Apparently my co-hosts beat to making these posts. Oh well.
We covered a lot of this on the show, so I will try not bore you with rehashing everything. But, again, I would to say how much I loathe doing lists. I always feel like I am snubbing so many good or great albums because I try not to be bias just because I favor one sub-genre over another. Ok, well, I am doing just that, but I don’t like it. For example, Tombs is third on my list but I cannot listen to that album in any frequency because it is just depressing. However, August Burns Red, Unearth, Amon Amarth and other put out great albums that I listened to a ton of times, but they didn’t make the list.
So what am I rambling about? All the albums on my Top 20 list deserve to be where they are and you should just go buy them if you haven’t already. However, this is hardly comprehensive of all the great albums that came out in 2011. There are many more albums than the ones below I will certainly be going back and listening to in 2012 and beyond. Despite how much Kyle may have bitched and moaned about how bad 2011 was, he is wrong…he is just a persnickety bitch.
THE TOP 20
20. Chimaira – The Age of Hell/Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions
19. Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All
18. Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
17. Memfis – Vertigo
16. The Human Abstract – Digital Veil
15. Obscura – Omnivium
14. Krisiun – The Great Execution
13. Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street
12. Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire/Ana Kefr – The Burial Tree (II)
11. The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
10. Origin – Entity: My first foray into this band was with 2008’s Antithesis, and that album just blew my mind. Heaviness that can shift tectonic plates, technicality to melt your brain, and a production that lets both those characteristics shine. Well, Entity bring all of that back, only this time they write stronger, more memorable songs. How this band is at the top of the death metal dog pile is beyond me.
9. Desultory – Counting Our Scars: If only more Swedish death metal could sound like this album. Swirling riffs, catchy hooks, tight, busy drums, all wrapped in a sense of desperation. I can’t really think of too many death metal albums that display more emotions than rage or anger, but between the lead lines throughout the album and the cold production really make you feel the dark, depressing emotions that they are trying to convey.
8. Kvelertak – Kvelertak: This was one of the most original albums I picked up this year. Dirty, gritty, head-banging, beer-chugging, blackened punk. That’s really the best way to describe it, as little sense as it may make. But when it is not the dead of winter, get in your car, go cruising, and blare this our your windows and tell me that you didn’t not a damn good time. I dare you.
7. Uneven Structure – Februus: This fantastic debut LP started taking ‘djent’ to the next level. Relying just as much (if not more) on ambiance and lighter melodic passages as it did on polyrhythmic riffs and odd time signatures, Uneven Structure created a beautiful album (bess, this should be listened to as a whole) that will appeal to the open minded, and pushes “popular” progressive metal toward it’s future.
6. Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning: Yes, I realize this album isn’t metal, but tough shit. It’s fantastic. This album is a fantastic display progressive, alternative rock…the kind of thing that should be on the radio. There is a kind of sad (if you will) overtone to the album, but these memorable songs have so much energy to them, from the build up in the verse to the explosion int he chorus. Think Perfect Circle meets Karnivool and you have a broad idea of what this sounds like.
5. Revocation – Chaos of Forms: This is the breath of fresh air that thrash needed. These Bostonian shredders have more talent and technical proficiency than most of their peers, and they know how to put it into a song that is memorable while being creative. The rhythm sections pummels you while the riffs just swirl your head. If you are looking for something technical you can bang your head to that isn’t death metal, you just found it.
4. Junius – Reports From the Threshold of Death: Yeah, I know that this also isn’t technically metal. But again…tough. Very few albums this year got me sucked in, spaced out, and just lost in them. This album creates soundscapes that make you just want to close your eyes and float away in the beautiful darkness that is painted with the ambient keyboards, distorted guitars, booming drums, and smooth vocals. (Also, this is the kinds of album that really makes you appreciate a really good pair of headphones. Just throwing that out there.)
3. Tombs – Path of Totality: Oppressive only begins to describe this album. It’s heavy as hell, but also probably the most depressing thing I had the pleasure of listening to all year. Blending noise rock, sludge, black metal, post-punk, hardcore and other things, Tombs use this to display wrenching songs that can move from slow, dissonant depression to fast, scathing rage…sometimes within the same song. This album is no for the faint of heart…or mentally unstable.
2. TesseracT – One/Last Chance To Reason – Level 2: By now, we all know I am indecisive…and if for no other reason, because this is not the first tie on my list. However, I really think it is fair to say that these are of equal caliber, showing displaying different takes on progressive metal. TesseracT nail the ‘dent’ sound with heavy yet moving and slightly ambient, hook-laden songs. LCTR take a different approach to progressive with a computer themed album, flowing with digital samples , and sound or like a condensed Between the Buried and Me. But both of came out swinging and are going to have a lot to live up to on their respective follow-up albums.
1. Machine Head – Unto the Locust: I know we have talked about this one at length on the show, so for all you listeners (thanks!) this is no surprise. To those of you who haven’t listened and are scratching their heads…while there are other big bands (like Lamb of God..especially older albums…for example) who have a great technical proficiency and can write memorable songs, very few of them can do it on the scale that 80’s Metallica did: long, epic songs filled with stunning technicality, riffs and solos that shredded your face off, AND songs catchy enough to be stuck in your head and demand you listened to them again. Almost 20 years into the game, Machine Fucking Head have proven that they are one of the few the can.
For the other honors, I may have picked an order for them on the show, but here, I am going to list them in no particular order.
Best Debut Album
Uneven Structure – Februus
TesseracT – One
Kvelertak – Kvelertak
Dead Letter Circus – This Is The Warning
World Under Blood – Tactical
Best Album Artwork
Sceptic Flesh – The Great Mass
Revocation – Chaos of Forms
Century – Red Giant
Cormorant – Dwellings
Best Live Act
The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
Born of Osiris – The Discovery
Korpiklaani – Ukon Wacka
Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination
Children of Bodom – Relentless Reckless Forever
Times of Grace – The Hymn of a Broken Man
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – IV
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony
The Soulless – Isolated
Goes Cube – In Tides and Drifts
Threat Signal – Threat Signal
Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions
Machine Head – Unto The Locust
DevilDriver – Beast
Neuraxis – Asylon
Worst Live Act
Fit for an Autopsy
Maylene and the Sons of Disaster (@ Damned Things tour)
The Haunted – Unseen
Structures – Divided By
Redemption – This Mortal Coil
(shout of to Morbid Angel and Metallica/Lou Read for putting out albums that are supposed to be so bad, I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to them)