Top 50 Albums of 2012: 40 to 31

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For an explanation of how we determined our Top 50 albums of 2012 (and for a look at albums 75 to 51), see our first post in the series, Top Albums of 2012, 75 to 51.

40. Circle of Ouroborus – The Lost Entrance of The Just

The ridiculously prolific Circle of Ouroborus put out two full-lengths, five EPs, and one split this year, but it is the gorgeous The Lost Entrance of The Just that left an indelible mark. Antii Klemi sings and rasps over muted and drowned guitars to create strange, smeared compositions that are often as disorienting as they are catchy.
— Wyatt Marshall

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Circle of Ouroborus – “The Way of the Will”

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39. Dodecahedron – Dodecahedron

It baffles me that this album didn’t blow up. Dodecahedron plays a hot style (progressive black metal), and they’ve got a serious-bidness label behind them. Moreover, they’re fucking awesome. Dodecahedron applies a base coat of Deathspell Omega-ish spasmodic evil, and then mixes in more colors—furious electronic noise washes, fusion-flavored explorations, and a six-minute a capella track. Frighteningly ambitious, and just plain frightening. — Doug Moore

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Dodecahedron – “I, Chronocrator”

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38. Inverloch – Dusk/Subside

This is Inverloch’s debut release, but their sound is timeless: forged from the ashes of the legendary Australian doom innovators Disembowelment, Inverloch take that band’s sound to a new level. There are only three songs, and all three crush like the weight of the moon. But Inverloch is their own beast: where Disembowelment had a transcendental edge, Inverloch is all sorrow and misty forests, adding a funereal edge to their reverberating death/doom. It’s incredibly brutal and incredibly moving simultaneously. — Rhys Williams

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Inverloch – “The Menin Road”

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37. Gaza – No Absolutes in Human Suffering

Mathcore is an antiquated sound in 2012 but Gaza, relative latecomers to the scene, has managed to stick around and exist as one of its few successful pursuers. As a result, No Absolutes in Human Suffering showcases the group’s continual progression into the thankfully limitless –core’s and post-‘s of their genre. I can’t help but be transported 10 years into the past listening to them. Vocalist Jon Parkin has a literary scream that makes me feel weak. — Aaron Maltz

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Gaza – “Not With All The Hope In The World”

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36. Anhedonist – Netherwards

If we were handing out specialty awards by subgenre, Anhedonist would be death/doom’s Rookie of the Year. Netherwards doesn’t do much to expand on what Incantation and dISEMBOWELMENT hath wrought, but many a more experienced band should envy its execution. All of those crucial ineffables—pacing, tone, timing, mood—are all in harmony. Perfect band name, too. — Doug Moore

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Anhedonist – “Saturnine”

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35. Agalloch – Faustian Echoes

Agalloch is no stranger to long, epic tracks, but this one is by far the longest and most epic of their decade-long career. A 21-minute interpretation of Faust, it showcases the band exploring its black metal roots, at times evoking Ulver, at times Primordial, but always retaining that post-rock shimmer of guitars and vocals that has made Agalloch such an innovative band. It could be debated that this is their Dopesmoker: a marathon of music into which the band has poured all of its creativity for the past few years, yielding a result that is both daunting but yet cohesive and altogether brilliant. — Rhys Williams

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Agalloch – “Faustian Echoes”

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34. Incantation – Vanquish in Vengeance

With its brand of cavernous death metal in vogue these days, Incantation would be able to get away with simply rehashing Onward to Golgotha. Instead, the band’s first album in six years is a refreshing blast of bread-and-butter death metal. Don’t take that as a backhanded compliment, however. Expertly paced and played, solidly produced, and dynamic as hell, Vanquish in Vengeance is the sort of album that reminds you why you fell in love with the genre in the first place. — Michael Cacciatore

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Incantation – “Progeny of Tyranny”

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33. Christoph Heeman + Locrian – Self titled

With the help of avant-garde musician Cristoph Heemann, post-metallers Locrian have released their best album yet. Instead of muddying their compositions with a cacophony of feedback and tape hiss, as Locrian has been wont to do on previous albums, the collaborators build and release tension across four tracks, forming a whole rather than a series of interesting but incomplete experiments. Like Sunn O)))’s Monoliths and Dimensions, it shows how powerful experimental metal can be in the right hands. — Michael Cacciatore

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32. Bosse-de-Nage – III

Leave it to four guys from San Francisco to make critics mention Slint and black metal in the same sentence for probably the first time ever. Previous albums saw B. shrouding his esoteric lyrics in tortured howling, but here he punctuates his bouts of madness with eerie spoken word free verse reminiscent of those arachnoid Louisvillians’ vignettes. Aside from that small stylistic diversion, III is right in line with its predecessors; that is to say, constantly harrowing, subtly melodic and occasionally life-affirming. H. cuts his frenzied drumming with more jazzy crossovers and snare rolls than Buddy Rich on a truckfull of amphetamines, and M.’s guitars pierce and soar like Unknown Pleasures sped up to 45 RPM. “Post-black metal” is a term bandied about with increased frequency, but few bands to which it is ascribed wear it as comfortably as Bosse-de-Nage. — Greg Majewski

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Bosse-de-Nage – “Cells”

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31. Torche – Harmonicraft

If eight years of Torche singles, splits, EPs and albums were a running in-joke, Harmonicraft is the triumphant punch line. Which isn’t to say it’s necessarily funny; just that it’s a validation of being along for a long ride that starts with the tragic demise of Floor and ends with a song called “Kiss Me Dudely” and an album cover adorned with rainbow-barfing unicorns. If it didn’t rock so damn hard, we couldn’t take it seriously at all – not that Steve Brooks & Co. want us to. — Brad Sanders

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Torche – “Harmonicraft”

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