Ah, 2012, how kind you have been to us music-lovers. The metal world is a delightful place and 2012 did not fail to provide us metalheads with new music. Let’s not drag this out though. Here are some hot picks from the last 365 days!
BEST NEW ALBUM
Well, frankly, I think we all know the answer to this. The long-awaited “Time I“ from WINTERSUN has finally been unveiled to the world and unlike “Chinese Democracy,” it was actually everything we dreamed it would be. With a mere five songs, the album doesn’t feel remotely short since their length makes up for number, and quality always wins out over quantity. I happily give this award to WINTERSUN for this masterpiece.
BEST NEW SONG
In keeping with the album of the year, it makes sense that such an incredible and perfect album would have an incredible and perfect song or two (or five) on it. While hard to pick, I’ll have to go with “Time,” simply for it’s beauty and passion. Brace yourselves. I think this album’s gonna show up a lot in here.
MOST EPIC SONG
Ah, one of my favorite categories. To achieve true epicness, there needs to be both a length and magnitude of scope. Yes, you guessed it, “Time” is back again in this category.
BEST SLOW SONG
While I’d like to give this to local power metal group, STATUS MINOR, for “Like a Dream” from the phenomenal concept album they released this year, “Ouroboros,” featuring none other than the incredible Anna Murphy from ELUVEITIE, I can’t do it. That, my friends, is because I have found Devin Townsend. “Epicloud” might be sweeping these awards if it wasn’t for the existence of “Time I,” and I’ve even had a hard time not giving some awards to Dev anyways. However, this one was an easy pick. “Where We Belong” is now one of my favorite slow songs ever, let along of this year.
MOST CHILLING SONG
The line between epic and chilling is nonexistent sometimes, and more often than not, a song fits into both categories. That’s right, you guessed it, the winner is yet again, “Time” by WINTERSUN.
BEST FUN-TIME SONG
Ladies and gentlemen: Devin fucking Townsend. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I liked “Lucky Animals” for a good long while. It’s a plainly bizarre song. And yet, it has a goofy charm that sort of endears me and makes me smile all the time, and now I can only hope to hear it live, repeatedly.
BEST COVER SONG
While ENSIFERUM’s recent release, “Unsung Heroes,” wasn’t the epic followup to “From Afar” I hoped it would be, I can’t deny that their cover of the GIPSY KING’s song, “Bamboleo” is pure delightfulness incarnate. Enska rarely fails to disappoint on the cover front, regardless of the album quality, and this just goes to show that even in musical slumps, these guys still know how to have fun. I hope they keep the sombreros around.
While I am returning to “Time I” for this award, I am not giving it to “Time”; rather, the haunting and eerie intro riff to “The Land of Snow and Sorrow” gives me delicious chills every time I listen to it, and even though it isn’t fast or furious, it’s the mood it sets that makes it incredible, and I have no regrets in giving that album yet another award here.
You guessed it – something off “Time I.” While technically both tracks are worthy of the award, I think the album’s opener, “When Time Fades Away” has a little more power. Like when reading books, it’s often the first track that can make or break an album for a new listener, and while I was never a big fan of the old (re: first album) WINTERSUN, the moment I heard this track, I knew that something special was coming based on its incredible ambience. Winner hands-down.
BIGGEST POSITIVE SURPRISE
So, I’m not sure if I’m being entirely fair here, but let’s do this anyways. I learned about Devin Townsend and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD back in maybe 2005, but as much as I love “AAA,” SYL was always a little too… angry for me. I really appreciate the workmanship of the music, but… it’s just not for me. That being said, Dev is back in my life now, and “Epicloud” is a great album, complete with guest vocals by Anneke van Giersbergen who is “holy fuck” -level great. I hadn’t expected to ever be a fan of Devin based off of my feelings towards SYL, but this album proved me wrong.
While Anette Olzon leaving NIGHTWISH was certainly a big event, I’m not convinced anyone would really and truly call it the “saddest” farewell. In fact, I suspect many people would have been quite relieved. However, I was always a fan of Howard Jones and his sound in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE – much more so than Jesse Leech – so to see him tap out was a complete bummer. It is cool that Leech, the band’s original vocalist, came back as his replacement though, even if I find his voice less appealing.
Hands down, holy shit, Tommy Karevik in KAMELOT. Daaang, that guy not only looks and sounds just like Roy Khan – a feat surely that few thought possible – but he also happens to be a better stage presence and performer. While it was tragic to lose King Khan, I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to taking his place.
BEST COVER ART
While technically speaking, I would like to give this to BLIND GUARDIAN for their ever-amazing artwork – this time around for “Memories of a Time to Come” – I’d prefer to not give this to a compilation if possible. Since there is another contender, BG will have to step aside in favor of SWALLOW THE SUN’s “Emerald Forest and Blackbird.” There’s just something about the paper-white background with that particular shade of green in the eye with the forest reflected, and the outlines both like ink and feathers… I find it very pleasing.
BEST LIVE SHOW
Well, this is another no-brainer. With Anette Olzon out of the picture – mid-tour no less – NIGHTWISH had to replace her on quick notice. I was a big fan of AFTER FOREVER’s final self-titled album, and when that band closed up shop, Floor Jansen was one of my top picks for women I thought should’ve replaced Tarja Turunen after her departure in ’05. The opportunity to see such an incredible band with such an incredible vocalist was a near life-changing experience, and I hope beyond all hope that she somehow finds the time to stay on with them permanently!
BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Okay, I’m terrible at keeping up with music videos, but this year, KORPIKLAANI released “Rauta” as an official video, and I have a thing for blacksmiths. I can’t clearly tell from the video, but is that blacksmith Mr. Pasi “Tervarauta” Raivio himself? I know he has worked a lot with KORPIKLAANI in the past. Either way, this video endears me, so I’ll call it the winner of the year.
To finish things off, we’ll have to ask ourselves who, this year, proved to have the most upcoming potential? I’ll have to award this to STATUS MINOR – while their album art displeased me greatly, I do think the album itself was a rousing success and I really look forward to seeing if all these guys – Jukka Karinen (THUNDERSTONE), Rolf Pilve (STRATOVARIUS), and Markku Kuikka (pretty much every band ever) – will be able to release another album in the next few years, and what it will be like when they do!
Well, it seems like, at least for me, 2012 was the year of WINTERSUN and the DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT! Admittedly, there were a lot of other great albums to come out this year, so take me with a grain of salt. We hope you’ve enjoyed Musicalypse’s comeback, and here’s to many more years of great music to come!
1. Best New Album: Wintersun – “Time I”
2. Best New Song: Wintersun – “Time”
3. Most Epic Song: Wintersun – “Time”
4. Best Slow Song: Devin Townsend Project – “Where We Belong”
5. Most Chilling Song: Wintersun – “Time”
6. Best Funtimes Song: Devin Townsend Project – “Lucky Animals”
7. Best Cover Song: Ensiferum – “Bamboleo” (Gipsy Kings cover)
8. Best Solo/Riff: Wintersun – “The Land of Snow and Sorrow”
9. Best Instrumental: Wintersun – “When Time Fades Away”
10. Biggest Positive Surprise: Devin Townsend Project – “Epicloud”
11. Saddest Farewell: Killswitch Engage – Howard Jones
12. Best Replacement: Kamelot – Tommy Karevik
13. Best Cover Art: Swallow the Sun – “Emerald Forest and Blackbird”
14. Best Live Show: Nightwish ft. Floor Jansen
15. Best Music Video: Korpiklaani – “Rauta”
16. Most Potential: Stats Minor
Written by Bear Wiseman