The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists!

Well, friends, here we find ourselves in the waning moments of 2012. It’s been an interesting, eventful year that’s had lots of high and low points — a ton of excellent new music has been released and quite a few brand-new bands have emerged that I’d fully expect to be making some serious waves in the near future.

One of the best things about 2012, for me personally, was that I found myself (and my wife) going to lots more shows than in recent years, and as a result I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of new people — as well as starting to take a way more active role in the local music scene.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I had a suggestion from one of those people I’ve gotten to know in the past year (I won’t say who — he said he preferred not to be given credit for the idea, although I will say that it’s somebody who contributed to this). The idea was to collect top-ten lists from various folks in the Pittsburgh metal community.

So I put out an open invitation for any musicians or other people who are involved in the scene in some way — I was looking for anything, whether it was the traditional “Top Ten Albums” or something totally off-the-wall like someone’s ten favorite sandwiches they ate during the year. Really, the only rules were that it had to be a list, and involve something from 2012.



First of all, Christopher Woodford (of the Smoldering Forge blog, and an occasional contributor to The Pittsburgh Scene, among countless other duties supporting and promoting local shows, etc.) was kind enough to send along his top ten favorite photographs from 2012. He said these aren’t ranked in any particular order, but simply his ten favorite. So I’ve chosen to spread these images throughout this whole post, to sort of break up the list of lists.


Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

1. Ghoul


Holy hell. I had no idea what I was getting into prior to this show. I only knew that Ghoul played thrash metal, but I didn’t know they would be amazing on stage, let alone dousing fans with fake blood. The picture here was taken at Belvedere’s Bar during their tour with Occultist. The crowd reaction was intense, lots of moshers and one of the best pits I’ve been in. Also my vest is forever stained with fake blood from Ghoul.


Brian “Butch” Balich is quite an impressive vocalist (for example, see his work in Argus and Molasses Barge). So when he talks about the vocal performances that impressed him the most, you gotta take notice, right?


Top 10 Vocal Performances in 2012 (Recorded, Live or Both)

By Butch Balich

Other than the first one, these are in no particular order.




Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

2. Skull Fest 4: After Party


To me this photo was just meant to be a reminder of the night. Three of my buddies hanging out at a late night after party for Skull Fest 4: Caleb of Wrathcobra, Hilary and Chani of Icon Gallery. A warm, peaceful photo compared to the rest of the chaos during Skull Fest.


Lee “L.A.” Barton (lead guitarist for VⒺⒼA) sent me three different lists: his ten favorite shows that he attended this year, as well his ten favorite Pittsburgh bands <and ten favorite Ohio bands that he saw this year.


Top Ten Favorite Local Shows I’ve Seen in 2012

By L.A. Barton

(I only started going to local shows again in April, so no offense to January, February, and March. Also, yes, my band VEGA has played with some kick ass fucking bands! So…FECK YINZ! I’m not self-promoting…at least not for this, anyway. HA!)


Top Ten Favorite Pittsburgh Bands I’ve Seen in 2012

(In No Particular Order)

By L.A. Barton

* Vulture
* Molasess Barge
* Solarburn
* Supervoid
* Motorpsychos
* Iron Crown
* Del Rios
* Lady Beast
* Carousel
* Fist Fight in the Parking Lot

(Being that I go see a lot of heavier bands, I MUST give honorable mention to two GREAT live bands that are not my usual: The Carny Stomp and Dazzletine!)


Top Ten Favorite Ohio Bands I’ve Seen in 2012

(In No Particular Order)

By L.A. Barton

* ** ***> (Columbus)
* Neon Warship (Dayton)
* Black Plastic Caskets (Martins Ferry)
* Mount Carmel (Columbus)
* The Ravenna Arsenal (Kent)
* Asphyxian (Newton Falls)
* Deathcrawl (Cleveland)
* Rebreather (Youngstown)
* By Way of Sunstorm (Dayton)
* Mockingbird (Akron)



Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

3. Amy Bianco (Molasses Barge)


Rockin’ aht with Molasses Barge for the Saint Vitus concert. Wayne Massey on drums. Stellar night.


Kelly Gabany (drummer for Vulture) said “Goddammit, this was excruciating!” when she supplied the following list of her top ten metal albums from the year, the top ten “not-so-metal” albums, plus a handful of “honorable mentions”…


With so many quality releases this year it was really tough to narrow it down to just 10, so I’m going to select the 10 that had the most regular rotation in my iPod. I could have easily made a list of 50.

