Yep, this year I decided to post my picks for 2011. I usually keep my lists confined to my last.fm page and haven’t posted them here in the past but fuck it.
I went with a main top 20 list plus a separate demos + EPs and splits list with less detail — despite the fact that a few EPs show up in my main list. Usually everything from the top 5 stays solidified at their spots the others may go up and down the list occasionally.
2011 was another great year for music, there was so much great shit released by hard working groups and labels that again it was a tough year to make a list. I always feel as though I should wait like a month or two after the new year to make a list like this since I do usually miss an amazing record and regret not putting it on the list. On that note: if I miss something it’s cool if you post a suggestion in the comments, but please try to hold off on the “You forgot _______, not good enough for ya?!” type of comments — you guys have your own lists to do justice to those albums you feel I’ve missed.
Do post suggestions though. I have added a huge Honorable Mentions and More Good Shit list for recommended albums that aren’t in the top 20 but are great. Anything not on that list I didn’t feel like mentioning, haven't heard it or I just missed it.
Enjoy and GFYS.
#20. SubRosa - No Help For The Mighty Ones
Label: Profound Lore Records
Beneath the Crown
I still can’t get over how those violins sound like trumpets, and its just so cool. What a great sludge/doom release that I was very surprised by. Majority females in this band with a semi-Neurosis/A Storm of Light aesthetic and sound floating about it, melancholic with a psychedelic flavor sprinkled throughout. Everything about this release feels drugged out: from the fuzzy guitar and bass to the droning clean female vocals and the wavering, droopy violins. It’s mournful and as heavy as your eyelids after downing 10 bottles of NyQuil.
#19. Ash Borer - Ash Borer
Label: Gilead Media / Profound Lore Records
In the Midst of Life, We Are In Death
Ash Borer, alongside Fell Voices, is one of the better new atmospheric black metal acts from the US in recent memory (and one of my favorites). With this self-titled release (their first full length) they have further proven that, and what they offer here is something with a sad beauty rumbling through the cascadian themes. Trance inducing and bursting with drawn-out serpentine riffs that envelope you like an soft earthen cloak, groaning like a tree that has been felled does before it hits the forest floor. This record is so tremendous I have two copies of it. Ash Borer stand out and build expertly on what they’ve created in past releases.
#18. Corpsessed - The Dagger & The Chalice
Label: Dark Descent Records
Altar of Worms
This 20 minute EP destroys a lot of full length albums I heard this year. The sound of bones shattering and crackling in a fire pit next to an altar of sacrifice. The Dagger & The Chalice will put you on your heels, it has a smokey, ash-laden atmosphere enveloping the razor sharp riffs which stick in your brain like a hatchet. From the opening wails and squeals of the guitar to the final terrifying blasts and ominous siren Corpsessed have made something formidable here and I have spun it regularly this year.
#17. False - Untitled
Label: Gilead Media
The Key of Passing Suffering
Gilead Media — man do they consistently bring the good stuff. This album has a Weakling riff in it (Sleepmaker, 10:04 minutes in = Dead As Dreams, 4 minutes in). That alone pleases me greatly, and I seem to be the only person pointing this out from what I’ve read. I think that some may count this aspect as a slight against it but for a big Weakling fan like me I love it. Putting aside this they don't resemble Weakling at all — they definitely have their own sound. False came out of nowhere with this well refined untitled squall of frostbitten, snarling turmoil encased in a semi-progressive black metal shell. The brief Emperor-esque symphonic touches do not feel cheesy and fit well with the bristling, sometimes melodic leads. My initial impression of this has changed a lot and I enjoy it a great deal more than when I originally posted/reviewed it.
#16. Ritual Necromancy - Oath of the Abyss
Label: Dark Descent Records
Consummating Crypts of Eternity
Dark Descent Records have their hands on a shit ton of wicked bands, and Ritual Necromancy are near the top of the pile. A powerful and barbaric assault of death metal with chunky growling guitars crawling from the withered tombs of some ancient, scorched stronghold. Oath of the Abyss slams you in the face with brutal oldschool styled riffs that will stomp you into the ground and you’ll enjoy every second of it. I’ve seen them live, they slay even harder than on record which is a huge accomplishment.
#15. Gottesmorder - Gottesmorder
Label: Absurd Creature Recordings
Abyss of Throats
Probably the best request Equivoke has received this year (I’m still sifting through a few of them) and outside of Ash Borer and maybe one or two others is the only atmospheric black metal release that genuinely excited me in 2011. Quality writing is on display here (ala Fell Voices the first Altar of Plagues album) in the form of crawling, frosty whirling riffs, subtle synths and a spacey, ethereal enamel. In the increasingly overcrowded genre this is a crisp and refreshingly bleak twist on it, cathartic and funereal. It’s a short but tasty album and I’m looking forward to how they take it from here.
