Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Top 100 Most Played Albums From 2012

I truly can't think of a better way to rank my favorite albums of the year than by the amount of times I listened to them.  I think that's the only fair way to do it.  Some albums here are rated higher but ranked lower, how can that be?  Obviously I didn't listen to an album more times because I rated it higher.  Whatever came into my head, whatever needed to be listened to, whatever I couldn't live another minute without hearing, that's what I played.  I stand by my ratings and I stand by these rankings even though a year from now ... even a month from now, this list would look totally different.  I make no distinction here between full-length albums, demos or EPs, etc.  The only thing I didn't include were two song singles.

For the most part I simply clipped the mini-reviews from my monthly year in review posts and pasted them here, but I did end up writing ten new ones for this posts.  A free CD for the first person who correctly names them all (see the email address on the side of the page).  One other thing: how I made this list.  I did it with a weighted points system based on four factors, just so that releases with fewer songs weren't left behind by ones with more tracks.  Number of plays of individual songs and plays per song were worth 1 point each.  Total album plays (the lowest play count for an individual song) were worth 10 points and the album rating was based on the average rating of each track, making the rating worth as many as 50 points.

According to me, these were the best albums of 2012.

1. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY (ST) - Well there's really nothing much to say other than it doesn't get any better than this.  So many highlights, so many moments that get stuck in the head and refuse to come out.  The only proper exorcism is another spin, which is exactly why this was my most played album of 2012.  The three core members of CoC weren't planning on making this album when they got together and started rehearsing for some gigs that never happened, but this is what just spilled out of them organically.  Incredibly solid album.  Download it here.  Highlights include "Psychic Vampires" and "The Moneychangers".  Rating 4.5/5

2. HIGH ON FIRE (De Vermis Mysteriis) - 'De Vermis Mysteriis' is a very different record for High on Fire.  It's more focused and more varied than what they'd done in past years.  It's a concept album about Jesus' twin travelling through time and it's hopefully the last time we hear Matt Pike in his drinking days on record.  It feels like a transitional record to a new era for the band but we'll have to wait and see.  This is a solid listen through and through, one of the absolute best albums of the year, with reoccurring themes and an interesting story to tell.  Grab it here.  Highlights include "Serums of Liao" and "Bloody Knuckles".  Rating 4.5/5

3. MOON CURSE (ST) - Simply put, this is pound for pound one of the best releases of the year.  Five tracks, each remarkably catchy in its own way, including the short organ instrumental.  I liked this right away but I remember when it really clicked in and I had that "wow" moment.  It was when I put "Medicinecoma" on the headphones and the rhythm just infected me.  I had a similar "wow" moment with "Northern High".  Anyway, Moon Curse are from Milwaukee and they play a groovy style of stoner doom.  Incredibly catchy stuff.  You really don't want to miss out on this one, and there's no reason to either because it's pay what you want on Bandcamp.  Highlights include "Northern High" and "Medicinecoma".  Rating 5/5

4. SONIC TITAN (Even Higher) - This young band from Boston dropped probably the finest straight up rock and roll record of the year and no one knew about it.  The pyrotechnics of guitar prodigy Shaun Anzalone should be enough to bring in the fans in droves, let alone the understated bass counterpoint provided by Steve McCaul or the heavy hitter behind the kit, Tom Synes.  Every song is great and there's no getting enough of these tracks.  "Weird Forest" and "Esoteric Warning", "Argonaught", it's so hard to pick a standout track, they're all great.  Pay what you want on Bandcamp right now!.  Highlights include "Midworld" and "W.E.R.O.C.K.".  Rating 5/5

5. HOUR OF 13 (333) - Coming in at a close second for anticipation was Hour of 13's third album.  Well it wasn't what I was expecting, but it was what I was hoping for.  A darker vision from a demon haunted band.  The riffs are there, the hooks are there, the familiarity is there, but it is a different sounding record.  At first I wasn't sure, but as time wore on this album's play count confirmed it, this is the best Hour of 13 album yet.  And with the recent release of their new video this one stays current half a year later.  Well done.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Deny The Cross" and "Rite of Samhain".  Rating 4.5/5

6. SKANSKA MORD (Paths to Charon) - What can be said about this album.  For my money, it's the best thing put out by Small Stone this year.  Just a stupendously solid album, each song has its own feel and is incredibly hooky.  This is the second album by this Swedish quintet who seem to take the Seattle grunge sound of the 90s and dip it into the waters of 70s hard rock all while remaining individualistic and true to their own vision.  No matter how much time passes by (mind, it's only been a couple months), I find myself going back to this album over and over again.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Lord of Space and Time" and "Dark Caves Of Our Mind".  Rating 4.5/5

7. RED DESERT (Damned By Fate) - Melodic downtuned and fuzzed out rock and roll riffs with excellent hooks.  What you're looking at here is a Top 10 album of the year, so it is revealed.  I've lived with this album for months and its many terrific tracks have become staples of the daily hour long commute to work mix.  Very few albums grabbed me for as long or as hard as this one has.  And it has one of the best album covers of the year.  It's a winner all the way around.  What's not to like?  See my previous write-up of Red Desert.  Get it here on Bandcamp.  Highlight include "Devils Curse" and "Lust Queen".  Rating 4.5/5

8. AT DEVIL DIRT (Chapter II "Vulgo gratissimus auctor") - Chilean duo At Devil Dirt have one of the best guitar sounds on the market today (rivaled only perhaps by Conan).  It's deep and mossy.  It will tear your skull apart.  The drums shake mountains and crash lightning.  The multi-tracked vocals smell sweet but spit poison.  At Devil Dirt have found an identity and exploit it for all its worth, 11 equally good songs of heavy fuzz and catchy harmonized melodies.  Read my original review of this terrific album here.  Get it here, and read the press clippings on the page while you're at it ;-).  Highlight include "I Am An Ugly Skin" and "Let It Flow".  Rating 5/5

