2011 ended up being a really exciting year for new music. Lots of my fav bands released new albums, and of course there were alot of newcomers making the rounds...what was really surprising was the glut of excellent tech and prog records this year, making it quite a challenge to limit this list to only 10. Managed to do it though, so here's my pick o'the litter.
10. Alarum - Natural Causes
The catchiest tech-prog-thrash-death you will ever hear this side of Extol's Synergy...an exhilarating album!
9. Arch-Matheos - Sympathetic Resonance
The dream reunion...It's like The Sceptre Within Part Deaux, only better...Sympathetic Resonance is a soon to be prog metal classick, no surprise since it was made by 2 legends who were keystone to the genre's foundation. Arch's banshee scream has turned into a velvet roar, while still retaining that unique phrasing that is so identifiable with him...Matheos is just the man, melding intricate rhythms into deceptively memorable songs (which is no small feat when most of the tunes stretch well past the 10 min. mark!) Let the youngsters take note...this is how you do prog godammit.
8. Fen - Epoch
The absolute bees knees of atmospheric metal. I have a yen for Fen.
7. Blotted Science - The Animation Of Entomology
6. Joyless - Without Support
Aaaaahh, Joyless...the red-headed step-child of Norsk Black Metal. After a decade plus stretch between their previous full-length, these dark folk-rock loving weirdos return. More eclectic than ever, Without Support is just a great joy (pun most definitely intended) to listen to, even though I'm sure that goes against every one of the bands intentions.
5. Smohalla - Resilience
Emperor's Prometheus, Immolation's Unholy Cult, Ulver's Themes From Heaven and Hell. You like these 3 albums?? How'd you like it if these 3 albums were mixed together in a psychedelic wunderbaum of technical technicolor blackness? Yes, yes you'd like it, I knew you would. If anything, Smohalla have gotten even more surreal and soundtrack-y since the incredible Smolensk Combustion. I likened that album to being the aural equivalent of a Symbolist painting come to life...and that comparison is more true than ever on Resilience.
4. Root - Heritage Of Satan
Ah yes, the new Root! 4 years in the making and a logical improvement over the baffling and somewhat inconsistent Daemon Viam Invenient. Heritage sees the Czech legends in almost full black metal mode. This is an angry record...seething with an intensity that further divides modern Root from Big Boss's more epic Equirhordont and proggy solo projects. So if you come to this record expecting The Book Part Deaux, well...you will be slightly disappointed. But if you put preconceived notions aside and just revel in the awesome riffs, subtly complex song-structuring and cheesily fun Satanic theatricality, you will soon come to realize what I have...Heritage is a mini-masterpiece.
Read good ol' Big Ba's thoughts on the matter in this interview.
3. Virus - The Agent That Shapes The Desert
I absolutely love this band with all of my heart, how Czral and crew can take normal rock instrumentation and mutate it into something so alien, transcendent...beautiful. I don't know....it leaves me without words.
2. Vom Fetisch Der Unbeirrtheit - Psychohygiene
By far the most baffling album on this years list....is it really any surprise then that this is a German Black Metal band?! Strange mutant Voivod black metal...the whole second half of which is outerspace ambient...a cross between Nothingface, Winterblut, Blackdeath, and Beherit's Elecetric Doom Synthesis....there how's that?? Would be album of the year if it weren't for....
1. Krisiun - The Great Execution
If you would have told me at the beginning of 2011 that Krisiun was going to come out with a new record that was going to be excellent, I would've said "yeah? not likely", and if you were to tell me not only would it be excellent, but it would blow every other album out of the god damned water and be my #1 of the whole fucking year, I would've thrown you through a wall!! But hey, pigs do fly, hell has frozen over and everything else, what can I say?! Krisiun have indeed crafted their most epic, technical, grooving, hands down finest most enjoyable album of their decades long career. And it was recorded all analog!! That's right, the band most infamous for their egregious use of drum triggers and spit polished guitar tone have gone back to the stone age and they are aaaaaalllll the better for it. So light up a spliff, and let the Kolesne Bros. pummel some sense into ya. You'll be glad they did!!