Sunday, January 1, 2012

Severed Heads Open Minds - Top 30 albums of 2011


\\Year end lists can be a fickle beast as new discoveries will be made, albums have eluded my full attention, and I'm sure there are some rad albums that just have yet to grow on me. BUT without any scruples, this is my top 30.

I look forward to battling you guys in the comments, if you read through the list, let's here what you have to say. It's the least you can fucking do after I spent countless hours on this shite.//

I am not posting an honorable mentions sections because all that seems like to me is "Hey, I know of all these other good albums as well so please don't scrutinize my list." Either way, I'll be making a post for a lot of the outcast albums, there are a lot of them.



--------------------------------- Top 30 of 2011 --------------------------------


30. All Pigs Must Die - God Is War


One listen will leave you feeling bludgeoned and exhausted, in a good way. A perfectly executed blend of raging d-beat hardcore and metal. No more needs to be said, if you like the song below you like the album. If you don't, why the fuck?




29. Indian - Guiltless


Indian thinks you are a chump, they have no respect for you, nor your well being, and they certainly don't give a fuck about your day. Dense doom that sounds like being fenced in with a wild beast, a wild beast that is the ancestor of a woolly mammoth. This serves as a platter to beat your fucking ass to the ground and ruin your day. Harrowing sonic atmosphere created through dense reverb and crushing riffs, those vocals are pissed too. You haven't seen this on more year end lists because people are stupido.




28. Satan's Host - By The Hands Of The Devil


Harry Conklin has almost been as busy as Varg or Wrest this year, well maybe not, but he has released two different albums with two different bands: Jag Panzer and Satan's Host which he rejoined this year after a long hiatus. It's a good thing he did as well, because its his arching vocal hooks that really make everything stand out in this blackened power metal Satan calling album. How fucking awesome is that satanically charged remake of The Beatles "Norwegian Wood"?



27. Yellow Eyes - Silence Threads The Evening's Cloth


Where bands like Krallice and Liturgy failed, Yellow eyes comes in an shows them how its done with their hardcore infused take on that special sounding black metal. Surging with warming tremolo picking that really hoists an odd but captivating sound. It would be unfair to pigeonhole it to one genre, but if a gun were put to my head I would say black metal, but other works are at play here, even that hipster fucker shoegaze.




26. Young And In The Way - I am Not What I am


Blackened dark hardcore that straight rip through 28 minutes of furiously paced crusty jams. These dudes are fucking awesome, offering up this for a free download on their bandcamp page along with their earlier release Amen, and the the latter V. Eternal Depression which is equally as kick ass. It is immense and foreboding with loads of feedback and hate. 


 



25. Wolvhammer - The Obsidian Plains


This album really hasn't had a lot of time to work its way into my top 30, but it did. It rocks hard, and I am pretty sure after I heard the song 'Bones of The Pious' I had to replay it…again…and again. Eventually I moved on to the rest of the record which also stomps on skulls. Blue collar blackened sludge metal with a dose of crust. Throw 'em to the wolves.




24. Leviathan - True Traitor, True Whore


The production on True Traitor, True Whore is immaculate and the atmosphere is hypnotic and unsettling in one fell swoop. Its marriage with dissonant, primordial and ambient black metal are spot on and really serve as the forefront to convey the bleak prowess. Wrest continues to wrestle with allegations of sexual assault and aggravated battery against his ex-girlfriend (apparently using his tattoo tools in the alleged assaults). I can't stop imagining how hilariously terrible it would be if he held her down and tattooed 'whore' across her forehead with an inverted cross for good measure. I digress, I imagine the album name is now starting to make more sense to you now, anyways just fucking listen to the song 'Contrary Pulse' and be done with this write-up.



23. Falkenbach - Tiurida


I know I am in the minority when I say this, but I couldn't give any fucks. Tiurida is an expansively rich folk metal album with vibrant soundscapes and melody that serve as the driving force into carrying its audience into the olden Norse world. It's very possible this album just resonates with me on a stronger level due to frequent listening while in Iceland, which was rad with the scenery. Oh, here you go, a video filmed in Iceland of the song Aasland. Enjoy it, or not, this is #23.




