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Metalunderground.com's Best Of 2012 Awards

Metalunderground.com wishes all our regulars and newcomers a happy new year as we look forward to a 2013 full of improvements and hopefully even more awesome metal than the preceding year. The 2011 “best of the year” piece ended up so late it actually became an April Fool’s joke (with “Lulu” of course winning the top album spot), but this time around we’re going to dive right into a retrospective of the last 365 days of metal and how they impacted the scene at large.

Recent years have been fairly uneven for metal, punctuated by stellar releases surrounded by flops and mediocre albums from the big names. We’ve seen the continuing sad decline of some of the oldest and biggest names in metal in the past few years, but 2012 shook that up and was a year where the underground earned a greater focus.

2012 was a highly productive year for several prominent sub-genres (power, prog, and djent all saw a horde of releases from acts both known and unknown), but a little more sparse for others (there were only a handful of symphonic black metal releases by established bands.) Considering the sheer number of albums, EPs, singles, demos, etc. that see the light of day per year, we’re inevitably going to end up overlooking some that were definitely good releases, so please accept our apologies in advance if a band you dig didn’t get a nod. We love all forms of metal, and there’s just no way to cover everything that happened in 2012 in a single article.

While 2012 was an off-year on the release schedule for some of the highest profile acts, there were still plenty of bands in the upper echelons that dropped new material. Metaldom saw albums hit from the likes of Between the Buried and Me, Therion, The Sword, Dethklok, Cradle of Filth, Kamelot, Enslaved, Katatonia, Korpiklaani, Borknagar, and Lacuna Coil. Obviously that alone covers a huge range of sound, and we also got to hear some highly anticipated new material from God Seed, Ministry, Wintersun, Baroness, Meshuggah, Woods of Ypres, and Ex Deo. Some of those ended up being worth the hype, while others didn’t meet the high level of expectation, and below you’ll see how our contributors voted on last year’s releases.

Before we jump into the different categories and winners, I’d like to mention how this was such a good year for bands that mash up genres. Fans of different styles colliding were in for a treat as cross-genre experimentation seems to be becoming more of the norm these days. The Wretched End blended together death and thrash, Diablo Swing Orchestra worked swing music into metal, Kontrust melds pop and metal, Stealing Axion worked through just about every sub-genre that exists, and Nachtblut blurred the lines between industrial and symphonic black metal. It seems like this trend is running strong and cross pollination is going to widen metal fan’s musical horizons and introduce mainstream music enthusiasts into the more extreme stuff. More...

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Thinning The Herd Drummer Reportedly Passes Away

Update: Thinning the Herd has since posted a statement online announcing its intention to continue as a band after Rick's passing. Read the full statement right here.

Vocalist/guitarist Gavin of New York's Thinning the Herd has posted the following brief statement online via Facebook about the band's drummer passing away:

I just found out my best friend and drummer Rick was killed in a car accident this weekend. I don't think I can continue with Thinning the Herd anymore.

No further information is available at this time. Thinning the Herd's upcoming new album "Freedom From the Known" was recorded by Steve Albini and mixed by Wes Edmonds and is currently set for release via Saint Mark's Records this coming February 2nd, 2013. The previously posted video clip for "Never Wanted" is also available at this location. More...

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Rigor Mortis Guitarist Passes Away On Stage

Rigor Mortis guitarist Mike Scaccia died in the very early hours of December 23, 2012 at the band's gig in Fort Worth celebrating the 50th birthday of singer Bruce Corbitt. Apparently, Scaccia passed out on stage during the performance and was found to have no pulse. No official cause of death has yet to be announced, but it appears to have been an apparent heart attack. Scaccia was 47.

In addition to co-founding Rigor Mortis, Scaccia also played with Ministry (including the latest LP "Relapse") and the Revolting Cocks.

In a post on his official Facebook page, singer Bruce Corbitt commented: "My brother is gone! The only reason I am who I am is because of this man. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't even be in a band. RIP Mike Scaccia! The greatest guitar player I ever knew!"

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Ruinside Bassist Passes Away

Finnish metal band Ruinside announced today that bass player Lauri Aitonurmi was killed in a car accident on December 14, 2012. Aitonurmi had previously played bass with the thrash act Garm and joined Ruinside in 2009. The band recently released the debut full length release "The Hunt" back at the tail end of October through Mighty Music.

On the band's official Facebook Page the following post was made:

"R.I.P. Lauri Aitonurmi

"Our beloved friend and bassist Lauri Aitonurmi passed away on December 14th 2012 in a car accident. We will remember him as a very bright person who always shared good spirit around him. Ruinside wants to wish strength and hope for Lauri’s family, his wife and little boy. Lauri will live in our hearts and in our music. Rest in peace, friend."

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Holy Terror Frontman Keith Deen Passes Away

Keith Deen, former vocalist of the now defunct thrash act Holy Terror, passed away from cancer over this past weekend. Deen had been fighting cancer since September of this year. He fronted the band for its only two, but legendary and highly acclaimed, thrash releases "Terror & Submission" (1987) and "Mind Wars" (1988). Deen was 56 years old.

In a post on the band's official website, friend Scott Warren Lambert, posted the following about Deen's death:

"At approximately 7:30 PM on December 15th, 2012 I was informed by my dear friend Chris Carlson from Chicago that Keith Deen of Holy Terror passed away. He had been battling cancer since September of 2012. Like any normal person, it blew through me like a heat wave. My plan was to go for a walk when I got home which was where I was heading when I got Chris' message about Keith. So, I got home and went for my walk. More...

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One Man Army & The Undead Quartet Breaking Up

Massacre Records has checked in with the following announcement about One Man Army and the Undead Quartet (which features Johan Lindstrand of The Crown) officially calling it quits after going on hiatus a year ago:

"We've got bad news for you. About a year ago, Johan announced that the band will take a break and that he'll put all his energy into making the reunion with his band The Crown. Now he confirmed what most of you probably thought would happen: One Many Army and the Undead Quartet call it quits."

Johan Lindstrand added: "Hi there everyone. The time has come to say goodbye. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone since the last year hasn't exactly been favored to One Man Army. I no longer feel that strong towards what the band meant in the beginning. The first 3-4 years were magic defined but sadly that magic couldn't last.

"Me and all the members, past and present, would like to thank you all a million times for your support. We had a blast most of the times.

"I will now continue my ride with The Crown. May One Man Army And The Undead Quartet rest in peace. This legacy will forever be with me and hopefully with you too! Thank you for the music guys and good luck for your new/future projects!"

One Man Army and the Undead Quartet released four full-length albums, finishing with 2011's "The Dark Epic."

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Rush, Heart To Be Inducted Into RnR Hall of Fame

Rush and Heart will represent rock in this year's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees. They will join Public Enemy, Randy Newman, Albert King, and Donna Summer. Lou Adler and Quincy Jones will both receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers. The ceremony will be held on April 18, 2013 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.

Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone, "It's a terrific honor and we'll show up smiling...It made my mom happy, so that's worth it." He added, "It was a cause [Rush fans] championed," he says. "I'm very relieved for them and we share this honor with them, for sure."

The band also issued an official statement: "We are honored to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 3 of us are especially appreciative of our loyal fans whose support and dedication has gone a long way to making this possible. P.S. And special thanks to our moms for voting 6000 times!"

Rush's latest record, "Clockwork Angels," is 20% off from the Roadrunner store for a limited time. Metal Underground.com took an in-depth look at Rush earlier this year in our Sunday Old School column.

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Randy Blythe Formally Indicted For Manslaughter

Czech prosecutors have officially decided to level a formal indictment at Randy Blythe. The embattled Lamb Of God frontman was jailed by Czech authorities last summer, charged with manslaughter in connection with a fan's death at a Prague show in 2010, and held for five weeks.

Blythe was eventually released on $400,000 bail. In a subsequent interview with Metal Hammer, he reflected on the very real possibility of long-term incarceration:

"Ten years with no time off for good behavior. For my particular charge — we're saying manslaughter, but it's assault in the fourth degree with intent, resulting in the death of this young man — the sentence for that is five to 10 years with no time off. So the worst-case scenario is that get out when I'm 51, 52 years old. It's not something I really try to dwell on too much, because it's scary. I don't want to go to prison, I don't want that to happen, but the fact of the matter is it could happen. I will deal with it as it comes, that's all I can do. If you have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, you're pissing on the present. And right now, all! have is the present so I prepare myself the best I can. My band is behind me and my family's behind me and we're gonna do our best to prove my innocence. But worrying about a nebulous uncertain future, or being super-bummed out that l went to prison for 37 days does me no good."

