1) Protest The Hero, Volition (Razor & Tie)
Scurrilous was the surprise album of 2011 for me personally. So I was, to say the least, beyond hyped for Protest The Hero’s crowdfunded follow up. Thankfully Protest The Hero did not disappoint, arguably even going above and beyond with Volition. This is an album that takes the strongest elements of Protest’s entire catalog and seamlessly molds it into one beautiful, technical yet melodic work that sounds like no other. Off the hook guitar solos? Check! Insane, constantly changing tempos? Check! Rody Walker’s out of this world vocal range? Double check! In fact, let me make the bold statement and say that Walker’s voice makes him one of the strongest singer’s in the modern metal scene. Need proof? Listen to every song on Volition.
Key track: “Yellow Teeth”
Honorable Mentions (aka, Albums that almost made it into my top 10):
Avenged Sevenfold, Hail To The King (Warner Bros.)
I don’t hide the fact that I love Avenged Sevenfold. And while I agree that a lot of this album sounds too much like The Black Album (especially “This Means War”), this is still the best sounding attempt at trying to replicate Metallica made by any band.
Volbeat, Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies (Universal)
This actually almost made it into my top 10 despite not really being a “metal” album. Volbeat knows how to write a damn catchy song, and Rob Caggiano’s involvement (both as guitarist and producer) only improved the band.
Queens Of A Stone Age, …Like Clockwork (Matador)
Without a doubt QOTSA’s best album since Songs For The Deaf. That simple!
Kvelertak, Meir (Roadrunner)
I admit that my expectations for Kvelertak’s follow up to their remarkable self-titled album were set unfairly high (and thus led it to its exclusion from my top ten). Still, Meir is a great album that continues to show why Kvelertak is one of the best new bands around.
Eminence, The Stalker (Self-Released)
When we offered this album for free download, I declared that The Stalker is one of the best albums of the year to combine brutal and melodic elements together. Even though I didn’t include it in my top ten, I still stand by that claim. This Brazilian group mixes the groove of Sepultura with the intensity of Fear Factory. What’s not to love?
Dethklok, The Doomstar Requiem: A Klok Opera Soundtrack (Self-Released)
Call it what you want, but it’s a metal musical done to perfection. What’s not to love?!
The Dillinger Escape Plan, One Of Us Is The Killer (Party Smasher/Sumerian)
I’ll admit, for a while I wasn’t really into DEP. However, I started to “get” what the band was about with Option Paralysis and was completely sucked in after seeing them live for the first time this year. However, One of Us is the Killer really wowed me at how talented and creative this band is. It might not have ended up in my top ten, but definitely changed me from an admirer to an actual fan of the band.
Dream Theater, Dream Theater (Roadrunner)
In short, it’s Dream Theater’s strongest release in years and proves why they are the kings of prog metal.
Twelve Foot Ninja, Silent Machine (Volkanik)
While it did receive its U.S. release in November, this album technically was first released in 2012. If it was for that fact, this would be in my top ten hands down. If you loved anything Mike Patton has done, then you should love Twelve Foot Ninja. Kick ass metal that throws in some reggae and Latin dance into the mix when you least expect it. Straight up awesome!