The Highlights Of 2011

Just a humble list of albums released this year that I found really enjoyable. There is no real order in here, as it's too hard for me to decided which album deserve, e.g., a 1st place and which - a 13th. So... Just listen to all these good pieces of music and enjoy!

Created by: NocturnalStalker | 23.07.2011

1. Septicflesh - The Great Mass
Truly a masterpiece of symphonic extreme metal.
2. Opeth - Heritage
Opeth shed the more extreme sides of their music and proudly treaded into a new territory of dark progressive rock. And, I need to mention, they feel quite at home there.
3. Pain Of Salvation - Road Salt Two
This album continues where "Road Salt One" left off keeping that homely atmosphere and bringing us 14 tracks for prog rock gourmets to devour.
4. Primordial - Redemption At The Puritan's Hand
Primordial keep treading in the direction they chose with their previous albums (and, especially, the brilliant "To the Nameless Dead") making their unique form of epic yet dramatic pagan metal.
5. Riverside - Memories In My Head
I simply love Riverside, and this EP is no exception. Three songs composing a story in the melancholic rock key, for which this band became known.
6. Leprous - Bilateral
Is this album progressive or avant-garde? Who cares, as long as the music on it is so interesting that it catches your attention from the beginning to the very end.
7. Steven Wilson - Grace For Drowning
A great album of progressive music. Yes, it's not limited to just prog rock, and that's what is really great about this release. Steven Wilson has shown us again that he's one of the most talented musicians of our age.
8. Joe Bonamassa - Dust Bowl
I know, I know, this is a website dedicated to metal. But I don't think there is any harm in spreading your horizons a bit, is there? After all, Black Country Communion are featured here. And they music is good... but I still prefer Bonamassa's solo albums. He is a great guitar player and has a great musical sense. If you're up for some inspired blues rock, pick up this album. You won't be disappointed.
9. Unexpect - Fables Of The Sleepless Empire
"Expect the unexpected", I guess? Maybe it's just the lack of that feeling of novelty but this album didn't struck me as hard as its predecessor. Not to say that it isn't good enough to be mentioned in this list. On the contrary!
10. Dir En Grey - Dum Spiro Spero
Dir en grey's evolution continues with "Dum Spiro Spero" which shows that band members improved both their playing and songwriting abilities. And Kyo's vocal exercises on this album are especially impressive.
11. Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa
Another pack of epic pagan hymns from the Finnish masters Moonsorrow. A must listen to everyone who is into pagan metal or just enjoys top quality metal.
12. Kypck - Nizhe
Definitely a worthy successor of "Cherno" which was a great album. It's good to hear that some bands still manage to play doom metal with their souls' passion.
13. Uriah Heep - Into The Wild
I think this is the best hard rock album I heard not only this year but in quite some time. All the songs are catchy and filled with classic rock vibe. I absolutely recommend this album!
14. Onslaught - Sounds Of Violence
"Killing Peace" made me an ardent admirer of this band, and I expected a good ride this time too. Well, I wasn't let down in the slightest. Solid thrash metal album that made my bang my head like crazy.
15. Silent Stream Of Godless Elegy - Návaz
Once again a beautiful album filled with folk melodies wrapped around metal riffs. I strongly recommend this one.
16. Gods Tower - Steel Says Last
They return! Needless to say, that the news of Gods Tower rising from the ashes made me excited, as I was an admirer of their music for a long time. What always defined the music of such Belorussian bands as Gods Tower or Vicious Crusade was the honest feelings conveyed through it. And this fact didn't change at all. They still play a kind of folk-oriented metal that's very different from the tons of folk metal bands out there, a bit rough but very honest.
17. Three - The Ghost You Gave To Me
Beautiful prog rock album in the same vein as previous works of this band.
18. Esoteric - Paragon Of Dissonance
Sonic journey to the realm of The Eternal and The Infinite. Dive into The Void and be prepared to lose the sense of Reality for the duration of this album.
19. Redemption - This Mortal Coil
Exemplary progressive metal album. Nothing more to say.
20. Funeral - To Mourn Is A Virtue
Wonderful collection of the lost gems from the band's back catalogue. Hymns of sadness and woe recorded with three different vocalists still equally put you in a kind of mourning mood that feels quite good at the same time, which, I guess, only doom metal lovers can achieve.
21. Arkona - Slovo
A new step forward for Arkona. Maybe (and most likely) not the best album ever in the subgenre but it still provides enough to put the band close to the front row of pagan warriors of Europe.
