The 10 Best Bay Area Metal Albums of 2012

A Band of Orcs
Adding Heads to the Pile
[Itchy Metal Entertainment]

Sporting frighteningly detailed costumes that would make the average Comic-Con attendee soil their superhero tights with fear and/or envy, Santa Cruz outfit A Band of Orcs could probably get away with skimping a bit on the musical end of the equation. Instead, the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired quintet unleashed a positively barbaric debut packed with melodic death-metal anthems that easily stand on their own merit. Lead singer/orc chieftan Gogog Bloodthroat powers the proceedings with his commanding, versatile roar, while "Of Broken Chains and Shattered Skulls" and "Wyrd of the Winter Wolf" spotlight the twin-guitar brutality of Hulg Elfripper and Cretos Filthgrinder. -- Dave Pehling

Glitter Wizard
Hunting Gatherers

Equally indebted to Hawkwind's epic space-rock jams and Deep Purple's organ-driven crunch, Glitter Wizard delivered one of the Bay Area's most unapologetically retro-minded albums this year with Hunting Gatherers. Whether dealing out lumbering menace on "Blood of the Serpent," barreling, party-rawk choogle on "Mot├Ârider" and "Wizard Wagon," or meditative acoustic rumination on "Sunlit Wolves," Glitter Wizard nicely captures the heady sounds of a bygone era. The extended, echo-laden riff workouts of "Space" and "Big Sur" offer up some of the best Hawkwind-channeling this side of Monster Magnet's 1991 opus Spine of God. -- Dave Pehling

Honor Found in Decay

Neurosis is the musical equivalent of an enduring marriage, one that's survived decades and serves as a beacon of the power of commitment to others. On Honor, Neurosis traces the autumn of its career with considered strokes that make seemingly reflective releases like 2007's Given to the Rising sound propulsive by comparison. Despite the abundance of texture and harmonic beauty, there's plenty of riffs that sound like Neanderthals dragging an elephant through the mud. That essence follows the band from release to release. The fact that most of the members now reside in parts elsewhere is a technicality. Neurosis has managed to evolve and keep its core intact, and that core will always reside in the Bay Area. -- Alee Karim


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