Best Of 2012: Eric’s Top 30 Releases Of The Year

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Similar to the conflicted state of mind the character Jules Winnfield Of Pulp Fiction was in when he decided not to execute the characters of Honey Bunny and Ringo like “fucking fried chicken”, my American Aftermath writership came at a period in my life of transition, a time of both fleeting and returning tastes. In short, my idea of “music” was flipped upside down. What was once a streamlined process of music listening and discovery was overloaded and overridden by my previous months exploration into a multitude of realms and genres previously unexplored, most notable among that being my new found discovery of hardcore and the cascading effects of that discovery, which led to realms from sludge metal to pop punk.

The following thirty album list reflects the few difficultly chosen releases that stuck with me the most throughout both the bombarding ocean of releases this year and the aforementioned musical overturn. Before we actually begin, I’d like to thank the American Aftermath crew especially Ross Gnarly, Lane Oliver, and Josh Huddleston for allowing me to be a part of their team. I would also like to thank the musicians and bands that have created music for me to write about and those that have helped out in interviews and features. Last but not least I want to thank you, the readers, for giving a shit. See you all after the jump.

30. Agitator – Bleak (listen)

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29. Early Graves – Red Horse (listen)

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28. Aeon – Aeons Black (listen)

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27. Deftones – Koi No Yokan (listen)

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26. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity (listen)

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25. Misser – Everyday I Tell Myself I’m Going To Be A Better Person (listen)

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24. War Hound – Colder Than Ever (listen)

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23. Periphery – Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal (listen)

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22. Hivesmasher – Gutter Choir (listen)

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21. Chelsea Wolfe – Unknown Rooms: A Collection Of Acoustic Songs (listen)

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20. Meshuggah – Koloss (listen)

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19. Fever Dreams – As Above, So Below (listen)

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18. Fire And Ice – Not Of This Earth (listen)

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17. Departures – Teenage Haze (listen)

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16. Code Orange Kids – Love Is Love//Return To Dust (listen)

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15. Twitching Tongues – Sleep Therapy (listen)

The regression period that follows when I’ve become far too invested in a genre and start axeing bands out of pickiness and general ambivalence has not yet happened for “hardcore”. But when it does, which it will, I doubt Twitching Tongues will be part of those axed…especially if they continue doing more of what they’re currently doing.  Twitching Tongues’s Sleep Therapy takes metallic hardcore on a unique and hazy journey through tunnels of doom and somberness and yet still returns the time to pummel and wipe your face across the mosh pit floor. Who knew mosh parts, vocal melodies, and doom metal tendencies went so well together?

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14. The Love Below – Every Tongue Shall Caress (listen)

The Love Below dole out musically what their art does visually: discomfort. Their debut LP, Every Tongue Shall Caress, oozes of angst, paranoia, and disgust through its thirteen track sludgy and grimy hardcore run. Angular riffs and dreadful rhythms compile with vocals that sound like a death row inmate having a mental breakdown mid-murder confession. One of the darkest and grooviest albums of the year. Playing three frets in drop Z doesn’t make your band heavy, this does.

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13. Death Grips – The Money Store (listen)

Despite the respect I hold for the genre of rap, I can’t say that I listen to too many groups. It’s just something that’s out of my general comfort zone of mosh parts and riffs that make you want to stomp out a motherfucker’s face. Bite me. You can make it apparent lyrically but if I can’t hear it aurally, I can’t feel it internally. Death Grips’s Exmilitary did both and while their sophomore LP, The Money Store, took a different direction sonically, it both surprised and excited me at the same time. The Money Store trades in the militant hostile feel of Exmilitary for what can only be described as a shinier shade of color. And the result is insane, MC Ride is still as intense and smart in his aggressive vocal delivery and Zach Hill just pummels with beat after beat after beat. This is my favorite rap(in what remains of its dissection) album of the year.

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12. Disgrace – Songs Of Suffering (listen)

Disgrace sort of erupted out of nowhere for me. Two tracks uploaded on YouTube early 2012 just left a lack an air of mystery and a stomach full of hurt with which full disclosure and Songs Of Suffering made a whole digestive system full of. Metallic hardcore with death metal undertones, massive riffs and aggressive transitions is hardcore done right. Suffer along.

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11. Godstopper – What Matters (listen)

Godstopper came to me in a time of quiet depression and imposed jadedness. I was down and wanted to feel down. Their demo EP, Empty Crawlspace, filled a void  in my heart with its sludgy and manic droning assault and the resulting composure led me away from the group as I headed for new and far more familiar realms of brutality via hardcore. I checked back on Godstopper out of general curiosity and was surprised to find a full LP. I’m back in the grind. What Matters represents Godstopper back in full tandem. With basically the entirety of Empty Crawlspace revamped and re-recorded, What Matters lays waste with six new tracks all with a full band, better production and a new found sense of cohesiveness and maturity. That’s probably why this record reverberated so well with me. Mature darkness for a slightly more mature dark person.

