1. Soundgarden- “King Animal”
No contest. Soundgarden have returned, seemingly right where the left off. “King Animal’s” songs churn with crunchy grunge riffs, but they also find Soundgarden as focused as ever on small details and complexity. Songs such as “Taree” and “Blood on the Valley Floor” loudly ring in the band’s return, while “Black Saturday” and “Halfway There” complement the album with a beautiful, acoustic shimmer. This is the album that Soundgarden fans (and most rock fans in general) have been craving for years. “King Animal” is the undisputed best rock album of 2012.
2. Rush- “Clockwork Angels”
It has a big sci-fi plot, absolutely no filler, and crushing production value that rivals that of modern heavy metal bands (not to mention the most beautiful outro track of the year). Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” is not just an album, it’s an experience.
3. Deftones- “Koi No Yokan”
It must be easy for bands to become envious of Deftones; the band seems to be incapable of releasing a bad album. “Koi No Yokan” is Deftones’ second album without longtime bassist, Chi Cheng. With masterpiece tracks such as “Leathers,” “Entombed,” and “Tempest,” the band has continued to honor Cheng’s legacy in the best possible way. Every second of “Koi No Yokan” tugs at a variety of emotional strings.
4. Dinosaur Jr.- “I Bet on Sky”
Dinosaur Jr. released some of their best work in the 1980s and 1990s, but recently, they have been giving their classics a run for their money. “I Bet on Sky” builds off the perfection of 2009’s “Farm” and takes it to whole new heights. “Almost Fare” and “Pierce the Morning Rain,” among others, are some of the best songs the band has ever written. J Mascis’s modest vocals and powerful guitar runs have arguably never sounded better.
5. Wallflowers- “Glad All Over”
“Glad All Over” was widely anticipated by many, and it did not disappoint in the least. From the start, the album showcases some of the band’s best work of the last decade. “Love is a Country,” “Constellation Blues,” and the Mick Jones-graced “Misfits and Lovers,” in particular, are very impressive cuts. Jakob Dylan and the boys have found fresh energy.
6. Offspring- “Days Go By”
The Offspring have continued to move in a logical direction with “Days Go By.” The album shines with surprisingly captivating, controlled riffs and solos, all while echoing vintage Offspring by means of “Cruising California (Bumping in My Trunk)” and the appropriate, burn out conclusion of “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell.” “Days Go By” proves that the Offspring are beginning to truly reach their full creative potential.
7. Green Day- “Uno”
For those who favor old Green Day as opposed to politically charged, rock opera Green Day, “Uno” stands as a major breath of fresh air. The album takes the smooth production of “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” and combines it with edgy, “don’t give a f*ck” lyrics reminiscent of “Dookie” and “Insomniac.” Uno may be Green Day’s strongest album of the past decade.
8. Bruce Springsteen- “Wrecking Ball”
When Bruce Springsteen releases a new album, brilliant craftsmanship is usually a given. “Wrecking Ball” is no different; songs like “Death to My Hometown,” “Jack of All Trades,” and the opening anthem, “We Take Care of Our Own” prove that The Boss is still one of the best in the business.
9. Three Days Grace- “Transit of Venus”
Though not as full or emotionally charged as past Three Days Grace albums, “Transit of Venus” stands as a strong effort. Most of the album finds the band broadening their horizons with new dynamics and song structures. However, songs such as “Operate” and “Anonymous” still give longtime fans a reason to listen. Regardless, it is evident that Adam Gontier’s songwriting has improved immensely.
10. Stone Sour- “House of Gold and Bones Part 1”
Despite the fact that Stone Sour have had quite a lot of success over the years, they never truly seemed capable of producing an album that felt complete. That is, until they released House of Gold and Bones Part 1. The album currently stands as their magnum opus.