9. ORANGE GOBLIN (A Eulogy for the Damned) - February saw a lot of major album releases, the return of Orange Goblin after a five year silence among the very biggest.  The band rose to the occasion with 10 songs of solid rock and metal.  Mostly, the band kept things simple, great riffs with solid rhythms and catchy vocal melodies.  What more could one ask for?  aEftD does have its epic moments in "Death of Aquarius" and the title track which repeats the main riff endlessly to close the album.  It will get stuck in your head.  Most of these songs will.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Red Tide Rising" and "The Filthy and the Few".  Rating 4.5/5

10. ICHABOD (Dreamscapes From Dead Space) - One of the year's best right here.  A psychedelic metal masterpiece.  So many standout moment it makes my head spin, "Looking Glass" and "Baby Yaga" to name a couple.  "108" had the critics chattering and raving.  The good news about the new year just keeps piling up as Ichabod is set to release their follow-up effort 'Merrimack' sometime in 2013.  I haven't heard any of it but I've got a strong feeling you'll be reading about them here this time next year as well.  Read my interview with Ichabod.  Read my review of DfDS.  Get the album here.  Highlights include "Huckleberry" and "All Your Love".  Rating 4.5/5

11. WINDHAND (ST) - Richmond, Virginia based doom quintet Windhand's five song debut was one of the best releases of the year.  It has made many year end lists and has netted them a deal with Burning World records.  Their Electric Wizard meets Uncle Acid style of doom is supremely addictive.  Find it here and be blown away by one of the best albums of the year.  Highlights include "Black Candles" and "Winter Sun".  Rating 5/5

12. ABRAHMA (Through the Dusty Paths Of Our Lives) - Yet another terrific entry from France and yet another excellent album from Small Stone records.  I talked about this one briefly before.  The Vodun suite in the middle of this album is a mini rock opera of dark and epic proportions.  Abrahma were once called Alcohsonic and their sound is now more cosmic psychedelic but they still have terrific stoner chops.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Vodun pt. II - I, Zombie" and "Neptune of Sorrow".  Rating 4.5/5

13. DOWN (Down IV Part I: The Purple EP) - Superstar NOLA-based southern rockers Down returned after a five year absence and unleashed their most different sounding release to date.  Six songs of crushing traditional doom.  Obviously, it got a lot of mixed reviews, but I like it, I think all six songs are good.  Get it here. Highlights include "The Misfortune Teller" and "Witchtripper".  Rating 4.5/5

14. MOUNT FUJI (ST) - If you've been following this blog for a while, it's obvious by now that I'm a huge fan of Mount Fuji and their perfect blend of  grunge rock and Pantera style groove metal.  This German quartet's debut full-length release is just one highlight song after another.  Honest, heavy, at times funky and always jaw dropping.  It turns out they have personality to match the music.  Read my recent interview with the band here.  Read my review of Mount Fuji here.  Pay what you want on Bandcamp here.  Visit them on Facebook.  Highlights include "Colossus" and "Head on Fire".  Rating 4.5/5

15. THE GRAVIATORS (Evil Deeds) - Swedish four-piece The Graviators play at just the right tempo and hit all the right notes on their second album.  The band energetically crunch and bash their way through 10 memorable songs with great big hooks.  Get it here.  Highlights include "A Different Moon" and "Morning Star".  Rating 4.5/5

16. ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDESLEY SHOVELL (Don't Hear It ... Fear It!) - The Shovell's impressive debut proves that the UK hard rockers don't make cooped-up compositions.  They let their children wander free, to laugh and spread their wings, to explore inner and outer space while ever remaining tethered to a late 60s early 70s framework.  Get it here.  Highlight include "Killer Kane" and "Red Admiral, Black Sunrise".  Rating 4.5/5

17. SATELLITE BEAVER (The Last Bow) - I was so blown away by this 4 song EP that I'm only now beginning to recover.  The things this Polish quartet are able to do in 18 minutes is staggering.  "Roadtrip" contains four distinct parts and none of them repeat.  I still can't get over it.  Multi-tracked vocals give this an Alice in Chains feel, while the tone or vocal quality is more akin to Marilyn Manson.  The playing is something to behold as well, the guitars are like a tornado of distortion and fury.  Each song sounds like a chaotic riot until you realize the band are the masters and in complete control.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Roadtrip" and "Perishing".  Rating 5/5

18. CAPTAIN CRIMSON (Dancing Madly Backwards) - Seems my fingers are stuck typing about this band the way the songs are stuck in my head.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: one of the catchiest albums of the year.  Solid, steady driving hard rock that veers off into controlled chaos.  Wonderful stuff.  Get it here.  Highlight include "Dancing Madly Backwards" and "Lonely Devils Club".  Rating 4.5/5

19. WO FAT (The Black Code) - Wo Fat's third album was one of the year's best stoner blues albums and one of the best from Small Stone records.  Five songs, three of them reaching past the ten minute mark, for 46 minutes of pure Texas funk.  'The Black Code' is a hit on numerous levels: it's catchy and it's smart without being overly cerebral.  The heavy slabs of blues funk appeal on a visceral level, indeed the song structures themselves, born of extended jam then pared down on each subsequent read through, are crafted from 'feel' rather than strict intellectual exercise.  Read my original review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Lost Highway" and "Hurt At Gone".  Rating 5/5

20. SEREMONIA (ST) - Finnish quartet Seremonia's debut album is a short but super creepy collection of 10 tracks, sung hauntingly and mysteriously (to non-Finnish speakers) by vocalist Noora Federley in the band's native language.  It's the soundtrack to a human sacrifice conducted by children with eyes that are unsettlingly knowing, world-weary and wise.  Get it here. Highlights include "Rock'n'rollin Maailma" and "Uhrijuhla".  Rating 4.5/5