22. Autopsy - Macabre Eternal


These horror loving old school pioneers deliver a crucial album, chalked with crude, ugly riffs and of course the signature vocal cacophony of Chris Reifert. The soundtrack to horror is right here. Get it you fucking tit.




21. Vintersorg - Jordpuls


Holy fuck what have I done? Autopsy is sandwiched between Falkenbach and Vintersorg on my year end list! Before you throw me to the lions, ponder this…do you think it's possible you are just a close minded metal dickhole with no love for the aforementioned genres? I'll admit that maybe this album doesn't even belong on the list, but reason has eluded me through the catchyness of this album. Its hooks are buried deep and I can't get them out. Now live with it.




20. Disma - Towards The Megalith


Towards The Megalith is a foul beast dragging the listener through the underbelly of perfectly executed old-school death metal. And what a great year for abyssal death metal it was, which made this year end list a fucker to make, having to decide which did it best. You can believe me too because my year end list is devoid of Encoffination, Ritual Necromancy, Sonne Adam, Heresiarch, all of which I enjoy quite much, there just wasn't any room.




19. Burzum - Fallen


Varg Vikernes, a name ubiquitous to black metal and a pioneer within these elitist walls, but also a reprehensible ignoramus who wrote a paranoid anti-Semitic 800-word rant this year. Though sometimes in our world, these idiotic bigots will pick up instruments and conjure up some good tunes. Unfortunately or rather fortunately(?) this inexcusable hatred will formulate into genuine, passionate sounding black metal.
Let's separate artist from the art shall we? Fallen is the fucking tits man! The most diverse Burzum album to date, featuring clean vocals, and the songs greatly benefit from that. Expect the same chilling bleak atmosphere and ambient elements.



18. Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage


I like this band, I like their name, and I like their outlook. Outlandish and nature inspired. I enjoy trying to figure out what the album covers are, since them always seem to leave me feeling intrigued and perplexed. Moving on, Wolves In The Throne Room return to form albeit escape the 4 song structure of their previous endeavors. The grainy textural sound is warm and inviting while the harsh vocals and guitar drone juxtapose with this cordial invite. Like usual, the woodland ambiance is the gem, especially when entwined in those chantings hums. This will be their last album like this before they go full on folk, this is just a mere estimation on my behalf.




17. Meth Drinker - Self Titled


Oh how I love this release, grimier than Ed Gein's horror shack he once called home/butchery with an atmosphere so bleak you will want to peel your skin off and roll around in salt. It sits so low on this list because of its ease to bring forth such a vile and scummy nature. The use of odd and eerie sound clips only add to the pig-fuckery. The ending to the song Combat Shock, that is all. There is no pretending here, Meth Drinker want to make you feel uncomfortable. Here watch this video:



16. Ulcerate - Destroyers of All


The Destroyers of All is a disgruntled creature that is tiring to listen to. These little blurbs about my takes on these albums become a bit tiresome mainly because everything has been said that needs to be said by a million different others about this album and many like it on this list. It's hard not to sound like a hyperbole soaked douche with a set of words to describe an album, like if I were to say:

Ulcerates - Destroyers of All is an oncoming freight train of atmospherically profound, instrumentally precise death metal that reaches into your auditory canal and screams 'I'm Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down!'


 


15. Negative Plain - Stained Glass Revelations


Grandiose, that is what Stained Glass Revelations is. This album does not need to be backed by Fenriz, but it is.  At times it sounds like something straight out of Castlevania with a more sinister nightmarish atmosphere. A composition that is as obscured and eccentric as they come within the walls of black metal, deviating from every black metal norm you can imagine, however Negative Plane does it right.
 




14. Tombs - Path of Totality

 

The diversity of this album overwhelms a bit, and the ease in which it is presented is intimidating. Path of Totality is a swirling blend of black metal, hardcore, doom, post-rock and sludge. If you are the type that need a reference point, let's just say Neurosis. It is one of the more unique albums on this list, and it grows on me with each listen.





