Perhaps more so than the last handful of years in metal music, 2012 has been pretty crazy, especially when considering the density of phenomenal albums released so far. In typical music fashion, there have been blockbusters, surprises, let downs, newcomers, and game-changers. Thankfully, most of the surprises (for me anyway) have been good ones. Many of the albums and bands covered below have already been featured in Metal Monday this year”if you’re following along, then you’ll be familiar with most of these acts already.
Both Cannibal Corpse and Dying Fetus released strong albums that largely feature more of the same from the two bands. Fear Factory‘s follow-up to Mechanize further cements their comeback, of sorts, and shows that they’re still the same old Fear Factory. Shadows Fall dropped an album that doesn’t particularly change their mold either, but is good none-the less. The real surprise from a more high-profile act was High On Fire, whose De Vermis Mysteriis was a huge step up from their last album, Snakes For The Divine. Job For A Cowboy‘s Demonocracy also featured more of the same, but a bit better this time around (not surprising, given the quality of the Gloom EP from a few months prior).
You know those bands that aren’t really metal but are always lumped into the metal genre? You know, groups like Primus, Tool, AC/DC, Kiss, etc. Well, I think we can add another band to this list: Alcest. In the band’s early days, they were quite clearly a metal band (their first release was a pure black metal demo). Since then, they’ve progressed away from the genre, now playing almost exclusively shoegaze music. Their latest effort, Les Voyages de l’í‚me (translates to The Journeys of the Soul in English), was released between January 6th and January 31st worldwide (staggering release dates).
Throughout the life of the Metal Monday column, I’ve written posts about what countries produce the best metal. No real surprise that the focus of these posts fell on Norway, Sweden, The UK and the US“after all, they’re the countries with some of the most prominent metal subcultures and scenes. One country that isn’t getting its due diligence, however, is France. Yes, that France. In the last ten years, France has made huge strides in producing powerhouse metal bands on a consistent basis.
Prior to the twenty-first century, France wasn’t exactly known for it’s metal acts, especially on an international level, but the ones they had were pretty fantastic”the monstrous avant-garde black metal band Blut Aus Nord and the consistently great heavy/power metal band Nightmare come to mind. Beyond that? Well, there wasn’t much else. Fortunately for everyone, that’s changing.