21. DOPELORD (Magick Rites) - Dopelord released one of the best doom metal albums of the year, full of clips, spliffs and huge riffs.  Plenty of Devil and occult references in the lyrics cast a nice spell.  With this, their debut album, the Polish foursome revealed themselves as one of the few bands out there who could duplicate the head nodding hypnotism of Electric Wizard without sounding like clones.  I was also lucky enough to grab myself a CD copy on big cartel while they last.  Download  it on the cheap here on Bandcamp.  Highlights include "Possessed" and "Rise! Undying!".  Rating 4.5/5

22. FROM BEYOND (The Color Out of Space EP) - Houston, Texas space / doom trio From Beyond's second EP of their rookie year isn't a complete departure from their first, but it does reveal them as a restless and ambitious band, never content to sit on a sound and ever ready to explore new ground.  Four great songs, each different in texture and style.  'The Color Out of Space' is an advancement from 'One Year' and it leaves me incredibly excited about the future of this band.  I was particularly fond of my recent review of this EP, and so were the band.  You can read it here.  Get it here.  Highlights include "The Dead Still Ride" and "The Color Out of Space".  Rating 5/5

23. MOONLESS (Calling All Demons) - One of the most accomplished debuts of the year.  Danish four-piece Moonless released a relentless heavy rock assault with elements of stoner doom.  Every riff should be preserved and displayed in a museum for all time for educational purposes.  This is how you make bad ass heavy rock and roll.  Three Top 5 hits in the Doom Charts including the chart-topping title track, one of the best of the year.  So good I bought it twice, read the Weekly Mailbag in which I received 'Calling All Demons'.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Calling All Demons" and "Mark Of The Dead".  Rating 5/5

24. MOS GENERATOR (Nomads) - Just a great hard rock record, the Washingtonians' first on Ripple Music.  So many awesome hooks it's ridiculous, "Can't Get Where I Belong", "This is the Gift of Nature" and "Lonely One Kenobi" to name a few.  Solid hard rockin' stuff from front to back.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Cosmic Ark" and "For Your Blood".  Rating 4.5/5

25. VINUM SABBATUM (Bacchanale Premiere) - This Finnish quintet dropped the vintage rock and roll album that no one was expecting after establishing their sound as traditional doom.  Well, the album is more along the lines of proto doom.  There's still plenty of doom and thunder, but filtered through a Deep Purple lens so to speak.  Indeed that DP sounding organ is a big part of this album's sound and one of the main reasons I found it so addictive.  The album is extremely hook heavy as well and the A5 digipack CD packaging is just great, it comes with lyrics printed in the booklet to boot.  Any way you look at it, it's a killer package.  Get it here.  Highlight include "Earthrise" and "Tombstone Rider".  Rating 4.5/5

26. SOUNDCRAWLER (The Sandcrawler) - This French stoner grunge band was a complete surprise to me.  I didn't like them at first.  Then I gave them another chance and they blew my mind.  This is one of the best EPs of the year and it's a mystery why they have so few 'likes' on Facebook.  I bet we can do something about that, hm?  Just listen to this masterpiece on the link below, if you like stoner rock through a grungy lens you will not be disappointed.  I had an "oh wow" moment with this one too when I listened to "My Mind Is Going Away" on my headphones at work while watching a lightning storm.  Perfect stuff.  Name your price on Bandcamp.  Highlights include "The Sandcrawler" and "My Mind Is Going Away".  Rating 4.5/5

27. FROM BEYOND (One Year EP) - Houston Texas based trio From Beyond unleashed their debut four song EP on an unsuspecting world and the world has been a darker, doomier place ever since.  Four songs that are each memorable, they each carry their own weight and each were big hits in the Doom Charts this summer.  I listened to "Evil" for the first time wondering why the hell this wasn't the kind of thing I hear on the radio.  It's a great song with a lot of classic elements of commercial success.  Then I realized, this band is only getting started.  Get in on the ground floor here.  Highlights include "Evil (From Beyond)" and "One Year".  Rating 5/5

28. GREENLEAF (Nest of Vipers) - This was another album I came to way late, but I can't seem to get enough of this Swedish quintet's highly melodic brand of fuzz rock.  A highlight among highlights from the most consistently great label in the world, Small Stone records.  Download it here or get a physical copy at the Small Stone store.  Mine's in the mail.  Highlights include "Case of Fidelity" and "Jack Staff".  Rating 4.5/5

29. MAMONT (Passing Through the Mastery Door) - This is one of those albums that I like more each time I listen to it.  This stomping, psychedelic stoner four-piece from Sweden have a very unique sound that only becomes more addictive with each subsequent listen.  Read my review here.  Get the album here.  Highlights include "The Secret of the Owl" and "Satans Fasoner".  Rating 4/5

30. GOYA (Demo) - Arizona trio Goya don't do the desert rock thing, they opt for fuzzy doom in the style of Electric Wizard or Windhand.  The compositions and overall sound on their debut release are more highly developed and mature than a lot of demos, at least for the style they play.  Get it here and name your own price.  Highlights include "God Lie" and "Blackfire".  Rating 4.5/5

31. ICE DRAGON (Dream Dragon) - Ice Dragon's second full-length album of 2012 (but not their last) was their first overtly psychedelic album.  Listening to this for the first time was like a psychedelic experience in itself.  I was struck speechless, awestruck, flabbergasted.  The most impressive thing about this album was its authentic 60s feel, with some 70s moments like "Beard of Thieves", "Maximum Trip" and "More Than I Can Say For You" to name a few.  But songs like "Dreamliner" and "Dream Dragon" were right out of the 60s.  A perfect combination of my favorite genres and eras of music.  Pay what you want on Bandcamp. Highlights include "Dreamliner" and "Maximum Trip".  Rating 5/5

32. DESTROYER OF LIGHT (ST) - These sludgy Texan doomsmiths created a collection of 6 terrific songs with horror-themed lyrics.  Tales of swamp creatures, virgin sacrifice and vampires among other nerd-salivating subjects infuse this project with a sense of fun and makes for a satisfying listen.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Greet Death" and "The Virgin".  Rating 4/5

33. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS (Beg Upon The Light) - From one of underground metals brightest hopes to one of its brightest lights in under 12 months, Houston, Texas' Venomous Maximus unleashed the most unexpected album of the year, having switched gears from a fairly straightforward, but particularly good, stoner doom approach to a pure old school heavy metal assault.  The band is beginning to fulfill their destiny with 'Beg Upon The Light' garnering a ton of attention from bigger websites and in print.  They've made many a pundit's year end list and they have here as well.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Path of Doom" and "Give Up the Witch".  Rating 4.5/5

34. SUMMER LOVE (ST demo) - Anybody who tells you they didn't initially come to this one for the cover art is lying, yet the music found within was truly a pleasant surprise.  This was something I discovered way later in the year but when I found it I made up for the lost time in a major way.  Their name makes it impossible to find any info on the band and their bandcamp page is spare with info as well.  By spare I mean "a complete lack of".  Whatever.  Great doom inspired psychedelic rock with the same vocal effect used by Ozzy on "Planet Caravan" on every song.  That may sound like a gimmick and it may not be everybody's cup of tea but it seems to hit the right spot.  This music is Acid Drenched and terrific.  Highlights include "Voice of a Queen" and "By the Wayside".  Rating 4.5/5

35. THE SWORD (Apocryphon) - Awesome old school metal with a sci fi sheen.  This was my first taste of The Sword and I found that its blade cuts deeply and eternally.  The album also features terrific cover art by none other than my favorite comic book artist, The Great J.H. (Jim) Williams III.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Dying Earth" and "The Veil of Isis".  Rating 4.5/5

36. THE WANDERING MIDGET (From the Meadows of Opium Dreams) - One day down the dusty path of my life I will consider most of the albums that I've been spotlighting here in my year in review posts to be classics.  But of all the amazing records that dropped in 2012 the one above all others that just screamed Instant Classic from the very beginning was this album right here.  It's not my most played and it's not my personal favorite of the year but I know quality songwriting when I hear it.  This is doom at its most epic and is an album that will know heavy rotation for years to come.  Maybe I won't listen to it all the time, but one year, five years, ten years down the road this one will get dusted off and listened to again and again because it is timeless. Highlights include "Prince of Fire" and "Follow the Forest Lights".  Rating 5/5

37. WITCHSORROW (God Curse Us) - Crushing, devastatingly slow doom from the UK.  There's plenty to love about this album, from memorable hooks to horror film atmospherics and downtuned riffs that lift the listener up only to crash them back down with tremendous impact.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Breaking The Lore" and "God Curse Us".  Rating 4/5

38. WITCHCRAFT (Legend) - After jettisoning most of the band Magnus Pelander and Witchcraft returned after a five year absence of their own.  The album featured a much different sound than that which made the Swedes legends in the 'retro rock' genre.  It featured an updated take on the sound, and it was for this reason that it took fans a while to finally catch on to the merits of this album.  There are so many highlights on this album they can't all be mentioned, but like Graveyard's latest offering, among others, it's an often politically charged, angrier album.  Get it here.  Highlights include "It's Not Because Of You" and "An Alternative To Freedom".  Rating 4.5/5

39. NIGHTSTALKER (Dead Rock Commandos) - Greek stoner rock legends Nightstalker made their Small Stone record label debut with 'Dead Rock Commandos' and aced it.  10 good songs full of memorable riffs and lasting hooks.  Just a solid, solid album.  If you like rock, you'll like this.  Get it here.  Highlight include "Dead Rock Commandos" and "Go Get Some".  Rating 4/5

40. SNAKE THURSDAY (Cruise Mode) - Snake Thursday released their second EP and it was a doozy, something I keep coming back to months after its initial release.  "God's Scythe" in particular has been a staple of the daily hour long commute to work mix.  Showcasing the doomier side of the band, the song grew in my ears slowly and kept growing and growing to the point that it's now a ravening monster that lives inside my head.  "Bitchcraft" hit the spot as well, it's a perfect slice of hard driving stoner rock with a great riff.  The whole damn EP is great.  Download it for FREE on Bandcamp here.  Highlights include "God's Scythe" and "Bitchcraft".  Rating 4.5/5

41. STEAK (Disastronaught) - I talk about Steak a lot on this blog and for good reason: they're really freaking good.  I geeked out the first time I heard "The Butcher".  It was the perfect thing to throw on during scorching hot afternoons while looking for trouble.  It turns out there's no fooling around with this band however, this is thinking man's music with a storyline that runs throughout the five song EP chronicling the rise and fall of evil space emperor Lazarus.  Can't wait to hear their next effort this upcoming April.  Get Disastronaught here.  Highlights include "The Butcher" and "Machine".  Rating 4.5/5

42. ALTAR OF OBLIVION (Grand Gesture of Defiance) - Danish five piece epic doomers Altar of Oblivion scored a pair of number one songs on the Doom Charts by crafting incredibly catchy hooks sung epicly and memorably by vocalist Mik “Meister der Töne” Mentor.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Where Darkness Is Light" and "The Graveyard Of Broken Dreams".  Rating 4/5

43. LORD FOWL (Moon Queen) - Another in a long line of great Small Stone releases this year.  This New England band's clean 70s rock sound is not the kind of thing I would have imagined I'd be into when the year started, but Moon Queen is stuffed with insanely catchy hooks. This is their second album and first on Small Stone.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Woman King" and "Streets of Evermore".  Rating 4/5

44. YAMA (Seaquake EP) - This dutch stoner band crafted one of the best songs of the year in "Seaquake", a song which revealed a whole range of influences from Led Zeppelin to Ennio Morricone, with a great western feel.  Excellent use of harmonica on this one.  The other two songs on this 3-track EP are no slouches either.  Even the cover art makes a great first impression.  It's not going out on a limb to predict big things in the future for this band.  Get in on the ground floor and download their debut EP for free here or take home the CD version for a mere five euros.  Highlights include "Seaquake" and "Hollow".  Rating 4.5/5

