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!!
dr.park’s top 10
SOLSTAFIR - Svartir Sandar (Season of Mist) I can bet my life that this album goes criminally unnoticed by the masses. SOLSTAFIR prove that music can indeed dig far deep into the soul making other bands seem a bit trivial in their subject matter. Don’t deprive yourself of one of the best underground albums to come out in years. All fans of dark, deep, and undeniably compelling music should check out Svartir Sandar. [Full review]
DECAPITATED - Carnival is Forever (Nuclear Blast Records) Few bands ever make a comeback from tragedy to triumph like this. Carnival is Forever is cutting edge extreme metal that leaves others in the dust. [Full review]
DOCTOR MIDNIGHT & THE MERCY CULT – I Declare: Treason (Season of Mist) As a TURBONEGRO fan, hearing about vocalist Hank von Helvete leaving the band was just terrible news. However, seeing him bounce back in a major way in the Norwegian all-star band, DOCTOR MIDNIGHT & THE MERCY CULT, is just great. Pitch black, ugly riffs, charisma, and soulful and brutally honest lyrics about life make I Declare: Treason mandatory. [Full review]
KVELERTAK – Kvelertak (Indie Recordings/The End Records/Prosthetic Records) If this album doesn’t pump you up, then you’ve got no soul. KVELERTAK’s unique blend of black metal, punk, and rock ’n roll (sung in Norwegian) is supreme party music. Get into it. [Full review]
SEPTIC FLESH - The Great Mass (Season of Mist) Yes, this is basically a flawless album. The orchestrations are grand and easily eclipse comparable efforts to sound truly epic. Bravo, SEPTIC FLESH! [Full review]
MACHINE HEAD - Unto the Locust (Roadrunner Records) After a period of time spent playing nu metal, MACHINE HEAD are proving that they are better than we all thought they were. Unto the Locust is pure balls out metal. They are playing to their utmost playing abilities with amazing results. Who knew they were this technically skilled? [Full review]
GRAVEYARD - Hisingen Blues (Nuclear Blast Records) GRAVEYARD had to have come out of a time machine from the 70’s because they are just so natural and amazingly good at jamming out classic rock. These songs are just instant classics. GRAVEYARD deserve to be huge. Don’t be a dumbass, check out Hisingen Blues. [Full review]
STAROFASH - Lakhesis (Mnemosyne Productions/The End Records) STAROFASH never disappoint. They may be far from being the darlings of the metal media but people in the know are fully aware of how excellent this avant garde band is. No rules, no limits. [Full review]
LEPROUS - Bilateral (Inside Out Music) Progressive metal that is not cheesy? Yes, it does exist via LEPROUS. They got the chops and the imaginative and diverse songs to back it up. These guys are rising. [Full review]
BORIS - New Album (Sargent House Records) New Album is a very well produced and put together album. Great songs, great diversity, and a very interesting touch of creativity to create enjoyable ear candy. [Full review]
TENHI - Saivo (Prophecy Productions) Finland is not all about melodic death metal bands or doom metal bands. TENHI are the gods of their own brand of progressive neo folk music. Infinitely deep, meditative, and the perfect soundtrack for reverie.
ABSU - Abzu (Candlelight Records) ABSU easily prove once again why they best U.S. black/thrash metal band ever. The songs never stop attacking with their unrelenting venom. Proscriptor is the only lead drummer in metal. [Full review]
ANATHEMA - We’re Here Because We’re Here (The End Records) ANATHEMA make a great return with their best album in years. I love the warm glow of this album. The arrangements are brilliant in their subtlety. There is a level of greatness that ANATHEMA touch upon at several points in the album. [Full review]
SOLEFALD - Norrøn Livskunst (Indie Recordings/The End Records) Despite their absence from most other metal media outlets, SOLEFALD never waiver in their commitment to creative, stimulating avant garde black metal. They have so much to offer. All you have to do is let them in. [Full review]
ANIMALS AS LEADERS - Weightless (Prosthetic Records) To steal a thought from roycifer, ANIMALS AS LEADERS is like DREAM THEATER without the gayness. It says something about the band when their instrumental prog rock/metal that thrives on technicality can make such a strong impression on people who don’t necessarily listen to prog. The electronic elements in their sound are really cool as well.
