Guitar World's Top 50 Albums of 2012
From an impending apocalypse to the promise of a new Van Halen album with David Lee Roth, the bar was set high for 2012.
Everyone from the Mayans to Nostradamus allegedly prophesied the end of the world in 2012, but who could have predicted Green Day's epic trilogy of new albums, or Joe Walsh's first solo effort in two decades, or Rush churning out their heaviest record this side of 2112?
For a year that was supposed to mark the end of an era, it's quite fitting that 2012 ended up being very much a nexus of past and future.
Aerosmith and Kiss kept the classic rock flame alive, releasing their 15th and 20th studio albums respectively, and ZZ Top issued their finest showing of fuzzed-out Texas blues in years. Meanwhile, excellent debuts from Gary Clark Jr. and Alabama Shakes — not to mention Jack White's debut solo record hitting No. 1 — proved the blues is still a vital force in the hands of true believers.
On the heavier end of the spectrum, Periphery once again upped the ante as the leaders of the new prog-metal movement, and Meshuggah reminded everyone that the groove can still be mightier than the metronome. Lamb of God and Municipal Waste forged ahead as the heads of thrash metal's new class, while legends like Overkill and Testament continued uncanny, late-career resurgences with solid efforts.
But if there's one thing to take away from the 50 albums below, it's this: The guitar is very much alive and well in 2012. It survived the rise of the keyboard in the '80s and the overwhelming bass-barrage of electronic dance music of the early 21st century and shows no signs of waning in relevancy. Whether you're still plugging into a vintage Vox AC30 with your trusty Strat or just got your hands on an Axe FX and a new Ibanez eight-string, the guitar isn't going away any time soon.
And with that in mind, the Quote of the Year award goes to one Eddie Van Halen, who summed all that up so succinctly when he said, "I'm just a guitarist in a kick-ass rock and roll band. What more could I ask for?" Amen, and see you in 2013.
NOTE: This list pertains to studio albums only.
08. Jack White — Blunderbuss
Video: Jack White Talks to NPR About His New Album, 'Blunderbuss'
01. Van Halen — A Different Kind of Truth
Interview: Eddie Van Halen Talks 'A Different Kind of Truth'
46. Municipal Waste — Fatal Feast
Interview: Municipal Waste Guitarist Ryan Waste Talks 'Fatal Feast'
45. Paul Gilbert — Vibrato
Interview: Guitarist Paul Gilbert Discusses His New Online Rock Guitar School
44. The Gaslight Anthem — Handwritten
Tune-Up: The Gaslight Anthem on Their New Album, 'Handwritten'
43. Firewind — Few Against Many
Video: Gus G Plays Firewind's "Few Against Many" in the Guitar World Studio
42. The Contortionist — Intrinsic
Interview: The Contortionist Guitarist Robby Baca Discusses the Band's Upcoming Second Album
41. Smashing Pumpkins — Oceania
From the Archive: Billy Corgan Interviews Eddie Van Halen in 1996
40. John 5 — God Told Me To
Interview: John 5 Discusses His New Solo Album, 'God Told Me To'
39. Robert Cray Band — Nothin But Love
Archive: Robert Cray Discusses Albert Collins, Gear and His New Album in 1989 Guitar World Interview
38. Ihsahn — Eremita
Dear Guitar Hero: Ihsahn
37. The Sword — Aprocryphon
Interview: The Sword Frontman JD Cronise Talks ‘Apocryphon’ and Gear
36. Enslaved — RIITIIR
Playlist: Ivar Bjørnson of Enslaved
35. Miss May I — At Heart
Interview: Miss May I on Their New Album, 'At Heart'
34. Coheed and Cambria — The Afterman: Ascension
Interview: Coheed and Cambria on Their Ambitious New Companion Albums, 'The Afterman'
33. High on Fire — De Vermis Mysteriis
Interview: Matt Pike on High on Fire's 'De Vermis Mysteriis'
32. Lee Ranaldo — Between the Times and the Tides
Interview: Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo Discusses Gear and His New Album, 'Between the Times and the Tides'
31. The Mars Volta — Noctourniquet
Interview: Omar Rodriguez-Lopez Discusses the New Mars Volta Album, 'Noctourniquet'
30. Carlos Santana — Shape Shifter
Interview: Carlos Santana Discusses His New Album, 'Shape Shifter'
29. Pig Destroyer — Book Burner
Interview: Pig Destroyer Guitarist Scott Hull Discusses ‘Book Burner,’ Gear and More
28. Dethklok — Dethalbum III
Interview: Dethklok Mainman Brendon Small Discusses ‘Dethalbum III' and Upcoming Tour
27. Converge — All We Love We Leave Behind
26. The Cult — Choice of Weapon
Dear Guitar Hero: The Cult's Billy Duffy
25. Alabama Shakes — Boys & Girls
Photo Gallery: Alabama Shakes, Jack White and Gary Clark Jr. at Sasquatch! Music Festival
09. Meshuggah — Koloss
Interview: Meshuggah Discuss Their New Album, 'Koloss'
