The Ten Best Metal Albums of 2012
4. Harmonicraft, Torche
Here's another metal anomaly: happy metal that's not power metal. Harmonicraft seems infused by sunshine from Torche's hometown of Miami. The band have been mislabeled sludge, perhaps due to their Southern origins, but there is nothing swampy about their up-tempo tunes with ample use of major chords (shocking!), which lend a cheerful mood to the album. Somehow it's heavy and sunny at the same time -- a surprising musical juxtaposition that's refreshing amidst the doom and gloom of typical metal fare.
3. Son of Perdition, Wretched
The chilling, classical-style organ and chorale on "Oblivion," the opening track of Son of Perdition, sets an intellectual tone for this third album by Charlotte, NC, death metal band Wretched. Yes, we just used the words "intellectual" and "death metal" in the same sentence. Now get this: the main chord progression of the punishing second track follows that of the choral opening. And then there's a jazz outing in "The Stellar Sunset of Evolution," a trilogy of instrumentals revealing the breadth of styles these musicians are capable of. It's a stunning album.
2. Illud Divinum Insanus -- The Remixes, Morbid Angel/various artists
Illud Divinum Insanus, the 2012 studio album by Morbid Angel, sucked. Inconceivably, the two-disc album of the same songs, remixed by electronic and industrial artists from around the globe, is fucking phenomenal. It's as though inserting guitarist and vocalist Trey Azagthoth (one of the OGs of death metal in the '80s) into electronic subgenres like dubstep has not only transformed one of Morbid Angel's worst albums into a work of collaborative brilliance (with most of the credit going to the remixing artists); it's also elevated electronic music into novel realms of darkness. We'd even venture to say it's created a new genre (deathstep?). There may be metal purists reading this who think we're kidding. We're not.