Sunday, December 4, 2011

Best Of: 2011 - Bands and Fans Picks

(Please keep in mind that most of these lists are in no particular order. We just like to count to 10 and shit.)

Andy York - Landmine Marathon
1. Toxic Holocaust - Conjure and Command - I thought this was a very cool release this year. Old style with modern quality (but still keeps it dirty). Throughout the album I hear bits of Venom and Nuclear Assault influence (among others), so I'm sold on this.

2. Uncle Acid And The Deadbeats - Blood Lust - I cannot stop listening to this. Since I heard it, its all I have  been wanting to listen to. The whole "retro-rock" thing seems way popular now and there's a lot of bands out there tryin' it... but Uncle Acid is one of the few, in my opinion, who is doing it right.

3. The Devil's Blood - The Thousandfold Epicentre - Another of what I'd call "retro-rock" doing it right. I was a big fan of Ghost's Opus Eponymous last year, and this isn't too far of a cry from that. It's Satan on psychedelics; awesome!

4. Burzum - Fallen - I absolutely loved this album. Burzum, for me, has always been an all-time favorite of the original Scandinavian black metal movement. I enjoyed this album much more than last year's Belus (which was on my top 10 list for last year).

5. Motorhead - The World is Yours - It's fucking Motorhead. What more do you want?!

6. Wolf - Legions of Bastards - Wolf is fucking awesome, there's no denying that. This album is "real rockin'" defined.

7. Vreid - V - I've always liked Vreid, and I'll definitely continue to do so with the new album V. They show that Norway still knows what real rockin' is. And unlike most "black metal" that's been coming out over the past 10 or so years, Vreid keeps it interesting and keeps it awesome.

8. Jag Panzer - The Scourge of the Light - Because it's Jag Panzer, and they're still more metal than you! But really, I loved this album; it's pure power.

9. Vader - Welcome to the Morbid Reich - Still Vader, still awesome. Vader, in my opinion, is the best of the Polish death metal bands. And they continue to prove that with this new album. Fucking brutal!

10. Diamond Plate - Generation Why - Awesome debut album from these kids. The last U.S. tour I did had Diamond Plate on the bill, which was my first time really hearing them. Definitely glad I got to share the road with these guys, because they're great dudes and this album is a fucking killer!

Other albums from 2011 you'd be doin' yourself a favor by checking out:
Autopsy - Macabre Eternal
Wormrot - Dirge
Warbringer - Worlds Torn Asunder
Absu - Abzu
Brutal Truth - End Time
Saviours - Death's Procession
Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory

Dave Carroll - Inoculara
1. Elitist - Fear In A Handful Of Dust
2. Yob - Atma
3. Dark Castle - Surrender To All Life Beyond Form
4. Nine Covens - On The Coming Of Darkness
5. Weedeater - Jason...The Dragon
6. Ancient Vvisdom - A Godlike Inferno
7. In Solitude - The World. The Flesh. The Devil.
8. Negative Plane - Stained Glass Revelations
9. Morne - Asylum
10. Book Of Black Earth - The Cold Testament

Wayne Rudell - Powered Wig Machine
1. Mastodon - The Hunter - No explanation here. This just might be one of the best metal releases in a long while. Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher are on fire with the melodic dominating riffs on top tracks "Black Tongue" and "Curl The Burl." Mastodon is here to stay!!!

2. The Black Keys - El Camino - I know what your thinking. Yeah, I know the album doesn’t come out 'til December 6. I had the privilege of previewing the entire album on XM radio and I have to say, God Damnit! Amazing! This album is so big and soulful with tracks like "Lonely Boy." Dan Auerbach's vocals are pure rock n roll!

3. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains - Some people listen to music over wine or coffee. This album you need to crack open a Pabst Blue Ribbon and let the good times roll. Big riffs + mind splitting chug + haunting vocals = Rock n Roll goodness. "Wires" is definitely the standout song on this album. Pick this one up!

4. Orchid - Capricorn - This San Fransico Doom-Rock band blueprints the big early Black Sabbath sound. Absolutely killing it with tracks like "Eyes Behind The Wall," where guitarist Mark Thomas Baker proves to be the the dark Sith of Tony Iommi, especially on the solo which can be comparable to "Into the Void" from the 1971 Masters of Reality release. Theo Mindell, the lead singer, belts it out like early Ozzy on "Black Funeral," in my opinion exceeding Ozzy with a more dynamic driven banshee wail all the way down to a throaty growl.

