Here is a list of the 10 albums that stand out to me from up to the midway point of 2012.
10. Borknagar – Urd: This is one of the best albums in the band’s discography. Their very distinct brand of progressive folk/black metal is bolstered by another strong vocal performance and many interesting songs including a Metallica cover.
9. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life: Speaking of surprises, this album by Black Breath caught me right out of the blue. Mix the sounds of older Entombed with a punk flavour and you have a very rollicking and intense sound here.
8. Anneke Van Giersbergen – Everything is Changing: The solo artist comes to the forefront with material that has an emotional depth and sometimes slightly dark flavour that will ever prevent her from becoming commercial. Fans of her work with The Gathering need to check this out.
7. Sigh – In Somniphobia: This band has put out interesting material in the past, but this classically influenced album is possibly my favourite in their discography. The inventiveness of the band reminds me of the geniuses from Mr. Bungle in particular.
6. Ne Obliviscaris – Portal of I: This was a compelling progressive black metal album that brought to the table violins and an endlessly varied sound that screams innovation. It’s a tad over-indulgent at times, but generally this is a very interesting listen.
5. Anathema – Weather Systems: This album finally brings back some of the magic of older albums into their new sound. The vibe is very relaxed on this album, but the emotion of the bygone days is back with a vengeance and that’s what counts with Anathema.
4. Rush – Clockwork Angels: Clockwork Angels sees me digging back into Rush again and the consistency and quality of the material on their new album is very impressive. They sound inspired and the album is very hard rock in nature, but that’s what suits their style at the present moment.
3. Barren Earth – The Devil’s Resolve: This album displays the best Amorphs-inspired sound I’ve heard in recent times. There is a folk element here that also recalls the likes of Opeth amongst others, but the sound here is fresh and modern as well.
2. Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol: The new Paradise Lost is an astonishingly great new piece of doom metal. The riffs on this album are what make the songs so powerful and enjoyable to listen to. Take a look at the title track for an example of the excellence and atmosphere shown by their new album.
1. Ihsahn – Eremita: Ihsahn’s latest doesn’t disappoint at all as they come forth with a very progressive sounding album that remains consistent all the way through. Some Emperor material is blended with the solo artist’s new sound and guest vocalists are added for a vibrant and absorbing new listen.