Emperor Rhombus’ Top Fifteen Metal Albums of 2012
Last night, I watched a movie called Antichrist, which lived up to its title and then some. At some point — it was either when Willem Dafoe gets his cock smashed with a piece of firewood, or when he snaps Charlotte Gainsbourg’s windpipe, I can’t be sure — realized that this movie was an apt representation of my 2012, which was a whirlwind of death, confusion, disappointment, and triumph. Hence, my list, an eclectic fifteen albums ranging from smoky black magic rituals to completely nihilistic death-worship. Obviously, listening to these albums won’t fuck your year up, but if your year’s been fucked up, shit, put ‘em on!
The only thing I know about either of these bands is that they absolutely kill on this split. An awesome outing from two relatively-unknowns.
I’m much more of a quick-punchy-let’s-do-this metal fan, so an album with three tracks over ten minutes better get to me in a deep way. Thankfully, this British quartet’s gross, unholy brand of doom metal is just perfect for making me want to hug myself and shudder all night long.
Listen: “Part 1”
Any given Pig Destroyer album makes me feel like I have acid for skin, and Book Burner is no different, a Artaudian modern fairy tale steeped in hopelessness and frantic desperation.
This Finnish duo’s sophomore album was an unexpected favorite for me. Using killer riffs and a lumbering, kaiju-sized sense of pace, The Doom Skeptron is a burly, catchy listen from start to finish.
Listen: “The Sceptre of Damnation”
Strung-out and unholy, the Howling Wind fill the void between Mayhem and Eyehategod. This hunk of enchanted blackened doom is beautiful in its strange and twisted vision of magic and mankind.
Listen: “The Mountain View”
While every Cannibal Corpse album is awesome, Torture is especially crushing and creepy. Focusing less on anatomical building blocks and more and terror and menace, the greatest death metal band of all time has continued its campaign of madcap brutality with an injection of emotional darkness.
Listen: “Scourge of Iron”
With their patented mixture of cold black metal, suicidal doom, and rollicking thrash, Brooklyn’s Mutilation Rites have outdone themselves on their trippy new full-length, a blast of ethereal darkness that has all the mercy and grace of a black hole.
Full of smoke, ivy, tombstones and cat bones, Down’s latest six-song EP is their most consistent work to date. The band’s sound is a lush riff-filled swamp of Southern metal, complete with a sense of modern despondency that looks great on the band.
Listen: “Open Coffins”
For years, I’ve been waiting for these French neo-black metallers to put something out that makes me like them as much as everyone else seems to. With Drought’s strange, strung-out sound, they finally won me over. An addictive masterpiece.
Listen: “Scorpions & Drought”
Seeing these guys open for The Black Dahlia Murder at Irving Plaza, I was won over by their sheer amount of talent and tireless intensity, and Sedition lives up to the band’s live show with its incredible mix of technicality and melody.
Listen: “The Cannibal Gods”
My favorite find of last year, Tucson, AZ’s Young Hunter have outdone themselves with their independently-released full-length debut, a creeping stoner rock cloud of heat lightning and dusty shadow that has the distinct aftertaste of madness. Get on these guys — they’re beautiful.
Listen: “Black Candles”
You have to love some fuzzy old-school death metal, and no one does fuzzy old-school death metal like Asphyx. On Deathhammer the Netherlands’ greatest export charges through ten tracks of fun blood-and-booze-soaked doomy chug with all of the grace of a wrecking ball.
Listen: “We Doom You to Death”
How many consecutive perfect records can a band put out before they are untouchable? Because at this point, High On Fire cannot be fucked with. This album is both incredibly beautiful and surprisingly crushing, an unstoppable brute that manages to also touch a higher level of consciousness. I mean, really. Every single fucking time, with these guys.
Listen: “Madness of an Architect”
There is a balm in having your ass kicked. Not in the cruel assault perpetrated by thugs or bullies, but that Tyler Durden-style exorcism of one’s pain can be healthy. On Sentenced To Life, Seattle’s Black Breath give the listener to good old-fashioned sonic beating, just the way they like it. Entombed-core? Those Swedes wish they’d made this record.
1. Sigh — In Somniphobia (Candlelight)
Including influences from gospel choirs, Spaghetti westerns, and technopop, the new album from Japan’s black metal innovators blows everything else away. Its nightmarish atmosphere of hallucinatory paranoia and manic dementia is inspirational, soothing, and inimitable. Art in its most bizarre form.