THE BEST METAL ALBUMS OF 2011, AS CHOSEN BY METAL MUSICIANS THEMSELVES — PART VII
FEATURING MEMBERS OF GOD FORBID, SKELETONWITCH, CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED, MUNICIPAL WASTE, TODAY IS THE DAY, LANDMINE MARATHON, AND SHAI HULUD
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’ll be 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 next group… we hope you enjoy seeing what some of metal’s heaviest hitters were into this year as much as we have!
DOC COYLE, GOD FORBID
1. Times of Grace, Times of Grace — I am a huge Killswitch fan, but there was something special about this record that hasn’t been there for the last couple of KsE albums. This one grabbed me and didn’t let go. It went places that I wish KsE would have gone in terms of diversity. “The Forgotten One” is a gem. By the way, Jesse Leach is on fire! I could listen to that dude all day.
2. Mastodon, The Hunter — Without losing any of their unmistakable identity and original sound, Mastodon have masterfully transitioned into a legitimate rock n’ roll band. The songs are simpler, the hooks are stronger, and I believe the band is better. “Curl of the Burl” = Song of the Year.
3. Anthrax, Worship Music — Although I wish I could have heard the Dan Nelson version of this album (I heard a couple tracks that killed!), Worship Music may be the best top-to-bottom Anthrax album ever made. Anthrax finally made the record we’ve been waiting for. I love it!
4. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light — The Foo Fighters have been the most consistent rock band in the world for the last fifteen years. They are exceedingly commercial, and yet reek of a certain undeniable authenticity. If you’ve seen their DVD, Back and Forth, you understand that the musical ethic spearheaded by Dave Grohl is purely inspirational. Just check it out.
5. Machine Head, Unto the Locust — If The Blackening was Machine Head’s Master of Puppets, than Unto the Locust is most certainly their …And Justice For All. Without reaching the stratosphere of the previous classic, they’ve delivered something more aggressive, more musically acrobatic, and perfectly executed. Along with Lamb of God, Machine Head have grown into one of our generation’s most definitive metal bands.
6. The Human Abstract, Digital Veil — Despite all of the line up turmoil, THA have delivered their best album to date. They strike a perfect balance of prog, tech, heavy, and tunefulness that few of their peers have come closer to mastering. Perhaps with only Periphery as a close match. Kudos, gentleman. I hope the new singer search works out.
7. The Damned Things, Ironiclast — I did not expect to enjoy this album as much as I did. “Supergroups” rarely add up to the sum of their parts, but this one worked for me. Keith Buckley is pure rock n’ roll, and he really shines. This album doesn’t try to be more than it is. Straight forward, blues based hard rock with big, but not syrupy sweet, over done, hooky, choruses. I wished the album had a little more variety, but it keeps getting spins months after the release. Infectious!
8. Ghost, Opus Eponymous — The thing that sticks out to me about Ghost is that they just feel fresh and different. Their extreme image may get headlines, but I heard them before I saw them, and their sound is what grabbed me. I thought it was some 70s prog band I never heard of. Waiting the right amount of time to rip off something old so that it feels new is an art. These fellas got it just right!
9. Volbeat, Beyond Hell/Above Heaven — I do like the new Volbeat album, but this is more of a lifetime achievement award. I really got into the band in the past year and a half or so, and consumed their entire catalog. They sound like a big gay orgy with Metallica and the Misfits jerking each other off with Elvis and Keith Caputo coming in through back door for some action. Jesus. I need a shower now.
10. Tangents, One Little Light Year — I was exposed to this album by the bands drummer — the always prolific and pleasant Derek Kerswill, of Unearth, Seemless, and Kingdom of Sorrow fame. Needless to say, I was blown away, and couldn’t stop listening to the album. It hearkens back to Radiohead’s OK Computer and Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity, which are two of my all time favorite albums. If you dig that style of rock, you should check this record out ASAP!
DUSTIN BOLTJES, SKELETONWITCH
Ravencult, Morbid Blood
Gigan, Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes
Nightbringer, Hierophany of the Open Grave
Tsjuder, Legion Helvete
Crowbar, Sever the Wicked Hand
Ulcerate, The Destroyers of All
The Konsortium, S/T
Runner-up: The Devils Blood, The Thousandfold Epicentre — I haven’t heard it yet, but I worship this band!!
