Over the past week you have probably noticed that each writer had submitted a Top of 2012 list and may have been wondering (or not) where is Reg's? Well, here it is. This past year was one of the hardest years to narrow down a list of twenty of the top albums of the year primarily due to the quantity of albums that I listened to throughout the year. It was definitely the most since I started Heavy Planet, but I have finally managed to do it and I'm totally standing by it. These were MY Top 20 albums of the year. Meaning the ones that I listened to and enjoyed the most and kept going back to for a repeat listen. Some may not have received the critical acclaim that you would normally expect, just great albums that I truly enjoyed for one reason or another. Typically what I look for in a great album is some sort of originality, great musicianship, an amazing vocal, or an album that just plain rocks.
Ok, enough blabbing, without further ado, here is my Top 20 albums of 2012.
20. Golden Void-S/T
"The Self-Titled debut album from Golden Void is a fine example of how a band can manage to use a variety of seventies influences and production to create a fresh sound. Among the swirling psychedelics, rollicking blues licks and an overall laid back feel, the album is an impressive, fun, and wonderfully diverse debut that I continue to spin in heavy rotation."
19. Bastard of the Skies-Tarnation
"Tarnation is a skull crushing album that blasts into your earholes with furious precision and knee grinding heaviness. With their huge wall of sound, a baritone whisky-soaked howl and primo mastering and production, this was an album I think may have gotten overlooked by many. Album closer "What Are You Looking At Dicknose" is an epic masterpiece! This album has the feel of sludge but the epic beauty of post-metal."
18. Black Moth-The Killing Jar
"The Killing Jar" was one of three female-fronted Stoner/Doom albums that were high on my list this year, the other two being Alunah's brilliant "White Hoarhound" and Witch Mountain's "Cauldron of the Wild". I found myself gravitating more to this one throughout the year due to the mezmerising vocal prowess and delivery of Harriet Bevan. With a raw sludgey production, heavy hard-driving grooves and a nineties stoner/doom vibe, what is there not to like?"
17. Molior Superum-Into the Sun
"Into the Sun" is one of, if not the blooziest albums that I heard all year. It was released in November so was a bit of a late addition to my Top 20, but I'll be damned if I can't stop listening to this. Great vocals, killer grooves and a totally seventies rock vibe. This is Rock and f'n Roll people. Oh yeah, and go figure they are from the mecca of Stoner Rock awesomeness, Sweden."
16. Electric Taurus-Veneralia
"Veneralia" is an album that blends three of my favorite things (musically speaking) into one nice little sonic package: Blues, Doom and Fuzz. They take it to a whole other level with heady psych freak-outs, acoustic guitar passages and a sweat-filled vocal delivery. I love the guitar tone and the entire overall production of this album. Just a great album that should not go unheard. Also, I might add that the artwork is pretty badass as well."
15. Methadone Skies-Enter the Void
"I don't care what anyone says, this hands down was THE best instrumental album released in 2012. From the first few notes you are immediately transported into a remarkable and mind altering listening experience. The band pays close attention to their amazing use of ambience, timely heaviness and cosmic dissonance. If you have not listened to this stellar piece of music I suggest you do so now."
14. Heat-Old Sparky
"Old Sparky" is just a great seventies-inspired rock album, and if you didn't know you probably would think that they were from the seventies. With the influx of so many bands trying to capture the magic of the greatest time in rock history, Heat sets themselves apart with their era-embracing production and overall rock sentiment. Can you dig it, yes I can!"
13. In the Company of Serpents-S/T
The "Self-Titled" album from In the Company of Serpents was actually one of the first that I heard in 2012 and has remained on my list throughout the year. Filthy, fuzzy, and filled with thick as tar riffs, this brilliant piece of psych-tinged sludge will leave you marveling at their amazing bluesy solos and hollow grooves. The tune "Dirtnap" is the fuckin' shit". As the band puts it, "best heard through a cloud of dopesmoke & bad vibes."
12. Graveyard-Lights Out
"Lights Out" is one of those albums that you probably wouldn't have a hard time sharing with your father or your cool as hell uncle. Anyone with an appreciation for great hooks, triumphant song writing and a deeply passionate vocal can relate to this album. Graveyard takes their heavily influenced bluesy roots to the next level and transcends across generations to provide a soundtrack for those looking to harken back to a time when hard rock music was great. No need to over analyze this album, just listen."
11. Royal Thunder-CVI
"CVI" was one of my biggest surprises of the year, and after all of the hype about the band, I can see why. Forget the fact that this is a female-fronted band, cherish the fact that this is a female-fronted band. Hands down, the vocals are what makes this album so freakin' incredible. Mlny Parsonz shrills with punk attitude, angelic softness and a ferocious wail. The music beckons with vintage riffing, southern boogie and bombastic heaviness. Press play, repeat."
