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Loucifer’s Top 30 Albums of 2012

It’s that time of year when I find myself staring into the abyss (aka my music collection) frantically trying to work out which albums have caused me to squeal with delight the most. Initially I was aiming for a Top 20 list, but I found that was too difficult, so I’ve settled on a Top 30… and even this has meant that I’ve had to cut out at least 5 albums that I thought were absolutely stellar.

Please note that this list ONLY includes albums – no EPs or demos. I’ll probably do another list for those releases in the not-too-distant future.

Also, please be aware that I have not yet heard quite a few albums… so that may be why they’re not there. Either that or I didn’t like them as much as these 30.

OK, here we go… (by the way, my Top 10 are pretty much interchangeable).

1. Sear Bliss – “Eternal Recurrence”
searblissnewalbum“Eternal Recurrence” shows Sear Bliss heading out in a slightly different direction, but it also shows that sometimes change can be good. We still have phenomenal Black Metal with trumpets, but now there’s more of a progressive edge. I’m completely in love with this album. Click here for my review.
2. Frostwork – “Lore of Winter: Ealdspell”
frostworkloreofwinterHere’s another album that I’m completely in love with! Atmospheric Black Metal that’s made for the winter months (although, I suppose you can also listen to it in the summer months too). I won’t go on about it too much here, but you can always click here for my review.
3. Secrets of the Moon – “Seven Bells”
sotmIt’s no secret (excuse the pun), that I’m a huge SOTM fan, so I had high hopes for this album from the beginning. Luckily, SOTM didn’t disappoint and we were treated to a tasty slab of the occult. Click here for my review.
4. Ethernal – “Arkioas”
Ethernal-ArkioasThis album blew me away from the very first moment I heard it on BandCamp. Absolutely astounding from start to finish! Beautiful, beautiful stuff! Oh, and it sounds GREAT live too! Once again, you can click here for my review.
5. Marduk – “Serpent Sermon”
mardukFor whatever reason, I never got around to reviewing this little masterpiece from Marduk. For me, the previous two full lengths from the band were damn near perfect, but “Serpent Sermon” steps things up a notch. No poor tracks whatsoever and I regularly find myself listening to it on repeat. It’s just that good. I really should get around to writing a full review soon…
6. Devilish Impressions – “Simulacra”
devilishimpressions_simulacra“Simulacra” is very different to the band’s previous work. While “Diabolicanos” and “Plurima Mortis Imago” (and “Eritis Sicut Deus” for that matter) could quite comfortably be described as Blackened Death Metal (no matter how avant-garde they may be), that label doesn’t really fit this album. Yes, Blackened Death Metal does play a huge part here, but Quazarre and co have most definitely developed their own sound here. “Lilith” is a key example – it’s a track with haunting clean vocals that probably would have sounded out of place on previous releases. Here, it sounds natural and its unexpected power has led it to becoming one of my favourites from the album (and it’s downright beautiful!). Read more of my review here.
7. Vesperian Sorrow – “Stormwinds of Ages”
vs_stormwindsThroughout this album, you’re surrounded by fairly complex song structures that keep you on your toes. The drums act as a superb driving force behind each track and are performed spectacularly. Donn Donni’s instantly recognisable vocals tear through the mix, and the guitars and keyboards often have an orchestral feel to them. As with previous Vesperian Sorrow albums, there’s a lot going on here! The songs on this album are not ‘just tracks’, they’re compositions – exquisite pieces of music. Click here for my full review.
8. Enslaved – “RiiTiiR”
enslaved_coverHere’s another album that I haven’t got around to writing a full review for… ah well, I’ll get to it eventually… I have to admit that I wasn’t as awe-struck as I thought I’d be when I heard “RiiTiiR” for the first time. Yes, it was good, but I was expecting something more. However, subsequent listens have lead me to change my mind and now I think this album is absolutely awesome.
9. Hellsaw – “Trist”