GHOST - Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade Records) I could care less about the hype and trendiness of this band. All I care about is their music and it’s rock solid. GHOST perfectly capture the heavier edge of 70’s hard rock and pioneering sound and imagery of MERCYFUL FATE. [Full review]
big johnson’s top 10 (in no particular order)
ABSU - Abzu (Candlelight Records) Abzu is certainly one of the top albums of 2011, and a thrash/black metal masterpiece in its own right. With disharmonic, unorthodox, thrashy riffs blending in with acoustic guitars and unparalleled drumming, ABSU has really given their European counterparts a run for their money. At the pinnacle of their career, ABSU has unleashed a monster of an album, and one should pity anybody who has not heard this amazing album. [Full review]
IMMOLATION - Providence (Scion A/V) Given away free as a download, and at shows during their recent U.S. headlining tour, IMMOLATION has proved again why they are the most consistent extreme metal band to outlast any trendy band that has sprouted over the years. It’s about time the production is crystal clear and slick, and a track like “Swallow the Fear” includes old school riffing with a newer, crisp feel to it. Known for their catchy and brutal affairs, “Illumination” is a good indication why the band continues to press forward with quality unholy death metal. Unfortunately, after all these years, they are still underappreciated and underrated, but no matter, IMMOLATION are still at the top of their game.[Full review]
NADER SADEK - In the Flesh (Season of Mist) Much like a movie director, Nader Sadek has formed his horde with some heavyweights in the underground scene. With Steve Tucker (ex-MORBID ANGEL), Flo Mounier (CRYPTOPSY) and Rune Eriksen (ex-MAYHEM) as the core of the band, this “band” produces one of the most punishing and interesting albums of the year. “Sulffer” and “Soulless” accentuate the brutality and intricacy of what these talented musicians can do. While this album clocks in way too short, In the Flesh leaves the door open to an amazing next album to come.[Full review]
VADER – Welcome to the Morbid Reich (Nuclear Blast Records) Another VADER album, another new lineup. Nothing new there. As seen in the past, lineup changes do not affect the overall sound of the band, as long as frontman Piotr is alive. Their most aggressive and best effort since Litany, VADER has come back strong after the lackluster last album, Necropolis. The explosiveness of tracks like “Come and See My Sacrifice” and “Only Hell Knows” make you remember why VADER rules in the first place. Old school fans are also treated to a re-recording of “Decapitated Saints,” which is always nice to hear. [Full review]
MACHINE HEAD - Unto the Locust (Roadrunner Records) MACHINE HEAD has stepped up their game with Unto the Locust, as even extreme metal fans will enjoy this disc. Sure, there are some commercial riffs and choruses on the album, but for the most part, Unto the Locust is melodic and brutal, with no uninspired nu-metal SLIPKNOT riffs. Robb Flynn has thrown in acoustic guitars, melodies, and brutality into their best album of their entire career. With outstanding tracks like “I Am Hell (Sonata in C#)” and “This is the End,” you might be surprised how much you like this album after hearing it. [Full review]
DECAPITATED - Carnival is Forever (Nuclear Blast Records) After a brief state of dormancy, DECAPITATED has continued where Organic Hallucinosis left off - twisted, crushing, and brilliant. Following his brother’s tragic death, Vogg has been extremely inspired, thus releasing an amazing piece of music. “United“ and “Pest“ are choppy with insane time drops and changes, all the while with the instruments being in sync. The music has departed from the more straightforward Polish death metal sound of Winds of Creation, but evolved into a solid well-oiled machine of death metal mastery. [Full review]