Top Ten Metal Albums of 2012

By Kelly Gabany

10. Fight AmpBirth Control
9. Bone DaceBone Dance
8. High on FireDe Vermis Mysteriis
7. 16Deep Cuts From Dark Clouds
6. WindhandWindhand
5. UnsaneWreck
4. EnablerAll Hail the Void
3. Black BreathSentenced to Life
2. BLCKWVS0150
1. Kowloon Walled CityContainer Ships



Honorable Mentions (just too close to call):

FistulaNorthern Aggression
Mutilation RitesEmpyrean
DeathCrawlAccelerated Rate of Decay
Ash BorerCold of Ages
Keep Your Opinions to YourselfUndiscovered Country of Old Death and Strange Years in the Frightful Past
Lord MantisPervertor
PallbearerSorrow And Extinction


Top Ten “Not So Metal” Albums of 2012

By Kelly Gabany

10. DisplacerFoundation
9. LarvaeExit Strategy
8. Lights Out AsiaHy-Brasil
7. CaspianWaking Season
6. Collapse Under the EmpireFragments of a Prayer
5. BvdubSerenity
4. Autoclav1.1Embark On Departure
3. MaseratiMaserati VII
2. ConstantsPasiflora
1. The FlashbulbOpus At The End Of Everything



Honorable Mentions:

The American DollarAwake In The City
To Destroy a CityRebuild



Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

4. Spectres


I love surprises. Much like Ghoul, I had little knowledge of the band Spectres. So I was surprised that they were a post-punk band and even more surprised at how great they were on Devil’s Night. Playing for a crowded room in the bottom of a Polish Hill house’s basement, Spectres owned the show. I took a ton of pictures of Spectres’ vocalist, but he was hard to capture since the room was dark and he moved around a lot. My patience [finally] paid off when I got this picture.


Jon Leone of Allure of the Earth Productions sent a total of three lists: his picks for the year’s top ten metal albums, the top ten “not metal” albums, and then a list of ten honorable mention albums from either genre.


Top 10 Metal Albums:

By Jon Leone

10. The Great Old OnesAl-Azif
9. Woods of YpresWoods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light
8. NeurosisHonor Found in Decay
7. SamothraceReverence to Stone
6. VauraSelenelion
5. Witch MountainCauldron of the Wild
4. Bosse de NageIII
3. EvokenAtra Mors
2. AsphyxDeathhammer
1. PallbearerSorrow And Extinction



Top 10 “Not Metal” Albums:

By Jon Leone

10. If These Trees Could TalkRed Forest
9. SwansThe Seer
8. Sigur RósValtari
7. Smashing PumpkinsOceania
6. Killing JokeMMXII
5. DeftonesKoi No Yokan
4. ToyToy
3. Sabbath AssemblyYe Are Gods
2. TamarynTender New Signs
1. Worm OuroborosCome the Thaw



Top 10 “Other” Records (In Random Order):

By Jon Leone

Lord MantisPervertor
Mount EerieOcean Roar
Dum Dum GirlsEnd of Daze
White Lungsorry
Brian EnoLux
Ash BorerCold of Ages
Beach HouseBloom
Dead Can DanceAnastasis
School of Seven BellsGhostory



Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

5. Brian “Butch” Balich (Molasess Barge)


Easily the best photo I have ever taken of Brian. The photo came from the same Saint Vitus concert that Amy’s photo had been taken at. Bathed in the light.


Joe Madia, one of the guitarists for Supervoid, submitted this list that’s sort of a conglomerate of the year’s top releases — including LPs, EPs, splits, live recordings, and even a few comedy records. Or, as he more eloquently titled it…


The Top Ten Things I Thought Were Aweome in 2012 (In No Particular Order)

By Joe Madia

I actually didn’t listen to a lot of new heavy music this year, and the reason, if we’re being honest, is because I started playing with a new band called Supervoid. As the guy in the band who ends up writing a lot of the riffs, I realized a long time ago that if I’m really into a new band or new CD, I end up subconsciously ripping it off. So if this band was going to have any chance at doing anything that has even a shred of originality, I knew I had to avoid a lot of new heavy music. Hey, I know my weaknesses. This year I mostly listened to a lot of older rock and classic rock, so gimme a break if I’m not that up-to-date on new stuff that’s cool. That being said, there were still some CDs that I really dug a lot. Please forgive my complete and utter lack of music critic verbiage/adjectives…

1. WitchcraftLegend

I had heard rumblings that this was going to be a bit different, since Magnus Pelander no longer is playing guitar and focusing on singing. This is HEAVY, at least for Witchcraft. Compared to their self-titled record, and one of my all-time favorites, The Alchemist, this might as well be a different band. Still has incredible songs, he still has his great voice, but the old influences of 1970s Pentagram have been seemingly replaced with Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, etc. People who are into Grand Magus will really dig this one. I can see how people who were expecting “The Alchemist Pt. 2” would be disappointed, but this is a great record.

