Epicloud was hands down one of my favorite albums from 2012, taking the Devin Townsend Project’s melodic heaviness to an even higher level. So my only complaint about Townsend’s latest double album Z2 is….wait, what’s there to complain about?! Z2’s first disc Sky Blue is the perfect follow up to Epicloud, displaying Townsend’s soaring vocals and gift for crafting straight up catchy anthems. Then you get Z2’s second disc Dark Matters, the long-awaited sequel to Ziltoid the Omniscient that showcases Townsend’s beloved zaniness. In a nutshell, there’s something for every Townsend diehard, whether it’s Sky Blue’s upbeat track “Silent Militia” or Dark Matters’ anthemic introduction to the War Princess.
Key Track: “Silent Militia”
Sure, people had high expectations for an album featuring Max Cavalera jamming with The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato and Mastodon’s Troy Sanders. But in reality, Killer Be Killed’s self-titled debut has no right to be as stellar as it is. The project could’ve in theory suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen (a common problem with many supergroups). Instead, Killer Be Killed proves to be a perfect melting pot of each members’ individual bands. Songs like “Wings of Feather and Wax” and “Save The Robots” balance the right amount of in-your-face hardcore with sludgey yet downright melodic doom. The best and most surprising part of Killer Be Killed, though, are the vocals. As distinct as Cavalera, Puciato and Sanders’ vocals are, their voices somehow perfectly complement each other on each track. As weird as it might seem, Killer Be Killed might be the closest we ever get to experience a metal version of The Three Tenors. And trust me, I’m as surprised to being saying Max Cavalera and The Three Tenors in the same sentence.
Key Track: “Save The Robots”
Fans had plenty of reasons to be worried about Slipknot’s fifth album. It was, after all, the band’s first album since bassist Paul Gray’s death and the split with Joey Jordison. And let’s be honest, All Hope Is Gone had a few standout tracks but as a whole left a lot to be desired. Could Slipknot make an album worth gushing about without two of its previous key contributors? The answer is a resounding yes. .5: The Gray Chapter arguably offers Slipknot’s strongest material in years. We knew it would be an emotional album in light of Gray’s passing, but aggressive songs like “Skeptic” and “Custer” prove that the band’s grief wouldn’t get in the way of them expressing their anger and rage. Meanwhile, songs like “Killpop” prove that Slipknot can deliver haunting moments even when channeling their industrial influence. However, the highlight of the entire album comes when “Goodbye” delicately transitions from a tearful ballad to a powerful buildup that beautifully segways into the explosive “Nomadic.” In short, .5: The Gray Chapter proves that despite all the tragedy and drama that ensued during the past six years, Slipknot’s wrath and fury is still in top form.
Key Track: “Goodbye”/“Nomadic”