APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2011

2011 was a very productive and enjoyable year for extreme music, perhaps the best in years. Thus, it was not an easy task choosing what we enjoyed best since they were just so many. 2011 also gave us unforgettably bad albums by LOU REED and METALLICA, flops by THE HAUNTED as well as controversial ones by MORBID ANGEL.

We look forward to another strong year in 2012 in which we will celebrate our 10 years online. Cheers for all of your support in 2011! Radikult!!
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ABYSMAL DAWN: Climbing the Mountain

ABYSMAL DAWN have emerged from the Los Angeles underground in a relatively short amount of time. But like any young band, they’ve faced their share of adversity. Through tough times, the band pioneered by mainman Charles Elliot, have channeled those opposing energies through a creative and inspirational outlet resulting in the best album of the band’s career. Album number three, Leveling the Plane of Existence, has taken the band to the next level in every facet, songwriting, technicality, lyrically, and production-wise. APESHIT chatted with Charles regarding the album, his guitar playing, his new doom band, BEREFT, and more.
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Industry Profile: Oscar Martinez

Oscar Martinez (credit: Sarah Vanessa Photography)

Metal t-shirts – we all own them and likely have amassed a lot of them in our closets as the years have gone by. Behind those shirts are hardworking, dedicated people who do their best to supply this essential part of metal culture. We caught up with our good friend, Oscar Martinez, to not only learn about what’s going on with the merchandise business but also about his over 10 year journey through the music industry. In our interview, he schools us on the multidimensional aspects and considerations of being a touring band trying to make a profit in this day and age, and shares some of his surreal rock ‘n roll adventures.
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DIR EN GREY: One Step Closer

With their fourth official release in North America, DIR EN GREY continue to break new ground and reach out to an ever growing fan base. While much of their appeal to some may be their country of origin, they are determined to get respect based purely on the quality of their music. The new album, Dum Spiro Spero, takes the band to progressive and challenging new places. APESHIT met up with guitarists Die and Kaoru in Los Angeles a few weeks prior to Dum Spiro Spero’s release in order to gain insight into the growth of the band.
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Industry Profile: Ula Gehret

While the artists are the centerpieces of the music industry, the people behind the scenes are often just as important. It takes as much blood, sweat, and sacrifice to create and maintain success for those who work off-stage. We are taking an opportunity to spotlight one of these unsung heroes, metal industry veteran, Ula Gehret. He was a pivotal figure in Century Media‘s rise in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. He now runs his own consulting firm with fellow industry vet, Leif Jensen (vocalist for DEW-SCENTED). We reached out to Ula in his homebase of the Netherlands, who was happy to share his journey through the metal scene.
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National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) 2011 Show Report

Day One – January 13, 2011:

NAMM 2011 – Where freaks, music nerds, rockstars, wannabe rockstars, businessmen, and fanboys all roam in the same place. As I walked into the Anaheim Convention Center, a cacophony of music, horrendous notes, and loud instruments immediately overwhelmed my senses. Talk about sensory overload! Instruments were everywhere, and music gear was begging to be tested out and played with. As I took it all in, I wondered how my day would pan out.
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VOLBEAT: One Continent at a Time

Nothing beats good, memorable songs and Copenhagen, Denmark’s VOLBEAT specialize in them. Their rise to fame in Europe is quite impressive as the band have earned multiple platinum and gold records, and several hit songs. In contrast, the band have only recently begun making their presence known in U.S. beginning with their tour earlier this year with fans, METALLICA. But make no mistake, the band have a very loyal underground following in the States that is only growing larger. APESHIT met up with guitarist Thomas Bredahl and drummer Jon Larsen before their sold out show in Anaheim, CA to speak with the new Danish gods about the secrets to their success.
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DEVIN TOWNSEND: The Rebirth of Devin Townsend

Few artists in metal have been as single-handedly influential and prolific in the late 90’s/2000’s as DEVIN TOWNSEND. Despite amassing a diehard fanbase and the high praise and respect of his peers, Devin‘s personal life was suffering. After taking a self-imposed sabbatical in conjunction with the end of STRAPPING YOUNG LAD, Devin went through a soul searching journey and a reevaluation of his life.

APESHIT spoke to the mad scientist of metal before his show in LA earlier this year. We’re happy to report that not only is Devin back with a renewed sense of purpose and inspiration, he’s here to be bigger and stronger than ever.
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Andreas Kisser: Guitar Hero

In the world of death metal (and extreme metal as a whole), there are very few lead guitarists that can match Andreas Kisser‘s body of work. After being the guitar hero for SEPULTURA for almost 25 years, Kisser has released his first solo release and labor of love, Hubris I & II. Enlisting the help of some of Brazil’s most well-known musicians, Kisser has dished out a musically diverse and stimulating double album. APESHIT spoke to him from his home in Brazil about such his musical roots, his guitar heros, jamming with METALLICA and the SCORPIONS, and more.
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CHTHONIC: Actions Scream Louder Than Words

While there have been well-known rock/metal bands from Asia such as LOUDNESS and X JAPAN, as well as cult underground bands such as SABBAT, SIGH, and SAD LEGEND, no Asian band has taken the underground by storm quite like Taiwan’s CHTHONIC. With just three stateside releases, CHTHONIC has grown quickly to be the first Asian band to play Ozzfest, play on several high profile U.S. and European tours, and grace the pages of many a metal magazine.

The one characteristic that distinguishes CHTHONIC from virtually every other metal band is their dedication to promoting the independence of their country through social and political activism inside and outside the band. As we found out from our conversation with CHTHONIC bassist, model, and actress Doris, they are on a mission to not only raise awareness about the independence movement of Taiwan but to also dispell myths and educate fans about the rocky and complicated relationship between Taiwan and China.
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