Thursday, January 3, 2013

VII's Top 20 Releases of 2012

It's not to late, is it? I always seem to do lists like this way past the time they usually pop up. But anyway, happy new year everybody, we made it through 2012! It's been a crazy year; extreme weather,  face eating drug zombies, anti-climactic Mayan apocalypses (lulz), and more grindcore and powerviolence music than you can shake a stick at. When I look back at 2012, in terms of music, it was overall a pretty lack luster year. Most of the new releases I heard either made me go "ehhhh" or "that was pretty good". Maybe I've just gotten too overexposed to this music and it's starting to take a lot more to impress me, who knows. All you need to know though is that the 20 records were in constant rotation throughout my year, and I highly suggest you check out all of these releases if you haven't. And since I'm terrible with intros, let's not waste any more time and dive right into my 20 favorite releases of 2012!

20. thedowngoing - "ATHROUSANDYEARSOFDARKNESS": This Aussie noisegrind duo blew my ears wide open when I downloaded this beast of an album off of Grindcore Karaoke. This is scarily good music, and they really are, in my opinion, one of the best examples of a grindcore band purposely embracing noisy production. There are just so many things that make this album work; the riffs are there, which is unusual for noisegrind, the songs are brutal, the vocals are so ridiculous that it's hard not to love them. Great band that I want to hear more from asap.

19. Pig Destroyer - "Book Burner": Maybe a curious album to be on this list considering how unenthusiastic my review of it was. But when we get down to nitty gritty, at the end of the day, this is still a Pig Destroyer album, and it is definitely a good one. Scott Hull riffs all over this album, J.R. still gives a sick vocal delivery, the album sounds great, the grooves are killer. It's Pig Destroyer being Pig Destroyer, we just had to wait 5 years to hear it again.

18. JJ DOOM - "Key To The Kuffs": Anyone who knows me knows that I listen to a whole lot of other music besides grind, and that I am a huge fan of hip-hop. One of my favorite rappers is the masked super villain known as DOOM (or MF DOOM, the name changes depending on if he does production or vocals). On "Key To The Kuffs", DOOM teams up with Jneiro Jarrel for an album that hasn't sounded like any DOOM collab. album before, but still kicks incredible ass. The über modern, yet fresh production style is a bit of a weird companion to DOOM's trademark flow at first listen, but that quickly faded away for me. This album is a fantastic listen the whole way through, and in my opinion is the best DOOM project since "Madvillainy". Come at me.

17. Sakatat - "Bir Devrin Sonu": Unfortunately, this may be the last release we'll see from this Turkish grindcore band (they're playing their last couple of shows early this year), but man did they go out with a ripper of an album. Keeping it brief at a scant 8 minutes, "Bir Devrin Sonu" is about as solid as a grind album can get. The only thing this album does is blast; fast and efficiently. The songwriting isn't that varied, like, at all, which can be a bit distracting, but it's hard to ignore just how good these guys are at writing quality grindcore, and this album is 100% quality.

16. Converge - "All We Love We Leave Behind": I really fell of the Converge train this year, since their last 2 splits were very underwhelming, and I more than likely over-saturated myself with their music (I used to live and breath this band). So imagine my surprise when I finally gave this album a spin, after putting it off for so long and hearing so many people tell me how amazing it is, to find that this was in fact a killer Converge record! This album reminded me of why I love this band; everything about this band, and this album is fine-tuned and fitted to make absolutely refreshing, interesting, brutal, heavy, melodic, blasting hardcore music. I only wish I had heard this album earlier in the year, it probably would have been higher on the list.

15. +HIRS+ - "100 Songs LP": Yes, compilations count! I mean, how could I not include the discography compilation from my Philly favorites? Readers of this blog know that I've sung this bands praises many a time over the past couple years. And having all of their recorded material on one convenient 12" slab of wax is fantastic. Drum machine blasting, techy, sample smothered, sexy, industrial, grind as fuck, non-stop assault to the dome. Heres to another year of quality music from +HIRS+!

14. Extortion/Cold World - Split: Much like Converge, I haven't really been a fan of Extortions last few releases, but they came back with a vengeance on this split 12" with Cold World! This is the fastest and most aggressive stuff the band has done since their split with Agents of Abhorrence, and it is a great return to form for these Australian titans. And let's not forget Cold World, their side kicks just as much ass as their companions. Crazy, old-school inspired, blasty blast fastcore from Austria that is the perfect addition to Extortion's brutality.

