Best Metal Albums of 2012 (So Far)
10. Fire From the Sky, Shadows Fall (Razor & Tie)
Massholes Shadows Fall attempt to restake their turf with their strongest album since The War Within. Great riffs, spectacular solos and a newfound fury shake the Bay State once again.
9. The Silencing Machine, Nachtmystium (Century Media)
Nachtmystium mainman Blake Judd has detoured the psych-informed-black-metal route for a good ol' fashioned, straight-forward BM bashing. USBM (that's "U.S. Black Metal") at its best.
8. De Vermis Mysterlils, High on Fire (eOne Music)
High on Fire mainman Matt Pike invokes the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft, constructs a tall tale around the notion of Jesus' time travelling twin and delivers the sharpest record of his career.
7. Eremita, Ihsahn (Candlelight)
The former Emperor frontman crafts a progressive metal masterpiece with the help of guests Jeff Loomis, Devin Townsend and the saxophone wielding Jurgen from Shining. This is as challenging and innovative as anything in Ihsahn's already genre-carving cannon.
6. The Songs of Townes Van Zandt, Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly and Wino (Neurot)
Not a metal record per se but a chilling sip from the glass of the great American singer-songwriter by members of Neurosis, Shrinebuilder and Saint Vitus.
5. Darker Days Ahead, Tragedy (Tragedy Records)
Iconoclasts of the underground, Tragedy's first album in six years paints an even bleaker sonic picture while sounding absolutely massive in the process. The soundtrack to the worst of days.
4. Dark Roots of Earth, Testament (Nuclear Blast)
Testament is as Testament does – and they never disappoint. Forget the "Big Four." Like fellow Bay Area vets Exodus, frontman Chuck Billy & Co. are in the killing business these days – and business is fucking good.
3. L'Enfant Sauvage, Gojira (Roadrunner)
Ooo la la. Frenchies Gojira move to iconic stature with a record intent on twisting the very DNA of modern metal. Like their irradiated namesake, this is the sound of a beast rising from the mire to challenge, subvert and destroy every strain of modern metallurgy.
2. CVI, Royal Thunder (Relapse)
These Georgians take the "Band of the Year" belt already. Vocalist Miny Parsonz sings with a bloody intensity across an oft-Sabbathy/Southern gothic din you only hear from the guts of the greats.
1. Sentenced to Life, Black Breath (Southern Lord)
No shit, hit the pit. Everything metal should be. The Seattle-via-Bellingham bashers take on thrash, crust, D-beat, hardcore and European metal (with plenty of nods to the great Entombed) to make the album of the year (so far).