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THE BEST METAL ALBUMS OF 2011, AS CHOSEN BY METAL MUSICIANS THEMSELVES — PART X

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FEATURING MEMBERS OF GOATWHORE, AGALLOCH, WARBRINGER, ROSETTA, ZEBULON PIKE, NOCTEM, THE WILL OF A MILLION, EXCOMMUNICATED, AND TRANSLATION LOSS RECORDS

Every year year, MetalSucks asks musicians from across the vast spectrum of the metalsphere (or, in a few cases, the almost-metalsphere) what their favorite albums of the year have been. Death metallers, thrash metallers, black metallers, stoners, grinders, and djenters alike have graciously contributed lists to MS, and we’ve been running them in groups of nine to ten musicians at a time two to three times a day for the whole week.

After the jump, check out the final group… we hope you enjoy seeing what some of metal’s heaviest hitters were into this year as much as we have!

ZACK SIMMONS, GOATWHORE

1. Ozzy Osbourne, Diary of a Madman (reissue) — Does this album need an explanation? Such a classic record and it only gets better with age… and original bass and drum tracks!

2. Ozzy Osbourne, Blizzard of Ozz (reissue) — See above.

3. Motorhead, The World is Yours — You know what you’re gonna get here. That’s what I love about this band. Never disappointed!

4. The Devil’s Blood, The Thousandfold Epicentre — I love Ghost, but I wish people payed more attention to this band. It’s like an evil time warp!

5. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light — What a great rock band. I dig everything about this record. Not many bands doing what they do. Taylor is a monster on the kit!

6. Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination — Remember seeing these guys for the first time in ’05. They kicked my ass and they continue to do so!

7. Hate Eternal, Phoenix Among the Ashes — This album rips! Top notch playing and production. Go exchange the new Morbid Angel for this!

8. Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand –– None heavier! This band can do no wrong. They can even get away with covering “Dreamweaver!”

9. Toxic Holocaust, Conjure and Command — A real headbanger. One of the few “newer” metal bands I really enjoy.

10. Sebastian Bach, Kicking and Screaming — Good songs, great guitar playing, and Bach’s voice is still as ruling as ever!

AESOP DEKKER, AGALLOCH/LUDICRA

1. Loss, Despond
2. 40 Watt Sun, The Inside Room
3. Absu, Abzu
4. SubRosa, No Help for the Mighty Ones
5. Hammers of Misfortune, 17th Street
6. Krallice, Diotima
7. Gates of Slumber, The Wretch
8. Miasmal, Miasmal
9. Corrupted, Garten der Unbewussteit
10. Giant Squid, Cenotes

CARLOS CRUZ, WARBRINGER

1. Toxic Holocaust, Conjure and Command — It’s very difficult to come by a band that still maintains the true rock n’ roll spirit with a musical approach and attitude of raw, fast, dirty and mean music — yet expressing it very honestly and real, not just as an image or facade. Finally having a complete line-up, the production, intensity, and aggression of fusing elements of punk rock with the more extreme forms of heavy metal, is captured very strongly and this is the band’s best album to date.

2. Vektor, Outer Isolation — This band is in a league of their own. Fusing so many elements within the heavy metal genre, Vektor continues to write original sounding metal music in 2011 and have captured a more “controlled chaos” sound for their follow-up album. Eight tracks, more focused songwriting, and lyrical content that is relevant to the times. Each member’s performance is stellar and surpasses their debut album with perfect execution.

3. Havok, Time is Up — Incredibly clean, yet one hell of a chainsaw sounding production. An incredibly aggressive, in your face album– and it’s refreshing to hear a drummer that doesn’t let up throughout the album’s performance. Highlight track: “Covering Fire.”

4. Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination — Fourth studio album and by far the band’s strongest release. The production and the performances from each member really define Skeletonwitch as their own band. A major plus is the dynamics in using acoustic guitars on tracks like “This Horrifying Force.” A top contender in today’s metal scene.

5. Diamond Plate, Generation Why? — Very strong debut album from Chicago’s Diamond Plate. Tight production, solid performances, and incredible lead guitar work. Vocals are the least attractive aspect of the album, but the songs’ intensity, hooks, and melodies don’t let down for this up-and-coming thrash act.

6. Trivium, In Waves — One of metal’s most current popular acts, now on their 5th studio album. The production is sonically huge, clear, and the tones captured for each instrument are unbelievably clean. The songwriting is very focused, containing a lot of strong hooks and catchy melodies along with maintaining a very tight, fast, aggressive rhythm section. A very straight-forward album that works wonders in a live setting.