The original Czech report announcing Blythe's indictment can be viewed at Novinky.cz. The court allegedly has three months to set a trial date, unless the case is dismissed or delayed pending further investigation.

Read the full article at Blabbermouth.

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Matthias Voigt Shoots Down Carcass Album Rumors

Update: Carcass has since confirmed an album is in the works and will feature Jeff Walker, Daniel Wilding, and Bill Steer. Check out the full announcement over here.

Rumors have been circulating online that Carcass is working on a new album that would feature Heaven Shall Burn's Matthias Voigt.

Heaven Shall Burn has now posted the following statement online denying these unsubstantiated claims:

"Blabbermouth.net is really cool, but sometimes rumors are just rumors. Heaven Shall Burn's Matthias is 100% NOT playing for CARCASS!

"Everybody in HSB maintains the status as devoted Carcass-fan and does not even dare to dream of being involved with this legend!"

There has been no statement of any kind from Carcass or any of the members involved with the band at this point, so it's unclear if an album was actually in the works or not. If a new album were coming, it would be the first studio full-length from the band since the 1996 release "Swansong."

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Metallica Launches Record Label

Metallica announced today that the band has taken ownership of all previous master recordings including all music and long form videos, a move almost unprecedented for musicians signed to recording contracts. Under provision of a renegotiated joint venture agreement with the Warner Music Group in 1994, all masters revert back to the band as of today, November 30th, 2012.

"We would like to thank everyone at the Warner Music Group for 28 years of a fantastic relationship, particularly since 1994 where we truly felt we had partners in every aspect of our business in North America," said the band's James Hetfield.

Metallica also announced the launch of its own new record label, Blackened Recordings. Blackened Recordings will handle all marketing and promotion duties and will enter into a deal with Rhino Entertainment, who will manufacture and distribute releases in North America. Blackened Recordings will license releases to the Universal Music Group internationally.

"It's always been about control for us as a band," said Metallica's Lars Ulrich. "Forming Blackened Recordings is the ultimate in independence, giving us 100% control and putting us in the driver's seat of our own creative destiny."

The first release from Blackened will be "Quebec Magnetic" on Monday, December 10th, 2012. "Quebec Magnetic" is a live DVD capturing the two World Magnetic live shows from Quebec City in the fall of 2009. The set list for the DVD was voted on by over 35,000 fans at Metallica.com this past September. Fans can order it from the band's website here.

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The Acacia Strain Drops Off Tour After Van Crash

The Acacia Strain has posted the following message online about dropping off the band's current tour dates:

"It comes with heavy hearts and sadness to announce that The Acacia Strain will be leaving their Co-Headlining tour with Veil Of Maya due to a serious van accident. Members of the band and crew are being treated for minor injuries, nothing serious."

Frontman Vincent Bennet also commented, "Canceling tour dates is something we hate doing but we will make it up to all of you. We are all very grateful to be alive and will see you in the New Year."

The Acacia Stain released new album "Death is the only Mortal" back in October, and you can hear the song "The Mouth of the River" in the player below. More...

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Abigail Williams Cancels Breakup, Working On Album

Despite performing a "farewell" tour and insisting the band was being dissolved, Abigail Williams apparently hasn't bothered with any actual down time before getting to work on a new album and follow-up to "Becoming" (reviewed here).

The band commented on Facebook: "New album coming in 2013... We are happy to announce that Ashley Ellyllon will rejoin Abigail Williams for our fourth full length album. Although we did not announce it or make it public she also worked on our last album 'Becoming' with us. Anyone with a CD booklet can see that though... wink wink."

Further details on the upcoming post-"breakup" album and tour dates will be announced as they are made available.

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Suicide Silence Vocalist Killed In Accident

Update: Footage from the candlelight vigil held for Mitch has now been posted online and can be found right here.