LOCK UP - Necropolis Transparent (Nuclear Blast Records) The supergroup known as LOCK UP has once again taken over the grind world. Second only to TERRORIZER, the band blasts through plenty of quick and brutal tracks like “Acceleration Mutation," “Unseen Enemy,” and “Through the Eyes of My Shadow Self.” Guest vocals by Jeff Walker (CARCASS) and Peter Tägtgren (HYPOCRISY) never hurts, which adds a nice flair to the overall flavor of the album. If you’re a fan of grind or brutal death metal at all, this album is mandatory. [Full review]
ARCH ENEMY - Khaos Legions (Century Media Records) Rise of the Tyrant was a huge step for ARCH ENEMY after becoming a bit more commercial with Anthems of Rebellion and Doomsday Machine. Khaos Legions is a nice balance of that commercial catchiness, but with the melodic guitar work that has been missed since Stigmata. Standout tracks such as “Bloodstained Cross,” “No Gods, No Masters,” and “Through the Eyes of a Raven” have ARCH ENEMY dominating this genre for years to come. [Full review]
OBSCURA – Omnivium (Relapse Records) Technical death metal nerds who worship bands like THE FACELESS and NECROPHAGIST will obviously be attracted to OBSCURA, but Omnivium throws in great songwriting and memorable passages, not just guitar masturbation wankery. Drummer Hannes Grossmann does an excellent job being fast and intricate without showing off. Yes, there are many riffs and many notes found throughout the album, thus applying the “technical” tag to the band, but “Septuagint” and “Aevum” show that these songs stand out on their own. The core of the technical mastery of guitarists Steffen Kummerer and Christian Müenzner certainly helps, too. [Full review]
DEICIDE - To Hell With God (Century Media) While being heavily distracted by his divorce, Glen Benton and DEICIDE released the clunker Till Death Do Us Part album, but To Hell With God certainly makes up for it. Blasphemous, with humorous titles such as “How Can You Call Yourself a God“ and “Angels of Hell,“ this album has Stench of Redemption written all over it. The quick, brutal, and catchy songs on the album solidifies that the band is continuing well without the Hoffman brothers. [Full review]
roycifer’s top albums
Metal: GHOST - Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade Records) [Full review] KVELERTAK – Kvelertak (Indie Recordings/The End Records/Prosthetic Records) [Full review] GRAVEYARD - Hisingen Blues (Nuclear Blast Records) [Full review] TRASH TALK - Awake (True Panther) IDES OF GEMINI - The Disruption Writ (self released) OPETH - Heritage (Roadrunner Records) [Full review] CAVE IN - White Silence (Hydra Head) ANIMALS AS LEADERS - Weightless (Prosthetic Records) IMMOLATION - Providence (Scion A/V) [Full review]
Non-metal: PEAKING LIGHTS - 936 (Not Not Fun/Weird World) DEATH GRIPS - Ex-Military (Third Worlds) PRINCE RAMA - Trust Now (Paw Tracks) JESSE SYKES & THE SWEET HEREAFTER - Marble Son BIG BLACK DELTA - BBDLP1 (Coming Home)
shady rajah’s top 10
KRISIUN - The Great Execution (Century Media Records) For over 20 years, KRISIUN has delivered extreme uncompromising music regardless of what the trends are. Their steadfast, unwavering conviction continues on their epic hour long crusher The Great Execution, an album that combines everything from breakneck blasting, mid-tempo grooves and even some flamenco guitar playing in the mix and still manages to crush all in its path. Those of you who were disappointed in the last MORBID ANGEL album should grab this album ASAP.
DECAPITATED - Carnival is Forever (Nuclear Blast Records) After suffering one of the worst tragedies in recent metal history, it’s a wonder that Carnival is Forever was even made. Against all odds, guitarist Vogg unleashed a new lineup and brilliant album with Carnival is Forever. Everything from the performances. production, musicianship and songwriting is top notch, once again setting a benchmark for how quality technical death metal should be done. [Full review]
ESOTERIC - Paragon of Dissonance (Season of Mist) The idea of 94 minute, 2-disc doom metal album might be a bit much for the Twitter/Facebook download generation who want everything in five seconds, but the patient will be rewarded the audio equivalent to an epic novel or movie. Layers of doomy sludge collide with ambient dissonance to create a musical experience as opposed to simply a collection of songs. Peaks, valleys, detours, and twisted winding musical paths await those willing to take the plunge.
