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.


Review: Sleep’s Dopesmoker

Sleep: DopesmokerSleep: Dopesmoker (reissue) (Southern Lord)

“Dopesmoker” (excerpt)

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Since its adulterated release and subsequent reissue in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Sleep’s Dopesmoker (also released as Jerusalem) has stood as a monolith of metal. With its weighty, repetitive, hour-long opus, the stoner/doom-metal trio played a pivotal role in the evolution of metal by pushing conventions, well, higher. But under the weight of contractual issues pertaining to its epically lethargic piece, the band broke up before seeing a complete version of Dopesmoker available to the public.


MP3 Premiere: Ancestors’ “On the Wind”

On Tuesday, LA-based psych-doom quintet Ancestors topped This Week’s Best Albums with the epic In Dreams and Time, and today we’re premiering the album’s fourth track, “On the Wind.” Continuing the band’s loud/soft evolution, the track builds from deep, harmonized piano chords to layered vocals, swirling organs, and a screeching guitar solo.


Guest Spots: Ancestors explains the fundamental choice that all bands make

Ancestors: Invisible WhiteAncestorsInvisible White EP (Tee Pee, 6/28/11)

Ancestors: “Dust”

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With its latest record, a three-track EP entitled Invisible White, LA-based quintet Ancestors shifted its focus from stoner metal to more experimental psych/classic-rock territory. The band didn’t miss a step in the transition, garnering a This Week’s Best Albums nod from us (read here).

It’s a move that many bands contemplate after establishing a signature sound with which its fans become familiar. Do you play it safe and make the record everyone expects and will undoubtedly enjoy? Do you shoot for a hit record in hopes of gaining wealth and fame? Or do you push yourself to explore new territory without worrying about the response? Below, lead vocalist / guitarist Justin Maranga explains Ancestors’ internal debate.

The Three Ways to Make Music
by Justin Maranga

There comes a time in the career of every band or musician when they have to make a choice. It is a choice that will heavily affect the future of their career. At this point, you may ask yourself what that choice is or find yourself trying to guess the possible options. Or perhaps you’re thinking, “Just get to the point already.” Well, as musicians, that’s precisely what we have to figure out. What is the point? What we as musicians must do is decide why we’re doing this and for whom we’re doing it.

So the way I see it, there are three ways we can go. The first option is that we’re doing it for ourselves; the second is that we’re doing it for the fans; and the third is that we’re doing it to attract as broad an audience as possible and hopefully will make enough money to survive (or more). Unfortunately, there is no right answer to these questions, and no matter what we choose, there are things to be lost and things to be gained. So let’s look at that, shall we?

It’s important to note that as artists, we stand to face criticism for our choice, no matter which way we go. So should we choose option number one, which is to make music for ourselves, the criticism is obvious. We may very well become the target of one of the music critic’s favorite phrases: “self-indulgent.” Dun dun dun! The hardest part of any form of art is trying to please yourself while simultaneously pleasing your audience. Of course, if you can weather the storm of criticism from fans, critics, and casual listeners who occasionally (or frequently) don’t understand what you’re trying to do, this choice undoubtedly promises to be the most personally fulfilling. And perhaps if you’re lucky, what resonates with you will resonate with listeners and it will prove to be financially fulfilling as well.


Ancestors: Mythological Prog Metal

Ancestors‘ tries its hand at “nerdy storytelling music” with Neptune with Fire, chronicling the mythological King Neptune’s burden of holding unlimited power.

Weekly Music News Roundup

It’s a rough week for independent music as Touch and Go cuts manufacturing and distribution services for 20 labels, Daptone‘s studio is robbed, and An Albatross still needs a touring guitarist.

In better news, Sunn O))) and Dave Douglas announce new albums, Farmers Market will perform with a symphony, and Ed Gein is playing together again.

Weekly Music News Roundup

Amon Tobin makes up half of a new project called Two Fingers; Witch goes on tour with Earthless; Dan Deacon posts a preview of his new album; Converge and Supermachiner each has a new album for ’09; Kronos Quartet is giving away 50 pairs of tickets for its performance in France this month.

Read about these and 11 more news bits in our weekly roundup.