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10. Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron (listen)

To conjure up the meta, I found Dodecahedron on American Aftermath as a reader and the aural devastation that followed just felt primal, it felt like every dopamine neurotransmitter in my body was simultaneously activated and deactivated at the same time. I had to have it. Dodecahedron’s self titled LP boasts the technical musical abilities of a Terminator and the song-writing capabilities of Cthulu himself. Dark, voluminous, and just suffocating, the resulting black metal, prog, and tech amalgam effort is simply a monolith. Sit in a dark room, put this record on the player and drown in the suffocating sound.

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9. Column Of Heaven – Mission From God (listen)

The first full length record from Column Of Heaven boasts some insane mixture of old school Morbid Angel/Incantation-esque death metal mixed with grindcore, hardcore, powerviolence, noise, and just general weirdness. As disjointed as it sounds, the overall result is surprisingly cohesive. Dense is all I can say to describe the record. It’s goodness is something that I can’t begin to explain because it’s composed of so many dimensions, many I have yet to cross. So, take the mission. It’s probably not what you will expect.

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8. Expire – Pendulum Swings (listen)

Expire are one of the few hardcore groups where I can feel the energy of the live show in the music. This album goes fucking hard and is jam packed with riffs. There’s really no words. This is practically a perfect hardcore album.

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7. Homewrecker – Worms And Dirt (listen)

The first full length release from Ohio dark hardcore powerhouse Homewrecker packs sledgehammer riffs, bone snapping blastbeats and seething pure rage. The airy production sounds like dust whistling through the casket of a still alive burial, the guitars, the grating sound of wood chipping from peeled fingernails, the vocals, the final desperate screams of the suffocating victim and the drums, the damned reverberations of the serial killer hammering down the nails. From beginning to end, this twenty two minute magnum round to the ear canal will have you headbanging until you are a crippled foaming vegetable.

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6. Pig Destroyer – Book Burner (listen)

The five-year awaited Book Burner sees Pig Destroyer in a return to form. Backtracking to the succinct form of their early releases, Pig Destroyer draw upon their history in a way that not only reflects but at times, transcends their legendary lineage of releases. While the album definitely shows the band’s age here and there, Pig Destroyer have proven here that they can still pulverize.

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5. Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme (listen)

It’s not too common for a band to get better with age but with Dying Fetus, that is exactly the case. Reign Supreme sees Dying Fetus combining their usual pummeling form of technical brutal death metal with more of a hardcore orientation and the result if anything is fucking ridiculous. Heavier mosh parts, less contrived and unnecessary technicality, smoother transitioned breakdowns, and riff after riff after riff. One of the most goddamn heavy albums of the year, I can’t get enough.

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4. Spawn Of Possession – Incurso (listen)

I have waited for this record like a Heaven’s Gate cult member waited to get abducted by aliens. After countless line-up changes and SMN forum updates, the end result is some of the most technical and epic songs Spawn Of Possession have ever written. Significantly darker and more massive, Incurso is a masterwork in music form and a true work of compositional art. Still convinced that tech death is just pretentious wankery? Go listen to Spawn Of Possession and fuck off.

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3. Xibalba – Hasta La Muerte (listen

I don’t know how they made Xibalba heavier than they already were but they fucking did. The Taylor Young produced Hasta La Muerte re-records some of the group’s greatest hits along with a couple new ones, the latter of which are better circuited, more refined, and tinged with a greater alignment towards the metal realm. I couldn’t be happier with this record. It’s heavier than a fucking million pound anvil and had me returning for listen after listen.

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2. Like Rats – Like Rats (listen)

Combine the tumultuous hypnotic d-beat rhythm with 90s death metal and the spirit of modern hardcore and you have Like Rats and one of the best fucking albums of the year. The thing that kept me returning to this album was just the overall feel of it. Presented in a modern context, this album bridged the history of my time in extreme music, from Black Sabbath to Weekend Nachos. It’s not just the nostalgia talking either, this record seriously rips. Head honcho Todd Nief has had his fair share of time spent studying from the various grand master shredders and riff writers of the world and the result is not simply homage but evolution. Listen, headbang, and thank me later. Here’s a preempted “you’re welcome”.

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1. Gaza – No Absolutes In Human Suffering (listen)

The end of the world didn’t come this year but the soundtrack to it definitely has. With No Absolutes In Human Suffering, Gaza have emerged with their magnum opus. Heavier, fiercer, and angrier than they have ever been, No Absolutes In Human Suffering is chock full of earth scorching vocals, soil eroding riffs and a new sense of bereaved melody that serves to exemplify the feeling of hopelessness and anguish so apparent throughout the album. This is a love letter to loss, misery, and the eternalness of the human condition, a truly monumental work of haunting beauty.

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Honorable Mentions:

Old Flings - Spite
Stick To Your GunsDiamond
Black BreathSentenced To Life
Stray From The PathRising Sun
IlsaIntoxicantations
Joyce ManorOf All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired
Cannibal CorpseTorture
Storm CorrosionStorm Corrosion
EvokenAtra Mors

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