Sunday 6 January 2013

The best albums of 2012 according to Ever Circling Wolves

The year changed and we thought it might be fun to compile lists of our favourite albums of 2012. We listen to different kinds of music, you see. Some albums, however, could be found on more than one list. Note that the only list that is ranked is Niko's, the rest are in alphabetical order.

The hardest thing to do is to rank these albums. Here they come though..

ConvergeAll We Love We Leave Behind
Greatest hardcore bands in history. Artwork is exceptional once again and there's also 17 tracks that won't let the listener down.

BaronessYellow & Green
This record is very different than earlier Baroness releases. I like the sounds a lot and also the chances taken in the composing process.

Off! - OFF!
Punk rock as it should be! Total kick straight to the nuts.

High On FireDe Vermis Mysteriis
Completely grooving brutality. Tremendeous drumming, killer riffs and the songs really speak for themselves. Kurt Ballou has done great work as a producer also.

Witchcraft Legend
I also like the melodic stuff. Witchcraft blends those old school styles with catchy songs and vocals.

Fuck your five stars!! And top-5 lists, this just became the top-6.

Kowloon Walled City Container Ships
This came to me a bit late (sons of bitches!) but it hit the scrotum on the first round. Lucky enough I can still enjoy this sludgy bubbling through 2013!


Author & Punisher Ursus Americanus
If you’re not familiar with this one-man-band, the situation must be remedied instantly! I mean, one guy doing drone doom with instruments he made himself! And he plays live as well! As if that wasn’t reason enough, the album is really awesome.

Conan Monnos
It took me until the first days of 2013 to hear this album, but from the first listen it was clear that it would make the list. Sounds like ever so smoothly pushing oneself through a mountain while smashing up heads of orcs with a huge axe.

Kowloon Walled CityContainer Ships
We kept an eye on KWC’s recording progress while recording our own album and, as it turns out, they were a hell of a lot faster than we were. The first time I listened to this album, I listened to it three times in one go. Raw-sounding and dire, I suppose this can be classified as sludge. I know it’s brilliant, though.

Lord MantisPervertor
This album, like Monnos, evaded me during 2012 per se, and, likewise akin to the Conan effort, took exactly one listen to make it on this list. My ears say it’s a mix of sludge and black metal and, more importantly, that it sounds very good. And vile. Which is good.

Winterfylleth The Threnody of Triumph
Something to satisfy my need for WITTR-like black metal, especially since the new Nachtmystium wasn’t all that great. Went on my ‘to buy’ list after half a listen to their previous effort, The Mercian Sphere. Also tops said previous effort. I think I spent most of December listening to this.

Witch MountainCauldron of the Wild
A logical continuation of their 2011 effort, South of Salem. Traditional doom with a female vocalist, shamelessly devoid of any kind of hurry. Excellent riffs, excellent beats and excellent vocal melodies combine to make up an excellent album.

While compiling this list, I realised I’d heard a lot more absolutely brilliant albums throughout 2012, but many of them had come out earlier. Honourable mentions to Living with the Ancients by Blood Ceremony, Hisingen Blues by Graveyard and the Southern Lord reissue of Dopesmoker by Sleep (which did come out in 2012), to name but a few.


BaronessYellow & Green
Though lacking in the heavy department, if compared to their earlier efforts, Green and Yellow is still a great masterpiece. John Dyer Baizley is getting better as a singer, record by record, and their unique brand of prog/metal/rock/southern states stuff is as great as ever.

First Aid KitThe Lion's Roar
This album really blew me away; I had no idea somebody could still make so authentic 60's folk in the 21st Century – even less by these two Swedish girls, barely at the legal drinking age! I wish I could've made music this mature when I was 20; I wish I could make music this mature some day.

Kowloon Walled City Container Ships
One of the greatest sludge albums of our time – the only drawback is the all too short length of this album. Half an hour of pure awesomeness is definitely not enough! Needs more!

Nerve EndAxis
Nerve End's first EP barely aroused my interest, as their musical genre is really not my cup of tea, so I wasn't that thrilled by the time of Axis's release neither. But the first listen through and I was already somewhat interested; couple of listens more, and I was definitely stoked! It simply doesn't make sense that this is an EP recorded and produced mainly in a living room – the sounds are of a world-class album! And the tracks, hoo boy! There are only a couple of songs in the world that can send chills down my spine the way the final minute of "Thrive" does.

While we're waiting for the next Tool album, this is probably the best substitute I can come up with; very Tool-y stuff with lots of Riverside and Opeth elements in the mix; all seasoned with Martin Lopez's smashing drums and Steve DiGiorgio bass awesomeness!

Woods of YpresWoods V: Grey Skies & Electric Light
In retrospect, this must be probably one of the greatest ways to end one's career. Though Woods V suffers from the same naïve lyrics as all of the WoY albums do, they don't bother me at all in this album; on the contrary, they fit the songs simply perfectly with their candor and sincerity. And boy, are late David Gold's deep, resonant and Peter Steele-esque vocals pure honey to my ears. Heartwarmingly depressive and gut wrenchingly beautiful doom album.

Not making it to the list, but still worth of honorable mention: BaultaThat's My House You're Living In (This might just be one of the best post-rock releases in a while, but I'm not sure yet, as I've just found it. Anyways, after a couple of listens, this seems to be simply an amazing post-rock album in the vein of This Will Destroy You, maybeshewill and Russian Circles.)


Baroness - Yellow & Green
I saw Baroness for the first time at Tuska 2012 and the live experience was probably the best of the festival weekend. Energetic, innovative and very distinctive band. Their latest album continues the collection of awesome colour-themed albums with heaps of well-arranged and played pieces.

Betrayal at Bespin - Rains
Also a new acquaintance for me. These guys mix movie, post-metal and progressive vibes with a good taste. The year's most interesting domestic band.

Kowloon Walled City - Container Ships
Kowloon's Gambling on the Richter Scale was an awesome piece of brutal slugdy crushing. On this one they have lightened the sounds a bit but the brutality is still there. Probably my favourite sludge assembly at the moment. 

Kuusumun Profeetta (Moon Fog Prophet) - Huutoja hiljaisesta huoneesta
Every project involving Mika Rättö in one role or another leads to a certain win. Moon Fog Prophet scrambles elements from post-rock, psych rock and numerous other genres with a unique touch. Also, Rättö's distinctive vocals have a major role in this mixture of musical greatness.

Om - Advaitic Songs
Al Cisneros surprises with slightly different atmospheres and sound patterns. This time the listener is brought to a hazy Middle-Eastern scenery with epic string, bass and percussion tunes. It's a pity that the packacge contains only five songs and a total of 44 minutes. I would have desired one or two extra tracks.

Witchcraft - Legend
Looks like those damn Swedes do everything better than us. Including old-school-slugde-doom-hard rock. This band is a new discovery for me and this is the first album I hear from them. Seems like some kickass old-scool-crushing with an awesome tone.

So, here they are, and based on these lists, the best album of 2012 was Container Ships by Kowloon Walled City, with Yellow & Green by Baroness coming in as the close second. All in all, awesome albums were had and no doubt some more fell under our radars. Let's just hope 2013 will bring more of the same. Actually, we know one pretty good album that's (probably) coming out in 2013. We are currently in the process of recording it.

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