Twenty twelve was another strong year for Los Angeles metal bands. What's especially cool is that we're not just kicking ass in one kind of metal — L.A.'s got it going on in just about every metal sub-genre. Without further ado, then, here are our top ten Los Angeles metal albums of 2012.
See also: Top 20 L.A. Metal Albums Ever
On the debut from Huntress, guitarists Blake Meahl and Ian Alden plunder the Judas Priest playbook and provide massive riffage to complement the devilish shrieks of vocalist Jill Janus. The witchcraft-obsessed lyrics harken back to when metal was more based in spectacular fantasy than gory reality. Huntress want to make us forget about reality, and we're ok with that.
9. Dreaming Dead
Dreaming Dead's self-released sophomore effort is a dizzying whirlwind of blackened thrash metal. On vocals and guitar, Elizabeth Schall is influenced by death metal pioneer Chuck Schuldiner, but is quite capable of living up to the burdens that go with those comparisons. The compositions here would have had lesser bands teetering on the verge of collapse within seconds.
8. The Shrine
While we cede that this release may lean more towards punk, the amount of grime and attitude present feels pretty metal to us. The Shrine blasts out a chaotic cacophony of noise that would have been at home alongside '80s crossover thrash bands like D.R.I. and Corrosion of Conformity. The pools these guys are skating in are really dirty.
7. Murder Construct
Murder Construct counts among its ranks Cattle Decapitation vocalist Travis Ryan, Intronaut drummer Danny Walker, and guitarist Leon del Muerte (who has played in damn near every L.A. gore-grind band ever). But though it's a side project everyone brought their A game to their sophomore release. This technical-grind masterpiece simultaneously bludgeons with brutality and dazzles with major-league musical chops.
6. Graf Orlock
Graf Orlock plays grindcore inspired by their favorite action movies. On their Los Angeles EP, the group focuses on Michael Mann's 1995 cops-and-robbers masterpiece, Heat. Dialogue and samples from the film are twisted into a vicious commentary on how fucked up Los Angeles can be. The chaos is almost as brutal as that film's pivotal shootout scene.
See also: Graf Orlock's Los Angeles Is All About The Movie Heat
5. Behold! The Monolith
The sophomore effort from this power trio is a sprawling powerhouse that takes you down a winding road littered with sludge, doom, stoner rock, and black metal. At different times, it evokes the slow crawl of Saint Vitus, the dark psychedelics of Nachtmystium, and the prog jam-outs of current-day Mastodon. They do all of these things extremely well.
See also: Behold! The Monolith: How They Got Their Name Was Not Very Metal
Self-described as the “more serious, grounded in reality” project of Graf Orlock mastermind Justin Smith, Ghostlimb returned this year with a slice of metallic hardcore that effortlessly blends Smith's vicious barks with an emphasis on catchy riffs that keep the pit moving. His introspective lyrics make everyone feel welcome in that pit.
Another excellent side project with A+ results. Members of sludgy post-metal band Intronaut and technical death metal outfit Abysmal Dawn joined forces to pay tribute to their favorite early '90s U.K. death-doom records. The results went beyond mere genre regurgitation. The plodding doom displayed here stands quite nicely alongside the albums they worship, and the deathly growls of vocalist Charles Elliot have never sounded better.
Revelry & Resilience
Vocalist/bassist Eric Harris has a giant Thin Lizzy tattoo near his right shoulder, and that band's influence shows on Gypsyhawk's sophomore effort. Their musical approach rolls back the clock to the late 1970s, when metal meant that a band mined fantasy and sci-fi novels for their lyrical content and most likely had an album cover that ripped off Frazetta paintings.
See also: Gypsyhawk Is Interested In Shit Like Quantum Physics
In Dreams and Time
Post-metal titans Isis abdicated their throne when they broke up in 2010. With their second album, Ancestors seek to claim it. The quintet takes the post-metal blueprint, and gives it new life by infusing touches of Euro-doom and Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelics. The result is something that sounds equally compelling through an old pair of retro Hi-Fi headphones or blasted out of the speakers at a High on Fire show.
See also: Top 20 L.A. Metal Albums Ever
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.