Top 50 Albums of 2012: 50 to 41

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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.

50. Napalm Death – Utilitarian

Sure, Napalm Death have been grinding for more than 30 years, but do not expect them to appear as guests on “That Metal Show” anytime soon. Napalm Death may be older, but they’re definitely wiser and the fire burning inside of them is has gotten hotter, as proven on their latest album Utilitarian. Bands with the same lifespan as theirs are often content with churning out mediocre albums with recycled ideas for the sake of keeping a steady routine. Not Napalm Death. Mitch Harris’ riffs got heavier, the rhythm section of Danny Herrera and Shane Embury got tighter, the palette for sound experimentation has expanded a lot more and Barney Greenway’s in the best shape of his career, where he can outpace other vocalists half his age. Supplemented by an excellent split with hardcore heavyweights Converge, Utilitarian has cemented its position as a modern grind classic. — Carmelo Espanola

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Napalm Death – “Analysis Paralysis”

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49. Baroness – Yellow & Green

Depending on your tastes, this double album is either where Baroness put it all together or the where they finally went over the cliff. But whether Yellow & Green is a metal album or not is a dull debate for people too lazy to engage with its considerable breadth of material. Delve in and you’ll find a wide spectrum of sounds and ideas united by the earnestness John Baizley and his bandmates lend them. Even before the bus crash that they were lucky to survive, this was a poignant record. Imagine how it’ll sound live now. — Brad Sanders

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Baroness – “Take My Bones Away”

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48. Lord Mantis – Pervertor

On its face, Pervertor looks rote—black metal vocals and guitars balanced atop sludgy rhythms. After a few listens, though, this cleverly constructed album starts to yield up its secrets. Lord Mantis’s members work in concert to drive home sneaky melodies and deceptively complex rhythms. Drummer Bill Bumgardner contributes immensely to this set with his patient, forceful patterns. (You can even hear a touch of Meshuggah in there.) Come for the filth, stay for the songs. — Doug Moore

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Lord Mantis – “Vile Divinity”

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47. Woods of Ypres – Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

There’s nothing abstract about Grey Skies and Electric Light, Woods of Ypres’ fifth and final release. Everything is laid out on the table, and the late David Gold had no reservations when it came to expressing himself. His melodies just click, as though they’re timelessly linked to the feelings of desperation and hopelessness of which he sings. Gold may have traveled alone, but in writing these songs, he made it so we don’t have to. For this, we thank him.
— Julia Neuman

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Woods of Ypres – “Travelling Alone”

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46. Ufomammut – ORO: Opus Primum

Ufomammut have a strange sound, but one that does not seem incongruous. This album works as a cohesive whole, gradually building in intensity and evoking both funeral and stoner doom in equal measure. Along the periphery, strange synthesizers and odd guitar tricks lurk, giving the music a feel of being conjured in the vacuum of space. The meaty guitar and drum production do the rest, combining with some truly gnarly riffs to give the music the weight of a red giant at its most majestic. Ufomammut have tapped into the power cosmic, and the result is supremely heavy.
— Rhys Williams

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Ufomammut – “Empireum”

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45. Knelt Rote – Trespass

Knelt Rote surely sticks out like a sore thumb in the Portland metal scene. Their uniquely misanthropic sound fuses the Ross Bay bestial war metal blueprint of Blasphemy with the ear destroying noise of Whitehouse and the hateful grind of Cripple Bastards and Machetazo. Knelt Rote do not care what the gas mask wearing goat terrorists and the rat tailed, battle jacket clad punks think of them. Everyone on this miserable planet should just fuck off and die.
— Carmelo Espanola

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Knelt Rote – “Compress”

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44. Om – Advaitic Songs

It would seem remiss to call this Om’s magnum opus, but this is by far their most powerful album yet, both in sound and conceptual accomplishment. The production here is strong: Cisneros’ bass tone alternates between ethereal and beastly, and Amos’ drums run from near-jazzy to almost hardcore-like intensity. But what really sets this apart is their synthesis of sounds: the simple stoner doom of their early work underscores the mystic psychedelia of their recent offerings, breathing new life into the endeavor and making this sonically complex album one of this year’s most fascinating. — Rhys Williams

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Om – “State of Non-Return”

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43. Derkéta – In Death We Meet

In 2012, cult underground doom death pioneers Derkéta released their proper full length debut, In Death We Meet, after more than 20 years since their inception. In those years there have been four presidents, three wars, and death metal has flourished from its humble tape-trading beginnings to become the global subcultural force it is today. The wait may have been long, but it sure was worth it. In Death We Meet is like the finest aged whiskey finally making its way out of an oak cask after distilling the ingredients of doom and death metal over the course of two decades–the results bloom into a satisfyingly complex mixture that awakens the senses and stirs fear into the soul. — Carmelo Espanola

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Derkéta – “In Death We Meet”

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42. Indesinence – Vessels of Light and Decay

Sure, it was only the year’s second best Profound Lore album with a cloaked figure gesturing to a doorway on its cover, but Vessels of Light and Decay could have easily been rendered irrelevant in a year overstuffed with death, doom, and death-doom. Credit the UK act’s peerless mastery of long-form songwriting that we’re singing its praises rather than trying to remember which one it was again. — Brad Sanders

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Indesinence – “Communion”

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41. Dysrhythmia – Test of Submission

It’s almost criminal that Test of Submission lands at number 41, as it’s a beast of an instrumental album that solidifies Dysrhythmia’s role as the Yes of their class. Since the addition of Colin Marston, the band has grown increasingly heavier yet they maintain their surprisingly memorable songwriting by granting their developed compositions the appropriate space to breathe. While extreme trends reign, Dysrhythmia continues to master their trade. — Aaron Maltz

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Dysrhythmia – “The Line Always Snaps”

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