13. Kroda - Schwarzpfad


Kroda, I fucking love these guys…or this guy should I say. Wait, I love a guy? How very un-black metal and grim of me, no homo. I digress, this is pagan black metal heavily inspired by nature which can be easily detected through rich riffs, beautifully painted soundscapes and melody. Even with all the aforementioned, Schwarzpfad is still a grim and true to its roots type record.




12. Ghost - Opus Eponymous

 

Here is an album released in 2010 Europe but 2011 in North America, so I'm just going to heinously sneak this in here anyways, because I fucking dwell in Canada, so fuck off. I have nothing negative to say about this album, I truly don't. I can keep Opus Eponymous on repeat for hours and not tire, continuing to sing-a-long to the blasphemy. Throwback.




11. Pulling Teeth - Funerary


 

Mother of fuck, Pulling Teeth have called it quits and Funerary will be their final offering. The bands brief statement read: "As a band we have accomplished everything that we have set out to do. Life is short. It's time to move on and do other things."
Segues and shifts of doom-esque chords, thrashy solos, to sharply contrasted sludgy tempos and ferocious intensity.




10. Wormrot - Dirge



ahh Wormrot, these Napalm Death loving Singaporeans brew up a cup of some well executed fine grind. I loved both Gridlink's Orphan and Rotten Sound's Cursed, but Dirge has that cruddy, grimy, flea market type vibe to it that just sets it apart.



09. Giant Squid - Cenotes


Giant Squid is a slippery group that may be hard to pin down, but why fucking bother? They do some things, these things are cool, and these things come full force on Cenotes. But really I wasn't expecting to like Cenotes as much as I did. I was patient with it though, and gave it the time it needed to bury its tentacles deep into my skull so that they may infiltrate me with their brilliant sludgey, doomey, rocky take on metal. Fuck it, just listen to the song 'Cenotes (Troglocambarus maclanei)', if you don't like it you are two things;
1) likely not going to enjoy the rest of the album
2) stupid


 

08. Primordial - Redemption At The Puritans Hand



Primordial is no stranger to year end lists because they have never, fucking ever released a bad album, ever. Black metal with strong Celtic and doom influences wrapped up in potato famine garb. The drums sound like a fleet of galloping horses, the vocals by Alan A. are of course intrepid and regal sounding, and those guitar tones are muffled in the ensuing chaos!




07. Altar Of Plagues - Mammal



Colossal, a word that comes to mind when I think of Mammals. Hellish screams, pounding drums, piercing riffs covered in a foggy production. Expanding from 4 songs that are meticulously time-stretched with a lot of room to breathe, allowing the listener to become mesmerized and captivated. Everything feels very warm and Intent on digging up some feelings of uneasiness, anxiety, depression and contemplation.




06. Grayceon - All We Destroy


I had this album somewhere in the middle of the list, until something awesome happened. I was out for a run on a rather cold and snowy day on a path I frequent. Running along like a sickly gazelle through a dense forest path, snow falling down on me only to melt instantaneously due to the aura of heat and sweat that enveloped my body…

…The song Shellmounds comes on, just as I was starting to wear down, or so I thought…motherfucking energy like a frenzied centaur wells inside me, allowing me to run and run. Then wham! Face to face with a gathering of deer. They didn't budge, starring me down, steam escaping their nostrils in the cold air. We stared at one another briefly, understanding each others roles in the world. Truthfully, their presence only lasted seconds until they dashed off into the thicket of the woods, but it felt aeons, we had a moment.

My point is this; it was regal, majestic and beautifully surreal, encapsulating everything I feel when I listen to All We Destroy. I am saying no more.



 

05. Oathbreaker - Mælstrøm

 

This has been one of those albums that I have just overplayed gladly. Female fronted metallic hardcore that sounds like getting torn apart by a pack of wolves. But really, she can scream her fucking ass off, like a banshee out of hell, and apparently sing like an angel found on the closing track Mælstrøm. Mælstrøm is a perfectly cromulent name for this record, It is exactly that, a maelstrom of perfectly bleak and crusty hardcore.



