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Brootalisk’s Top 25 Loud Rock Albums of 2012

How does one attempt to define a year that has experienced a continually expanding range of sensations through the means of musical endeavors? Is it even possible to describe the feelings that 2012 has displayed, whether they be sadness, contentment, pain, or exuberance? The answer is no. It is practically impossible to express the emotions that one has been subjected to because no one but one’s ownself can truly know what it felt like when one soared to new heights and reached the crescendo of a particular song, or traveled through the murky depths of a record to reach the climax and leave utterly exhausted yet entirely fulfilled. However, with all that said, it is still a worthy undertaking to recommend, and by doing so acclaim, works of art that have been known to emit a certain uniqueness about themselves, and will relinquish the audience with a sense of admiration. The following 25 albums are, in this humble writer’s opinion, some of the greatest artworks in the musical scene that our generation has been lucky enough to witness and experience first hand.

 

#25: Dethklok – Dethalbum III

Dethklok has always been about satirizing the metal genre, and while Dethalbum III still accomplishes the feat, it’s also a great example of the kind of talent Brendon Small possesses. From the song writing to the instrumentation, Dethalbum III shows just why Dethklok is the most brutal force in the universe.

 

#24: Alcest - Les Voyages De L’Âme

While more post-rock/shoegazey than black metal, Les Voyages De L’Âme is nonetheless a powerful album, and while it doesn’t quite reach the heights that made Écailles De Lune a force to be reckoned with, it is still a great example of frontman Neige’s sheer talent and the near endless possibilities when combining two seemingly different genres into one massive soundscape.

 

#23: Between the Buried and Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

If you come into The Parallax II: Future Sequence knowing what to expect, you will leave sorely confused and perhaps a bit bewildered. Don’t overhype the album (like one Loud Rock Director might have done), and instead let the music naturally flow into you. You’ll enjoy the record much more that way.

 

#22: Daylight Dies – A Frail Becoming

Sometimes it takes a band longer than others to fully mature and ripen into a full fledged dynamic force of nature, but in Daylight Dies’ case, it is well worth the wait. A Frail Becoming is Daylight Dies best record yet, and showcases their confident but not overly eager sound and style.

 

#21: Monuments – Gnosis

Gnosis isn’t the most well put together album, nor is it the most heartfelt, but what it lacks in emotion it more than makes up for in sheer technicality and entertainment. It’s not something you listen to when you want to go on an aural escapade through your mind, but rather a guilty pleasure that’s easy to get into but complex enough to keep you coming back for more.

 

 

 

Best Loud Rock EPs

#5: Circle of Contempt - Entwine the Threads

 

 

#4: Agalloch – Faustian Echoes

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#3: Revocation - Teratogenesis

 

 

 

#2: Apostate - Λ ♦ Λ ♦ Ø (Against All Odds)

 

 

 

#1: Chimp Spanner - All Roads Lead Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#20: Skyharbor - Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos

After leaving Tesseract, Daniel Tompkins has been creating his own musical path, with experiments such as In Colour and Absent Hearts, but by far his most successful work has been in Skyharbor and their debut Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos. However, while Dan’s vocals are some of the best in the genre, it’s Keshav Dhar’s songwriting, and the awesome guest appearances, that truly make this album a must listen.

 

#19: The Sword – Apocryphon

Arguably the most progressive record to come out of The Sword, Apocryphon sees the Hard Rock outfit stay true to their unique brand and style, yet move in the logical next step after the sci-fi goodness that was their 2010 release, Warp Riders. 

 

 

#18: Sylosis – Monolith

Thrash has had some trouble staying relevant in the metal realm in recent years, but Sylosis has made their contribution and imprint on the genre with Monolith, a “monolithic” record that should have no trouble reaching out to fans who have already left the genre.

 

 

 #17: Wintersun – Time I

When a musician takes 8 years to forge a highly anticipated album, it will almost always disappoint fans, no matter the quality of the record, and Time I is no exception. However, don’t allow the voracious and unappeasable fans scare you away from the record. Though not quite on par with Wintersun’s debut, it is still just as epic and grandiose.

 

#16: Deftones – Koi No Yokan

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a Deftones release and to instantly think that every single record is a masterpiece. While the reality is much more dull, this record certainly is not, being full of romantic charge and fleeting commotion. Koi No Yokan is no masterpiece, but it is still an exception work of art that is just as Deftones as any of their other releases.

 

#15: Cloudkicker - Fade

Ben Sharp, mastermind behind Cloudkicker, is something of a Do-It-Yourself musician. All his music, free on his bandcamp, is entirely made by himself and self released. Don’t let that fool you though; Fade is one of the most moving albums on this list. It’s greatness is subtle, but once found you will be able to explore the plethora of impressive musical talent at work here.

 

#14: Exotic Animal Petting Zoo - Tree of Tongues

Characteristically weird and bizarre, Tree of Tongues is, in a way, akin to watching something frightening but remarkably interesting in such a way that you simply can’t look away. There’s nothing about this album that should scare you off though; it’s crazy in all the right ways, yet accessible enough to keep you coming back for seconds and thirds.

