Last week, I posted numbers 6-10 of my top 10 albums of 2012. Before I move forward with 2013, I gotta finish it all up and take one final look back.

5. Cattle Decapitation – Monolith Of Inhumanity (Metal Blade)
Grindcore with choruses? WTF BRO. Over the years, I’ve seen Cattle Decapitation play at venues like Studio Seven and El Corazon a handful of times, but to be honest, they never really did much for me. That is, until I watched one of those YouTube lyric videos for their vividly gory single “A Living Breathing Piece Of Defecating Meat.” I never thought I’d hear a grindcore song with a catchy hook.

4. Black Breath – Sentenced to Life (Southern Lord)
This record further illustrates the Black Breath mission: rage, rage, rage and rage again. On their first full length, Heavy Breathing, these Seattle dudes conjured up a bit of Entombed, Dismember and Grave, throwing a heaping dose of Swedish death metal atop their established Motorhead-meets-Discharge formula. With Sentenced to Life, the band didn’t stray far from said formula, instead, bringing a handful more ragers that sound as if they could have been taken from the same recording session. Don’t fuck with a perfect formula.

3. Jeff Loomis – Plains Of Oblivion (Century Media)
Not gonna lie, I’ve never been much of a “shred-head.” I can surely appreciate the pure talent of the Marty Friedman’s and Ynqwie Malmsteen’s of the world, but in the end, it all seems so masturbatory. Former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis certainly has the chops to be classified in the same group as those two, but for some reason, Jeff’s music seems so much more well rounded. It was the guest spot by Emperor vocalist Ihsahn that caught my attention at first, but from there, Loomis won me over, making this the first “shred guitar” album I’ve truly loved.

2. Deftones – Koi No Yokan (Reprise)
I’ve always had a soft spot for Deftones. When my high school friends would laugh and call them nu-metal, I would defend them wholeheartedly, pointing toward the depth of White Pony for an example. Sure, they toured with nu-metal bands and wore a suspect amount of Adidas warm up gear, but to me, it seemed like there was so much more to their sound than say Korn or Coal Chamber. After proving their staying power with a solid fan favorite Diamond Eyes, Deftones returned late in 2012 with a dense and moody, melodic yet crushing album.

1. Dying Fetus – Reign Supreme (Relapse)
Fucking brutal. As some of the godfathers of the "brutal death metal" genre, Dying Fetus continues to be ripped off left and right by dozens of bands with unreadable logos. With Reign Supreme, Dying Fetus returned with force, pushing their technicality further than previously heard, all the while, punishing us with a pure audio assault of the senses. But y’know, in a good way.

Honorable Mention
Pantera – Vugar Display Of Power (20 year Reissue)
Okay, okay, I fully realize that including a reissue in my top 10 is kind of a dick move, but goddamn that unreleased single was solid. To go alongside the repackaging and re-release of the album, the Pantera camp (or their record label) unearthed a lost and forgotten gem, “Piss”, that even drummer Vinnie Paul claimed to have completely forgotten.