04. Cormorant - Dwellings


Dwellings is a monstrous release that is a feast for the ears. This album is the whole package; tracked live to analog tape by Justin Weis (Slough Feg, Agalloch, Ludicra) giving it a warm and rich sound, its ability to seamlessly meander through various periods of metal history, astounding cover art to serve as the concepts visual interpretation (click the image to see it in full), astute lyrics with a story to sink your proverbial mental teeth into and of course glorious musicianship.
Cormorant are 100% independent with a clear amount of hard work and dedication. Give back directly to the band by buying the album here, it directly funds the band and may even make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.




03. Mitochondrion - Parasignosis


Every time I listen to this album I experience the same thing, a palpable dread looming over me. This album is many things, but easy to listen to isn't one of them. It seems as though its sole purpose is to make the listener feel uncomfortable and anxious through its bleak entirety, which is the thing I love most about it. I always try to listen to this beast as loudly as I can, basically to the point of "holy Danny Tanner nailed to the fucking cross!" levels. It is a fun and excruciating journey me and Parasignosis have shared all year round.

 


02. Trap Them - Darker Handcraft

 

Trap Them fucking kill it on Darker Handcraft! It curdles blood, peels off skin, fucks your ears until it forcefully works its way into your brain and has you grooving to those catchy hooks. Inside the belly of this beast is a murky quagmire of black metal infused hardcore with loving elements of thrash. I love those buzz-saw guitar tones! Production from Kurt Ballou just seals the deal.




01. Antediluvian - Through The Cervix of Hawaah

 

What did I say? I said "Through The cervix of Hawaah is fucking it man.". A primordial beast murkier than a swamp in mirkwood and about as ancient as a druid. A harrowing journey with a myriad of atmospheric squalor drenched in that cavernous production we all have learned to love. I doubt you will find any reputable year end lists without this on it, if you have, ignore it, they are wrong. 

The hand of the serpent
Ophidian phalanges thrust
Plunges the spore
Of antithesis
Carnal discernment
Through the cervix of Hawaah





00. Touché Amoré - Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me



Whoa, whats this?! This is my true favorite album of the year, but I didn't feel right lumping it in with the metal, so it sits at a non-existent 00. Easily my most played album this year, probably played it about 5 times more than anything else. There isn't a single flaw on this album, the albums says it best:

If Actions speak louder than words,
I'm the most deafening noise you've heard.
I'll be that ringing in your ears,
that will stick around for years.







The End. (now go cast your foul vote on the poll please)

11 comments:

  1. waiting impatiently. take your time, though.

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  2. Can't be that hard ;)

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  3. This year it WAS hard, the list went through changes as I was working on it. 2011 was a good one!

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  4. Pretty flawless top 30, I only question the addition of Vintersorg. not bad but Ash Borer or plenty others trumped it

    -Adding this blog to my daily read cycle

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  5. Was disappointed not to see Martriden enter the monolith on here.....

    One of the best I heard this year i thought!

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  6. yo great list man but no coldplay wtf? i thought you would at least have rihanna. weak sauce bro

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  7. Holy shit, Meth Drinker is dark

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  8. No Gigan? Good call on the Yelloweyes album. Little surprised Grayceon was that high, most people would call you gay for that. I'd say you have excellent taste, it is one of my faves. Mitochondrian and Antediluvian deserve 1 and 2. A lot of your choices I haven't heard (the Indian album is slowly growing on me) so I'll get on that asap. Good damn list overall.

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  9. Gigan wasn't too shabby, it just wasn't enough to make it near the list. Calling me gay for having Grayceon low on the list? Shit man, that couldn't bother me any less.
    Which choices have you not yet heard?

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  10. Cormorant, Altar of Plagues, Burzum, Autopsy, Falkenbach, Leviathan, Young and in the Way, All Pigs Must Die. Dammit, really? I can't believe I haven't made it to Cormorant yet. Looking forward to 2012's releases too, especially Gorguts and Asphyx. Rumor is Bolt Thrower might have a new release coming to.

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