This was a wild year for me. I packed up the truck and moved 2,000+ miles to LA. I worked in a special FX shop, a call center, a distribution center for an expediting company, and now a comedy club. I released my first LP for my electro-industrial project, Crostophobic; directed a music video; acted as an extra; and operated a boom for a rather wild feature film production. Had highs and some lows. Spent days walking around in the hot sun hoping to come across enough change for Ramen noodles, ate food I found on the street, and celebrated my six-year anniversary.
All through these turbulent times I still had my musical cornerstones to count on: black metal, death metal, industrial, and doom. I was not able to stay as informed on new releases as I would have liked, especially without Internet access for several months. I certainly was not able to purchase the releases I wanted, so instead of doing a best albums of the year list, I will present to you my Top 10 Supremely Evil Tracks of 2012. These are the tracks that were on repeat in the back of my head throughout these changing times.
Deathspell Omega – “The Crackled Book of Life”
I have such admiration for Deathspell Omega. I had doubts that they could rival their previous LP masterpiece, Paracletus, but this amazing French band, as always, surprised me again when they released their Drought EP. “The Crackled Book of Life” in particular stood out to me. It has that trademark progressing dissonant quality that seems to encompass everything Deathspell, or at least everything that French black metal has come to represent.
Om – “State of Non-Return”
This aptly-named Californian doom duo from Oakland presents a metaphysical, meditative style of doom that is wholly unique. The band mostly consists of the bass ripping of Al Cisneros, accompanied by the pounding drum assault of Emil Amos. Advaitic Songs, from which said track is derived, was a real triumph. The album took the grooving roots of Om and brought in multiple outside instruments that added flowing compositions over the tracks, but “State of Non-Return” in particular features that signature Om sound.
Secrets of the Moon – “Nyx”
I was not particularly impressed with Secret of the Moon’s 2012 LP, Seven Bells. Sure, it sounded like Secrets of the Moon, but their prior effort, Privilegivm, was a supremely well-crafted auditory journey featuring significant experimentation compared to earlier works. Seven Bells seemed more typical of the band and did not follow the same progression, but that is not to say the effort was poor by any standards. After all, if it at least sounds like Secrets of the Moon, you can’t do much wrong. I particularly remember “Nyx” as one track that stood out.
Blut Aus Nord – “Epitome XVII”
To be honest, I could pick any track at random from this record and put it in this list. This year, Blut aus Nord released 777 – Cosmosophy, a final addition to the artists’ legendary music trilogy, which also includes the albums 777 – Sect(s) and 777 – The Desanctification. Nothing compares to the stomping industrial drums and dissonance of Blut aus Nord except maybe Godflesh, who seem to have a semblance of influence here.
Hail Spirit Noir – “Against The Curse, We Dream”
Pneuma, the album from which this track is derived, is one of the more forward-thinking and interesting black metal records I’ve heard in a while. Even given the obvious ’70s influences, this psychedelic black metal band really brings something new to the table. The closest thing I could compare them to is perhaps Hexvessel, and this track in particular sums up the sound of the album.
When Woods Make Graves – “The Witch Fen”
Fiery and raw. That’s how you could describe the sound of When Woods Make Graves. I think my favorite thing about this band is the vocals, which scream from the infinite depths of the forest with raw, lung-shredding distortion. The band is a one-man project from Liverpool, UK, and the album The Aroma of Dead Witches seethes with influence from Burzum, Fen, and America’s own Wolves in the Throne Room.
Mgla – “With Hearts Toward None IV”
Mgla (which means “fog” in Polish and is pronounced “mgwah”) has released only two LPs, 2008’s Gonza and this year’s With Hearts Toward None. Both records are absolutely solid. Mgla has a terrorific command of black metal art, and “IV” presents a particularly slamming heretical groove.
Ash Borer – “Phantoms”
Established in 2008, Ash Borer hails from Arcata, California, but their music sounds like it comes from another, much darker dimension. Cold of Ages is already being hailed by many black metal connoisseurs as monumental on end of year lists. Like many tracks on this list, the whole album from which this song is derived is amazing, but “Phantoms” just sticks with me.
Blacklodge – “Antichrist Ex Machina”
The industrial is strong in this one. There are, fortunately, a lot of acts currently blending the industrial and black metal genres, but Blacklodge does it quite well, keeping the music harsh but bringing in the other elements naturally. Smashing your skull with factory pistons, their fourth LP continues the legacy.
Pact – “Dreamless Death”
There is little to be found about American black metal band Pact, save only that they released the remarkable LP The Dragon Lineage of Satan via Moribund Records this year. “Dreamless Death” from that release rips out your fucking throat and just crushes your soul. Many will probably be surprised by the production quality, as there is a general consensus that satanic American black metal must be as harsh as, say, Transylvanian Hunger. Though American black metal may be sneered at by its supposedly more mature and more eccentrically located counterparts, it is still cool to wear corpsepaint and blatantly shout about the devil in America. Bands like Pact make me proud to have a blood connection with the USBM (United States Black Metal) scene. Let’s keep the flame burning!