2. High on FireDe Vermis Mysteriis

Not much to say here that hasn’t been said by better writers. Matt Pike is a modern legend, and this album is awesome. The drums are incredible too.

3. PelicanAtaraxia/Taraxis

Just an EP, but there’s a lot going on here. The main track after the intro, “Lathe Biosas” is the type of riffing that makes me want to quit playing. Grooving, crushing, instrumental music that allows you to drift off a bit and follow the band. Listen with headphones and close your eyes.

4. Sistered/October7″ Split

Two local bands that everyone should know about. Their full albums came out in 2011, you should get those. Sistered is still going strong and should have a new one out sometime soon. October unfortunately is taking an extended break, but you can still get their 6 song album from their bandcamp site. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Sistered’s album is available here.] I consider him a friend, but I’d say this even if I didn’t know him: Brendan Miller, the guitarist/principal songwriter in October, is one of the most creative, interesting guitarists I’ve ever seen play. His output with October is already impressive, but someday, he’s going to create something that’s going to make him incredibly famous. Or kill him. Who knows. Follow him to find out.

5. More local fun: Fist Fight in the Parking LotS/T; Carousel 12″ EP; Lady BeastS/T; The HawkeyesGoodbye Americana

All awesome local bands who put out great records this year. I don’t think I’m biased with the FFPL recommendation, it’s an awesome heavy rock record. Abby Krizner is a killer songwriter, and Jason Sichi is probably the most soulful, genuine guitar player I know. If you don’t like Carousel, you probably don’t like rock music, and I’m sad for you. Lady Beast kicks ass and we should feel lucky to have such an awesome, classic metal band in our city that does it as good as they do. The Hawkeyes, in my opinion, are the best pure rock band in the city; they channel the Stones, the Black Crowes, Tom Petty, and The Replacements, and put it all together in an awesome, more pissed off package.

6. Bob MouldSilver Age

New solo record from the ex-Hüsker Dü/Sugar frontman. Very punk sounding, kicks the asses of dudes 30 years younger than him. This is a bit of a stretch, but sounds a bit like the Foo Fighters if Dave Grohl was a little older and more pissed off.

7. Chris Robinson Brotherhoodlive albums

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but Chris Robinson — when he’s not doing the Black Crowes* (which at the moment and for the foreseeable future, he isn’t) has his solo band, which is very Grateful Dead/jam oriented. His band puts out every live performance for download, and the band rips. Guitarist Neal Casal is literally amazing, his leads are so musical and so perfect. Keyboardist Adam McDougal, who has also played with the Crowes, forces you to pay attention to him in the best way; if you’re not a keys fan, you will be. Chris Robinson is incredible, as usual. You could pick any of their live shows, you wouldn’t be disappointed.

*Honorable Black Crowes-related mention, if I can get away with it: It didn’t come out this year (it’s a 2010 release), but this year I just got the solo album by Marc Ford, Fuzz Machine. Ford played in the Crowes from Southern Harmony through Three Snakes and One Charm, and the dude is a player of the highest caliber. The solo record is just gritty, laid back guitar blues, and no one can play like him. You’ll either love it or hate it, but I love it.

8. Orange GoblinEulogy for the Damned

Too many awesome riffs to count. This band packs so much force and intensity into every single song. Highly recommended.

9. Comedy: John MulaneyNew in Town; Paul F. TompkinsLaboring Under Delusions; Kyle KinaneWhiskey Icarus

Comedy is even more subjective than music, so take these with a grain of salt. That being said, all of these records killed me. Kyle Kinane and PFT are both incredible storytellers. John Mulaney just makes me laugh. I’d add Louis CK Live at the Beacon Theater too, but everybody already knows that, right?

Honorable mention: I don’t know if I can nominate a single podcast for a top ten, but there was an episode of The Nerdist, with Billy West and John Dimaggio as guests (voices of Fry and Bender, among many, many others on Futurama) which almost gave me a stroke because I was laughing so hard. Definitely worth the free download.

