Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012:

Metal and Hardcore

> Dec 10 2012

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: - Metal and Hardcore
By Exclaim! StaffEvery year, we ask our writers and editors from all sections to vote on their favourite albums, by genre, in the hopes of whittling down each year's musical crop to just the cream. Below, find our album picks for metal and hardcore 2012.

Exclaim!'s Best Albums of 2012: Metal and Hardcore:

15. Incantation
Vanquish in Vengeance

Though they've almost never had the same line-up between releases, Pennsylvania's Incantation are still kicking and screaming. With 20-plus releases in two decades of aggression, Vanquish in Vengeance may be their finest hour yet. Each of the ten gloriously blasphemous tracks reeks of massive road experience, thoughtful musicality, and the band's resolution not necessarily to outdo themselves, but to show fans that they still rule the death metal world. And rule they do, with guitarist/vocalist John McEntee cranking out some of his most memorable chordage since 1998's Diabolical Conquest. "Invoked Infinity" and "Progeny of Tyranny" are quick blastbeat hallmarks, and "Haruspex" is as fresh as the glistening entrails eviscerated by an ancient diviner. "Transcend into Absolute Dissolution" is a standout cut that takes a slow, deep and hard swipe at death/doom, while "Profound Loathing" borrows a few riffs from old My Dying Bride before McEntee erupts in a tasteful solo. With ominous imprecations in the background, "Legion of Dis" is a ten-plus-minute exercise in sustained chords and feedback.
Chris Ayers

14. The Chariot
One Wing
(Good Fight/eOne)

Hymnal choruses, galloping romps through western territory, desperate piano ballads and freaking Charlie Chaplin speeches all surprisingly find a home amongst a bevy of noisy, chaotic metallic hardcore. Not only do the Chariot deftly manoeuvre these transitions with Between the Buried and Me-esque dexterity, they open the door for other bands to do so. Departures from the norm were formerly restricted to the realm of genre innovators, not imitators. However, the Chariot shattered that by ignoring genre conventions and devising their own path to a sonic maelstrom. After losing their bassist and deciding to soldier on as a four-piece, the Chariot have burdened themselves with the task of performing these songs live. However, given that previous albums basically served as an appetizer for the band's intense live show, it seems like a challenge the band will take on headfirst: literally.
Bradley Zorgdrager

13. Torche

Despite their increasing disinterest in the more abrasive side of the genre, Florida's Torche still pack a walloping metallic punch. The enthusiastic riff-slinging foursome draws from the rich lineage of psychedelic and progressive heavy music pioneers of the '70s, the positive bombast of '80s hair metal (minus the cheese) and the breakneck pace of punk on their aptly titled third full-length album. It's not just the carefully arranged dual guitar squall the title refers to; highly atypical of modern metal music, the songs of Harmonicraft are drenched in glorious vocal harmonies. Coupled with pummelling drums and the anchor of relentless throbbing bass, the resulting sonic palette is a tonally rich tidal wave of meaty glee crashing from the speakers, but one that never obscures the crystalline individuality of each sound source. It's no small achievement to bend the tools of aggressive music into the service of expressions of invigorating joy and that's exactly what Torche accomplish here. Doom and gloom are but passing emotional colours employed to create tension that enhances the exuberant cathartic release that bursts from these 13 tracks. Torche demonstrate judicious taste in letting each of their idea babies determine its own lifespan; no song feels too short, or too long. Exemplary in its efficiency and fearlessness, Harmonicraft is a metal album for anyone who likes aggressive music with a deceptive undercurrent of complexity and a healthy sheen of ear-pleasing unapologetic musicality.
Scott A. Gray

Phantom Antichrist
(Nuclear Blast)

It's a rare case of a thrash band getting better over time that this latest from long-running German thrashers Kreator is as insanely memorable as it is, and more raging than ever (the insanely titled "Death to the World" lays down double-kick commands and razor-wire riffs like never before... which says a lot for this band). A case can be seriously made for Kreator 2012 crafting what is alarmingly close to a perfect actualization of what extreme music can be, the sonics finally nearing the perfection that we hear in our heads. Kreator has expressed in thrash something we can hold on to, congratulate, give a high five to and fake-punch in the gut because we don't really know how to genuinely thank it for all it's given us.
Greg Pratt

11. Propagandhi
Failed States

On their sixth full-length, respected Winnipeg political punkers Propagandhi dive deeper into the obscure and the astute. But it's the complete disregard for their legacy that makes this so appealing: not only is this worlds apart from their pop-punk roots, it's worlds apart from even their last album and from any sub-genre of hardcore, metal, or punk as we know it. Instead, it's somewhere between classic crossover, political thrash, and emotionally charged dark music. It's just music, so honest it hurts (guitarist/vocalist Chris Hannah's thrashing childhood memoir "Devil's Creek"), amazes (tear-inducing dose of reality "Unscripted Moment"), and inspires (bassist Todd Kowalski's amazing "Dark Matters"). And "Rattan Cane," the craziest, best song of the year, hands down: from its Immolation-worshipping sludge metal intro to frantic hardcore middle to ballistic, barbaric breakdown finale, this is what it's all about, melodies underneath giving sly winks at the keen listener, bass line propelling unbelievably, drumming of Jord Samolesky reaching new heights of fill-laden mania. Countless listens in, this album continues to provide me with the energy needed to fight the daily fight and keep a positive outlook facing an always uncertain future. Plus, it rocks.
Greg Pratt

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meshuggah. koloss.
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Nice list. Share and share alike... here's pt. 1 of mine. Indie and small labels only in this first round.

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I'd argue that the bands listed in this list have done more to push their respective genres than Meshuggah and Koloss. While they helped to push the limits of metal with different strumming techniques and time signatures, we have to remember that neither band delivered a career altering opus. Those 15 acts listed here, in my opinion, did just that. Not only did they provide different glimpses into their inner circles, they made us think about the things occurring around us.
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What I was trying to say, is that Meshuggah and Koloss won't be on the 'best of' lists just because they put albums out. The fact that they have great pasts to back them up doesn't mean anything unless they continue to grow and evolve. This year, there just wasn't enough new to go around.
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Koloss is the new album by Meshuggah. They are not two different bands.
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The new High On Fire didn't seem too dynamic compared to the rest on the list but aside from that, looking forward to checking out some other releases here!
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Lol @LincolnMcrea you pretty much lose all credibility of an informed response when you don't even know that koloss is the new Meshuggah album not another band. Which means you didn't listen to the new Meshuggah and therefor have no idea whether it "pushed its respective genre" with its vague-ass "strumming techniques and time signatures". The new Neurosis isn't a "career altering opus" and it made the list, it doesn't come anywhere near Through Silver in Blood or A Sun that Never Sets but there it is. hahaha reading your comment made my day, at least use google before you make stuff up about why something didn't make the list.
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Koloss in nothing guys! I mean, i love meshuggah and their Nothing is everything. but koloss is not nearly so good or fresh...
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The Chariot are awesome. See if you can find the lyrics to the track "In" and read them as you listen to the track. It truly puts meaning to the madness. Outstanding. Also, just look at that album cover. Do any of the others really even compare? I recommend grabbing a copy of 1 of the 3 colored vinyls they released late last year. Only 500 of each. Awesome. I love The Chariot. They have the best live show ever (unless you're one of those douchey-ass clowns who likes to thr ow fists in the crowd). At their show, I found myself taking part in the very first "loving mosh". I have never felt more exalted in my life.
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