ELECTRIC WIZARD - Black Masses (Metal Blade Records) On Black Masses, ELECTRIC WIZARD spews forth their catchiest most hook-laden material to date, all while locked in bluesy, swinging grooves and layers of smoke-induced psychedelia. [Full review]
SUBROSA - No Help for the Mighty Ones (Profound Lore Records) One of the more elegant and subtle releases of the year, SUBROSA quiety slipped in a hidden gem for the underground music community. No Help for the Mighty Ones takes the listener through rich, deeply detailed stories offering more substance than the standard metal fare. Catchy hooks, fuzzed out riffs, violins that alternate between soothing and piercing, and a haunting aura though out take the listener on a rewarding path less traveled. [Full review]
DESPISE YOU/AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED - And On and On… (Relapse Records) You pretty much only get 17 minutes (at least for the DESPISE YOU portion) but man, what DESPISE YOU does with their 17 minutes is an exercise in all things relentless, furious, and pissed. An album that encompasses all the power violence and crust punk fury that most of the young’uns wish they could muster. You’d be hard pressed to find a more honest and uncompromising snap shot in to L.A. life as told through the eyes of an anarchist who’s seen it all and survived. There’s also some songs from the guy from PIG DESTROYER on here as bonus tracks as well.
VADER – Welcome to the Morbid Reich (Nuclear Blast Records) With a seemingly annual appearance on this list, Peter from VADER has done it again. The band may be different, producers, and labels may change, but what doesn’t change is Peter’s commitment to delivering top quality death metal. And while there may be few surprises under the sun, there is a stronger sense of urgency on this album than on the past few releases, and as usual, top notch musicianship and catchy song writing from an apparently inexhaustible well of death metal creativity. [Full review]
WORMROT - Dirge (Earache Records) At a paltry 18 minutes, WORMROT doesn’t have time to waste on filler, gimmicks and other tomfoolery other bands try to pawn on listeners. Instead we get go for the throat, attack, attack, attack grind that aims straight for the jugular and holds nothing back. Blazing blasts. killer grooves, punchy production, and furious vocals barrage the listener without mercy. WORMROT sets the standard that their peers will be struggling to keep up with. [Full review]
ULVER - War of the Roses (Jester Records) The cult following that ULVER has developed over the years is well deserved, and as usual Garm and the gang deliver in spades. Explaining ULVER’s sound can be a bit of a challenge, so even if I told you one of my favorite albums of this year has everything from film score music, black metal elements, a little COIL, some BEACH BOYS, some trance, Shakespeare, some ambiance, I’d still be doing them and you a disservice. Better yet, just check out the new ULVER if you want to hear what elite music sounds like and we’ll leave it at that.
GIANT SQUID - Cenotes (Vega Vinyl Records) Building on their fine The Ichthyologist album, Cenotes takes the band in interesting new directions, centered around the eerie yet seamless string work of Jackie Gratz. The balance the band achieves throughout the CD is an exercise in flawless dynamic execution.
We go to 11 in 2011 with these fine honorable mentions (with the exception of VOMITORY, all are EP’s so hopefully we can look forward to killer full lengths from all of these bands next year):
WORMROT - Noise (Scion A/V) A five minute EP that you can also get for free from Scion A/V, and while not as thunderous as Providence , it’s super incinerating.
ALDEBARAN - Buried Beneath Aeons (Parasitic Records) One track, 27 minutes of ambient crushing doom. Killer stuff that simply shouldn’t be ignored.
VOMITORY - Opus VIII (Metal Blade Records) There’s a grip of killer riffs on this album; not quite enough for me to give a higher spot. But don’t hold that against them. Absolutely killer death metal.
Oscar Martinez’s top 10 (in no particular order)
This year in Metal had a lot of great albums, some were a lot better than others and some were just a plain disappointment, which is why I made room for some non-Metal albums that I had on rotation all year long. Below are the albums that I listened to all of the time that really made an impact on me. Everything from the album cover, to songs, to production - these albums stood apart from the rest, I give you my top albums of 2011 in no particular order. Enjoy!