5. The Atomic Bitchwax - The Local Fuzz - Not many bands can only put one song on album that is 40 minutes long and get away with it but The Atomic Bitchwax are pure genius with their proclaimed “50 riffs in 40 minutes.”

6. Hank III - Attention Deficit Disorder - After years of hunting down the original equipment from Sleep’s Holy Mountain album., Hank III has put it all together and released one of the best classic Doom Metal albums of 2011 and perhaps ever. Williams eerie grinding vocals on "Demons Mark" make you pay homage to the unholy and raise your fist to Outlaw Metal.

7. Witch Mountain - South Of Salem - Witch Moutain's South of Salem is a fuzz oozing glacier destruction! I love Plotkin's vocals on this album, bewitchingly soulful, one of my favorite female fronted bands. South Suger Plotkin really brings it home.

8. Roadsaw - Roadsaw - Pure, no gimmick Rock n Roll! Big tracks like "Weight In Gold" on which the fuzz doesn’t stop. You will be pumping your fist and bangin' your head from start to finish. Blue collar rock n roll at its finest!

9. Motorhead - The World Is Yours - Lemmy, the grandfather of metal, doesn’t disappoint with the consistent ear bleeding metal from Motorhead you expect. "Born To Loose" and "Outlaw" are the standout tracks of the album. The album also has an awesome acoustic version of "Ace of Spades" that is worth a listen.

10. Red Giant - Dysfunctional Majesty - I was really excited about this release because its been almost 6 years since their 2006 release Devil Child Blues. The album opener "Chopper" is the best track on the album. It is classic Red Giant dirty boogie rock n roll.. This album, like their others, blends progressive riffs with fuzzy stoner grooves coupled with a pissed off Clutch sound. This album also has an awesome AC/DC cover of "Let There Be Rock" on it.

David Rodgers - Godhunter
1. Metallica - Lulu
2. Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra
3. Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus
4. The Haunted - Unseen
5. Queensryche - Dedicated to Chaos
6. Machine Head - Unto The Locust
7. Emmure - Speaker Of The Dead
8. Chimaira - The Age Of Hell
9. Black Veil Brides - Set The World On Fire
10. Trivium - In Waves

Nate Garrett - TOAD
(I haven’t heard Speedwolf – Ride With Death yet, but from what I hear that would surely make my top 10)

1. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Blood Lust - Sabbath worship is pretty easy to come by but the production and doubling of both the vocals and guitar separate these guys from the herd by leaps and bounds.

2. Graveyard - Hisingen Blues - Joakim has my favorite voice in rock and roll right now. It sounds like these guys practice about 12 hours a day, every day.

3. Weedeater - Jason…The Dragon - You can’t throw a stone nowadays without hitting a sludge band. Weedeater just do it way better than everybody else, and live the lifestyle harder than everybody else. There’s a sort of mysterious genius lying within the simplicity of these songs.

4. Craft - Void - Craft is probably my favorite black metal band. They write a lot of parts that are sludgier than your typical black metal. Plus they do this trademark sort of thing that’s like a low-pitched atonal string bend, pretty deep in the mix…makes my skin crawl.

5. Ponykiller - The Wilderness - This isn’t a metal record by any means. In fact, I have no idea how to even describe these guys. Everyone who’s into music at all should hear this.

6. Toxic Holocaust - Conjure and Command - “I Am Disease” is probably my favorite song recorded this year. Joel Grind keeps it simple – simple drums, simple riffs, simple guttural vocals (not the deathcore shit that’s ruining so-called thrash nowadays). You can tell he truly understands and appreciates what’s so great about old thrash metal.

7. Exhumed - All Guts, No Glory - This is a flawless death metal record. That’s all there is to say.

8. Midnight - Satanic Royalty - Sex, drugs, and rock and roll used to be more important than the existential dilemmas that are so prevalent in heavy music today (borrring!) This album nails the mentality of the glory days. Once again, simplicity will always be more effective and memorable than flashy wankery.

9. Unkind - Harhakuvat - A crusty Finnish d-beat assault with expertly placed creepy interludes and samples. Track 4 contains possibly the heaviest breakdown (hate that word) of the year.

