So, I have been pondering on what my 20 best albums are this year, all year! Some were dead certs and others extremely late runners; but hell what a year, right!?
Some huge names have pulled out their career bests, and some not so well known emerging bands have shown us just what we can expect in the future offering up some fantastic EP’s and debuts, but one thing is for sure, ALL the bands have been on top form not just in the studio but pulling out all the stops in a live environment (well, obviously those I have seen!).
So with less than 24 hours left of 2012 here are my favourite albums from this year, the ones that impacted most on my musical ears (and beard) counting down from twenty to the cream of the year that was 2012!
20. Chimpspanner – ‘All Roads Lead Here’ (Basick Records)
2012 was really the Year of the Chimp (or the Spanner). Sir Chimp himself, Paul Ortiz took a live band out with him and suddenly ‘arrived’ on the scene. Even though he’s got 2 previous albums before this EP. More of the journey of sound and 8 strings were used, and more evolved and intricate. The vinyl version of ‘ARLH’ features 4 remixes of ‘Supererogation’ from ‘At The Dreams End’ as a bonus. One of which is by another of Basicks signings, The Algorithm)
19. De Profundis – ‘The Emptiness Within’ (Kolony Records)
Their 3rd album is better produced and mature than their previous but they have managed to keep that unique sound (the twangy bass guitar being part). Prog-Death has certainly become something so much more over the last few years. With bands like Talanas, Agonyst and Ne Obliviscaris forging new ground, DP are amongst those willing to push boundaries.
18. Diesel King – ‘The Ancient and the Nameless EP’ (Self released)
Larger than life (and that’s not just talking about DK frontman Mark O’Regan!) this EP was always going to storm buildings (WTF does that even mean? – Beard)…Get out of the way…Beard here!. This EP is dirty, mean, spiteful, fuzzed out and fuckin brutal. DK crash the party, drink all your booze and fuck shit up..they then come over and have a bloody good ol’ chat about horror films and buy you a drink! Not so much a review this as it is just how much we love this band!
17. Graveyard – ‘Lights Out’ (Nuclear Blast)
Heavier and ballsier than the previous two albums, Graveyard delivered a punch to the gut with this. More politically charged this goes straight in and moves the soul, with a bulldozer. Still Graveyard but a slightly more grown up one. Live, this new stuff is amazing! The digipak also comes with a free patch!
16. Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children – ‘Movin’ On’ (Superhot Records)
Beard again. I can’t trust that prick Griz to not go off on some poncy adjective spew over this so I’m doing it. TRIPPY FUCKIN’ WICKED MAN!!!! The 2nd album from some of the nicest guys in fuzz. TW know what needs to be done and with songs like ‘Hillbilly Moonshine‘, just like Stubbs ‘Soul Mover’ you have to dance, mosh, jump about, swing each other round and round arm in arm. Whereas ‘Pour Me Another One‘ is bordering on pure heavy metal riffage but with more fuzztone.
TW really get the room buzzing when they play and when you listen to this you’ll understand why (and Pete Holland has some amazing shirts as well!)
15. Napalm Death -‘Utilitarian’ (Century Media)
What can you say about Napalm that you don’t already know? Always invoking though, emotion in the listener and never really diverting from their trodden path. You know what you are getting with a new Napalm Death album and it never disappoints. Barney and co. deliver another dose of governmental up yours-ness (not a word – Beard)
14. Witchcraft – “Legend” (Nuclear Blast)
The occult of the 70’s lives on! Witchcraft return with a stonker of an album. Doom never sounded so welcoming and these guys play it with relish. Heavy riffage that leaves you feeling like you’ve just smoked some Satan weed and killed a goat whilst dancing naked with vestal virgins around an a bonfire. I couldn’t pick out a favourite track to be honest so just go buy the album. The Swedes are certainly ruling this day!
13. Earthmass – ‘Lunar Dawn EP’ (self released)
This Essex based space-psych band came from the ashes of Earth (they only played one gig under that name and then had to add the -mass) and Another Dead Hero, these boys bring some seriously tripped out wonderment that you can’t help to drift off to and become totally entranced by. So good I bought the 2nd release of this limited edition EP!
12. Rush – ‘Clockwork Angels’ (Roadrunner)
Love Rush. That is all….Well not quite all as that would be a rather crap review, but having heard 3 tracks of this last year at the O2 show good things were expected, and they came up with the onions as always. ‘Headlong Flight’ had been played on Planet Rock prior to the album coming out and the opening bass riff to that was soooooo freakin heavy! The album is just what you would expect from the Canadians, but with enough progression to not be stale. I have been found singing along to this whilst walking the streets to the pub (much like a lot of the albums in this list )…not sure that’s the biggest PR push the band have ever had and not sure a real selling point..”Fuck me Griz sings this on the way to the pub I MUST go and buy it NOW!” but hey it is MY top 20 review!
