The hottest doomsday year since Nostradamus was, in my opinion, also the best year for music this decade. Our last solar transit of Venus until 2117, the discovery of the Higgs boson, the birth of Tardar Sauce (aka Grumpy Cat).
Aesop Rock – Skelethon
This might have been the other half of why I wanted to write this list. Aesop Rock flows like molten lead between shattered samples of plaintive punk riffs, huge fuzzy drum hits, and the grimiest synths and binds them into a stained-glass window of a cartoon vivisection; stunning in its composition, morbid and hilarious in its content.
Burning Love – Rotten Thing To Say
I’ve written about this album before, and it all holds true. This is what it feels like to leverage all of your muscles against the people who are bodily preventing you from tearing it all to shreds and then setting it on fire. It’s a junkyard dog of an album. It will make you bare your bloody teeth and cackle.
Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity
It was impossible to pick a single Cattle Decapitation album from this decade to focus on, but Monolith was a turning point not just for our vegan deathgrind antiheroes, but for metal in general. This is when everybody sat up in alarm and went “holy $#!&”. I hate to single it out over the other tracks, because literally every minute of this album rips, but it’s hard to be sad about being trans when you can listen to “Forced Gender Reassignment”.
Deathspell Omega – Drought
Drought was my entry point into Deathspell Omega, and it’s still my favorite piece of theirs. Horrifying and discordant, it sends you into a nauseous scramble for something to anchor yourself to—and it’s wicked catchy. There’s a compositional quality to this EP that entrances and captivates, that has you slackjawed with awe as it slowly digests you.
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
I gotta be honest, I somehow didn’t get into Deftones in their heyday, so I can’t compare it to a lot of their older stuff. But you can’t argue with a guitar tone this thick, nor can you argue with Chino Moreno in his element.
Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Piñata
After two strong albums in the previous decade, Diablo Swing Orchestra unveiled what I consider their uncontested masterpiece in 2012. Every track on this thing could have just been another shindig in the Seventh Circle, but DSO let their drive to experiment take them in some seriously cool directions, while their songwriting chops keep the Piñata from swinging aimlessly from style to style.
Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
I might feel too strongly about Gojira to speak about them with any degree of critical remove. More so than any other musical entity, Gojira’s music has been an instructive, illuminating force in my life. Their work has guided me, and I owe them a lot. This album rules. Listen to it.
Torche – Harmonicraft
Harmonicraft was my 2012 summer jam, partially because I hadn’t learned to stop worrying and love Carly Rae Jepsen, but also because the weight of this guitar tone is like the pressure your bed puts on you as you flop onto it after a full shift at whatever grueling summer job you’ve scraped up for yourself. Some of these songs are you sinking into that bed, peeling off a sweaty layer of clothing and just resting your tired muscles for a bit; some of them are you springing off of that bed, picking up your mattress, and sprinting down a hill with it because there’s a party and you gotta go set it on fire while you make out with someone. Weird metaphor, but you’ll get it.