In the beginning of December 2012 we asked you, our beloved Roadburn readers, friends and associates, to list your top 10 Roadburn-worthy albums of 2012. By January 2nd we had received 270 lists. Thanks to everyone who took the time to send us their list!
This is how we compiled the rankings: the albums on each list were awarded points on a scale of one to ten, with one point for the tenth album to 10 points for the number one album. Next, the total points for each album were added up to determine the final score for the album in question. Then all we had to do was rank the albums. The number of votes cast for each album is listed in parentheses next to the overall score.
And the clear winner is: OM with the album Advaitic Songs! Congratulations, gentlemen!
Second place goes to Ufomammut, Goat came in third, Neurosis came in fourth, and Swans complete the Top 5. Have a look to find out how your faves fared in the overall rankings:
1.Om – Advaitic Songs (102)
“Go figure that the Om record two albums after the one called Pilgrimage would feel so much like a journey. Further including multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Robert A. A. Lowe (also of experimental one-man outfit Lichens) alongside the established core duo of drummer Emil Amos (also of Grails) and bassist / vocalist Al Cisneros (also of Sleep), as well as incorporating a range of guest appearances from the likes of Grayceon‘s Jackie Perez Gratz on cello and Worm Ouroboros‘ Lorraine Rath (who appeared on 2010′s God is Good as well) on flute, Om fleshed out what was once a signature minimalism to the point of being a lush, constantly moving and markedly fluid entity.”
“Cisneros, as the remaining founder and lead vocalist, served as a unifying presence in the material — his bass still was still very much as the center of “Gethsemane” or the more straightforward and distorted “State of Non-Return” — but those songs and “Addis,” “Sinai” and gloriously melodic closer “Haqq al-Yaqin” amounted to more than any single performance, and where priorOm outings had dug themselves deep into a kind of solitary contemplation, Advaitic Songs looked outward with a palpable sense of musical joy and a richness of experience that could only be called spiritual, however physically or emotionally arresting it might also prove. I’ve found it works best in the morning, as a way to transition from that state of early half-there into the waking world — which no doubt has more harshness in mind than the sweet acoustics and tabla at the end of “Haqq al-Yaqin” — so that some of that sweetness can remain and help me face whatever might come throughout the day. A morning ceremony and a bit of meditation to reorder the consciousness” – JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
2.Ufomammut – Oro (71)
“Italian cosmic doom meganauts Ufomammut outdid themselves yet again with Oro, breaking up a single full-length into two separate releases, Oro: Opus Primum and Oro: Opus Alter. But the album — which I’ve decided to list as the single entity Oro rather than its two component parts basically to save myself some brain space — was more than just big in terms of its runtime. More importantly, Ufomammut were able to hold firm to their commitment to stylistic growth, drawing on their greatest triumph yet, 2010′s Eve, the trio pushed themselves even further on their Neurot Recordings debut, resulting in an album worthy of the legacy of those releasing it. I don’t know if Oro will come to define Ufomammut as Eve already seems to have — dividing it as they did may have made it harder for listeners to grasp it as a single piece — but it shows that there’s simply no scaring the band out of themselves” — JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
3.Goat – World Music (59)
“From the tremendous Afro groove that defines the album to the killer fuzz / wah guitars, Turkish rock, kraut repetition, astral folk, head-nodding psych and stonking afro percussion, Goat’s World Music will undoubtedly add to the group’s much talked about mystique –could there be truth to the rumor about an ancient voodoo tradition that can be traced back to Korpolombolo, a small and very remote settlement way up in northern Sweden? Call me a worshipper! Call me insane! Skeptics, beware! Goat will convert you!” — Walter Roadburn.
4.Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay (62)
“When I interviewed interviewed Steve Von Till about Honor Found in Decay, the Neurosis guitarist / vocalist called the band “a chaos process” in reference to their songwriting. I have no trouble believing that, because while Neurosis stand among the most influential heavy metal bands of their generation — having had as much of an effect on what’s come after them as, say, Meshuggah or Sleep, while also having little sonically in common with either of them — it’s also nearly impossible to pinpoint one aspect of their sound that defines them. The churning rhythms in the riffing of Von Till and his fellow frontman, guitarist / vocalist Scott Kelly (interview here), Dave Edwardson‘s intensity on bass and periodic vocal, the assured percussive creativity of Jason Roeder and the experimental edge brought to bear in Noah Landis‘ synth and sampling all prove to be essential elements of the whole.”