RICHARD CHRISTY, CHARRED WALLS OF THE DAMNED (Amongst a gajillion other projects)
My favorite album of the year: Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising. One of my favorite bands ever and this album definitely does not disappoint! The middle riff from “The Last Stand of Frej” is AMAZING, and one of my favorite riffs ever!!!! The new Anthrax album, Worship Music, rules also — it’s amazing to see them doing so well these days, and it’s awesome to hear Joey Belladonna with them again! Jag Panzer’s The Scourge of Light was an awesome album this year, too. There’s a lot of great bands putting albums out later in the year, too, so I’m sure my list will change in the next few months!
TONY FORESTA, MUNICIPAL WASTE
1. Night Fever, New Blood — The best record of the year. Holy Shit. If you like older Muni Waste and Annihilation Time, then this is right up your alley. The singer is killer. The songs are great and punk as fuck.
2. Thug Friends, “Titties and Carrot Cake” — It’s not a record, but I can’t and will not stop listening to this stupid ass song. Look it up. You’ll dance/laugh your ass off.
3. Night Birds, The Other Side of Darkness — These kids are going places!!
4. Doom @Maryland Death Fest — This set melted my god damned face.
5. Deep Sleep, Turn Me Off — In my opinion, the most underrated hardcore record of the year. So good. More folks should hear this.
6. Kylesa, Spiral Shadow — One of the few bands out there that get better with every release. Plus one of their band members is super hot… Cory I think was his name.
7. Dead Language, S/T — Members of Iron Lung and No Comment. This shit smokes!
8. Cannabis Corpse, Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise — Duh! You knew I’d pick this one or Phil wouldn’t talk to me for two weeks.
9. Grown Ass Men, demo — Richmond fuck-ups make one of the best demos I’ve heard in years. Free download here… http://grownassmen.bandcamp.com/
10. Big Eyes, Hard Life — Super fun and catchy pop punk. You only listen to metal? Your loss.
Most of my favorite releases of 2011 are the ones I repped as a publicist. For that complete list, go here.
In the interest of separating church and state, here’s a list of my other favorite releases:
1. Decapitated, Carnival is Forever
2. Maruta, Forward into Regression
3. The Year Is One, 06/16/2011
4. Retox, Ugly Animals
5. Raspberry Bulbs, Nature Tries Again
6. Atriarch, Forever the End
7. Ghost, Opus Eponymous
8. Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring for My Halo
9. Pablo Picasso — There was no new album this year, but this band needs to be on the list.
10. LMFAO, Sorry for Party Rocking
DYLAN THOMAS, LANDMINE MARATHON
1. Graveyard, Hisingen Blues
2. Book of Black Earth, The Cold Testament
3. Morne, Asylum
4. Saviours, Death’s Procession
5. Despise You/Agoraphobic Nosebleed, And On and On…
6. Witch Mountain, South of Salem
RYAN BUTLER, LANDMINE MARATON
1. Saviours, Death’s Procession
2. Autopsy,Macabre Eternal
3. Exhumed, All Guts No Glory
4. Mastodon, The Hunter
5. Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination
6. Disma, Towards The Megalith
7. Playing with and becoming friends with Rorschach
8. Graveyard, Hisingen Blues
9. Junius, Reports From The Threshold of Death
10. Vastum, Carnal Law
MATT MARTINEZ, LANDMINE MARATHON
Saviours, Death’s Procession
Book Of Black Earth, The Cold Testament
Disma, Towards The Megalith
SubRosa, No Help For The Mighty One
Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination
The Atlas Moth, An Ache For The Distance
Russian Circles, Empros
Vastum, Carnal Law
Acephalix, Interminable Night
MATT FOX, SHAI HULUD
Please note, all of the below picks were originally typed in the Tron logo font. In alphabetical order, if you please:
Arch/Matheos, Sympathetic Resonance — I like pure rage as much as the next girl. That said, I’m also captivated by progressive ideas and sheer musicality. There’s nothing short of an excess of virtuoso bands who can cocoon the world three times over by manically shredding circles around it — capable as they are of equal feats, John Arch, Jim Matheos and company opted to craft rather than show off, and the result is a smart, innovative Metal album with maturation and class.
Alice Cooper, Welcome 2 My Nightmare — When I first heard the announcement of Welcome 2, a sequel to my favorite (or most familiar) Alice Cooper album, I’m sure I winced – he’s back, the man behind the mask, ready to feed poison to his Frankenstein, no? Not at all. This album is an unearthed time capsule from the mid ’70’s – it recaptu res the moods, humor, and kitsch of the original Welcome To, and of vintage Alice in general. This was my biggest surprise of the year, simply an excellent Hard Rock album as well as a worthy sequel.
