Witness to the Void’s Top 10 in 2012!

Another great year of metal has come to an end!

My mental dialogue earlier this week:
Me 1: This has been a great year for metal.
Me 2: Yes, yes it has. But wait, you say that every year.
Me 1: True, true. Maybe you are right. Maybe I would just say that every year …
… but wait, at least I’m not saying that this year was a bad year for metal. Now that would be bad, wouldn’t it?

Perhaps I will always find top-tier releases and memorable surprises in a yearly list of metal, but 2012 had some particularly relevant heavy-hitters. We saw new releases from technical mainstays such as Meshuggah, Hour of Penance, Gorod, Cattle Decapitation, and Dying Fetus, as well as a collaboration on 2012’s Spawn of Possession release so wicked it seemed unreal. As always, 2012 brought us some newcomers to watch in coming years: the galactic destruction of Xenocide; the decadently Necrophagist-esque sophistication of Sophicide; and the usurpers to the throne of Cryptopsy, Desecravity. Oh, and speaking of Cryptopsy, we saw a return to form that will not be forgotten anytime soon. So, without further schizophrenic commentary, here is the top 10 technical death metal releases of 2012, as seen by The Witness to the Void.

Cattle Decapitation: That Band Ain't Right, I Tell You What...10. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity

The ever-evolving vegan deathgrind of Cattle Decapitation gives metalheads one more reason to hate mankind with every release. Monolith of Inhumanity excels in gore-dripping misanthropy, especially with the introduction of some of the filthiest “clean vocals” around. Unfortunately, some of the accompanying melodic passages (closers “The Monolith” and “Kingdom of Tyrants”) seem a bit tame in comparison to the feeding-frenzy of some of the faster tracks (see the rabid “Do Not Resuscitate”). Although it’s a minor complaint, these parts bring down the album as a whole, especially when its the note that Monolith ends on.

Key Cut: “Do Not Resuscitate”

9. Psycroptic – The Inherited RepressionPsycroptic - The Inherited Repression

The Inherited Repression showcases a sophisticated sensibility seen in the likes of Anata, focusing more on a whirlwind of razor blades than bludgeoning clubs. Psycroptic has left their crypt-dwelling days behind them, moving to the more refined and calculated sound heard here. Dwelling in the mid-high ranges works scathingly well for Psycroptic, leaving an imprint like a nailbat…covered in broken glass.

Key Cut: “Carriers of the Plague”

8. Detrimentum – Inhuman DisgraceDetrimentum - Inhuman Disgrace

Detrimentum’s second full-length boasts the stick skills of Steve Powell (Anaal Nathrakh’s live drummer), but also a major evolution in the band’s style. Inhuman Disgrace is brutal death metal at its malignant heart, but with a progressive flare that demands multiple listens. Although it isn’t the most technical or brutal album on this list, Inhuman Disgrace is definitely one of the year’s most memorable.

Key Cuts: “In the Shadow of the Cross We Burn” and “Journeyman’s Lament”

Cryptopsy - Cryptopsy7. Cryptopsy – Cryptopsy 

All hail the mighty Cryptopsy! In this return-to-form, Flo Mournier and company dropped the keyboards and the deathcore, and reacquired guitarist Jon Levasseur. The self-released seventh full-length features a new hybrid of Cryptopsy, a reinvigorated Cryptopsy, that bounces and crushes with those quickly cutting tech streaks from yesteryear. Although the depravity of None So Vile and Blasphemy Made Flesh is missing, Cryptopsy still hits like a sack of bricks to the forehead, again, again, again, and again.

Key Cut: “Damned Draft Dodgers” (includes elevator music!)

6. Sophicide – Perdition of the Sublime
Sophicide - Perdition of the Sublime

The first full-length from this German two-piece (which started as a one piece!), Perdition of the Sublime dwells in the midranged spectrum of technical death metal, kind of like a chunkier and thrashier Necrophagist. Sophicide showcases the best-case scenario of a metal band with limited members – every song is focused and tight, with everything zigging and zagging in unison. The sprinkling of neo-classical flourishes (reminiscent of Sound of Perseverance-era Death) is effective and efficient, making for a very organic, and thought-provoking listen.

Key Cut: “Freedom of Mind”

5. Spawn of Possession – IncursoSpawn Of Possession - Incurso

Christian Müenzner with Spawn of Possession?! What a wicked combination it is indeed! Infinitesimal in it’s intricacy, Incurso favors an atonal complexity over blunt heaviness. The subject matter (evil spirituality, possession, etc.) is appropriately dark, yet ethereal and refreshing. As well, the longer songs and occasional keyboards make for a rewarding and varied album. This collaboration is one that should be mentioned in the metal hall of fame!

Key Cuts: “Where Angels Go, Demons Follow” and “Apparition”

Gorod - A Perfect Absolution4. Gorod – A Perfect Absolution

Gorod’s fourth full-length exhibits a departure from their previously chunkier (yet still highly technical and progressive) releases, evolving into an avant-garde sort of death metal that is at its best when at its weirdest. Ethereal and free-flowing, A Perfect Absolution weaves and dodges like an intricately constructed clockwork insect. Gorod’s complexity and variety of influences (observe the funk on “Varangian Paradise” – seriously, you need to hear this!) will keep any open-minded metalhead demanding more, and once again proves that these Frenchmen are at the forefront of the technical death metal scene.

Key Cut: “Varangian Paradise”

3. Hour of Perdition – Seditionhour of penance - sedition

Savage and bestial, Sedition tops the lists because it is so relentlessly destructive. Hour of Penance’s death metal bulldozes from the brutal side of the spectrum, flattening and burning everything in its path. Sedition is the soundtrack of the destruction of a great metropolitan city by a godzilla-sized beast. In addition, the soaring guitar leads demand mention as well.

Key Cuts: “Enlightened Submission” and “Decimate the Ancestry of the Only God”


2. Dying Fetus – 

Reign SupremeDying Fetus - Reign Supreme medium

Dying Fetus continually releases pummeling, offensive, militant death metal that never disappoints. Reign Supreme is no exception – the band’s seventh full-length is everything that you love about technical death metal. It’s heavy, spiteful, caustic, and blunt…yet technical and sophisticated. The most impressive part about Dying Fetus has always been their ability to write such dynamic songs with so many pace changes, which remain technical in a crunchy and memorable manner. That seems like too many things to happen at once, but its true. In conclusion, Reign Supreme contains the following things:


Key Cut: “From Womb to Waste,” “In the Trenches,” and “Dissidence”

which brings us to number one…

Desecravity - implicit Obedience 500

1. Desecravity – Implicit Obedience

In the year in which Cryptopsy returned to us, Desecravity reminded us all of all the reasons old Cryptopsy is so memorable. Implicit Obedience pulls all the best attributes from Cryptopsy’s back catalog – the vile depravity of the Lord worm years; the psychotically spastic song structure of the DiSalvo years; and the primeval roar of Once Was Not – and combines these elements with a certain pre-historical, psychological darkness. The first full-length from this Japanese four-piece evokes the feeling of a devolution into the mind of a savage and hideous species that died out thousands of years ago. Deliciously old school yet innovative, grotesquely filthy yet cleanly produced, Implicit Obedience is not to be missed.

Key Cuts: “Immortals Warfare,” “Enthralled in Decimation,” and “Hades”

Lists are always difficult to make, but at the same time sort of enlightening as they force us reviewers to look into albums with an even more critical eye for a one-on-one comparison. It demands us to return our attention and re-evaluate some of our opinions. I hope you have enjoyed the year in review of 2012 as much as I enjoyed headbanging along to it – stay metal in 2013! Can’t wait to see what it brings us… hopefully that Necrophagist album. You hear that Muhammed?!

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2 thoughts on “Witness to the Void’s Top 10 in 2012!”

  1. I can see your point on ending with the two eerie tracks. I think that for me personally, I just albums to finish with something big, powerful, and surprising, rather than a slow decline.

