Saturday, December 15, 2012

Grant's 15 Least Disappointing Albums of 2012

15. Trioscapes “Separate Realities” Metalblade Records

A jazz-fusion album may seem like an odd choice, especially for me, to add to this list, and never mind the fact that Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs holds this trio together (rounded out by a drummer and a saxophone/flutist). But the sheer ferocity that these three attack the six songs on their debut full length is undeniable. If you’re down for some boogie dance jazz influenced rock, I implore you to purchase this album. Well worth the ticket price.

Neurosis: Honor Found in Decay

14. Neurosis “Honor Found in Decay” Neurot Records

The funny thing about Neurosis, is that while they stay true to the sound that they helped develop (the combination of sludge, post rock, industrial, and folk), is that it seems that the music ages with the band. Very few bands in their genre (if there are any) have been able to accomplish what these, now men, have. Let’s hope for more consistency and growth in the future.

Every Time I Die: Ex-Lives

13. Every Time I Die “Ex-Lives” Epitaph

Coming off of the molten magma that was “New Junk Aesthetic” (their previous release thru Epitaph), hopes were set high. But the band pulled a fast one on us and hired “Evil” Joe Baressi to handle the production and boards. While this album has its moments, and moments they are indeed (see the crushing ending to ‘Drag King’) there is a little something that leaves to be desired.

The Chariot: One Wing

12. The Chariot “One Wing” E1/Goodfight Entertainment

Christian “chaoscore” band The Chariot are a band you either love, or don’t get, and frankly that’s your fault. While this write prefers their previous release “Long Live,” on “One Wing” the band hones in on their southern groove, even employing a full horn section and samples galore. Although…if you watch their, might I add excellent, music video for David de la Hoz (from “Long Live”) you may notice something, that leads me to believe this album was recorded during the same sessions.

ISIS: Temporal

11. ISIS “Temporal” Ipecca

Another shocker, considering this is an odds and sods release and is probably only for the most die hard fans of the band. This two disc set features demos, outtakes, remixes as well as the two songs featured on their split ep with the Melvins. A nice and fun retrospective for a band that stopped to soon, or just in their prime, depending on who you ask.

Deftones: Koi No Yokan

10. Deftones “Koi No Yokan” Reprise

I’m a little hesitant to put this album on here. Don’t get me wrong, the riffs are solid, the atmospherics provided by sampler/dj Frank Delgado and Chino’s impeccable and widely improved vocal range certainly make up for the over ‘pop’ sound of this record. Overall the album follows seamlessly, something that hasn’t been heard since their magnum opus “White Pony.”

Periphery: Periphery ii: This Time it's Personal

9. Periphery “Periphery II: This Time it's Personal” Sumerian

I hit the Periphery band wagon late, but I don’t see the problem there. Where as their first disc firmly rooted them in the “djent” scene (fyi, djent is a sound, not a genre and I will fight anyone to the death if they disagree). With their second release, Periphery haven’t completely left behind their djent sound, but have employed far more progressive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them on tour with Dream Theater some time soon. A real standout here is the massive improvement of vocalist Spencer Stotello, who seems to really have come into his own.

Lamb of God: Resolution

8. Lamb of God “Resolution” Epic

Love them or hate them. Decry them as false metal if you must, but the fact of the matter is the southern boys in LoG have continually churned out awe-inspiring riff after riff that will make you want to smash anything and everything in their path. Like Periphery’s vocalist, Randy Blythe seems to have summoned a demon beyond this world. His vocal performance is unmatched and is the true highlight of the album.

Thrice: Anthology

7. Thrice “Anthology”

A bitter-sweet double live release that marked the end of the Thrice as a touring band. This album/s was chosen to be included for two reasons; 1.) It encompasses their massive catalogue with out any of the filler, if you could call it that, and 2.) stands as a testament to their superb live performances. What is most enjoyable about the discs, are that when played at full volume, you can hear the subtle nuances of out of tune guitar chords and slight tempo changes that will not be found on their studio catalogue.

The Melvins: Freak Puke

6. The Melvins “Freak Puke”

This album kind of went under the radar. I’ll make this short, if you haven’t hear this recording…or any Melvins recording, you are doing your self a massive disservice.