13. OSK - "Wretched Existence//Bleak Future 2007-2010": The most criminally slept-on release of the year? I'd certainly say so. People, do you knot realize how crazy good OSK are? Buy this compilation CD and you'll get treated to some of the best grind Canada has to offer! This release is crazy good from front to back, and shows that this band has been consistently on top of their game for their entire recorded history. If you guys don't know my now, now you do. Buy or die.

12. Dirty Projectors - "Swing Lo Magellan": This is a band that I fell head over heels in love with in the last half of 2012. I had been a fan of their last album, "Bitte Orca", a long time before I heard this, and "Swing Lo Magellan" definitely is a very different sounding album that the last one. It's a lot more stripped down, less flashy, more rooted in grooves and simple melodies, and it's all absolutely fantastic. There are just so many great pieces to this album: "About To Die" is a high contender for my favorite song of the year (that bubbling programmed drum beat, and that bass, unf), I love the bouncy, playful piano melody on the track"The Socialites", and the vocals are just absolutely gorgeous. Fantastic, inventive, artsy indie-ish rock that I highly suggest checking out.

11. Death Of Self - "S/T": Here's a band that arrived, put out a stupidly good 7" EP, and then went and broke up. It's a real shame they didn't stick around longer, because if they continued to make music as sick as the material on this thing, they could have been untouchable. The songs on here are just absolutely brutal. Like, body smashed into jelly with a sledgehammer brutal. Also, Ethan Lee gives one of my favorite vocal performances of the year. Dude is just straight up vicious on this album. RIP guys.

10. Column Of Heaven - "Mission From God": It made my top 10!! I had some little problems with this release when I first reviewed it, but like most things in life, I get over them and move on. I really can't think of a grind or powerviolence album that sounded anything like "Mission From God" that came out this year. It really does stand out from the crowd. Equal parts grind and noise, with a little dash of death metal thrown in for good measure, this is an album that I've really grown to love, and I can't wait for their future releases.

9. Death Grips - "No Love Deep Web": The band that put out what I called my favorite release of 2011 came back with 2 types of vengeance in 2012 with "The Money Store" and this album, "No Love Deep Web". And while they're both very solid albums, I have to say I prefer "No Love.." more. This album really brought the heavy, noisy aggression that I fell in love with on "Exmilitary". MC Ride is back screaming his throat out, but also has given a lot more variety and character to his vocals. And the beats range from strange and futuristic ("Pop", "Whammy"), to just straight up punishing, like the track "No Love", which has a beat that sounds like Darth Vader coming down a staircase to hatefuck everyone to death. This album is catchy, heavy, groovy, and all around enjoyable. Can't wait to see what they do next.

8. Sea Of Shit/Water Torture - Split: A split that I'm sure we all saw coming before it was announced, this slab of black wax is a double dose of disgust. The Sea Of Shit side is good, for sure, "Black and Blue" is an excellent track. but to me this split really shines on Water Tortures side. This release has some of my favorite songs from the band ("Living Hell", "Attn: Starved"), and the heaviest recording the band has had so far. I'll end by saying that "Living Hell" has the nastiest breakdown I've heard all year. Fist-through-the-wall kind of material.

7. False Light - "S/T": This sickening South Carolina outfit gave me my favorite debut of 2012, and have serious potential to become a big thing in the underground this year. This EP mixes disgusting grindviolence, gutter production and heavy sludge metal, into a soupy, distorted concoction of incredibly enjoyable jams. This will finally be getting the 7" treatment very soon, and hopefully we can expect new material in the near future. Must listen!

6. Standing On A Floor Of Bodies - "Sacrilegious and Culturally Deficient": SOAFOB broke through the sophomore slump and released an album that slays even more than their demo, which I had thought would be impossible. "Sacrilegious..." is 15 minutes of total horror-grindcore. The cold, chilling industrial sound that this band captures, with nothing more than a bass guitar and a drum machine is basically unmatched in grindcore right now. These guys have a their own sound, and they push it to the extreme. Now hopefully my bands split tape with these guys will come out soon ;)

5. Six Brew Bantha - "S/T": This band shot out of the Canadian scene like an atom bomb and decimated the underground with their amazing debut album. I'd to say that this is definitely my favorite grindcore full length of 2012, no other album has kicked my ass in that good kind of way quite like this one has. This band is just so ridiculously tight, and the recording is just absolutely perfect. I'm still jizzing over how good the snare tone on this album is. Two splits are coming out this year, hopefully another full length too. Hail Canada!!