#14. Braveyoung - We Are Lonely Animals
Label: The End Records
How Each Friend Departed (Thus Do The Gods)
Our Teeth Are Falling Out
This is absolutely beautiful. We Are Lonely Animals is one of the only post-rock releases that I haven’t been disappointed with this year — in fact quite the opposite. I was greatly anticipating what the ex-Giant group would come up with after their EP and what they’ve recorded here is marvelous. Minimalistic, ambient, calm and angelic. The careful use of a variety of instruments adds much to the soft and sad tone of the album. Almost entirely instrumental (one track with minimal, subtle vocals over an acoustic guitar) and probably overlooked by many post-rock fans. A quiet drone embodying solitude.
#13. Young and In The Way - I Am Not What I Am
Label: Antithetic Records / Swarm of Nails
Ascending The White Mountain
They Should Greet Me With Howls of Execration
Young and In The Way is one of the best newer bands out there. These guys are so fucking awesome, spewing out angular, dissonant dark hardcore with a crusty edge relentlessly. Attaining both a vitriolic hate-filled bouncy hardcore sound and an austere piercing atmosphere. This is a band to get on top of if you haven’t already. Lots of feedback and, heavy, twangy riffs and scratchy rasps come together to create something immensely satisfying. One to watch without a doubt.
#12. Reka - III
Label: OSK Records
Another album that came out of nowhere and which I had on repeat this year once I discovered it. This is reminiscent of a mash up of Tesa, Amenra and Celeste while still retaining a unique sound. Brilliantly catchy atmospheric sludge/hardcore from a pack of Russian and French dudes. Excellent writing on display here, no boring or overly drawn-out generic post-metal moments and they’re quite conservative with the effects, pacing them perfectly. Filled with intense heavy, groovy sludge build ups with powerful post-rock-ish crescendos and atmosphere that had me swaying in a trance from beginning to end. This quenched my Amenra thirst this year it’s that good and had me grabbing my guitar with determination.
#11. Young and In The Way - V. Eternal Depression
Label: Antithetic Records / Swarm of Nails
The Great Blue Norther
Oceans of Eternal Depression
In the short time between I Am Not What I Am and V. Eternal Depression, Young and In The Way have shown incredible growth. I was blown away by the former album and was not expecting another release so soon nor was I expecting it to top the last one, but they some how managed to do that. The progression from their last few releases is astonishing, taking the crusty hardcore with subtle ambient, sludge and black metal influences and cranking those last three aspects up a great deal more here with moments of reverby stillness. A huge emphasis on atmosphere (especially in the final track) within the fury of blackened crust mayhem. V. Eternal Depression creates a wicked blend and was a splendid surprise this year.
#10. Barghest - Barghest
Label: Gilead Media
The Rite of Isolation
Reduced To Ashes
Two members of Thou making raw and caustic black metal, how could this be anything but killer? Barghest’s album is one I initially didn’t like at all but after putting it down for a time I picked it up again, gave it another listen and was blown away by the coarse and unrelenting tracks within. This record is simple but very addictive, containing many whirlwind riffs that compelled me to pick up my guitar once again and figure them out. A very satisfying release that ends with a death metal tone. Gilead Media bringing the awesome.
#9. Circle of Ouroborus - Eleven Fingers
Label: Handmade Birds Records
Black metal or not this shit is great. Circle of Ouroborus have been on the periphery of my radar for the last two years but I never ventured into their catalogue until I heard the preview of this album. They jump around genres a little and nothing they’ve done has really stuck to me until this was finally released. Eleven Fingers is bitingly frigid low-fi post-punk/shoegazey black metal that is quite captivating. Radiating a strange dreamy beauty from beginning to end, the howling and mournful clean vocals entrance you while the blanket of soft riffs caress your ears. Been spinning this regularly since it was released.
#8. Atriarch - Forever The End
Label: Seventh Rule Records
Impenetrable darkness and sorrow laced in a psychedelic/gothic mist. Slow, ugly, gloomy and atmospheric. Forever the End was a big surprise but considering the group is made up of members from the likes of Graves At Sea and Trees it makes sense that this is tremendously heavy. While it definitely is doom, it’s very much unlike other doom outfits I’ve heard. It weighs down on you as if you were carrying a granite slab at the bottom of an ocean trench and is just as dark, exuding endless pain and hopelessness. You'll never reach the surface. If you want to be crushed for 36 minutes this is the album for you. Left me speechless. A major win for Seventh Rule.
