Best Albums of 2011
By: Chris Davison
2011 has been a tricky year for me as a reviewer, with some great amounts of intrusion from the world of academia and obtaining my post-grad; and upheavals in the work environment, with two new posts in the last twelve months. This issues aside, it's been a year during which although I have had to slow the pace of my reviews, I have never the less had the great privilege to hear some fairly astonishingly good new bands. I present the top ten below: with the proviso that I write for another website on the internet, and I will doubtless present a similar but different top ten for them, as every time I sit down to write them, they tend to come out slightly different!
10. Vallenfyre A Fragile King – A band featuring members of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride but playing intensely personal songs about death and loss of a father in the vein of early Swedish heavy metal and Autopsy ? Like a romp through my favourite genres.
9. Cathedral Anniversary The (long awaited) live album that serves as the penultimate release of one of my favourite bands of all time. A magnificent recording, a brilliant set list and a fitting tribute to the twilight of my idols.
8. Landmine Marathon Gallows – Continuing in their utter adoration for the classic era of Earache Records death metal roster, Landmine Marathon continued to provide memorable slabs of extremity for the discerning listener.
7. Ghost Brigade Until Fear No Longer Defines Us – Though I LOATHE the term “post-metal,” this is a fantastic, moody and melancholic album that continues the brilliant work of Ghost Brigade in marrying introspective, atmospheric dark rock with extreme metal.
6. Primordial Redemption At The Puritan's Hand – While not quite as excellent as the preceeding two releases, Primordial still showed that they are still leagues ahead of their peers with this towering album of darkened folk metal.
5. Portrait Crimsen Laesae Majestatis Divinae – You like Mercyful Fate. I like Mercyful Fate. That is, until Mercyful Fate reunited and became awful. Now we have Portrait, and that issue is defunct.
4. Macabre Grim Scary Tales – The original murder metal band are back, and how, with more jam-packed dark tales of mayhem and black-humoured tales to crimes most horrid.
3. The Meads Of Asphodel The Murder Of Jesus The Jew – Psychadelic, strange, out-there and quintessentially odd. This was The Meads at their most bombastic, controversial and eclectic.
2. Stuka Squadron Tales Of The Ost – Mix in the brilliant themes of long-(un)dead comic strip “Fiends of the Eastern Front” from 2000ad, equal parts classic Iron Maiden, Dio and Lizzy-esque guitar duelling, and you have this – easily the most fun heavy metal album of the year.
1. The Rotted Ad Nauseum – Filthy, drunk on cheap cider, punked-up death metal extremity done the egregiously English way. More than the some of their parts, this placed Discharge, Motorhead, Napalm Death and (of course) Gorerotted into a blender with cheap cleaning alcohol, and came up with a vintage brew.
Stinker of the year:
A harder one to find just one release for, actually, given that there has been a large number of disappointments. I could wax lyrical about how soul-crushingly mediocre the new Crowbar album was. I could go on for hour after hour about how The Haunted seem to have given up any hope of ever releasing another quality thrash metal album. (PROTIP: You need to get Marco Aro back in the fold, Björlers). My Dying Bride's Evinta was an exercise in utterly unlistenable vanity that was only eclipsed by the WTF-car-crash-on-steroids of “Lutallica.”
The absolute prize for terrible album of the year, however? The execrable sonic torture that has been unleashed unto the intertubes by Morbid Angel – an album so dreadfully awful that it sounded like the worst off-cuts from the Domination album interspersed with the worst aspects of the Earache Records brief dalliance with “gabba” and “powerviolence” back in the mid to late nineties. “I'm Morbid / Morbid / Won't be thwarted.” Oh, dear.
Oh well, 2012 here we come...I'm hoping to up the work rate again on reviews, for you, our most adored readership.