The Press Enterprise, Bloody-Disgusting, and several other website are reporting that Suicide Silence front man Mitch Lucker has passed away. PE.com reports:

Mitch Lucker, singer for the Riverside heavy metal band Suicide Silence, died Thursday morning, Nov. 1, after being in a motorcycle crash Wednesday night in Huntington Beach. The Orange County coroner’s office said Lucker was pronounced dead at 6:17 a.m. Thursday at UCI Medical Center in Orange County. The victim had the same name and date of birth as the singer, officials confirmed.

Coroner’s officials said Lucker was hospitalized after a motorcycle accident shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday. Huntington Beach police were investigating the crash and expected to release details Thursday morning.

The band's main website has been down today, presumably due to high traffic. The band's label has now also released this news:

"It is with great sadness and regret this morning that we have to report that Mitch Lucker, vocalist of SUICIDE SILENCE, passed away a few hours ago due to injuries sustained during a motorcycle accident.

"NUCLEAR BLAST would like to offer our condolences to his family, friends, band members and fans worldwide who are affected by this loss.

"He left us doing what he loved to do most. He was 28 years old and will be sorely missed.

"Fans are encouraged to share their memories, photos of Mitch and condolences on the band’s official Facebook profile." More...

Read the full article at PE.com.

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Black Sabbath Recording New Songs

Metal Injection is reporting that Black Sabbath is currently in the studio recording vocals with Rick Rubin.

According to the news story, the band has 15 songs written and 12 are projected to be included on the new album. Further details on the upcoming songs will be announced as they are made available.

The album will presumably not feature Bill Ward, who has publically been in dispute with Black Sabbath (including having his photos removed from the band's website) as the will they/won't they of the band's reunion unfolded earlier this year, even prompting Geezer Butler to issue a statement on the inter-band drama.

Read the full article at Metal Injection.

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Underoath Disbanding, Releasing Anthology Album

Christian metalcore band Underoath is formally announcing plans to disband following the band's 15-year career. “It’s sad to say that we feel like it’s time to close this chapter, but we have never seen things more clearly,” says vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. “These have been the best years of my entire life, and I owe that to every single person who ever supported this band along the way. This wasn’t a quick decision by any means. It’s just time for us to move on.”

The Tampa, Florida-based group released seven albums in total – including the Gold-certified mid-2000s releases "They're Only Chasing Safety" and "Define the Great Line" – that collectively yielded Grammy and Dove Award nominations and total sales in excess of 1.3 million units.

Underoath will cap its run with the release of a career retrospective album, "Anthology 1999-2013" this coming November 6th on Solid State Records. With tracks culled from the 1999 debut, "Act of Depression," through 2010’s "Ø (Disambiguation)," the "Anthology 1999-2013" release is an essential collection of songs that celebrates the evolution of the band. The release also gives fans one last chance to hear newly recorded material in the form of new tracks “Sunburnt” and “Unsound,” recorded with longtime producer Matt Goldman. More...

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Anette Olzon Departs Nightwish

In the midst of the North American tour with Kamelot, Nightwish announced the mutual split with vocalist Anette Olzon due to "conflict in the direction" of the band. The band will proceed with the rest of the North American tour with ReVamp vocalist Floor Jansen on vocals. The joint announcement reads as follows:

"Another chapter of the NIGHTWISH story has ended today. NIGHTWISH and Anette Olzon have decided to part company, in mutual understanding, for the good of all parties involved.

"In recent times it has become increasingly obvious that the direction and the needs of the band were in conflict, and this has led to a division from which we cannot recover.

"NIGHTWISH has no intention of cancelling any upcoming shows, and as a result we have decided to bring in a substitute vocalist starting in Seattle 1.10.2012. Her name is Floor Jansen from the Netherlands (ex-AFTER FOREVER, REVAMP), and she has graciously stepped in to help us complete the ”Imaginaerum” world tour.

"We are all strongly committed to this journey, this vehicle of spirit, and we are sure that this will lead to a brighter future for everyone.

"We forever remain excited about the adventures to come, and we are extremely proud of the two beautiful albums and the wonderful shows we shared together.

"NIGHTWISH & Anette Olzon"

A couple of nights ago, Annette Olzon fell ill prior to the show in Denver and was briefly hospitalized. The show proceeded with Kamelot guest vocalists Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist) filling in.

