with a habit, who messes around with some serious groove in his blood. Inject some Venom into veins of Electric Wizard and forge Black Flag to fuck Black Sabbath, and you are quite close to the atmosphere of Wild Beyond Belief!.
More of this: SEREMONIA: Seremonia, GRAVEYARD: Lights Out
TESTAMENT: Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast)
A total surprise. I loved The Gathering, I skipped The Formation of Damnation for some reason and I was skeptical with Dark Roots of Earth. Luckily I was wrong: this album took me back to my days of youth, filled me with energy and gave back my faith in true metal. No bullshit but pure thrash attack, and all those ballads, cover songs and guitar solos fill the blanks so perfectly that the listening experience of Dark Roots of Earth is simply breath-taking. Looking forward seeing Testament live at Tuska festival in 2013!
More of this: Well, I don’t know… Recommend something, please!
REVEAL: Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth (High Roller / Invictus)
Well, this album was released already in 2011, but the CD edition came out this year so I hope you let me go with this… This absurd painting of death metal gives you everything you dare to wish for: old school, old old school, originality, obscurity, damn good songs, damn good riffs, damn good vocals… One of those albums that just drills its way into your mind and you can’t describe how this all happened. Try yourselves.
More of this: HORRENDOUS: The Chills, WEAPON: Emblems and Revelations
MGLA: With Hearts Toward None (Northern Heritage)
This album has been a grower. Although I have all Mgla releases in my shelf, I have never found the inner essence of this band. Also With Hearts Toward None sounded a bit dull in the beginning, but somehow I have returned to this catchy, dynamic and aggressive beast time after time. And now, when this year draws near, I’m hooked. Original but traditional, heavy but natural, melodic but crushing… The only down side is that I skipped Mgla’s live performance at Black Flames Of Blasphemy III. Silly me.
More of this: KAWIR: Isotheos, BAPTISM: As the Darkness Enters, RAHU: The Quest for the Vajra of Shadows, VENUS STAR: Setyphorus
“THE CHOSEN THREE” LISTS: