Sunday, 9 December 2012

It's here! Top 20 Albums of the Year - Part 1

It's been tough, but I've finally managed to make a list of my favourite 20 albums of 2012! So I'm going to get straight into it and give you the countdown from number 20 to number 11:

#20 - The Darkness - Hot Cakes

As I've already explained in my review of the album, it is a massive return to form for the glam rock band. The album is full of hits and it is entertaining for the whole duration. The Darkness have made their return to the scene known, and therefore it just enters my list at number 20.

Keep Me Hanging On -

#19 - Lamb of God - Resolution

I was hoping this would be higher in my list, but I've had to place it at number 19. It is a great album, and a step up from previous album Wrath. The song from this album 'Ghost Walking' is quite possibly my favourite song of this year, if you haven't heard it, then you need to get out of the hole you've been hiding in for the whole year. The fact this came out in January means that it was sitting highly on my list during 2012, but other albums have come out of nowhere this year and it has made Resolution fall off its pedestal. It's still a corker of an album, full of brutality and sounding like old school Lamb of God.

Ghost Walking -

#18 - Enter Shikari - A Flash Flood of Colour

An album I didn't think would make it into my list before hearing it is Enter Shikari's - A Flash Flood of Colour. But after playing it countless times throughout the year, it is evident that this album is a pure grower. It is bouncy, ruthless at times, and incorporates dance and dubstep elements better than any album I've heard this year. Fantastic musicianship throughout, solid drumming, and the gang vocals bring excitement to the British band. A job well done, and a sign of Enter Shikari maturing as a group.

Sssnakepit -

#17 - Parkway Drive - Atlas

The Aussies have made a classic metalcore album this year, with their release; Atlas. Full of raw emotion, it is unlike any metalcore album I've heard in the last year or two. Again, if you haven't heard it or haven't read my review on it, please check it out. You won't regret it!

Dark Days -

#16 - Buckethead - Electric Sea

A slightly different choice of album, but nevertheless it makes my top 20. Buckethead is definitely one of the most underrated musicians to exist, and it's a travesty how he's not as well known as he deserves to be. His work rate is outstanding, he releases albums practically every day (well not quite) and each one represents a different side of him. But the quirky chicken man has decided to go back to his roots and release a counterpoint album to Electric Tears. Electric Sea is a beautiful album, one that displays an innovative skill of acoustic playing and dynamics used perfectly. Some may find this album boring, but you need to look further into it, consider what the music's connotations. It is a masterpiece, just like most of his discography, and I urge any fans of ambient, acoustic music to check this out.

Electric Sea -

#15 - Slash ft. Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators – Apocalyptic Love

 When my favourite singer, and favourite guitarist of all time decide to make an album together, you can gauge how excited I was when I heard about it. I gave it a few listens and thought it was a solid album, left it for a couple of months and then went back to it. It hit me much harder after leaving it. The album sounded completely cohesive, with Myles' voice and Slash and the band's instrumentation gelling extremely well. It is a complete throwback of 'Appetite' era Guns 'n' Roses, but with a modern twist. An enjoyable album and one that represents the importance of rock in 2012.

You're A Lie -

#14 - Rush - Clockwork Angels

Yes, it's Rush, the Rush. They're still going, and stronger than ever! The prog legends are proving how important they are to the rock world, and with their release Clockwork Angels, they're not wrong. It feels as if they've delved deep into their previous works and pulled out some of their greatest elements and incorporated them into this album. Every member of the trio sounds fantastic and in top form. If you're a music fan, and you've never experienced prog, then check this record out. Also if you've been a prog head for years, then this won't disappoint you either. It proves that age is no limit to ability, unless if you're Lou Reed ... Get back to the nursing home, Lou.

Headlong Flight -

#13 - Cancer Bats - Dead Set on Living

Wow. That's all that needs to be said at this point. The 'upbeat' album shows the band moving away from their darkest side lyrically, and adding some 'lighter' elements to their music. Good move. It is still crushing and heavy hitting, but it's now a product of something that little bit more special. It's hard to see how they got their influence from this album from non-metal bands, because this album just sounds so damn hardcore. Gnarly and gritty as can be. Plus Liam Cormier is one of my favourite frontmen of recent years. The album is not quite as good as their previous effort, but it's still a mighty good album. Hardcore at its best.

Bricks & Mortar -

#12 - We Are The Ocean - Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow

 A phenomenal, up and coming(ish) band from the mighty county of Essex have continued a run of fantastic albums and surpassed everything they've done with their third release entitled Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow. It shows a band fighting through their struggles, as replacing the lead vocalist is never an easy task, but to make an album that's in my opinion their best to date is another entity in itself. A classic example of an awesome, modern rock band.

Bleed -

#11 - Testament - Dark Roots of Earth

And finally, to wrap up the first half of my countdown, I present you with the best Thrash album of the year, coming from an unlikely source. I never really rated Testament that highly before Dark Roots of Earth, they had a couple of decent songs, but nothing that ever really got me into them. But then this album came out, and all of a sudden it clicked with me. From the first track onwards, I immediately thought; "Reign in Blood must have been quite the influence", but in hindsight, most Thrash sounds like that album. It's iconic. The change of tempos, double bass drumming, gritty vocals, etc. It seems that in 2012, Testament have nailed Thrash, and made it relevant once again. Sure, it's no Master of Puppets or Reign in Blood, but it's still a fantastic effort, something to be proud of. I'm now a fan of Testament, and that's a testament in itself.

Native Blood -

I hope you've enjoyed Part 1 of my Albums of the Year, Part 2 to follow next week! - #10 - #1!


  1. Tom - I certainly enjoyed your review this morning as I read your thoughts on the above albums to my husband Dennis. I loved your response to the "mood - lifting" (dripping with sarcasm)#13 on your list. It made me laugh.

    I would like your further opinion on something. As I listened to We Are the Ocean "Bleed", I told Dennis that the music reminded me very much of a group I had heard before. I couldn't peg "who" - but then reading the comments under the Youtube video - another person said "Is it me, or do they sound like Seether". That's IT. So, Tom - do they sound like Seether to you as well?
    Your remarks inspired us to follow the song links to give listen to a few. While only one that made your bottom 10 list is one that I actually know (Slash,Myles Kennedy's You're a Liar) I do appreciate having been prompted to get outside my box this morning. Thanks for that!

  2. Thanks for reading, Mona! I'm glad you're enjoying the reviews. We Are The Ocean seem to sound similar to Seether, especially on their newest album. Good to hear that it's prompted you to discover new music, that's my basic aim for anyone who reads the reviews, to find new music! I reckon my Top 10 albums will have more that you may recognise, or at least will make you want to find out more about the bands. Thanks again for checking out my reviews, there will be plenty more in 2013!