10. Black Cowgirl-Weight of Oblivion
"Weight of Oblivion" is an album that sneaked up on me and sucker-punched me (and Zac) right in the face. Definitely the surprise of the year. Combining an atmospheric aura of swirling psychedelia with steady straight-forward groove and riffing, the music is at times jazzy and progressive but also possesses the sludginess of a backwoods swamp. Add powerful double-layered vocal harmonies, heartfelt song-writing and tight melody and you have the makings of one killer release. Added bonus is the amazing artwork."
09. Horseback-Half Blood
"Half-Blood" is not typically an album that I would usually enjoy but dammit if I didn't keep going back to it again and again. The mesmerizing drones and dusty swirls are expansive and progressive as it tears into your soul and toys with your psyche. The hollow and throat-ruined vocals are the perfect compliment to the beautiful keyboard-laden prodding and diversity. Once you get past the harshness of the vocal, this album takes hold and consumes you with it's subtle complexities. This album is ridiculously good, but unfortunately not for everyone."
08. Skanska Mord-Paths to Charon
"Paths to Charon" is a great rock album through and through. Along with soulful and powerful vocals at time reminding one of Chris Cornell, the band skillfully blends nineties heavy rock with a seventies mentallity. Bluesy, heavy, and sometimes jazzy the well-schooled classic song structures, remarkable soloing and catchy melodies kept me coming back again and again."
07. Bloody Hammers-Bloody Hammers
"This album has been showing up on a lot of lists and there is pretty good reason as to why...because frankly it is a really cool sounding album! Unfortunately the trendy tag of Occult Rock has been cast upon this band, but for the most part they are just moreorless a heavy metal band that uses a variety of influences ranging from eighties doom to horror-inspired Goth. The result is a stylish mix of lush melodies, haunting vocals and a freakin' awesome doomy vibe."
06. Red Desert-Damned By Fate
"Simply put, this album rocks. With a free flowing heavy stoner groove, "Damned By Fate" spills out a huge amount of riffs, ripping solos and a penchant for writing catchy tunes. The band is not out to reinvent the wheel, just rock your face off and they do it amazingly well. I will be listening to this album for years to come."
05. Radar Men From the Moon-Echo Forever
"Echo Forever" was for me the pinnacle of sonic psychedelic heaviness. The album is steeped in diversity, skillfully blending fuzz-laden desert rock overtones, prog-rock complexities and a monolithic groove. I sat on this one for quite a while before finally discovering this wonderful gem. Do not let this one pass you by."
04. General-Where Are Your Gods Now
"Aside from the slick recording by Greg Chandler (Serpentcult, Moss, Alunah) and masterful production by the legendary Billy Anderson (Acid King, Cathedral, Orange Goblin, Eyehategod) "Where Are Your Gods Now" is full of fierce, explosive and downright catchy Stoner Metal mayhem. The vocal has a vivacious and soulful rasp that pulled me in immediately, vaguely reminiscent of Dave Wyndorf. The evilness just oozes from the buzzsaw tone of the guitar and sticks to your ribs. This is one hell of an album!"
03. Wo Fat-The Black Code
"What would my Top 20 list be without an entry from Wo Fat? They are probably one of my top 5 bands of the last five years and with each album they keep getting better and better. The band has continued to progress with each album by taking bits and pieces from each and cultivating it into one brilliant piece of Stoner/Doom heaven on "The Black Code". Tight riffing, soaring psychedelic solos, and totally fuzzed-out bluesy heaviness makes this one a winner. Small Stone done did themselves right by signing this incredible band."
"...and the award for Best Album Artwork goes to..."Phoenix"! This album was responsible for the reason why I wanted Summoner to play on this past year's CMJ Showcase. A new band name (formerly Riff Cannon) and a new musical direction paid off remarkably well for this Boston-based Stoner Sludge band. Riff-mongers rejoice, this album is chock full of riff after glorious riff and they come at you at a furious pace. The band has adapted a higher songwriting level and expands upon their sound by using a crackerjack mix of doom, psych and even a touch of prog. All Hail the Riff!"
01. The Midnight Ghost Train-Buffalo
"First things first, I have to thank Seth for introducing me to The Midnight Ghost Train, otherwise I may have never listened to them. While only around a half-hour in length, this album packs one hell of a punch. The album captures the pure American spirit by mixing Stoner Rock rhythms with down home heavy Delta blues. With a muddied fuzzy tone and a spectacular bluesy howl, this is the album I kept coming back to most often this past year. I could never explain just how great this album is, so for a more thorough description check out Seth's review here. Then go and listen to this album, and marvel in it's intensity and heartfelt soul!"
There you have it! Thanks to all of the labels and bands that have submitted their music throughout the course of the past year. 2012 was a great year for Heavy Planet and we look forward to hearing a ton of new music in 2013.
Special thanks to Toby, Zac, Seth, Ken, Lee, Misha, Mark, Stump (Heavy Planet Radio) and Helana Harlan (Artwork) for their hard work, time and effort.
Extra special thanks to our allegiance of readers, without you we would be nothing. Doom on my brothers and sisters.