11. Alunah – ‘White Hoarhound’ (Catacomb)
Doooom! You’re all DOOOOOOMED!! And we love it! The follow up to their debut album “Call of Avernus’ here is another band growing to become something monstrous. The pick up in the 7 1/2 minute opening track ‘Demeter’s Grief’ is wicked. There you are, slowly banging your head with your eyes closed and then it ups tempo and you’re found with an air guitar in your hand smiling like a loon and thinking…”Fuck me this is only the opening track…what next!”
Well fret not doomsters, the rest of the album is immense, so light up the candles, draw the curtains, strip naked and dance around to the soundtrack of the ritual your mother never let you go to (of course make sure it’s not when the family are watching Sunday afternoon TV as that could be a bit embarrassing, eh!? – Beard)
The final Countdown. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaat Ten..
10. Winterfylleth – ‘The Threnody of Triumph’
There is so much going on with this album that, like the Spires EP, you need to listen…and listen…and listen…and then listen again. This isn’t just heavy, this is complex. This is deep. This takes you to places that no longer or do not, exist. Yet another album full of passion and emotion for English heritage. They not only play this, the believe in it.
Straight in with ‘A Thousand Winters’ you are not allowed to take a breath and are given no warning of what is to come. A fall frontal assault that you can’t help but feel proud of, whether you are knowledgeable about the history and forthcoming they write about or not (I must admit I wish I knew so much more about our heritage than I do, so that I could fully appreciate this) you just need to enjoy and revel in the landscapes they create.
But there are new diversions going on here as well. With ‘Aefterield-Fréon’ we are presented with a somber, melody that features violin and acoustics that just makes you want to weep. A wondrous and at times, beautiful album that they should be extremely proud of, as I know their followers and fans are.
9. Stubb – ‘Stubb’
Having heard most of the songs on this album over the past 18 months or so, familiarity was not a problem…it just meant I could hear them whenever I wanted. Soulful, groovy, fuzzed out STUBB play their 70’s inspired rock with passion. Songs like ‘Soul Mover’ just make you want to dance and dance we (Beard and I) do whenever they play it live, whereas ‘Crosses You Bear’ a melancholy, acoustic number and ‘Crying River’ are full of emotion and thought.
The vocal stylings from Jack (Dickerson) on the opener ‘Road’, on first listen, are quirky, but work to great accompaniment to the guitar, whilst Peter Holland’s (bass and lead singer to another band in this list, Trippy Wicked) bass playing and vocals on ‘Scale The Mountain’ are on another level. Finishing off the band is Chris West (who also plays drums on Trippy’s album) are played effortlessly simple, but are in fact hard and rhythmic.
Mixed by Sun Gods In Exile’s Tony D’Agostino just goes to show the respect these guys hold in the genre. A fabulous debut that leaves you wanting more…so you’ll just have to put it on repeat and listen again and again.
8. Antimatter – ‘Fear of a Unique Identity’
A very late runner for this list, but thanks to yet another marvellous recommendation from my very good friend, Alex Figures, this has made it in. I cannot truly express how much I love this album.
Sorrowful, emotional and beautiful are the words that go nowhere near the accolades this should get.
The band have featured members of Anathema in the past, but Mick Moss is the founder and main man here and ooooh to see them live!
7. Spires – ‘Lucid Abstractions EP’
For those who do not know this band, you are seriously missing out! There is so much going on within their songs it will take you many, many listens to fully appreciate them. Since seeing them at Bloodstock 2011, where they played an amazing acoustic set I, as well as everyone else who watched them that day on the Jager Stage, has been waiting for them to release this EP, and when the wait was over I certainly was not disappointed.
Close your eyes and let it take you off to a distant place. There is so much emotion going on that it will become a soundtrack of moods. Complicated and melodic as I have not heard before.
And don’t think that because this is an acoustic EP that it is not heavy. Fuck that.! This is as heavy as their debut album ‘Spiral of Ascension’ (of which there is a version of that title track on this EP). Seek this out then go see them live .You can thank me later!
6. Steak – ‘Disastronaut EP’
Beard here. The meatsack that I have to carry around, otherwise known as Griz is pissing about doing his hair (or whatever it is he does when I’m drunk) so I’m reviewing this bad boy!
