KK’s Best Of 2012: Fuck Hope And Godspeed

For the sake of brevity, I’ll spare everyone the details of what went on in my life this year, how the weather is, how I feel about current global economic difficulties, etc. etc. etc. Like every year, this exercise, although self-indulgent and at times a little redundant, is meant only to be a benchmark — not a comprehensive retrospective — of ‘things I want to share with you all that I really happened to enjoy this year; and I think you should too.’

Music, much like the rest of the arts, is a vicarious gift. A songwriter crafts a song, musicians bring said song to life, and we all get to enjoy it. Art, the way I have always interpreted it, is always most powerful when it is shared by many, or all. A million dollar Picasso, however rare and wonderful it might be, frankly isn’t worth shit to me if it’s locked up in some penthouse mansion in Manhattan. A Banksy piece, however, can be viewed by everyone — and shared by everyone. As a result, its message is far-reaching and powerful. This power not only comes from the vicariousness, but also from the fact that it isn’t supposed to be there.

And this is why I love extreme music, my friends. Musicians are constantly pushing new boundaries by doing things with their instruments and voices that are, to quote the late Vizzini, incon[fucking]ceivable. So here are my top pics of the year, with some added bonus lists for the occasional wanderer who may have come here not realizing this is a scary metal site for crazy, deranged people and hipsters pretending to be. Every year brings its trials, so here’s to having the endurance and fortitude to get through 2013 with a fat smirk on your face, at the very least. Enjoy the list, you fuckers!


It’s kind of difficult to argue against Enslaved being the most prolific and best band in metal today. Since Below The Lights, these drama-free Norwegians (whaaaat?) have been putting out 9.5’s and 10’s, exclusively. RITTIR is no exception. With soaring melodies, beautifully-placed acoustic moments, stupifyingly clever song structures and riffs that are still heavy as balls, I cannot possibly fathom what’s not to like about this band. At this point, I would actually be more impressed if they were actually capable of releasing an album that’s less than outstanding. RITTIR, which is free of any weak tracks whatsoever, is hands down the best album Enslaved has put out since Isa. Truly a must have for anyone looking for the best 2012 had to offer.

Listen to “Death in the Eyes of Dawn.”


The race for the coveted number one spot this year was closer than it has ever been. Ultimately, the decision came between musical brilliance… and sheer, blissful, pure, passionate and wholehearted negative fucking emotion. Which album do I love most? It’s not even a real question. With Hearts Toward None was my baby this year. I nurtured it, I took care of it, I listened to it at all times of the day, and I never wanted to put it down. Unfortunately, these things called journalistic integrity and subjective reasoning forced MGLA a notch away from being nummer einz, quite frankly because With Hearts Toward None did virtually nothing to push heavy metal into new boundaries. No… this was an offering to an art form that remains undiscovered by most, and misunderstood by nearly all. One of the best black metal albums to have ever been recorded. Truly magical stuff here.

Listen to “III.”


After months of spinning this thing to the point of memorization, I finally realized that the dude who wrote this review was completely justified in giving it a perfect score. HAH! Sure, it’s just another Kreator album, but that doesn’t mean it has any flaws. ALLLSSSSOO IHR FEINDE DIESES ALBUMS KOENNT EUCH ALLE VERPISSEN. This is modern, German thrash at its absolute finest and most fun. But along with all the fun, comes a sincere plea to stop the avalanche of tyranny that’s overtaking our modern world.

Listen to “The Few, the Proud, the Broken.”


Like my fellow scribe Juho Mikkonen has already stated, “God” was the song that really struck a nerve with me when this band debuted five or so years ago (has it really been that long?) Yes, I’ve enjoyed all of the full-lengths from these wacky, English misfits, but for the first time ever A Forest Of Stars has actually released something that feels complete. A Shadowplay for Yesterdays is much more straightforward than its predecessors, and it doesn’t meander to a fault the way the others do. For the first time, AFoS stuck with one strong musical concept and used it to construct an entire album. The result is something far more enjoyable than the previous two, and no less esoteric. As quirky as AFoS is, one attentive listen to this album will more than display the group’s frightening potential.

Listen to “The Underside of Eden.”


Only recently have I began to recognize how spiritual listening to a Neurosis album can be. I blame my tardiness on the fact I’ve never had the opportunity to see them perform live — an experience that everyone says is life-changing. That being said, my passion for the music of Neurosis began to slowly develop through watching live performances at home. Naturally, Honor Found In Decay will always have a special place in my heart as the first album the group released after I had considered myself a true fan. Although musically and emotionally different from past albums, Honor Found In Decay is no less from the heart. Beneath all the aggression and ferocity found here is a quiet sense of dignity that will put any attentive listener into a calm state of reverence as the sounds from Honor Found In Decay edify their soul.

Listen to “Casting of the Ages.”


grower /groer/ (n.) –

1. An album that requires more time and attention than other albums. An album that must be opened and left to breathe for a long moment. An album that must be constantly revisited over time. An album that, upon each listen, displays more and more depth. An album that not everyone will appreciate because they did not give it the proper care and attention it deserved. An album that literally pummels the fuck out of you each time you revisit it. An album that knows it will never be as good as its predecessor and therefore doesn’t try to be.

2. Wodensthrone’s Curse.

Listen to “The Name of the Wind.”


