Yes indeed brothers and sisters. It’s that time of year once again for the Brainfart’s Top Albums of the Year. 2012 was a fucking amazing year for hard rock and metal. It seemed like every time I turned around I was either getting blown away by a brand new band or seeing a new release by an already loved band that floored me. Each album I picked spoke to me, made me feel, and made me think. These albums are the best of the best and trust me, it was damn near impossible to pick ONLY TEN.
There were so many great releases this year and I can only hope that 2013 will be as good of a year. I hope you will use this post to your advantage. Explore and discover some new bands that you may not have heard of or discover a new favorite from an old band. Enjoy The Brainfart’s Top 10 of 2012 and let’s do this again next year.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Release Date: October 26, 2012
Leave it to Graveyard to come in just under the wire to make the top of my list this year. That makes it two years in a row that Graveyard has had the Top Album of the Year here at The Great Southern Brainfart. Lights Out is the album that I really hoped that Graveyard would put out. Graveyard managed to take all of the best elements from both their debut and Hisingin Blues and put them all together to create an album that is a progression forward without compromising their signature sound. The material on the album lyrically is just as captivating and even shows a bit more social consciousness with songs like “Goliath”, “The Suits, The Law, and the Uniform”, and “An Industry of Murder.” It’s a dark, warm, mellow, and rocking classic to be. I would expect nothing less from Graveyard and they delivered.
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Christian Mistress literally came out of nowhere for me. It was a name I had heard from bands like Gypsyhawk and Holy Grail. I figured if these guys were raving about them they must be good. Well, they were totally worthy of the hype and then some. Lead by the smokey, husky voice of singer Christine Davis, Christian Mistress took that classic NWOBHM sound and turned it into something all their own. The songs on Possession definitely have an occult undertone but they manage to do it without having you roll your eyes. Instead, you actually get the impression that Christine Davis could actually put some serious bad juju on you with songs like, “ Haunted Hunted”, “Pentagram & Crucifix”, and, “Possession.” “Black to Gold” is easily one of the best metal songs I’ve heard in years and Possession as an album is way more than just a great album for 2012. It’s a fine piece of metal history that will be a classic album many years from now.
The Devil’s Blood
The Thousandfold Epicentre
Release Date: January 17th 2012
If there was ever a lesson learned to not judge a book by its cover, it was with The Devil’s Blood. Hearing that name makes you think of death metal but they are oh so not even close to that. The Devil’s Blood’s Thousandfold Epicentre (focus on EPIC) is a stellar piece of hard rock awesomeness. I’d even be weary of calling it “metal” as it really seems to teeter more on the 70’s classic rock/60’s psychedelic side of things. The songs are epic masterpieces full of triple guitar work, arrangements that remind me at times of acts such as Blue Oyster Cult and Uriah Heep, and the amazing vocals of female vocalist Farida Lemouchi. This is a uniquely beautiful album that is both dark/somber yet melodic and epic.
Revelry & Resilience
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Gypsyhawk made their Metal Blade Records debut with “Revelry & Resilience” and they did so with a huge fucking bang. What a facemelting masterpiece. It’s a step forward from their debut “Patience and Perseverence” and the production is absolutely bombastic. Bassist/singer Eric Harris shines on this one with his voice sounding stronger and more confident and the addition of guitarist Erik Kluiber definitely has kicked things up a notch. The first single “Hedgeking” is a powerhouse riff factory courtesy of guitarist Andrew Packer but the rest of the album yields some really awesome, melodic, yet crushing hard rock such as “Overloaded”, “1345”, “Frostwyrm”, and a killer cover of “Rock N’ Roll Hoochie Koo.”
Dark Roots of Earth
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Anyone who argues that Metallica sucks these days because “They aren’t as young as they used to be” needs to listen to Testament. After nearly 30 years of melting faces, Testament released what I feel to be the best album of their career with Dark Roots of Earth. Testament proved that they are not even close to being out of ideas and it seems that they are going to continue to march forward and do this until the machine just won’t run any longer. Dark Roots of Earth boasts some truly epic thrash masterpieces such as “Rise Up”, “Native Blood”, and the nearly 8 minute long epic “Throne Of Thornes.” Every fan of classic thrash needs to own this album and reminded that age is not a reason for a band to start sucking and playing it safe.