10. ConstantsPasiflora

So much sound in this record. You’ll dig if you like My Bloody Valentine and/or Alcest.




Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

6. Mike Morris (Zoroaster)


Mike Morris of Zoroaster has such long dread locks it looks like he is using them to play the bass. One of many favorite pictures I took when Vega opened for Zoroaster at the Altar Bar.


Black Yo)))ga is a relatively new phenomenon in Pittsburgh. It’s described as “Vinyasa (flow) yoga set to drone, noise, stoner metal, ambient, industrial, trip-hop and other traditional meditation music.” The sessions are led by Kimee Massie, who also happens to co-run the local record label and music collective innervenus with her husband Scott. Scott Massie, who is also the vocalist for Storm King, sent me a list of his favorite bands whose music has been used in Black Yo)))ga sessions.


Top 10 bands I’ve discovered this year doing YO)))GA

In alphabetical order

By Scott Massie

Adrift for Days



Dark Buddha Rising




Mustard Gas and Roses

Spectral Lore





Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

7. Pray for Teeth


Phil (drums) and Neal (guitar/vocals) performing at The Smiling Moose for the Negative Approach concert. Neal’s yells are gigantic; it’s like the sound of a building being demolished. Plus Pray for Teeth is my favorite new band to come out this year.


Josh Thieler, drummer/vocalist for Slaves BC, was able to narrow his list down to the top twelve albums of the year, and came up with a clear top album…


Top 12 Albums of 2012

By Josh Thieler

#2 (tie):
Pig DestoyerBook Burner
BaronessYellow & Green
ConvergeAll We Love We Leave Behind
The ChariotOne Wing
Code Orange KidsLove Is Love // Return To Dust
GazaNo Absolutes in Human Suffering
GraveyardLights Out
Deathspell OmegaDrought EP
The SecretAgnus Dei
Serpentine PathSerpentine Path

Lord MantisPervertor




Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

8. Behemoth


The return of Behemoth to Pittsburgh at Mr. Smalls after Nergal underwent treatment for leukemia. A huge response from the local crowd as it had been two years since the last time they played here.


This list was written by my wife, “Mrs. Valley of Steel.” Through the course of my writing, and spending more time going out to shows, I’ve come across a lot of music that I really enjoyed, and I’ve made quite a few purchases over the past year. She is someone who feels just as strongly about music as I do (that’s something we’ve always had in common), so it’s been just as exciting for her to be along for the ride of discovery…


Top Ten Albums We Have Bought This Year

By Mrs. VOS

This was slightly hard for me. My musical tastes have changed and grown so much, thanks in no small part to being exposed to such great music and the fact that I just started getting out of my comfort zone a bit and trying new things and they fit.

Being married to a music blogger and a music nerd I hear a lot of stuff — some good, some cringe-worthy, some just forgettable, and then some… well some are on this list. Some of these CDs were his, or suggestions of his, or in some cases gifts for him or from him, but that is why most of these aren’t new in 2012 but they are new to me this year so they made my list.

10. PrimordialTo the Nameless Dead
So the husband ordered this CD a few months ago, and told me this story of how he was listening to internet radio and heard this song by them and searched and searched based on the little bit of lyrics he remembered. It stuck with me because it was obviously a big deal to him — he hears lots of music, so for him to search that long for this it must have something special about it.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I can’t remember which station it was, but I know I heard the song “Empire Falls” once, well over a year ago. I kept hearing bits of that song in my head for a long time afterward, but could only remember a tiny bit of the chorus: the phrase “I am he.” Try searching for that shit. Seriously, go ahead and try. See what I mean?? But a while (many, many months) later, I heard a different Primordial song, and I heard A.A. Nemtheanga‘s voice — and it was like a lightbulb inside my head. THAT’S THE GUY!! I said to myself. So I searched through all the lyrics of all the songs on all that band’s albums, exhaustively, until I finally figured out which song it was. After keeping an eye out for this album at local record stores on each visit for a long time, I finally gave up and ordered it from Shadow Kingdom Records.]

So we took it on a car ride, per our usual “let’s listen to something while we are going somewhere since we live so far from everywhere.” The CD starts and I hear these super powerful lyrics from the first track “Empire Falls” and I am kinda blown away. It’s not my normal style by any means, but it’s gorgeous and I totally get why he was so intent on finding this song. The album as a whole has so much going for it; it’s very rooted in the Irish heritage which gives it this twist on folk metal, which I was very fascinated by. I love the roots in history, as if the past was speaking through them. I suggest listening to them (at least this album) if you like a depth in lyrics as well as content.

