Best of 2012 — Records we loved that weren’t quite metal (but they’re close)

jess

Jess of Jess and the Ancient Ones

Anytime you run a list of anything, there will be those omissions that aren’t included for one reason or another. We had that issue with some records we raved about during the year that, for a reason perfectly logical to us, didn’t make the list of the top 40 metal records of 2012. The key word there is “metal,” and that’s one of the things that prevented a few albums from making the list.

There are a few records that I saw on other people’s and outlets’ metal lists that weren’t included on the Meat Mead Metal list simply because we didn’t deem the album truly metal and therefore did not list them. That doesn’t mean these bands and records weren’t some of our favorites of the year, we just didn’t feel comfortable categorizing them as metal records. So in our first entry of the new year, I want to mention these records because they are excellent pieces of work that remain in constant rotation.

jess LP

Jess and the Ancient Ones are housed perfectly under the Svart Records umbrella, for their throwback occult doom rock is one of that label’s specialties. Sure, there’s some NWOBHM to this Finnish group’s formula as well, but really, they’re a rock band, and a damn fine one. Their singer Jess has some of the best pipes going, and she belts out her words with passion, drive, and conviction. Their music likely is best digested in a smoke-filled room with a few choice libations, and surely in that environment you can get lost in it all. There are so many great tracks on here, from opener “Prayer for Death and Fire” to dusty “Ghost Riders” to 12-minute epic centerpiece “Sulfur Giants,” one of my favorite songs of the year, that your jaws will be tired at the end from everything here in which you sunk your teeth. Great band, excellent approach, and a singer for the ages. How can you top that formula?

For more on the band, go here: http://www.jessandtheancientones.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.svartrecords.com/shoppe/releases/1019-jess-and-the-ancient-ones-lp.html

pinkishblack

Morbidity is a tenet of metal, and Denton, Texas, duo Pinkish Black contain that in their synth-driven, gloomy music, but also in their name, that was inspired by the appearance of the suicide scene of former member Tommy Atkins. Kind of gives that old Mayhem demo cover a run for its money in the uncomfortable department. The band’s music is gothy, a little doomy, even kind of poppy. The songs are swirling and a little scary from a psychological standpoint, but they’re always memorable. The band’s music likely could appeal to people of all kinds of musical interests, from metal to goth to early New Wave, and their stabbing, penetrating approach will stick with you long after the music has finished. I have such a hard time describing this band to people, which is a good thing. You just need to hear them, but you better make sure you’re stable enough to handle them. Also, in a surprising move, the band signed with Century Media late in the year. Weird place for them. But hey, nice forward thinking by CM. Just don’t put them on a tour with Butcher Babies or some shit like that.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pinkishblackband

To buy the album, go here: http://www.handmadebirds.com/store/

worm

A band that always manages to capture my imagination and dreams is Worm Ouroboros, a trio based in the Bay Area of California who released their incredible second record “Come the Thaw” in 2012. Their dream-scape music is hard to classify, and while they record for decidedly metal Profound Lore, their music is anything but. Lorraine Rath (Amber Asylum, The Gault), Jessica Way (Barren Harvest, World Eater), and Aesop Decker (Agalloch, Ludicra) all have very metallic roots as well, but here they churn out murky rock, folk, and otherworldly sounds to make for one of the more mesmerizing bands going today. The vocals are gorgeous and, at times, angelic, the guitars are melodic but do charge up now and again to stoke the fires, and the drumming is paced just right and adds the right bits of mood to these six songs. Certainly there is crossover appeal to a metal audience, but this band could branch out into a bunch of different directions to find followers. I’ve been on board with this band from the first time I heard them, and this record convinced me I won’t be leaving the bandwagon anytime soon.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Worm-Ouroboros/250016544916

To buy the album, go here: http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/plr-items/

To buy the vinyl, go here: http://store.theflenser.com/

GY!BE

The year’s most surprising and welcomed return came via Montreal instrumental titans Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a band that put into place today’s massive collection of cinematic outfits who expertly build emotion and catharsis into their puzzles. The release of “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” their first piece of new music in a decade, was announced abruptly in September and suddenly saw the light of day a few weeks later. Walking out of local Soundcat Records with a vinyl copy of the record the week it came out felt surreal, like some sort of dream, and going home and listening to the piece over and over made for one of my happiest musical memories of the year. The record is comprised of music they’ve had written for some time, and even have played in their live set, but no matter. It’s an earth-shattering, blood-surging, heart-crushing collection that belongs quite comfortably alongside their landmark music they created  10-15 years ago. This record is a great triumph and a gift that keeps on giving to us longtime GY!BE fans.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.brainwashed.com/godspeed/

To buy the album, go here: http://cstrecords.com/store/categories/GODSPEED-YOU!-BLACK-EMPEROR/%27Allelujah!-Don%27t-Bend!-Ascend!/

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One thought on “Best of 2012 — Records we loved that weren’t quite metal (but they’re close)

  1. Pingback: PLR Canada | Best of 2012 — Records we loved that weren’t quite metal (but they’re close)

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