What can I say about STEAK? I listen to them. I go see them. I totally dig them. I eat them…well not actually ‘them’ but steak the dead animal kind..anyway… I wear them! I FUCKIN’ LOVE STEAK!
Straight in with their balls out on the opening track ‘The Butcher’ this EP is a sign of great things from this London based, truly hard working band.
Hard rocking and definitely hard drinking SOBs it’s full of great tunes, riffs, and having finished the year on the back of a UK tour with the fuckin’ Truckfighters no less, 2013 is going to be their year! I fuckin’ love this band so make sure you go see these guys next year or I’ll set Professor Griz on ya! (not to be confused with Professor GRIFF of Public Enemy..totally different person).
5. ZZ Top – ‘La Futura’
The most famous beards (and non beard) in music are back with what they do best…low, down dirty blues rock. Heavy as fuck, you can hear the years in Billy’s voice and the ‘don’t give a crap’ solid playing.
Loved this from the second I put it on and still having a great time walking along, singing and pretending to feel the summer sun on my bearded face (remember England has shit weather and is at the moment wet and cold so anything that can take you away from that is a blessing).
Seriously looking forward to seeing these guys for the first time at Hellfest in 2013.
4. Corrosion Of Conformity – COC
Back to a three piece of Weatherman, Dean and Mullins and harking back to the hardcore days but still keeping a tinge of the Southern groove that Pep brought in during the early 90’s onwards.
This is a punk album with intent.
Loving the stripped-backness of it and it’s hard edge and lyrical dig at the establishment.
Favourite track for me has to be ‘Time of Trials’. Immensely catchy. Another mighty fine signing by Candlelight.
3. Lynyrd Skynyrd – ‘Last of the Dying Breed’
Having not bought a Lynyrd album for many years I took the plunge on this one…and boy was I not disappointed. In other words, Hells yeah!
Blues rock and Southern groove aplenty. From the opener of the title track this album takes you along the dusty highways and whiskey soaked roads of the South.
You can’t help but smile when the likes of ‘Mississippi Blood’ kicks in it’s slow and heavy rhythm and then the chorus hits you and you just have to sing along.
Lynyrd Skynyrd are still doing it loud and proud!
2. Anathema ‘Weather Systems’
From their doom days to the emotionally charged, atmospheric and heartfelt latest album, Anathema never fail to bring us something that stirs the very core.
‘Weather Systems’ shows the band doing what they do best. Not too much of a diversion from their last, but more a growing older, more refined and even more moving.
And what landed at Griz n Beards Number One spot for 2012?
Orange Goblin – ‘Eulogy For The Damned’
HEAVY FUCKIN METAL BABY! One of our best bands came back after 5 years with a blinding, stomping, rollicking album of Heavy Metal.
Every song is a corker and shows the OG at their absolute best.
With songs ranging from Cthulhu legend (Red Tide Rising), to hell-bound bikers (The Filthy and the Few) through the classic horror of Our Lord John Carpenter (The Fog) finishing up with the title (and one of the most heavy and emotional tracks they have ever written) ‘Eulogy For The Damned’.
Messers Ward, Hoare, Turner and Millard have produced something that is still being revered and reviewed and listened to nearly a year on from it’s March release. I certainly haven’t stopped listening to this since it came out and it’s still at the top of my playlists going into a new year. Here’s to 2013 and the long awaited WORLD TOUR BABY!!!
I cannot express how much I fuckin’ love this album. honestly it’s got everything you could possibly want from a heavy metal record! You can tell the band loved every minute of recording this and live?, this album is fuckin’ terrific. Ben and Co seriously enjoy playing these amongst the older stuff and I have not seen one show that the fans have not embraced and sung along to. THAT is the power of The Goblin!
So if you haven’t discovered the OG by now go out and buy this album. You will not regret it…and if you don’t, they send something horrible round your house to devour your eternal soul MMMWWWAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
So that’s it really. There are omissions from this list (which could have gone on for ages), but big shouts go out to the following;
– Attica Rage with their 3rd album “88 MPH” which is heavier and more dirty than a pan full of cigarette but filled with bike grease;
-Telepathy “Fracture EP” another dose of Essex based instrumental sludge/pysch;
– The Earls Of Mars “The Skies Are Falling EP”. If you like The Meads of Aspodal you’ll love this bunch of loons;
– Bong Cauldron “Tree Wizard EP” how can you not like a band with a name like that!
and Ne Obliviscaris “Portal of I”. So complex that you’ll be wondering wtf happened to the last hour plus. Progressive Death Metal from down under.
So it’s goodbye from me for 2012…and it’s goodbye from Bea….(OI I’ll do the fucking outro ya bag of shi……..)