The conlusion of the decade continues and next up is the year the world ended, 2012. The previous parts of this series can be found here. I personally remember 2012 as one of the harder years in my life but also a year with music I still remember fondly. Some of these picks are very close to me and others will certainly cause some raised eyebrows. So let’s get into it:
Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light
Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light is the fourth full length album and unfortunate swansong of Woods of Ypres. Project leader David Gold died in a car accident before the release of the album. Woods 5 was to be their breakthrough as the band delivered their highest quality material so far, further refining their unique mix of black metal, gothic metal with folk influences. Gold’s passing brought an abrupt end to the band and what’s left is a statement that clearly reflects his vision and philosophy.
Despite some criticism due to David Gold’s divisive vocals and straightforward lyricism, I consider Woods 5 a very personal album. At the time I discovered Woods of Ypres I was not just getting deeper into metal, I was also entering adulthood. During that time Gold’s observations and convictions were relatable guide in finding my place in the world. Rest in peace, David.
Plague Widow – Plague Widow
Plague Widow are underground legends despite not having released a full album so far. The band surfaced in 2012 with 15 minutes of uncompromising and punishing deathgrind on their self-titled demo. The high density and intensity material on this demo set a new gold standard for deathgrind. Battering blasts, hellish guitars and crushing growls pour forth in an endless assault that ends as quickly as it began. The sound can be described as processed or synthetic, but it only serves to further the immediacy of the impact. Plague Widow is a hateful, life-rejecting masterpiece that is yet to be outdone.
Australis – 2012
In recent years, technical death metal has seen a return to a more songwriting focussed approach that seeks to unite impressive technicality with more accessible song structures without sacrificing any of the genre’s virtues. Wormed’s Metaportal EP and Archspire’s Relentless Mutation are examples that come to mind. Australis have been practising this approach from the start and despite not being the most technical band, their strength lies in writing satisfying death metal with a technical edge. The key to this lies in the details. Developing melodic patterns that craft a dramatic arc and moments that defy expectations.
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
One pick that will surely find its way into many other lists is Gojira‘s L’Enfant Sauvage. Following the spiritual and existential The Way of All Flesh, Gojira presented a synthesis that examines humanity, the wild child, and our connection to nature and our own spirit in modern life. L’Enfant Sauvage is a logical progression of the band’s sound but also showed the first signs of oversimplification and more accessible songwriting.
What makes this another standout release from Gojira however is the genuine passion and emotion. Tracks like Explosia, the title track or Liquid Fire create a strong sense of urgency and importance. An emotional weight that drives home the message of this album.