Tape Wyrm XXXIV: Top 10 or 12 of 2012 Tape Wyrm XXXIV: Top 10 or 12 of 2012

That´s it guys and gals. 2012 is over. Nevermind that it’s only mid-December. Get back inside. The end of the year always brings back familiar memories. Whether it is an open fire, the sight of small village children chasing the winter pig through the streets, or even the warm thump of fresh baked cookies on the banks of the black river in reverence to Ghao, every celebration has its traditions. While some involve packy-thwacky sticks with cherry radishes tied up with the harvest rinds, others involve end of the year metal lists.I feel pretty good about 2012, but then again I radiate optimism wherever I go. It could be 1350 and I would still have a spring in my step given I was not stricken with the black plague. I apologize if that joke affected anyone personally. It is difficult to write these articles with you peasants in mind. There are only so many jokes I can make about threshing and winnowing that avoid the topic of the plague before things become tired. Grow up.

Below are 10 picks, which actually may be more like 12, followed by 5 more. I actually am terrible at cutting things so I decided to make my list 17, which is really 16. If one blurs their eyes it could look like 10. Just do not count. You can´t count anyway because movable type hasn’t been invented and you were born into an immobile tract of serfdom. I apologize. It has been a difficult year for all of us with the losing of the winter pig so close to the 16 green days of Ghao. May the packy-thwacky never grace us for certain. 2012 in metal. Commence.

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#12

Om – Advaitic Songs
And of course we start out with something not really metal. This is why it is here. Hanging out around the periphery. Om hasn’t been metal for a while, though their history is rooted in the best kind. That last statement is still up for debate. After the dissolution of the stoner doom giant Sleep, Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus went on to continue the hypnotic aspect of the band with Om while Matt Pike continued the sludgy ferocity with High On Fire. Om starts at the same desert city, that Sleep’s last record Dopesmoker was created around, but keeps traveling east, hitting all of the sacred texts to most major religions along the way. Advaitic Songs is their second album with collaborator Lichens following the departure of Chris Hiakus. Since their 2005 debut, Om has gotten more atmospheric, more meditative, as well as a thousand times lighter. It has all been for the better. While the distortion is nearly gone, an undercurrent of narcotic tension is still present, leading the listener to higher planes of existence. Somewhere between the Old Testament, Buddha´s teachings, and Egyptian mythology lies Advaitic Songs. Stoner drone for the year 500BCE.

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#11

Ihsahn – Eremita
Be warned. If one is not fully embracing of progressive metal please skip to the next section. Only fans of melodic vocals and wandering instrumentation can read past this point. Hello. I like your Rush t-shirt. Ihsahn, for those not familiar, was the guitarist and vocalist for the seminal black metal band Emperor. After dissolution of this Norwegian pillar, frontman Ihsahn began a progressive vision quest resulting in three albums you should ask the IT consult at work about, because they are pretty good. Eremita is the fourth record from Ishahn and second with Norwegian sax player Jørgen Munkeby. Oh yes, I said sax. Black metal is great. Progressive metal for me is alright. Sax is wonderful. Put them together in a closet for 7 minutes together with some gorgeous art from Rix Oritixi and famous metal guests and you have one confusing yet damn interesting album. Yes, my Outlook isn’t opening. It just crashes and this pop up says something about updating my driver. No, I tired that. I heard you were a fan of Ihsahn? Alright what did you do? Why did it work for you?

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#10

Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody – Ascending to Infinity
I always feel like I am defending my selections by portioning fences made of chicken wire to protect against thrown stones. Stop it. STOP. Italian power metal act Luca Turilli´s Rhapsody is the continuation of Rhapsody of Fire (formally known as Rhapsody) following the dissolution of its main body. Well. Sort of. Luca Turilli was always Rhapsody’s primary song writer, with keyboardist Alex Staropoli. 2012 saw a split, with Mr. Turilli starting his own faction called Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. I know. It´s confusing. With this much backstory, the band´s first record, Ascending to Infinity was doomed to failure. The fact that it is one of Rhaposdy’s strongest records in recent memory is only a testament to the song-craft that is not weighed down by expectation or loyalty to a previous narrative. This album is amazing. With strong melodies, soaring crescendos, and flourishes of operatic wonder Luca Turilli constructs an engaging drama that doesn’t have to do with high fantasy. It is a wonder of a record and a wonder that it worked so well given the circumstances. Stop throwing things at my children!