“On Honor Found in Decay — and this isn’t to take away anything from any other particular member’s songwriting contributions — it would be Landis standing out with his greatest contributions yet, becoming as much a defining element in songs like “At the Well,” “Bleeding the Pigs” and “Casting of the Ages” as either Kelly or Von Till‘s guitars. Had I never seen the band before, I’d have a hard time believing Honor Found in Decay could possibly be representative of their live sound, but they are every bit as crushing, as oppressive and as emotionally visceral on stage — if not more so — as they are on the album, and while their legacy has long since been set among the most important heavy acts ever, period, as they climb closer to the 30-year mark (they’ll get there in 2015), Neurosis continue to refuse to bow to what’s expected of them or write material that doesn’t further their decades-long progression. They are worthy of every homage paid them, and more” – JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
5.Swans – The Seer (58)
“As much for the live shows as the album… The sheer force of both gives me faith that reunions can work. Gira is a true artist that will never take the easy way out. With this album the band proves there is still music within the ‘pop’ realm that can frighten and confront” – Jurgen van den Brand / Roadburn
6.Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction (57)
“Pallbearer‘s epic, timeless riffs and modern production have been taking the music world by storm on their debut album Sorrow and Extinction, no small feat for a doom band” — Walter / Roadburn.
7.High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis (47)
“After what I saw as a lackluster production for 2010′s Snakes for the Divine, Oakland, CA, trio High on Fire aligned themselves with producer Kurt Ballou (Converge) for De Vermis Mysteriis and completely renewed the vitality in their attack. Built on the insistence of “Bloody Knuckles,” furious fuckall of “Fertile Green,” unmitigated piracy of “Serums of Laio” and eerie crawl in “King of Days,” De Vermis Mysteriis was both aggressive in High on Fire‘s raid-your-brain-for-THC tradition and extreme in ways they’ve never been before. Groovers like the instrumental “Samsara” and earlier “Madness of an Architect” offered bombast where the thrash may have relented, while “Spiritual Rites” proved that guitarist / vocalist Matt Pike, bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Des Kensell had arrived at a new threshold of speed and intensity.”
“Whatever personal issues may have been in play at the time, High on Fire delivered a blistering full-length that stands up to and in many ways surpasses any prior viciousness in their catalog, and their level of performance on their current tour makes it plain to see that the band is ready for ascendency to the heights of metal. They are conquerors to the last, and if De Vermis Mysteriis is what I get for wavering, then I’ll consider my lesson hammered home in every second of feedback, tom thud and grueling second of distortion topped with Pike‘s signature growl” – JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
8.Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (38)
“AWLWLB is an example of building on and mastering the music you loved when you were younger– something that became more than music, ultimately– so that it has a chance to grow old with you without becoming any less vital” – Brandon Stosuy / Pitchfork.
9.AmenRa – Mass V (33)
“It does not seem fair to judge this record in the way one judges most records. It is what it is, something disturbingly other and yet something restlessly familiar. ‘Mass V’ proves better than ever why Amenra are not just a band but, in many ways, a faith and a symptom of nature. This truly is the music of prayer, and Amenra are the preachers that the world so desperately needs. For that reason alone it necessitates only the highest of praise” — Ben Bland / Stereoboard.
10.Witchcraft – Legend (30)
“Legend does have a few bumps on its otherwise seamless road, namely “An Alternative To Freedom” and album closer “Dead End,” the latter of which might very well translate to an excellent live rendition. For what it’s worth, Legend is not quite a Witchcraft or a Firewood, but it is most certainly a welcome return of a band that has been away for far too long” – Tom Campagna / About.com: Heavy Metal.
11.Conan – Monnos (30)
“Behold the standard bearers of heavy. It wasn’t long after hearing UK trio Conan for the first time that I began using them as a touchstone to see how other bands stacked up, and to be honest, almost no one has. Led by the inimitable lumber provided by the tone of guitarist / vocalist Jon Davis, Conan stripped down their approach for Monnos, returning to Foel Studio in Wales to work with producer Chris Fielding — who’d also helmed their 2010 Horseback Battle Hammer EP — and the resulting effort was both trim and humongous.”
“Early tracks like “Hawk as Weapon,” “Battle in the Swamp” (an old demo given new life) and “Grim Tormentor” actually managed to be catchy as well as sonically looming, and the more extended closing duo of “Headless Hunter” and “Invincible Throne” showed that Conan could both use their tone to build forward momentum and plod their way into ultra-slow, ultra-grim despairing nothingness. Monnos affirmed Conan as one of the most pivotal acts in doom, and with new material and a home studio reportedly in the works, as well as further European touring on the docket for early 2013, their onslaught shows no signs of letting up. Right fucking on” – JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
12.Graveyard – Lights Out (30)
“The damnedest thing happens every time I turn on Graveyard‘s third album, Lights Out, in that before I’m halfway through opener “An Industry of Murder,” I have to turn it up. The reigning kings of Swedish retro heavy wasted no time following up 2011′s stunning sophomore outing, Hisingen Blues, and with the four-year gap between their self-titled debut and the second record, it was a surprise from the moment it was announced, but more than that, Lights Out showed remarkable development in Graveyard‘s sound, offering elements of classic soul on songs like “Slow Motion Coundown” and “Hard Times Lovin’” to stand alongside the brash rock and roll of “Seven Seven” or the irresistible hook provided by “The Suits, the Law and the Uniforms” or the single “Goliath.”
