The Year in Review: Music 

Reader writers tackle the past 12 months from six different directions

Page 4 of 6

Brick-tossing music Kevin Warwick

Sometimes life hands you lemons and then kicks you in the groin. Here, in no particular order, are the five best albums from 2012 that make me want to throw bricks through windows.


Pig Destroyer, Book Burner (Relapse) When I heard the blastbeat that punches through the sampled movie dialogue at the start of Book Burner's lead track—a classic Pig Destroyer maneuver—I instantaneously forgave the five trying years the Richmond grindcore masters made me wait for a new full-length. And every time J.R. Hayes's maniacal, red-eyed screams erupt from the mix—alongside Scott Hull's devastating guitar riffage—I imagine that somewhere an angel gets its wings.


Enabler, All Hail the Void (Southern Lord) With the PR tagline "The world is fucked and this is the soundtrack to its demise" and songs called things like "Fuck Today" and "Fucking Wartorn." Milwaukee's Enabler ain't sugarcoating nothin'. The relentless hybrid of hardcore punk and metal on their second full-length (and first for Southern Lord) sounds like a cinder block of nuclear-charged contempt, in the same bulging, hate-filled vein as contemporaries Trap Them and From Ashes Rise. Drummer Andy Hurley—who's unfortunately no longer with the band—plays with such ferocious energy and tightness that he's nearly half the show.


Swans, The Seer (Young God) This behemoth triple LP from legendarily primal postpunks Swans seethes with unnerving tension and a hovering sensation of impending doom—it's enough to keep you awake in the dark, sitting at high alert, with a loaded shotgun across your lap. Front man Michael Gira uses shamanic repetition—and his hypnotic baritone voice—to lure you into the black, roaring depths of the album, trapping you in subterranean mazes such as the 30-plus-minute title track.


Black Breath, Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord) On their sophomore full-length, D-beat disciples Black Breath display their undying devotion to the likes of Disfear and Entombed by cranking up the tuffness, heaviness, tightness, speediness, flaming lickness, devil-horn-worthiness, and, well, hatefulness. The gruff yowl of vocalist Neil McAdams and the unstoppable chugging guitars fight to outdo each other in fury—and the cutthroat ripper "Mother Abyss" would go perfectly with a high-speed, head-on semitruck collision (and subsequent fiery explosion).


Unsane, Wreck (Alternative Tentacles) Is it just me, or did the first studio album in five years from these NYC noise-rock forefathers go a little undernoticed? Cut from the same cloth as the rest of Unsane's catalog, Wreck delivers the band's usual battering-ram crunch, both with the guitars and with Chris Spencer's ravaged voice; they use distortion so expertly that their hugely grotty sound is still surgically precise. The third track, "No Chance," perfectly demonstrates Unsane's 20-year-old template: pummeling drums, trudging hardcore guitars, and enough vitriol to shatter bulletproof glass.


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