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#9

Mgła – With Hearts Toward None
This is a late entry. Not because it just came out rather it took me forever to find it with the spelling and accents. I’m just joking. Stop staring at me. Mgła is an solid pick for a few reasons. One, the band members are related to the frightening Polish act Kriegsmachine who in 2006 put out Altered States of Divinity a spectacular record full of Satanic wonder. Secondly, Mgła revels in raw texture and proposes a cathartic relationship with its listener which may or may not involve some intense and vile emotions. The depth in production on With Hearts Toward None is near amazing without ever stepping close to being polished. Three, and probably most importantly, the band titles all of their songs in numeric sequence thus each release feels like a series of works contributing to a whole narrative. I get weak in the knees over this sort of stuff. I feel Mgła is standing right next to me in painting class staring at me with those eyes. Stop.

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#8

Woods of Ypres – Woods V
I think the internet has changed the way people experience music in the fact that in certain places albums can become tiresome when everyone discusses certain them endlessly. Woods of Ypres came to greater attention following the death of lead singer David Gold weeks before the album´s release. These set of circumstances cast a gothic doom record and its routine structure of death obsessed songs in new and heavier light. Woods V went from a standard gloomy record which continued the bands direction into more accessible waters through David Gold’s own eulogy and, unfortunately, the band´s final statement. Gold´s death did not make Woods V better, rather it unfortunately ended a journey which could have gone further to more greatness. I can understand if this album seems tiresome given the fact that people have the same reaction every time. Nevertheless, the reaction of many shouldn’t negate the strengths of a record which is fantastic and powerful regardless of any footnotes. If you have no idea what I am talking about pay no mind. People are still throwing things. STOP.

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#7

Nachtmystium – Silencing Machine
Nachtmystium´s narrative has been phenomenal. What started out as straight-laced United States black metal soon turned into a psychedelic journey which produced two stellar records of experimentation oddly devoted to the wonder of Pink Floyd and jazzy sax. Second mention of sax. The Black Meddle series dominated metal and NPR headlines for the past few years. Silencing Machine is the return for Midwestern native Blake Judd following years in the psychedelic wilderness. While Silencing Machine sees the return of traditional song structures, a new feeling is unmistakable in the sound. Long odysseys and experimentation have transformed black metal into something more self-aware, something more charming, and something damn catchy. I know the term “pop accessible” and black metal are usually not said in the same sentence but I feel Silencing Machine maybe on to something. Something exciting and ultimately frustrating to a certain few.

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#6

Psuedogod – Deathwomb Catechesis
Sweet merciful Lord. I wouldn’t have known about this if it was not for the scared and frightened faces of everyone that I asked about interesting records in 2012. There was something horrible happening in Russia and it would be blistering and retching. Pseudogod came on wings of splits and DVDs before their 2012 debut. Deathwomb Catechesis is the band´s introduction to the world in the form of an explosion of blood and cement in the shape of a hornet cloud. Psuedogod wins because it retains the spirit of extreme metal. Hell, it is the spirit of extreme metal. It is no nonsense black death devoted to the almighty dark lord. No experimentation. No other genres incorporated for art´s sake. No sugary garnish. Conservative satanic black death. Republican metal. Hah, I´m just joking. Don’t kill me. Stop staring at me Mgła.

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#5

Sigh – In Somniphobia
The fact that I love Sigh does not always guarantee their place in a top 10. In fact, for nearly a decade this Japanese black metal act has not made it to any end of the year list. This group of rogues has been putting out records throughout the mid to late 00’s that were filled with as much crestfallen disappointment as anticipated excitement. The band´s late 90´s albums were some of the most transcendental and off the wall black metal records ever made. The band´s 2001 record Imaginary Sonicscape is perhaps the peak of their creative energy, never again to be reproduced. At least until now. Whatever in the fuck happened in 2001 has returned, leading to Sigh’s weirdest yet most exciting album in recent memories. Metal, jazz, accordion, sci-fi, ambiance, video game-ish anthems, circus melodies, Middle Eastern drone, it´s all here and that´s just one song. Progressive and avant without being pretentious or assuming. Make it never stop.

