Last year (and the year before) I got way too busy with this thing called life and missed out on a lot of quality music. I am here to rectify the error of my ways, month by month.

Here are the March 2011 releases that got under my skin, burrowed their way into my brain, made my ears bleed, or simply tickled my unmentionables:


These are the keepers. I expect to spin these throughout the year and longer.

American Heritage – Sedentary

I grew tired of Mastodon after witnessing their less than stellar live performance at the 2005 Ozzfest in Houston. In fact, I haven’t really cared for them since Leviathan. Thank God/Satan for the rise of American Heritage. They do what Mastodon used to do — rock the fuck out with full-tilt boogie, smashing guitar riffs, and minimal proggy elephant stomping madness. This is a beautiful record that simply destroys most anything else I’ve heard so far this year (save for Horned Almighty and SubRosa). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mastodon guitarist Bill Kelliher plays bass on one track (he’s one of several guest bassists to appear).

Benighted – Asylum Cave

A true crime-based concept album that incorporates Reetcore, death metal, and grind samples…how could I not love this album any more? Though this is the sixth release from the French grinders, it is the first time I’ve ever been exposed to them. I am happily infected. And Slipknot fans, be sure to check out the track entitled “Fritzl.” Sound familiar?

Born of Osiris – The Discovery

My only prior experience with BOO was seeing them come on AFTER Hate Eternal on the Hatebreed/Cannibal Corpse tour a couple of years ago. I was truly embarrassed for the BOOboys with their deathcore fashion clichés, pointless keyboard player, and silly ass breakdown vomitus. Wow, what a difference a couple of years can make; in addition to getting schooled every night by a far superior band. This album is beyond impressive. Great guitar leads, lots of Meshu-chugga, and meaningful keyboard passages by a much improved Joe Buras. Less bro-down, more tweedily-tweedily, and heavy as fuck. Tasty.

Children of Bodom – Relentless Reckless Forever

I have never cared for Children of Bodom. Of course, I appreciate the true crime-based moniker; but I have always despised the overblown keytarisms and have never been seduced by Mr. Laiho’s alleged musical prowess — too OTT for my tastes. RRF sees the man-boy from Finland, however, reign in his masturbatory wankery with solid results. Nice interplay between Laiho, fellow guitarist Roope Latvalo, and and keys man Janne Warman. Vox and words leave much to be desired, but I’m willing to overlook such shortcomings.

Condemned? – Condemned2Death

Old school hardcore band digs up the dead bodies with the names D.R.I., Black Flag, Cro-Mags, D.O.A., MDC, et al. stamped across their foreheads and pulls off a top-notch Dr. Herbert West reanimation. If you’re looking for forward thinking innovation, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for smashed beercan to the forehead hardcore, look no further than C2D.

Havok – Time Is Up

I was blown away by Havok at the MetalSucks South by South Death party at last month’s SXSW music festival. Thankfully, they rip things up on record nearly as well as they do live. Re-thrash – bah!! They are merely another band carrying on a fine tradition of kick-ass fuckin’ heavy metal and I am grateful to have witnessed their attack in the flesh. Zetro-era Exodus leaps to mind, as does Slayer worship/homage, but never to a degree of merely being a rip-off. Solid drumming, precision guitars, and understandable vocals coagulate together to create a formidable amalgam of heavy goodness.

JollyThe Audio Guide to Happiness, Part 1

Pop-gressive metal with beautiful song structures, clean vocals, and enough weirdness to keep me going from one track to the next. The amount of influences here are overwhelming: Dream Theater, Tool, Alice in Chains, Kings X, Porcupine Tree, Queensryche, Soundgarden, NIN; but somehow they all come together to create a satisfying sound that takes the listener across the musical landscape from ragtime to pop-lite to industrial to prog metal. Intriguing; however, I can do without the marketing ploy happiness sound study.


KEN Mode – Venerable

This Kurt Ballou (Converge) produced masterstroke brings to mind the best of Helmet (Strap It On, Meantime), Quicksand (Slip), and Poison the Well (You Come Before You). Alternative noise metalcore (not the bastardization the subgenre has evolved into over the past five years) that rumbles rafters and unsettles neighbors. Aggressive, precise, and one mean bitchin’ Camaro of an aural onslaught. Can’t believe I missed these cats at SXSW!


Long Distance CallingLong Distance Calling

Sleepy, simplistic instru-metal prog that sneaks into your skull and gets your blood pumping and your synapses firing (yes, I am aware of the contradiction). It seems like every month I am lucky enough to find a quality record to spin while writing about the madness of mankind for my real job. LDC is that album for March. It reminds me of a lighter version of Mogwai, Red Sparowes, or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Plus, any time you bring in John Bush to sing on a track (“Middleville”), be prepared for brilliance. Of course, I dug Armoured Saint way more than JBAnthrax.

Northless – Clandestine Abuse

I’m surprised Philip H. Anselmo didn’t snap these guys up for his peerless Housecore Records label. Northless falls somewhere in that Nietzschean abyss between Crowbar and haarp, slathered with an oversized dollop of Scott Kelly. Sad that Isis is no more? Pick up Clandestine Abuse and realize the post-future is still here; it’s just been slightly revamped with more melody and even more brutal crushitude.

Odd Dimension – Symmetrical

In no way, shape, or form am I a prog-metal kinda guy. But there’s something about this debut album from these Italians that makes me wanna bang my head while appreciating the stellar musicianship. Sure, it treads all over Dream Theater territory (a band I have never liked — ever), and sure, it’s got some serious ass wimpy parts….BUT…I dig the Ronnie James Dio-meets-Bruce Dickinsonian vocals and occasional crunchy guitar sections just enough to recommend this one. Definitely a band worth checking out in the future.

Of Legends – Stranded

What if the late, lamented comedian Sam Kinison fronted a Meshuggah-like metal band that stripped bare its sound to the essence of a hooky breakdown? Nightmare, right? Wrong. Of Legends is, more or less, the side project of one Luis Dubuc of The Secret Handshake, a band that specializes in electronica-tinged Motown. Kudos to this young man for stepping outside of his comfort zone and offering up some seriously disturbed Halloween-themed mathsludge. Huh?!? Awesome record that gets better with each track.

Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows

Finnish melodeath that easily blows away the new Amon Amarth album. Kalmah-like keys meet basso profundo vocals, combined with a serious understanding of melody. Solid, solid, solid production throughout with some of the crispest, yet heavy, guitar tones I’ve heard in years. The drums and bass sound beefy as well. Get your gallop on and Swallow the Sun while you’re at it!

Protest the Hero – Scurrilous

Believe it or not, PTH has always been a bit hit or miss for me. The main divisive factors are the OTT guitar wankery and Rody Walker’s vocals. I am happy to report that Scurrilous cures what once ailed me. Yes, the proggy/techy guitar playing is still on display, but in a much less Yngwie yank-me fashion. More riffage, less arppegios. As for vocalist Walker, he sounds much less whiny than on previous output from the band. Indeed, he almost sounds like a heavy metal version of Foreigner’s Lou Gramm, which is a very, very good thing. This is an album I look forward to spending many days with to uncover all of the secrets buried deep within.

Rotten Sound – Cursed

How the fuck can these twenty year grindcore vets combine blast beats, ultra-nihilistic guttural screams, hardcore skankin’, and a bluesy swagger into thirty minutes of pure bliss? Be prepared to pop this one in and be decimated. A no-holds barred flying fists of fury pummeling soundtrack to your instantaneous death that will leave you begging for the video footage of your demise to be posted on “Brutal” is too pussy of a word to describe this Rotten Sound.

SubRosa – No Help For the Mighty Ones

If Siouxsie Sioux (of Siouxsie and the Banshees) fronted a funeral doom band, it would be SubRosa. There is so much wonderful depression going on here it is hard to describe. Take the arid desolation of Across Tundras, combine it with the quiet desperation of an angst-filled P.J. Harvey song, mix in some screaming violins from hell, and cross-breed it with a Godspeed You! Black Emperor cacophonous maelstrom and you begin to get the picture. Fans of Agalloch, Grayceon, YOB, Thou, Salome, and Earth will get/dig this. It is pure, brilliant metallic moodiness with plaintive instrumentation, deathly growls, atonal multi-layered group choruses, concrete crawl drumming, and oh so much more. Easily an early favorite for Album of the Year.