9. The Black KeysBrothers
Honestly, I could have picked any of this band’s CDs, because for me this has been a very Black Keys year. I have been more than obsessed with them; honestly, it’s because I really brushed them off until this year and then I heard one song and then another, and BAM! it was like something hit me and said, “damnit this is music you will love, listen to it you idiot!” So I became obsessed. I am in this phase of my life where lyrics and pureness of music are very important to me. I have a deep appreciation for what the Black Keys do for sound, paying respect with a new outlook. I believe everyone owes something to their past, and the people who paved the way before them.

I know most of you don’t know me personally, but I am a different type of music nerd: I watch documentaries and am obsessed with learning anything and everything about almost any band. I love a good back story and I love a band who has roots in the past such as The Black Keys. I was raised by parents who listened to everything from Muddy Waters to Black Sabbath to Motown to Luther Vandross; it makes total sense I feel a kinship to a band that pays such homages to Gamble and Huff, The Kinks, and of course the blues genius that was Junior Kimbrough.

So back to this album and why I picked it — Brothers is an amazing record, even in the packaging. The simple cover photo and the fact that the CD changes colors (if it’s cold the letters are black on black, and turns to black on khaki when it gets warmer!). This album contains a few of my favorite songs by them, “Everlasting Light,” “Ten Cent Pistol,” and of course probably my favorite ever by them, “Unknown Brother”. It has so much soul — and not lame blue-eyed soul (à la Daryl Hall), but real soul, as if the blues has found a new voice via these two amazing guys. I think this is a great start to getting into this band, and has a lot of great catchy tunes on it.

8. GraveyardHisingen Blues
One of three Swedish bands on my list, this was perhaps one of the most influential to me, because upon hearing it, I needed to hear more things just like it. I loved, and still love, the raw, bluesy nature of this band — it’s as if they’ve been in a time capsule since 1974. Some of the highlights of this band are the songs “I Ain’t Fit to Live Here” and “Mr. Holden,” and from their newer release, “Slow Motion Countdown” and “Industry of Murder”.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I did, indeed, recommend this album — it appeared on my “Top 11 of 2011” list.]

7. Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
I got this CD as a Valentine’s Day gift from my awesome husband this year. I’m not shy when it comes to my love of this singer/songwriter and all around awesome guy. While this is no The Raconteurs, it has some brilliant moments and some very clever song writing. “Hypocritical Kiss” is one of the highlights, which contains what I think perfectly summarizes every fight between me and my husband: “My temper got the best of me/And when I said that I mean/I know every single thing that I said was true/And I know that you’re mad at me/But if you’re thinking like that/I think you’ll see that you’re mad at you too.”

6. VultureOblivious to Ruin
So I’ll admit this freely: I never expected to like this band, nor expected to have it on a list like this. Hell, I never expected I’d be MAKING a list like this, either. Anyway, here I am and here they are, perhaps they speak to the inner anger and anguish I’ve tried to hide for the past ten years of my adult life. I feel better when I listen to this band, like somehow through them I get some of that out. Not to mention that this album’s simplistic yet brilliant cover art is probably my favorite of the year. This band has so much passion for the sludgy sadness they produce, and it shows on every track.

5. Dan AuerbachKeep It Hid
If it wasn’t clear already, I love the Black Keys, A LOT. It appeals to the stripped-down, bluesy, raw nature that I love in music, and Dan (the lead singer) hits that on the head even more in this release. This album contains what I consider to be the perfect melancholy rock song, “Goin’ Home” — it reminds me of my mom and makes me homesick, but I love it all the same. There are subtle sounds of windchimes throughout the album, and it’s just sleazy enough to let you not forget it is the blues. It’s a perfect solo record from a guy who really didn’t need to branch out on his own but did. Really worth a listen and highly underrated, in my humble opinion.

4. WitchcraftWitchcraft
Well this one was hard to put at number 4, but Witchcraft was introduced to me via Pandora because I like Graveyard so much. They have sort of been my own little musical discovery (this is not a band that my husband introduced me to), and I got obsessed with them very quickly. I love the Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull influences they possess, which remind me of listening to music with my Dad back in the days when he still had all his vinyl (and when he still had good taste). This Swedish band is amazing at making music transition into your mind, as if you’ve been listening to these songs since they came out in 1976. Of course that’s not possible because I am not that old and neither are they. It just sounds old and scratchy, and appeals to the purity of music that I love so much. I recommend this album as a whole, but my favorite song they sing is “Queen of Bees,” which is on their second CD Firewood. Check them out if you haven’t already, it’s worth listening to when you want something without fuss.