DECAPITATED - Carnival is Forever (Nuclear Blast Records) These guys had a lot to prove. After the tragedy that struck the band a few years back, no one really knew what to expect on their forthcoming album or if they would even make another album. Thank the metal god’s they did because this album is a monster. The production is superb and I can honestly say it has the best drum sound I have heard on a Metal album in a long time! The songs crush and the new members of the band do a spectacular job! Good job boys and thank you for this album! [Full review]
LOCK UP - Necropolis Transparent (Nuclear Blast Records) There will be a new NAPALM DEATH album next year, but for this year, LOCK UP’s Necropolis Transparent was the grind album to get. The album is like a punch to the face, it happens so fast and you can’t even feel the pain until it’s over, then you are left with the “What the fuck just happened?” feeling. The album is fucking sick! It doesn’t get better than having Tomas Lindberg, Shane, Anton and Mr. Nick Barker record an album…oh wait. Let’s not forget the album also features Jeff Walker and Peter Tägtgren doing guest vocals on a couple of the songs. [Full review]
IN SOLITUDE - The World. The Flesh. The Devil (Metal Blade Records) IN SOLITUDE’s second full length album is a bad ass traditional Heavy Metal record! There has been a resurgence of bands honoring the traditional Metal sound. But don’t get caught up in the hype or gimmicks, check out IN SOLITUDE, these guys are the real deal! The World. The Flesh. The Devil is an album that honors the NWOBHM sound without imitating anyone. They are their own band and boy what a treat they gave us with this record. Blast this baby to 11. You will enjoy every minute of it. [Full review]
ADELE - 21 (Columbia Records) We can’t listen to Metal all the time can we? Well, some of us can I guess and I tend to give myself breaks between my blast beats. If you haven’t heard ADELE by now, you probably live under a rock. You can’t really avoid her. She’s everywhere and there’s a reason why. She’s a phenomenal singer, might not be your cup of tea but you have to give credit where credit is due. The songs on the album 21 are infectious, catchy and dare I say amazing. I’m glad to see she’s getting all this praise because it is well deserved and at least it’s a good musician and not some pop recycled artist.
SEPULTURA - Kairos (Nuclear Blast Records) Let me start by saying that this is my favorite SEPULTURA album since Chaos AD. I don’t know what happened but the band sounds fresh, energetic and boy can these guys still write a great thrash riff! The songs are crushing! Plus the production courtesy of Mr. Roy Z gives the band a fresh and live sound. Pick this up, I highly recommend it and just like a good wine, for me this album has gotten better and better with each listen. [Full review]
VALLENFYRE – A Fragile King (Century Media Records) This album has the soul and spirit from an early 90’s Death Metal album. Those of us who remember when ENTOMBED and DISMEMBER owned our ear buds will love this album. Mr. PARADISE LOST, Greg McKintosh, has given us this gift that keeps on giving, A Fragile King . This album is top notch beginning to end. Excellent songwriting, production is amazing and the album cover rules! There is not a single thing I don’t like about this record and it is a perfect ten album in my eyes. Can’t say enough good things about it except go buy it now!
OBSCURA – Omnivium (Relapse Records) Germany’s kings of technical Metal released Omnivium to show us how bad ass they are, well maybe that wasn’t the reason but I like to think so because this albums fucking owns! They are brutal, precise and fucking razor sharp. It was going to be hard to follow up their previous album, Cosmogenesis, but the band did it. Omnivium is a natural progression for the band and the proper next step for a band who will soon rule the planet. Do yourself a favor and check out OBSCURA if you haven’t already done so and get this album now! [Full review]
AUTOPSY – Macabre Eternal (Peaceville Records) One of the things I was thankful for this Thanksgiving was the new AUTOPSY album, Macabre Eternal. Songs like “Dirty Gore Whore” and “Bludgeoned and Brained” make you realize no one does it better than the masters. Back with a vengeance is the band that gave us Severed Survival and Mental Funeral and many more gore gems. Macabre Eternal is a great album to add to the band’s legacy, and a must have in your album collection. I don’t know what more to say except it simply fucking rules!
DJERV - Djerv (Indie Recordings) Norwegian rock band DJERV have released their self-titled debut album and let me tell you it’s a rocking album. Makes you wish that this was the kind of music that they played on the radio. The songs are catchy as fuck and heavy enough to head bang to. Their first single, “Madman,” which they also have a video for, is simply amazing and it is perhaps one of the best songs of the year.
WC – Revenge of the Barracuda (Entertainment One Music) While most rappers are caught up in either in the whole auto tune Lil’ Wayne craze or the slick pimp daddy BS from Kanye West or Jay Z, WC keeps it old school. Great West Coast stuff here ladies and gentlemen. From the man that brought you LOW PROFILE and WESTSIDE CONNECTION, WC releases another solo album, Revenge of the Barracuda. If you like stripped down, good beats, gangsta rap, this is the 2011 rap album for you.