#7. Mamaleek - Kurdaitcha
Label: Enemies List Home Recordings
You Can Bury Me In The East
The White Marble Stone
Two enigmatic brothers making bizarre black metal in their basement. It’s a truly strange record, a little more experimentally tame than previous records which contained jazz breaks and whatnot but I feel that this is more focused and works in favor of their sound. Kurdaitcha is a blend of noise, electronic, and middle-eastern flared low-fi black metal with some eyebrow raising catchy moments amongst the quirks. It grew on me so much and I keep coming back to it, especially the tragic and groovy You Can Bury Me In The East. Another gem from Enemies List Home Recordings.
#6. GridLink - Orphan
Label: Hydra Head Records
There are still people complaining about the length of this magnificent creation...really guys? I myself am tired of 30 track grind records where there’s only 8 songs which are remotely interesting containing little originality. This is the opposite. This is what grind should be: carefully planned, expertly executed, distilled down to the essence of the genre (no filler), face-meltingly vicious in technicality, thoughtfully written grindcore (both in terms of lyrics and music). Worthy of multiple spins in each session.
#5. Dephosphorus - Axiom
Label: 7 Degree Records
Indulge Me In Silence
I really didn’t expect anything in the grind/hardcore arena to top this year’s GridLink album especially from such a young band, but that’s what Axiom did in my opinion. I’m fucking addicted to this burst of chaotic energy in an absurd sense. A superb blend of breakneck cosmic grind, and crusty blackened hardcore expertly crafted into a truly fantastic and unique experience. Every song is memorable and paced so well, all elements gel together without becoming stale or crowded. The spacey overtone is wonderful. This band has incredible potential and what they display here is most likely only the tip of it.
#4. Ulcerate - The Destroyers of All
Label: Relapse Records
Ulcerate does everything right if you ask me, few death metal bands can touch their sound or their creativity at this time. The Destroyers of All is one huge slab of atmospheric and unique technical death metal to add to their catalogue, taking what they achieved on Everything is Fire and cloaking it in a haze of cold ethereal beauty. The album is the perfect progression of their style. While less technical in a majority of the album compared to their previous efforts (not by much mind you) it retains jaw dropping complexity and a fierce, skillful tone. Cold Becoming may have one of their best, most addictive riffs yet (near the end). Unbelievable release.
#3. Mitochondrion - Parasignosis
Label: Profound Lore Records
Clearly Canada has started locking down on other-worldly death metal. I actually had this as my #1 last year since it was technically released in the final 2 weeks of december, but the official release date was this year so here it is again. And deserving of a place without question. Labyrinthine, chaotic, swirling death metal that cannot be praised enough. Continuously creative, extremely well written and bewildering with a dark and filthy aura. Taking what they built on Archaeaeon which already immensely impressive, Parasignosis delivers an intense, cryptic and deep experience beyond what you would expect. I’ve had this on repeat since the new year and it hasn’t become dull in any sense, in fact my enjoyment of this record has only increased.
#2. Antediluvian - Through The Cervix of Hawaah
Label: Profound Lore Records
Scions of Ha Nachish (Spectre of the Burning Valley)
Erect Reflection (Abyss of Organic Matter)
Another band doing Canada proud. I don’t think I need to talk this shit up but I will. Hugely anticipated and it certainly did not disappoint. It was absolutely impossible to choose between this, the new Mitochondrion record and the new Ulcerate so really these three are tied for second place this year in my mind. Antediluvian have surpassed my expectations on Through The Cervix of Hawaah, conjuring a devastating mountain of unquestionably horrific, violent and tight death metal. It’s a perfect development of their previous EP Revelations In Excrement and the demo Under Wing of Asael without a single compromise to be heard. I won’t be able to word it better than when I originally posted it here so copypasta time:
“Catastrophic, ancient, dissonant, twisted and ugly. A squall of intense and incomprehensible crawling darkness spilling into your ears. Nothing but well written face-splitting riffs, primal drum blasts, actually audible bass riffs, and organ destroying vocals. No space is wasted, no bullshit — all is devoted to conjuring extreme bestial intensity.”
#1. Giles Corey - Giles Corey
Label: Enemies List Home Recordings
Yeah. For me this trumped all the metal out there this year easily. I knew this would be at the top after the first time I listened to it, and have been silently waiting for it since the short demos trickled out a while back.
I am completely enamored with this album. I have listened to it countless times and felt many emotions while it’s spinning, and when it’s done I feel drained and alone. I sing along to it unabashedly — especially Blackest Bile and A Sleeping Heart. I literally have to play those two songs at least 3 times in a row every time I put the album on.
