Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Who Decides: 2011 Albums of the Year

What happened to the end of 2011? I was on track to have close to 300 posts and then...well nothing happened. I stopped posting. I will try to get back to posting on a regular basis, so let's see how that goes.

First things first, my top 10 albums of 2011. There was a lot of great music last year and in all my years of doing this list, this was the hardest hands down. In fact when I was making the list, I actually ended up with 20 albums that I really enjoyed, so since i already did the Spinal Tap Edition, I will simply do a top 20 for this year, nothing full detail with the 20-11, just list them.

By the way, here is the list of the mid year albums.  Most show up again with only a few not making it to the final 20.

20. Protest the Hero - Scurrilous
19. Deadlock - Bizarro World
18. Anthrax - Worship Music
17. Megadeth - Th1rt3en
16. Nightrage - Insidious
15. Unearth - Darkness in the Light
14. Revocation - Chaos of Forms
13. The Haunted - Unseen
12. Sylosis - Edge of the Earth
11. The Human Abstract - Digital Veil

Some really good albums in there. On any given day those 10 could have made the top 10 list...maybe not the top 4 or 5, but easily 10-6. Now onto the rest;

10. Lazarus A.D. - Black River Flows: This was a surprise for me, not because I'm not a fan, but because how much growth transpired between their debut and this one. This is the kind of maturity that you see between albums like Kill Em All and Ride the Lightning or KIMB and Peace Sells. Lazarus A.D. easily put themselves out there as one of the top new "thrash revival" acts. Before they were just an Exodus clone, but not anymore.

9. Cavalera Conspiracy - Blunt Force Trauma: This was another surprise, but for a different reason, their debut was meh. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was just there. Their follow up really brings back the days of Arise. The guitar work, mainly solos, is awesome. Killing Inside and I Speak Hate are two great songs that just grab you and don't let go of you.

8. Evile - Five Serpent's Teeth: Another "thrash revival" band. I had heard of this band, but never paid much attention to them. I will never make that mistake again. The best way I can sum up this band is by repeating what i read about them; This is Metallica after AJFA. The vocal delivery is similar and the music is also in the same style as the classic thrash we all know and love.

7. Iced Earth - Dystopia: I already talked about this album HERE. All I will say is that it's nice to see Iced Earth back making classic heavy metal/thrash again.

6. In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading: People said In Flames were dead after their guitarist, Jesper, left the band. And I will be honest I was worried. Come Clarity was awesome, but The Mirror's Truth was bad. This one is back on track. Ander's vocals remind me of Reroute to Remain and the music is closer in style to Come Clarity than The Mirror's Truth. I was very glad to see that In Flames could rise up and make a stellar album without one of their key members.

5. Anterior - Echoes of the Fallen: Of all the "new" bands releasing sophomore albums (Anterior, Lazarus A.D., Sylosis) I wasn't too interested in Anterior's, until I heard the samples. This is easily the best of the other 2 bands. The guitar work is top notch and even thought there is no real change in vocal delivery, it works and I never find myself wishing something would change.  Reviewed HERE.

4. Times of Grace - Times of Grace: This album was my choice for album of the year in January. As you can see it didn't quiet make it, but it didn't fall off the radar either. I have reviewed already and have nothing to add. It stands up through continuous listens and it is a nice change of pace when compared to other albums here.  Reviewed HERE.

3. Mercenary - Metamorphosis: There was a time when I thought this might be number one because it really came out of nowhere. I was a fan of Mercenary's 11 Dreams, but when they lost their bass player/scream vocals I was worried. But when they released Architect of Lies all those fears were gone the new vocalist was great. But then short after their tour ended the band imploded and 2 members, including the vocalist, left. So I was nervous, but this album is everything that is great about Mercenary, heavy guitars, great vocals, and some excellent head banging moments.  Review HERE.

2. Machine Head - Unto the Locust: Now if you remember in 2007, Machine Head's The Blackening was my number one album. Looking back and what I have listened to since, I sometimes think maybe DevilDriver's The Last Kind Words should have been number one. But fast word to 2011 and Machine Head's latest is good...really good. There are times when I think this is a lot better than The Blackening. With The Blackening, some of the songs were too long. Now these songs are long again, but for some reason they fly by. The songs are a lot easier to digest if you will. I have read the opposite from some reviewers, but this was an album that was very easy for me to get into and enjoy. But unfortunately it couldn't top the number one album...who knows maybe in a few years I'll say how Machine Head should have been number one.

1. Trivium - In Waves: Well let's hit the time machine again, in 2008 Trivium's Shogun ended up number two behind Metallica's Death Magnetic...mainly because I am such a Metallica fan. And there were some times towards the end of the year that I was thinking that Trivium could drop to number two again, but it didn't happen. Trivium's songs are so catchy it's amazing. There is only one other band that makes songs grab you on the first listen and that would be Bullet For My Valentine. While this wasn't as good as Shogun, it was still the best thing from start to finish I heard all year.  Reviewed HERE.

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