Ask any number of people what their favourite album of the past year has been and you will more than likely receive a broad range of answers. Given the scope and availability of music in the modern age, there’s no chance for an individual to have listened to every new release out there, and thus, it’s left up to the writers and the rest of us to try and navigate this sonic maze; determining which albums struck a certain chord, and which you, the readers, may enjoy.

When mainstream music publications start rolling out their End Of Year issues, they are operating under the mis-guided notion that their word, their opinion, is final. Indeed, how many times have we looked at a list pumped out by Q, NME and their ilk and thought “Well, there’s no way Muse/Radiohead had the best album this year. I’m off to dash my head against a wall”?

With that in mind, this list of five is in no way a definitive chronicle. Instead, see it as a well-meaning set of personal recommendations from one buoyant music fan to another.

5. Gallows – ‘Gallows’

Losing your talismanic frontman is one thing, but having to replace the essence of what made you unique in the first instance can be a hell of a task. British hardcore punks Gallows were thrown in the deep end after the departure of the wirey and firey Frank Carter: with Carter deciding to devote his energies to the pop-rock shine of Pure Love, Gallows looked across the Atlantic towards Wade MacNeil, the Canadian former vocalist of Alexisonfire.

Facing hostility from fans of Gallows who saw Carter as their leader, the group needed to pull something special out of the hat, and as luck would have it, their eponymous release can be considered their defining statement. Backs to the wall and with a point to prove, both band and album come racing out of the blocks immediately. The opening one-two punch of ‘Victim Culture’ and ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ rattles the skull, while tracks like Last June and Outsider Art eschew rose-tinted nostalgia for a grim, acerbic reality check.

“You can stare at a car crash/but it’ll stare right back” howls MacNeil on “Odessa”. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where Gallows might have turned into a sputtering wreck on the side of the road, they have instead gone eyeball-to-eyeball with all and sundry.

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This article was first posted on November 24, 2012