4. To The Point - "Success In Failure": To The Point are one of my favorite new bands, a band that I will buy anything that they release. "Success In Failure" completely sold me on this band, it's a 7" that I completely fell in love with at first listen. Old-school powerviolence runs through the veins of all the members of this band, and they bash out quality song after quality song with years of experience to back them up. Listen to this band immediately and if you find this record, buy it without any hesitation.

3. Water Torture - "Shellfire!": Yep, Water Torture make a 2nd appearance on this list with their EP, "Shellfire!". This really has been my favorite band of 2012, not other band has made quite an impact, or kept me as consistently satisfied as Water Torture have, and this EP never ceases to be absolutely amazing. What more can I say about this band or this record that I haven't said countless times already? It's bass n' drum powerviolence perfection; top notch recording, fantastic songs, completely over the top heaviness, it's an astounding release.

2. Sordo - "Tactical Precision Violence": However, if there was one bass n' drum powerviolence release that I'd have to say rules over them all, it would have to be the debut 7" from Sordo. More bassy powerviolence perfection that you all should seriously pay more attention too. This EP is just absolutely fucking disgusting, in the best way possible. Perfect, destructive recording, with a brutal bass tone.  There is not a dull track out of the 20 that are one here, this record gets me pumped up every time I listen to it. It's heavy, but it's also fun. It's not that über-serious face kind of powerviolence, this shit just straight up rocks.

1. Gaza - "No Absolutes In Human Suffering": Man, this album right here. Gaza truly blew me away with this one. This is an album that I bought based off of one track; the opener, "Mostly Hair And Bones Now". I didn't initially think to much about the rest of the album, but then I gave it a full listen, and I was left stupefied. No other album that I've heard this year has effected me as much as "No Absolutes In Human Suffering" did, on an enjoyment, or an emotional level. Everything about this album lends it to leaving a visceral impact on the senses. From the apocalyptic cover art, to the bone-crushing production job by studio wizard Kurt Ballou, to the lyrics, which paint vivid mental images of dragging horse limbs around a yard, of dying alone and rotting in the earth, of Jesus ignoring worldwide travesties to help some athlete score a touchdown. This is an album that defies classification; there's grindcore, sludge, hardcore, death metal, black metal, doom metal, math rock, post metal, all combined. And it doesn't sound like a mess, it just sounds like Gaza. There are moments on this album where I am literally chilled to the bone, like the closer of the previously mentioned track, "Mostly Hair And Bones Now", that escalation in intensity with the vocals, and the drums is jaw dropping. The first breakdown and ending of the song "Not With All The Hope In The World", or the melodic 2nd half of "The Vipers". This is a hardcore album that really captures pure sadness through the music, which I don't acknowledge very often. The riffs, and the astoundingly good vocal performance really seems to stroke a chord with me. It's emotional music without being sappy, it's devastatingly heavy, it's downright perfect. My favorite album of 2012.



  1. Really not seeing what everyone sees in Gaza, way too over produced for my liking, but a cool list nonetheless. Happy to see all that Water Torture there. I feel the exact same way as you do since I first heard them- really pissed I missed them play live.

  2. for some reason i've avoided the gaza album, no idea why but if it's your number one i'm definatley going to check it out. otherwise solid list man

  3. the tdg/water torture seems to have come out too late for most lists, but holy shit is it good. i'm sure you're already on that though.

  4. I'm also shocked about Gaza, but that's why this is your list and not mine. This said, great list. Thedowngoing, water torture, PD, some wonderful choices on here. I would add the Priapus 7" as well....

  5. I didn't like Gaza's album at all, but I don't really know why. Same with Sordo, same with Pig Destroyer.
    Glad to see Converge on the list; I was also skeptical, because they are my "favourite" band, but I was really disappointed with their latest splits. New Extortion also deserves it.
    All in all, it's a really cool list, I need to check out some bands I didn't even know about!

  6. Awesome #1 pick bro. I loved No Absolutes, if only a bit less than their debut.

  7. Nice list, dude. Love the Column of Heaven, thedowngoing, Sakatat and NLDW. Dirty Projectors are also a great band, though their old material up through The Getty Address and Rise Above is my favorite stuff from them.