We have made it to the last of my extra long list of favorite metal from 2011. Thanks for coming along as I indulge myself.
Vektor – Outer Isolation
Vecktor is a beast all of there own. I think they might get labeled as a thrash band but I am not sure that does them justice. Vektor’s approach to thrash metal is a mixture of so many different styles and technicality that they have forged a sound that is all their own and lightyears ahead of their contemporaries, which is appropriate given that most of their themes are sci-fi related. Vektor is never boring, never lagging, filling every second of their music with something interesting or downright amazing. You never know where these songs are going to go or what rabbit they will pull out of their hat next but every time it will blow your mind.
Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines Of The Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
A blast of chilling bleak and satanic black metal again hailing from the US. I am just going to put it out front because it is the first thing about Inquisition that gets attention: The vocals. Dagon’s impish, ribbit, warblings have been referred to as “coracles” (croaks + vocals) and that is a pretty good label. If you can’t get past the vocals Inquisition may never find its dismal sounds into your heart. While Dagon’s vocals may take center stage on some of the slower songs, when the band is firing all together it is an achievement to behold.
Craft – Void
Craft plays some straight forward Swedish black metal that shows off the punk influence on black metal. Not exceptionally break neck or blast beaten Craft’s focus is still directly pointed at evil. They aren’t into atmospherics or painting an epic landscape they are just interested in some grooving evil black metal. Brutal in its simplicity and a reminder of black metals earlier days.
Mastodon – The Hunter
Again Mastodon was a band I had written off. I had heard so much praise for this band for years I gave their album Remission a shot and thought it was ok. Then The Hunter came out and it was getting even more praise. From what I heard, and much to the chagrin of their loyal fans, Mastodon had cut out all the fat form their sound and done away with their concept album formula. So I gave them another shot and boy was I surprised. The Hunter has quickly become one of my favorite releases of the year. Maybe it is because I was not to familiar with them that I really enjoyed this album so much but it was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting over played, long tedious sludge driven songs but what I got was some short, sweet metal songs with clever, catchy music, some cool effects and a grooving album.
Horned Almighty – Necro Spirituals
Another band that this year was the first I was hearing of them. Horned Almighty play evil evil satanic theme black metal at least they are labeled as such. Danish Black Metal to be exact. I am not to familiar with Danish Black Metal (unless you count Mercyful Fate) so I am not sure if there sound is consistent with the country but to me they sound a little more death metal. Either way their music is unrelenting in its evilness. Every song is a pummeling blast beat descent into darkness so if you like your music dark, brutal and evil Horned Almighty just might be the band for you.
Infestus – E X | I S T
Another band I only just discovered. Infestus are playing some nasty black metal on this album but there is a presence of moody, depressive feeling. The blast beats and grit are all present of course in abundance but they feel like a way to drive the music to a different area. Infestus is another example of why I love black metal so much. They take great care to craft an album that engulfs you and with the melodic approach to the guitars especially it entrances you.
The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
Again this was a band I had written off because I had thought they were deathcore or metalcore, two genres I am not to fond of. After giving these guys a shot I discovered that first of all they are awesome and second they are more death metal or melodic death than anything else. None of the metalcore features I can’t stand make an appearance particularly the vocals which is most of my dislike of those genres. The vocals on this are near black metal, the songs are catchy and heavy to boot. This year I am going to be less judgmental when it comes to metal I think I have preconceptions of.
Cormorant – Dwellings
Cormorant seems to defy definition. I compare them to Hammers of Misfortune if only to show an example of another metal band that doesn’t sound like any other metal band. I guess Cormorant can be called progressive but I don’t think they does them justice. This album out Opethed Opeth this year and gave us a truly unique and beautiful album that definitely brings the metal (and one of the best covers I have ever seen) but also has an introspective and thoughtful approach. All musicians are firing on ten on this album with the guitars interweaving with the bass and drums. Cormorant have made a brilliant album here and better yet have done it completely independently. An astounding victory for independent music and music as a whole.
Vreid – V
This one showed up on my radar later in the year and kind of got lumped in with a bunch of other 2011 releases I wanted to get caught up on. While there was some other awesome stuff from that pile this one was on replay right after the first listen. I was surprised that I hadn’t hear of them before seeing as they are the band that formed after Windir (which I love) when the lead singer Valfar froze to death in Norway (how black metal). Vreid borrows some elements from Windir but mostly seems to have taken a heavy influence from 80’s thrash, at least on this album. Similar to bands like Destoyer 666 and Absu with that blackened thrash sound but Vreid has their own take with some folkier elements and some added clean vocals. Not to say this album isn’t pummeling which it is I just really enjoyed juxtaposition of sounds they were playing with. Great song writing, great musicianship Vreid contains all the elements of Norwegian Black Metal that I love so much.
Hell – Human Remains
Shining – VII: Fudd Furlorare
Autopsy – Macabre Eternal
Alter of Plagues – Mammal
Fallujah – The Harvest Wombs
Witch Mountain – South of Salem
Fall of Rauos – The Light That Dwells in Rotton Wood
Midnight – Satanic Royalty
Vader – Welcome to the Morbid Reich
Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony
Disma – Towards the Megalith
Falloch – Where Distant Spirits Remain