45. THE MIDNIGHT GHOST TRAIN (Buffalo) - Another one I bought on trust and the band came through.  The Kansas three-piece's second full length satisfies in ways I can't even describe.  Songs like "Henry", "Foxhole" and "Southern Belle" are just ... perfect.  I don't even have the words to describe.  Perfect stoner rock.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Southern Belle" and "Henry".  Rating 4/5

46. BEHOLD! THE MONOLITH (Defender, Redeemist) - Excellent, excellent proggy doom with thrash elements Behold! The Monolith's sophomore effort holds not a single bad moment.  They site High on Fire and Mastodon as influences but that really doesn't tell the tale as this band sounds to have transcended their roots and have crafted something highly individualistic.  It's a sci-fi fantasy soundtrack that creates its own visuals.  It's Lord of the Rings in space, it's Star Trek in Mordor.  It's progressive, thrashy doom with neck breaking song structures and killer riffs.  This music is timeless and will be something I come back to for years to come.  And the cover art is excellent.  Get it here. Highlights include "Halv King" and "Desolizator".  Rating 5/5

47. BLUE ASIDE (The Moles of a Dying Race) - Boston proggers Blue Aside released maybe my favorite prog album of 2012.  It's an album that I like more and more with each subsequent listen.  Cold landscapes and an ever-present feeling of paranoia pervade this album.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "The Ice Mammoth" and "The Moles of a Dying Race, Part I".  Rating 4.5/5

48. BEASTWARS (ST) - Wellington New Zealand stoner / doom / sludge band Beastwars made a huge impression in their home country when this album was originally released in 2011, winning best metal album in their country's music awards.   They ended up impressing the entire world of metal after releasing the album on a larger scale this year.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Red God" and "Empire".  Rating 4/5

49. SET (Sacred Moon Cult) - This is one of my absolute favorite releases of the year.  I just have the biggest sweet spot for this demo.  The confident, if not amazingly skilled, vocals have a ton of charm to them and makes me love this band.  "Sacred Moon Cult" is again, among the absolute, desert island best songs of the year.  It feels like I'm saying that a lot, but I mean it every time and especially with this track.  Like Yama and Balam from earlier in the month, there's an Ennio Morricone influence and some great western sounding riffs to go along with the excellent doom spun on this record.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Sacred Moon Cult" and "The Eagle".  Rating 5/5

50. HEAT (Old Sparky) - This five-piece German super group have one of the most authentically 70s sounds out there.  One could easily play "Warhead" and convince a gullible friend that is, in fact, one of the best songs from the 70s.  Which it kind of is.  Read my original review of this album.  Get the album here.  Also, check this out, pretty cool, no?  Highlights include "Warhead" and "Old Sparky".  Rating 5/5

51. THE BAD LIGHT (Marrow of Sound) - This Californian based band has one of the most unique takes on stoner rock, blending unusual performance styles that sound almost jazz-like, southern fried and lazy, yet the music still comes out distinctly stoner rock.  Sun soaked is a term that comes to mind when thinking about this band.  Their playing styles are often unpredictable and they will push the tension of a build up in a song to the absolute breaking point ... then casually run through the main parts.  The overall effect is something to behold.  This EP really made its hay for me on summer mornings after work.  I can't explain it, but it was the perfect soundtrack for those moments.  You can find the 6 song EP here on bandcamp.  Highlights include "Hypathia" and "Hours Burn".  Rating 4.5/5

52. NECRONOMICON (The Queen of Death) - Brazilian power trio Necronomicon's second release is a sacrificial ceremony on wax.  Combining the best elements of doom, Bay Area psychedelic rock from the mid 60s and occult themes their music is a red and black structure with green compartments.  Big riffs and sugary melodies draw the listener in for the schitzophrenic twists and turns the music takes.  Read my review.  Get it for the jaw droppingly low price of FREE on bandcamp.  Highlights include "The Queen of Death" and "The Assassin's Song".  Rating 5/5

53. MANGOO (Neverland) - Finnish quintet Mangoo are a psychedelic stoner band who like to experiment with form and texture.  Heavy fuzz with just the right tone, a concentration on a complete album rather than a collection of songs and a tasteful and often striking use of synth.  'Neverland' was a bit of a grower for me, but once you dig it, you dig it hard.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Lose Yourself" and "Neverland".  Rating 4/5

54. DEMONIC DEATH JUDGE (Skygods) - Very much in the Dopethrone mold of just tossing off the grooviest riffs you'll ever hear as casually and as naturally as breathing, but throw in a Pink Floyd sensibility and you've gone from the head numbing to the mind expanding.  Very addictive stuff.  Read my review.  Download it here.  Highlights include "Skygods" and "Salomontaari".  Rating 4/5

55. SAINT VITUS (Lillie F-65) - The masters had returned and without missing a beat unleashed vintage Vitus to vitrify the villainous volumes of Vitus lovers worldwide.  New drummer Henry Vasquez infused the band with drive and renewed energy.  It's a concept album of sorts about drug addiction and the two instrumentals are organic to the plot.  They also serve to spotlight Dave Chandler's very distinctive playing style in a way fans had not heard before.  Wino was also reborn and repurposed, regaining the slow-rising angry sneer fans know and love.  A very satisfying return to glory.  Get it here. Highlights include "Blessed Night" and "Let Them Fall".  Rating 4.5/5

56. SNAIL (Terminus) - Highly melodic, hypnotizing and harmonized, Snail's third full-length and second since reforming in 2008 was one of the best in the stoner rock genre.  It was also one of the most addictive albums of the year, something I went back to constantly.  Download it on the cheap on bandcamp  Highlights include "Ritual" and "Galaxies' Lament".  Rating 4/5

