• Dave Mustein


Every year seems to either be hailed as the “best year for metal in ever” or discarded as “the year Morbid Angel and everyone else sucked really badly,” and this year has been no different. I’ve heard everything across the board from praise to condemnation, but I think that so far, 2011’s been pretty good — we got long-awaited albums from old favorites, surprising returns, and some awesome breakout albums. I admit I haven’t heard everything I should’ve yet, but I have managed to plow through a significant stack of music, and found the following to be really standout releases so far:

The Human Abstract – Digital Veil

Listening to this immediately after listening to songs off Midheaven is one of the biggest (and most enjoyable!) contrasts ever. I’m not normally into this kind of thing, but the whole “BTBAM mixed with good deathcore” angle is really working well for them.

Born of Osiris – The Discovery

I know, I know. It surprised me too. But these guys have come so far from the poop-slinging days of The New Reign that they might as well be a new band. Catchy riffs, technicality, and a lack of breakdowns make this one a real surprise and a really great album.

YOB – Atma

I just got into these guys, and it makes me really sad that I didn’t do it any sooner. Their infectious brand of heavy doom reminds me of Jesu at some times, but it’s just so diverse that it’s going to keep me interested for a long time.

Ulver – War of the Roses

Ulver could not be any further removed from their Nattens Madrigal days. War of the Roses continues the feel established on Shadows of the Sun, but the songs are even closer to being straigh-up melodic, uh, SOMETHING than they have ever been before. It’s in no way metal, but it’s great.

Jesu – Ascension

This isn’t surprising — it’s Jesu. One of the more beautiful works I’ve heard in quite some time.

Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire

In a Glass Aquarium was pretty good, but Fables just tops it in nearly every way — it’s got that psychotic, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum circus feel, but now more than ever, Unexpect are really a metal band.

Nekrogoblikon – Stench

I’ve kind of been hyping this one since before it was even a record, so I’m pretty glad that the final product managed to keep up with my expectations. Technical, melodic, keyboard-laden death metal with a folk theme.

Anaal Nathrakh – Passion

It should have been nearly impossible to follow up In the Constellation of the Black Widow with anything even passably good, but Nathrakh did it. It’s more of the greatness we heard earlier.

Septicflesh – The Great Mass

Epic symphonic death metal with even more elaborate sweeping choruses. Liquidity combined with brutality.

Protest the Hero – Scurrilous

Although for some reason I found this album a bit harder to get into than Fortress or Kezia, Scurrilous yields glorious results if you take the time to listen to it enough.

Devin Townsend – Deconstruction

I shouldn’t really need to write anything here.


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