Top 50 Albums of 2012: 30 to 21

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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.

30. Revenge – Scum.Collapse.Eradication

2012 was one of the most chaotic years of this present decade. It was also an appropriate year for Revenge to release their fourth full length Scum.Collapse.Eradication. The barbaric war metal onslaught and the misanthropic themes of founding member J. Read (also of Blood Revolt, ex-Conqueror) reflect the chaos that has engulfed the world and the slow but inevitable disintegration of humanity. Despite the departure of co-conspirator Pete Helmkamp (also of Order From Chaos, ex-Angelcorpse), J. Read has strengthened Revenge’s brand of savage war metal into something that is more feral and sinister. — Carmelo Espanola

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Revenge – “Parasite Gallows (In Line)”

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29. Sigh – In Somniphobia

If you’ve ever wondered what Crystal Meth M&Ms taste like, the new album by Japan’s premiere blackened confusion artists is for you. Two parts cartoonish orchestral whirlwind and one part oozing venom, Sigh’s latest masterpiece mixes black metal with everything from gospel and jazz to mariachi music to create a far-out masterpiece. Swaying on its feet and glistening with drug sweat, In Somniphobia is a bizarre and satisfying ride.
— Scab Casserole

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Sigh – “The Transfiguration Fear”

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28. Young Hunter – Stone Tools

Every once in a while musical sounds and influences will combine, resulting in a potion with a lot more power than it should. Young Hunter’s Stone Tools is such magic. Blending desert heat (they’re from Tucson), Kyuss-style heaviness and dust storm doom, this follow-up to their debut EP Children of a Hungry World, is beautiful, mesmerizing, and strange. — Vanessa Salvia

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Young Hunter – “Drought”

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27. Unsane – Wreck

For the past two decades, New York City has been growing gradually cleaner and safer. Lifer Manhattanites marvel at the once-seedy Times Square’s touristy sheen. Unsane, who got their start in the Lower East Side back in ‘88, have preserved the old-time NYC feeling. Their bluesy noise rock is just as it ever was: beefy as hell, louder than a jackhammer, and rife with self-loathing. This is their best set since their classic ’90s material. — Doug Moore

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Unsane – “Decay”

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26. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity

To put it bluntly, Cattle Decapitation used to be death/grind also-rans. That’s part of why The Monolith of Inhumanity is such a shock . . . I can’t remember the last time a band’s songwriting ability suddenly skyrocketed like this. The other reason The Monolith is such a shock is because it’s so fucking good. Between a brilliant album, two notable videos, a violent encounter with Chris Barnes, 2012 was the year of Cattle Decapitation. — Richard Street-Jammer

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Cattle Decapitation – “Kingdom of Tyrants”

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25. Panopticon – Kentucky

I remember a time in my life when only Europeans, or musicians imitating Europeans, wrote folk metal. That age is over—Panopticon is as American as metal gets. Sole member Austin Lunn’s work is servant to two masters: on the one hand black metal with a pastoral and melodic sense of sweep, and Appalachian bluegrass, complete with traditional protest songs and dextrous acoustic passages on the other. Rhys Williams’s editorial on this remarkable album is essential reading. — Joseph Schafer

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Panopticon – “Bodies Under the Falls”

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24. Mgła – With Hearts Toward None

Mgła, like Rodney Dangerfield, can’t get no respect. Their debut, Groza, was really good and really ignored by the scene. With Hearts is also really good, and is really starting to look like it will be ignored as well. If you like second wave style black metal with big melodies that somehow haven’t found their way onto a Taake album yet, then you need to give With Hearts a listen. — Richard Street-Jammer

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Mgła – “II”

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23. Ash Borer – Cold of Ages

Cold of Ages manages to be both denser and more intricate than Ash Borer’s self-titled debut full-length of last year—each song artfully navigates cold black metal blasts and doomy atmospheric interludes that come together to form some of the best USBM of late. There are just four songs on Cold of Ages, and all but one clock in at over 15 minutes (the other breaks 11). Epic by any standards, but don’t let the track lengths scare you off. — Wyatt Marshall

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Ash Borer – “Descended Lamentations”

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22. Hooded Menace – Effigies of Evil

Effigies of Evil is another dose of catchy, riffy, undeniably fun horror-inspired death-doom from the Finnish quartet. They’re one of the rare bands that can use samples of dialogue without it sounding trite and hackneyed, too. As serious as Peter Cushing covered in Kensington gore, as entertaining as a midnight showing of The Brides of Dracula after several beers: by marrying death and doom, Hooded Menace have created a Frankenstein’s monster that is much more than just musical corpse parts sewn together. — Jo Tacon

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Hooded Menace – “Evoken Vulgarity”

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21. Swans – The Seer

There’s debate as to whether or not Swans qualify as metal. In the narrow sense of the term, absolutely not, but from a liberal and studied interpretation they’ve been able to reach heights of depravity that only Scott Walker could comprehend. The Seer is an exhausting ride through Michael Gira’s psyche that’s disturbingly loud, genuinely twisted and uncomfortably soothing. If that doesn’t qualify as metal, then this should do the trick. — Aaron Maltz

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Swans – “The Seer”

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