Monday, January 9, 2012

Top Metal Albums 2011 #66-51


I will be posting over the next few weeks my picks of some of the finest metal released in 2011.

#66 Tombs: Path Of Totality
Sludge metal (USA)

#65 The Atlas Moth: An Ache for the Distance
Sludge metal (USA)

#64 Peste Noire: L'ordure à L´état pur
Black Metal (France)

#63 Midnight: Satanic Royalty
Black/Heavy metal (USA)

#62 Hammers Of Misfortune: 17th Street
Heavy Metal (USA)
Hammers Of Misfortune made my top 66 list mostly because of The Grain.
Recommended for fans of traditional heavy metal.

#61 Before The Dawn: Deathstar Rising / Black Sun Aeon: Blacklight Deliverance
Death Metal (Finland)

#60 Krallica: Diotima
Black Metal (USA)

#59 Amorphis: The Beginning Of Times
Heavy/Progressive Metal (Finland)

#58 Witch Mountain: South Of Salem
Doom Metal (USA)

#57 Belphegor: Blood Magick Necromance
Black/Death Metal (Austria)

#56 Einherjer: Norron
Viking Metal (Norway)
Landing at #56 on my top 2011 list is Einherjer. The band disbanded in 2004, but return to form in 2008.

Norrøn is their first album in eight years and Balladen Om Bifrost is the closer of the album. It has definitely that Bathory vibe to it and sums up the album pretty nicely: this is viking/pagan metal at its finest in 2011, take it or leave it!

#55 In Solitude: The World, The Flesh, The Devil
Heavy Metal (Sweden)

#54 Portrait: Crimen Lasae Majestatis Divinae
Heavy Metal (Sweden)

#53 Uriah Heep: Into The Wild
Heavy Metal (UK)

#52 Pentagram: Last Rites
Traditional Doom (UK)

#51 Vallenfyre: A Fragile King
Death Metal (UK)
When you lose someone dear to you, how do you express sorrow, anger and grief? If you do it the Gregor Mackintosh way after losing his dad suddenly, you fulfill your dream to make that death metal album you always wanted.

True to old school DM roots, Vallenfyre manages to capture all the elements making a fine debut album filled with downtuned guitar, decent growls and Paradise Lostish riffs making my list at position 51.

Top Metal Albums 2011 #50-41

#50 Loss: Despond
Funeral Doom (USA)

#49 Krisiun: The Great Execution
Death Metal (Brazil)

#48 Symphony X: Iconoclast
Progressive Metal (USA)

#47 Havok: Time Is Up
Thrash Metal (USA)

#46 Argus: Boldly Stride The Doomed
Traditional Doom (USA)

#45 Blood Ceremony: Living With The Ancients
Doom Metal (Canada)

#44 Necros Christos: Doom of the Occult
Death/Doom Metal (Germany)

#43 Anthrax: Worship Music
Heavy/Thrash Metal (USA)

#42 Colosseum: Chapter 3: Parasomnia
Funeral Doom (Finland)
Funeral Doom is one tough genre to master. I am slowly learning and beginning to understand why at times it is the perfect way for someone to express solitude, isolation and paganism.

Colosseum's final act was released one year after Juhani Palomäki's passing (RIP) and On The Strand Of Nightmares is the perfect funeral march in his honour. Colosseum make my list at #42.

#41 Machine Head: Unto the Locust
Thrash Metal (USA)

Top Metal Albums 2011 #40-31

#40 Mastodon: The Hunter
Progressive Metal (USA)

#39 Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction
Progressive Metal (Canada)

#38 Isole: Born From Shadows
Doom Metal (Sweden)

#37 Brymir: Breathe Fire to the Sun
Pagan/Folk Metal (Finland)

#36 Sólstafir: Svartir Sandar
Metal (Iceland)

35 Vader: Welcome To The Morbid Reich
Death Metal (Poland)
If there is one thing I have learnt about Vader, it is that they don't let you down. Peter and his crew have been around since the 80's and they show no signs of fatigue.The latest, entitled Welcome To The Morbid Reich, has all the qualities of a stellar death metal album: furious guitar riffs, ballsy vocals and relentless drumming.

The opener Return To The Morbid Reich pretty much tells you the name of the game. Vader enters my list at #35.

#34 Novembers Doom: Aphotic
Death/Doom Metal (USA)

#33 Alghazanth: Vinum Intus
Black Metal (Finland)

#32 Comatose Vigil: Fuimus, Non Sumus...
Funeral Doom (Russia)

#31 Fleshgod Apocalypse: Agony
Brutal Death Metal (Italy)

Top Metal Albums 2011 #30-21

#30 Disma: Towards The Megalith
Death Metal (USA)

#29 YOB: Atma
Stoner/Doom Metal (USA)
You must have noticed that YOB can be found on many year end lists, it also made mine at #29. The trademark for this Oregon based band are the epic songs consisting of huge riffs with downtoned guitars, various tempo changes within a single song and thick atmosphere.

At first these guys didn't really click with me, but the opener Prepare The Ground and this closer Adrift In The Ocean changed my mind.

#28 Iced Earth: Dystopia
Heavy Metal (USA)

#27 Rwake: Rest
Sludge Metal (USA)

#26 Altar Of Plagues: Mammal
Black Metal (Ireland)
How often would you use black metal and Ireland in the same sentence? Well, now you can when you listen to Altar Of Plagues. Guess the trve black metal elitists call this hipster or post black metal, but I don't care.