 

#13: Meshuggah – Koloss

With everyone trying to copy the sound that has made Meshuggah a household name, Koloss shows the little kids how it’s done. The album is Meshuggah as Meshuggah does. Heavy, distorted riffs, and insanely brutal breakdowns, there is almost nothing not to immediately love about this album.

 

#12: Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

Without the rind mindset, Converge can be incredibly hard to incorporate into your musical tastes. Their goal is simple: pummel you into the ground until you can stand upright no more. All We Love We Leave Behind may not change your opinion on the band, but there’s a definite subtlety about it that implies something a bit more harmonious but just as destructive, a refreshing take on the trademark sound Converge has utilized throughout the years.

 

#11: The Contortionist - Intrinsic

Some may call it pretentious, others may call it boring, but to many more, Intrinsic is an incredibly engaging and worthwhile listen that garners praise where it received criticism. If one gives it a chance, instead of writing it off as a bombastic piece of work, it can reveal an entirely fascinating auditory experience, straight from the heart of one of the premier progressive metal acts today.

 

 

 

Best Non-Loud Rock Albums

#5: Trioscapes - Separate Realities

#4: Rush - Clockwork Angels

#3: Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

#2: Swans – The Seer

 

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#1: Hammock – Departure Songs

 

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#10: High On Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis

High On Fire has always been a good band, but they never dropped an album that could make them a truly great band. That is, until they released De Vermis MysteriisChanneling the sludginess Electric Wizard and the menace of Converge, De Vermis Mysteriis is a fantastic combination of different methods and styles while still being wholly High On Fire.
#9: Neurosis – Honor Found in Decay

An amalgamation of everything Neurosis has accomplished, Honor Found in Decay shows why Neurosis is considered one of the finest post metal acts in history. Although there are some very slight missteps present in the record, they don’t hinder in the slightest what the album represents: a celebration of all that has come to past, and a shimmer of hope for what the future holds. 

 

#8: Hypno5e - Acid Mist Tomorrow

Progressive and completely avant-garde, Acid Mist Tomorrow makes use of numerous tricks, some old some new, to create an atmospheric yet ferocious sophomoric effort. Although there are very unnecessary moments, such as the numerous employments of voice overs, but these are overshadowed by the air of breathtaking brutality that exudes from each and every song.

 

#7: Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Pinata

It’s hard to be avant-garde while still being aaccessible, even more important, coherent. Yet, Diablo Swing Orchestra somehow manage to release one of the weirdest yet most intelligible albums 2012 saw. Full of skillful violin work and operatic singing, Pandora’s Pinata is arguably the zaniest-yet-strongest progressive metal work to come out this year.

 

#6: Amenra – Mass V

The second most soul crushing album on this list (see: #1), Mass V isn’t just an escapade into doom gloom, it’s created for the sole purpose of crushing your spirits with any means Amenra sees fit, and don’t doubt them for a second, no matter how optimistic your outlook on life is. If you’re not at the very least melancholy after listening to the album, you need to plug your speakers in and actually listen.

 

#5: Soul Cycle – Soul Cycle II

It can be hard comparing an instrumental record to albums with vocals of any kind. They’re an easy way to add depth to a song. However, Soul Cycle doesn’t take the easy way out, and with Soul Cycle II, vocals would have only taken away from the excrutiatingly precise instrumentation present on the album. This is arguably the finest instrumental album since Animals as Leader’s self titled debut.

#4: Gojira - L’Enfant Sauvage

What can one say about L’Enfant Sauvage that has yet to be said? It’s not just Gojira’s finest work yet; it’s one of the single greatest albums to come out of 2012, and will most likely be considered a classic 5 years from now. When some reflect on what made 2012 the best year for metal in recent history, this is what many will point to with eager faces and banging heads.

 

#3: Enslaved –  RIITIIR

Equal parts alluring and downright breathtaking, RIITIIR doesn’t skimp any of the radiant beauty that has made them the reigning champion of black metal for two straight releases. Also, it’s most definitely worth mentioning that this record has the most powerful ending of 2012, and it is entirely indicative of the rest of the monumental album that is RIITIIR.

 

#2: Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I

Seeing the crown up for grabs in the progressive metal dominion, Ne Obliviscaris didn’t waste any time in forging one of the most original and creative pieces of art of not just the year, but the entire decade. Portal of I takes the listener on a climactic journey in which one will experience some of the highest highs and lowest lows ever conceived. This isn’t just an album, it is the birth of a new band, one that is sure to release instant classics and garner unbelievable praise. Consider yourself lucky to experience a consummate band in their very beginnings.

#1: Downfall of Gaia – Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes

It’s hard to describe something that has made you feel so many emotions simultaneously without ever being overbearing. Never before has an album had this kind of affect, destroying your very inner soul during the record’s second song, but slowly building you back into something so much greater and more understanding of the world around you. It’s grotesque, beautiful, disconcerting, and exhilarating all at the same time. But, don’t let the Downfall of Gaia’s obscurity scare you from listening to this masterpiece. Let Suffocating in the Swarm of Cranes’ musical content scare you away. Believe me, though, when I say this: you will, most willingly, come back for more perfect mind-bending cruelty and thoroughly enjoy every second of it.

 

 

 

 

intrinsic

Interview with The Contortionist’s Jonathan Carpenter

Every now and then, a band comes along that just blows everyone out of the water with each musical piece that they write. Right now, that band is The Contortionist. I recently got a chance to sit down (or rather, stand up) with their lead singer, Jonathan Carpenter, to talk about their newest release, Intrinsic.

Bröötalisk: Alright, let’s cut to the chase. Intrinsic is, to say the least, a powerful record. Can you give me your though process behind the transition from Exoplanet to Intrinsic? What did you want to accomplish with this record?

Jonathan Carpenter: When we did Exoplanet, we went with the space vibe and that was something that I think, even before I was in the band, was a goal for the end result to be a sci fi type of story. With this album, we had to make a choice of where to go. It’s kind of like a novel style of music. I think we just kept the elements that makes us different and stand out and what we’re good at and finally carved out all the shit we just didn’t want to do anymore. Kinda made a new sound that represents what we enjoy playing live and what we can play live well. We wanted to push ourselves further and know that we’re getting better at writing music and performing it. We tried to get our wide range of sound in the new album and diversified it. Keyboards are definitely more pronounced this record, but they also don’t take over the album. I think overall we’re really pleased with how production and our concepts turned out.

Bröötalisk: Where Exoplanet was about the destruction of our homeworld and our search for a new one, Intrinsic is more about the human mind and how we interpret reality. What inspired you to write such a complex album? Are these kinds of thought provoking themes something you plan to do with later records?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdnIMto1WNU

Jonathan Carpenter: There a bunch of books that I’ve read, mostly science, not necessarily science fiction, that talk about topics that are still being discovered, like neuroanatomy and different biotechnologies that are discussed on the album as far as story goes. Reading books like that inspired me to talk about things that could happen in the future. Things that could really change our daily lives and experiences of reality.

Bröötalisk: Misha Mansoor of Periphery mentioned that Intrinsic is more of a “grower album”. That is, you have to listen to it multiple times before you really understand and appreciate the record. Is that something you were going for with Intrinsic?

Jonathan Carpenter: No, I don’t think that necessarily motivated us. But we didn’t really have a goal to make music that could easily be understood either. We would ask ourselves, “Do we feel like these songs are any more commercial or simplified that represents pop music or anything that’s not thought provoking?” We still feel like the sounds and everything are very interesting and that they break expectations.

Bröötalisk: Speaking of Misha, he always speaks very highly of your band. Is it safe to say that The Contortionist and Periphery and are BFFs?

Jonathan Carpenter: Haha yeah, that’s a good term to describe it. Whenever we’ve toured with them, things were amazing. We got along really well. Buddying up with everybody in the tour. That was an amazing tour in general, but Periphery was definitely great to us. It was a lot of fun.

Bröötalisk: Is that when you first met the band?

Jonathan Carpenter: We had played one show with them before that, and it was just a one off day where two tours got combined randomly. It wasn’t expected. We were the first band to play out of 10 bands, so we played in front of like 15 people. They were one of the coheadliners. So yeah, we met them there, and a year later we toured together.

Bröötalisk: Many people have been speculating that Periphery and you guys might tour together some time soon. Is there any info you can give out on this?

Jonathan Carpenter: We don’t have anything solidified right now, but there have been talks between their manager and ours. Summer Slaughter was definitely something we tried to be in the running for, and unfortunately it didn’t work out this year. But who knows, maybe next year we’ll get that.

Bröötalisk:A little more off topic, I’m what you might call a vinyl enthusiast, so when I saw that Intrinsic wasn’t being pressed on vinyl, I was disappointed. Are there any future plans to release the album on vinyl?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’d imagine that’s very likely that will happen. The reason we just released a CD is because we wanted to focus on just getting it out there and then maybe later on do some secondary things and spice things up.

We just couldn’t keep our hands off of each other.

Bröötalisk: So, every time I mention that I listen to The Contortionist, almost every one seems to think I’m talking about something Cirque de Soleil. This made me wonder, where did you get the name “The Contortionist” from?

Jonathan Carpenter: I’m pretty sure that that originated from Joey, our drummer. I don’t know all the reasons for it. I think it’s kind of a mixture between sounding fucking awesome and the fact that we change our sound a lot. But I’m not really sure, it wasn’t me. I would say that it’s basically those two things. You know how it is when you have to pick out a name.

Bröötalisk: What are some of your favorite bands out there right now?

Jonathan Carpenter: There’s a lot of lighter stuff that have nothing to do with metal that I like to listen to, Deerhunter, Minus the Bear. I really like Wild Beasts a lot. As far as metal goes, the newest Textures album is still really sick, I like to jam that out. I also like Last Chance to Reason, busting out Level 2 never gets old. The new Periphery was also really awesome, I liked that. Other than that, I haven’t really been listening to music because I’ve been so busy finishing up recording. But now that that’s over, I’m starting to get back into the cycle again.