This post was lost in the ether after a server crash, until my pal and colleague Mat Harden dug it out of his Instapaper for me. Thanks Mat!
New-releases-wise it was a cracking year for metal (The Damned Things, Triosphere, Hellyeah, Furyon, Grand Magus, Star One, Alter Bridge, Iron Maiden, John 5), folk metal (Blind Guardian, Orphaned Land, Amorphis, Wuthering Heights, Eluveitie, Heljareyga), prog (Coheed and Cambria, Myrath), rock (Hardcore Superstar, Slash, My Chemical Romance, Airbourne, Buckcherry, You Me At Six, Ratt, Crashdïet), dance (Daft Punk, Underworld, Deadmau5, Pendulum) and pop (Angels & Airwaves, Johnny Flynn, Cee-Lo Green).
Cloudkicker is the recording monicker of one Ben Sharp, and aside from that not a great deal more is known. He's a one-man show that creates wonderful music, and pretty much gives it away - which in the end is probably as much as you need to know. Great stuff. Top track: "Oh, god."
I know nothing about Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die, or Volbeat, which puts me at a disadvantage here as I am unfamiliar with the work of 5 out of 6 of the members of this metal supergroup. The one member I do know is Scott Ian of Anthrax, and it was on his presence alone that I took a gamble on this album. It's bloody excellent. Top track: "Bad Blood"
Power metal riffs, death metal vocals, penny whistles and hurdy-gurdies. Smashing. Top track: "Thousandfold"
No, shut up. Shut your hole, dammit. I know you, and you were thinking about saying something like "But aren't they emo?" Stop it. This is a fantastic album of pop/rock tunes, and even if the pseudo-post-apocalyptic concept schtick can feel a little forced, songs like "Sing", "Summertime", "The Kids From Yesterday", and the sublime "The Only Hope For Me Is You" are proof that MCR were never some sub-genre fad, but a damned decent rock band. Shame this was their last album, as it turned out. Top track: "The Kids From Yesterday"
I'd not heard of Pendulum before this, but when I did I loved them. An excellent mix of drum 'n' bass styles and real instruments, plus some cracking tunes. Lovely stuff. Top track: "Crush"
And the winner is...
Good god, yes. These metallers from Brighton are yet to achieve the recognition they deserve, in my opinion. I hadn't had my socks so completely rocked off since hearing Images and Words back in 1992 or so. This is some properly hooky metal, with grooves and riffs like you wouldn't believe, and oh my days, the guitar solos... Personally I cannot wait for the followup album, but in the meantime stick Gravitas on, pin back your ears, and do nothing else for 55 minutes. You can thank me later.
Top tracks: "Disappear Again", "Voodoo Me", "Souvenirs"