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#4

Pallbearer – Sorrow and Extinction
I didn’t really understand Pallbearer until a ride back from New York City to Baltimore on a particular ghastly overcast day. I may have been hungover. My head may have been cradled against the passenger side door. The whole experience may have been healing and transcendental. I’ll never drink again if you get me through this. Pallbearer’s debut made critical waves the likes few contemporary doom bands could ever have dreamed of. Everyone liked this album. Everyone was sullen and suddenly felt the weight of existence fall upon their shoulders. Everyone was embracing my hangover at once. Everyone understood. Perhaps it was the clean vocals riding waves of mountain splitting riffs. Perhaps it was because the record celebrated traditional doom rather than its jobless stoner younger brother. Perhaps it was doom that wasn’t masqueraded in anything but relatable emotion. Perhaps everyone woke up the same day and felt the same feeling of regret and embarrassment. You all do understand.

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#3

Dodecahdron – Dodecahedron
I have explained my love for Dodechaderon as the relief that there was still an album which made me feel uncomfortable and slightly terrified. Psuedogod started it by scratching at the underside of my bed and Dodecahedron finished the job by popping out of my closet. The debut from this Dutch black metal band did the best it could by creating black metal in the context of angular madness. I literally feel like I am falling backwards without any possibility of regaining equilibrium. Dodecahderon is horrifying and its singer Michiel Eikenaar has previously lent his talents to the gnostic black metal act Nihill, who also put out a terrifying record this year. Bad feelings all around. Dodecahedron still makes me feel weak in the stomach with dissonant chords, oddly structured songs, and three part trilogies exploring chaos and existence within a dark labyrinth of desolation. Dodecahdron crafts a varied record which while still possessing lulls that almost reach the level of melody, still retains an undercurrent of horror. It is amazing but still a bit nauseating. Heavy metal is still supposed to do that right? It may be a few years off. I just need to sit here for a second. Gather my breathe under the gable on the cloisters of hell.

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#2

Horrendous – The Chills
Thank the good Lord for people telling me what to do. If I wasn’t paying attention in 2012 I would have missed Horrendous and by the looks of its placement on my list, I should be paying more attention during the year. I have not been into death metal as much as I should. In fact, it has only been recently where I understood the style as it should, and what it could, be for me. Horrendous capitalizes on the recent revival of early death metal affectionately known as Old School Death Metal (OSDM). Horrendous could have came out in 1989 with its embrace of ominous riffs and themes of horror, but it got lost somewhere and now it is here in 2012. This fact, along that they could still come across with the same evil and coolness as originally intended is amazing. This is death metal which is menacing, frightening, and incredibly entertaining. It circumvents throwback acts because its themes and execution comes off as 100% genuine. This is the feeling you could get with bands like Death, Benediction, and Incantation. This is death metal for reanimation. This is the best of times when the dead walk the earth.

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#1

Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum / Opus Alter
Bullshit. Bullshit. Alright. What´s at the bottom? Bullshit. Dodecawho? Horrendous? Alright. What? Hello time travelers. Some of you got here fast. Well here it is. The last one…before 5 more. If the concept of a band playing with the atmosphere of Pink Floyd and the intensity of Electric Wizard does not excite you then you will probably not understand why this is number 1. You are also off my Christmas card list for at least two years. Your loss. I was going to do another funny cat picture. Asshole. Opus Primum and Opus Alter both come as a double album from the very talented and very Italian stoner doom / graphic design collective Ufomammut.

Ufomammut’s records usually feel like one is inside a black hole. Well at least a collapsing star. Opus Primum and Opus alter continues that feeling but adds more of a dramatic narrative. With the first disc crushing and the second splitting, Ufomammut’s dynamics as destruction is impressive and exhilarating. Not only does it bring stoner doom to the level of intimidating but it celebrates its atmosphere and the sheer pressure instruments and craft can pour onto its listener. Without knowing it one finds themselves swaying back and forth with a fevered look on their face in the grocery store. Ufommamut has offered me escapism in form of neck wrecking enjoyment. It is impossibly heavy, which bends the laws of space and time to fit its proportions.