57. BISON, BISON (ST) - This was one of the first reviews I did and the band were very supportive.  Great guys.  Their 6 song EP challenged me and re-taught me the value of embracing the unexpected.  Terrific 3-piece stoner rock from Portland with traces of indie rock and many other styles on display.  Hunt them here.  Highlight include "Sweetish" and "Rivertown".  Rating 4/5

58. PALLBEARER (Sorrow & Extinction) - After an impressive demo in 2010 had the critics raving, this Arkansas based epic doom band did not disappoint with their full-length debut.  Combining accomplished musicianship and skill with a depth of complex yet logical ideas, there's not much to dislike here, though I admit it took me a couple plays before any particular track or riff or melody jumped out and grabbed me.  But when they did, they bit in for keeps.  You can grab Sorrow & Extinction on the Profound Lore records website here.  Highlights include "Devoid of Redemption" and "Given To The Grave".  Rating 4.5/5

59. KADAVAR (ST) - Berlin, Germany's retro rockin' power trio Kadavar made a huge splash with their self titled debut album, The Obelisk website hailing the album as debut of the year.  They are the spiritual brothers of fellow Berliners Heat and play a proggy style of hard rock with many tempo changes and odd timing.  Find it here.  Highlights include "All Our Thoughts" and "Forgotten Past".  Rating 4.5/5

60. DSW (Dust Storm Warning) - First off, check out my review of DSW's 'Dust Storm Warning' here if you haven't already.  This was one of my favorites of the year.  Another one I can't stop talking about.  This was one of the purest and most sophisticated desert rock albums to come out in 2012.  Grab it here.  Highlights include "Outrun" and "Space Cubeship".  Rating 4/5

61. PARADISE LOST (Tragic Idol) - This one took a while to grow on me so consequently I came late to the party on this one, once again.  Once I got into it though, I couldn't stop listening to it.  The band's sound has changed a lot since the days of 'Gothic', but the feeling or mood of the band is more tangible than ever.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Honesty In Death" and "Crucify".  Rating 4/5

62. PET THE PREACHER (The Banjo) - Copenhagen, Denmark three-piece Pet The Preacher released a top notch bluesy hard stoner rock concept album about a man's journey to hell and his way back.  The grooves were thick, heavy and funky and this was probably one of the best surprises of the year.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Hell" and "Cancer You Fucking Bitch".  Rating 4/5.

63. TOMBSTONES (Year of the Burial) - I don't know why I did, but I took a flyer on this one and bought it without hearing it first.  It was a gamble that payed off.  Perfect fuzzy stoner doom riffs as heavy as the band's namesake dropping on your head.  Get your copy here, if you like colossal doom riffs you won't be sorry.  Highlights include "Sabbathian" and "Unveiling".  Rating 4.5/5

64. THE MACHINE (Calmer Than You Are) - This German three piece put together a great collection of fuzzy funkin' grooves.  Drummer Davy Boogaard deserves special attention here as he really makes this thing come together, absolutely drenching the album in hi-hat and cymbals, giving the band its very distinctive, punchy sound.  Grab the album at the band's official website.  Highlights include "5&4" and "Sphere (... or Kneiter)".  Rating 4/5

65. MAGE (Black Sands) - Leicester, England quintet Mage play a burly style of mossy stoner doom.  This is their first full length album, full of big riffs and some very memorable songs.  Aside from those listed below "Danse Macabre", "Degenerate" and "Witch of the Black Desert" are standout tracks.  Good mix of stoner and doom by way of the desert.  Read my review.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Cosmic Cruiser X" and "Drowning Doom".  Rating 4/5

66. GOAT BONG (Goat Worship & Sodomy) - The work of a single madman, "Dirty" Mike Alcala, GW&S is a heavily synthesized instrumental doom riot.  "Sex, Drugs and Satan" is the motto on Goat Bong's bandcamp page and that certainly plays out on the 6-song EP, with plenty of humor, samples and riffs.  Highlights include "The Lost Art of Bong Rips" and "Cannabis Sativa Luciferi".  Rating 3.5/5

67. DALA SUN (Gegenschein) - This Greek four-piece stoner band take their music and their DIY ethic quite seriously, refusing to play in clubs with a cover charge or selling their albums on big retailer sites, etc.  That laser beam like focus of vision really shows through in the music as well.  Very catchy.  Download it for free here!  Highlights include "Gegenschein" and "Sludge Machine".  Rating 4/5

68. MOLIOR SUPERUM (Into the Sun) - Sweden is the home to a disproportionate number of excellent bands and this quartet of heavy psych rockers are among the top of that list  'Into the Sun' is a very accomplished and high energy debut.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Decibel Grand" and "Towards the Haze".  Rating 4/5

69. SEAMOUNT (IV: Earthmother) - German 'dark rock' trio with the great Phil Swanson on vocals, Seamount's fourth album is an emotional journey with an open wound honesty in both lyrics and musical accompaniment, and this album spans the spectrum of emotions. Read my review.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Everything Divine" and "Aphrodite's Child".  Rating 4/5

70. MEXICOMA (Supervoid) - Swedish six-piece stoner rockers Mexicoma brought their triple guitar attack out of hiding and returned with their second release.  This 4 song EP unleashed one of the catchiest songs of the year in "Mortified".  No joke, that song gets caught in my head at least once a week.  Get it here, if you dare.  Highlight include "Mortified" and "Room 101".  Rating 4/5

71. THE HEAVY EYES (Maera) - After releasing one of the best albums of 2011, what do Memphis blues heavyweights The Heavy Eyes do for an encore?  They've thickened up their sound, the riffs are bigger, the grooves are filthier, the songs are tighter, the hooks are more memorable.  Simply put, The Heavy Eyes have unleashed a monster of an album, one of the year's best.  "These Men Are Wolves", "Parado", "Lately" and No. 1 hit "Levantado" are just a sampling of the abundance of standout material.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Lately" and "Levantado".  , Rating 5/5

