So before I get down to the nitty gritty, I guess I should state that this “list” doesn’t really have an order like many other year end lists tend to do. Oh and it doesn’t just stop at albums either! I also list which shows were my favorite that I attended in 2011! Hopefully you didn’t miss these!
Platinum Albums – The albums that defined my year.
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
One of the elements I look for in an album to call it a “platinum” or what others may call “classic” is the play through. If you can write an album that can be played through, multiple times, and without any weak moments that call for the skip button, then you reach this category. Amon Amarth has done it, again. Surtur Rising is one of the most epic, war cry albums I have ever been graced to listen to. Never a dull moment in this album except during the seconds of silence between tracks, I will be revisiting this album again and again for years to come. My only question, how does Amon Amarth top this in the future?!
Mastodon – The Hunter
They’re back! After what was a huge let down with Crack the Skye along with more let downs of live shows hearing nothing but that same album in its entirety, Mastodon is back. The Hunter from beginning to end brings you on a journey through space and time itself. If there was an award for the trippiest album of the year, this takes it in a landslide! Heavy, melodic, epic, and return to form is all you need to say about this album.
Anthrax – Worship Music
This was probably one of my highest anticipated albums of the year because I was hoping that this overly delayed album would not be just another Chinese Democracy. Thank Thor that this was not the case. Joey Belladona returns to Anthrax for the first time since 1990 and its as if things never changed. Worship Music has become my favorite album of theirs since the immortal, Among the Living.
Revocation – Chaos of Forms
If you do not know of Revocation, stop reading after this paragraph, go on youtube, and search for “Cradle Robber” by them. Upon hearing this one song, you will want to listen to the rest of the album. And let me tell you, its all so very damn good! For those who have listened to Chaos of Forms can probably agree with me on this one. The only tiff I have with anything this band does is that they don’t play a lot of shows in their hometown and we are usually left begging for just one off date. (Don’t I look stupid now after seeing them at Great Scott in April and then they are coming back in June)
Septic Flesh – The Great Mass
If I had to pick a true #1 album of the year, it would be this album right here. Septic Flesh came back from a long hiatus with a mission. This being their sophomore release of said hiatus makes it all that much more impressive. I literally listened to this album, from front to back, close to 200 times. I’m not kidding. Everything from the vocals, to the drums, to the riffs, to the orchestration was absolutely flawless. Not a dull moment on this entire CD. When Don posted this review the day of release and gave it a lot of merit, I figured I would sang it and give it a listen through. I haven’t stopped listening to it yet.
Decapitated – Carnival is Forever
What is their to say about this album? Probably something along the lines of this: phenomenal. Decapitated has been my favorite death metal band for years and I’m sure everyone was bummed out pretty hard after the loss of Vitek. A lot of people were worried about what would become of this virtuoso band. Any critic of Decapitated can now shut their mouths. You know what’s wrong with this album? Fucking nothing.
Gold Albums – The good albums of the year.
Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction
I don’t need to say anything other than Devin Townsend is God.
Unearth – Darkness in the Light
Haven’t been extremely happy with an Unearth release for awhile, but this one was fantastic. The tragic flaw is that where some songs shredded harder than some of their staple songs. others failed to grab my attention and sometimes found the skip button.
Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination
This album literally just missed the cut off from being a “Platinum” album. Everything I have known and loved about Skeletonwitch is on this album. The only thing that brought it down was that after a good handful of listens, I started mixing up the songs. Maybe it was the fact that this album was very one directional as opposed to prior albums that have tracks that give the album that edge.
Destruction – Day of Reckoning
Having always been a fan of all the thrash movements, this one was a no brainer. This album will always hold a spot in my mind that no other album will because it was the first album i reviewed for this site. Beyond that cheesy moment, I still rock out hard to this album and tend to avoid listening to it when driving. Something about driving too fast while head banging is “dangerous” they tell me.
Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions
Was this the best release they have ever had? No. Is it up there on the list? Abso-freaking-lutely. Arch Enemy has become, over time, one of my go to bands for epic guitar riffage and vocals. This album has basically cemented that thought for me and has paved the way for Arch Enemy to make it onto my personal favorite 25 bands ever.
IKillYa – Recon EP
If you haven’t given these guys a listen, and consider yourself a fan or Lamb of God and/or NY Hardcore… you should be ashamed of yourself. The raw emotion on this release was so powerful, I am left stunned each and every time I listen through it. The only thing I have to complain about is that I want more! Do yourself a favor, get your hands on this puppy right here, talk them up, and get them a show in your city!
Chthonic – Takasago Army
One of the biggest finds for me this year was Chthonic. Opened up for Arch Enemy back in September and I my jaw hit the floor. After hearing past albums, this is by far their greatest one to date and only opens up more doorways for them to grow even more.
Chimaira – The Age of Hell
Chimaira + Daath = kick ass record! It is sad to see many of the members of Chimaira split this year so this is like the last hoorah for them all together. Still listening to this album like its new some days.
Puscifer – Conditions of My Parole
Ya. That’s right. Puscifer put out one of the best albums this year. Not many people will say this is “metal” or “hardcore” or maybe even “hard rock.” But MJK knows how to get my adrenaline flowing and my head banging. Yet at the same time, I can be extremely relaxed when listening to this album. Give it a try, I guarantee it will make your head spin.
Silver Albums – These albums are also good, just not “Gold” material.
Trivium – In Waves
FINALLY! Trivium has written an album that doesn’t sound like friggen Metallica! Shogun was a step in the right direction, but In Waves was leaps and bounds better than anything since the Ascendency album. I know its too early to speculate, but I will. How are they going to beat this release?
Machine Head – Unto the Locust
Good album, but didn’t come close to touching their previous. Am I shocked? No not at all. Enjoyable album overall but just too in love with the last one.
Deicide – To Hell With God
Solid album but not as strong as some past releases I have listened to. No real complaints other than I guess the album didn’t live up to my expectations.
Devildriver – Beast
Dez returns, more pissed off than usual which is ok with me. Devildriver is usually my angry band of choice so this album was…well… beastly.
Sylosis – Edge of the Earth
Impressive. Anytime a band cans their lead vocalist, one begins to worry. Not Sylosis. In fact, I think they got better with this release. Keep up the good work guys!
Dir En Grey – Dum Spiro Spero
Putting aside how terrible the sound techs were on their recent tour, this album kicks ass. The Japanese five piece got extremely heavy for this release and I have no problems with them staying that way.
Earth Crisis – Neutralize the Threat
Did Tim put a hardcore band in his favorites?! Yes, I did. Earth Crisis has been around for awhile and I have dug their sound for some time. This just happen to be a very strong album for them that I actually enjoyed.
Honorable Mentions – Solid albums as well, just beat out by better ones is all.
ICS Vortex – Storm Seeker
What a great way to start off your solo project Vortex! Without Vortex, Dimmu Borgir just isn’t the same.
Lazarus A.D. – Black Rivers Flow
Not as big as The Onslaught was a few years back, but still a solid, mature, album for this growing thrash band.
Neuraxis – Asylon
Didn’t get around to this album as much as I wanted to because their live show was awesome. I may just put it on now while I write this!
Darkest Hour – The Human Romance
I felt like something was missing this effort from Darkest Hour. Didn’t hate it, but also wasn’t very impressed.
The Human Abstract – Digital Veil
Reviewed this album earlier on in the year. Still sounds great as it did then, just had other albums beat it out.
Rotten Sound – Cursed
Just got into these guys recently (ya I know I know) but this album was just the beginning of my growing romance for Rotten Sound.
Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
Originally, I thought this band sucked when I saw them at a New England Metalfest. Gave them another shot with this album and I feel like I made the right decision.