Although I much preferred the overall production of Snakes For The Divine to this year’s effort, Matt Pike and company certainly did not disappoint in the slightest. From bruising tracks like “Bloody Knuckles,” to fancy instrumental interludes such as “Samsara,” to slower, longer and more melodic tunes like “King of Days,” De Vermis Mysteriis is filled with a variety of all kinds of metal a-la High On Fire. And what’s not to like about a band that can change so many things around without forfeiting its trademark qualities in the process? As generic as the compliment often is, I don’t think there’s a better way to describe California’s High On Fire: They’re just a really cool fucking band. 
Listen to “King of Days.”


And the comeback of the year goes to Nachtmystium’s Silencing Machine. After listening to Addicts, a serious possibility existed that I would permanently close my mind to any of the group’s future releases. Luckily, Silencing Machine is superb right from the get-go. Is it traditional sounding? No. Is it trying to be? No. Does it need to be? No. Much like Woe’s Quietly, Undramatically, there are some punk rock undertones found here that allow Nachtmystium to break free from the orthodox black metal sound in all the right ways. Sure, this is something that they’ve always been about, but never have they pulled it off so confidently. In an internet age where the douche bags over at pitchfork.com can’t seem to find any metal albums they like that aren’t from Profound Lore records (subtract additional 4 points from score because it’s not Radiohead), it’s nice to have a “mainstream” USBM act that doesn’t sacrifice quality just because they know they’ve already become trendy.

Listen to “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams.”


Yes, Ahab’s The Giant is a very different approach when coupled with either of its two predecessors. From the album art, to the Edgar Allen Poe-inspired song texts, to the lack of constant heavy moments, the ship has certainly taken a turn toward uncharted territories of the fathomless depths. Although many found this change to be disappointing (I’ll even admit I’ve listened to The Divinity Of Oceans more times than this year’s album), I’m still left scratching my head at the people calling this a bad album. Ultimately, in the ocean-worshiping spirit of adventure with which Ahab has always written its tracks, it’s important that we as listeners trust that our captain knows what’s best for us. Right now, the voyage is ever so treacherous as some of our crew have jumped ship, but I’m staying on board for now.

Listen to “Antartica the Polymorphess.”


Yes, the best things about Umskiptar are not really metal at all, but c’mon. It’s Varg Vikernes. It’s Burzum. It’s the reason why the average joe on the street thinks of Norway when he’s trying to envision the most intense musical place on the planet. Although it’s beyond comical trying to picture anyone burning down churches to this album, Umskiptar is, love it or hate it, unmistakably Burzum. It’s inconsistent, it’s flawed, hell… it’s even a bit boring at times, but it’s so fucking honest that I find it impossible not to enjoy. As I said in my review of it, most humans spend their entire existence hiding their flaws. I’ll be damned if I’m going to condemn someone for being the first to admit and expose all of theirs. Sure, Varg might be more helpless and vulnerable now more than ever, but to those who scoff… I don’t know… check your fucking selves every once in a while.

Listen to “Surtr Sunnan.”











Noteworthy EPs You Should Check Out

No one seems to be talking about Darkspace‘s -1, which I found to be a cool re-recording/EP/I hope they put out another amazing full-length next year. While that’s the one I’d be most likely to recommend for the sake of helping the EP get some exposure, the best EP this year for me was undoubtedly Blut Aus Nord’What Once Was… Liber II. A large part of me wishes that the 777 trilogy could have ended the way Liber II did. Agalloch’Faustian Echoes was nothing short of magnificent, as well as Deathspell Omega’Drought. I’m sure there are plenty I’ve neglected, but these were the four that tickled my fancy this year.

Listen to “Dark -1.0.”

Favorite Non-Metal Albums of the Year

I’ve reserved this segment for non-metal albums that, quite frankly, are not popular. You don’t need a 90th person telling you to listen to John Talabot‘s new record because, hopefully, you are intelligent and have already checked it out. So… there’s a style of music that exists almost exclusively in Chi-Town called Juke. You know what happens when you mix Juke with Jungle? You get fucking busy. Also noteworthy is the soundtrack that should have been… and never was. Symmetry‘s Themes For An Imaginary Film was indeed originally intended to be the soundtrack to the movie Drive. But, it wasn’t mainstream enough and didn’t contain any annoying lyrics about being a fantastic human being, so it was scrapped. Ah, and last but not least, for those of you who already went through a deep-southern hip-hop phase when you were younger (I still can’t find anything special about Killer Mike) do yourselves a favor and get into the new full-length from my favorite producer and MC of all time. It’s called Cancer 4 Cure, and it’s the best thing since “T.O.J.”

Listen to “The Full Retard.”

Ten Hardcore Albums that Defined Me

I know I did not have the time or energy to continue with my “Pit Therapy” segment that I started earlier this year. But if you were one of the few who actually enjoyed it, here is a list of ten albums that I feel truly define my idea of what hardcore music is, other than a genre that’s all but lost to the world: 1. Hatebreed’s Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire. 2. Sick Of It All’s Blood, Sweat and No Tears. 3. Agnostic Front’s Cause For Alarm. 4. Indecision’s Unorthodox. 5. Bold’s Speak Out. 6. Bad Brains’ Banned In D.C. 7. Gorilla Biscuits’ Start Today 8. No Innocent Victim’s Flesh And Blood 9. Shai Hulud’s A Profound Hatred Of Man 10. Cro Mags’ The Age of Quarrel.

Listen to “Clobberin’ Time/Pay The Price.”



Posted by Konrad Kantor

Staff Bartender -- I also write about music on occasion. Fuck Twitter.

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