10. Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)
Converge’s previous full length, Axe To Fall was a true masterpiece of collaboration. With everyone from Cave In to Genghis Tron involved, they went as big as they could. Where do you go from there? Much like Slayer scaled back after reaching their most extreme point with Reign In Blood, Converge went back to square one, cut the guest spots and got back to the root of the band, creating a dynamic, abrasive and downright pissed-off masterpiece that dances between the lines of punk rock, hardcore, and metal without a dash of confusion.
9. Samothrace – Reverence To Stone (20 Buck Spin)
Two gloriously epic doom songs. Beautiful, yet heavy.
8. 7 Horns 7 Eyes – The Throes Of Absolution (Century Media)
Three years after being recorded by guitarist Aaron Smith, this thing finally saw the light of day in 2012. This band used to play pretty basic metalcore, drawing influence from bands like Zao and As I Lay Dying. Not anymore. These dudes grew up, did some re-working of the lineup, wrote and wrote and wrote and came out with a progessive metal record that sounds like Meshuggah by way of Nevermore. Technical, layered, melodic, yet always unrelenting.
7. Xibalba – Hasta La Muerte (Southern Lord)
Tune low, play slow. That’s the formula perfected by Crowbar frontman and Down guitarist Kirk Windstein, and that’s the formula that SoCal crushers Xibalba are sticking to. This is a band that grew up on hardcore, playing in straight edge bands, booking DIY shows at VFW halls and worshipping Earth Crisis—making a major shift, as if they threw out all their Victory Records albums and replaced them with Earache releases from the early '90s. From the old death metal feel of the Dan Seagrave artwork (Morbid Angel, Suffocation, etc) to the crushing, slowed down assault of Brian Ortiz’s burley guitar riffs, this album is perfectly executed heaviness.
6. Meshuggah – Koloss (Nuclear Blast)
I hate the word “djent.” Derived from the palm-muted, heavy-as-balls guitar sound typically played in odd and sometimes confusing time signatures, this “term” was coined to describe the dozens and dozens of Meshuggah-clones that plague the metal scene today (i.e. Periphery, Volumes, Veil Of Maya). I heard some kids call Meshuggah “djent” earlier this year and I nearly lost it. Meshuggah is so much more. With their first album in three years, these Swedes showed the world why they deserve the title “heaviest band in the world."