The Dead Milkmen, The King In Yellow — The Dead Milkmen are unquestionably one of my all-time favorite bands and with this, their first new album since 1995, all they did was further solidify that fact. Certainly not a band for everyone, and probably not for most metalheads, but if you were ever a fan, everything you ever loved about our beloved Milkmen is back. Funny enough, some twenty odd years back two of the Milkmen had a laugh at my expense for coming to one of their shows wearing a King Diamond shirt!
Defeater, Empty Days & Sleepless Nights — On Empty Days, Defeater strikes a delicate balance, exceptionally. They abandon the oft-clung to machismo typical of a lot of Hardcore, purely focus on stirring thoughts and emotions, yet never tread into the dreadful realm of “artsy-fartsy,” or worse yet, “emo” – even despite the four cleanly sung folkish tracks at the end of the album, somehow it works well within the context of the story their bands’ content is predicated on. In a scene where it’s seemingly behind the times to think (outside the box, or at all) or care, Defeater comes in with a melodic sideswipe of depth, thought, and emotion.
Earth Crisis, Neutralize the Threat — The sad fact about Neutralize the Threat is that even if Stephen Hawking were to somehow scientifically prove it was Earth Crisis’ greatest moment, some dimwit would still tout Firestorm as a high point they’ll never top. That dope is wrong. This dope (me) asserts Neutralize the Threat is indeed their high point, and I’m confident any fan of the band’s earlier efforts will, if not stamp this as their best, at the very least acknowledge it as a superior Earth Crisis album.
Opeth, Heritage — It’s easy to desert a band when they don’t give you exactly what you want. What selfish little pricks we can be! When Opeth premiered the song “The Devil’s Orchard” my first thought was “Ok, but I hope the entire album isn’t like this.” Almost as if Opeth decided to give me a personal “Fuck you, Matt Fox!” the entire album is like “this.” And what’s more? I love it. Heritage was the best “Fuck you” I could have received. Thank you, Opeth, may I have another?
Riot, Immortal Soul — I heard Riot for the first time this year from a friend (thanks, Da Rat!) who sang proudly (and ceaselessly!) the band’s praises, particularly their seminal classic album “Fire Down Under,” which until now is the only record by them I heard. Going straight to Immortal Soul from the aforementioned album is like receiving a sweet butterfly kiss followed by a flaming bowling ball with spikes to your fucking face, and who doesn’t love that!? This album is pure fire, a relentlessly invigorated record with jaw-dropping guitar and drum work. Yeah, not too bad for a band who’s been together just over 35 years.
Sheer Terror, Spite 7″ / Sick Of It All, Nonstop — You read it, I snuck two releases into one entry, you’ll be fine. Spite is exactly that, exactly what you want from Sheer Terror, exactly what they do best. It’s a beautiful, spot on re-entry for the band, to be exact. Complete with a masterful bookending by KRS-One, Nonstop is a true testament of staying power, and a clear demonstration of why Sick Of It All is arguably one of, if not thee greatest Hardcore band from NYC. Timeless older songs with new energy a band half their age can’t begin to muster.
They Might Be Giants, Join Us — Despite the potentially Slaytanic overtones this album’s title could possibly possess, no such luck fellow ‘Bangers, TMBG is less metal than a moist cotton ball, though more prone to merrymaking. They are also one part of the trifecta of my all-time favorite bands, along with The Dead Milkmen and Metallica. True story. This album, like all of their albums, is quirky and colorful music collected from a bottomless well of ideas and ability. If there was ever a band that embodied “musical wit,” it’s They Might Be Giants. No wonder Dr. Demento loves them as much as he does.
Vader, Welcome to the Morbid Reich — I don’t know if it’s The Force, or the power of some Fully Operational Battle Station, but something dark and beyond human comprehension is fueling these Polish Sith Lords for the past 25 years. Vader is remarkably consistent, every album confidently forges ahead with a familiar sound that never grows tired or becomes overdone – quite the contrary, as they obliterate with malice the soiled and beaten-to-Death Metal slate that other, uninspired bands leave behind and replace it with the freshness, imagination, and brutality of their every new album. I couldn’t love these guys more, even if they were named “Spock.” Lord Vader, live long and prosper.
And lo, some runners up, in order of the A, B, C’s:
Amon Amarth, Surtur Rising
Hundredth, Let Go
Motorhead, The World Is Yours
Onslaught, Sounds Of Violence