It’s fair to say that 2011 raised the bar with releases such as Machine Head‘s “Unto The Locust”, Steven Wilson‘s “Grace For Drowning” and Mastodon‘s “The Hunter”. However, 2012, it seems, has been even better for music, with quality albums seemingly being released every week! It’s that time of year again where we look back over the best of the best, the releases that came out and stood head and shoulders above the rest and this year’s decisions have been harder than ever… We asked the Team TINAS to compile their own individual Top 15 lists, which were then collated to produce the ultimate ThisIsNotAScene Top 20. With all the votes now cast and counted, here is ThisIsNotAScene’s Top 20 Albums Of 2012:

  1. Anathema - Weather SystemsAnathema – Weather Systems

    The UK-based progressive/alternative rock outfit Anathema return to the scene with a stunning new masterpiece, entitled “Weather Systems”, released through KScope. “Weather Systems” sees Anathema maturing as songwriters and arrangers and I will be very surprised if it doesn’t surpass those accolades. This is essential listening!
  2. Enslaved – RIITIIREnslaved – RIITIIR

    On their 12th studio album, Norwegian progressive black metal outfit Enslaved have achieved something on a profound scale; an album of such complexity, detail and scope that it can rightly be described as brilliant, another masterpiece. The album, entitled “RIITIIR”, was released through Nuclear Blast Records.
  3. Gojira – L’Enfant SauvageGojira – L’Enfant Sauvage

    All in all, French progressive death metal outfit Gojira have unsurprisingly made an album of gargantuan levels in “L’Enfant Sauvage”. An album that is more to the point than some previous efforts and will therefore be more appealing to newcomers, but one that also does not necessarily withdraw its progressive elements that have become their niche and calling card. Released through Roadrunner Records.
  4. Lamb Of God – ResolutionLamb Of God – Resolution

    Lamb Of God return with their seventh studio album and have taken it to a whole new level and it is going to take some serious competition to beat this album. You need this album in your life, there is no two ways about it. Believe the hype, this is the real deal! Released through Roadrunner Records.
  5. Deftones – Koi No YokanDeftones – Koi No Yokan

    Following on from the hugely successful “Diamond Eyes,” Deftones return with their latest masterpiece, entitled “Koi No Yokan,” released through Warner Bros. Records. Deftones are now 2 for 2 with no signs of slowing down, and I for one am excited to see where the next chapter of their career takes them.
  6. Alcest – Les Voyages De L’ÂmeAlcest – Les Voyages De L’Âme

    The third album from French post-rock shoegazers Alcest, entitled “Les Voyages De L’Âme”, translated as “The Journeys Of The Soul”, has enough magical moments on offer to satisfy even the most demanding lover of this type of dreamy music. Released through Prophecy Productions.
  7. Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future SequenceBetween The Buried And Me – The Parallax II: Future Sequence

    US-based progressive death metal outfit Between The Buried And Me are back with a new album, entitled “The Parallax II: Future Sequence”. With “The Parallax II: Future Sequence” the guys in Between The Buried And Me delivered one of the finest records in the progressive death metal field of this year. Released through Metal Blade Records.
  8. Testament – Dark Roots Of EarthTestament – Dark Roots Of Earth

    “Dark Roots Of Earth” is a more than worthy successor to the mighty “The Formation Of Damnation” and it’s clear proof that Testament is the premier band when it comes down to classic Bay Area Thrash Metal. Forget the recent albums by Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax, because THIS album is the real deal. Highly recommended! Released through Nuclear Blast Records.
  9. Devin Townsend Project – EpicloudDevin Townsend Project – Epicloud

    Devin Townsend Project’s “Epicloud” is a joyous and engaging journey that deserves to be seen live as a whole with a fair helping of theatrics thrown in. “Epicloud” is one of those records that takes extreme metal elements but blends them with lighter moods in a magical way that tames them without removing their venom, much as Alcest do although with an entirely different sound. It somehow remains heavy without being intense- adventurous and progressive without treading a safe path. Released through InsideOut Music.
  10. Paradise Lost – Tragic IdolParadise Lost – Tragic Idol

    “Tragic Idol” has the style, the musicianship, the sound and the songs to be up their with the best of the bands output. Still sounding like nobody else, in a just world this album would put Paradise Lost up there with the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard or Bullet For My Valentine as one of the UK’s most commercially successful exports – although in truth, they should be up there already. Released through Century Media.
  11. Kreator – Phantom AntichristKreator – Phantom Antichrist

