List

Decibel‘s Top 40 Albums Of 2012

By Michael Nelson / November 20, 2012

Hey it’s almost Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: long-lead print publications are publishing their year-end lists! The great metal glossy Decibel dropped theirs today, and there’s a lot to talk about on this thing, so let’s dig in. At No. 1 is Converge’s All We Love We Leave Behind, a totally deserving choice, although predictable to the point of being an afterthought. The same could be said of Baroness’s Yellow & Green at 2, I think. (The last time Baroness and Converge released new albums — in 2009 — dB had Baroness at 1 and Converge at 2.) After that things get kinda weird. I’m pleasantly surprised to see Evoken’s Atra Mors at 3 — it’s an amazing funeral doom album; I just didn’t expect to see it so high (beating out even labelmates Pallbearer, whose profile is much higher, and whose album IMO is slightly superior). I’m stunned that Swans’ The Seer is so low — the only viable explanation is that it’s not “metal” enough to be given serious consideration for the highest reaches of the list, but too relevant to Decibel‘s audience to ignore entirely, although that’s not exactly a great excuse. I’m kinda shocked to see Dawnbringer’s terrific Into The Lair Of The Sun God left off the list entirely — not just because it’s one of the year’s best albums (which it is), but because their last, 2010’s Nucleus, came in at No. 4 on that year’s dB list (between Enslaved and Torche, who are reliably ranked high on this year’s list). Other notables? I’m a huge Agalloch fan but the one-long-song Faustian Echoes EP doesn’t need to be on this list when other things are absent; I’m thrilled to see Mutilation Rites’ fantastic debut included here, as well as Samothrace’s Reverence To Stone, although the latter probably should have been in the top 10 if not the top 5; I’m kind of perplexed by the absence of Black Breath and Kreator, but very, very happy to see High On Fire in the top 20, because that sucker is a masterpiece. The two biggest points of note, though, for me are:

1. There is almost NO black metal on this list. Unless I’m overlooking something, only Farsot, Agalloch, Blut Aus Nord, Enslaved, and Mutilation Rites even have traces of the genre in their sound, and none is black metal in any true (troo) sense. Just a bad year for black metal? (I don’t necessarily think it was, FWIW.) Or the end of the genre’s time in the spotlight?

2. There is almost NO Profound Lore on this list. Just … Evoken and Pallbearer, right? (Pretty sure Agalloch self-released Faustian Echoes.) It’s weird to see metal’s best label so poorly represented, especially when they had a pretty great year: Aside from Dawnbringer, where’s Ash Borer, Atriarch, Indesinence, Bosse-de-Nage … ?

All right, end rant. Here’s the list (buy the issue here, although I’d encourage you just subscribe to the magazine). What do you think?

Decibel’s Top 40 Albums Of 2012

40 Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
39 Meshuggah – Koloss
38 Agalloch – Faustian Echoes EP
37 The Shrine – Primitive Blast
36 Incantation – Vanquish In Vengeance
35 Samothrace – Reverence To Stone
34 Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
33 Panopticon – Kentucky
32 Saint Vitus – LILLIE: F-65
31 Mutilation Rites – Empyrean
30 Author & Punisher – Urus Americanus
29 A Life Once Lost – Ecstatic Trance
28 Asphyx – Deathhammer
27 Farsot – Insects
26 Gaza – No Absolute For Human Suffering
25 Inverloch – Dark/Subside
24 Swans – The Seer
23 Horrendous – The Chills
22 Killing Joke – MMXII
21 Early Graves – Red Horse
20 Liberteer – Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees
19 High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis
18 Napalm Death – Utiltarian
17 Torche – Harmonicraft
16 Grave – Endless Procession Of Souls
15 Satan’s Wrath – Galloping Blasphemy
14 Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
13 Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity
12 Blut Aus Nord – 777: Cosmosophy
11 Municipal Waste – The Fatal Feast
10 Pig Destroyer – Book Burner
09 Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
08 Royal Thunder – CVI
07 Enslaved – Riitiir
06 Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay
05 Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
04 Witchcraft – Legend
03 Evoken – Atra Mors
02 Baroness – Yellow & Green
01 Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind