Fillings and Cavities: Stuff We Missed or Overlooked in 2012

At the end of every calendar year, metal journalists spend months trying to put together the dreaded year end list. It’s a long, stressful and ever-evolving process that keeps us up at night as we order and reorder albums several times, fret over stuff we have too high on the list or stuff that got bumped off the bottom. We try to make the lists as extensive and inclusive as possible, but inevitably, stuff gets missed. Maybe an album was too obscure, got overlooked in the crowd, we didn’t hear it until too late, or simply never made it into our inbox. So some of the staff here decided to give you guys a late Christmas present and let you know about some releases that you need to hear in case you also missed it or like us, simply overlooked it or it just didn’t get coverage here. These are the mulligans that, in hindsight, deserve your attention and probably would have made our staff’s year-end lists if we weren’t so lazy and rushed by a tireless dictator. So rise, brush, floss and repeat as we drill you with our cavities and fillings from 2012:

by Staff


Devin TownsendEpicloud (Inside Out Music)
I’ve only recently gotten into Strapping Young Lad, so I’m pretty late to the Devin Townsend party, but after one listen of “Liberation,” the soaring, big, brash, rollicking metal opera track from Epicloud, I was hooked. Both Epic and Loud, this was the feel-good release of 2012 and gave way to many happy, headbanging sessions in the car with my daughter. Addictive, catchy and uplifting – Epicloud was a welcome change to my usual fare and shows that Hevy Devy isn’t so heavy all of the time.

Beyond All Recognition Drop=Dead (Napalm Records)
2012’s guilty pleasure for me was a dubcore album from a Swedish band released on Napalm Records. Full of huge bass drops and massive breakdowns while delivering competent, heavy-ass deathcore – but without the silly dance parts, clean vocals or annoying elements that bands like Skip the Foreplay or Eskimo Callboy have – Beyond All Recognition tested the limits of my car stereo and garnered themselves a new fan, despite the image and label the band function under.

Before the DawnRise of the Phoenix (eOne)
Before they split up, Finland’s Before the Dawn delivered their finest effort. Dropping the clean vocals and upping the heaviness and melody, Rise of the Phoenix was an album that could give Insomnium and Be’lakor a run for their money in the realms of somber, melodic death metal. Supine but heavy harmonies, blastbeats and some simply killer riffs made this a really solid album that should have cemented the band on the Finnish metal map, but instead ended up being a damn fine swan song.

The HAARP Machine – Disclosure (Sumerian)
Between the Buried and Me‘s 2012 opus was a let-down for me. Luckily, the UK’s The HAARP Machine stepped up and delivered their own version of progressive, experimental and challenging metal that washed away The Parallax II. With less self-indulgence and more actual metal as well as a heavy Middle Eastern vibe by way of Al Mu’min’s sitar, The HAARP Machine, despite the Sumerian label sound, delivered one of 2012’s most interesting releases.

SamothraceReverence to Stone (20 Buck Spin)
I’m still upset at myself for not getting around to reviewing this in 2012. After absolutely loving 2008’s Life Trade, the 4-year wait and massive 2 track release never initially hooked me like the debut did. And based on the lack of coverage and press for the release, I wasn’t the only one. After a few dedicated listens, the album truly sunk in and revealed itself to be a real grower, despite being initially intimidating. The 2 songs really unfurl and develop, and while lacking the immediacy of say, “Awkward Hearts” from the debut, Samothrace appear to be a real heavy hitter in the US doom scene – if they can just hone their sound a smidge.

SylosisMonolith (Nuclear Blast Records)
I know metalcore is a dirty word in metal, but these Brits knocked it out of the park with their aptly titled and massive third release. I remember reviewing their 2008 debut, Conclusion of an Age, for Metal Maniacs and hearing a dull Unearth clone. With Monolith, a line-up change and a fiercer thrash-based sound has resulted in an album that blows the likes of All That Remains out of the water and and shows these guys to be a real contender in the US-dominated metalcore scene.



Ancient Ascendant – Into the Dark EP (Forepoint Records)
I just heard about these guys recently ’cause Enslaved is touring with them in the UK. What a show that’s gonna be. These guys mix chunky melodic death riffing with Swedish melodic black metal for an At the Gates-meets-Dissection assault which kicks all kinds of unholy ass. Tons of groove, smartly written songs, great guitar tone and snarling vocals, plus the occasional moody interlude (shades of early Opeth). Expect big things when these guys drop their debut, but for now, seek this out immediately. This would have been my EP of the year had I heard it in time.

Psilocybe Larvae The Labyrinth of Penumbra (Buil2kill Records)
Finland may be the world’s melodic death/doom capital, but head further east and you’ll find that Russia has its share of excellent acts as well. Venture into this labyrinth to find slow lurching segments chased by faster gallops, ragged growls and screams cresting to soaring cleans, and an overall exceptional sense of pacing and dynamics. Had I given this one more listens last month, it would have made my year-end list, no question. (Credit to Shane for posting this in the Now Playing thread).