72. CORROSION OF CONFORMITY (Megalodon EP) - The core trio of CoC made it two terrific releases in a single year with this FREE download and CD (only available at the live show at the moment, vinyl coming soon).  Five songs building off of the new foundations the band laid with their self-titled album in February and expanding on them to get back to a bigger southern rock sound.  The punkier side of the band still comes out but takes more of a backseat on this EP to the monster riffs.  See my review (Corrosion of Conformity did!). Highlights include "Feed On" and "Megalodon".  Rating 4.5/5

73. LORD OF THE GRAVE (Green Vapour) - I'll never forget the one line from Doomentor at the Sludgelord blog: "If Lord of The Grave’s sound had a physical presence it would have the texture of a dug up decomposing dead warrior Orc".  That pretty much sums it up better than I could, but here's my review anyway.  Get 'Green Vapour'. Highlights include "Horsepuncher" and "Raping Zombies".  Rating 4/5

74. NATUR (Head of Death) - This New York 4-piece released what is probably my favorite of the New Wave of BNWofHM albums of 2012.  It's just good metal, doesn't matter what you call it.  Catchy, heavy, something to throw the horns up and wail along to.  Full of long-haired, leather jacketed charm.  Get it here. Highlights include "Decion" and "Vermin Rift".  Rating 4.5/5

75. BEDEMON (Symphony of Shadows) - This was another of my most highly anticipated albums of the year.  Old school doom from a real old school doom metaller.  Before there was Saint Vitus, before there was Witchfinder General, there was Bedemon.  This album happens to be really good, too.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Saviour" and "Lord of Desolaton".  Rating 4/5

76. CONAN (Monnos) - This was easily, without a doubt, my most highly anticipated album of 2012 and to top it off I had to wait til September to hear it because I was saving it for when the store got it in.  I wish I'd gotten it sooner but it was worth the wait.  Conan is the heaviest thing on six legs.  They crush with monster riffs, and they've got hooks too.  Get their debut full-length here.  Highlights include "Hawk As Weapon" and "Grim Tormentor".  Rating 4/5

77. MAMMOTH THUNDERPOWER (I Am Thunder EP) - Costa Mesa, California quintet Mammoth Thunderpower's five song debut EP is absolutely loaded with punk attitude and thrash metal swagger.  Their high energy live shows carry over into the performance on record.  Read my review.  Name your price on bandcamp.   Highlights include "I Am Thunder" and "Death Of The Wizard".  Rating 4/5.

78. BISON B.C. (Lovelessness) - Vancouver, BC sludge / hardcore quartet Bison BC released their third and most mature album to date.  Well, mature might not be the word, but it's certainly a more expansive take on the band's sound with many improvised jams and explorations.  Read my impulsive review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Anxiety Puke / Lovelessness" and "An Old Friend".  Rating 4/5

79. (16) (Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds) - The Californian sludge veterans (16) re-emerged with their sixth full-length album in 20 years, and if the band themselves are to be trusted, it's their most accomplished album to date.  Possibly the favorite sludge album of the year at Paranoid Hitsophrenic, it's full of energy and memorable songs.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Her Little "Accident"" and "Theme From 'Pillpopper'".  Rating 4/5

80. ICE DRAGON (Tome of the Future Ancients) - I recently reviewed this one and I had a lot to say about it.  I was particularly proud of that review, you can read it here.  Basically, Ice Dragon's first release (of many) in 2012 saw them in their heaviest incarnation yet.  Just dripping black bloody slow doom with heavy psychedelic atmosphere.  Pay what you want for download here!  Highlights include "The Black Book of Hours" and "NATIAIWS".  Rating 4.5/5

81. VON THUNDERSVOLT (Demo) - Wellington, New Zealand quartet Von Thundersvolt released a three song demo that was among the funkiest and grooviest space rock releases of the year.  With two of the  three tracks charting highly in the Doom Charts it's no wonder this one makes the list.  Grab it here for free.  Highlights include "Rising Fire" and "TFBUNDY".  Rating 4.5/5

82. ZOSIMOS (ST) - Austin, Texas based power trio Zosimos made their debut release, a four song collection of stoner / doom riffage and improvisation.  Later, they added a fifth track to the release and it was one of their best yet, heralding a bright future to come.  Get it here and name your price.  Highlights include "Passage" and "Dry Hex".  Rating 4/5

83. STICKY DIGIT (ST) - Irish stoner / grunge rockers Sticky Digit's debut full length is a terrific blend of Seattle and Desert rock.  There's much more to it than that, but their blending of various 90s era influences creates a wholly modern and unique sound.  Their use of minor chord harmonies is especially effective.  Read my review.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Crazy" and "Bad Things".  Rating 4/5

84. SWEET LOVE (Motor) - This New England based band plays more straight up rock than stoner but has perhaps the thickest fuzziest guitar sound you will ever hear.  The vocals are akin to Velvet Underground era Lou Reed and it took me a hot minute to get used to them, but regardless, the tone here is absolutely addictive in the same way that the box is in Hellraiser.  Get yours here.  Highlights include "Black Hole" and "The Circle".  Rating 4/5

85. BLOODY HAMMERS (ST) - With a number one placing on Captain Beyond's Top 40 of 2012, as well as many other high rankings, Charlotte, North Carolina's Bloody Hammers are currently one of the biggest buzz bands around the world of doom.  Originally the vision of a single man, Anders, there is now a full line-up for live shows and future releases.  Get it here.  Highlights include "The Last Legion of Sorrow" and "Witch of Endor".  Rating 3.5/5

86. DEAD SOUTHERN BISHOP (Hymns of Malice & Discontent) - With their second EP, Dead Southern Bishop offered up some of the hardest heaviest grooves since Pantera or 90s era Fear Factory while still managing to be distinctly doom.  It's just wave after crushing wave of relentless doom grooves.  Unearthly vocals and one of the heaviest guitar sounds around, period.  This is the sound of hot nights with hell just below your feet, claustrophobia inducing doom.  They've been playing a lot of shows this year, opening for bigger acts, this is the kind of band that deserves more exposure.  Free dl here. Highlights include "Malice" and "White Trash Queen".  Rating 4/5

