The Ten Best Metal Albums of 2012
7. Naught, Stolen Babies
Six years after their debut album (with four of those years spent in indefinite hiatus), Los Angeles band Stolen Babies have arrived back on the scene with more of their wonderfully bizarre cabaret metal. Here's a fun riddle: what sound do you get when you take twin brothers who've played with The Dillinger Escape Plan, a reluctant theatre starlet, and an accordion and mix it with the Talking Heads and Edward Gorey-style illustration? Stolen Babies -- and Naught lives in a whimsical world of their creation.
6. Yellow & Green, Baroness
"Beautiful" is a word you don't often hear used to describe heavy metal, but in this instance, it's totally appropriate. The third studio album by the Savannah, GA, band, Yellow & Green transcends metal, venturing into folk and psychedelic spaces. While Baroness have always explored genres outside of the "sludge" moniker that's never done them justice, this record finds them pushing beyond their past efforts into musical territory that's -- gasp! -- pretty. The instrumental "Green Theme" -- with its shifts from a weeping, atmospheric guitar verse into a blossoming, harmonized guitar chorus -- is one of the most gorgeous pieces of music you will hear this year.
5. Years Past Matter, Krallice
Dense and intricately composed, Years Past Matter, by Brooklyn's Krallice, takes the listener on a journey through six songs, most of which run longer than 10 minutes each. The tracks are titled only by increasing repetitions of the letter "i", as though someone's cat applied paw to laptop key, and the results became the song names. (How does one distinguish between songs onstage when reading a setlist of tunes like "iiiiiiiiii" and "iiiiiiiii"?) The album pummels the brain with constantly changing time signatures amidst a wall of multi-layered guitars. Even if we can't pronounce the songs, we admire the craftsmanship therein.