My Top Albums of 2011


Gen 8 2012, 20:28

So here it is again, for those that are interested! My top musical highlights of 2011.

My Favourite Releases of 2011 (in no particular order)

Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever

The polish masters return after the loss of most of their band with a strong release, possibly their most progressive yet.

Chthonic - Takasago Army

Another slab of awesome from Taiwan's finest.

Puscifer - Conditions of My Parole

Maynard James Keenan returns with more eclectic electronic weirdness.

The Wolves of Avalon - Carrion Crows Over Camlan

Supergroup side project featuring members of Meads of Asphodel, Mael Mordha and Yydraggsil - this was only ever going to float my boat!

Machine Head - Unto The Locust

Sometimes I just like my metal to be plain and pure - the essence of what metal is generally all about. Hairy men playing guitars loudly, and shouting at you angrily. For me, Machine Head fill this void perfectly, and follow up their brilliant "The Blackening" album with another solid release.

Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street

John Cobbett and Co. return with their heaviest album for a long while, but also their catchiest. Great stuff.

Dornenreich - Flammentriebe

German Folk/Black metal at it's absolute finest.

My Dying Bride - Evinta

A new experiment from the yorkshire masters of doom, and much more interesting than the disappointing "For Lies I Sire" - this 3-cd opus is stripped back, re-arranged orchestrations of recognisable MDB melodies, minus the guitars. Won't be for everyone, and not an easy listen in one sitting, but brilliant all the same. Closer to the likes of Dargaard and Dark Sanctuary than traditional MDB. One for the headphones with a glass of wine. And possibly a cry and a wank at the same time.

Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events

Despite initially not grabbing me, this has become a firm favourite of mine not only of the year but from all Dream Theater releases. It really does seem that the problem was Portnoy - and now we have DT returning with a stellar album. Disgruntled older fans should find something worth listening to here, especially considering the conspiracy theorists believe the entire thing is a reworked "Images and Words"!

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

Quite a surprise for me to include a band like the Foo's in my yearly favourites list - they've been churning out the same dull pop/rock bobbins for about the last 3 albums - then they go and make the album of their career, up there with "Colour and the Shape". Who'd a thunk it.

Fleshgod Apocalypse - Agony

The sound of the end of the world. With death metal. And full orchestra. A very scary, mind-shattering 50-minute end of the world. Exhausting to listen to, but genius none the less. Dear Nightwish - THIS is how you make symphonic metal.

Pain of Salvation - Road Salt Two

Not a patch on "Road Salt One" but still manages to make my album of the year list! Loving their new retro Led-Zep/road movie direction more with every listen.

Mastodon - The Hunter

It's no "Crack the Skye", their pinnacle IMHO, but this collection of catchy metal tunes still floats my boat. As usual my favourite track features Scott Kelly from Neurosis :)

Falkenbach - Tiurida

After a long hiatus, this Icelandic 1-piece returns sounding better than ever, with his distinctive brand of jaunty viking metal.

Iwrestledabearonce - Ruining It For Everybody

This sort of "kerrazy" and "all over the shop and out of tune" hipster shit normally annoys the jolly christ out of me. They even have one of those band names that makes you want to slap them all upside the head. But for some reason I love this band. And I can't tell you why, because anything else of this ilk makes the urge to kill rise. I guess for me they have just the right level of "bonkers", I love the vocalist, and their use of electronics in places. It's a shame I'll probably never see them live because I will probably want to murder all their fans.

The Project Hate MCMXCIX - Bleeding the New Apocalypse

The new singer Ruby (Witchbreed) absolutely nails it on this one, despite my initial reservations. A great album, and much better than their last effort, which was quite frankly a load of shite. Yet more brutal, epic death metal tinged with electronica.


A few good albums that didn't quite make it to my yearly favorites list...

Magenta Harvest - A Familiar Room (EP)
Die Apokalyptischen Reiter - Moral and Wahnsinn
Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions
Fair to Midland - Arrows and Anchors
Septicflesh - The Great Mass
Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
Radiohead - King of Limbs


...and my list of releases that made me a SAD PANDA this year :(

Nightwish - Imaginaerum

An extreme lesson in DULL. Dear Tuomas, please just pack it in and become a film composer.

