ALARM's 50 Favorite Songs of 2012

ALARM’s 50 (+5) Favorite Songs of 2012

Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.

ALARM's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

ALARM’s 50 Favorite Albums of 2012

Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.

50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.

Animals as Leaders

Q&A: Animals as Leaders

Animals as Leaders: WeightlessAnimals as Leaders: Weightless (Prosthetic, 11/8/11)

Animals as Leaders: “Odessa”

[audio:|titles=Animals as Leaders: “Odessa”]

In 2009, Animals as Leaders was a one-man prog-metal band that showcased guitar virtuoso Tosin Abasi’s prowess with an eight-string. Its self-titled debut challenged metal with its unique fusion of progressive, electronic, ambient, and jazz influences to contrast its heavy, djent-style riffs. This year, its sophomore album, Weightless, continues to expand this brand of metal — only now Abasi has help.

Initially recruited as the live band, guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Navene Koperweis have proven capable of keeping up with Abasi’s maniacal shredding. On tracks such as “An Infinite Regression” and “To Lead You to an Overwhelming Question,” Reyes’ ample rhythms and Koperweis’ polyrhythmic drumming play off of and provide pacing for Abasi’s wilder and seemingly limitless riffs. For both new members, Weightless is their studio debut, and their presence on the album marks the unmistakable difference between man and drum machine.

Abasi took a few moments from his busy touring schedule to speak with ALARM about the new album and the trio’s experiences in transitioning to a full band.

Tosin, you were self-taught up until a rather late point in your career. What motivated you to go to school for music? How has it changed the way that you think about and write music?

I decided to attend school because I felt that, although I had developed quite a bit of advanced technique on my own, I still had a lot of holes in my knowledge of the fretboard and general music theory as well. I was only in school for a year, but it was very valuable!

Why did you decide to make AAL a full band? How did the new dynamic affect the writing and recording experiences?

AAL became a full band by default from performing and touring together. The dynamic was great with writing the album. It’s nice to have your ideas expanded upon during the creative process. Usually, the result is beyond your initial conception.

Scale the Summit

The Metal Examiner: Scale The Summit’s The Collective

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Scale the Summit: The CollectionScale The Summit: The Collective (Prosthetic Records, 3/1/11)

Scale the Summit: “Gallows”

[audio:|titles=Scale the Summit, “Gallows”]

For reasons unknown, aspiring metal-leaning instrumental outfits once found themselves stuck with a forced, false choice between ambience and technicality. To get any kind of notice, it was assumed that a band had to either destroy its listeners with audio acrobatics or surrender all such pretense and hope that its atmospherics were heavy enough on their own.

But as metal circles are wont to do, styles eventually overlapped, and as bands figured out that it was okay to employ both (or, in some cases, neither), pyrotechnics developed a working alliance with atmospherics. A new wave of more flexible instrumental outfits was born, and with it came Texas quartet Scale The Summit.

Though its first two releases sounded more like the work of a classical prog-metal band learning to live without a singer, The Collective finds the foursome more at ease with its sound and crafting true instrumental rock, rather than merely writing songs without words. Those previous releases often let the arrangements merely imply melodies with the band’s impeccable musicianship providing the momentum; this third time around, Scale The Summit has adopted an almost jazz-like approach to its songs, with each instrument taking turns in the spotlight as often as the band as a whole plays a musical follow-the-leader.

Kylesa to release Spiral Shadow on Season of Mist

Just a year and a half after Static Tensions, psych-sludge quintet Kylesa will release Spiral Shadow, its fifth full-length album, on October 26 via Season of Mist. With the album, Kylesa’s cross-genre sound jumps from Prosthetic Records, which put out its last three discs.

The new album was produced again by Kylesa’s guitarist/vocalist Phillip Cope, who has manned the boards for Baroness and Withered.

18 Albums on our Radar in 2009

This year promises to be a great one for music. Isis, The Bad Plus, Mastodon, Dan Deacon, Coalesce, Jerseyband, Converge, and at least three Mike Patton creations (Mondo Cane, Fantômas, Crudo) are slated to release new albums.

Get the ETA on these and other anticipated albums after the jump.