I've been running web pages since 1995 and my ears are still so thrilled to hear what's coming out. I can't get enough of this shit. It's hard to believe metal got so bad for a few years there, but music was great overseas. I just didn't know about it. Now, all those years later, it's been consistent ever since those dark years ended well over a decade ago.
If you would have told me the year would have new albums from RodGab, Agalloch, Lamb Of God and Naglfar (!!!) I would expect a kick-ass year. Expectations aren't everything of course, and I'm sad to say that none lived up to anything I expected. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that 2012 was the weakest year for metal since the 90s.
However, this is a first: Vintersorg appears on his solo band's album and as a vocalist on the Borknagar and these are my two favorite records of the year. That's never happened before. I started getting into Alcest though 2012's offering isn't their strongest. Module, the creator of the Shatter soundtrack, put out a very cool solo album.
Sadly, beyond that, I was not wowed by anything. Testament and Anathema's LPs were OK. The new Burzum had a good first half. Rodrigo Y Gabriela put out reworked songs with a Cuban band...but I'd heard those songs before and I enjoy the quaint nature of the two-piece. Tenacious D has some good songs.
Everything else was either disappointing or just plain 'meh'. Quite certainly the weakest year in an age. Sad...really.
2011 was a year to be excited about. It was also a year of the epic horrible. There were some surprises, some delightful surprises. Let's see...
First off, I got into three new bands. Moonsorrow is the first, and their album was AotY back in spring when I first heard it. So good. So heavy, so fantastic. As for the other two, Skeletonwitch is perfect thrash/speed/riff/death/excellence. Sadly, their newest isn't their best, but it's so riffy I forgive them. Insomnium suffers the same fate. So good, but their prior albums were better. Still, I love their sound and am psyched to have been introduced to three new, awesome bands.
The long wait for Einherjer's reunion LP left me...unimpressed. However, after subsequent spins, I'm thrilled they're back. It's a great blend of viking and metal, just it's different from what I expected. I love it. Lantlôs is back with their 3rd release and I am in love. It's heavy, but it's mellow. It's just greatness...as is My Dying Bride's 30-minute, one-song EP. I love it. After being disappointed by their last, this was a welcome surprise.
Amon Amarth is solid, if not the same as everything else (forgiven).
Children Of Bodom is solid, if not the same as everything else (but I'll never listen to it...why is that so? Just not fair.)
Demonaz! Haha...that's a cool record. Sounds like what I used to write back in '98...just more Immortal-y. The new Arch Enemy has no flaws, but I find myself skipping it a lot. Same for Amorphis. The Anthrax, you know, the first in 20 years with Joey, well, I love it. It's got some really catchy songs and man, Joey's voice is still there! ROck on! I love the MDB 'classical' record, whatever you might call it. Not an every-day listen, but it's so perfect when you are in the mood.
Please don't make me talk about Megadeth. You were great, then SUCKED, then were awesome again and....THIS? I knew once Junior rejoined it would go to shit. I can't even make it through a whole song.
Speaking of unlistenable. Two words: Opeth and Heritage. Listen, they can do whatever they want, but this is just bad on every level. I don't want to talk any more...so bad.
A new decade perhaps, but nothing major is new. Just a solid year of metal records!
I think the Exodus is AOTY. It's just a riff & solo masterpiece. I read a complaint that the songs were too long, but I don't care. People still herald Justice as brilliant and those songs just go on and on and on! Exodus...OH YEAH.
Now, I've gone back (2 years later) to add Alcest whose cailles de Lune is just spectacular.
Does Kalmah know how to put out a bad record? While the last wasn't as good as earlier efforts, 12 Gauge is better, returning to the riffy/doodle roots which I love. It's not as memorable, again, as older albums, but I never tire of Kalmah. Soilwork! That first song rocks and, sadly makes the rest of the album a bit weaker. They're not the only band to have done this, placed the best song of the bunch first (The Cure - Wild Mood Swings, too bad the rest of that album sucks). I love the CD though, SO MUCH better than recent ones.
Some albums just don't do much for me. The new Blind Guardian, for one, was a highly-anticipated CD that...well...I feel as if I've heard before (and better). Why listen to this when A Night At The Opera does it better? On the other hand, Belus, the long-awaited Burzum return sounds exactly like Filosofem...and I couldn't care less! I love it. I suppose that's not fair, is it?
Anathema. Man, I've been waiting for this one for a long time. Now it's here and...I don't listen much. I prefer the original versions of the 3 songs released, and I love the album but...don't know. Yeah, reviewing isn't fair.
Fear Factory, Witchery, Borknagar...all good, not great, and I won't likely listen much. Maiden's album is better than the last, but who cares? The record is selling like crazy in Europe. I like a few tracks that feel different. They'll never live up to Chemical Wedding. Oh, Overkill. Put track 6 on. Damn, that shit rules. That's metal right there.
Dimmu is good. Forbidden is good. Amorphis' re-recording is...yeah. Good. None are killer.
Did I say killer? October Tide is fantastic. The new Lantlôs is utterly phenomenal! Agalloch! They aren't powerful metal records, but they are all powerful.