Turisas - Stand Up and Fight

Seemed more like a vanity project for Nygard, who in turn seems desperate to get noticed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This is NOT the band I jigged merrily in the rain to at 2am during Wacken 2005. Poor.

Opeth - Heritage

I had to take a good few listens to work out whether I just didn't "get" this album, or whether it just wasn't THAT interesting. Sadly, as retro-prog-deep-purple covers albums go, it's pretty uninspiring. I guess if the "death metal" isn't in them anymore, it's best not to force it, but I know they can do miles better than this - just look at Damnation. Oh well.

Devin Townsend Project - Ghost

As much as I love Devin - he to me is such an inspiring person and musician - this is NOT my bag I'm afraid. If you went into one of those hippy shops that sells crystals and wicca books, where they play ambient "wellbeing" music, you wouldn't buy one of their tacky cd's now would you? You might even make fun of it while you were there. But somehow because Devin has done it, it's genius? Don't get it I'm afraid.

Anaal Nathrakh - Passion

The release where the joke of being so extreme it's funny no longer became funny. Over the top for the sake of it but foresaking any kind of memorable songwriting. Such a shame as the last two albums have been killer.

Riverside - Memories in my Head

Ironic for the title, I cannot remember a single thing about it no matter how many times I listen.

Stream of Passion - Darker Days

Dull, dull, dull. Come back Arjen, for gods sake.

Wolverine - Communication Lost

I so desperately WANT to love this album. They guys that make it put so much effort and time into it, but no matter how much I try, I just can't get it to sink in. I just don't know what it is that is missing... Sorry chaps! :(


And here it is! Usually I can never decide on an outright album of the year, but for once the choice for me is totally obvious. My personal winner of 2011 is...

Amebix - Sonic Mass

Coming completely out of nowhere for me, an old crust/punk band from a bit before even my time, reforms to make something completely fresh and relevant in the modern metal scene. I won't pretend to know much about their original material, but having checked it out since, there is no "trying to replicate former glories" here - just something new that has no right being as good as it is. Epic is a term thrown around too much, but it certainly fits here - and I don't just mean the usual "metal band tries to make a film score" rubbish. Soaring, heavy, crushing, beautiful - and just about pisses on everything else released this year from a great height. Trying to explain it doesn't do it justice, but it's like a strange marriage of Neurosis, Swans, Mastodon, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure.

Just check this wonderment:

And that's it, thanks for reading :)


  • metalmicky

    with you on some of these but not others, but that's what its all about isn't it? A couple I needed to check out too but didn't get round to it, certainly the Amebix and Decapitated releases. Nice one.

    Gen 9 2012, 11:56
  • Century_Skunk

    Aye, absolutely. I was somewhat late to the party with Wolves of Avalon despite meaning to get hold of it all year. Only just listened to it last week!

    Gen 9 2012, 12:32
  • Yygdrasill

    New year greetings mate!... same as Mike said really as well,totally with ya on 'The Wolves Of Avalon','The Project Hate...' and the disappointment that was 'Heritage' but i have to disagree with ya on Nathrakh,still a solid album imo : ) Surprised not see Draconian as well actually.

    Gen 9 2012, 18:45
  • Century_Skunk

    Happy New Year to you too mate :) Draconian for me blows it's best track right at the beginning, and doesn't live up to it after that. Same thing for me on the new Novembers Doom album. Both decent releases tho, just not quite classic material for my tastes. It's been a bit of a funny year for me musically - think it's why I was able to pick a "no. 1" - as I never usually can!

    Gen 9 2012, 21:06
  • Yygdrasill

    Funny year indeed man!... i've never heard this 'iwrestledabearonce' band before,so being the curious type i decided to press the button on that vid ya posted.... and WTF! : ) pretty amusing actually but i have to say i'm failed to be convinced that album is anywhere near the sheer epic-ness and quality of something like 'The Great Mass'... but hey ho! whateva floats the boat mate : )

    Gen 10 2012, 19:45
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