These are the top overall albums I listened to over the previous year. I don’t rate by points or comparison. I rate this way, because these are the albums to which I listened the most, enjoyed, and those to which I felt emotional or creative response. Music is something for me that helps my creativity get started, and helps my thoughts start. So, without further ado, here’s the list:
10. Katatonia – Dead End Kings: Released in September 2012, this was the first album that I truly enjoyed from this Swedish band. In my opinion, it was a solid follow up that progressed the previous album “Night is the New Day.” This album offers a more mature look at their darkly chosen topics, such as loneliness, loss, and contemplation. I actually enjoyed this album as much as Opeth’s Heritage (which I love).
9. Acyl – Algebra: I hate Djent. I find it muddled, confusing, and excuse to use primarily charted rhythms with very little progressive movement in its structure. However, these French Tunisians nailed it on this album. The use of North African chanting with Djent was perfect and really made me feel the tribal bent of what Djent is supposed to be. Amazing album that is politically evocative and very tied to the band’s heritage.
8. Enochian Theory – …And All It Entails: Warning – this is not metal. This is a progressive rock band from England whose skill and focus build songs well through their album. I can’t tell you which is my favorite song off it, but I can tell you it was like listening to a collection of poems to found that were well written and well performed. They are of a similar vein to Porcupine Tree and Anathema, but their album was better than Anathema’s as I felt it carried more emotional weight and power behind it.
7. Enslaved – RIITIIR: This is the first album from Enslaved that I understood. I really enjoyed the music, the perform, the power, and folklore behind the band. It feels very rooted in the Norwegian scene, but at the same time feels apart from it and pushing the band’s sound forward. I love growled call and response that is not good cop/bad cop. They did a great job of using that on this album.
6. Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I: A bombastic mixture of Ihsahn/Emperor style black metal, Opeth melodic progression, violins, and power metal. This Australian band’s release had me reeling with their first release. I loved the thoughts this album brought to me when listening to it. If there was anyway in which to make a statement on your first approach, then damn it, these guys did it. And other metal bands, looking to make a name for themselves, should take notes.
5. Obsidian Kingdom – Mantiis: I have been aware of this Spanish band for sometime now (I love to follow band camp/youtube to find new music from independent bands) and I had enjoyed their earlier works, but this album takes them beyond Death and Black into a truly unique and powerful sound. Some of the songs on the album would be movements within songs for other bands, for these guys, they define where they see that song’s emotions developing.
4. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud: This album is just so damned happy, is filled with poppy, hook filled rock, but damn it, it’s one of his most progressive albums! Yes, it’s Devin Townsend, and it has its cheesy movements, but some of the emotional swings on this album have made me laugh aloud or brought tears to my eyes. Anneke Von Giersberegen’s performance on this album actually quiets some of Devin’s cheesiest moments.
3. Ihsahn – Eremita: Like all of Ihsahn’s solo works, listening to this album is listening to a philosophical examination of a theme. In this case, it is regard whether the misanthrope should return to society or not. The approaches that he took on this album pulled him further into progressive rock and even took him into using funk, hooky cock rock riffs, pop, and other strangeness for him. An amazing, soulful performance.
2. Beardfish – The Void: This was the first album I’d ever heard from this Swedish Progressive Rock group. It was perfect in nearly every way, in my opinion, using rock, metal, operatic, and classical approaches. Songs on this album made me reconsider what the Void really was, and what it all could mean. Ludvig & Sverker made me cry. Turn to Gravel made me laugh. Great damn album.
1. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Ame: To be frank, I fell in love with Darkgaze thanks to his previous album; however, it missed what Neige wanted to do with his sound: making a traditionally dark, misanthropic sound when combine with shoegaze into something positive and emotionally warm. In this album, he did it. He transcended the band beyond black metal’s cold plains and icy depths and made each song a cry for joy. This was 2012’s best album in my opinion.