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September 2012 Best Heavy Metal Albums

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September was the weakest month of 2012 so far in terms of the depth of quality releases. There were some highly anticipated albums that didn't meet expectations. However, that opened the door for some unexpected albums to seize the opportunity. Beastwars was released last year in many parts of the world, and finally got an official North American release in September. It tops our list of September's best heavy metal releases.

1. Beastwars - 'Beastwars' (Destroy/EMI)

Beastwars - Beastwars
Destroy/EMI Records

Beastwars' debut perfectly manifests the darkened heart of the Antipodes. Though the band possess the temperament of an NZ act, they're also indebted to the primordial sludge of '90s noise-rock and classic Amp-Rep, grunge and NOLA groups—as well as giving a nod to the mighty Sabbath. You can draw comparisons to High on Fire, Kyuss, early Soundgarden, and even Celtic Frost, but Beastwars have filtered their influences over distance, fermenting their own distinctive sound.

Intertwined with that filthy sonic stew is apocalyptic philosophizing, Lovecraftian terror, and an abundance of dirty hooks. The band set their lyrical vitriol against a wall of gargantuan, distorting riffs. Nathan Hickey's percussion (deliberate, hammering and robust) forms the vertebrae of Beastwars, and there's really only one way to truly absorb Beastwars—you must obey the riff, and play it ear-shatteringly loud.

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2. Vision Of Disorder - 'Cursed Remain Cursed' (Candlelight)

Vision Of Disorder - Cursed Remain Cursed
Candlelight Records

Cursed Remain Cursed is a bitter, ironic album title. The song titles drip with disgust at not pulling the credit due them. “Loveless,” “Set to Fail,” “Hard Times,” and “Heart and Soul” have the ring of titles fit for a gut-bucket blues record. The opener “Loveless” hits classic status by the first chorus, with a no-nonsense intro and dizzying riff progression that leads into Tim William’s hurt-and-hate fueled vocals.

Four years ago, it seemed unlikely that VOD would make another album again, let alone one as important as Cursed Remain Cursed. It's the latest evidence of how great the band is. They are a vitally powerful group today and not merely a metalhead memory of a gauzy Clintonian past.

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3. Wodensthrone - 'Curse' (Candlelight)

Wodensthrone - Curse
Candlelight Records

Curse is the second album from Wodensthrone, and is a well written, well played example of the best black metal that England has to offer. Obviously descended from the latter day progressive work of Emperor and the harsher Viking metal bands such as Enslaved, Wodensthrone employ just the right combination of harsh tones and the speed of black metal with melody and progressive guitar work.

Drawing upon themes of English heritage for inspiration, Wodensthrone weave together songs that alternate between the genre elements of traditional black metal and a wonderful sense of melodies that are skillfully employed by exceptional guitar work, the subtle use of keyboards, and a few clean vocal passages.

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4. Blut Aus Nord - '777: Cosmosophy' (Debemur Morti)

Blut Aus Nord - 777: Cosmosophy
Debemur Morti Productions

Cosmosophy, the third installment of the 777 trilogy, is the most ethereal and evocative one. The bleak Godflesh-styled industrial tones are still ominously present but they are pushed in the background by endless layers of dissonant guitar parts, vast keyboard driven themes and other effects that give the album an almost post core/metal feel.

You can’t help being sucked into an endless vortex of musical layers and different moods and transcend to a higher form of consciousness. Only true visionaries can create such stunning and thought provoking art.

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5. Witchcraft - 'Legend' (Nuclear Blast)

Witchcraft - Legend
Nuclear Blast Records

Witchcraft is a much crisper sounding unit on album opener “Deconstruction,” which feels like yet another excellent ode to Virginia’s Pentagram. With a galloping lead riff and Magnus Pelander still sounding as good as ever vocally, this track makes an excellent statement in a new direction for the band.

“It’s Not Because Of You” is a mid paced riff and vocal driven track that also showcases Oscar Johansson on drums. This song’s focus, however, is that of a powerful melody to back up Pelander, effectively doubling the musical beauty in one fell swoop. The ending riff section also makes for some face melting moments and sums up a great song.

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