10. Taake - Noregs Vaapen - Banjo. Fucking banjo.

These bands also put out albums that are too good not to at least acknowledge: Black Cobra, Rwake, Hate Eternal, Yob, Absu, Crowbar, Deafheaven, Red Fang, In Solitude, KEN mode, Loss, 40 Watt Sun, Ryan Adams (yeah I said it)

"Wild" Pepe Shepperd - Lethal Dosage
1. Mastodon - The Hunter
2. Mastodon - Live At The Aragon
3. Iced Earth - Dystopia
4. All Shall Perish - This Is Where It Ends
5. Primus - Green Naugahyde
6. Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
7. Born of Osiris - The Discovery
8. Iron Maiden - From Fear To Eternity
9. Symphony X - Iconoclast
10. Iced Earth - Festival Of The Wicked

Charlie Touseull - Gat-Rot/Godhunter
1. Rise Against - Endgame -  My favorite Rise Against album to date. They have evolved so much as song writers and lyricists over the years. Their excellence shines through on this stellar recording. They know how to pull at both the heartstrings and the spirit of the slamdancer simultaneously. Smart music, for these ignorant times.  

2. Touché Amoré - Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me - After countless listens, I always want more of this album. Fantastically emotional and diverse in their approach to what some would call "post-hardcore," this band continues to inspire me. This album is full of honesty, genius and amazing lyrics.

3. Mastodon - The Hunter - This album was a major departure for Mastodon, in style and sound, but it is amazingly catchy and accessible to both metalheads and non-metalheads alike.

4. Will Haven - Vior Dire - With a vengeance the band, once disbanded, returns with a fury, heavier and more determined than ever. Bleak, remorseless, fierce and minimal are some of the best ways to sum up this utterly remorseless comeback album.

5. Cave In - White Silence - They returned with one of their best recordings to date, putting the naysayers to shame and proving they are still innovators and groundbreakers.

6. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains - One of the most fun rock-n-fuckin-roll albums I have heard in a long time! Not only are the grooves and lyrics great, but these guys also made one of the best videos I have seen since maybe "We’re Not Gonna Take It." Their dedication to partying is reflected throughout the album. Seriously, these guys smoke riffs and bleed PBR.

7. Blood, Sweat and Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century - Hands down, the best music related movie of 2011. Directed by Kenneth Thomas, this amazing documentary showcases amazing bands, and explores the spirit of punk and what the DIY ethic truly means. Bands featured in the film include: Isis, Neurosis, Pelican, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Cave In and more.  

8. The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar - Seriously one of the most intriguing albums I heard all year. The dynamics between quiet and monstrously heavy have never sounded so beautiful. Ritzy Bryan has one of the sweetest voices that swings over some of the most monstrous drumming ever in what could be considered a pop record, with definite hard rock/metal influence. Imagine “Siamese Dreams” era Smashing Pumpkins, but with sexy vocals and a smoother approach.  Key track: "Whirring."

9. Witnessed: Rage Against The Machine, Rise Against, Muse & Immortal Technique - Live at the LA Coliseum, July 30th. One of the best shows I have ever witnessed. Hands down, mayhem on a grand scale. 60,000+ fans screaming in unison was nothing short of beautiful.   

10. The Black Keys - El Camino - From start to finish these Ohio boys bring the raw, bluesy power like no other band can! Hand claps and fuzz abound. It might be said that these guys reside somewhere in the middle of traditional roots music, a sleazy juke-joint, and full on rock spectacle. The best of all worlds, for sure. I will be listening to this album for years and years!  

Honorable mentions: Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee: Part 2; Thursday - No Devolucion; Social Distortion - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes; Murs - Love & Rockets: Volume 1; Defeater - Empty Days And Sleepless Nights; Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones; Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care; Russian Circles - Empros; Punch - Nothing Lasts 7”; and just about anything on Protagonist Music.

Matthew Davis - Our Daily Trespasses/Godhunter
1. Opeth - Heritage
2. Draconian - A Rose For The Apocalypse
3. The Atlas Moth - An Ache For The Distance
4. Altar Of Plagues - Mammal
5. Giant Squid - Cenotes
6. November's Doom - Aphotic
7. Stream Of Passion - Darker Days
8. Embers - Shadows
9. Midnattsol - The Metamorphosis Melody
10. Within Temptation - The Unforgiving

Andy Lehto - A Coven Of Wolves
1. Morne - Asylum - This  record is so brilliant, it hurts! Milosz and company have outdone themselves with surprise guest appearances from Kris Force (Amber Asylum) and Jarboe (The Swans).

2. Gallhammer - The End - Japanese blackened doom-ridden crust punks return, without their guitarist and still manage to make an explosive follow-up to 2007's Ill-Innocence!

3. Despise You/ Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Split - If you can listen to this split LP and sit still, you must be dead! Despise You is a power violence band that delivers an 80's hardcore punk feel to it, while Agoraphobic Nosebleed delivers grindcore with a hint of sludge metal.

4. Buzzov*en - Revelation: Sick Again - Buzzov*en recorded this album in 2001 and in 2011, the band decided to finally allow those songs to see the light of day. I love this record so much that I would like to thank them for this decision!

5. Victims - A Dissident - Victims is a Swedish band that plays hardcore punk the way hardcore was always meant to be played. On this album, I rest my case.

6. Atriarch - Forever The End - This Portland-based band combines elements of doom metal, death rock, and blackened metal into one. It's refreshing to see a fresh new band combine different sub genres and come up with music of their own that sounds remarkable and brilliant!

7. Embers - Shadows - This Oakland based blackened crust punk band returns with an amazing record. It's available for download only on their facebook page at a pay-what-you-like price, so get going!

8. Against-Empire - Thieves and Leeches - My friends Against-Empire return with their second full-length album, released on Profane Existence. I must say, this is the best U.S. hardcore album that came out this year!

9. Boneblack - S/T - Montreal's Boneblack delivers quite an original crust punk album. Good stuff. Boneblack still owes Tucson a show!

10. Amebix - Sonic Mass - Last but never least, Amebix returns with their latest album after 20-odd years, Sonic Mass! It's refreshing to listen to the record with a notion that one of my all time favorite bands have never lost it! In fact, I hope Amebix keeps doing what they are doing.

Miki Rodgers - Manager for Godhunter and Lethal Dosage
1. Graveyard - Hisingen Blues
2. The Atlas Moth - An Ache For The Distance
3. Red Fang - Murder The Mountains
4. Black Tusk - Set The Dial
5. Russian Circles - Empros
6. Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination
7. Giant Squid - Cenotes
8. Lethal Dosage - Inhale
9. The Black Keys - El Camino
10. Godhunter - Wolves

Tony Howard - Bubonic Wrath
1. Dragged Into Sunlight - Hatred For Mankind - No sunlight, only shade.  Disgustingly dark blackened grindy doom that is best saved for the darkest of days.

2. Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination - This was pretty much a given for me, shit shreds and thrashes better than any of the neo thrash bands, not to mention they totally kill it live.  Recommended if you like badass metal, in general.

3. Ulcerate - The Destroyers Of All - Tech death with a strong NeurIsis influence.  This sounds like the end of the fucking world and I cannot recommend this highly enough. RIYL Neurosis and Gorguts.

4. Vallenfyre - A Fragile King - This album reminds me of a cold 32 oz of Newcastle: solid, reliable and fucking refreshing death metal that brings to mind classic bands like Celtic Frost, Amebix and old Paradise Lost done by dudes who have been around long enough to know how to do shit right (members of Paradise Lost, At The Gates and Doom bring the fucking noise).

5. Trap Them - Darker Handcraft - A new opus from the masters of d-beat/doom/grind/heavy shit.  Again, pretty much a given for me.  If you like their older albums, I don't see why you wouldn't love this.  More of the same thing in the best way possible.

6. Opeth - Heritage - They've been leading up to this for a while.  Pure prog rock (not metal) bliss.  It finally sounds like they're doing what they have been wanting to do for a long time.  Two thumbs up.  Taking a few bong rips before listening definitely improves the experience.

7. Heartsounds - Drifter - Again, this isn't a metal album, although prior this Ben Murray and Laura Nichols made the only listenable melodic death metal albums ever while in Light This City, but for fans of bands of fast, technical EpiFat style punk bands like A Wilhelm Scream, Strung Out and Bad Religion, this is fucking awesome.  It's the logical next step to their equally fucking awesome release Until We Surrender, and definitely one of my most listened to albums of 2011.

8. Craft - Void - Doomed out dissonance ala Khanate mixed into their already caustic as fuck brand of blacknroll just means your ears get destroyed even harder. Southern Lord has really been shining lately as a really fucking good hardcore label, probably the best since Ebulittion, (I would have included the Acephalix and Alpinist comps that came out this year but they're reissues), but they sure know their black metal.

9. Black September - The Forbidden Gates Beyond - Best described as a crustier Bolt Thrower and/or Stormcrow gone black metal, if you like the idea of that I am positive you will enjoy this.

