After Rob started posting his countdown (Of which I’m anxiously awaiting his top 5), I seriously thought about doing the same thing. Hey, it is a cool format for such lists as these. Unfortunately, after being one busy bee for the last four months with school, work, and family, I just don’t have that kind ambition or time. Oh, did I mention I’m going on vacation for a week so I you probably will see even less of me until next year.
2011 saw a lot of great albums released. While my lists differs quite a bit from others you may have seen, I based mine off of sheer time of listening. If it stayed on constant rotation, then it was bound to make my top ten. Of course these lists are always subjective. Based solely on opinion, these are by no means “the best” albums of 2011. How could anyone really justify an album being “the best” of the year. That is like the half-assed compilations that are often called “The Best Of [insert band name here]”. These are my favorites. If you don’t like them then make your own list in the comment section. I would love to hear your opinions because it sometimes lets me in on albums that I may have missed all together this year. Anyway, let’s get on with this.
10. Sepultura – Kairos
I honestly didn’t expect a lot from this album. Strangely enough, I really enjoyed it. It almost had me believing that I might be missing something in the other post-Max albums. I wasn’t. This was just a killer album, much better than their previous efforts. If you have not like anything since Roots or even Chaos A.D., check out Kairos. You may be pleasantly surprised.
9. Megadeth – Th1rt3en
Seriously, I didn’t think that this album would make my top ten; however, based upon my previously mentioned way of rating these albums (ones that got the most play), Thirteen ranked right up there. More of a rushed compilation of re-recorded songs and one-offs for other projects, Thirteen was solid through and through…with an acceptable cheese factor in a few songs. Still, it made an impact on me.
8. Dynahead – Youniverse
Dynahead’s second release was just as furious as their first. Their blend of metal genres always makes for a very interesting listen. The talent of the Brazilian quintet creates such a culmination of great music that I find very difficult to put into words alone. Dynahead’s music is an experience that should not be missed. As always, I look forward to future releases from this band.
7. Mastodon – The Hunter
As we still sit in wait of Paul’s review of this album, I can not help but place this within my top ten. Mastodon has made quite the effort of making every one of their releases something new and somehow better than their previous. It is as if they tell themselves that there is no way to top their last release, so they take the initiative to release something similar, yet completely different than their last while keeping things fresh enough to keep the attention of their fans and continue to gain new ones.
6. Opeth – Heritage
The haters will continue to hate. The fans will bitch and moan, while true fans will appreciate the evolution and talent of a band that breaks new ground within their abilities (Metallica excluded). Heritage, while making my list of Best Not-So-Metal Albums of 2011, still fits in my top ten simply because it is an amazing album that shows the true intellect and diversity of metal musicians and their potential.
5. Times of grace – The Hymn of A Broken Man
I might get some shit for this one, but I really don’t care. I’ve always really enjoyed the Jesse Leach era of Killswitch Engage, no matter if it is metalcore or not. if you liked Alive or Just Breathing, then you will surely enjoy Times of Grace‘s The Hymn Of A Broken Man. It is a very thickly layered album of Adam Dutkiewicz guitar work and Jesse Leach screams and sings. With KSE’s Joel Stoetzel on rhythm guitars, Shadows Fall guitarist Matt Bachard on bass and Dan Gluszak (formerly of Envy On The Coast) on drums, this band puts together one hell of an album. Point blank.
4. Thousand year War – Tyrants And Men
You may be saying to yourself, “who?”. Released on September 20th on Abyss records, Tyrants And Men is the first full length release from Alaska’s Thousand Year War. Imagine American viking metal in the tune of Amon Amarth, yet bringing their own sounds of vengeance and fury and you’ve got TYW. This album has probably been overlooked by many, many a metal blogs this year. I’ve meant to do a review, but never got around to it. Seriously, check this band out.
3. Hemoptysis – Misanthropic Slaughter
As much as Rob and I have been pushing this band, there was no way I could not include them in my top five. After a stellar Who Needs A Shepard ep, Hemoptysis worked tirelessly on putting together their first full length album that they would end up self-releasing in the beginning of 2011. Although I heard this album in late 2010, it was still on heavy rotation throughout 2011 and still continues to be on heavy rotation. They are still not signed to a U.S. label and honestly, I don’t even see the point of them ever signing to a label in this fragile state of the music industry unless they find a deal that will benefit them as well.
2. Textures – Dualism
Another album that I really meant to review a few months ago, but never got around to. if you do a little surfing, you’ll find great reviews such as that at No Clean Singing‘s Islander, where he makes the following statement: ” includes songs that really weave hill-and-valley-laden sonic tapestries that take the listener on a journey, sometimes in durations as short as under three minutes.”. I honestly could not think of a better explanation of the album than that. That pretty much tells all. if you even remotely enjoyed the music of The Ocean‘s last two releases, you will surely enjoy Textures’ Dualism.
1.5. Hell – Human Remains (Added after initial posting)
Holy friggin hell. (No pun intended) As I was putting together this list, I felt like I was forgetting someone. It wasn’t until I started putting together my ‘Honorable Mentions’ list that I realized that I somehow totally forgot Hell’s Human Remains. An album full of theatrical blasphemy, Hell reached back to their roots of unknown NWOBHM fame and recorded this album with long time fan Andy Sneap. Yeah, that’s why Megadeth had to find another producer for Th1rt3en. Original members, Kevin Bower, Tim Bowler and Tony Speakman Resurrected the band after a 21 year hiatus with Kevin’s brother David on vocals and Andy Sneap on guitars, who was originally taught how to play guitar by original Hell vocalist/guitarist David Halliday. What culminated is an a retro-feeling album with a modern twist that screams heavy metal through and through. I still can’t believe I almost forgot this album!
1. Anthrax – Worship Music
Finally, down to number one. I wasn’t expecting much from Anthrax on this release, even with Belladonna’s return. Sure, I was kind of highly anticipating, but there is always that expectation of disappointment that lingers in the back of your mind when nostalgia is involved in the release of an album with a returning key member of their heyday. Nobody really anticipated another Fistful of Metal or Among the Living. We thought we might get something like a mediocre State of Euphoria at best. Worship Music even without Joey Belladonna on vocals probably would have been quite solid, but add Joey’s somehow still credible range and emotion and you have an insta-boner filled with classic sounding Anthrax thrashticity (yep, just invented a new word) with a modern feel that can’t be matched.
Keep an eye out for my honorable mentions and Best of Misc. Categories for the year.