It’s that time of year that every music blogger out there releases his and/or her subjective list(s) for the year’s top CD releases. Well, I believe it’s about time I release mine. Keep in mind that this is just a small fraction of the whirlpool of awesome music we, the consumers/fans/listeners, received in this alleged last year of our existence.
10. Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & the Conspirators – Apocalyptic Love
I have always enjoyed Myles Kennedy’s voice ever since I first heard Alter Bridge’s “Open Your Eyes” back in 2004. He is a very talented vocalist. Hell, he sounds better than Axl on most of the Guns N Roses songs when he sings them live with Slash. As for Slash, he needs no further praise or recognition, seeing how he is renowned for the great music he puts out there. Apocalyptic Love is no exception. This record is a hard rocker through and through, bringing listeners everything they could expect from a team such as Myles and Slash.
9. Shadows Fall – Fire From the Sky
As 2009’s Retribution was a fantastic expression of Shadows Fall’s passion for their uncompromised style, 2012’s Fire From the Sky was no less satisfying. The new record has the band’s signature sound written all over it. While all of the tracks rock harder than Clint Eastwood’s porch chair in Gran Torino, one stand-out song is “Blind Faith,” which exemplifies the sheer power and precision the band offers in their songwriting.
8. Matchbox Twenty – North
My regular readers may recall my previous review of this new Matchbox CD, the band’s first full-length effort in ten years. In that review, I emphasized my opinion that North sounds nothing like the music from MB20’s glory days. I stand by that observation, but would like to add that it is a noteworthy 2012 release. Songs like “English Town,” “Parade,” and “She’s So Mean” grew on me and eventually won me over, leading to their placement of #8 on my top ten of 2012.
7. Jack White – Blunderbuss
Blunderbuss is Jack White’s debut solo album and offers everything he’s about. It brings in elements of each of his projects, both past and present, with his personal spin. For instance, “Sixteen Saltines” and “Freedom at 21” are both quite reminiscent of a band called The White Stripes. “Love Interruption” kind of sounds like something The Dead Weather could release. You get the idea. If you’re curious about his live show as a solo artist, feel free to give my concert review of his Boston show a read.
6. God Forbid – Equilibrium
God Forbid’s sixth full-length, Equilibrium, portrayed a new direction for the band’s music. This new release was the first without lead guitarist Doc Coyle’s brother, Dallas, on rhythm. Therefore, this was also the first GF album to feature former Himsa guitarist, Matt Wicklund, shredding opposite to Doc. With that said, even an occasional listener of this band could hear a difference between 2009’s Earthsblood and 2012’s Equilibrium, both of which have shown GF reaching new ground. Wicklund undeniably helped bring something new to the table, and he proved to be a good addition. This new record has fantastic hooks, rhythms, solos, melody, and everything else crucial to making a good metal album. Be sure to check out “Where We Come From.” It’s a great song and has a really good music video.
5. Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Released on November 13th, this late 2012 album showed great potential. As the follow-up to 2010’s Diamond Eyes, Koi No Yokan sees Deftones treading somewhat new territories. Diamond Eyes sounded like a standard signature Deftones record. Conversely, the new release is something really special with its outstanding emotional power and new instrumental techniques in addition to the band’s signature sound. Stand-out tracks include “Leathers,” “Poltergeist,” and “Tempest.”
4. Ellie Goulding – Halcyon
Despite the increase of electronic elements from her debut album, Lights, to 2012’s Halcyon, Ms. Goulding manages to deliver a solid effort with this new release. While my album review may not show, this album really grew on me. Most of the songs are exceptionally catchy and have a tasteful amount of electronic aspects included. While this is indeed a solid release, the most noteworthy songs are as follows: “My Blood,” “Only You,” “Hanging On,” “Figure 8,” and “I Need Your Love [feat. Calvin Harris]”.
3. Testament – Dark Roots of Earth
In my initial review of this release, I absolutely raved about it. My feelings toward this record have not changed one bit. This is a fantastic effort from Testament, showing why they are known as the unofficial fifth band, if there were to be a “Big Five” and not just “Big Four.” Dark Roots of Earth is the concoction created when Testament tossed their old school thrash metal roots, Chuck Billy’s heritage, the influence of all of their previous albums, and some elements of modern metal into a blender. The result was better than any cocktail I have ever tasted. That’s not saying much, though, seeing as I barely ever drink…
2. The Sword – Apocryphon
Nowadays, I like to preview my music online before I buy it, as any knowledgeable CD buyer would do. Well, I did a lot of that with Apocryphon. Being a little tight on money, I have started being more selective in my purchases. So, when Newbury Comics had a Buy Two, Get One Free deal on all new and used CDs, I pounced on that and grabbed The Sword’s new record, along with those of Deftones and Machine Head (the new live album). While I thoroughly enjoyed all three CDs off the bat, Apocryphon was my instant favorite. It was everything a metalhead could ask for from The Sword. It’s heavy, melodic, and shreds better than the bad guy in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
1. Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is An Animal
Now, this may surprise some of you. Why would a folksy indie rock band ever be at the top of a “best of” list written by a metalhead? Well, I will tell you why. While I do love my hard rock and metal, I like to switch it up every now and then. When I do that little switch, I like to hear some catchy tunes. Of Monsters and Men’s My Head Is An Animal provided just that. The songs just make me want to sing along, and I like that, because I like to sing. While I enjoy their overplayed single, “Little Talks,” I like “King and Lionheart” better. It’s just good stuff. Check it out if you haven’t already.