Worst 5 Albums You Had to Pay Money For of 2012
Every band has their highs and lows. Some years, those lows just happen to be particularly terrible. And some years you just have to look at yourself and wonder: "Did I really just spend twenty dollars on this album?" Here are all of the terrible purchases we made this year so that you didn't have to:
Nile - At the Gate of Sethu
Nile have a pretty standard formula to them: write some awesome tech death with heavy ancient Egyptian overtones to the lyrics. And for the most part, they do that incredibly well. But 2012's At the Gate of Sethu has made something plainly clear: that's all they can do, and that's all they'll ever do, even when they stop being able to do it well. At the Gate of Sethu is absolutely nothing in comparison to the rest of their generally fine discography, and honestly, it's just a tad depressing to hear that the band isn't capable of anything else anymore, even when it's clear that their modus operandi has run its course. Absolutely die-hard fans will still like this, for certain, but the rest should just be content with the rest of Nile's offerings, lest anyone forget that they are a band still worthy of respect.
The Mars Volta - Noctourniquet
The Mars Volta have always been a band that's more than just a bit obtuse, not in the least due their seemingly endless wells of creativity. But their best albums knew how to frame that creativity coherently enough for people to enjoy it. Noctourniquet is what happens when you let that creativity drive without aim. The entire album plays like a discordant, cacophonous series of unrelated ideas that, both individually and collectively, go nowhere whatsoever. There is little to nothing about this album that is of redeeming value, yet the band has tried to dress it up so it seems like the reason that the album is inaccessible is because of how deep it is. But when you actually try to pick it apart, that fancy window dressing leaves behind absolutely nothing at all.
Periphery - Periphery II: This Time It's Personal
Periphery is one of those bands for which it's doubtful whether or not they'll ever actually produce anything of worth. They're trying their damnedest to be cool, to be edgy, to be interesting and amusing, but no matter how they do it, they just come across as a teenager who's just barely discovered how to play "House of the Rising Sun" on guitar and wants everyone to be impressed. This isn't meant to imply that their musicianship is terrible; in fact, they're all quite capable musicians. It's the fact that their entire aesthetic is cringe-worthy. Listening to this album feels like a chore, a painful one at that, and all you can do at the end is feel obligated to throw some patronizing praise their way so that they stop staring at you with a look that says "Well? Are you impressed yet?" Do yourself a favour and stay far, far away from this release.
DragonForce - The Power Within
Admit it: listening to DragonForce is incredibly fun. Sure, it's nothing but silly power metal, but it always seemed like the band was in on the joke. You could let yourself listen to the lyrics about dragons and warriors and actually feel this innocent sense of glee at how damn epic everything was getting. But what made these guys interesting to listen to for a second time was how interesting their compositions were. Though everything was grounded in a straight-up power metal sound, the way they constructed and composed songs was incredibly intriguing. Twists, turns, fantastic musicianship: all these contributed to a sound that was both fun and intelligent. The Power Within, unfortunately, abandoned almost all of that, leaving a still-warm husk of a sound with it. This is the sound of a band trying to do something new, but forgetting exactly what it was that made them worthwhile in the first place.
Battles (et al.) - Dross Glop
Unlike all of the other albums on this list, Dross Glop should have been good. A band as awesome as Battles with a pretty damn impressive cast of remixers should've been guaranteed to be at least an okay album. Yet, somehow, this album managed to be the most annoying, most cringe-worthy, most insultingly terrible piece of tripe this year. Most, if not all, of the remixers seemed to miss the point of the music they were playing with, and the result was an absolutely appalling swill of half-baked ideas and boring composition. Everything that was interesting and engaging about Battles was stripped away and replaced with boring electronica drivel, aimed to please the exact wrong audience that Battles appeals to in the first place. Everything about this release makes us wish we had burned our money instead--at least the release of heat from combustion would be a measurably positive effect in these cold months.