Mammal has only four songs clocking at 52 minutes offering massive, obscure, violent, depressive and even progressive moments yet making it intriguing and accessible. Altar Of Plagues on my list at #26. Check out the opening track Nepture Is Dead.

#25 Insomnium: One For Sorrow
Melodic Death Metal (Finland)

#24 Riot: Immortal Soul
Heavy/Speed Metal (USA)
In less than year ago I knew nothing about Riot. Now I am more than happy this more than 35 year old band caught my attention. Immortal Soul has all the great elements and moments of a 80's tradiotional heavy/speed metal album updated to 21th century.

Fall Before Me hit me like a hammer and the chorus will be stuck in your head for days. These guys deserve the #24 position.

#23 Týr: The Lay Of Thrym
Folk Metal (Faroe Islands)

#22 Arch / Matheos: Sympathetic Resonance
Progressive Metal (USA)
How many of you remember Fates Warning? Then you must remember John Arch, who still possesses one of the most unique and controversial voices in metal. You either love him or hate him.

Mr. Arch didn't tour for more than 10 years but returned to his day job being a carpenter. Needless to say his voice is still top notch at the age of 52 and the reunion with ex-Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos works like a charm.

#21 Satan's Host: By The Hands Of The Devil
Death/Speed/Thrash Metal (USA)
One of the craziest combination of genres is here: speed metal, thrash and black metal all blended together with clean vocals, sounds like a failure? Satan's Host is making it work with superb vocal delivery of Harry Conklin (ex-Jag Panzer) and singing harmonies, fierce blast beat drumming and relentless riffing.

By The Hands Of The Devil has that infernal and enchanting magic to it, you cannot help but surrender. SH takes #21 position my list.

Top Metal Albums 2011 #20-11

#20 Esoteric: Paragon Of Dissonance
Funeral Doom (UK)
#20 on 2011 year end's list goes to Esoteric. These guys have been around for 20 years now and Paragon Of Dissonance happens to be the first funeral doom album I purchased. The times they are a changing since the 80's I first put Twisted Sister on my cassette recorder and thought "Boy, this is heavy".

Abandonment is a great example of Esoteric sound: slow, crushing and heavy but yet melodic and approachable. The second half of this song literally blew me away, it is just that good.

#19 Amon Amarth: Surtur Rising
Death Metal (Sweden)

#18 Wolves In The Throne Room: Celestial Lineage
Black Metal (USA)
Black metal truly hit me this year. I finally let go of all my prejudices and my mind was blown away many times. One of these bands is Wolves In The Throne Room. Their critically acclaimed Two Hunters and especially I Will Lay Down My BonesAmong the Rocks and Roots was the final blow.

I was lucky to catch them live in November in Tampere and heard the above mentioned song, truly great! Their latest might be the last black metal album according to some sources and the opening track Thuja Magus Imperium captures all the great elements on this album. WITTR enter my list at #18.

#17 Septic Flesh: The Great Mass
Death Metal (Greece)

#16 Ghost Brigade: Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
Atmospheric Sludge (Finland)
Ok people: Ghost Brigade's third release is great. First of all Until Fear No Longer Defines Us has one of the coolest album covers of 2011. It starts oddly with a melodic outro sounding prelude and then explodes into Clawmaster, which is goddamn awesome and one of the finest moments in this album.

I expect these guys will have bigger audiences and lots of international gigs in the future, they are force to be reckoned with. Why didn't they make my top 15 is a question of mood and when I was compiling my list and dragging artists up and down they ended at #16. They could have easily hit top 10 on some other day.

#15 Darkest Era: The Last Caress Of Light
Folk Metal (Northern Ireland)
When I first heard The Morrigan I knew I was going to love this band.Darkest Era hails from Northern Ireland and consists of three young lads and two lassies playing folk/celtic metal. The Last Caress Of Light is only their debut album yet showing great potential, good vocals and songwriting skills.

I urge you to check out this band and I am expecting great things from these guys in the future. Darkest Era #15 on my top 2011 list.

#14 Kroda: Schwarzpfad
Pagan Black Metal (Ukraine)

#13 Light Bearer: Lapsus
Sludge Metal (UK)
Sludge is another genre that I knew nothing a few years ago. I am glad I expanded my view cause I ended finding many great bands. London's pride Light Bearer seems to get only better and better the more I listen to it. There are elements of post hardcore, ambient sludge and progressive metal, but it all blends well together. Lapsus is only their debut album, so my mind is pretty much blown how talented these guys are.

Lapsus ends with this self-titled song and it is massive clocking nearly 18 minutes. Especially the ending should give you chills like it did to me. Take a good seat in your armchair, light up the fire and let these guys expand your horizons. My pick #13.

#12 Cormorant: Dwellings
Progressive Metal (USA)

#11 Thy Catafalque: Rengeteg
Avant-garde Metal (Hungary)
My first encounter with Thy Catafalque was back in 2009 when Roka Hasa Radio ended on many year end lists. I decided to check this band out and didn't regret it. The mastermind behind this one-man avant-garde metal project is Tamas Katai. What is extraordinary about this band is that he sings in Hungarian language and the music varies from synth driven industrial sound to gloomier guitar driven progressive metal.

Fekete Mezök (translated Black Fields) is the opener of the Rengeteg and displays all the great elements of this album. Highly recommended! TC makes it #11 just dropping out of top 10.