ThresholdMarch of Progress (Nuclear Blast)
I was very sad to hear that Threshold vocalist Andrew “Mac” McDermott passed away in 2011. He was one of my favorite prog-metal vocalists, with a smooth and soaring delivery that meshed perfectly with the band’s chunky guitars and hook-filled songwriting. The band returned to their original vocalist, Damian Wilson, who has a slightly more operatic style (no surprise, the guy played Jean Valjean in Les Miserables for awhile), but I think I was so thrown by not hearing Mac again that I only gave this new album a few spins. After returning to it, it’s another really strong Threshold album. It’s not as infused with smooth 80’s AOR hooks as Subsurface was, but it’s still packed with lovely melodies and intricate proggy fireworks.

In MourningThe Weight of Oceans (Spinefarm Records)
Lots of love for B’elakor this year, but no one paid much mind to the third effort from Finland’s In Mourning. Too bad, as they’re another strong voice in the melodic death/doom arena, with clear and keening melodies, gruff vocals and elegant atmosphere. Great stuff for fans of Insomnium, Opeth or old Katatonia.

KälterUbuntu (Maple Metal Records)
This Canadian melodic/progressive death act may have started as a Children of Bodom cover band, but they’ve sinced grown into their own unique beast – and it’s a weird one. Judging from the artwork and title here, you might expect a prog-metal take on Sepultura’s Roots. Instead, you get thrashy melodeath, lots of burbling, symphonic and vaguely Eastern synths and the odd 70’s Genesis prog freakout. Oh and some tribal drums. Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that Ubuntu is a South African term, but this artwork depicts a Central American (Maya? Aztec?) warrior. Whatever the intent, the end result is still an exuberant and unpredictable entry to the melodeath scene.



AeglyssAn Ill-Formed Faith (Independent)
Killer debut from little known USA independent death metal band. Someone should snatch these guys up quick, and I should have had this on my year end list.
Relics of HumanityGuided by the Soulless Call (Amputated Vein)
Phenomenal brutal/slam death album that is a must listen for fans of the genre.
In Alcatraz 1962The Drive (Standby Records)
Quality hardcore is harder and harder to find in such a crowded genre, but this was a good one.
Amon Liar in Wait (Independent)
Solid death metal album by former members of Deicide.AbortedGlobal Flatline (Century)
Another of the old guard that returned with a vengeance to prove to all the upstarts how death metal should sound.


After Death/Unaussprechlichen KultenDwellers of the Deep/The Madness from the Sea (Proselytism)
This elaborate split includes a disc for each band and a huge fold-out poster/lyric sheet housed in a giant double gatefold digipack with cover art for each half and extensive liner notes on the concepts behind each song. And, the music is more than deserving of its packaging. After Death is led by Nocturnus mastermind Mike Browning, and carries the atmospheric, technical death/thrash sound of classics The Key and Thresholds into more mystical realms. Unaussprechlichen Kulten hails from Chile and sounds like a raw, Lovecraftian Immolation. It may seem like an unlikely pairing, but their shared themes, attitude, and masterful songcraft make this one of 2012’s most all-around unfuckwithable releases.

Weapons to HuntBlessed In Sin (Vic Records)
Despite the facts that Sinister never completely broke up and this band existed as Infinited Hate until recently, this feels like a Sinister comeback album. The band is now comprised entirely of former and current Sinister members and the music resurrects the vigor and twisted guitar work of Cross the Styx more than any other album since, except with a hint of early Comecon.

Leukemia Love (Vic Records)
This eccentric, varied Swedish death/thrash album was recorded in ’94, but didn’t see the light of day until just last year. Swedeath with this much character is hard to come by nowadays.

Darkified Cthulhu Riseth – The Complete Works of Darkified (Vic Records)
A long-overdue reissue of everything ever recorded by this tragically short-lived Swedish band from the early ‘90s who specialized in uniquely deranged, atmospheric death metal. The remastering job by the mighty Dan Swano makes it all sound better than ever.

EvadneThe Shortest Way (Solitude Productions)
These despondent Spaniards take full advantage of every past development in melodic death/doom, painting a bleak picture with shades of Rapture, My Dying Bride, Slumber, Revelations of Rain, Swallow the Sun and Funeral. It won’t win any awards for originality, but its flawless execution more than makes up for that.”



CowardsShooting Blanks and Pills (Throatruiner Records)
Breach and Thou had a baby and named it Cowards. This French quintet features former and current members of Eibon, Hangman’s Chair, and Glorior Belli, and straddles a line between metallic hardcore and stoner/doom. Filthy and aggressive, like Cursed on a fistful of downers, they seamlessly cruise between and blend the two genres on their debut for Throatruiner.

NadjaDagdrøm (Broken Spine Productions, Daymare Recordings)
The prolific drone/doom duo returned for another sublime slice of their patented buzzing magic. Dagdrøm may be familiar territory for the band, with a sound so lustrously thick and warm you could wear it like a parka, but the execution is as good as ever. Dagdrøm is a fine entry point to newcomers and a welcome return to form long time fans.

