2012 was quite a year for entertainment. The Avengers, the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the Hobbit, and a new Tarantino film all graced the silver screen, amongst other notables. And of course 2012 saw the return of many musicians that have been absent from the scene for two or more years at a time. And so what better reason to throw a bunch of them together on a list? There will be a few crossovers from my rock list to this one, and vice versa, as some of the lines have been bent in recent years as to how we define music. So without further ado…
5. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
Classic Nightwish? Not exactly. This is the sound of Nightwish reborn, and a lovely addition to the new chapter in their lives. The band’s change of direction starting with Dark Passion Play has irked some fans and excited others, but without a doubt, this is a work of musical mastery worthy of a spot on this list. In addition to the album, the band had quite the undertaking in writing, directing and shooting a full blown film based on the album’s concept. I’ve yet to see it, but if it’s anything like this record, I’m excited.
4. Kamelot – Silverthorn
Symphonic metal fans rejoice! After two years of turbulence, Kamelot came back swinging with a new vocalist and concept album set in the guts of the English Industrial Revolution. Graced with cameos, laced with darkness and poisoned with lead, this album weaves a beautiful story of death, regret, psychological torture and redemption. I highly recommend the collector’s box set which includes a 120 page book based on the album.
3. Adrenaline Mob – Omertà
Super group Adrenaline Mob came together late last year, the brainchild of guitarist Mike Orlando. Rumor has it that the group had blood transfusions of mercury done before the recording of the album, because they just needed that much heavy metal. Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) joins on the skins and Russell Allen (Symphony X) gives our aural cavities a real treat with his searing, savage vocals. Anyone who calls himself a metal fan would be remiss to miss out on this record. And guess what. There are plans for a second album. Sweet.
2. Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension
Although I love all of C&C’s work, The Year of the Black Rainbow just didn’t quite do it for me like the Good Apollo set. But Ascension is a return to the work I know Claudio [Sanchez, vocalist, rhythm guitar and songwriter] is capable of. Not one note on this album is misplaced, and every idea is pure gold. Each song flows into the next seamlessly, creating the continuity Coheed and Cambria has become famous for. And with part two (The Afterman: Dissension) on its way out in February, I think it’s safe to say that we’re looking at another classic set from this band.
1. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
So maybe by today’s standards, Eddie and the gang aren’t what most people would call metal. But let’s go back to the seventies and analyze. Actually, let’s not. Just accept that Van Halen is heavy metal’s daddy and let it go. It’s been some time since we’ve heard from these gentlemen, especially with Diamond Dave behind the mic. And I gotta say, as much as I loved Sammy’s Van Halen, it’s great to have David Lee Roth back. I won’t do any more commentary on this album. Just go buy it, crank it up, and whip your mullet back and forth to Eddie’s riffs.