Over the past couple years I have really become interested in heavy metal. Extreme metal to be more precise. I was always aware of the more popular forms of metal and I am a fan of some of those bands. I guess I was always aware of extreme metal to (death, black, grindcore etc) but never gave it a shot. I am now fully immersed in metal music and I feel like a kid in a candy store with so many bands to go back and rediscover and so many new bands to hear. 2011 had a lot of awesome metal releases and I am not sure if it is because I am kind of new to the music or if I am just so excited by all things metal that I had a hard time trimming this list down so there is going to be a couple posts with for all the great metal I heard last year. So with that in mind I give you the first part of my favorite metal of 2011!
Darkest Era – The Last Caress of Light
This album came out early in 2011 and I didn’t stop listening to it all year. Darkest Era play a classic sound of heavy metal. No black, death or grind fusion going on here. Maybe some black in the form of the epic sound they have crafted. This is Darkest Era’s strength, epic songs about Irish/Celtic folklore with soaring clean vocals and smart song construction. “The Last Caress of Light Before The Dark”, powers on for 11 minutes but never once lags and just builds and builds an epic atmosphere. I am definitely looking forward to their next one.
Tombs – Path of Totality
Much has been written about Tombs as they have ended up on almost ever best of list of 2011 and deservedly so. Path of Totality is a monster of a record told through 12 songs that almost form a story. It is almost impossible to listen to a single song on this album and fully appreciate the breath and scope of the whole thing. Defying genre Tombs borrow from everywhere to make their own sorrowful, heavy and epic album. Path of Totality was one of the more original albums I had heard all year and it kills me every time I hear somebody say there is no more good music.
Pentagram – Last Rites
This was actually my first introduction to Pentagram and their doom awesomeness. I had heard the name and decided to give them a shot with their latest release. They play an older classic style of early Sabbath type metal but still manage to make it sound fresh. I am not a huge doom metal fan but when I am feeling in the mood for a slower, heavier experience this was the go to album for me this year.
Origin – Entity
I think death metal tied with black metal for amazing releases in 2011 and my death metal collection probably doubled this year. I thought the technical death metal champion this year would be Obscura (also put out an awesome album in 2011) but Origin came blasting in out of left field and knocked them down a peg. I think it is because I was already so familiar with Obscura and when I put on Origin I didn’t know what to expect. With a lot of technical death metal the bands get to focuses on the “technical” part and forget about the “metal” part and Origin keeps both in balance. There are parts of blistering death metal played with a technical mastery but not showing off to prove how technical they can be. The perfect recipe.
Red Fang – Murder the Mountains
I tried this band out based on a review a buddy of mine wrote. Like him, I don’t swim in this genres pool very often mostly because it is full of bong water and leftover candlesticks from some witchy ceremony but I found Red Fang’s take on this stoner, sludge groove rock refreshing. To me they sound like they are having fun and this is evident format he sense of humor the band displays in their music video for “Wires” (including Brian Posehn doesn’t hurt much either). Nothing amazingly genre defining here just some bearded guys playing some down and dirty rock and roll and having a good time doing it.
Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
Sometimes you need some straight up brutal death metal and on those occasions the band I turned to the most last year was Exhumed. Brutally paced gore obsessed death metal at its finest full of awesome songs and titles like “Your Funeral, My Feast,” and “So Let It Be Rotten…So Let It Be Done.” Exhumed don’t screw around, you know what you are getting with them and what I got was nasty death metal done right.
Revocation – Chaos of Forms
I was instantly taken with Revocation’s brand of thrashy death metal and this album quickly became one of my more listened to albums of last year. For me the star of this album is the guitar work. I think the crazy melodic guitars are what drive this album and tie the whole sound together. Some times the guitar work is ridiculously fast, some times it seems mind blowing complicated and some times it gets even a little bit funky. That isn’t to say the rest of the bend isn’t bringing it either. The guitars are what bring you in but the melody and catchy hooks will keep you coming back.
Absu – Abzu
Absu never seems to disappoint. Another example of how awesome american black metal can be and these guys have been doing it for a long time. Abzu is the second in a trilogy and is another awesome black thrash attack. They burn through this album until the show stopper “A Song for Ea” which consists of 6 parts. They added a new vocalist and guitarist on this album which gives this album a fresh sound but still it fits in with the already impressive Absu catalogue.
Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination
Like I mentioned before 2011 was the year I started liking bands and music I had previously dismissed or thought I weren’t my taste. Skeletonwitch is one of them. I gave them a shot a while ago just simply based on a shirt I saw at a Gwar show and wasn’t that into them. I may have been burnt out on the crossover elements of their sound but I did dismiss them. There was a lot of hype around their new release last year and I thought I might give them another try and man was I impressed. Far more black metal than I had previously heard with a cool thrash groove about them. And of course the album artwork is awesome. Quick and dirty black and thrash awesomeness.
Kampfar – Mare
Kampfar is another long running Norwegian Black Metal band that I am just now hearing for the first time. Mare takes on an almost symphonic sound but it is very subtle behind the pounding black metal. This is the kind of black metal I love, orchestral in flow but without sacrificing the brutality of the music. I love to that bands like this exist when there is so much talk of black metal stagnating. LIke all genres you need to sift through the garbage to get to the gems and this is one of those.
Motorhead – The World Is Yours
Iron Thrones – The Wretched Sun
Visions of Atlantis – Delta
Moonsorrow – Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Obscura – Omnivium
Primordial – Redemption At The Puritans Hand
Twilight – Monument To Time End
Amorphis – The Beginning
Falconer – Armod
Bloodbound – Unholy Cross
Glorior Belli – The Great Southern Darkness