87. PITCH BLACK FORECAST (Burning in Water Drowning in Flame) - Cleveland, Ohio's very own groove metal five piece Pitch Black Forecast got a little help from Devin Townsend on their first release in four years.  This five song EP is loaded with killer grooves.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Open Letter To God" and "Season in Hell".  Rating 4.5/5

88. UFOMAMMUT (ORO: Opus Primum) - A single song consisting of 10 tracks, two albums and 90 minutes may sound pretentious and self-indulgent on the surface, but it doesn't come across that way.  The Italian psychlords have always been known for being able to create private little worlds, again they unleashed an album to lose oneself in.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Infearnatural" and "Empireum".  Rating 4/5

89. MARA (Demo) - This Swedish four piece released one of the year's best demos.  They play Doom / Stoner / Sludge, in that order.  They can haul ass and play slow all at the same time (it has to do with vocals and crash symbol).  They could use a little love (or at least 'like') on Facebook.  Get the demo for free here.  Highlight include "Greed" and "Possessed".  Rating 4.5/5

90. ARKHAM WITCH (Legions of the Deep) - Old School metal quartet  with elements of doom from Keighley, England, featuring two thirds of Lamp of Thoth.  So much of this album is standout material, there's hooks and riffs galore and this album is littered with reference to the work of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft, etc.  Come upon it here.  Highlights include "The Cloven Sea" and "David Lund".  Rating 4/5

91. NIGHTOSAUR (Spaceaxers) - Minneapolis based power trio Nightosaur play a raw brand of 'fossil rock' with elements of punk, thrash and sludge.  Their sophomore effort is a high energy, eptempo outing and loud above all else.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Too Far South For Mutiny" and "There May Be Dragons".  Rating 4/5

92. BABY WOODROSE (Third Eye Surgery) - Dutch psych peddlers Baby Woodrose have been around for a while but this was my introduction to the band.  I was struck immediately by the genuineness of their late 60s inspired psychedelic rock.  Mainman Lorenzo Woodrose sounds like a cross between Stevie Winwood and Arthur Lee.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Nothing Is Real" and "Just A Ride".  Rating 4/5

93. UNMOTHERED (ST) - Normally I stay clear of black metal but the Austin Texas based 'innovators of haunt rock' hit the right spot.  What is 'haunt rock'?  Blackened atmospheric sludge metal?  You be the judge.  The band features Matt Moulis of the Hidden Hand on drums.  This album is well worth checking out.  Find it here.  Highlights include "Spectre" and "Gravitons".  Rating 4/5

94. GRIZZLY (Fear My Wrath) - I can confidently say that this stoner quintet's debut EP was the best thing I heard from Turkey all year.  Hard driving and aggressive for the most part, the band also shows a laidback side as well.  They do both equally well and with equal amounts of conviction.  Download it for free on bandcamp.  Highlights include "The Cultist" and "Dagon".  Rating 4.5/5

95. BALAM (ST) - Rhode Island based newcomers Balam (Bay-lum) went big with their three song demo.  Each song averages about 10 minutes without seeming long for the most part.  Opening track "Soul Scour" is one of the major highlights of the year, great riff, good lyrics, and a great western feel yet again.  Actually "The Followed" is the shortest track at 8 and a half minutes but seems the longest because of a build up that spans half the length of the song, once the build up is over and the song gets going, it's well worth the wait.  Heavy ass groove doom.  Get it here.  Highlights include "Soul Scour" and "The Followed".  Rating 4.5/5

96. SLUT MACHINE (From Blind to Blue) - French stoner quintet Slut Machine returned with their third release, a 4 song EP, a basement recording, that was a solid effort all the way through, unleashing a whirlwind of fuzz and pounding rhythms.  Any band named after a Monster Magnet song can't be all bad can they?  Get From Blind To Blue here.  Highlights include "Collapse" and "Cosmic Monster".  Rating 4/5

97. SPINE CHILLING BREEZE (Milky Way) - Another terrific Greek stoner rock band.  This album may have an inconsistent feel in places but it's loaded with individual songs that stick like peanut butter on the brain.  Fuzzy, melodic and catchy as hell.  Download it for free from the band's official page.  Highlights include "Murder" and "Something From Nothing".  Rating 4/5

98. THE SHOOTERS (Planet of the Black Sun) - If you like good, uptempo hard rock you should do yourself a favor and check out this excellent album, after all, you can pay whatever you want, even $0, it's up to you.  Every song is great, there's no filler and no fooling around, it's just great straight up fuzzy hard rock. Highlights include "Desert Sun" and "Against the Storm".  Rating 4.5/5

99. OCCULT WISDOM (ST) - Los Angeles, California heavy psychedelic power trio Occult Wisdom released their three song demo and all three tracks were great.  Touching on stoner / space rock and always heavy with loads of bluesy grooves.  They are looking at releasing this bad boy vinyl very soon.  For now you can download it here.  Highlights include "Look At The Sun" and "The Snob".  Rating 4.5/5

100. DOPETHRONE (III) - It is something to behold listening to this Montreal based three piece run through riff after riff of the grooviest, doomiest shit you will ever smoke ... er, hear.  The death metal vocals may be a turn off for some, but the riffs will bring one and all back, every time.  This band is something special.  Get it here.  Highlight include "Hooked" and "Devil's Dandruff".  Rating 4/5


  1. Bravo man, just found your blog, after following you on the new bandcamp thingamajigger. You may represent the closest resemblance to my music taste as there is out there in blogland. Great, great list and I like how you did a top 100 based on plays. That really is the best way to represent your favorites. I will be following you from here on out in one way or another. Not in a creepy way. haha. Many on here I am currently scoping out as I type this.

  2. Right on! Good to have you aboard. I post all my updates on facebook too, so drop me a line if you're interested. https://www.facebook.com/lucas.klaukien


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