hellsawDue to Hellsaw’s current hiatus, “Trist” could turn out to be the band’s swansong. While I’d hate to see the band disappear for good, I have to admit that this is a damn fine way to sign off. The album effortlessly weaves through passages of unrelenting full-on venom interspersed with calmer, yet chilling, moments (“Doom Pervades My Soul” is a fantastic example of this – and it’s one of my favourite tracks from the album). Hellsaw use melodies to tease and almost manipulate the listener – making you want more and more until you have successfully transformed into an addict. The cold and bitter elements of Black Metal may be the driving force behind Hellsaw’s music on this release, but it’s the melodies that really hook you in. I found that even on my first listen, the melodies had wormed their way into my soul and I was once again worshipping at Hellsaw’s dark and bloody altar. Read my full review here.
10. Theudho – “When Ice Crowns the Earth”
theudho_when_ice_crowns_earthI’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: “When Ice Crowns the Earth” is Theudho’s most impressive album to date. Pagan Black Metal does not come better than this. Fact. While “Treachery”, “The Volsunga Saga” and “Cult of Wotan” all have a lot of amazing moments, it just feels like everything has fallen into place here. All of the elements are working together in a heathen harmony. There’s an air of ‘completeness’. I can’t put my finger on it, but everything just feels right. Click here to read my full review.
11. Solbrud – “Solbrud”
solbrudDespite only having four tracks, Solbrud have classed this release as a full-length… and, since the four tracks quite easily fill up the LP, I’m happy to class it as a full length too. Fantastic doomy atmospheric Black Metal!
12. Lamb of God – “Resolution”
lambofgodI’m a bit of a Lamb of God fangirl, so when I heard that this album was going to be released, I did a little jump for joy. Although, for me, it doesn’t quite conjure up the same levels of obsessiveness as LOG’s previous works do, this album does pack a very hefty punch. Also, I’ve found that it grows on me a little more with each listen.
13. Naglfar – “Teras”
naglfaralbumThis album came out back in March and, due to its relatively early release, I found that I’d pretty much forgotten about it until recently. I think I should be punished for this as “Teras” is a damn good album! I’ve now made a point of listening to it more often.
14. Ragnarok – “Malediction”
RagnarokMaledictionCoverI spent a fair few months in the run up to the album’s released getting excited about “Malediction”. Even though I was sent a digital promo for it, I refrained from listening to it so as not to tarnish my first listen to the CD when it came out. I’m pleased to say that I was not disappointed when I first hit play. This is an amazing journey into the depths of Black Metal. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to write up a review for this one fairly soon :)
15. Nefarious – “The Universal Wrath”
nefarious_theuniversalwrath
Nefarious is Winter’s (ex-Sear Bliss) most recent project and this album features some of the most jaw-droppingly good gloomy Black Metal that you can imagine. It also features Sear Bliss’ Andras Nagy.
16. Enthroned – “Obsidium”
enthronedEnthroned have returned to show they are STILL fucking awesome at creating this Black Metal art.
17. Primitive Graven Image – “Psychedelic Episodes {Observations on Death and Deathlessness}”
psychedelic-episodes-cover“Psychedelic Episodes” takes this UK Black Metal band to new levels. It’s still Black Metal, but it’s more progressive – a bit spacey or ethereal. Clean guitar solos slice through the gritty atmosphere, almost creating a streak of light across an otherwise bleak sky. The music on this album continues to attack straight out of the darkness, but there’s even more of a focus on melody (this was on the previous albums as well, but seemingly more so here). Instead of diluting the overall impact, the melodies and clean passages serve to create an even more sinister atmosphere. Click here for my review.
18. De Profundis – “The Emptiness Within”
