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Best Metal Albums of 2012

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It’s about that time when all of the music sites start rolling out their year-end lists. Why should Noisecreep be any different? This year, I decided to ask our regular contributors to send me their favorite metal/hard rock album of the year, instead of just compiling my own top 10.

As you’ll read below, 2012 offered many great releases in all kinds of different stylistic flavors. Many folks complain that music business is dying, but the picks below prove that it isn’t for a lack of quality records.

So without further delay, here is Noisecreep’s favorite heavy metal/hard rock albums of 2012!

Sentenced to Life, Black Breath (Southern Lord)

“Seattle’s Black Breath are hardly the first band to do the whole “death ‘n’ roll” thing, but outside of Entombed‘s Wolverine Blues album, you won’t find a better batch of hard rock-infused death metal songs than the ones on Sentenced to Life. So strong is Black Breath’s love for Entombed that drummer Jamie Byrum even wrote a piece for us on his favorite 10 songs by the band. Hook-filled and ferocious at the same time, Sentenced to Life tracks like “Feast of the Damned” and “Home of the Grave” embed themselves into your brain from the very first spin. Since it hit record stores back in March, Sentenced to Life hasn’t left my car stereo. I wish I could say that about more of the albums that cross my path running this site.”

Chosen by Carlos Ramirez (Editor)

Down IV, Part 1: The Purple EP, Down (Down Records, ILG)

“Although it’s not a full album in terms of its length, it’s better than most records double its length. If Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath were really from the sludge-caked swamps of New Orleans, this is what their music would have sounded like.”

Chosen by Amy Sciarretto

Digital Renegade, I See Stars (Sumerian Records)

“For me, the best metal album of the year is easily Digital Renegade by I See Stars. The guys in I See Stars have evolved quite a bit over their three albums, with Digital Renegade featuring the best songwriting and slickest production to date. There are several standout tracks, especially “Electric Forrest” featuring Cassadee Pope, formerly of pop punk band Hey Monday and currently a finalist in The Voice. Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria fame lends his vocals to “Endless Sky.” The albums best track is the closer “Filth Friends Unite.” Perhaps most important is the fact that Digital Renegade is heavier than any other I See Stars album to date, thus giving it real metal cred. Yes, there are screams and breakdowns and heavy guitar solos. That said there are still plenty of melodic harmonies to give Digital Renegade broad appeal.”

Chosen by Allyson B. Crawford

Satanic Royalty, Midnight (Hells Headbangers Records)

“Though this black clot emerged in the veins of the body metal in late 2011, being a fan of Midnight means not knowing or caring what time, day, or year it is. Midnight finally issued this debut after ten years of regularly stealing the thunder on bills with better-known bands; by issuing an endless outpouring of unchecked Motörhead power, classic Venom, early Bathory, and some kind of hellbent rock ‘n’ roll hatred. And they have the best hoods in metal-which in 2012 is really saying something.”

Chosen by Ian Christe

Monster, KISS (Universal Music Group)

“There were some terrific metal/hard rock releases this year but my pick of the litter is KISSMonster. Forget the makeup and still stellar stage show – this is about the music and these four guys brought it big time this year. Monster is a nice big slab of metallic hard rock created by a band that could easily kick back and ride the wave of their legacy into the sunset, but instead chooses to crunch and grind, still more than able to craft killer riffs with fire and brimstone lyrical hooks. “Wall of Sound,” “Back to the Stone Age” and “Shout Mercy” (among others) harken back to the Love Gun era without feeling at all stale. In fact, these guys seem more inspired than

ever, a testament to the blue-collar work ethic that has always defined this band for many of us.”

Chosen by Chris Epting

Real Women, Mount Carmel (Siltbreeze)

“The second full length from this Columbus, Ohio power trio is nothing short of a dream for those of us who love our music deep, warm and heavy with no frills whatsoever. If you’re the type whose ears perk up to the strains of early ZZ Top, Robin Trower or the few records released by West, Bruce & Laing – whether you know it or not – Real Women is your favorite record of 2012.”

Chosen by Tony Rettman

Dark Roots of Earth, Testament (Nuclear Blast) & Sentenced to Life, Black Breath (Southern Lord)

“It’s a tie between infallible old-schoolers Testament and crust obsessed Seattleites Black Breath for 2012 metallic supremo stature. Testament has never made a bad record and Dark Roots of the Earth continues to up the ante from 2007′s equally awesome “return” on The Formation of Damnation. Both records abound with razor-sharp songwriting and plenty of mighty left-hand-path hooks. While Black Breath aims to simply slaughter with unhinged abandon on the likes of “Feast of the Damned,” Testament are a bit more adroit in their mastery of thrash’s potential. While “Cold Embrace” steps into ballad-y turf, “Native Blood” manages to get in a few blast beats for a lark. Both records are a rush of blood to the skull and a smack to the sternum. Oh what a good year for the riff it has been.”

Chosen by Mike Gitter

10 Best Metal Reissues of 2012

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