The year 2011 wasn’t as bad for metal as I had initially feared. In all honesty, I did not listen to half of the albums that were released last year, but from what I did hear, the following (in no particular order) were my favorites:
Sylosis – Edge Of The Earth
Sylosis is one of my favorite new bands. Hearing this band for the first time was like discovering bacon. Their previous release, Conclusion Of An Age, left a lasting impression on me, and with the release of Edge Of The Earth this past year, they have firmly cemented themselves in my playlist. I can confidently say that any self-respecting metal head should have this in their library.
Septic Flesh – The Great Mass
I know some of the older fans have been put off by the direction this band has taken, but I can’t help but love the material that Septic Flesh has been producing as of late. With its gothic themed brand of death metal, The Great Mass was a dark and profound experience that I’ve been compelled to revisit many times.
Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
This was Trap Them’s third full-length release, and I thought it was a very strong outing for the band. Darker Handcraft was dirty and torrential, and it touched upon all the finer parts of crust punk. And by finer, I mean caustic and abrasive – as it should be. It may not be an “all day any day” kind of album, but it’s one of few choices to properly scratch a particular musical itch.
The Famine – The Architects Of Guilt
I was completely unfamiliar with The Famine when I was given this album for review, and The Architects Of Guilt was a pleasant surprise. The lyrics and themes were some of the best that I heard all year, and the music was pummeling and interesting without going over the top. This is a good band to turn to when you want something heavy that relies on its substance over its technicality.
The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
I’ve been a fan of The Black Dahlia Murder since Unhallowed, and it is with great excitement that I’ve watched them outdo themselves album after album. This trend continued with Ritual, which was the band’s most well-constructed effort yet. If you ever liked this band at all and haven’t had a chance to check this release out, it should be at the top of your to-do list.
Today Is The Day – Pain Is A Warning
Today Is The Day have always been in a class all their own – trying to pigeonhole them into a sound that can be described is a task best left unfulfilled. They are an ever-evolving sound that is the epitome of harrowing, and this year’s outing was no exception. Pain Is A Warning is a solid record, and it is possibly the band’s most accessible album ever. This is my favorite addition to their catalog since Sadness Will Prevail.
Between The Buried And Me – The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues
Between The Buried And Me managed to release a three track EP that is longer than most band’s full-length albums. This is everything a fan of the band would come to expect from them – incredibly varied, technical, and progressive. If you have a pulse and enjoy talented musicianship, you’ve probably already heard The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, but in case you haven’t, there’s no better time than now.
Job For A Cowboy – Gloom
This was possibly the most impressive thing Job For A Cowboy has ever released, and it left me begging for more. Gloom is a home run of an EP, and it has rekindled the enthusiasm I had for this band when I first started listening to them. If you wrote these guys off because of their popularity with the mallcore crowd, Gloom is a great excuse to give them another chance.
Abigail Williams – In The Absence Of Light
For the most part, I never paid much attention to Abigail Williams until they released In The Absence Of Light. This album is wholesome, unadulterated black metal, which is surprising for a young American band. They offer an auditory experience that is simultaneously epic and malevolent. Track six, “In Death Comes The Great Silence”, is possibly my favorite song from all of 2011. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Amon Amarth is pretty much the archetype for the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This band has remained largely unchanged throughout their entire career, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the interest of prolonging their campaign of intrinsic death metal, they saw fit to grace us with Surtur Rising, which earned a spot on pretty much everybody’s top 10 list. Everybody who is cool, that is. Join us.
There were only two albums that made me wish my tinnitus was stronger:
Emmure – Speaker Of The Dead
I can appreciate that what Emmure released before this was not the absolute worst, but there is no looking past the three-note abomination that is Speaker Of The Dead. There was only one part of this whole album that I actually liked, and it’s not worth listening to 38 minutes of douchery to find it. Even the album cover is fucking retarded. They somehow made Street Fighter and Transformers less cool by association. Congratulations guys. You finished what Michael Bay started.
In Flames – Sounds Of A Playground Fading
What the shit, In Flames? It hurts. I’m still in awe that the band that released The Jester Race and Colony is now releasing albums like Soundtrack To Your Escape and Sounds Of A Playground Fading. This is Gothenburg’s Metallica – if Clayman was their black album, then this past year’s release was St. Anger. It’s a sad state of affairs, and one of the reasons that I drink.