Top 20 Albums Of 2011
Posted on November 29, 2011 by admin By Andrew Bansal
Out of all the articles I write, list-based articles are the most time consuming to write, and are the least appreciated. But I simply love making these lists, and my favorite has always been the year-end list of best albums. Even though today is November 29th and the year hasn’t ended yet, I feel it’s appropriate for me to do this now, because firstly I’ve already heard all of the albums that are scheduled for release in the month of December, and secondly, December looks like a very busy month in my calendar, so I’d rather do this now while I have ample time to give it proper thought and do it complete justice.
I’ve heard a lot more music than I did in 2010, so I feel I’m in a much better position to give you a year-end list. Just to clarify, I have not considered EPs, demos and re-releases for the list. I have also not taken into account albums that didn’t see a 2011 US release even if they were released in other parts of the world, simply because I didn’t get to listen to those albums.
So without further ado, here’s my list of 20 albums I picked as the best albums of the year 2011, starting from #20 and going down to #1.
#20. Chthonic – Takasago Army: If you’ve followed my website at all, you know by now that I’m not a huge fan of tr00 black metal, but I do appreciate and enjoy music that’s a variation of black metal in some way, shape or form. This year, Taiwanese metal warriors Chthonic excelled at giving me that something extra, with Takasago Army. Aside from being dark and extreme, the album exudes a strong oriental vibe, and through the use of traditional Taiwanese instruments, they add a unique dimension to the music. Highly recommended for any and every extreme metal fan.
#19. Red Fang – Murder The Mountains: When it comes to stoner metal, this album truly stood out for me. Even though it was released in the early part of the year, not many albums in this sub-genre really came close to topping it. The music comes across as smooth and heavy, while the raw production captures the essence of the sound they pursue to create. Songs like “Painted Parade”, “Wires” and “Dirt Wizard” are some of the most enjoyable tunes I’ve heard all year, and in a live setting, the band takes it to a whole another level, unlike some other stoner bands who are better known but simply can’t pull it off live.
#18. Havok – Time Is Up: I’ve been tracking the progress of these guys for a while now, and with whatever they do, they never disappoint me. Their latest album certainly surpasses their debut effort “Burn” and gives the listener 42 minutes of fast, aggressive, exuberant and technically proficient thrash metal. As a fan of this sub-genre, it’s near-impossible to not enjoy this album. Right from the opening track “Prepare To Attack” to the closing moments of the title song, this one is a pure rager.
#17. Warbringer – Worlds Torn Asunder: This was an album I was really looking forward to. Warbringer have been getting better and better with every studio album, and this one proves that fact. It’s their third release, and their most aggressive, musically well-rounded effort. John Kevill’s vocals are filled to the brim with ferociousness, while John Laux and Adam Carroll have put together some blistering guitar work. And with Carlos Cruz on drums, the rhythm section is better than ever. Tunes like “Living Weapon” and “Shattered Like Glass” give it a breathtaking start, and the intensity never subsides. This album met my expectations.
#16. Opeth – Heritage: Swedish progressive metal masters Opeth are easily one of my favorite bands. Looking at it purely as a musical composition, I enjoy Heritage. The reason it’s so low down in my ranking is because while there are a couple of songs I absolutely love, like “Slither” and “Folklore”, the rest of the album is just too random, too spacey, and doesn’t quite hold my attention. But Mikael Akerfeldt and co. deserve to be in my top 20 with this album simply because they dared to do something out of the norm, and didn’t repeat themselves. It takes a high level of creative talent for a band to be able to come up with an hour of music which sounds like nothing they’ve previously done, and Opeth succeed at that.
#15. Megadeth – Th1rt3en: A Megadeth release is always exciting, even if it comes sooner than expected. Despite the fact that they couldn’t do any kind of justice to their previous album Endgame on their recent touring cycle, the band went into the studio this summer and finished this album in a mere two months. It’s a solid release, and a great one considering the turnaround time. It’s a set of songs pretty much all Megadeth fans are enjoying, myself included. The thing I love most about it is the mid-90s Megadeth vibe it carries for the most part, resulting from the re-working of some of those hidden gems. There is nothing wrong with the album, at all. It’s at #15 simply because of 14 albums released this year that I feel are better than Megadeth’s Th1rt3en.
#14. Abysmal Dawn – Leveling The Plane Of Existence: This is the band’s third album, and certainly one that takes the listener by storm. Boasting of boundless amounts of brutality, Abysmal Dawn has done the Los Angeles metal scene proud with this crushing release. Unlike a few other death metal albums, the music here isn’t one-dimensional by any means, and each song has its own identity. When played live, it literally does justice to its title, and tears venues apart. If you’re a death metal fan, I am almost certain you’ve already been basking in the ear-splitting glory of this album. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to do so.
#13. Septicflesh – The Great Mass: This is one release that took me completely by surprise purely because of how good it sounded when I first heard it. And I heard it again, many times. The feeling didn’t disappear. Greek metal bands like Septicflesh and Rotting Christ have always had something about their music that draws me towards it, but even then, I didn’t expect this album to be as good as this. The music is not only theatrical, it’s amazingly dark and melodic, with an exotic touch that you can only expect from a Greek band. Tunes like “Rising”, “Apocalypse”, “Five-Pointed Star” exemplify the beauty and menace this album possesses. An unmissable release.
#12. Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising: Swedish melodic death metal giants Amon Amarth released their eight studio album, and this is not only an album I’ve listened to plenty of times this year, but also had the pleasure of hearing live twice, as the band played it in its entirety at their Hollywood and Anaheim shows. Johan Hegg’s beast-like vocals are as brutal as ever, and his band mates don’t disappoint with the music either. It has an excellent flow to it, and once you hit ‘play’ on the first track, it’s pretty hard to stop it without listening to the whole thing. There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of most highly enjoyable releases of the year, but just like Megadeth did with their new album, Amon Amarth took the safe route on this one and didn’t offer anything they’ve not done before, and that’s why it’s not higher than #12.
#11. Obscura – Omnivium: I thought it would be hard for Obscura to top what they did with their 2009 release “Cosmogenesis”, but the Germans proved me wrong and came up with this fantastic album. From start to finish, Omnivium thrills and delights the listener. The band has carried on from where they left off with the previous album, and broken new ground with tracks like “Concerto”, which present a new side of their musicianship. This album definitely offers more than Cosmogenesis and Retribution while it keeps fans extremely satisfied. A splendid album, without a doubt.