    Kreator’s “Phantom Antichrist” dishes up 45 minutes of just what the doctor ordered. So, if you like a bit of thrash and are into bands like Overkill, Exumer, Destruction and Sodom, do yourself a favour and pick this one up. “Phantom Antichrist” has lived up to the standard Kreator set as a band and musicians and the hype surrounding the release. Simply, amazing. Released through Nuclear Blast Records.
  12. Ihsahn – EremitaIhsahn – Eremita

    “Eremita” is without a doubt the most ambitious and experimental of Ihsahn’s solo albums and it another step further away from his black metal roots. It’s a typical grower, because it takes several attempts before the song material starts to sink in. For me “Eremita” makes perfectly clear that Ihsahn is one of the few true visionaries within the (extreme) metal scene. Heartily recommended! Released through Candlelight Records.
  13. Neurosis – Honor Found In DecayNeurosis – Honor Found In Decay

    Neurosis, legends in the metal world, unleash their latest slice of perfection, entitled “Honor Found In Decay”. “Honor Found In Decay” is yet another example of how Neurosis are one of the most talented bands of the past 20 years and will never grow stale. Released through their own Neurot Recordings imprint.
  14. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of InhumanityCattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity

    Technically brilliant death metal is one thing but technically brilliant death metal with songs is another, and Cattle Decapitation have nailed it with this album. In what is turning out to be a bit of a vintage year for extreme metal, what with quality releases from the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Burzum and Napalm Death competing with their classic earlier works, this release should certainly be considered as a staple for the genre and is likely to be seen as Cattle Decapitation’s best album so far. Released through Metal Blade Records.
  15. Rush – Clockwork AngelsRush – Clockwork Angels

    Rush are a trusted and reliable brand, millions of fans have come to expect quality as standard. Despite this I wasn’t prepared for just how good “Clockwork Angels” is. 39 years from their debut album, not only are Rush still vital, they have produced one of the best albums of their long and enviable career. Certainly their best since “Counterparts”, arguably their best since “Hold Your Fire”, this is an angelic masterpiece. Released through Roadrunner Records.
  16. Katatonia – Dead End KingsKatatonia – Dead End Kings

    Katatonia’s “Dead End Kings” is undeniably magnificent and only serves to further enhance the name of one of the most special bands in heavy metal today. The greater diversity in the musical approach also helps to provide a greater emphasis to many of the lyrical themes and subsequent feelings expressed on this album. With subject matters unsurprisingly never straying very far from the morose, the frequent tempo changes and shifts in direction add further tension and drama to proceedings throughout. Released through Peaceville Records.
  17. Baroness – Yellow And GreenBaroness – Yellow And Green

    The diversity on display on Baroness’ “Yellow And Green” is immense, even with such simple song structures, each listen throws up another subtle aspect that may have been missed before. This is an album that requires your full attention to fully grasp and delve into, despite it not being a full overly progressive journey that perhaps one could expect. An album that gets better and better with every listen. Essential listening. Released through Relapse Records.
  18. Pallbearer – Sorrow And ExtinctionPallbearer – Sorrow And Extinction

    Pallbearer’s “Sorrow And Extinction” is an excellent release that more importantly offers promise of even greater things ahead from the band. Pallbearer is very impressive on songwriting, the bringing of their ideas together and the complete realisation of all elements within each tomb of a track. Released through Profound Lore.
  19. Killing Joke – MMXIIKilling Joke – MMXII

    In 2012, Killing Joke remain peerless. They still emanate that wonderful aura of controlled chaos; a million conflicting musical ideas and lunatic theories all just about held together in the confines of a CD that bursts at the seams with verve and originality. Never contrived, never forced and never predictable, Killing Joke are a force majeure and I, for one, hope they never ever stop. Released through Spinefarm Records.
  20. Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones, Part 1Stone Sour – House of Gold and Bones, Part 1

    With Stone Sour you are guaranteed to go on an emotional roller coaster with their albums, and “House of Gold and Bones, Part 1″ is no different. Whilst it’s not as direct in its emotions as previous albums but if you dig a little deeper it will reveal itself over multiple listens. Stone Sour have become a fully formed living, breathing entity, that has become something bigger and better than anyone could have imagined. Released through Roadrunner Records.

Honourable mentions should also go out to: