On average i think i listen to about two new albums a week, keeping track of new releases through different forums, rss feeds, blogs, last.fm, recommendations from friends, Terrorizer magazine etc. etc it’s almost an extra day job weeding through the piles of crap released every week. Therefor i like to think i know a lot about new bands and albums but this time of the year, when i look at other peoples’ yearlists, it always makes me realize i don’t know shit. Finding out about bands i’ve never heard of or completely missed. So the last weeks of the year is usually spent listening to those albums that i apparently missed. Accidentally finding out about great new bands and albums.
This year i didn’t find many bands that made it to my yearlist in these final weeks, about 3, and my number one was pretty obvious for months already as i’ve listened to that album numerous times and not getting tired of it. There have been a few albums that didn’t make the cut, because either they were dissapointing or i haven’t listened to them, or because i enjoyed other albums more.
– Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Listened to it twice when it came out, hardly touched it since, it’s just not as good or appealing enough to listen to again. Shame, as i love this band)
– Mars Red Sky – Mars Red Sky (a truely great album, but i haven’t listened to it in a while, maybe it’s a season thing)
– Benighted – Asylum Cave (great album as well, just other things i enjoyed more this year)
– Ulcerate – Destroyer of All (Never really got into an entire album, despite liking a single song)
– Obscura – Omnivium (Very solid album, just hardly ever listen to it)
– Primordial – Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand (Loved their previous album, didn’t give this one as much listens as i probably should)
– Yob – Atma (Good, but a bit of a weird production makes it hard for me to listen to)
– Crowbar – Sever the Wicked Hand (Solid, some amazing songs, but also a few mediocre ones unfortunately. Despite that it’s still one of my favourite bands)
– Septic Flesh – The Great Mass (The teasers i saw gave me goosebumps, their previous album was fantastic, this one is very impressive as well. I just hardly listen to it for some reason)
– Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance (It came out too late, hardly listened to it yet)
– Krux – III (Wonderful album, just like other things more atm)
– Cave In – White Silence (Also a surprising album, but haven’t listened to it much lately)
– Circle Takes the Square – Decompositions Vol. 1 (Happy they are back, but this is an EP so not taking it into account in my final list)
– Immolation – Providence (Amazing EP, finally a great sound, but also just an EP)
– Virus – The Agent That Shapes the Desert (Good, starts of very promising, i just can’t listen to more than half of this album)
– Altar of Plagues – Mammal (Another good album, just not better than the ones in my list in my humble opinion)
– Mastodon – The Hunter (Finally a Mastodon album i do enjoy after a couple of hit and miss ones by them, but i enjoy other things more)
– Mournful Congregation – The Book of Kings (good, but not better than other doom albums in the list)
Anyway, here’s the list.
An album i found through a list of some guy whose yearlist i really dug and decided to check it out somewhere last week. I have no idea how to describe it, it’s dark, doomy, avantgarde-ish and big sounding with organs, strings and hints of opera with rather theatrical vocals. But most of all it’s metal. There aren’t many bands that are comparable, but maybe if you enjoy the Norwegian avantgarde scene with bands like Solefald, Virus, Fleurety or the weirder French (Öxxö Xööx is French as well btw) band Diapsiquir then you should like this as well. I’m sure that if i found out about this band sooner it would be higher on my list. Listen here
Another band i discovered relatively late and therefor is a bit lower on the list but it’s definitely worth mentioning. I have a bit of a weak spot for d-beat hardcore that is extremely pissed off but doesn’t blast all the time. All Pigs Must Die is exactly that, it’s pissed off, fast grinding and blasting but also takes its time to slow things down to drone and sludge levels at times. Consisting ao. of Ben Koller (drummer of Converge) and the singer for the Hope Conspiracy, produced by Kurt Ballou (Converge and producer of an endless stream of brilliant albums) you can’t go wrong. Check it out.
Saw this Dutch band about two or three years ago in the Supermarket in Den Haag (not an actual supermarket, but a bar called that way) and they were good but nowhere as impressive as they are on this album. This instrumental (no vocals whatsoever) stoner/metal album is great for exercise. I’ve been on my bike numerous of times automatically going faster and faster because of the great tempo changes on this album. It’s amazing how they can keep things interesting without any vocals, great riffs, awesome grooves and a real knack for writing songs makes this a very solid album. Hope to catch them live again soon. Listen here
I’ve never been into a lot of blackmetal, a few exceptions here and there, but these ‘new’ styles that incorporate black metal with shoegaze (or post-rock) and hardcore results in some very interesting albums. Dreamy post-rock/shoegaze parts go hand in hand with furious blackmetal parts of full speed ahead blasting and screaming. After a while it gets a bit monotonous but still a very worthwhile album that’s to be found in my playlist rather often.
Labeled ‘doom-folk’ this is an album i’ve not listened to enough for it to be higher on the list. Nonetheless a haunting and beautiful album that deserves the spot in this list. Kinda like Diamanda Galas or PJ Harvey. Looking forward to seeing her at the Roadburn festival next year.
And now for something completely different, Leprous. A truely progressive album instead of all those so called ‘progressive metal’ bands that all sound like Dream Theater. Mixing the best of artists like Faith No More, Devin Townsend, Solefald, Shining (the Norwegian one) and Polkadot Cadaver (or their predecessor Dog Fashion Disco). Surprisingly heavy at some points, very weird, bombastic or emotional at others. Truely an amazing album from Ihsahn (formerly of Emperor) his tourband.
There aren’t many death metal albums in my list this year and i’ve noticed getting a bit bored by the genre the past years. Bands are usually just rehashing stuff (few exceptions of course) that have been done before and definitely have been done better. Pyrrhon is one of the exceptions. Sure they take a huge influence out of Gorguts but they add so much more to the chaotic technical deathmetal that this turned out to be a very enjoyable and great album that’s not for everyone’s liking i’m sure. But if you enjoy well played, technical and dissonant death metal in the vain of Gorguts and Ulcerate then this might be an album for you. (yes you!). Listen here
Fantastic album that’s like a combination between post-rock and Ennio Morriconne. Rather big contrasts between the quieter, almost soothing parts (and vocals) and the harsher, more brutal parts (and vocals) but for me that’s what makes this album stand out. Excellent addition of the trumpet in their music as well. Great album that deserves more attention. Listen here
Today is the Day has always been an interesting band. Live they are relentless, extremely noisy and loud, but unfortunately their albums have been a bit hit and miss for me. Extremely great songs are mixed with more mediocre or boring ones which makes me hardly ever putting them on again. But Pain is a Warning has quickly become one of my favourite albums by them and one that i have been listening to quite a bit this past year. The album is more diverse and even has a few quieter songs that work out extremely well. Hopefully this gives Steve Austin the breakthrough he deserves in my opinion.
I already owned their previous album, Voices of Omens, listened to it quite a bit but only discovered their true brilliance at their Roadburn performance of this year. Rest took me some time to get used to, it’s more diverse and more complex than Voices of Omens was and there is just so much going on in each song it’s not easy to comprehend Rest at first. But after a few spins this album became to grow on me, resulting in again an amazing album. Listen here
Sourcetags and Codes was quite the positive surprise for me when it came out in 2002. And has been my favourite album by ..Trail of Dead until Tao of the Dead came out. For some reason i never could get into their other albums, but Tao of the Dead grabbed me from the first time i put it on. Ranging from indie rock to progrock and everything in between this album is a must listen to from fans from Muse, Yes, Rush and a lot of 60’s rock bands.
Consisting of members of US Christmas and A Storm of Light this album grabbed my attention and didn’t dissapoint me in the least bit. Again mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge. Reminds me of the best Cult of Luna songs, but also has hints of Unsane/Neurosis/Isis etc. in their music without even coming close to just another clone. This is a great and incredibly heavy album that let’s me make a Kirk Windstein/Crowbar face
on more than one occassion during the heavy parts, and that’s a good thing! Highly recommended! Listen here
3. Solstafir – Svartir Sandir
The Icelandic cowboys have returned. After their more than amazing Köld album they had a hard task to follow that up (or so i like to think). I haven’t listened to Svartir Sandar as much as i’ve listened to Köld, although that’s close to impossible i guess. But it’s a really solid album that took a while to get used to again. Not sure if it tops Köld yet, maybe you should ask me that again next year. Nonetheless still one of the best albums in 2011 in my opinion.
Profound Lore has been one of the biggest discoveries for me this year when it comes to record labels, releasing quite a bit of great albums taking over the place that Relapse once had for me as favourite label. This The Atlas Moth album was a bit dissapointing at first, i couldn’t get into it and didn’t really understand the raving reviews. But after a cold and grey morning bike ride to work the quarter fell as we tend to say here in Dutchland (or it clicked for the non Dutchies). Wonderful melodies combined with a bleak and desolate atmosphere makes me go back to the mid 90’s where a lot of great doom metal records came out. Don’t get me wrong, this sounds nowhere old fashioned but it’s been a while since i’ve heard this type of doom metal. It’s not just doom metal that fills this album there are hints of stoner, sludge, psychedelica and even jazz (although that might be a bit of a stretch for some) which makes this album stand out. Add some great vocals and you almost have my favourite album of the year.. almost .. Listen here
Almost because my favourite album of 2011 is Subrosa’s latest release, No Help for the Mighty Ones, never heard of this band before i checked it out because it was on Profound Lore, as i said before slowly becoming my favourite label at that time. And this album blew me away from day 1. Sludge/doom metal with three vocalists and two violins mixed with the dark folk/Americana of bands like Across Tundras or US Christmas and Earth and a hint of indie rock. Sounds confusing? It can be, but it’s also a very hypnotizing and therefor a very addictive album. Be sure to check them out, you won’t be sorry. Just don’t tell me i didn’t warn you.