These last three are interchangeable, and are kinda unfair to rank, so I will make them all number 1.

1 (TIE). Solarburn13
This summer I saw Solarburn for the first time at the Rock All Night Tour in Lawrenceville. It was a free show, and we weren’t even supposed to see them — we originally planned to see The Bloody Seamen, but I couldn’t take how crowded it was at Thunderbird. I don’t like people breathing on me, and bumping into me, and I just couldn’t stand it — and thank goodness I couldn’t. We decided to check out the show at Cattivo instead, and midway into song one, my jaw was almost on the floor. First of all, they have no singer (genius); second, these dudes were legit — talent abounds from each of them in their own unique way, and unlike many bar bands they seemed to know each other so very well. I knew that the husband would be impressed, because it was very much up his alley, but I too was not only impressed but blown away. Their DIY debut album has been literally in my car’s CD changer constantly since we went to the release show in September. If you get a chance to see them live you definitely should, but their CD is a very close second to the real thing.


1. GhostOpus Eponymous
Oh Ghost, where do I start with this amazingly evil/beautiful collective called Ghost? It’s the type of band that the “old me” would have said you were nuts if you told me I’d ever listen to them, but I do — a lot. There is a Bowie/Ziggy Stardust quality to them that probably appeals to me; I love the ever-changing story, and I love the idea of “nameless ghouls.” Hopefully they’ll leave it mysterious and not overdo it, but for now this limited exposure is just enough for me. I first heard Ghost when Mr. VOS showed me the “Here Comes the Sun” cover that they did (BTW, this band crushes cover songs) — which is only located on the Japanese version of the CD, but is very bad-ass.

I am a Catholic — non-practicing, but a Catholic nonetheless — so needless to say, the imagery of the cardinal robes freaked me out for a minute, but then the music mattered more. We got their CD not long after, and then I heard it — the MOST infectious intro ever, with the track “Deus Culpa” which leads into “Con Clavi Con Dio,” the intense organ and hard hitting bassline has sold me for life. I have been a fan ever since; this is the only band whose t-shirt I wear on a regular basis, and playing the CD in my car has gotten me called a Satan worshiper, but I don’t care. All that other bullshit doesn’t matter when the music is this good. It’s so infectious that our 14-year-old has started to get into it now, too… if you aren’t, that’s kinda your problem, isn’t it?


So there it is, my list — most of which was influenced by living with a guy who listens to new music all the time. I hope maybe one of my picks gets you to at least try listening to something new too. Thanks for reading!



Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

9. Superchrist


Chris Black is my modern metal hero. A talented individual able to play multiple instruments. The number of bands he is in is huge, ranging from the progressive metal band Dawnbringer to the Motörhead-infused Superchrist, pictured here.


And so finally, we come to my own list. I already have a list of my favorite albums that were released this year, but that’s going to be published over at No Clean Singing, just like last year. So I decided that for this list-of-lists, I’d contribute something other than albums. So I present to you:


The Top Ten Shows I’ve Seen This Year

By “Mr. Valley of Steel”

(I hope I haven’t missed any…)

  • 5 JuneThe Goddamn Gallows and Ernie and the Berts at Altar Bar
    The Real McKenzies, Scottish punk band from Canada, headlined this show, but given that it was a weeknight and I needed to be up ultra-early for work the next morning, I wasn’t able to stick around that long. The reason I went, despite the fact that it was a Tuesday, was because I wanted to see Ernie and the Berts and The Bloody Seamen. I’d already seen EATB before this, so I knew they put on quite an entertaining show. But I hadn’t had the chance to experience TBS yet, and they were originally scheduled to play that night as well.

    Well, some sort of last-minute emergency forced the Seamen to cancel their appearance, but that meant that after watching the Muppet sleaze-rockers, the next band I got treated to was Detroit’s Goddamn Gallows. I was soon really glad to have gotten the chance to see their set! With a line-up that included guitar, upright bass, drums, banjo or mandolin, fiddle, and accordion or washboard, the band had a sound that was grounded in punkabilly; they brought a level of energy and fun that was just totally unmatched. Also, a definite highlight for me was their interesting reinterpretation of Venom‘s “In League with Satan.”