22. Lake Of Tears - Illwill
To be honest, I didn't really dig the last few albums of the band. Maybe I'm just not too fond of mushrooms? Who knows? But this album that sounds surprisingly dark and even sick at times managed to catch my attention while title track found its way not once and not thrice into my little headbanging sessions.
23. Evergrey - Glorious Collision
Maybe not the best Evergrey album so far, but still isn't a one they should be ashamed of. The best songs on this album are great and catchy, while the rest... are also very good.
24. Chthonic - Takasago Army
Maybe I have a soft spot for bands from Eastern Asia? Probably, I have. But in this case, I think that the quality of the music presented on this album speaks for itself.
25. Symphony X - Iconoclast
Well, I confess... I'm a fool... An absolutely foolish creature, not deserving even to be alive. Why is that, you ask? Because I wasn't able to appreciate the greatness of this masterpiece of an album upon the initial listen. And for that I am willing to accept any kind of punishment. Though, personally, I'd prefer a punishment of being made to listen to this album till the end of my days.
26. Vader - Welcome To The Morbid Reich
Polish death metal veterans show that it's not necessary to be innovative to sound exciting. One just needs to write good songs and perform them with real passion.
27. Ava Inferi - Onyx
A wonderful album I kind of overlooked upon the first time I listened to it. Beautiful, frail yet majestic voice of Carmen Simões floats over the vast landscapes filled with melancholic tunes created by the instruments, at times calm, at times restless, akin to Mediterranean Sea.
28. Burzum - Fallen
Yes, I like this album. It may not be the most brutal nor complex black metal album but the atmosphere of it captivates me somehow. Varg sure knows what he's doing.
29. Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
To be honest, I wasn't impressed at all after the first listen. I was almost disappointed as I heard nothing new on this album. But after a few more listens I found it satisfying. Surely Surtur Rising doesn't come close to the level of With Oden On Our Side, but it's a nice album with good balance of heaviness and melody.
30. Einherjer - Norrøn
The masters of Norwegian native art has risen from the ashes to bring us their new epic tribute to the Northern nature and the old gods.
31. Protest The Hero - Scurrilous
To be honest, I just couldn't get into that whole "metalcore" thing no matter how I've tried. But the good thing is I was able to discover a couple of great bands thanks to that, one of which is Protest the Hero. Though, I think that the music presented on this album will appeal more to progressive music lovers than to metalcore lovers. In any case, this is one of the 2011's gems. Don't let it pass you by.
32. Falconer - Armod
Back in 2001 Falconer really struck me with their fresh form of theatrical heavy/power metal but then I gradually lost interest in the band. I don't know why, maybe because of the usage of Swedish on this album, but listening to "Armod" was a pleasure and gave me kind of a nostalgic feeling.
33. Vintersorg - Jordpuls
Another really good album in Swedish genius' discography. Maybe not the most brilliant of his works to this date but definitely a worthy addition to a collection of any metalhead.
34. Ulver - Wars Of The Roses
Ulver is always Ulver. I don't believe that it's possible for them to release a mediocre and boring album. And, surely, "War of the Roses" is very far from that definition. Beautiful and mesmerizing music written by true artists.
35. Grayceon - All We Destroy
Somehow Grayceon's previous effort couldn't find the way to reach my heart, but "All We Destroy" managed to do it. More than that, it completely captivated me.
36. Devin Townsend - Deconstruction
Creative genius called Devin Townsend once again presented before us his new child. Surely I could go and tell that, compared to, say, A "Deconstruction" is more B and less C, while, if you compare it to D, it's evidently more E and bit less F... But I just want to enjoy this album as it is, with that ever-present healthy dose of madness that is present on it.
37. Wolverine - Communication Lost
Wonderfully beautiful, melodic and progressive album filled with strong emotions.
38. Universe217 - Familiar Places
Weird (in a good sense) atmospheric doom metal album.
39. Graveyard - Hisingen Blues
One of the biggest surprises for me this year. This band invoked a strong (and pleasant, I must say!) feeling of nostalgia in me.
40. 40 Watt Sun - The Inside Room
A pleasant album. Not on the same level as Warning's albums but still very good.
41. Rising - To Solemn Ash
My favourite sludge album of the year. The drive, the groove, the power - all the necessary elements for great sludge record are present here.
42. My Dying Bride - Evinta
An unusual release from MDB this time... I know there was a lot of criticism for this album but I enjoyed it. Maybe it was just a refreshing feeling hearing those old 'n' familiar melodies in the new arrangement.
