SoundShock’s Newcomers of the Year.
Top 10 Debut Albums of 2012
There’s no question about it; 2012 was amazing for music. Although our Top 20 list rightfully showed some of the greatest releases of the year, we still felt that it missed out on documenting something rather important. The number of spectacular newcomers has given us the solid faith that fresh talent is cropping up all over the world; whether it’s a band of many years finally getting the deserved push of a major deal to release their debut, or an exciting newbie with gallons of potential who’ve just arrived on the audio landscape. There’s been some cracking debut full-length albums in 2012, so we’ve compiled our top ten of the year.
1. Conan – ‘Monnos’ [Burning World]
Charged with the power of a thousand rhinos obliterating through the overgrowth of an ancient, primitive forest, Liverpool’s Conan have dealt a mighty blow to UK doom with the barbaric ‘Monnos’. For a minimalistic three-piece, Conan don a deep, masterful doom sound that outweighs their membership and any of their peers. ‘Monnos’ stands proud as Newcomer King, in this list of monumental debutants.
2. Kontinuum – ‘Earth Blood Magic’ [Candlelight]
It was close when it came to the final cut, but this Icelandic masterpiece really did deserve to be within inches of our number one slot. For a debut record, Kontinuum tried something hugely ambitious, vivaciously diverse and ended up pulling it off, breezing effortlessly across a Venn diagram of black metal, atmospheric rock and even classical textures.
3. Khonsu – ‘Anomalia’ [Season Of Mist]
Mr. S Grønbech – brother of Keep of Kalessin mastermind Arnt Obsidian Grønbech – formed Khonsu this year and made an extraordinary record in ‘Anomalia’. With groovy, machine-like precision behind the kit, edgy industrial riffage and mind-fuck atmospherics wrapped up in progressive metal ambition and rubbed off with blackened vibes, ‘Anomalia’ is an unstoppable beast.
4. Beautality – ‘Providence’ [Self-Released]
Introducing Beautality; a London-based, post-black act led by mastermind Dævid Ravengarde and backed by drummer Duke. The unsigned act weld huge choruses with slabs of groove and splice almost grungy hooks into a beautifully brewed cauldron of progressive yet accessibly melodic black metal. Undoubtedly one of the most underrated acts in this list, Beautality have forged a path of their own in the ‘post-black’ division with ‘Providence’.
5. 7 Horns 7 Eyes – ‘Throes Of Absolution’ [Basick]
Progressive metallers 7 Horns 7 Eyes take their name from a passage of Revelations in the Holy Bible. It all begins to make sense when hearing ‘Throes Of Absolution’ smash through your stereo system. It’s a debut of biblical proportions, built from clever, almost djenty time signatures, airy ambience and solos that abuse the fret-board tenfold, without being overly sickly.
6. Hail Spirit Noir – ‘Pneuma’ [Code666]
To say that ‘Greece hasn’t had the greatest year’ would be an understatement. Widespread anger at austerity measures provoked public demonstrations as the country teetered on the edge of complete financial collapse. Luckily, we’ve found a light in the dark with Greek psychedelic black metallers Hail Spirit Noir. Imagine if Don Van Vliet was still kicking around and suddenly decided to turn Captain Beefheart into a black metal band. The results are as exciting as that very prospect.
7. God Seed – ‘I Begin’ [Indie]
We feel that, in a way, it’s a bit of a loophole to include God Seed’s debut album, especially given the fact we’ve purposely avoided ‘supergroup’ debuts (such as Flying Colours) being in this list. God Seed might be the culmination of former Gorgoroth musicians Gaahl and King Ov Hell – following the hairy legal battle which resulted in the two setting up the band – but it’s a genuine stylistic departure from the pair’s former work. With an experimental, industrial side, big choruses and a new, lower, powerful vocal style from frontman Gaahl, God Seed are a freshly spawned entity with a different fire coursing through their veins.
8. Ne Obliviscaris – ‘Portal Of I’ [Code666]
Australia’s Ne Obliviscaris may have taken nine years to get to this point, but finally – after outing ‘The Aurora Veil’ demo in 2007 – the six-piece have released their debut full-length; and what a debut it is. ‘Portal Of I’ isn’t only the progressive extreme metal album to float the boat of any staunch advocate of early Opeth, it’s a one that stands on its own for its unique flourishes of beautiful violin contrasted against a mish-mash of blackened metal and progressive DM verses.
9. Old Corpse Road – ‘Tis Witching Hour… As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom’ [Godreah]
Old Corpse Road have announced their birth into UK heritage-inspired metal with this haunting debut album. Inspired by the mythical romanticism of British folklore and donning a sound not unlike the early blackened blasts of Cradle Of Filth – fused with their own trademark folky vibes and epic choirs – the five-piece offer us a magical debut with ‘…As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom’.
10. Agruss – ‘Morok’ [Code666]
Ukranian newcomers Agruss back their post-apocalyptic themes in the most effective way; by sporting a vicious, blackened death metal sound crushed together with depressive atmospherics. ‘Morok’ is a caustic and radioactive lo-fi menace brimming with raw terror and an endlessly nightmarish quality.
Words by Calum Robson.