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:: Spotlight :: Best of 2012 - Music

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Our reviewers select their best music of 2012.

NICK JANKULOVSKI

TOP 10 ALBUMS

1. Jack White - Blunderbuss
2. Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral
3. Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim
4. Testament - Dark Roots of the Earth
5. The Sword - Apocryphon
6. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Marley Official Soundtrack
7. Baroness - Yellow & Green
8. Money for Rope - Money for Rope
9. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
10. Die Antwoord - Ten$ion

CARMINE PASCUZZI

TOP 10 ALBUMS

1. Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day
2. Muse - The 2nd Law
3. Bat For Lashes - The Haunted Man
4. Calvin Harris - 18 Months
5. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel Is Wiser…
6. Beach House - Bloom
7. Lana Del Ray - Born To Die
8. Schmidt - Femme Schmidt
9. Mumford & Sons - Babel
10. Jessie Ware - Devotion

JUSTIN DONNELLY

Top Ten Albums

1. Killing Joke – MMXII

I’m a big fan of Killing Joke, but not the kind of fan that believes everything that has emerged from the band is pure genius. But I will go as far as to say that this is without a doubt one of the band’s finest releases in years. Unlike their scattered ‘Absolute Dissent’ from 2008, Killing Joke sound more focussed, driven and inspired than they have done in years, and it certainly shows on their latest release. Not bad for a band that’s been around for more than thirty years.

2. Europe – Bag Of Bones

Since reforming in 2003, Swedish hard rock outfit Europe just seem to be making stronger and more confident sounding releases. 2009’s ‘Last Look At Eden’ was always going to be a challenge for the band to follow up, but to everyone’s surprise, the band traded in the orchestral elements of the past, threw in a heap of blues influences and come up with a serious classic hard rock album that easily ranked as one of the band’s finest to date.

3. Ginger Wildheart – 555%

Ginger Wildheart is without a doubt one of the most underrated singer/songwriters in the rock scene today. In fact, I would go far as to say the guy is a living legend. Few would release a triple album in this day and age, let alone cover virtually every genre known within the music realm the album’s thirty tracks. Only someone like Ginger would. It’s an album that takes time to fully absorb (It is a triple album after all!), but well worth the time invested. A must have for Wildheart fans everywhere.

4. Katatonia – Dead End Kings

Is Katatonia capable of making a disappointing album these days? On the strength of their latest album, the answer would be a resounding ‘NO’! Although not straying too far from the sound the band have called their own for the last decade, ‘Dead End Kings’ has just enough differing elements and influences to prove the Swedes aren’t going through the motions and churning out the same old music for those already converted. This is another first class release in a long line of classic efforts from the moody/melancholy/depressive rockers.

5. Rush – Clockwork Angels

In recent years, there’s been a heightened awareness of Rush. And with good reason – Rush are legends. The band have weather the ups and downs of their four decade career like true gentlemen, and their music for the most part has been nothing short of perfection. With the years getting longer between releases, every new release from the band is an absolute gift from the Gods. And ‘Clockwork Angels’ is another absolute masterpiece from the band. While the Canadian trio are getting on, their passion for making music hasn’t diminished one bit. If this is Rush’s swansong, then all I can say is that it’s one hell of a way to go out.

6. Borknagar – Urd

Borknagar is one of those bands that seem to divide opinions amongst fans as to which album most consider to be their most acclaimed. But I think most fans would agree that ‘Urd’ is without a doubt one of their strongest in years. With bassist/vocalist ICS Vortex back into the fold after a decade away, Borknagar sound reinvigorated and more inspired than they have done in years. Diverse, progressive, cinematic and blackened in equal measure, ‘Urd’ is classic Borknagar at their best.

7. Napalm Death – Utilitarian

U.K. grindcore/punk/death metal pioneers Napalm Death are one of the few acts that seem to buck the trend of slowing down and relying on past glories to maintain their existence in the scene as the years roll on. ‘Utilitarian’ is yet another crushing and unbelievably heavy release from the band, and showcases their determination to continually push their sound forward rather than remain idle. With its brief forays into experimentation, relentless passages of all-out grind, death metal template fused with a distinct punk edge and lashes of melody amongst the entire platter of chaos, ‘Utilitarian’ is every bit as essential to Napalm Death fans as any one of their early classic releases.

8. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

Converge are one of the few metallic hardcore outfits that have pushed their sound with every new release. After a string of near perfect albums (Everything the band have released since 2001’s ‘Jane Doe’ has been amazing), I had high expectations of ‘All We Love We Leave Behind’. And sure enough, it lives up to them. The album is raw, aggressive and live sounding, and yet is full of depth and feel. Converge is without a doubt one of the best acts in today’s saturated metallic hardcore genre, and their latest album is solid proof of their continued relevance and importance.

9. Skunk Anansie – Black Traffic

After eight year apart, U.K. alternative punk/metal rockers Skunk Anansie returned in 2010 with ‘Wonderlustre’. And if the truth be told, I was bitterly disappointed with the album. So with their second post-reunion release, I was a little concerned that the band’s best days were behind them. But lo and behold, the band have rediscovered their hard edged sound (And cut down on the slower/ballad direction of the past), and released one of the surprise kiss-ass rock albums of 2012.

10. Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol

Paradise Lost’s new album is a bit of a no-brainer for my top ten albums for this year. After a few years spent in the wilderness (In which time the band produced some great albums I might add), the Halifax legends marked an almighty return to form a few years ago with ‘In Requiem’ (2007). Since then, the band has maintained their heavier sound and consistent song writing, right through to their latest effort. There’s no real new territory unearthed by the band on this latest release, but if you enjoyed their last couple of releases, you’ll understand just how enjoyable ‘Tragic Idol’ is.