7. Landmine Marathon, Gallows — A fusion of death metal, crust punk, and hardcore with vicious female vocals from Phoenix, Arizona’s Landmine Marathon. An amazing release that was produced by the band’s own guitarist. The energy of this entire album is dangerously addictive and the way guitar riffs and breakdowns are formulated is incredibly refreshing.

8. Opeth,  Heritage — Not at all what any Opeth fan was expecting, but from the looks of the album artwork, the musical direction of this album fits perfectly. Turning down the distortion and growling vocals and diving into territory of more ambient, psychedelic rock, this album’s flow and dynamic range is by far something metal needed.

9. Lazarus A.D., Black Rivers Flow — Groove perfected. This high energy, catchy chorus, ridiculous lead guitar work of an album is definitely a top contender in today’s metal scene. Much more than just another thrash outfit, Lazarus’ down-tuned, riff chugging, drum pounding follow-up album is sonically in the vein of ’90s Pantera–and what more could you ask for from a band hailing from Wisconsin.

10. Dream Theater, A Dramatic Turn of Events — Progressive metal’s elite return with a new drummer that doesn’t disappoint. Of course, the shoes being filled are timeless and will obviously never be filled, but the band moves forward with a new approach rather than progress in vein of a past member. It’s Dream Theater, technical, melodic, extremely long tracks and the dynamics are all across the board. 25 years later, they just don’t let up.

MIKE ARMINE, ROSETTA

1. Blueprint, Adventures in Counter Culture
2. Circle Takes the Square, Decompositions Vol. 1
3. True Widow, As High as the Highest Heavy
4. Restorations, S/T
5. Rival Schools, Pedals

ZEBULON PIKE

1. Hammers of Misfortune, 17th Street
2. Opeth, Heritage
3. Rwake, Rest
4. Liturgy, Aesthethica
5. Mastodon, The Hunter
6. Electro Quarterstaff, Aykroyd
7. YOB, Atma
8. Krallice, Diotima
9. Across Tundras, Sage
10. Dark Castle, Surrender to All Life Beyond Form

STEPHEN PARKER, ARKHUM/THE WILL OF A MILLION

1. Light Bearer, Lapsus
2. The Devin Townsend Project, Deconstruction
3. No Made Sense, New Season/New Blues 
4. Deafheaven, Roads to Judah
5. Lady Gaga, Born This Way
6. Ulver, The Wars of the Roses
7. Ash Borer, S/T
8. Ramin Djawadi, Game of Thrones OST
9. Tyler, The Creator, Gobiln
10. Steven Wilson, Grace From Drowning

CHAD KELLY, EXCOMMUNICATED/UW RECORDS

Well, I’d have to refrain from mentioning stuff I’ve put out or am on… haha. I don’t even know if I have enough things I can point to… I’d say Goreaphobia’s Apocalyptic Necromancy and Gravehill’s When All Roads Lead To Hell are definitely up there.

EXO, NOCTEM

1. Fleshgod Apocalypse, Agony —  A new level of symphonic extreme metal.

2. Decapitated, Carnival is Forever — Blasting as always but including a more fresh sound.

3. Septicflesh,  The Great Mass — Symphonic extreme metal with a lot of perseverance, intelligence and ambience on it. The perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse.

4. Amon Amarth, Surtur Rising — The vikings continue with their simple and outstanding sound in the same time.

5. Samael, Lux Mundi — Industrial black metal with a really smart sound and really dark ambience.

6. Job for a Cowboy, Gloom — A great combination of Ruination and Doom. The only bad thing about it is the short length.

7. Obscura, Omnivium — Technically outstanding, these Germans know how to create a great atmosphere with the perfect technic skills.

8. The Black Dahlia Murder, Ritual — Best album that they’ve released for years. TBDM attacks again.

9. Vomitory, Opus Mortis VIII — Simply brutal and groovy in the same time.

10. Vader,  The Morbid Reich — Polish death metal returns again, don’t need introductions, Vader sounds as great as always.

DREW JUERGENS, TRANSLATION LOSS RECORDS

1. Giant Squid, Cenotes
2. East of the Wall,  The Apologist
3. City of Ships, Minor World
4. Graviton, Massless
5. Mastodon, The Hunter
6. Tombs, Path of Totality
7. Indian, Guiltless
8. Junius, Reports from the Threshold of Death
9. Entrails, The Tomb Awaits
10. True Widow, As High as the Highest Heaven and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth

Honorable Mentions:
Ulcerate, The Destroyers of All
A Storm Of Light, As The Valley of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade
Deafheaven, Roads To Judah
Today Is The Day, Pain is a Warning
Russian Circles, Empros

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