deprofundis_theemptinesswithinInteresting rhythms and tempos flood this album, but it’s the guitar tone that has really hooked me in. There’s something about a near-clean lead guitar sound in extreme metal that just blows my mind. Acting like the proverbial axe, it slices through the rest of the sound and makes you take notice. Like I said before, it hooks you in – it gives those tracks that all-important addictive quality. No sooner have you finished listening to this album, you find yourself wanting to listen to it again. Such was the case with me anyway… Click here for my review.
19. Old Corpse Road – “‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres we Haunt this Kingdom”
ocrThis was only released very recently, but I’ve found myself ever-so-slightly obsessed with it already. It pretty much picks up where previous OCR releases leave off, but (due to the fact that it’s a full length) it really gives the band a chance to stretch out and show off their skills. Totally mesmerising.
20. Eclipse Eternal – “The Essence of Hopelessness”
eclipseeternalI couldn’t remember if this came out in 2011 or 2012 – but I’m fairly sure it’s 2012… and it’s too good not to mention. The album constantly moves through different tempos, ensuring that it never gets dull. Also, the differences in tempo and atmosphere work incredibly well. You don’t get the feeling that it’s intentional – it feels much more organic. The result is an album that grabs you from the very first listen and then keeps a tight hold on you. Click here for my review.
21. A Forest of Stars – “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays”
aforestofstarsOnce again, we’ve got an album that I haven’t got around to reviewing yet :P. So many albums – so little time! Anyway, I like it when bands are a little bit different and A Forest of Stars are most definitely in a league of their own. “A Shadowplay for Yesterdays” is an utterly hypnotic masterpiece. Just talking about it makes me feel all excited.
22. Element of Eclipse – “Apotheosis”
elementofeclipseI found out about Element of Eclipse – and, subsequently, this album – thanks to the wonders of Facebook. Splendid Black Metal seeped in hatred, with a dash of the occult and the odd splash of Thrash/Death Metal. Marvellous!
23. God Seed – “I Begin”
godseedI really wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this album. On paper, it’s kinda Gorgoroth… but not. Fantastic symphonic Black Metal.
24. Saturnian – “Dimensions”
saturnianMore Symphonic Black Metal for number 24 – this time in the form of Saturnian.
25. Carach Angren – “Where the Corpses Sink Forever”
carachangrenAnd… MORE SYMPHONIC BLACK METAL! Well, this was no surprise really… Carach Angren have released yet another astoundingly good album.
26. Necrosadistic Goat Torture – “Armageddon Shall Come”
ngtI recently rediscovered this band and I’m very glad I did. This is a fantastic helping of Death/Black Metal that takes no prisoners.
27. Aeon Winds – “Those Who Will Remain Silent Forever”
aeonwinds_albumIn many ways “Those Who Will Remain Silent Forever” continues where “Aeon” left off. Symphonic Black Metal is the order of the day and it’s played with talent and conviction. To listen to this album is to journey in Aeon Winds’ world. With tracks like “Aeons of Crime”, “Thorns of Destiny” and “Black Spell of Destruction” pouring through your speakers, there is very little use for the outside world. One moment your surrounded by a cloak of mystical and mysterious wonder and then the next your transported to somewhere far more foreboding with harsh winters and unseen terrors. Aeon Winds certainly know how to take the listener on a journey. Click here for my review.
28. Ensiferum – “Unsung Heroes”
ensiferumAs with all of Ensiferum’s work, this album makes me want to drink copious amounts and run around with a sword (don’t try this at home, kids!). Job done!
29. Grand Magus – “The Hunt”
grandmagusthehunt“The Hunt” took a few listens to grow on me, but now it’s a firm favourite. Blues-tinged riffs and elements of Rock and Metal are all present.
30. NHSH – “Rasende Kraft”
NP036Whilst some Black Metal can be atmospheric and some can be a full on assault on the senses, this album lurks somewhere between the two – finely balancing atmosphere with ear-shattering aggression, and still managing to hold the whole thing together with more than a few catchy riffs. The result is hypnotic. Mesmerising. Addictive. Click here for my review.

… and there you have it… 30 albums of awesomeness…


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