  • 28 AugustBiipiigwan, VⒺⒼA, and Solarburn at Mr. Roboto Project
    This show also took place on a Tuesday night, but it was the week preceding Labor Day weekend, when I happened to have a few vacation days scheduled, so I was really glad to see a show scheduled on this night (which was sort of like my Friday for that particular week). I was especially glad to see that the show included Solarburn (who I had just seen for the first time just before this) and VEGA (who I had not yet seen, as this was only their second-ever show, I believe, but I was looking forward to getting that chance). That was enough to convince me to go, even though I’d never heard of the third band.

    Well, I did a little research beforehand anyway, and found that Biipiigwan were a band from Ottawa, Ontario, whose sound consists of a crushingly huge, sludgy, doomy blackness. Since my wife and I were the first people to arrive, we ran into drummer Steve Vargas and Mike Raymond, a friend of the band who’d been helping out on guitar during this tour. These guys (plus guitarist/vocalist Musky Rice whom we also later met) were incredibly nice, and we had a lot of fun hanging out with them. Then they went on to play, and they sounded so angry and despondent and painful; something that’s so ugly it’s almost beautiful. After so much noise in such a small room, I think my ears didn’t stop ringing for about three days.

  • 7 SeptemberConsumed With Hatred, Scattergun, and Flesh Addict at the Charleroi VFW
    I’ve been to a few shows now at the VFW, which are very cool low-key DIY experiences, and I’ve also discovered quite a few great bands there. One of those was Scattergun from Pittsburgh — I’ve seen those guys several times now, and the strong convictions they have in their political activism is equal to the high level of talent they display in performing (which I have to say is kind of a rarity and a very welcome surprise for a punk band). Scattergun put on another great show on this night, and the opening band Flesh Addict surprised me as well. They included a bassist/vocalist and a drummer, and played a sort of minimalist crust-punk-grind hybrid that I really enjoyed.

    But I have to say, the most memorable thing for me was seeing Consumed With Hatred, who came from Baltimore. They all seem fairly young, but the musicianship with which they play their blackened hardcore was, in a word, breathtaking. Words really don’t do it justice, so I’d rather be able to show you — actually I’ve been talking to the band about coming back to the Pittsburgh area sometime; unfortunately the dates I had been working on sort of fell through, but I’m going to make sure they get back here sometime so more people in the area can check them out. Of course, if anyone reading this lives in the Baltimore or eastern PA areas, go check these guys out anytime you get the chance. And for anyone else, I urge you to go download their music (it’s free!) and hear for yourself.

  • 14 SeptemberSolarburn CD Release Show at Howler’s
    I’ve seen Solarburn at least four times this year, and they’ve been awesome every time. These three guys just lock together in a way that’s almost unbelievable — and the seamless transitions between songs are always awesome too. But out of all their shows, the CD release was the best, as well as having been the most fun. First of all, as the headliners, they played much longer than their typical twenty or thirty minutes, which by itself is a nice bonus. But on top of that, the whole band seemed really appreciative of the huge amount of support they got from the crowd, and they really fed off that energy and channeled it all into their performance.

  • 13 October16, Tombs, Vulture, Molasses Barge at 31st Street Pub
    This is definitely a show I’d been looking forward to for a while. I’d never seen 16 or Tombs before, but I’d heard enough of both of these Relapse Records artists to know what to expect from them. They were each every bit as good as I’d hoped. (Full disclosure: I was already a fan of Tombs, not quite as crazy about 16, and neither of those feelings changed much.) But I was at least as excited — if not more so — about the two local openers. I had only seen Molasses Barge once before, but one of the earlier posts in this very blog was devoted to how much I had enjoyed that show. Vulture, on the other hand, I had never seen (although I had their CD Oblivious to Ruin and had written a fairly glowing review of that when it was released) — so I was definitely excited about that. And I have to say, they were incredible. I was a big fan of the album, but you definitely can feel the depth of the emotions behind it a bit more, when experienced live. The Mrs., on the other hand, was kind of lukewarm to the CD the first couple times she heard it, but she also loved their show, and I think that was a big part in her growing to really appreciate the album too.

