Best Albums of 2012

Its that time of year again! 2011 was a tough act to follow, considering it featured album releases by most of my favorite bands. But 2012 was no slouch either, delivering several super high quality albums that i am sure to listen to for years! Here’s some of my favorites, in no particular order:

Meshuggah: Koloss- Of course this is one of my favorites. I am a complete sucker for anything they do. Koloss is maybe the most straightforward album they’ve done yet, but don’t let that make you think its a commercial venture. Its just as brutal as anything they’ve ever done. They don’t exactly break a whole lot of new ground, but its a slow refinement of ideas they’ve been building their entire career. I think i could also listen to this album exclusively just for the guitar tone, which is pretty much perfect. Definitely the best and clearest 8 string tone i have ever heard. Good stuff.

Steve Vai: The Story of Light- My personal guitar guru did not let me down with this one! First time he’s done a new studio recording in what seems like forever. Although i will skip the 2 “John The Revelator” tracks for the rest of my life, the rest of the album is sweet. I think it has some truly insightful guitar playing on it, and the production is top notch. Great job, Steve!

Torche: Harmonicraft- Torche has got to be one of the most fun to listen to (and watch!) metal bands out there. I am crazy about their blend of sludgy, doomy guitars with major-key, pop melodies over the top. Its feel-good metal, if that makes sense. When i want to hear something heavy that will put me in a happy mood, i always go for Torche! This album showcases the band doing what they do so well: writing catchy, short, hooky songs that also happen to sound like they are exploding out of your speakers. If you ever get the chance to see them live, take it!!!

Jimmy Herring: Subject to Change Without Notice- I fell in love with Herring’s playing with his solo release “Lifeboat”. Even if that was the only album he ever put out, that disc alone would have landed him on my Top 10 Favorite Players list. Coming from that album into this one, i expected another fusion-y, jazz-heavy album. Instead, what i got was Jimmy demonstrating that he is much, much more than just a fusion guy. This album has everything from Gypsy jazz, to bluegrass, to gospel/blues tracks on it. I guess some people might complain that its very “all over the place”, and it did take me some time to warm up to it, honestly. This album is definitely a grower, not a shower. Some of the most tasteful displays of guitar mastery i have heard since Jeff Beck’s fusion era. Getting to see him live this year was also an absolute treat, and one of the highlights of 2012 for me!

Deftones: Koi No Yokan- What can i say? Its the Deftones doing what they do, better than they have ever done it. The band has always had two distinct sides to it, the heavy and the melodic, and most of their songs could be classified as being mutually one or the other. This release sees the band unifying those two aspects beautifully. The fantastic drum production and guitar tone are also huge selling points! This one may be even better than Diamond Eyes.

Special mention: Ghost: Opus Eponymous- Okay. The album didn’t come out in 2012. But this year is when i first heard it! That counts, right? This is without a doubt my absolute favorite album that i GOT this year, how about that? Opeth, Mastodon, and Ghost came through Knoxville TN in April of this year, so i figured before the show i should educate myself on what i was about to hear. I was instantly hooked. Since i got this disc in the spring, i have listened to it well over a hundred times and still cannot get tired of it. The legit 70’s-style production, the over-the-top Satanic lyrics and imagery, and the insanely memorable songs all struck a chord with me. And live, they blew my mind. Perfection. I cannot wait for their new album coming next year!


~ by ben eller guitars on 12/30/2012.

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