This is my last post for TDM and I have to say I have enjoyed blogging here. Many thanks to Rob for taking me on and to Scott for his support through the year. Next year I will be contributing to We Love Metal, rather than starting my own blog at this point. “Real life” just has too much going on, from finishing up my master’s degree, a 10 week intensive military school, another 2 week National Security course, helping run a photography business, and a move next summer to who-knows-where with a new job to learn.
I have been absent lately from here due to demanding classes in school, last minute trips for work, and spending 3 weeks in October and November supporting the response to Hurricane Sandy in NY & NJ. Plus a quick vacation in October. It’s been a little crazy and Metal blogging has taken a back seat.
All that said, the reason for this post is to share with you my top albums for 2012, as well as my song and show of the year. It was really a hit or miss year, with few hits I think. It is impossible to predict if any of these will be long-term solid albums, ones I go back to years from now and stand the test of time, but there may be a handful of candidates. My list consists entirely of veteran bands, averaging over 8 full length album releases over their careers, so no one-hit wonders here.
Some albums that were close, but didn’t quite make it to my list are Varg’s Guten Tag, Kreator’s Phantom Antichrist, Sabaton’s Carolus Rex, At Vance’s Facing Your Enemy, Rush’s Clockwork Angels, and Diablo Swing Orchestra’s Pandora’s Pinata. Here we go…..
11 – Wintersun – Time I – If only it had been longer, I think Time I would have ranked higher on my list. It is an excellent work, but after delays of years, I expected a bit more. It gets the #11 spot in my list.
10 – Lanfear – This Harmonic Consonance – I saw Lanfear at ProgPowerUSA back in September in Atlanta and, frankly, they didn’t quite meet my expectations in their performance. Their 2012 album, however, is still solid and enjoyable.
9 – Overkill – The Electric Age – How can you go wrong with Overkill? Even their worst albums are very good. The Electric Age is a strong offering in the history of the band, thrashy, punk-influenced in places, and clearly the work of a veteran band. Maybe should be higher, maybe not.
8 – Korpiklaani – Manala – I really never thought that a Korpiklaani album would make a year-end favorite list. I like them well enough, but I didn’t think what they do would cut it. Well, Manala did this year, I think because it is a darker, heavier album than their norm, plus I saw them live which increased my enjoyment of the band.
7 – Ensiferum – Unsung Heroes – This was probably my most anticipated album of 2012. I became a huge fan of Ensiferum about 4 1/2 years ago when I saw them on the 2008 Paganfest tour. Unsung Heroes was a bit of a letdown for me. There are some really strong songs here, but some that are lacking. I summed it up much better in my review. Not a bad album, just not as good as I was hoping. It was the album I probably listened to most this year.
6 – Moonspell – Alpha Noir – This was one of my first reviews and is still a favorite of the year. Some really powerful stuff here from the Portuguese Metallers.
5 – Threshold – March of Progress – There wasn’t a lot of Prog Metal released this year that I got into much. Circus Maximus was all right, but not much else – except for Threshold. Although I preferred vocalist Mac McDonald, Threshold released the most solid and enjoyable Prog Metal album of 2012.
4 – Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud – This huge “wall of sound” album from DTP is catchy, poppy, yet heavy. Like I heard a fan at ProgPower say – I would buy a DTP country album if they put one out. Epicloud is a lot of fun.
3 – Pharaoh – Bury the Light – Pharaoh’s 4th album is complex and heavy American Power Metal. I have been a fan for a while, but on this album they have taken their work to another level. It took me a while to “get” the album, but it was worth the effort. I would like to see them on tour in 2013.
2 – Vintersorg – Orkan – This was my top album for the first half of the year, barely squeaking in during June. I still find Orkan to be fresh and think it is a truly outstanding work. I have yet to explore Vintersorg’s other albums, but intend to do so, as well as looking forward to their future works.
1 – Testament – Dark Roots of Earth – It’s Testament. How much more needs to be said? They have long been my favorite Thrash Metal band – probably since The New Order, and seem to get better and stronger with each release. Their last 3 albums have been among my favorites over the last 15 years. Dark Roots of Earth was an easy choice for my top album of the year.
Song of the year: I was tempted to pick one of the really epic songs by Ensiferum (Passion Proof Power) or Wintersun, but decided against it for some reason. I guess I wanted to keep it to a more traditional song. This was a tough decision for me with some really great tunes from which to choose. There are candidates from the albums on my list, as well as from others that didn’t make it. I considered Varg’s Was Nicht Darf, Moonspell’s Alpha Noir, Ensiferum’s In My Sword I Trust, Gojira’s L’Enfant Sauvage, Vintersorg’s Istid, Threshold’s Ashes, and Testament’s Native Blood. Ultimately I chose something a bit on the lighter side – Devin Townsend’s More! from Epicloud. What can I say? I just dig the song, especially starting at 3:30. Check it out.
Show of the year: I didn’t get to attend that many concerts this year, but all that I did make it to were at least very good. I saw Iron Maiden after 30 years of fandom, Iced Earth with Stu Block, Dream Theater with Mike Mangini, and Sabaton with a crowd of about 40. The best performance, though, was one of the bands at ProgPowerUSA in Atlanta. Mystic Prophecy was simply outstanding and really made me more of a fan.
Again, I have had fun this year blogging with Rob & Scott. Check out my new Metal home over at We Love Metal along with Martell and Surdus.
I hear the sound in a METAL way.