Best of the Best – A Tally of the Year’s Best Albums

By Adam Wills

As I was putting together my list of “Best Albums of 2012,” I was curious about the other lists that various metal publications put together and how both my own and Hellbound’s lists compared to them.  Further, I was curious as to what would happen if all of the lists were tallied to create some sort of super-list… so, I set out to do just that.

I’m not sure exactly what this list means – is this list any better than any of the individual lists? Probably not. Every list that comes out has their own personality, has albums that may be less obvious. But perhaps what this list does show is what the collective metal media thought was the “can’t miss” albums this year.

As far as which publications to go with, I stuck to a few basic criteria – include well-known metal publications (both print and online); use lists that have order to them (e.g., NPR’s list puts their albums in alphabetical order, which doesn’t work in this format as I give a score to the albums based on rankings); only use one list per publication (e.g., didn’t do a merged list – only lists for each writer).  This gave me 13 different lists – sure, I could expand this to include tons more, but perhaps we’ll save that for next year.

Scoring was simple – ten points for a number-one ranked album, nine for number-two… so on and so on until one point for the tenth ranked album.

So, without further ado, here’s your top 10 albums of 2012…

10. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith of Inhumanity

Cattle Decapitation - Monolith of Inhumanity cover artTotal points: 21
Number of list appearances: 4
Average ranking when included: 5.25
Number of #1 rankings: 0

Hellbound’s take:

Monolith of Inhumanity is the most notable of Cattle Decapitation’s releases so far, and its more progressive passages suggest possible future additions to the band’s traditional approach to things. They’re additions that I would be happy to see the band build on as they continue their climb up to broader recognizability and an increasingly unique ensemble sound.” Read more…

9. High On Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis (E1 Music)

High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis cover artTotal points: 25
Number of list appearances: 5
Average ranking when included: 5
Number of #1 rankings: 0

Hellbound’s take:

“HOF’s mid-paced blackened thrash attack is still intact on tunes like lead off single “Serums of Liao” and the pummeling “Fertile Green” while “Madness of an Architect” and its Sleepy sludge meets death-doom shows they can still play slow when it suits them. Instrumental “Samsara” even has some sorta desert rock vibe.” Read more…

7 (tie). Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage (Roadrunner)

Gojira - L'enfant Sauvage cover artTotal points: 27
Number of list appearances: 4
Average ranking when chosen: 6.75
Number of #1 rankings: 1

Hellbound’s take:

“If I had to sum up L’enfant Sauvage in a single word it would “solid”. The songwriting is top notch, the typical Gojira-groove is still very much intact and despite the occasional experimental moments it’s pretty much business as usual. This together with a lack of some really stand-out tracks make L’enfant Sauvage a solid, but a tad predictable…” Read more…

7 (tie). Neurosis – Honor Found In Decay (Neurot)

Neurosis - Honor Found In Decay cover art

Total points: 27
Number of list appearances: 5
Average ranking when chosen: 5.4
Number of #1 rankings: 0

Hellbound’s take:

” The band remains experts at playing off the soft/loud dynamic, delivering some mellow guitar/keyboard passages that lure you into a false sense of ease and security, before they strike with an attack that seems 10-times heavier afterwards. Yup, they still do that here, the wailing keys adding another dimension to their sludgy stomp.” Read more…

6. Devin Townsend – Epicloud (Inside Out)

Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud cover art
Total points: 28
Number of list appearances: 5
Average ranking when chosen: 5.6
Number of #1 rankings: 0

Hellbound’s take:

“But Epicloud, at heart, might be Townsend’s interpretation (and appropriation) of quintessential pop and rock. What that means, basically, is that Epicloud is a collection of upbeat happy music fueled by Townsend’s own kind of heavy simplicity, with 13 ridiculously irresistible tracks as the result.” Read more…

Epicloud was the #3 Canadian album of the year, and the #9 album of the year on

5. Dawnbringer – Into The Lair Of The Sun God (Profound Lore)

Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun GodTotal points: 33
Number of list appearances: 4
Average ranking when chosen: 8.25
Number of #1 rankings: 1

Hellbound’s take:

“Chris Black has crafted a gargantuan, unabashed ode to classic heavy metal in Into The Lair Of The Sun God, without the slightest hint of irony, or need to pose like a lot of the revivalists do. This is absolute vintage in its purest form. Highly, highly recommended.” Read more…

4. Pig Destroyer – Book Burner

Pig Destroyer - Book Burner cover artTotal points: 56
Number of list appearances: 9
Average ranking when chosen: 7.1
Number of #1 rankings: 2

Hellbound’s take:

“Featuring dazzlingly manic percussion, broadsides of shredding technicality, compellingly skewed lyrics, and warping electronics, Book Burner was a bio/electro-kinetic slaughterhouse of power-violence, grind, and bleeding raw thrash and death metal.” Read more…

Book Burner was the #8 album of the year on

3. Baroness – Yellow & Green

Baroness - Yellow and Green cover art

Total points: 57
Number of list appearances: 8
Average ranking when chosen: 7.12
Number of #1 rankings: 1

Hellbound’s take:

Yellow & Green by Baroness is arguably one of the richest and most diverse albums you are going to hear this year. It is certainly the most ambitious musical undertaking by Baizley and Co yet, but they manage to pull it off without a hitch. Production-wise it is a little too retro for my taste, but otherwise this is a fantastic musical adventure.” Read more…

2. Pallbearer – Sorrow And Extinction (Profound Lore)

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction cover artTotal points: 60
Number of list appearances: 7
Average ranking when chosen: 8.6
Number of #1 rankings: 4

Hellbound’s take:

“Their vision for heart-wrenching doom appears fully realized. Clean vocals connect with the soul as monstrous tone and monolithic riffs drag out your inner emotions with every measure. This is just the beginning.” Read more…

Sorrow and Extinction was the #1 album of the year on

1. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind

Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind cover artTotal points: 72
Number of list appearances: 10
Average ranking when chosen: 7.2
Number of #1 rankings: 3

Hellbound’s take:

Sorry guys – we didn’t cover this one!


Adam has been a photographer for Hellbound since day 1 and also has a hand in the technical aspects of running the site.