To see numbers 10 through 6, keep on reading.
BTW, the following ranked list of metal albums is based on listener feedback, requests, airplay, download/CD sales and my own highly biased opinion. Of all the albums that were released in 2012, these made the most noise. In case you missed them the first time around, these are highly recommended purchases.
Also, feel free to leave your outraged "I'm can't believe you ranked [my favorite band] over [band you don't like as much]!" rage filled diatribes in the comments below.
#10: HELLYEAH - Band of Brothers
HELLYEAH has taken a lot of crap from metalheads over the years, myself included. When it was first announced that members of Pantera, Damageplan, Nothingface and Mudvayne were combining to form some heavy metal Voltron, I was stoked! 4 of my favorite sounds combined in to one band? Sign me up!
Trouble is, HELLYEAH had a different sound in mind, more of a southern rock vibe. Having grown up where the Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky borders meet, I've heard more than enough southern rock in my lifetime. I didn't need more and decided that Hellyeah and I just weren't meant to be. (I will admit that "You Wouldn't Know" was pretty badass, though.)
Then I heard Band of Brothers' first single:
Wait! That sounds like a mix of Pantera, Damageplan, Nothingface and Mudvayne! It's about damn time!
Band of Brothers is a bunch of metalheads remembering that they're metal again. I had an opportunity to interview Chad, Greg and Bobzilla earlier this year and they said as much. After years of sonically distancing themselves from their former bands, the boys have embraced their roots.
Fans of HELLYEAH'S boozy swagger will still find some party anthems:
But Pantera/Damageplan/Nothingface/Mudvayne fans who were disappointed by the lack of metal in the group's past releases will find the album they've been wanting from these guys for years.
#9: Kontrust - Second Hand Wonderland
Every single stupid "Top whatevers of the year" list on the internet always has an entry that's a personal favorite of the list's author. It's a way for the author to shine a light on a band that they feel deserves more attention, and to prove that said author is "so totally not mainstream". Fine, here's mine.
Kontrust looks impossible on paper. They mix metal, rock, polka, electronia, russian marching anthems, yodeling, reggae and other assorted stuff together into one band. It reads like it should be a dumpster fire.
It sounds amazing:
Kontrust's label, Napalm Records, markets them as a crossover band. They're more of a "cross EVERYTHING" band if you ask me. Every song on the album has a different vibe. The one common denominator is a heavy crunch. In the hands of No Doubt, this next song would be a ska-inflected pop number. In the hands of Kontrust, it's a fist-pumper:
If you wanted nothing but screaming, growling, brutalz, lots of band delivered that this year.
Kontrust delivered something truly unique in the metal marketplace. As an added bonus, it's fun to listen to. My kids aren't too crazy about a lot of their dad's chock full of rage music selections, and to be honest, they don't need to hear a lot of that stuff. Kontrust provides a nice meeting point between heaviness, experimentalism and joy.
How many times have you listened to a new song and thought, "Eh, I've heard this before"? There are zero moments like that on Second Hand Wonderland.
#8: Meshuggah - Koloss
You can't have a conversation about Meshuggah without mentioning the word "djent".
Now that we've mentioned the word "djent", let's talk about how awesome Koloss is.
I'm not smart enough to understand my musician friends when they wax poetic about Meshuggah's jazz-fusion, polyrhythms, polymeters, polly-wanna-crackers or whatever. I just know this. Meshuggah sounds like a relentless ass-kicking machine:
Popular music often hangs its hat on "The Hook", that sing-a-long part. Meshuggah just chugs along, inertia carrying every song ever forward, forward, forward:
Did Meshuggah unwittingly start an entire metal subgenre? Sure. Are they still the masters of that sound? Koloss is an emphatic "YES".
#7: Testament - Dark Roots of the Earth
If this were a list of "Best Metal Album Covers", Testament would have hit Number One, no problem.
What's inside the packaging is no slouch either.
Dark Roots of the Earth finds Testament proving that The Formation of Damnation was no fluke.
Featuring almost the entire classic Testament lineup (minus the drummer), Dark Roots of the Earth has a ton of kick ass going for it. Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson are still an amazing guitar duo. Greg Christian is still a freaking awesome bassist. Chuck Billy is one of metal's all time great voices. Having Gene Hoglan on drums doesn't hurt either.
For the first time, Chuck Billy worked with an outside songwriter on lyrics. The results were stellar:
In classic Testament form, they even broke out a ballad:
I ain't even mad. In a world where Metallica and Megadeth have been musically adrift, their fellow thrash-legends figured out the secret to succeeding. Just be Testament.
#6: Cancer Bats - Dead Set On Living
Guitar, bass, drums and a lead singer who screams like a maniac. Lots of bands have it, few use it as effectively as Cancer Bats.
Dead Set On Living pulls absolutely no punches. The music is heavy and raw. It's sounds dirty and dangerous.
What really makes the album shine are the lyrics. Emotionally resonant lines can be found in virtually every song. Check out Road Sick:
"Don't lose hope I'll be back home before you even know it
Heard it said 1000 times before
Sure you're gonna hear it a thousand times more"
Anyone who constantly has to leave loved ones at home to take care of business, can relate to that.
"Bricks and Mortar" has another great line:
"Grief like a halo around my neck"
The album's title track was inspired by a friend of the band who was diagnosed with cancer. He "decided right then and there to get dead set on living". You can listen to Cancer Bats' Liam Cormier talk more about the album in an interview with did with him a while back.
Like I said at the beginning of this whole countdown, it comes down to the songs. Cancer Bats gave us an album of great ones.