    Initially, I really didn’t like ‘Inherited Repression.’ I thought it was far too much in the mid-range, and I really wanted more of the ‘Scepter’ style. However, in time I came to really like it. The same goes with Hour of Penance’s ‘Sedition.’ Initially, I thought it seemed too modernized, but after listening a few times, I simply couldn’t get enough. I listened to this album last week and was amazed all over again at how awesome it is. I honestly feel guilty putting it ONLY at number 3. Hahaha, you should write to them and tell them to try a groove metal album. I am not familiar with the work of Mephistopheles, so I will hafta check that out.

    ‘Inhuman Disgrace’ is such a sick album. As with ‘Perdition,’ I listened to it last week for the first time in awhile, and was amazed all over again. What a great release – and I normally despise when bands turn down the brutal.

    For me, the old Cryptopsy is simply gone. Modern Cryptopsy is another band. I try to separate the two in my mind, because otherwise, I simply will be unhappy. Even with the DiSalvo years, I thought of those records as a different band.

    I really can’t remember how I stumbled across Sophicide, but I sure am glad I did. I can’t wait for a second album.

    I like ‘A Perfect Absolution’ a lot, especially in its weirdness. Initially I was disappointed in how different it sounds from ‘Process of a New Decline,’ but in time I came to really dig it. I find that this is often the case, that albums that I initially am uncertain about later become some of my favorites.

    Man, I was so pleased with ‘Reign Supreme.’ I didn’t like ‘War of Attrition’ that much, so ‘Descend into Depravity’ was a major step in the right direction that left me very hopeful: and Dying Fetus delivered. In full force!

    I listened to ‘Implicit Obedience’ every day for 10 days straight. And this was not after the release, but just last month. This album crushes and destroys. Every. single. time. It’s humorous that you mention Lord Worm, because I have often wondered what he would think if he heard Desecravity. I didn’t notice the Craig Pillard likeness in the past, but I am going to give it a listen right now. I am intrigued by the idea. What a great record!

  2. Very interesting list, although I do have to disagree with you on a few points.

    I actually think that the last two tracks on ‘Monolith Of Inhumanity’ were a phenomenal way to close out the album. They’re eerie and haunting in a way that Cattle Decapitation has never managed to be. They showed trace elements on certain tracks from ‘Harvest Floor’ but the last two tracks from ‘Monolith’ made me physically feel the pain and suffering they were trying to lyrically convey. Plus, the opening guttural and shriek on ‘Kingdom Of Tyrants’ kicks my ass every time.

    ‘Inherited Repression’ still hasn’t clicked for me. I still think it’s a noble but still ultimately failed experiment. Granted, I’m of the mindset that the band has never surpassed ‘Scepter Of The Ancients’ and that Chalky’s other band Mephistopheles did what Psycroptic should have done. *shrug* They’re still stellar musicians though. I’d like to see Peppiatt try his hand at some Superjoint Ritual style groove metal, I think he’d be perfect for it.

    Gonna have to give Detrimentum another listen. I remember reading your review for their album and liking what I listened to on YouTube but that was quite a while ago.

    Completely disagree on new Cryptopsy. Hell, at this point I’d welcome back Mike DiSalvo with open arms. ‘Whisper Supremacy’ was still an amazing album, even if the rest of his material with Cryptopsy completely lost the plot. McGachy just rubs me the wrong way. Beyond that, Jon and Flo’s performances sound completely spastic, like a pale shadow of the genuine insanity from ‘None So Vile’. I had no real expectations for new Cryptopsy though, so I can’t say it’s disappointing.

    Sophicide is one hell of a band. That was a nice find.

    I loved Gorod’s latest but I haven’t listened to it very much since it came out. (I know, shame on me) Same thing with ‘Sedition’; I love Hour Of Penance but I wasn’t listening to their album nearly enough to include it on my Top 10, even if it and ‘A Perfect Absolution’ are more than deserving of a Top 10 spot.

    ‘Reign Supreme’ was just awesome. Exactly the kick in the nuts only Dying Fetus can deliver. Probably my third favorite release from them, just below ‘Killing On Adrenaline’ and ‘Purification Through Violence’, which gets entirely too much flak for no goddamn reason.

    Not included Desecravity is my biggest Top 10 list regret. I had a feeling I was missing something but I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. What a legendary debut. Lord Worm would be proud of this Japanese quartet. I just LOVE how much the lows on this album sound like Craig Pillard too.

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