Top Five: Albums of 2012
It’s a shame that I don’t often find an excuse to write about music here at Mission:Geek; there is little else I love nearly as much. In all honesty, I really don’t have the knowledge of it that I do with gaming, so I wouldn’t be comfortable with claiming any expertise on the matter. That said, I DO feel like it would be a shame to not include a list of my personal favorite records that were released in 2012 – even if it was kind of a slow year for truly great music. Here we go!
Best Track – Cocainium
For me, part of the excitement of Baroness’ Yellow and Green is that I purchased it completely on a whim without any real prior knowledge of their material. I saw it in a local HMV, decided it was intriguing, and purchased it as part of my ritual of obtaining new music for long drives. It can’t be said that it doesn’t have a few too many pieces of filler to pad out its double-album length, but the great tunes here hit hard and stay with you for days. I loved the eclectic, almost vintage rock feel of this record, especially on tracks like Cocainium (I loved the acid rock feel with this one) and Sea Lungs, two ear worms that had me coming back to this release for weeks. Give it a try if you’re looking for something fun and different for your collection, or just check them out on Youtube if you’re not the adventurous type.
Best Track – Liberation
Devin Townsend may be one of the most active men in music. His experimental efforts have been hitting on an annual basis for a long time now and, if recent information is correct, he’s not looking to let up any time soon. Now, with records like Ziltoid the Omniscient and this year’s Epicloud under his belt, he may also be one of the best. Epicloud is a soaring, musically complex effort that can come across as overly pretentious at times (especially in tracks like True North) but, experienced in the right mood, is a beautiful piece of work with a surprisingly broad appeal for a man of his tastes and tenure. Pick this one up if you’re in the mood for some complex, experimental metal and don’t mind the occasional pretentiousness in your ears.
Best Track – Last Stand for Independence
There is no doubt in my mind that Testament is one of the most under-appreciated acts in music today. Their albums almost always top the thrash scene’s releases in any year and, at least in my experience, their live performances are show-stealing spectacles of brilliant songwriting and expert musicianship. Dark Roots of Earth may not be their best effort to date, but it features enough great songs to keep it in your speakers for weeks at a time, especially in the fantastic Last Stand for Independence, a tune I consider to be the genre-defining thrash anthem of this decade. Anybody looking for something to bang their heads to should grab this one immediately.
Best Track – Apocryphon
Unlike the other artists in this list, The Sword has the dubious honor of starting out as a band that I absolutely detested. My first encounter with them was in Guitar Hero 2 with their song Freya and, wow, did I ever loathe every part of that song. I wrote them off as just another hackneyed attempt at emulating simple, classic rock and promptly moved on with my life. Then, with the release of 2010′s Warp Riders (which I heard accidentally), I discovered some real talent in their songwriting and have since been a devoted fan. Now, with 2012′s Apocryphon, The Sword have released a record that is far better than it has any reason to be and, at least in my opinion, their most accomplished work to date. I found its sharp, staccato riffs to be more than a little reminiscent of the classic metal I initially wrote them off as pathetically mimicking, and – totally back pedalling here – couldn’t recommend it more on that basis alone.
Best Track – Headlong Flight
That Rush, a staggering 44 years into their career, are still producing albums is one thing, but the fact that they remain at the top of the Progressive Rock heap with brilliant records like Clockwork Angels is just completely amazing to me. Part of my love of this album comes from it serving as my introduction to Rush’s heavier modern material. It’s really sparked a love affair with their three most recent efforts, inspiring a trend of listening to them almost exclusively for the entirety of the summer. Packed full of great tracks from top to bottom (and possibly the best modern rock single in decades), Clockwork Angels is the perfect good mood album and easily my most visited record of any genre this year.