Welcome (back) to the 4th Annual Arsies, a mythic showdown of the best heavy metal albums of the last year. The rules are simple: over the next six weeks, our thirty-two picks will face off in a purely hypothetical, but nonetheless very real, tournament. The prize: eternal glory from you, our dozens of viewers. Also, the champion will received the coveted Gilded Arse.
Each weekday, two albums will be pitted against each other via repeated listenings and in-the-moment judgments. At the end of that day, only one will emerge victorious, going onto the next stage of competition. On and on the metal flows, until at last one band claims the prize.
Over the past year, I've listened to 108 albums, and have culled that list down to the best 32. That includes truly awful stinkers from Papa Roach, Corrosion Of Conformity, and Van Halen. I suffer, so that you don't have to.
One other point of clarification: there were a couple of anticipated, well-known albums that did not make it onto this list (such as releases by Bison BC and Cattle Mutilation). Why not? Because they were unavailable on Spotify, Rdio, Grooveshark, or even YouTube. Message received, retarded record labels.
We'll start the action a little early this year, on New Year's Eve 2012.