The Top 40 Metal Albums of 2012 (According to Pitchfork Media)

By sethgeck0 sethgeck0
updated over 6 years ago

  1. Horseback - Half Blood

    Horseback's proper follow-up to 2009's The Invisible Mountain finds mastermind Jenks Miller, also a member of Mount Moriah, recasting his blackened blues as moody post-rock. The record features a series of expansive drone pieces with "Hallucigenia" in their titles: three peyote-drenched closers reminiscent of the free-form moments on Miller's collaboration with fellow Southern metal experimentalists Pyramids.

  2. Vattnet Viskar - Vattnet Viskar

    3 For Sale from $19.98

    The New Hampshire band's immense three-song self-titled debut features propulsive, atmospheric blackened doom you can tell grew out of hardcore even if you haven't seen them live or read band-related Twitter feeds discussing veganism. On the strength of the EP's 27 minutes, Vattnet Viskar signed a deal with mammoth metal label Century Media. Smart move: This feels very much like the future of black metal in the United States.

  3. Bell Witch - Longing

    4 For Sale from $10.00

    The Seattle band, featuring Samothrace bassist Dylan Desmond also handling vocals, add a few wrinkles to the usual doom format on their 60+ minute debut. They're a duo, and they don't go out of their way to pretend they aren't: This is spacious, spare music. Offering a mesmerizing performance, Desmond does funeral bellows, Om-like chants, and soaring (and peaceful) psychedelia in ways that redefine the role of "doom vocalist."

  4. Royal Thunder - CVI

    Fronted by Miny Parsonz, a bassist and singer who really sings, this Atlanta quartet's debut features Southern rock, a deep doom atmosphere, and plenty of actual songwriting. Time and again, it's Parsonz who brings it all together-- and over-the-top-- with her sun-cracked, Robert Plant-style howl. If any band on my list were to crossover to classic rock radio, it'd be Royal Thunder.

  5. Samothrace - Reverence To Stone

    Featuring a rhythm section that includes members of Book of Black Earth and Bell Witch, the Seattle (via Kansas) quartet's two-song sophomore album arrived four years after their excellent three-song debut, Life's Trade. Mixing doom, crust, magisterial guitars, and Brian Spinks' raw howls, they're a masterful, disarmingly compositional band who can sound anthemic even when they're in a barely audible stretch.

  6. Early Graves - Red Horse

    10 For Sale from $12.82

    Early Graves' founding vocalist Makh Daniels was killed in August 2010 when his band was involved in a car accident while on tour with the Funeral Pyre. Two years later, the San Francisco group has a new singer, close friend John Strachan of the aforementioned Funeral Pyre, and a ferocious, life-affirming new record. It doesn't need "thrash," "hardcore," "punk," or "death" affixed to it.

  7. Haarp (2) - Husks

    6 For Sale from $9.99

    On the New Orleans quartet's second proper album, they play filthy minimal sludge reminiscent of Harvey Milk's A Small Turn of Human Kindness. Amid the down-tuned Southern-swamp guitars (there are some grooves here), Shaun Emmons' I-will-kick-your-ass vocals take on a death metal cast. It's bracing music, but across these three patient songs with titles that match the naturalist cover art, it's hard not to think of HUSKS as elegant, no matter how violent it gets.

  8. Black Breath - Sentenced To Life

    When you listen to the Seattle-via-Bellingham quintet's second full-length, an all-around upgrade from their debut, you're as likely to hear early East Coast hardcore acts like Cro-Mags and a variety of European crust punks as you are Slayer, Disfear, or Entombed. You're also going to hear 10 amazing, hyperspeed anthems. In many ways 2012 was the year mid-tempo died: drop the Black Sabbath and dig deeper into the Discharge, Mob 47, Anti Cimex, and your own past as a hardcore kid. Black Breath helped lead that charge.

  9. Satan's Wrath - Galloping Blasphemy

    The Greek blackened thrash duo, fronted by ex-Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou, blend 1980s NWOBHM, unholy atmospherics (whips, lashes, hells bells, moaning), and satan worship (see: "One Thousand Goats in Sodom", "Hail Tritone, Hail Lucifer") into an anthemic combo worthy the collection's name. You may be reminded of Nifelheim, Venom, or back when you were in high school and thought Iron Maiden were sort of scary.

  10. Grave (2) - Endless Procession Of Souls

    The seminal early-90s Swedish death metal band's 10th album marked their return to Century Media. Though vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren is the only original member at this point, each of Endless Procession's huge, pristinely filthy songs and death trash riffs feels like a tasteful update on the classic Swedish sound Grave helped pioneer with 1991's In the Grave and 1992's You'll Never See.