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MR Staff Picks: Top Ten Metal Albums Of 2011 (MetalRiotJD)

Posted by JDKleinhans on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 11:43 PM (PST)

A good new year to you, my fellow heathens, JD here with the list of the “Top Ten” metal albums of 2011.

I was hoping to have this list out before the end of 2011, but good lord… Not only was it a phenomenal year for metal but for music as a whole and narrowing it all down to a “Top Ten” list sucks! With that said, we’re here to keep it 100% Metal Riot.

Seeing how you heathens enjoy commenting on our picks for our Cover Art contests, I am thoroughly looking forward to the shredding I’m sure to receive for my “Top Ten” picks. So, take a wander through THE LIST and please, leave a comment.


Honorable Mentions (the ones that physically caused me pain to leave out of the “Top Ten”):
Sylosis – “Edge of the Earth” (Nuclear Blast)
Charred Walls of the Damned – “Cold Winds on Timeless Days” (Metal Blade)
Across Tundras – “Sage” (Neurot Recordings)
SuidAkra – “Book Of Dowth” (AFM Records)
Novembers Doom – “Aphotic” (The End)

10. Argus – “Boldly Stride The Doomed” (Cruz del Sur Music)
When I first came across this band, I wasn’t expecting much of anything. Honestly, they really only caught my eye because of the cover art. And that, my friends, is exactly why cover art is so damn awesome!  Because it inspires you to pick up an album and introduces you to bands and music, you would have otherwise dismissed. Unique vocals, powerful riffs, and epic themes, this is what’s in store for those that have yet to boldly partake of Argus.

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9. Graveyard – “Hisingen Blues” (Nuclear Blast)
These Swedes do psychedelic blues rock better than half the bands from the 1960s, much less any of today’s bands. The vocals are rich and visceral, the guitar riffs muddy and driven, it all makes me want to hop into a time machine with these guys back to 1969 and sit around a fire with Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Page and Plant, and Hendrix and never come back.

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8. Giant Squid – “Cenotes” (Translation Loss Records)
Apocalyptica may have introduced the world’s masses to how the cello fits in the confines of metal, but Giant Squid has merged its haunting sound with the traditional elements of doom metal for a truly beautiful experience. “Cenotes” is the perfect idyllic follow up 2009’s “The Ichthyologist,” continuing the story of human loss and Giant Squid’s unique sound.

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7. Opeth – “Heritage” (Roadrunner)
Like almost every album before it, “Heritage” is an album that must be listened to more than once, as its majesty slowly finds its way into the core of your being for permanent residency. Even without Åkerfeldt’s usual death metal growls, his dynamic vocals sweep across the vast musical landscape created by Opeth’s musical interludes, and time and key changes in another epic opus.

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6. Septicflesh – “The Great Mass” (Season Of Mist)
With “The Great Mass,” Septicflesh has singlehandedly reignited my passion for symphonic death metal. Not since Dimmu Borgir’s “Death Cult Armageddon” have I paid this much attention to a band in a metal sub-genre that is overridden with talentless wannabes and uninspired charlatans. Yet, after attending “The Great Mass” and upon repeated return visits, my faith has been reborn!

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5. Earth – “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light” (Southern Lord Records)
Minimalist drone doom free-form folk-jazz metal. That is the only way I can think to explain the slow walk through the elements of the human condition that Earth takes one on. Earth, proof that wisdom can be instilled without want or need of the human voice.

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4. Amon Amarth – “Surtur Rising” (Metal Blade)
I knew back in March that “Surtur Rising” would be at the top of my list. Many dismiss Amon Amarth for rehashing the same sound and theme without evolving their sound. Those are the same critics who would declare “sell-out” status if Amon Amarth did “evolve” its sound. For the first time, Amon Amarth has experimented with keyboards (on a limited scale) and even worked with the Dark Passenger Orchestra and have arguably created their best album yet to date.

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3. Ghost – “Opus Eponymous” (Metal Blade)
The world of metal has forever changed for the better thanks to the anonymous six that make up the experience that is Ghost. Take some King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, throw in a little Pink Floyd, add a dash of The Cure and Joy Division, set it on fire, hail Satan, and Ghost is what rises from the fiery depths. Dramatic, I know…

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2. Aerial Ruin – “Valleys Of The Earth” (Vendlus Records)
The dark hauntings from the mind of Erik Moggridge (Epidemic, Drift Of A Curse, Old Granddad) inspired me throughout 2011 and continues to do so. The melancholia of creativity stirs the spirit and opens the soul. “Valleys Of The Earth” will not be leaving my album rotation anytime soon, if ever.

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1. Wolves In The Throne Room – “Celestial Lineage” (Southern Lord Records)
I spent many of the months of 2011 pining for the latest WITTR release. My finger paused over the mouse, afraid to make that click. “What if I was disappointed? What if what I had been waiting all year for, was an utter let down?” I closed my eyes, prayed to the black metal ancestors, and made the fateful right-click. The music hasn’t stopped playing since. I know, I know. Overly dramatic once again, but holy shit, this album is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

XXX

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3 Comments

  1. morgan
    morganyevans1/5/2012 7:05 PM | Permalink

    glad you gave props to G. Squid. Graveyard and Across Tundras, also.Killer releases. Some good choices! I was really into SubRosa, The Haunted and Atlas Moth records last year. Was just a thrilling year for metal.

  2. jdkleinhans
    JDKleinhans1/6/2012 6:07 PM | Permalink

    thanks. it was frickin’ tough. i know there are some i forgot about but if they didn’t stick with me and i don’t remember ‘em then i guess they shouldn’t be on the list. lots of damn good albums this year. i tried to the keep the honorable mentions to only 5 otherwise it would have been one damn long list.

  3. Jose2/18/2012 2:58 AM | Permalink

    It only took 5 days to get to me (ordered on the 15th and avirred 20th) however I used the DHL save 36% shipping method as I wanted it before Christmas. It cost me $21.37USD for shipping. All up it cost $42.85 NZD but as I say that’s because I wanted it before Christmas.

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