The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Crobot is a band out of Pennsylvania who submitted their latest album to me. This is a great example of just why I love what I fucking do. Out of the blue comes this band with one of the best independent releases I have heard in ages. Crobot mixes elements of classic rock psychedelia ala Captain Beyond and mixes it with the roots oriented bands such as The Black Crowes and Rival Sons. There is nothing pretentious or put on about this album. It’s gnarly, it’s rocking, and it’s an album that you can listen to over and over again and each time find a new favorite song.
A Different Kind of Truth
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Who knew Van Halen still had it in ‘em? I (and many other fans) had pretty low expectations for how successful this reunion with David Lee Roth would be. Actually, the band was under even more scrutiny for replacing long time bassist Michael Anthony with Eddie’s son Wolfgang. Wolfgang totally holds his own as a bassist which to be honest shouldn’t be a surprise. Do you really think the son of Eddie Van Halen would be a slouch? Van Halen completely exceeded all of my expectations by putting out the best Van Halen album since Women and Children First in my opinion. “Tattoo”, “Stay Frosty”, and “Honeybabysweetiedoll” were just awesomely fun to hear and not to mention light years better than anything they ever did with Sammy Hagar. A Different Kind of Truth is a really fun listen and sonically it’s a really great sounding album. I still hate how Alex Van Halen’s drums sound on this album but then again, I’ve never liked how they sound on a Van Halen album.
Release Date: January 23, 2012
Lacuna Coil really impressed me this year but putting out an amazing album and probably my favorite one since Comalies. For Dark Adrenaline, Lacuna Coil explored their past and picked up on all of the elements of each of their albums that seemed to connect with fans. They took those elements and used them as the foundation to build this album upon. The songs on Dark Adreniline are dark yet melodically beautiful and the male/female dynamic between Cristina Scabbia and Andi Ferro are what makes this band so unique and they do it better than anyone has ever attempted to do it. Dark Adrenaline is definitely a step in the right direction for them in giving the fans the best of all the worlds of Lacuna Coil with no filler.
Kill Devil Hill
Kill Devil Hill
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Kill Devil Hill was yet another band that completely exceeded my expectations. Formed by legendary drummer Vinnie Appice and former Pantera/Down bassist, Rex Brown, Kill Devil Hill (rounded out by lead vocalist Dewey Bragg and guitarist Mark Zavon)put out an album that is a huge ass slice of groovilicious hard rock. Combining the sounds of bands like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, and even dipping at times into classic solo era Ozzy Osbourne, Kill Devil Hill’s debut is a really easy on the ears listen and with songs like “War Machine”, “Hangman”, and “Voodoo Doll”, it should be easy to win over a slew of new fans who appreciate and dig some good, nasty, stanky hard rock music.
Ugly Kid Joe
Stairway to Hell
Release Date: July 1, 2012
The band that everyone loves to hate made their return in 2012 with a six song EP that completely blew me away. The consensus from UKJ fans was that this was probably their best stuff since America’s Least Wanted and I will have to agree. These guys haven’t missed a step and lead vocalist Whitfield Crane still shows us that he’s got the pipes on songs like “Devil’s Paradise”, “No One Survives”, and Love Ain’t True! (featuring Angelo Moore & Dirty Walt of Fishbone). The band has been melting faces over in Europe since the album was released so hopefully they’ll bring their ugly asses back to the states and give us fans what we’ve been waiting for.
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Even though they’ve been out for 12 years and have two other albums, this was the first I had ever heard of Witchcraft. From the first listen of the opening track “Deconstruction”, I was hooked right away. Legend is a fine collection of some really psychedelic, moody, yet groovy dark rock n’ roll boasting some tasty guitar work and the mellow yet melodic vocals of Magnus Pelander. When I found out that Pelander was once in a band called Norrsken with Graveyard vocalist Joakim Nilsson and bassist Rikard Edlund Witchcraft made even more sense to me. If you found yourself loving bands like Graveyard and Christian Mistress, Witchcraft’s Legend will be a very welcomed addition to your sonic family.