I’ve heard a lot of people call it scary, but I feel that’s not an accurate description at all — then again I guess it evokes all kinds of shit from different people which makes it quite the record. It’s intensely depressive in some moments while in others it’s warm and uplifting. You can tell there was great care put into every aspect of this and the mysterious book it is packaged with, and yet it manages to stay raw and humble. Dark, dreamy, brutally honest, captivating, haunting and deeply personal. Drenched in an unbearably bleak and crushingly painful atmosphere, so simple and catchy and at the same time complex and jarring. The lyrics are heartbreaking and entirely relatable for any who's felt depressed and alone. A suffocating, disturbing journey.
Dan Barrett is a genius. Enemies List Home Recordings rules. Nothing I say will do justice to this.
Just a side note: Fell Voices "Untitled" record came out last year, and made my 2010 list at #2, so if you're wondering where that is I consider it to be an official 2010 release and not a 2011 release. Otherwise it would be in between the top 5 and 2 spots this year.
This is a list of stuff I was debating hotly to put on the top 20 list but didn’t make it.
O’Death - Outside
Batillus - Furnace
Encoffination - O’Hell, Shine In Thy Whited Sepulchres
Disma - Towards the Megalith
Dark Castle - Surrender To All Life Beyond Form
Gates - They Hide In The Shadows
Absu - Abzu
Ringo Deathstarr - Color Trip
Bestial Raids - Prime Evil Damnation
Omega Massif - Karpatia
Necros Christos - Doom of the Occult
Oathbreaker - Maelstrom
Sanguis Imperem - In Glory We March Towards Our Doom
Loss - Despond
Desolate Shrine - Tenebrous Towers
True Widow - As High As The Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth
Woods of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason
New Lows - Harvest of the Carcass
Blut Aus Nord - 777 - Sect(s) / 777 - The Desanctication
Touche Amore - Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
Leucosis - Pulling Down the Sky
Panopticon - Social Disservices
Lento - Icon
All Pigs Must Die - God Is War
Flourishing - The Sum of All Fossils
More Good Shit:
Barring Teeth - Atrophy
Rotten Sound - Cursed
Sonne Adam - Transformation
Miasmal - Miasmal
Lightbearer - Lapsus
Ensorcelor - Crucifuge
Dyskinesia - Dalla Nascita
Low Places - Spiritual Treatment
Seider - For Winter Fire
Yob - Atma
Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up
Leviathan - True Traitor, True Whore
KENmode - Venerable
Undead Creep - The Ever-Burning Torch
Blaspherian - Infernal Warriors of Death
Russian Circles - Empros
Entrails - The Tomb Awaits
Gorephilia - Ascend To Chaos
Cave In - White Silence
Wolvhammer - The Obsidian Plains
Bacchus - Bacchus
Fleshpress - Acid Mouth Strangulation
Beau Navire - Hours
A Storm of Light - As The Valley of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade
Blessed Offal - Blessed Offal
Here are my picks for the best demos, EPs and splits this year which I would highly recommend checking out.
#1. Antediluvian - Revelations In Excrement
#2. Bell Witch - Demo
#3. Amnis Nihili - Christological Escalation
#4. Thantifaxath - Thantifaxath
#5. Chromes - And Here My Disgust Begins
#6. Thou - The Archer & The Owle
#7. Mutilation Rites - Demo
#8. Cruciamentum - Engulfed In Desolation
#9. Immolation - Providence
#10. Adversarial - Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelations
#1. Encoffination / Grave Upheaval - Split
#2. Seven Sisters of Sleep / Children of God - Split
#3. Amenra / Oathbreaker - Split
#4. Witchrist / Morbosidad - Split
#5. Vasaeleth / Cruciamentum - Eroding Chaos Unto Ascendant Flesh
#6. Thou / Cower - War Is The Force That Gives Us Meaning (Big City)
#7. Circle of Ouroboros / Drowning the Light - Moonflares
#8. Young and In The Way / Torch Runner - Split
#9. Burial Invocation / Anatomia - Decomposing Serenades
#10. Begrime Exemious / Nuclearhammer - Heretical Serpent Cult
Aldebaran - Buried Beneath Aeons
Thou - To The Chaos Wizard Youth
Lycus - demo 2011
Tree of Sores - Tree of Sores
Sortilegia - Pestilent Black Sorcery
Heresiarch - Hammer of Intransigence
Disma - The Manifestation
Black Monolith - Demo/Ep
Obolus - Demo
Ruin Lust - Tour Demo
Krypts - Krypts
Kerasphorus - Necronaut
Heresiarch - Obsecrating The Global Holocaust
Haapoja - Hallitsematonta Voimaa
God Harvest - Demo 2011
Baptists - Baptists
Punch - Nothing Lasts
That's it. Here's to another great year in music and many more hereafter.