The Acacia Strain: Death is the Only Mortal

5. The Acacia Strain “Death is the Only Mortal” Rise

For more information on why this album rocks so freaking hard, please see my review, but for the lazy (tldr) crowd I’ll sum it up with this. DitOM is the true soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind

4. Converge “All We Love We Leave Behind” Epitaph

Converge. Probably the most important band to combine thrash/metal and hardcore and develop it into their own unique sound. Their newest album is no different. If you didn’t love Converge before, this probably won’t change your mind, but the sheer brutality that this disc packs is enough to bludgeon anything in its path. Being the first record with out any kind of outside guests, this record sounds just as much like a live album as Converge could make. Kurt Ballou’s (guitar) excellent production and Jacob Bannons true non-emo heartfelt lyrics (he also contributes all the artwork) will strike a chord with almost anyone in the hardcore community. Experimentation abounds here, from the Ramones inspired opening drum beat to ‘Vicious Muse,’ to the dark chants of ‘Coral Blue’ show the most growth this band has had since “Jane Doe.”

Between the Buried and Me:
The Parallax II: Future Sequence

3. Between the Buried and Me “The Paralax II: Future Sequence” Metalblade

Made 2012 was the “year of the prog” and no one failed to mention that to me. For the fans who grew up listening to “The Silent Circus” or “Alaska” and completely lost faith in the band once their flexed their prog muscles on “Colors” you best stop reading. Where BtBaM does succeed here is the overall scope of the record. There are no real “singles” here and much like Tool’s “Lateralus” this record is best enjoyed by listening all the way through. Dynamics, tempo shifts, and beautiful melodic sections abound. Just about as you are getting comfortable, they completely shift gears and throw you back in the their neo-death-prog stomp. Nerds rejoice.

Meshuggah: Koloss

2. Meshuggah “Koloss” Nuclear Blast

I’m honestly still trying to wrap my head around this record. Where as 2008’s “Obzen” was a riff-fest/hook monster and in the wake of the djent movement, Meshuggah seem completely content to stray very little from the path they have been blazing and perfecting since the late 80’s. Unlike most bands on this list, the lyrics (mostly written by drummer Thomas Haake) are positive and promote inner strength and “surmounting obstacles.” Definitely worth listening to, one, twice, hell on repeat.

Pig Destroyer: Book Burner

1. Pig Destroyer “Book Burner” Relapse

My number one pick for this year should come as absolutely no surprise for people who know me. Serious, you need an album to go the gym, this is it. Need an album to silently curse your boss to, this is it. Need an album to slaughter defenseless animals while traversing the wilds of Skyrim, this is it. Scott Hull once again proves that he is grindcores premier guitarist and JR Hayes seemingly undecipherable lyrics make for one hell of a ride. The production is slick, yet dirty and at 19 tracks barely breaking the half hour mark you’ll be happy to find some reprieve from the onslaught. Go to youtube and search for their excellent video for “The Diplomat."


Honorable mentions:

Whitechapel-Whitechapel (Metalblade)

Great riffs, fun vocal delivery, but just too short and some of the songs tend to bleed (no pun intended) together.

Soundgarden-King Animal (A&M)

There was a lot of speculation that this album would not hold a candle to their older material. Fortunately it does, and its certainly worth a listen.

Black Light Burns-The Moment You Realize You’re Going to Fall (Rocket Science)

After a long break between their debut and an unfortunate Limp Bizkit reunion, Wes Borland and co are back with album number two. While there are plenty of fun rifftastic songs to be found here, there is also an immense amount of filler.

Devin Townsend Band-Epicloud (Inside Out)

After the four album set he released between 2009 and 2011, this came out of the blue. It’s a good record, but probably only for fans.

T.R.A.M.-Lingua Franca (Sumerian)

Another jazz-fusion project featuring member of Animals As Leaders, ex-Mars Volta, and Suicidal Tendencies, it can be quite tedious to get through the entire record. Not to say its bad, its actually quite good and a fun listen, but only for a certain amount of time.