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Part of me loves this time of year for the reflection aspect and another hates it because I know that there’s nothing new coming up for a while. I also hate having to trim my likes to a list but I guess you can’t like ‘em all, right? If you read Metal Monday, you may notice some similarities (Noticeably the top of the list) to my Tops over there and for that I don’t apologize. I like what I like.

 

1. BLACK TAXI: We Don’t Know Any Better

I’ve had this record since November of last year and sat on it until it was released in January of 2012 and it still rocks. I listen to it at least once a week and any band that can release a record in January and still stay fresh in your mind come December deserves not only some recognition but definitely some attention. BLACK TAXI is fun. Fun to watch. Fun to listen to. Just fun. Listen to any song off their sophomore outing We Don’t Know Any Better and tell me I’m wrong.

 

2. Devin Townsend Project: Epicloud

The one, the only, Hevy Devy! After his 4 album concept craziness, my favorite Canadian (Sorry Michael J. Fox!) let loose with an album that’s equally heavy, poppy, and everything in between. Oh, and it’s epic. Did I mention epic? Beginning with “Effervescent!” and beautifully segueing into the Anneke Van Giersbergen led “True North”, Epicloud begins epic and loud and only gets more epic and more loud from there on out. Hope you brought yer earplugs, kids!

 

3. The Cast Of Cheers: Family

I found out about these guys by taking a chance and it’s a chance I’m glad I took. I likened them to Bloc Party, The Stranglers, and The English Beat yet they still have a sound all their own. Just listen to “Family” into “Pose Mit” and you’ll be hooked. Or try out my personal favorite “Trucks At Night” and prepare to have all other music ruined for you for a very long time.

 

4. Killing Joke: MXMII

No band could have produced a better soundtrack to the apocalypse so it’s fitting that 2012 would see the release of a new record from Killing Joke. The second to feature the reunited original lineup, MXMII is a beast of an album and fits nicely in the ’94 Pandemonium-era of the band in terms of experimentation albeit with a lot more crunch. Jaz Coleman, as always, is a man possessed and MXMII proves to be the perfect outlet.

 

5. Maximo Park: The National Health

Can Maximo Park do any wrong? One listen to their fourth album, The National Health, and the answer is a resounding “No!”. This is MP’s best work to date and is a great example of why bands should take time while crafting albums. From the somber piano-laden “When I Was Young” to the rollicking title track through to the new wave “Hips And Lips” and so on and so forth, Maximo Park created their most coherent record to date with The National Health.

 

6. Marriages: Kitsune

The Yang to Isis’ Yin (or is that the other way around?), Marriages is what the former Boston giants would sound like if Aaron Turner were a lady. The breathless beauty that Emma Ruth Rundle brings to Marriages alleviates this band above the trappings of being just another post-rock shoegaze band. Kitsune works in so many ways and its only fault is that, at six songs, its too short. If “Ten Tiny Fingers” doesn’t hook you, it might be time to see a shrink.

 

7. Dead Can Dance: Anastasis

The greatest reunion of 2012 wasn’t some high profile one you’d expect like Soundgarden or Van Halen. Instead,  it was one of the greatest songwriting duos of our time: Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, better known as Dead Can Dance. Anastasis came out of nowhere and exceeded any and all expectations by retaining the otherworldly sound the band had become known for while venturing into new territory. Standouts include “Kiko” and “Children Of The Sun”.

 

8. The Fades: Ragnarok

Beginning the year with the hypnotic “Meccano” single, The Fades laid the groundwork for one of the greatest rawk albums of 2012. Ragnarok was for all intents and purposes a debut from The Fades but sounded as if it was their fifth or sixth. Mixing genres yet retaining a cohesive sound throughout, songs like “I Love Punk Rock” with its loose grooves easily meshed with harder numbers like “Be Your Man” or the title track.

 

9. Black Light Burns: The Moment You Realize You’re Going To Fall

An exercise in extremes, Black Light Burns followed up the masterful Cruel Melody with an album that tested the boundaries of all that they are. You have songs like “We Light Up” that rock harder than anything the band has done so far while on the other hand songs like the title track present some of the mellowest material they’ve recorded thus far. With a few tours under their belt in 2012, a European tour planned for early 2013 along with a new album already announced for January, Wes Borland and co are definitely making sure that BLB won’t be forgotten any time soon. And with good reason


10. Neurosis: Honor Found In Decay

I have no idea why this didn’t end up on my metal list. Nevertheless, it’s not only one of the best metal records of the year but also one of the best albums. On their 10th album, Neurosis sound like a well oiled machine yet still have plenty of tricks up their collective sleeves. “We All Rage In Gold” is a classic and instantly sets the tone for an album that easily adds more great music to the already impressive Neurosis legacy.

 

 

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