Best (and worst) of metal 2011


Gen 28 2011, 18:07

Die Apokalyptischen Reiter - Moral & Wahnsinn 9/10
A wonderful and varied album. It might not be totally on par with the even better Licht from 2008, but for fans of the band this album certainly will be no let down. It's quite short but with online streaming becoming more and more popular it should be less of a problem since the paying methods are monthly fees rather than a fixed price per album. Highlights are the happy and catchy Die gehört Nichts, the heavier and memorable Erwache, and the ear slaying Hört Auf. One of the best and less predictable bands out there at the moment - at least within the melodic realm of metal.

Bloodbound - Unholy Cross 9/10
The Swedes in Bloodbound are not original. They steal, not to say outright plunder, from back catalogues of bands as Manowar, Hammerfall, and Helloween. Sometimes such a lack of originality can be annoying, but when the songs are as good as on Unholy Cross everything is forgiven. The first three songs sparkle and glitter of power metal quality. Moria, Drop the Bomb, and The Ones We left Behind lift Bloodbound way above the mediocre power metal we hear all too often. These slower songs are later seasoned with faster tracks reminding me of newer Helloween.

The artwork, the name, and the music style might prevent these guys from a mainstream break through, but power metal fans must take notice. The music and lyrics are kliché ridden, but the song writing is top fucking notch. It’s catchy and charming and not marred by too thin production or too high pitched a singer. Give it a listen. Now.

HammerFall - Infected 8/10
It has been up and down with Hammerfall. While I regard their first album as a power metal masterpiece some of the later efforts have been of more mixed quality. This time around they have adopted some more complicated song patterns which add a new dimension to their music. When put together with some old school rockers they offer a good whole. Songs as the very Helloween like Dios de los Muertes and the insanely catchy Outlaw are among the highlights. The album isn't without bland moments but the amount of stinkers is very low.

Taake - Noregs Vaapen 8/10
A wonderful and diverse black metal album with everything from trancy passages to great melodies - is it even a banjo I can hear somewhere? While staying true to the genre's roots, Taake don't hesitate to break the bounderies either. This is a must hear for people who prefer their black true but not chaotic and über fast.

Lake of Tears - Illwill 8/10
I'm a huge fan of this band. I do prefer their softer more melancholic side to this more aggressive and faster album though. The tough tone can be a bit forced at times. That said there's some great melodies and some good musical pieces spread all around the album. U.N.S.A.N.E and Behind the green Door are top notch songs and with the exeption of a song like Parasites the whole album is on a decent level.

Charred Walls Of The Damned - Cold Winds on timeless Days
Not exactly what I had hoped for after last year's debut but not bad either. Thrash and power metal goes hand in hand in a fashion that Iced Earth forgot long ago. Along with the debut this is the best Ripper has done since his work with Judas Priest.

Primordial - Redemption by the Puritan's Hand 7/10
Primordial have very much their own style and they've become favourites in the metal community for a reason. I enjoyed this album very much as well. The smooth guitars and the ever interesting drumming paired with the unique vocals create a black (can it be called that really?) album above average. It is however also a little less varied than I would have preferred. The melodies tend to become the same over and over again.

Vhäldemar - Metal of the World 7/10
Decent traditional/power metal with a nice, powerful production. What really lifts it beyond average however is the well crafted melodies. The feel of the music reminds me a bit of the German band Chinchilla. The vocalist has the same raspy voice. It's not an album that will shake the world by any means but overall an enjoyable experience for fans of the genre.

Myrath - Tales of the Sands 7/10
Talented people from Tunesia ready to take on the prog metal world. I'm a huge fan of their mixing of Arab music with the in this case more traditional prog metal. They combine the light feeling of the meandering Arab patterns with the sharpness and force of metal. Still it's not really catchy enough for me to give it a higher mark however. A very interesting band none the less.

Burzum - Fallen 7/10

Power Quest - Blood Alliance 7/10
Neat power metal album with a decent level of balls and good melodies. The guitar wanking is a bit over the top, but I can live with it because of the rest of the music. The songs Rising anew and Glorious are real hits while some of the other songs are less memorable.

Varg - Wolfkult 7/10
Very decent melodic black metal with folk influences. The songs are in German and despite the quite onelayered vocals the atmosphere is actually ok. The tempo is mid/high and the almost power metal-like guitar patterns light the album up here and there. Not ground breaking music by any means but well crafted.

Blut aus Nord - The mystical Beast of Rebellion 7/10
Monotonous and dark - just as I like my black metal. The album is more about creating a trance-like ambiance than presenting a group of individual songs. The drumming (machine?) is fast and furious but also a little too bland. Generally I like the music and its soundscapes.

Helhorse - For wolves and Vultures 7/10
Heavy and groovy stoner metal with influences from southern metal. While it's not my cup of tea per se, it's not all that bad. The general picture is dominated by heaviness and classic one dimensional vocals, but sometimes some decent melodies break through. I prefer the melodic and stony parts to the more aggressive.

Stormwarrior - Heathen Warrior 6/10
While I thought their last effort, Heading Northe, was a power metal gem I'm not nearly as satisfied with this one. The ingrediances are there but the magic is somewhat gone. There's absolutely some good parts here and there and for all lovers of German power metal in the vein of Gamma Ray there should be something to get, but overall it's an disappointment considering the catchiness and charm of the 2008 album.

Saxon - Call to Arms 6/10
A decent and very solid effort by the veterans. Compared to some of their later material like Unleash the Beast (1998) and Lionheart (2004) I do find this one a tad boring though. NWOBHM riffs are all over the place and despite Biff Byford's 60 years his voice is still quite good. Somehow however it won't really take off in more than a few songs. The brilliant title track is a highlight.

Wolf - Legions of Bastards 6/10
Well crafted traditional metal. I liked the 2009 album Ravenous quite a bit without being awestricken. This continues in the same vein. It's absolutely decent, but I'm not a huge fan. It might move up a grade, when I give it some more listens but for now it's in the middle of the 2011 metal peloton.

Dalriada - Ígéret 6/10
Light mix of power, folk, and black with emphasis on the two former. The album has some good melodies interesting folky parts. For fans of folk this is surely something to check out, while other people might find it a bit too silly/light/generic. Also interesing to hear lyrics in Hungarian.

Edguy - The Age of the Joker 6/10
Some good songs here and there, but overall it's not too catchy. Their have taken yet another step away from the power metal, but Tobias Sammet does this better in Avantasia.

Circle of Silence - The blackened Halo 6/10
German power metal that sound a bit like a blend of Iced Earth and Iron Savior. The riffs from the former and the melodies from the latter bound together by a decent if a bit uninspired singer with a somewhat raspy voice. Far from the traditional light europower this is more classic metal with a thrashy feeling. Good stuff here and there but not overly exciting.

In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading 5/10
Not bad and not really good as it has been the case with most In Flames albums in the last decade. The last one I really enjoyed was Reroute to Remain. Come Clarity was also ok, but this doesn't reach that level. The more mellow songs like the title track are the best, but all in all they don't seem to have anything really relevant to offer anymore. I am however not offended by this album and I wouldn't mind to hear it in the background.

FireForce - March On 5/10
Classic heavy metal without any surprises at all. It's well crafted but also quite boring. For me at least it didn't live up to the good reviews I have seen. It reminds me a bit of Grave Digger and it sure has both power and guts - the melodies however are bland. For fans of classic metal it should be ok.

Falconer - Armod 5/10
The opening track is really good and quite heavy compared to the usual Falconer stuff. From there however I found it increasingly hard to keep focus on an album that seem to blur out a bit towards the end. The style is generally more folkish than most of their prior albums and all songs (except for the bonus tracks) are in Swedish. Falconer is an interesting band, mostly due to Mathias Blad's unusual voice, but this effort lacks some catchiness.

Boris - Heavy Rocks 5/10
A strange album ranging from more or less awful and at least very boring up-tempo stuff to really good stoner metal. I don't know any of the bands earlier work, and I'll only check it out if it leans towards good songs such as Missing Pieces (ok I know I have to check it out to hear what it sounds like but still...)

Dark Forest - Dawn of Infinity 5/10
Run-of-the-mill black metal with no real surprises. Dark, harsh, and a tad monotonous. It's not bad as such and fans of the genre might rejoice. I have heard much better in my time though.

Stratovarious - Elysium 4/10
Some good songs but many more boring. A lot of the fast paced songs are gone and I don't think that the current line-up's song writing can live up to what they're aiming at. The style is still europower, but they sadly lack some power.

4th Dimension - The White Path to Rebirth 4/10
Melodic and light power metal with some good melodies here and there. All in all it's not spectacular though. Traditional weak production and lacking song writing skills. The first song on the album is really good.

Queensrÿche - Dedicated to Chaos 4/10
This album is actually quite far from metal. Despite a few metal riffs here and there most of it is what one could call AOR - or just bland. I like the idea of a more "mature" and silent album, but the song writing isn't really up for it. I'm sad to say this, but the album should have been called Dedicated to Boredom. Not horribly bad, but horrible unexciting.

Symfonia - In Paradisum 3/10
All star band? More like all star rejects. Timo Tolkki lost the musical touch long ago and the few actual highlights on this album cannot hide its impressive mediocrity. Uli Kusch who's wonderful drumming lights up several Helloween albums from the 1990's is reduced to a speed machine and the keyboards annoy me. Maybe I'm a little harsh on them, but the band name, art work, vocals, you name it - all irritates me.

Firestorm - March On 3/10
A few good songs on this one. Generally however it's mostly run-of-the-mill thrashy power without much catchiness. I could enjoy some of this when drunk and partying but I'll not give it many spins at home.

Hibria - Blind Ride 3/10
More mediocrity - I'm getting annoyed by now. The tempo is high and the intro bodes well for the album. But alas... the general level of song writing is lacking severely. It's power metal in its most bland form. Not laughably bad but ultimately just boring. Where is the feeling of necessity?

Enbound - And she says Gold 3/10
One good song in a sea of blandness as it's often the case with these power metal bands. The ballads are deadly boring and the cover of Michael Jackson's Beat It is just stupid - if nothing else it highlights the song writing skills Enbound seem to lack. When you have heard the first song you don't need to got much further. It has a really good chorus but from there it's all downhill.

Mercenary - Metamorphosis 2/10
It's sad to witness such a demise. The band, with a very different line-up, used to be the best Danish metal export with wonderful albus as Everblack and 11 Dreams, but those days are long gone. Mediocre metal-core inspired wank is what we get now. If I sound bitter, it's because I am bitter.

Heard but not yet rated:

Waiting to hear these:

Iced Earth - Dystopia
Throne of Katarsis - Ved Graven
Immortal Souls- IV: The Requiem for The Art of Death
Anubis Gate - Anubis Gate
Sólstafir - Svartir Sandar
Red Fang - Murder the Mountains
Iced Earth - Dystopia


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