Monday we will begin counting down Meat Mead Metal’s 40 favorite metal albums of 2012, one week earlier than we did last year. It’s been an exhausting process putting together this year’s rundown, but anything worth it is going to require some grunt work.
Before we get to that countdown, I want to take a look at some releases from the past year that aren’t full-length efforts but certainly still deserve mention as some of the finest recordings of 2012. In fact, putting together this list was more challenging than I expected it would be, mostly because I didn’t realize how many quality EPs, splits, demos, and other smaller releases were actually out there. So let’s stop bullshitting and talk about some of these pieces of work.
Anyone who’s read this site with any regularity or who were around for last year’s Top 40 knows the love we have for Minnesota-based black metal dreamers FALSE. Their debut was our top record of last year, and they also made for one of my favorite live shows this year, when they pulled into The Mr. Roboto Project for a scathing, violent, two-song set that was a battle for singer Rachel to endure because she seemed under the weather. But they fucking destroyed. Another great new band from last year was Barghest, a nasty, hate-filled black metal outfit that’s a little more traditional and filth-based and makes you feel like your face is being grinded away when you hear their music. This year, the two bands teamed up for as split that never ceases to blow me away, no matter how many times I hear it.
Gilead Media put out the split effort, and I remember Adam Bartlett telling me how blown away I was going to be about FALSE’s 18-minute epic “Heavy as a Church Tower” and the non-human nature of Rachel’s vocals on the cut, and he may have undersold it. It’s a blistering, exhaustive, dramatic, relentlessly heavy track that, as the band is wont to do, covers everything from black metal, to death, to power. There are glorious keyboards, a drum assault that’ll burst blood vessels, and vocals filled with violence and anguish. Awesome stuff. Can’t wait for their next release. As for Barghest, they’re dirty and mean as always, going off on their two tracks that each are about eight minutes in length. One is brand new, one is an older track, and both are explosive warheads filled with poison and nails. You’ll feel like you got your ass kicked by a street gang when they’re done, and I’m also quite interested in hearing what they blow up next. Killer release.
For more on FALSE go here: http://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/untitled-2
For more on Barghest, go here: http://www.facebook.com/barghestsoulless?ref=ts&fref=ts
To buy the album, go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/
Brooklyn’s Mortals are one of those bands that really needs signed. Right now. Seriously, what are people waiting for? The band’s self-released new “Death Ritual” EP not only infused new music into the scene, it also showed an incredible growth for the band, with more complex, expansive songs, and a killer production that made this recording sound massive and crushing. There are but two tracks on this collection, with a total combined run time of over 15 minutes, and while it may seem like a small morsel, these ladies manage to take that time and use it to leave mega bruises with their sludgy, doomy metal. Someday a label’s going to get super lucky when they sign these banshees, and by that point, Mortals may be ready to capture the world.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/mortalstheband
To buy the album, go here: http://mortals.bandcamp.com/
Deathspell Omega put out on of the year’s more surprising releases with their “Drought” EP. Well, that’s surprising for them because their music generally is so dissonant and bizarre that to hear them put together a collection of more straightforward black metal pieces is kind of alarming. But that’s what they did on this six-track, 21-minute collection that shows a completely different side of the band. At the same time, the songs here are still more warped and imaginative than most other black metal bands’ creations these days, so it’s not like they abandoned their mission. I’d expect the next DSO will be as fucked up as anything else in their catalog, but for now, it was cool to hear what they could do with something more digestible.
For more on the band, go here: http://www.deathspellomega.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/en
Two bands that aren’t necessarily pure metal but that certainly have crossover appeal are Alaric and Atriarch, and both seemed to have different paths after the release of their split effort on 20 Buck Spin. Atriarch went on to sign with Profound Lore and put out their haunting, psychologically marring “Ritual of Passing,” while Alaric, at least temporarily, dissolved. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, and their heady, bruising deathrock lives on, which is a relief as their contributions to this split are infectious and churning. Atriarch are great at making everyone feel uncomfortable, and they do a lot of that with their two songs, especially the utterly scathing “Oblivion,” which is a perfect song for your holiday season.
For more on Atriarch, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ATRIARCH/241062512127
For more on Alaric, go here: http://www.facebook.com/alaricband?ref=ts&fref=ts
To buy the album, go here: http://www.20buckspinshop.com/0
It’s been a big year for NYC black metal crushers Mutilation Rites, signing with Prosthetic Records and putting out their debut full-length “Empyrean,” a release you’re probably going to hear more about next week. Just saying. But before they got to that point, they put out two mangling EPs on two different labels that hinted to the chaos ahead. First up was “Devoid,” a four-track album that came out on Forcefield Records that showed the promise most of us knew was in the band. Then they topped themselves with “I Am Legion,” a blood-spurting, three-track release put out by Gilead Media around the same time the full-length landed on CD (the label released the vinyl version of “Empyrean” later in the year). This band crushed on all cylinders this year, and I’m really excited to see where they go in the future.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/mutilationritesnyc
To buy “Devoid,” go here: http://www.forcefieldrecords.org/store/
To buy “I Am Legion,” go here: http://www.gileadmedia.net/store/
Broken Limbs Recordings had an aggressive year, putting out a great deal of releases and even having one of their discoveries signed to Century Media, that being Vattnet Viskar, whose self-titled EP seemed to have moved a ton of people following its release. But they put out a lot more releases that went sort of under the radar, and many of them fell into the smaller collection category, including impressive stuff from Fhoi Myore, Deafest (which is rad as fuck, and if you like grimy black metal, you’ll dig this heavily), Unsacred, Hunter’s Ground, and the Cara Neir/Ramlord split. This label is giving a lot of underground bands a chance to be heard, and arguably the best record they put out this year we will discuss again next week. I’m excited to see where they go in 2013 and what undiscovered gems they unearth.
To buy or sample any of these recordings, go here: http://brokenlimbsrecordings.bandcamp.com/
Obviously, these are just a few releases we wanted to mention in detail, but there are plenty others worth your time including Pelican’s “Ataraxia/Taraxis” on Southern Lord; the Locrian/Mamiffer collaborative project “Bless Those That Curse You,” out on Profound Lore; two fine releases from Northless, including their split with Light Bearer and their excellent new 10-inch “Valley of Lead,” both out on Halo of Flies; Hydra Head made some final noise with the Mamiffer/Pyramids split and the JK Flesh/Prurient effort we discussed this past week; and the killer Inverloch EP “Dusk/Subside,” out on Relapse.