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Beyond The Bridge's Simon Oberender Passes Away

German progressive metal band Beyond the Bridge announced the devastating loss of keyboardist/guitarist Simon Oberender today. The cause of death was not announced. Less than two weeks ago, Oberender performed with the band at ProgPower USA in Atlanta as part of the band's first ever performance in the United States (a review of the performance can be found at this location). His contributions as both a musician and a producer on the band's debut LP "The Old Man and the Spirit" will be everlasting (see Metal Underground.com's review at this location).

Oberender was also a member of Amanda Somerville's project Trillium as keyboardist. His other contributions included: organist for Avantasia ("The Angel of Babylon" and "Wicked Symphony"), organist for Edguy ("Age of the Joker"), Gregorian vocals for Epica ("Requiem for the Indifferent"), choir vocals for Rhapsody of Fire ("The Frozen Tears of Angels" and "The Cold Embrace of Fear") and he also took part in the "Silverthorn choir" as part of Kamelot's forthcoming LP "Silverthorn."

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Extol Reuniting For New Album

Norwegian Christian metal act Extol, which hasn't released an album since 2005's "The Blueprint Dives" and was recently featured in our Unearthing the Metal Underground column, has now issued the following announcement about reuniting for a new release:

"New album in progress: we are happy to announce that Extol now after 5 years of silence returns to the studio to record their fifth album.

"We are very excited about the new material, and as expected from the musical legacy of Extol, no compromise is offered. Stay tuned for more information…"

Extol is also currently running a crowd funding campaign to release a documentary, which can be found here. More...

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Hydra Head Records Closing Its Doors

Aaron Turner of Hydra Head Records has issued the following announcement about deciding to call it a day:

"Hydra Head Records has never been a smooth-running operation. We've spent the majority of our existence excitedly scrambling from one thing to the next, taking on more than we could ever possibly hope to achieve, and never quite finding solid footing in the midst of our self-induced whirlwind of chaos. Though not every second of doing this label has been enjoyable, it has been a very rewarding and meaningful project for me, and I hope for many of the other lives to which it has been directly connected. The fact that it has lasted close to two decades at this point is astonishing, and much has changed during that time - the lives of those directly involved with running the label, the bands and artists we've worked with, and the nature of the music industry itself. Though many of these changes have been positive, or at least illuminating, the impact of our history and current industry circumstances are culminating into a slow and somewhat painful death for the label. It certainly isn't an entirely unforeseen event, but we didn't think it would come quite so abruptly, or (perhaps naively) ever.

"The decision to pull the plug has not been an easy one, and in some ways is a not a choice at all. The simple fact of the matter is we've been running on empty for a while now and cannot afford to keep our doors open for much longer. Years of imbalance between creative ideals and financial realities, personal problems amongst the label operators, an unwillingness to compromise our aesthetic standards, a tendency towards releasing challenging (i.e. unmarketable) artists, and the steady decline of the music industry in general, are amongst the chief reasons for our inability to continue. It is a harsh but undeniable reality, and one which we are attempting to confront with as much integrity and grace as is afforded by the circumstances. More...

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On Broken Wings Recording New Album

Boston metalcore band On Broken Wings is set to finish recording the tentatively titled "Summer Solstice" this fall at Darkside Audio. Darkside Audio is the recording studio owned and operated by guitarist Mike McMillen. The new album will be the proper follow-up to 2005’s "It’s All A Long Goodbye," as 2007’s "Going Down" was a re-release of the band’s 2001 debut "Number One Beautiful" with four new songs. A recurring theme for each of the former releases, including 2003’s "Some of Us May Never See The World," was the addition of "I Do My Crosswords In Pen" on each release. When asked whether or not the track would appear this time around, Mike McMillen laughed and commented, “No, that song is done!”

However the tracks featured on the "Summer Solstice" Single, "Crowns Meant For Kings" and "Ego Ideal," will be on the forthcoming release and offers a glimpse into the band’s current sound, which is the vintage On Broken Wings. The tracks may currently be heard on Facebook, and have received nothing but positive feedback since they were released. The two track single may also be purchased from iTunes.

On Broken Wings toured with Bring Me the Horizon, Parkway Drive, Deez Nuts, and Architects in 2011. Thus far in 2012, On Broken wings has played the Jamboree 3 music festival and the 2012 New England Metal and Hardcore Festival.

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