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The Bandcamp 5
Ever since the Metal Bandcamp article, I wanted to highlight bands that inhabited the Bandcamp realm which may or may not have come on the wings of larger record labels. They may still be unsigned. I ran across these 5 in my time on Reddit’s r/metal as well as doing my weekly podcast Champions of the Universe. That´s right pass around that collection plate. These five albums are amazing. And these five albums are free or pay what you want. If you ever needed a time to support lesser known metal, here it is. Today’s start-ups are tomorrow’s top 10’s. Well not tomorrow. Maybe the day after. You know what I mean. We are not doing this tomorrow.

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#1

Wilds Forlorn – We, The Damned
One of the best free albums I got this year was from a Dutch atmospheric black metal artist named Wilds Forlorn. One of the nicest creators who I had conversations with was a Dutch atmospheric black metal artist from Wilds Forlorn. One of the best records of 2012 was a free album from a Dutch atmospheric black metal artist named Wilds Forlorn.

Free Album
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#2

Snailking – Samsara
Snailking was super excited to see their demo shoot up in popularity. I can’t see why not everyone would be excited as fuck for some blistering Swedish sludge doom which sounds like wargs and trolls fighting in a forest half scattered with snow. Dear Snailking, your music is great and your graphic design is 100% cool. Please get bigger and continue fighting under the full moon.

Name Your Price Demo

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#3

Mare Cognitum – Extra Conscious LucidityMuch in the same way I love Darkspace for exploring the unknown and terror of space, Californian native Mare Cognitum does the same thing with seaforms. He also really enjoys the beach. Amazing. Following a strong debut, the second release from Mare Cognitum is a drop dead fantastic bedroom black metal project from a very talented multi-instrumentalist. Sun, surf, and harrowing black metal.

Name Your Price Album
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#4

Love Sex Machine – Love Sex Machine
Love Sex Machine came from my article on a French label called Throatruiner records. I think I sent them an email. I do not think I got anything back. Perhaps just a distant scream and a cold shiver up the spine. I first came to Throatruiner records because of their lax rules on genre styles. Love Sex Machine’s combination of sludge, grindcore, and black metal was enough to make my eyes sting with excitement. Oh look at this an envelope full of worms.

Free Download / EUR3 for album
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#5

Judd Madden – Artesian
Not one but two great albums this year from Australian bedroom stoner doom project Judd Madden. I forget where I ran into Judd but our friendship seems to have been forged in the stars. He is a graphic designer. I enjoy art. He makes trudging doom built from classic riffs. I enjoy laying out stoned on DMT and traveling to the Nine Palaces of Ghao. Hah, I am just joking, I make so many jokes about drugs. Judd and myself are both just two squares who enjoy doom and going to bed before 10pm. God I wish those neighbors would stop talking so loudly. Its late. Maybe the police need to get involved.

Name Your Price Album
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Well, it is over. I have been telling people that I would put a picture of my cat dressed up like an elf as a cheap way to get them to flip through metal albums. Maybe you like Mgła if you enjoy funny cat pictures. Haha. Seriously stop staring at me. I do not want to lie so close to the holidays so here you go. Goodbye 2012. Hello 2013 as well as Elf Cat who seems to be having the least amount of fun in this picture.



2 Responses about “Tape Wyrm XXXIV: Top 10 or 12 of 2012”

  • Dimaension X says:

    Great set of recommendations – been a big fan of Ihsahn for many years now, and am glad to see his musical vision continue to progress.

    I’ve also been a fan of Judd Madden for a few years, and am glad to see mention of artists who promote free downloads of their music. Wilds Forlorn and Mare Cognitum and now on my “must-listen” list.

  • Moddestmouse says:

    “Sweet Merciful Lord” may be the best way to describe the Pseudogod record.

    Love your writing style as always Kap.