As the end of the year approaches and the number of new releases starts to dwindle, we decided to go back through 2012 and pick some releases we didn’t know of, overlooked, or otherwise neglected. Some were brought to our attention by end of the year lists from blogs and magazines while others are ones Brian had on his own Shit He Missed list. So, Nick and Brian discuss five of these goodies (and one new release) this week, and next we will have a few more before we give you our own end of the year honors.
If there are any releases we didn’t get to this year you think we should hear or would like us to review, let us know in the comments!
Reviews: Arkaik – Metamorphignition; Arsis – Lepers Caress; Bloodshot Dawn – Bloodshot Dawn; Enabler – All Hail The Void; Engel – Blood of Saints; Incantation – Vanquish in Vengeance
Note from Brian: I continuously refer to Engel’s previous album as “Therondy” which isn’t even a word. The album’s name is Threnody.
Bloodshot Dawn – Bloodshot Dawn
Here’s my new theory: Kyle doesn’t exist. He’s just a character that Brian and Nick have created whom one of them provides the voice for.
I grew up in Connecticut in the 80s listening to KC101 on the radio. Their morning show featured hosts named Hozay Smith, Hammerhead, and some other guy whose name I can’t remember. As I grew older, someone told me that Hozay Smith and Hammerhead were the same guy. I had never noticed that Hozay Smith and Hammerhead never talked at the same time. It turned out to be true that a radio show featuring three “characters” was done by only two guys.
My theory is that The Sideshow Podcast works the same way. I’m guessing it is Nick who provides the voice of the character of “Kyle”. Did you ever notice how whenever Brian and Kyle get into an argument that Nick is conspicuously silent? That’s because Nick is providing the voice of “Kyle” (according to my theory). Whenever “Kyle” is absent from the podcast, it just means that Nick doesn’t feel like getting into character on that day.
I go to shows in NYC and have run into Brian several times. Is Kyle ever there – even at shows for some of his supposedly favorite bands? No. That’s because he doesn’t exist. He’s just a character that Kyle and Nick have fleshed out. They made up a character who likes comic books, ESPN, WWF (I refuse to call it WWE), Between the Buried and Me, and August Burns Red. I have contacts at a certain comic book company: no one there has heard of this Kyle guy. He missed an episode of the Podcast because he was working at Comic Con? I didn’t see him there. Why not? Because he doesn’t exist.
That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
Your theory is AMAZING! I’ll support it. -n………/r(j)
I might have said this last year, but I’ll say it again with regards to year end lists: I do not believe that any sort of objective list of the top albums of a year exists. I would question what it even means to rank the albums of the year “objectively”?
Does being objective mean that you put aside your biases in some way? We all have biases that can’t be overlooked which contribute to who we are and make us unique. To try to put aside any existing biases you would only pick up new ones. If you think “hey, Decibel ranked Converge number 1 so it must be good!” then you are not being true to yourself and are introducing a new bias based on reading Decibel.
Does being objective mean that one band shows more “musicianship” and plays their instruments better than another? That often has little to do with how good an album is. Nirvana’s Nevermind came out around the same time as Fire and Ice by Yngwie Malmsteen. Most people would agree that Yngwie can play the guitar a hell of a lot better than Kurt Cobain, but most people would also agree that Nevermind is a much better album. Nevermind tapped in to the zeitgeist at a time when people were fed up with hair metal and wanted to connect emotionally with an album differently than much of what had recently been released. Fire and Ice comes across as just style without substance. But in either case, that is just my opinion. I’m sure there is someone out there who thinks that Fire and Ice is better than Nevermind – and that person isn’t wrong, nor are they being subjective. They are merely expressing their opinion.
Just think back to last year and how different your lists were from Decibel. They loved Opeth, you didn’t. You liked Machine Head, they didn’t (ranking it number 31 isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement from Decibel). Who’s right and who’s wrong? Who is being more “objective’? No one. Each of us contributes our own experiences, preferences, and biases into our enjoyment of music. And my year end list reflects the albums that I enjoyed the most during 2012.
I’ve got my top 10 for 2012, so here goes:
10. Enslaved – Riitiir
Riitiir takes a lot of listens to sink in, but it does get to a point where further listening is rewarded with a rich array of musical discoveries to be made throughout the album. Progressive song structures, clean vocals, death metal growls (sometimes both at the same time), and nice contrasting sections make for a rewarding album.
9. Devin Townsend Project – Epicloud
The first three tracks (including the 44 second opener) have some odd sensibilities, but the remainder of the album is quite normal and pop-y, especially in terms of song structures. Tracks such as “Save Our Now” and “Hold On” could be radio hits. Epicloud sinks in very quick and makes a favorable impression.
8. The Faceless – Autotheism
Autotheism starts out on a high note, with a 3 song suite that combines Alice In Chains, death metal, circus music, and an awesome guitar solo in the middle. After that, the only other highlight on the album is the closer, “In Solitude.” However, all that adds up to more than half the album and those songs are so good that I am able to overlook some of the filler in the middle.
7. Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I
Long, complex, covering numerous sub-genres, Portal of I took a long time to get into but once I did certain parts really stood out. Most notably the mostly instrumental tracks in the second half, highlighted by “And Plague Flowers the Kaleidoscope” and the two tracks around it. Further listening has been rewarding for this album.
6. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth
Very good solid thrash for 2012. This album shows all those rethrash wannabes how it’s really done. Even though the songs are arranged on the album in order of their catchiness, by the end the songs are still decent – just not quite as good as the ones at the beginning. There is nothing not to like about this album, with a special note to be made of Alex Scholnik’s solos.
5. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
The reason Imaginaerum sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a film is because it is. But most of the album stands on its own as a great work of art. The best adjective I can come up with the describe Imaginaerum is theatrical. The album features a few power pop songs such as “Storytime” and “I Want My Tears Back”. But there is an ebb and flow to the album with ballads and folk tinged songs in between such as “Slow, Love, Slow” and “Turn Loose The Mermaids.” “The Crow, The Owl and the Dove” provides a highlight as well. Lead singer Anette Olzon comes into her own on this album (too bad she’s gone now). It might be that Anette fits in better on this album than on others because the focus of Imaginaerum isn’t a vocal showcase (as it was for Tarja) but rather an attempt to convey the emotion expressed by the movie.
4. Sabaton – Carolus Rex
Who knew that King Charles XII of Sweden could make such a cool topic for an album? Some great anthems here, led by Carolus Rex, The Carolean’s Prayer, Gott Mit Uns and A Lifetime of War. They stuck in my head long after I was done listening to the album.
3. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’Âme
Great music seems to expand the boundaries of what a genre could be, and Les Voyages De L’Âme does just that. Can music that is not aggressive be heavy metal? Can heavy metal be beautiful? I say that Les Voyages De L’Âme answers those questions as yes and yes. This is a stunning album from start to finish in which most of the songs blend into one another to create one of the best pieces of music this year.
2. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity
This album tore my face off. And it felt good. “A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat” is the surprise hit of the year and the singer’s higher pitched vocals make a great contrast to his death metal growls throughout the album.
1. Allegaeon – Formshifter
This album has opened my eyes up to what metal can be in the 21st century. Technical death metal at its finest with some of the most amazing guitar work I may have ever heard. Even though at times the vocals on this album can be overlooked, songs such as “From the Stars Death Came” and “Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst” prove otherwise and show that these guys can craft a good song as well as play the hell out of their instruments. But it is really the unbelievable guitar work of songs like “Twelve” and “Secrets of the Sequence” that makes this album stand out. All of that plus three minutes of flamenco guitar at the end of “Iconic Images” makes Formshifter a stunning achievement.
To sum up the year that was 2012, a lot of what I said half way through 2012 remains true after the year has completed. 2012 has been a year of surprises for me. Two of my favorite albums are ones that I would never have expected to like, those being Cattle Decapitation and Nightwish. And two of my other favorite albums are from bands that I hadn’t even heard of at the beginning of the year, those being Allegeon and Alcest. 2012 was a year without many releases from the biggest bands in metal. By biggest, I don’t mean the best but rather I mean the most successful acts with the largest fan bases. The Big 4, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, none of them had any releases in 2012. Bands such as Mastodon, Machine Head, and Opeth all had releases last year. Maybe Lamb of God might be the biggest band to have a 2012 release. But that doesn’t mean 2012 has been a down year for metal. Quite the opposite. The depth of quality releases in 2012 was amazing. I dug deeper this year beyond the bands I regularly listen to and was rewarded tremendously. There are still plenty of albums released in 2012 that got a lot of praise that I just don’t see what all the fuss is about, but there were also a lot of gems that didn’t get much attention that I thoroughly enjoyed. And there are still some albums released in 2012 that I have yet to listen to.
I agree that, despite not being a “big band” release year, 2012 has had a LOT of good albums come out. …I might even argue that whittling down my Top 10 list will be harder this year than it was last year.
I do think, for my part, that a lot of that could be from having some of biases worn down. In years past bands like The Faceless, Devin Townsend Project, and Spawn of Possession would NEVER have even entered my Top 20 (probably not even my iPod) but now all of those are solidly in the running for Top 10 positions.
We definitely have a bit of overlap in our lists – Ne Obliviscaris, Devin Townsend Project and The Faceless are all in my Top 20 and very well may all be in my Top 10 as the list forms. We lose each other a bit with the power metal acts (Nightwish, Sabaton), but I can’t have all my walls shattered at once!
Lastly, I need to go listen to Allegaeon again. I think I gave it a “Try” back when it came out, but a lot has changed since then and you, Brian, and Kyle all liked it and gave it “Buys.” Seeing that it is now #1 on your list….I’m feeling like I really need to give that another shot and see what I clearly missed the first time around!