Born of Osiris – The Discovery
Similar to Human Abstract, BOO just really doesn’t grab me as an awesome band. However, this album impressed me from how bad their earlier albums were. I see a bright future for these guys.
Tesseract – One
Most of this release was the EP that came out prior so only a few new tracks were actually on the album.
Obscura – Omnivium
Why the hell didn’t I listen to this album more? It is a very good album but I just couldn’t seem to stop listening to other bands I guess.
Alestorm – Back Through Time
They want to kill Vikings? GASP! Still a silly album that also continues their feud with rival pirates, Swashbuckle.
Sepultura – Kairos
Still can’t seem to enjoy the most recent vocalist since the Cavalera Era. Having said that, this album had great groove to it and two great surprises with covers of Prodigy and Ministry.
Ear Bleeding Albums – No that’s not a good thing. These albums were terrible.
Korn – The Path of Totality
I really don’t want to even talk about it. My childhood band basically spat in my face when deciding to work with the likes of Skrillex.
In Flames – The Sounds of a Playground Fading
Metal Sucks put it correctly, The Sounds of a Playground Failing. Another band I have loved for years, but after this release, I think I am done caring for them. What happened?
Textures – Dualism
In no way shape or form did I hate the instrumentals on this album, in fact I LOVE Textures. I just don’t dig the new vocalist… at all.
Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events
I give these guys a chance with every single release. And every time I ask myself, “Why did I listen to that?”
Suicide Silence – The Black Crown
Congrats guys, you have officially become a “cookie-cutter” band. Take notes on how to better your sound and not play the same deathcore breakdowns in every song.
Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus
I waited a long time for this album, thought it was going to grow on me, and it didn’t. Pretty big let down for not just me but apparently a lot of other people as well.
Winds of Plague – Against the World
WTF happened to this band? Went from a pretty cool symphonic death metal sound to… well… Fred Durst.
The Haunted – Unseen
They should have called it Unheard. Bring Marco back to do vocals. Peter Dolving is pathetic. So when is At The Gates coming back?
Children of Bodom – Relentless Reckless Forever
Remember when Children of Bodom was one of the coolest bands you ever heard? Ya. Me too. This is a prime example why bands SHOULD experiment with their sound, not stick to a formula for 15 years.
Emmure – Speaker of the Dead
I listened to about half of this album, against my will, and it induced vomiting afterwards. I want my 15 minutes of life back along with that very expensive Five Guys Burger that landed in the porcelain express.
Times of Grace – The Hymn of a Broken Man
Again, an album that was hyped up, had a good hit off of it, got old, and the rest of the album was stale. Sorry Jesse, but I think it would have been smarter to work with Seamless.
Otep – Atavist
After seeing “The Tribe” roll through Thrash Mag’s Metal March Madness I gave this band a try. I mean cmon with a devoted fanbase they must sound good right? Well my friends, I just can’t do it. Otep should stick to writing poetry and put down the instruments… please!
Shows of the Year
Once again, there is no real order to these shows.
- Arch Enemy, Devildriver, Skeletonwitch, Chthonic
- Children of Bodom, Devin Townsend Project, Septic Flesh, Obscura
- An Evening with Amon Amarth
- Eluveitie, 3 Inches of Blood (did not play MA date), Holy Grail, System Divide
- Anthrax, Testament, Death Angel
- Death Angel, Lazarus A.D., Bonded by Blood, Violent History, Gutbucket, Razormaze
- Mastodon, Dillenger Escape Plan, Red Fang
- Puscifer, Corina Round
- Dropkick Murphys, Against Me!
Ok so maybe you don’t go to as many shows as I do in a year, but I hope you at least went to a couple of these!
So far, 2012 sounds promising with already confirmed releases from Lamb of God and Aborted to rumors of a new Tool album to name a few. Will 2012 be able to beat 2011? I’m skeptical, but not doubtful.