“A landmark vocal performance from guitarist Joakim Nilsson and newly surfaced political bent to the lyrics hinted that Graveyard were nowhere near done growing, but seriously, if they put out four or five more records in the vein of Lights Out, I doubt there’d be too many complaints. Already one can hear the influence they’ve had on European heavy rock, and Lights Out isn’t likely to slow that process in the slightest” – JJ Koczan / The Obelisk.
13.Enslaved – Riitiir (26)
“Enslaved’s most revealing album of their career… after twelve albums in 18 years, Riitiir shows that these Norwegian ‘black metallers turned into blackened-prog meisters’ are permanently hungry to improve themselves, no matter how successful their previous albums have been. One of the most daring bands of our generation, and generations to come” – Walter / Roadburn.
14.Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (29)
“For this band, there’s always been something appealing about repeating cycles and rituals– sounds and images that vanish over the horizon and then come back around again, like the trains that roll by their practice space at Hotel 2 Tango. Planets orbit, people are born and die, and music has a moment and then vanishes before returning again. And so it goes with Allelujah!, an album of music that is both new and old from a band that we thought we might never hear from again, one we should appreciate while we can” – Mark Richardson / Pitchfork.
15.Baroness - Yellow & Green (22)
“Like Enslaved, Baroness also dare to wander further outside their comfort zone than ever before… Yellow & Green heavily relies on atmosphere, melody and quality, catchy but also hard-hitting songs instead of the quantity of riffs! Yellow & Green shifts moods, and though the album might not be for everyone, I think it’s their very best record to this date!” – Walter / Roadburn.
Here are the house lists:
1.Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Don’t Hear It… Fear It!
“An amazingly energetic record with hard riffs and big hooks that swirl and snake through a myriad of changes, all drenched in the most delicious audio fuzz… too good. Did not stop listening to it once I got it.”
2.Hisko Detria – Static Raw Power Kraut
“Finnish band that perfectly captures their style with their album title. A complete surprise, and a very pleasant one.”
3.Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse
“Ty Segall’s great psych / garage / pop tunes are fuzzy, intense and infectious. On heavy rotation all year.”
4.Spiders – Flash Point
“Real rock and roll with great songs and headnodding riffs.”
5.Torche – Harmonicraft
“Polishes and perfects what Torche does best, write catchy songs with awesome heavy riffs. One of their best.”
6.Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos – Icon Give Thank
“An amazing melding of beautiful vocals from The Congos and far out psychedelic future dub… perfect on sunny days. And rainy ones.”
7.The Men – Open Your Heart
“Spectacular rock and roll record… Excellent song writing, great variety of styles. Stands up really well to heavy listening.”
8.Blues Control – Valley Tangents
“A piano and keyboard space/jazz/psych masterpiece. Vaguely like Dave Brubeck teaming up with Kluster… totally original.”
9.Ash Borer – Ash Borer
“Finest black metal I heard in 2012… By turns epic, blistering, cold, and furious.”
10.Pharaoh Overlord – Lunar Jetman
“Newest effort from Circle offshoot that hearkens back to their first two records… First song “Rodent” might be the song of the year, a super dirty 35007ish masterpiece.”
Jurgen van den Brand:
1.Swans – The Seer
“As much for the live shows as the album… The sheer force of both gives me faith that reunions can work. Gira is a true artist that will never take the easy way out. With this album the band proves there is still music within the ‘pop’ realm that can frighten and confront.”
2.Windhand – Windhand
“I hadn’t heard the album and a friend of mine told me, “it’s like the intro of the song Black Sabbath with the rain and the riffs made into an whole album.” Of course that’s not the whole story but it makes a nice introduction. At least to my ears. A band for the future.”
3.Aluk Todolo – Occult Rock
“The French trio get better and better with their craftsmanship with each release. Their kraut-by-way-of-black metal is as mesmerizing as it is addictive.”
4.Pinkish Black – Pinkish Black
“This probably the most diverse album genre-wise on the list. Pinkish Black don’t shy away of experimenting with their sound. From 80s experimental to 60s freak outs, you’ll all find it on their debut.”
5.Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
“The classic doom album of this year, like 40 Watt Sun’s The Inside Room was in 2011. Classy all the way through, can’t wait to see them at Roadburn 2013 where no doubt they will be one of the highlights for me.”
