19. RAM – Death
I’ve never hid my love for pre-1985 metal, nor for those artists drawing and building on (or even dwelling and stealing from) that era. This year was an amazing one for fans of that classic metal sound, and RAM’s Death led the charge in January, galloping across the frozen fields of their native Sweden to conquer the world. Well, they didn’t exactly conquer the world — or much of anywhere, actually — but they set the yardstick for traditional metal that few could even reach, let alone pass, in 2012.