10. Green Day — ¡Uno!
Interview: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong on '¡Uno!,' '¡Dos!' and '¡Tre!'
24. Dinosaur Jr. — I Bet on Sky
Interview: J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
23. Gojira — L’Enfant Sauvage
Video: Watch Gojira Recording Their New Album, 'L'Enfant Sauvage'
22. Kiss — Monster
Excerpt: Paul Stanley Discusses Kiss' New Album, 'Monster'
21. Joe Walsh — Analog Man
Interview: Joe Walsh Discusses His Career, Gear and New Album, 'Analog Man'
20. Jeff Loomis — Plains of Oblivion
Jeff Loomis Posts Play-Through Video for New Song, "The Ultimatum"
19. Joe Bonamassa — Driving Towards the Daylight
Interview: Joe Bonamassa Discusses Gear and His Return to Blues-Rock on 'Driving Towards the Daylight'
18. Between the Buried and Me — The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Exclusive Video: Between the Buried and Me Recording 'Parallax II'
17. Testament — Dark Roots of Earth
Interview: Testament on 'Dark Roots of Earth'
16. Slash — Apocalyptic Love
Interview: Slash Discusses His New Solo Album, 'Apocalyptic Love'
15. Baroness — Yellow & Green
Interview: Baroness Discuss Their Epic New Double Album, 'Yellow & Green'
14. Lamb of God — Resolution
Interview: Lamb of God's Mark Morton and Willie Adler Discuss the Band's New Album, 'Resolution'
13. Deftones — Koi No Yokan
Interview: Deftones on Their New Album, 'Koi Yo Nokan'
12. Aerosmith — Music From Another Dimension!
Excerpt: Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry Discuss Their New Album, 'Music From Another Dimension!'
11. Steve Vai — The Story of Light
Interview: Steve Vai Breaks Down His New Album, 'The Story of Light'
07. Gary Clark Jr. — Blak and Blu
Interview: Austin's Gary Clark Jr. Discusses Influences, Gear and His "Schizophrenic" Style
06. Soundgarden — King Animal
Excerpt: Kim Thayil on the Secrets Behind His Tunings
05. Neil Young & Crazy Horse — Psychedelic Pill
Video: Neil Young Interviewed on 'The Daily Show'
04. ZZ Top — La Futura
Interview: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach
03. Periphery — Periphery II
Interview: Periphery Discuss Their New Album, 'Periphery II: This Time It's Personal'
47. As I Lay Dying — Awakened
As I Lay Dying Post “Cauterize” Lyric Video
48. Wayne Krantz — Howie 61
Interview: Wayne Krantz Discusses His New Album, 'Howie 61'
02. Rush — Clockwork Angels
Interview: Rush Guitarist Alex Lifeson on 'Clockwork Angels'
49. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Last of a Dyin' Breed
Interview: Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gary Rossington Discusses 'Last of a Dyin' Breed'
50. Overkill — The Electric Age
Interview: Overkill's Bobby "Blitz" Ellsworth Talks 'The Electric Age'