  • 2 NovemberFist Fight in the Parking Lot, ** ***, VⒺⒼA, Jericho Theory at Kopec’s
    So this was my first time seeing Jericho Theory, who put on a really fun show with plenty of raw energy; it’s also the first time I’d seen Fist Fight in the Parking Lot (despite the fact that I’d reviewed their album many months earlier), and they also sounded great. If memory serves correctly, this was my second VEGA show, and a few of their songs were already starting to feel familiar (as a testament to their catchiness, perhaps?)…
  • 16 NovemberBiipiigwan, VⒺⒼA, and The Ravenna Arsenal at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern
    This was essentially the same line-up as the show I saw at Roboto back in August, with a few minor changes. First, the opening band was The Ravenna Arsenal instead of Solarburn. This was the first time I’d seen or heard these Ohio natives, but I enjoyed their set quite a bit. Pretty spacey, psychedelic, post-metal sort of stuff, which I definitely dig. I was now seeing VEGA for (I believe) the third time, and they’d played several shows in between as well, and I have to say they actually sounded better with each time I heard them. And by this time, I was definitely starting to get to the point where I could almost sing along with some of the songs.

    Once again, though, Biipiigwan was the big highlight of the evening. Now traveling as a four-piece, Steve and Musky were joined by a guitarist and a bassist (whose names I heard but unfortunately was unable to remember afterwards). (But again, they were incredibly nice guys, and it was great meeting them as well as seeing our old friends again.) In terms of sheer volume, it wasn’t much different — the first time I saw them, Mike played his guitar through a guitar amp and a bass amp at the same time, so it sounded like four people even though there were only three. But with a separate person playing bass, the complexity of the parts could increase a bit, because it then becomes possible to have both guitars and the bass playing three different parts. Besides all of that, I think a combination of having seen the band before, and listening to their music a lot in between the two shows (including writing about Nibaak, their EP from earlier this year), I had just become more familiar with the material, and so I especially enjoyed seeing them play again.

  • 21 November – “Planksgiving” (with The Bloody Seamen, Mud City Manglers, and Supervoid) at Howler’s
    This was my first time seeing any of these three bands, and I had been looking forward to seeing The Bloody Seamen, in particular, for quite a long time. The whole show was really good, but I have to admit that Supervoid kind of stole it, in my opinion. I’d just heard their two-song EP prior to this show, and that recording is simply amazing, but the band just killed it in a live environment. No other words to describe it.

  • 24 NovemberDethlehem at The Foundry (Lakewood OH)
    This was the first time I’d seen a Dethlehem show, and I have to say I was impressed by what I saw. I’d heard their albums before, and liked that, but the live experience just adds so much there really isn’t any comparison. They sounded pretty incredible too, even though the band felt it necessary to apologize (privately) afterwards for it having been a sub-par performance. The times got screwed up somehow, with (as far as I could tell) some of the bands not showing up on time or something, so the Dethlehem set ended up getting cut way short — which to me was the only disappointing part of it. If this show was even a small fraction of how good a full (headlining) show would be, then I definitely look forward to getting a chance to see that some day!

  • 28 DecemberMoths, Meth Quarry, and Cerebral Apophysis at Garfield Artworks
    Following my interview with the band, I was really excited for Meth Quarry‘s debut performance, which took place on Wednesday the 26th, but a sudden winter storm meant I needed to get home right away after work and I was very disappointed to miss out on the show. But miraculously, a last-minute second show was added later in the week, so I was able to at least see MQ’s second public show. And once again, they were everything I would have hoped. (Of course, I also have bragging rights because I saw a sneak preview of them tearing through the full set in their practice space, which they said was only the second time anyone outside the band had ever seen them play.)

    Cerebral Apophysis opened this show with an interesting and nearly hypnotic offering of crusty blackness — creating a huge sound with only a guitarist and drummer (both of whom also provided vocals). It was also a treat to be able to see Moths, since they are on an extended hiatus while part of the band is currently living out of town — I’d heard a little bit of this prog/tech-death band before, but seeing them in person was pretty damn impressive!



Christopher Woodford’s Top Ten Favorite Photographs of 2012:

10. Bloated Sluts


Bloated Sluts‘ bassist performing at the Hair Metal Concert to benefit aid towards helping homeless cats. Bloated Sluts covered Def Leppard.


3 responses to “The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists!

  1. Pingback: Valley of Steel: The Huge List of 2012 Year-End Lists » the Innervenus Music Collective | Records, Live Music, Promotions, etc. | Pittsburgh, PA

  2. Pingback: The List of 2013 Year-End Lists | Valley of Steel

  3. Pingback: Lord Mantis Interviewed By Slaves BC!! | Valley of Steel

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