6.Occultation – Three & Seven
“It took me a while to get into this one but after repeated listens I could not let it go. Occult, yes, connected to Negative Plane, yes, but apart from those references, Occultation have a definite sound of their own.”
7.Tamaryn – Tender New Signs
“Normally I go for the heavier and distorted shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine (Serena Maneesh, No Joy, Neon Prisms) but this album caught my ear this year. It’s more Slowdive than MBV, so it’s more gentle in its sound but is captivating all the way through nonetheless.”
8.Vatican Shadow – Ghosts Of Chechnya
“My yearly Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Cold Cave) album. Grayson Currin says it on Pitchfork way better than I ever could, “Vatican Shadow’s music could be vaguely categorized as eerie electronica. The beats are never direct or obvious; rather, they bounce around in halls of broken sounds, with samples and static and squall surrounding them in bursts of activity.”
9.Circle of Ouroborus – The Lost Entrance Of The Just
“I haven’t listened to all releases Circle Of Ouroborus have put out the last few years but I love the eerie black metal / post punk sound on their last album Eleven Fingers and this one. One for cold nights.”
10.The Amazing – Gentle Stream
“Dungen-sideproject The Amazing could have fit in Rob Young’s amazing Electric Eden book if it had been made in the 60s. Bucolic psych folk of the highest order.”
1.Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Big Moon Ritual / 2.Chris Robinson Brotherhood – The Magic Door
“By far my album(s) of the year. Black Crows’ Chris Robinson dives head first deep into the 60′s psych galaxy, as well as Cali-country-rock that harkens back to likes of Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers and The Band. The fee-flowing jams flip from laid-back country-blues to silvery space-soul, as both albums are the thrilling result of some ongoing jam sessions that seem to last ’til today. This is unapologetic head music as it should be: loose, cosmic, emotionally charged, but also firmly rooted in strong, traditional melodies. I have been listening to these albums non-stop for the last couple of months, and each time I’m traveling further up and out.”
3. Sula Bassana – Dark Days
“Sula Basana (a.k.a Dave Schmidt of Electric Moon-fame) rapidly orbits to some distance psych galaxy, too! Exploring the vast cosmos through hallucinatory space-rock-funk, he’s burning back to earth by way of motorik krautrock on one of his very best albums to date (in the past 20 years, the über-prolific Schmidt has over 125 releases to his name).”
4.Enslaved – Riitiir
“Enslaved’s most revealing album of their career… after twelve albums in 18 years, Riitiir shows that these Norwegian ‘black metallers turned into blackened-prog meisters’ are permanently hungry to improve themselves, no matter how successful their previous albums have been. One of the most daring bands of our generation, and generations to come.”
5.Baroness – Yellow & Green
“Like Enslaved, Baroness also dare to wander further outside their comfort zone than ever before… Yellow & Green heavily relies on atmosphere, melody and quality, catchy but also hard-hitting songs instead of the quantity of riffs! Yellow & Green shifts moods, and though the album might not be for everyone, I think it’s their very best record to this date!”
6.Ulver – Childhood’s End
“Paying homage to the 60s by way of covering the likes of The Pretty Things, Jefferson Airplane. The 13th Floor Elevators and The Electric Prunes among others, Childhood’s End is an enigmatic journey as only Ulver can deliver!”
7.Hexvessel – No Holier Temple
“Finland’s Hexvessel were one of the biggest revelations of the 2012 Roadburn Festival, and while their debut album, Dawnbearer, garnered rave reviews, it’s the awe-inspiring and transcendent follow-up, No Holier Temple, that causes a real stir!”
8.Camera – Radiate
“Camera’s debut album Radiate easily ranks amongst the finest releases of 2012… these guerrillas have taken Krautrock to the streets, making the magical achievements of German musical pioneers (by the likes of NEU!, Harmonia, Cluster and La Düsseldorf) accessible to a wider audience.”
9.Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
“Pallbearer‘s epic, timeless riffs and modern production have been taking the music world by storm on their debut album Sorrow and Extinction, no small feat for a doom band.”
10.Goat – World Music
“From the tremendous Afro groove that defines the album to the killer fuzz / wah guitars, Turkish rock, kraut repetition, astral folk, head-nodding psych and stonking afro percussion, Goat’s World Music will undoubtedly add to the group’s much talked about mystique –could there be truth to the rumor about an ancient voodoo tradition that can be traced back to Korpolombolo, a small and very remote settlement way up in northern Sweden? Call me a worshipper! Call me insane! Skeptics, beware! Goat will convert you!”
Tags: Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, amenra, baroness, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Conan, Converge, enslaved, Goat, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Graveyard, High on Fire, Neurosis, om, Pallbearer, Roadburn, Roadburn Festival, swans, ufomammut, witchcraft
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