The end of another exceptional year for underground music with an embarrassment of aural delights. The earlier part of 2012 appeared to direct along a rather mellow path until a particularly vicious sonic maelstrom whipped in, a whole raft of monstrously good metal records appearing, one after the other, an onslaught of such magnitude, almost impossible to keep pace. Keeping this list concise, just ten of the best, proving exceptionally challenging - Andy Barnes 03/12/12
No.1 - Enslaved - Riitiir
A near perfect mix of gutteral death metal with sweeping, epic prog tones from the legendary Norwegians. Over twenty years in existence does nothing to dimension their majesty.
Young pretenders take note. www.facebook.com/enslaved
No.2 -The Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell- Don't Hear it Fear It
A journey through nine tracks trapped within a time vortex where Don Van Vliet drags a shredding Rory Gallagher kicking and screaming into The Magic Band, before worshipping at the altar of the Reverend Tony McPhee preaching a eulogy to Cream. Magnificent Retro Blues Rock.
No.3 - Amenra - Mass V
The latest album from Belgium Doom / Sludge messiahs Amenra is no typical audible experience, instead entry is provided to an inner sect where cathartic, aural rituals materialise, demons exorcised from deep within. A darkly devastating piece of work.
No.4 - Dragged into Sunlight - Widowmaker
Dragged into Sunlight have quite simply produced an album of immense proportions. The slow burning introduction of "Widowmaker” precedes a foetid, putrid metallic stench while providing a freshness and clarity only the greatest of extreme outfits able to offer. www.facebook.com/draggedintosunlight
No.5 - Seamus Cater & Viljam Nybacka - The Anecdotes
A minimalistic and atmospheric album, progressively experimental folk with bizarrely intelligent subject matter. Slightly pretentious?perhaps, although that only adds rather than detracts. Live, Cater and Nybacka my highlight of The Cambridge Folk Festival 2012.
No.6 - Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax II - Future Sequence.
Blistering technical metal of the most intricate kind, impossible to second guess BTBAM from one minute to the next. Aurally bludgeoned to near death, before giving way to a carousel ride infiltrated by Batman. Check out one of the most complex collections of the year.
No.7 -One Mile an Hour
This eponymously titled debut could easily sit within classic nu-folk collections of recent years. Gorgeous melodies proliferate within intricately constructed songs, adding distorted guitar to the mix takes One Mile and Hour to another level. One of the year's most criminally ignored albums.
No.8 Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay
A masterful example of Doom Metal, from the opening piercing timbres of “We All Rage in Gold’” to “Raise the Dawn’s” sombre string cessation. Atmospherics fashioned via strained vocals, sonorous chords, consummate use of samples and particularly keyboards, projecting images of post-apocalyptic landscapes into cranial cavities. www.neurosis.com/
No.9 - The Datsuns - Death Rattle Boogie
Released exactly ten years after their debut, difficult to suggest “Death Rattle Boogie” a return for The Datsuns, ultimately never being away, although certainly a previous glories revisit. Twelve wah wah fuelled tracks of 70's Heavy Rock influence. "Gods Are Bored?"....I seriously doubt it. www.thedatsuns.com
No.10 - Heavens Jail Band - Angelmaker
Heaven's Jail Band provide an abject lesson in taking the country rock outline defined by a Big Star, Neil Young, Tom Petty, early Eagles etc, while delivering a darker, sleazier journey through America's underbelly, offering both a riveting and slightly disturbing listen.
Hovering just outside the top 10: