By in large, 2012 has been an extraordinary year for metal music. Countless bands have released either their very best material (Spawn Of Possession, Cattle Decapitation, Hour Of Penance, Gorod, Kraanium – even if they aren’t tech-death) or their best material in years. (Dying Fetus, Gojira, Meshuggah, Aborted, Putrid Pile – even if Shaun LaCanne doesn’t play tech-death) Of course, every year has their stinkers. The albums that could have been great, good or even just passable but for one reason or another have ended up either hopelessly generic or down right awful. I’ll be counting down my personal Top Five here today.
Now, before I begin, I’d like to note two things; one, this list is obviously not complete as the year isn’t over. Even though it seems like this will probably end up as my Top Five Disappointments anyway, I can never be entirely sure until the end of December. Two, Psycroptic’s ‘Inherited Repression’ will not be on here, even if I gave it the lowest score in its staff review. I don’t actually dislike that album. The music is phenomenal and the vocals are very well done groove metal shouts, even if they don’t exactly mix perfectly. A noble experiment is respectable and appreciated. What the bands on this list have done (intentions notwithstanding) isn’t respectable, appreciable or noble. Get your boots on, it’s time to wade straight into the muck.
#5. The Faceless – Autotheism:
One of the many reasons I love Youtube is allowing me to preview any and all albums I want to review and/or purchase, even if they’re only out on iTunes. Too bad this preview session confirmed every previous intuition I had about this album; it’s hopelessly dull, irretrievably generic and rips so much off from better bands, it’s just insulting. Amongst all of the Opeth and Cynic pilfering, there’s one song in particular that never ceases to piss me off. ‘Hymn Of Sanity’ is the second to last track and undoubtedly the most infuriating. At only 1:34, The Faceless thought it would be a phenomenal idea to pretend they were Spawn Of Possession. Of course, they fail miserably but not content with almost stealing an entire riff from ‘Incurso’, the worst pseudo-slam I’ve ever heard kicks in at 1:10 and finishes the song.
Get fucked, Faceless. I’m not a fanboy you can swoon with cheap theft and bad impersonation. It’s clearer than ever that your band thrives on the ignorance of the uninitiated. I’ve heard people proclaim that the ‘three part movement’ that opens the album (how goddamn pretentious) is ‘among the best in metal history’. Apart from being entirely incorrect, that statement crosses over into personally offensive. Two albums I’ve dug for the longest time (‘Focus’ and ‘Blackwater Park’) were eviscerated to provide this overgrown entry level outfit with cheap novelties to woo the unthinking majority into accepting their otherwise soulless and unfeeling compositions. Hell, they almost even steal from ‘La Masquerade Infernale’, like the most shameless cheaters. Maybe if the ideas Paul Masdival and Mikael Åkerfeldt have had ruthlessly stolen from them aided some larger, original musical goal I could be a bit more forgiving. They don’t, so now I’m just pissed. This album deserves to be avoided as the unoriginal waste of time and energy it is but unfortunately so many people just won’t see it. After all, who do younger metalheads these days care more about, an unoriginal, thieving yet entirely accessible modern band or the trailblazers that have to put up with their hard work being bastardized? That’s what I thought. Screw this band.
#4. Beneath The Massacre – Incongruous:
He-hey, look who decided to go from toxic to cookie cutter this year. It only took Quebec’s Beneath The Massacre two albums to go from one of the worst new tech-death outfits of the 2000’s to full-blown weedily deedily tech-death stereotype hater fuel. Now in 2012, they’ve finally crossed the threshold…of mediocrity. At this rate, maybe their very last album will have one good song, a final testament to their ultimate bankruptcy.
OK, OK, maybe I’m not being entirely fair with this album. At least Beneath The Massacre attempt originality, which is more than I can say for those autotheist bastards. All things considered, it seems like Beneath The Massacre really tried outclassing Brain Drill’s mind erasing technicality and Origin’s world consuming brutality, which shows some degree of ambition that I can’t say any of the other bands/albums on this list display. So why are they fourth instead of fifth?
Well, as lofty as their goals were, they still failed. Completely and utterly. Had one or two elements of this release succeeded, I wouldn’t have minded considering this a noble experiment and sparing it my wrath. As it stands, the tech-death band I’ve hated for the longest time is still incapable of creating an album I can dig in any musical sense. The drums are still way too triggered and high in the mix, the direction of any given song on the album is nonexistent and this so called ‘vocalist’ has gotten on my very last nerve. Honestly, all signs point towards Elliot Desgagnés holding this band back. While he gives a sub-Oceano performance on the mic, the rest of the band is trying to progress. Between being held back and going too far, Beneath The Massacre has no chance. My advice would be to ditch their vocalist and try to instill some degree of structure in their music. As much as they’d like to think so, Beneath The Massacre is not Brain Drill and lacks the capacity to make noodling into whole songs. Maybe they’ll get it some day. If Six Feet Under can release an album that doesn’t make me want to jam forks into my ears, anything is possible.
#3. Allegaeon – Formshifter:
Ahh Melodic Technical Death Metal, we meet again. Why is it that this genre of music fails so critically on so many levels? The premise of separating genuine melody from melodeath cheese and combining it with technical prowess is one hell of a proposition. So why is it that just about every incarnation of the genre after ‘Celebration Of Guilt’ sucks? Is this mixture really as sensitive as combining two volatile chemicals (as I’ve said before) or are the bands that attempt this merge unsuccessful only because they’re incapable of writing both technical and melodic death metal? With ‘Formshifter’, Allegaeon give the second possibility a weight I had heretofore never considered. This album is like In Flames on crack, taking all of the cheese, pompousness and sheer musical incompetence of Gothenburg putridity and wrapping it all in a thick layer of weedily-deedily nonsense. It’s inconceivable that I ever actually liked this band given what they’ve decided to drop on the metal world this year.
Some of these atrociously overproduced compositions border on intolerable At The Gates inspired ‘metalcore’ (sorry Converge) like As I Lay Crying or Derpswitch Engage, which for a so called Death Metal band is the same thing as ritualistically sacrificing whatever artistic credibility they ever had, minus any kind of wild ceremony. Allegaeon border so closely on mallcore with this release that I’d have good reason to put them at number one, were it not for the last two shitheaps on the list. ‘Formshifter’ evokes the same kind of nausea ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ never fails to induce. Much like that incomparably awful opus, ‘Formshifter’ is overlong, pretentious, malformed and gives this particular Death Metal fanatic what can only be described as ‘the diabeetus’. ‘Post Mortal Coil Fixation’ is the only thing saving me from a full blown saccharine coma. Never before have I heard such a high concentration of simplistic, unfulfilling nonsense from a band so technically inclined. It’s as if Gothenburg’s slimy, disgusting tendrils have finally made their way to tech-death, which is simply unacceptable. Gothenburg poison belongs in Hot Topic or other such similar trendy dens of atrociousness, not legitimate genres filled with respectable (and genuine) musicians. If Allegaeon is actually satisfied with this effort, then my last few words should be sufficiently acidic; crash and burn like the talentless founders of the septic waste you’ve polluted your band with. Fade into complete irrelevancy faster than any of you can say ‘Sounds Of A Playground Fading’…or you can stop taking cues from bands that almost destroyed the Swedish Death Metal scene and start actually trying. Your call Allegaeon.
#2. Sentenced To Dissection – Between The Worlds:
I’ll just say this right now; ‘Between The Worlds’ is the worst EP of the year, the worst material from a new tech-death band in 2012 and just about the perfect indictment of all similar Russian Tech-Death like Genocide Of Prescription. It’s supremely obnoxious, inconceivably ill-formed and above all other mistakes treats Beneath The Massacre’s work as actually classic, instead of as a well laid blueprint of how not to make tech-death.
Quite honestly, everything here is wrong. The band’s inspirations are all crap, the vocals make third rate deathcore trash like Whitechapel look phenomenal by comparison, the production is completely ill-suited to this kind of music and the compositions themselves are the musical equivalent of being forced at gunpoint to bang a ridiculously fat chick; Your tormentors win as you’re forced to survive layer after layer of suffocating filth.
Really, I could rant about how unbelievably terrible this release is for hours but I figure my actual review of the album is enough for most of you to comprehend the depth of Sentenced To Dissection’s failure. The only thing I have left to say to these people is shame on you. Shame on you for pretending that this derivative catastrophe is something to be sought out. Shame on you for wasting even a small fraction of the metal community’s time. Shame on you for making tech-death for all the wrong reasons. Most importantly, shame on you all for promoting following instead of leading. I hope you and every other band like you enjoys failure because that’s all you’ve managed to genuinely accomplish.
…and the number one disappointment/failure of 2012 thus far is,
Nile – At The Gate Of Sethu:
How in the hell did this album turn out so colossally awful? Nile has been of the US’ flagship technical death metal titans for years and instead of delivering another Egyptian ass kicking, the most Colonel Sanders and crew could give us is the complete and spectacular ruination of anything that ever made Nile worth listening to. You name it, its been entirely ruined here. George Kollias’ drumming has been triggered beyond all recognition, riff creation was taken out of the equation entirely, the once intriguing Egyptian mythology angle is now a cheap joke (Re and The Nau Snake can eat shit) and worst of all both Karl and Dallas seem to have come down with emphysema and complete feverish delirium. How the hell else can they explain making themselves and their once classic band into this hellishly awful mockery?
It hurts to say but ‘At The Gate Of Sethu’ is the worst fall from grace since ‘Unspoken King’. Worse even. At least Cryptopsy had been building to an inevitable downfall. Nile’s betrayal of everything that made them a force to be reckoned with came right out of nowhere, like a sucker punch to the balls. The more cynical side of me thinks that Karl purposefully ensured this album failed as much as it did, if only to see how much money he and his bandmates could make ruining a creative endeavor just shy of twenty years old. It makes me sick to think that the band who gave us ‘In Their Darkened Shrines’ and ‘Annihilation Of The Wicked’ turned up to give us this petrified shit. What’s worse is that some folks have eaten it up with a spoon and asked for seconds.
I can say this much however; Nile have forever lost a fan. Perhaps not the most dedicated or long standing fan but a genuine, honest and appreciative fan nevertheless. ‘Ithyphallic’ and ‘Those Whom The Gods Detest’ had problems here and there but they were still very solid releases that more than merit my respect. This abomination is worthy only of the deepest seething contempt and loathing. I HATE this album and everything it represents. I despise the notion of a band with no prior history of poor quality deciding to release this kind of unadulterated shit on their fans. I detest the idea of mangling what could have been the only saving grace of this worthless record in a vain attempt to keep him and his drumkit from moving on to greener pastures. I loathe the reality of trash like this being senselessly devoured by unthinking and uncaring fans. Cryptopsy was going downhill before deathcore was even a nightmare. Metallica was a joke before Lou Reed turned them into his table. Nile killed themselves selfishly and pointlessly, all in an effort to do as little actual work as possible. Everyone except George deserves far worse ostracism and blame than they will EVER receive.