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 metal 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. Flyleaf – New Horizons
What can be said about Flyleaf that hasn’t already been said? This is a group that has delved in metal, rock, acoustic… And their lyrics are just as unabashedly versatile as the music itself, dealing with everything from abuse, to addiction, to recovery and martyrdom. New Horizons is no different, but its message is certainly one of hope, particularly the title track. This is just a flat out, straight forward, beautiful work of art. Pick it up and expose yourself to something proggy, powerful and heartfelt.
4. 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.
3. Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
Here it is. The big one. Van Halen is back! 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 as frontman again. This is classic VH all over again, with the phenomenal guitar work, infectious melodies and feel-good songwriting we’ve all come to expect from this classic band. 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.
2. Rush – Clockwork Angles
The much anticipated return of Rush, and on a new label to boot. Roadrunner seems to be treating our favorite prog three-piece well, and the music is just as amazing as ever. Is it just me, or is Geddy Lee’s voice like a fine wine? It seriously keeps getting better with age. Okay, so maybe the entire group is like that. But what a work of art! It’s good to hear the boys putting their backs into it once again to create another masterpiece.
1. Flying Colors – Flying Colors
Wow. That’s the only word my overwhelmed mind can think of to surmise this album. It’s simply the best record I’ve heard in a long time, and easily the best premier from any group in the recent past. This super group is composed of prog legends Steve Morse, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, and Dave LaRue, and is fronted by newcomer Casey McPherson. For those of us praying for something to save the world from the likes of today’s top forty charts, this is the miracle we’ve been waiting for. Seriously, this is just so good I don’t have the words to compliment it. It may be unsung for the time being, but give it a decade. This will be one of the most influential albums of the 21st Century, hands down.