The CatalystVoyager (Forcefield Records)
A bad acid hardcore/noise rock trainwreck. Scalding vocals, face shredding blasts of bad trip psychedelia, and angular Unsane-by-way-of-Converge riffs mark Voyager as one of the most caustic and belligerent releases of 2012. It’s the perfect album for the end of a shitty day, or the beginning of an even worse night.

EhnahreOld Earth (Crucial Blast)
Old Earth is to doom what Obscura was to death metal. Ehnahre dragged Khanate through a jazz-infused death metal blender and produced a challenging, disjointed and atmospheric journey through the earth’s blackest soil. Old Earth is even more discordant, more abrasive, more immersive and ambient, and altogether more impressive than their excellent debut.

Kowloon Walled CityContainer Ships (Brutal Panda Records)
San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City took a bit of the noise out of their sound for their newest album, but that doesn’t mean Container Ships is any less heavy. The cleaner tone is coupled with slower, sludgier, and more emotive songwriting that calls to mind Pelican and Disappearer. This additional emotional heaviness adds depth to their sound and magnifies the heft of their bursts of discordant noise rock.



Bell WitchLonging (Profound Lore)
The Seattle duo may not have shared the acclaim of some of their more experienced contemporaries in the funeral doom field, but fans of the style would be wise to check out this monstrous slab of painful, crawling extremity. Comprised of a mere six tracks but clocking in over an hour’s worth of despair and funereal melody; Longing is the perfect companion piece to LossDespond album. Like that particular album, Longing plumbs the darkest depths of the human psyche, and although it’s not quite as compelling or razor-to-the-wrist inducing as Despond, Bell Witch has crafted a sparse yet weighty debut that is a powerful, emotional piece of extreme artistry.

Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I (Aural music)
This Australian band’s stunning debut escaped my radar upon its mid-year release. In the catch-up period of late 2012/early 2013 I came across a track on a sampler and the full-length has since proceeded to amaze and mesmerize. Floating around in the Aussie metal underground for several years, Portal of I is the culmination of relentless hard work and craftsmanship in sculpting this monster (and at times bloated) 71-minute epic. Ne Obliviscaris’ highly inventive progressive metal has shades of Opeth and Focus-era Cynic, but their sound transcends easy classification. Portal of I is further embellished by a blackened, classical edge and their ambitious formula avoids sounding derivative or awkward in delivery. The jazz inflections, clean vocals and use of violin are not overdone, instead adding a rich and complex new dimension to their intricate progressive metal arrangements. Capped off with a stellar production job, this fucker oozes class and comes highly recommended.

The Levitation HexThe Levitation Hex (Quadrum Records)
Another Aussie release that didn’t get the attention it deserved. Essentially a supergroup of sorts, The Levitation Hex are comprised of ex and current members of Alchemist, Alarum and Aeon of Horus. The brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Adam Agius (ex-Alchemist), The Levitation Hex is a natural extension of his vastly underrated former band, but with a different enough vibe and angle to sound like a fresh new adventure. The progressive and psychedelic elements are balanced by a taut and muscular groove-based approach, while the mildly experimental song-writing threads hypnotic passages and tribal rhythms into the mix. In short, The Levitation Hex crafted an intriguing debut, well-worth checking out.

WindhandWindhand (Force Field Records)
This is another low-key gem that got plenty of airplay during the earlier part of the year. Without any strong label backing and long delays in the pressing of this release, it appears destined to fall through the cracks. It’s a shame too as this is an excellent piece of earthy stoner-doom, shrouded in a druggy haze and bookended by the chilled-out, ethereal vocals of Dorthia Cottrell.

GoatwhoreBlood for the Master (Metal Blade)
Yeah I know, Goatwhore aren’t exactly in need of extra promotion with the Metal Blade juggernaut behind them; but another solid album from the band, released in early 2012, was buried under a slew of top-notch releases. Goatwhore are the kind of band required in every metal collection. Their lack of musical and emotional depth is counteracted by a no-frills, unpretentious dedication to metal, and the gift of creating a skull-crushing black/death/thrash hybrid that is undeniably heavy, catchy, and above all, fun to listen to. Complete with another robust Erik Rutan production, Blood for the Master is not their finest hour (that honor goes to A Haunting Curse), but is another consistently solid and enjoyable album that rocks hard and pulls no punches. Let’s hope Ben Falgoust finds the time to crank out a new Soilent Green album in 2013.

Electrocution Inside the Unreal (Aural Music/Goregorecords)
Originally released in 1993, this old-school death metal gem from the sub-genres golden period was resurrected for the reissue treatment in 2012. Having missed it the first time I was stoked to become acquainted with this excellent effort from the Floridian-influenced Italian unit. Although I can’t provide a comparison with its original recording, the stout (and remastered) production is respectable for its era, offering ample punch and clarity. The addictive songs follow a basic blueprint and are fast, catchy and brutal old-school DM workouts.

King ParrotBite Your Head Off (Third Verse)
A recent discovery, the young Australian band dropped this high-energy, maniacal slab of punk/thrash/grind madness during the latter stages of 2012. In the process they emerged as a band to keep a close eye on.



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