One hundred. That’s a pretty big number. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous coming up with something special for a “100th” column but let’s face it, I haven’t even been doing this for two years yet so let’s save the parade for volume 104…in which I’ll probably still do whatever I want. Anyway, it’s that time of the year again. “Best of’s”. I know you’re seeing them everywhere and unfortunately for this week and next week, you’re gonna see ’em in this place as well. Without further adieu, here’s “The Metal Monday Top 12 of ’12 Part 1”:

12. Katatonia: Dead End Kings

I tend to get into some bands late in their career after they’ve radically changed their sound (Amorphis and In Flames come to mind). I “discovered” Katatonia earlier this year while they co-headlined with Devin Townsend on the “Epic Kings & Idols” tour and getting the chance to hear them soundcheck with some earlier material (The magnificent “Forsaker”) made a fan out of me instantly. So much so that I spent $20 on a CD at the show (What? I wanted instant music!). On their 2012 release, Dead End Kings, the doom metal giants continue their brand of mixing the extremely heavy with the extremely melodic, extremely well.

11. Texas Hippie Coalition: Peacemaker

This is one of the most badass and earnest metal releases of 2012. Southern fried metal with equal parts Pantera and ZZ Top, Texas Hippie Coalition took their sound to new levels on album number three as proven by choice cuts like blistering opener “Get Your Hands Up”, the stripper anthem “Turn It Up”, and the unparallelled rocker that is “Peacemaker”.

10. Knives Out!: Black Mass Hysteria

Nothingface and Dog Fashion Disco members in a veritable supergroup? Sign me up! DFD (And Polkadot Cadaver and El-Creepo) vocalist Todd Smith fronts this unholy union which also features DFD’s Jasan Stepp, Polkadot Cadaver’s David Cullen along with Nothingface’s Tom Maxwell and Tommy Sickles. If you were ever a fan of those bands then this is a match made in hell. If you weren’t then their debut, Black Mass Hysteria, is still a modern metal masterpiece. Choice cuts: The heavenly “Hysteria” and utterly vicious “Surrounded By Demons”.

9.  Ministry: Relapse

Is this the comeback album I would’ve liked from the industrial godfathers? No it isn’t. It’s older, wiser, and one of the least “serious” Ministry records of the past 10 years. What fans get with Relapse is Uncle Al unhinged which is always dangerous. Fans also get the return of former Ministry axe-slayer Mike Scaccia who absolutely lights up thrashers like “Ghouldiggers” and “Double Tap”. If this is the last one, it’s a fitting coda on a stellar discography.

8. Every Time I Die: Ex-Lives

Opener “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” is the best indication of what ETID’s 2012 release Ex-Lives is all about: Ragin’.The first five songs here barely last over the two and a half minute mark yet are filled with so many time changes and breakdowns that you’ll be wondering how the second half of Ex-Lives can possibly live up. But it does. Keith Buckley’s work in The Damned Things seeps into some uncharacteristically straight forward numbers like “Revival Mode” and closer “Indian Giver” which has some of the most melodic ETID parts ever (There’s even strings!). As a whole, though, Ex-Lives is a solid ETID record through and through.

7.  Split Cranium: S/T

Probably the worst music industry news of 2012 was that Hydra Head Records was shutting it’s doors. Being Hydra Head, however, they planned on going out with a bang and a slew of releases that would make sure nobody forgets their legacy. One such release was the debut from Aaron Turner’s (And HHR founder) latest project Split Cranium. If you think you’re getting the Isis/Mammifer slow boil then you’ll be sadly mistaken because Split Cranium only travels at hyperspeed. If “Little Brother” doesn’t entice you then the punk rawk via Entombed aesthetics of “Blossoms From Boils” surely will.

So, how’d part 1 sit with you? Join us next week for the conclusion of “The Metal Monday Top 12 of ’12”. Until then, stay metal…or something else inspirational along those lines.

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