Good points throughout the record, but not enough to make we want to revisit it.

Agnostic Front – My Life My Way; Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising; Arkhum – Anno Universum; As Blood Runs Black – Instinct; Crucified Mortals – s/t; Dornenreich – Flammentriebe; Gideon – Costs; Grayceon – All We Destroy; The Human Abstract – Digital Veil; Maruta – Forward Into Regression; Mercenary – Metamorphosis; Obscura – Omnivium; Salt the Wound – Kill the Crown; Scale the Summit – The Collective; Straight Line Stitch – The Fight of Our Lives; TesseracT – One; Trap Them – Darker Handcraft; Weedeater – Jason…The Dragon; Wino – Adrift


Not even worth selling on eBay. Do people still do that?

Across the Sun – Before the Night Takes Us; Beardfish – Mammoth; Benedictum – Dominion; Blackguard – Firefight; Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death; Blood Ceremony – Living with the Ancients; The Color Morale – The Devil in Your Eyes; Deadlock – Bizarro World; Defeater – Empty Days and Sleepless Nights; Evil Survives – Metal Vengeance; Firebird – Double Diamond; The Haunted – Unseen; Jag Panzer – The Scourge of Light; Mastodon – Live at the Aragon; Mhorgl – Antinomian; My Inner Burning – Eleven Scars; Nekromantheon – Divinity of Death; Ommatidia – In This Life or the Next; Serenity – Death & Legacy; Turisas – Stand Up and Fight; Visions of Atlantis – Delta; Whitesnake – Forevermore; Within Temptation – The Unforgiving


Was not able to get my grubby little hands on these platters.

As Likely As Not – Stand Up and Nerve; Assassin – Breaking the Silence; Assaulter – Boundless; Beehoover – Concrete Catalyst; Bloodiest – Descent; Cut Your Teeth – CYT II; Dodsferd – Spitting with Hatred the Insignificance of Life; Dotma – Sleep Paralyses; Fell Voices – Untitled; Goes Cube – In Tides and Drifts; Hollywood Undead – American Tragedy; Immortal Dominion – Primortal; Lekamen Illusionen Kallet – The Second Wind; MonsterworksThe God Album; Ruled by Reason – The Dawning of Dystopia; SacrariumMarch to an Inviolable Death; SrodekForfall; True Widow – As High as the Highest Heavens and From the Center to the Circumference of the Earth; Until Your Heart StopsErrors; Various Artists – Sin-Atra; VreidV; W.A.I.L.W.A.I.L.; Withering SoulNo Closure


SubRosa – No Help For the Mighty Ones

“We’re in the shadow of a dying world.”



So many killer releases in one month. Unlike last month’s surprisingly large number of crappy releases, March 2011 sees some serious contenders for year-end Best Of chart inclusions including American Heritage, KEN mode, Northless, Of Legends, and SubRosa. Also, the amazing amount of quality prog-metal (Protest the Hero, Jolly, Long Distance Calling, Odd Dimension) blows my mind, especially since I could care less about the sub-genre. Kudos, metal musicians!


Let’s see if they make the final cut.

American Heritage – Sedentary (Mar. ’11)

KEN Mode – Venerable (Mar. ’11)

Of Legends – Stranded (Mar. ’11)

SubRosa – No Help For the Mighty Ones (Mar. ’11)

DevilDriver – Beast (Feb. ’11)

Horned Almighty – Necro Spirituals (Jan. ’11)

Tuck From Hell – Thrashing (Jan. ’11)



Metal Releases Listened to – 136

Bleeders – 38

Meh’ers – 52

Blowers – 45

Top 15′ers – 7


**Some of these releases are possibly late 2010 sets, first-time U.S. releases, or sneak peeks of upcoming albums.**


Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of several true crime books.

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