10. Deafheaven - Roads To Judah - Breathtaking American black metal, further proof that the United States is more than capable of outdoing any Europeans except for possibly the French in this genre of music.  Unlike so many lame Norsecore bands, Deafheaven are not content to just blastbeat and tremolo pick frosty melodies into oblivion, but incorporate shoegaze melodies and glorious post rock builds/releases to make one of the best listens of the year hands down.

Methra (Band Picks)
1. Mastodon - The Hunter
2. Red Fang - Murder The Mountain
3. Rwake - Rest
4. Yob - Atma
5. Tombs - Path of Tonality
6. Weedeater - Jason...The Dragon
7. Landmine Marathon - Gallows
8. Gorod - Transcendence
9. Revocation - Chaos Of Forms
10. Lair Of The Minotaur - Evil Power

Luke Moschgat - Our Daily Trespasses
1. Yob - Atma - If this where Doom/Black Metal continues to head, I'll die a happy man.

2. Tyr - The Lay Of Thrym - Folking awesome! A kick to the epic gonads from start to finish. 

3. Graveworm- Fragments of Death - Interesting production compared to past albums. Really well done. Fucking intense, start to finish.

4. Taake - Noregs Vaapen - Nothing terribly new, but thats exactly what I wanted. 100% pure organic black metal.

5. Absu - Abzu - Really good thrash/blackend riffs.

6. Landmine Marathon - Gallows - Great thrash/death riffery. The dirty vox and production lend a lot to their sound. 

7. Leprous - Bilateral - Tough pill to swallow for the purists, but for a  jazz rock metal progressive piece by a bunch of kids who can outplay anyone I know, it kicks ass.

8. ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker - True to form, vox are Vintersorg-esque with Borknagar/Arcturus weirdness.

9. Blood Red Throne - Brutalian Regime - Good old traditional death metal. Cannibal Corpse meets Deicide if they were still actually making good music.

10. Vreid - V - Combining black metal styles of Windir with and '60s/'70s rock grooves.

Cody Larson - A Fall To Break
1. Mastodon - The Hunter 
2. Opeth - Heritage
3. Children Of Bodom - Relentless, Reckless, Forever
4. Marduk - Iron Dawn
5. Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
6. Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleinden Maassa
7. In Flames - The Sounds Of A Playground Fading
8. The Black Dahlia Murder - Rituals
9. Times Of Grace - The Hymn Of A Broken Man
10. Suicide Silence - The Black Crown

Rituals - Band Picks
Greg – Guitar
1. tie: Tombs - Path Of Totality and Loss - Despond
2. Pallbearer - 2010 Demo (Even though it came out last year, still one of the best listens of this year.)
3. Mournful Congregation - Book Of Kings
4. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room
5. Batillus - Furnace
6. Planks - The Darkest Grays/Solicit To Fall
7. Thou - The The Chaos Wizard & Archer And The Owl
8. The Secret - Solve Et Coagula
9. Morne - Asylum
10. Yob - Atma

Other listens this year that blew me away, Fanpath - Reflected In The Earth, Our Voices Echoed Cold And Unapologetic, Heartless - Hell is other people, Masakari/Alpinist split, Ash Borer - Self Titled, Lightbearer - Lapus, just to list a few.

Blake - Guitar
1. Loss - Despond
2. Mournful Congregation - Book Of Kings
3. Indian - Guiltless
4. Thou - To The Chaos Wizard Youth
5. Yob - Atma
6. Brainoil - Death Of This Dry Season
7. Thou - Archer And The Owl
8. Deafheaven - Roads To Judah
9. Lightbearer - Lapus
10. Batillus - Furnace

Brandon - Vocals
1. Earth - Angels Of Darkness/Demons Of Light
2. Pygmy Lush - Old Friends
3. Thou - Archer And The Owl
4. Loss - Despond
5. Lightbearer - Lapus
6. Mournful Congregation - Book Of Kings
7. Indian - Guiltless
8. Deafheaven - Roads To Judah
9. Whitehorse - Progression
10. Yob - Atma


  1. I like Miki's list best. Also, I love the cover for Opeth's Heritage album, holy shit. I haven't heard too many new releases this year, I'm so far behind!

  2. what a cool mix of lists. i am looking forward to listening to a lot of these! Checking out Against Empire, right now.

  3. I think David's list sums it up best. I was at a signing at Hot Topic(I love that place so much) for the Black Veil Brides, and they are not only amazing musicians but awesome dudes as well. They signed my receipt after I bought one of their shirts and a record, I'm not sure what that is or what I'm supposed to to with it, it's kinda big, like a foot across. I don't think my computer takes those. Their hair was so awesome too. I touched it.