43. Pensées Nocturnes - Ceci est de la Musique
As one of my friends said, this band's music sounds like "shrieks of the lepers". I can only agree. Weird and sick music that's so pleasant for my sick mind.
44. Týr - The Lay Of Thrym
Yes, I really liked this album. I'm not sure, if it's better or worse than the earlier ones but it still delivers. At least, for me.
45. Pantheist - Pantheist
One more great album from Pantheist. This time more light, probably, but still with the usual emotional depth.
46. Xerath - II
I never heard of these guys before so this album came out as one of the (pleasant) surprises for me this year. I have a soft spot for the extreme forms of progressive metal (or progressive forms of extreme metal, if you like), and they hit right there.
47. Rudra - Brahmavidya: Immortal I
Rudra keep polishing their Vedic metal sound. I wonder why is it that Eastern motives in extreme music have such a fascinating effect on some metalheads' ears (and mine too)?..
48. Oranssi Pazuzu - Kosmonument
A mysterious and psychedelic trip to the stars is what you will experience while listening to this album. Are you up to a ride?
49. Destruction - Day Of Reckoning
To my utter surprise, I found this album really enjoyable. Destruction never really was one of my favourite thrash bands but the energy that I found on this record captivated me.
50. Trollfest - En Kvest For Den Hellige Gral
A fun folk metal ride. These guys may seem to be Finntroll followers on the first glance but they have their own view of how the music of those swamp-dwellers should sound like.
51. Essence - Lost In Violence
Another one of a pleasant surprises for me this year. These young thrashers have a lot of potential, trust me!
52. ICS Vortex - Storm Seeker
It's hard to put this album into the bounds of any single metal subgenre or category. It feels a bit like ICS Vortex of Arcturus, ICS Vortex of Lamented Souls and ICS Vortex of Borknagar met and had a little jam, yet, at the same time... it sounds different.
53. Colosseum - Chapter 3: Parasomnia
This posthumous album of Juhani Palomäki's band is not only a real gem found in funeral doom metal mines but also a bitter reminiscence of how great of a musician is lost for us...
54. ThanatoSchizo - Origami
A farewell album from the band playing a strange kind of metal. Strange in a good sense. The one that makes your ears turn and your brows rise.
55. Iced Earth - Dystopia
New album with new vocalist sounds surprisingly good and natural. Stu Block's voice sounds so similar to Matt Barlow's, and I think it's this fact that allows it to flow naturally with the band's music. Most of the songs are really good (like title track, for example), though there are some that don't stand out at all. To sum it up, Iced Earth show that they are still going strong.
56. Warbringer - Worlds Torn Asunder
Old school thrash with a real hard edge is just what one need to listen to after a hard day.
57. Sky Architect - A Dying Man's Hymn
Wonderful prog rock album with slight prog metal and jazz fusion touches which make it a really pleasant experience.
58. Autumn - Cold Comfort
This is a pleasant album presenting the atmospheric and melancholic kind of metal reminiscent of the late The Gathering.
59. Vallenfyre - A Fragile King
A really good old school death metal album. Nothing more to say.
60. Vangough - Kingdom Of Ruin
A nice progressive album that reminded me of the old prog bands.
61. Crysalys - The Awakening Of Gaia
Given my general dislike towards the female-fronted metal bands which are very abundant nowadays, I never expected my humble self to be captivated by such an album. But it happened. And what really got my attention is the beautiful operatic voice of Chrys.
62. Lifelover - Sjukdom
Peculiar black metal album. Too bad for me I discovered this band only after their split-up due to tragic circumstances...
63. Powerwolf - Blood Of The Saints
Dark power metal drenched in blood. Is there something better to listen to on a fullmoon night?
64. Andromeda - Manifest Tyranny
Nicely executed progressive metal. Most of the songs contain enough memorable moments to make the process of listening to this album worthwhile.
65. Forefather - Last Of The Line
This is one good pagan metal album, really good. I think, it will become a source of enjoyment for those people that don't like (or are tired of) both the jolly drinking-and-partying kind of folk metal and the more serious, dramatic kind. If this year wasn't filled with really great albums in this subgenre, "Last of the Line" could be one of the best.
66. Krux - III - He Who Sleeps Amongst The Stars
A nice follow-up to the great "II" album. This time the sound leans more towards keyboards but it doesn't make it bad. Trademark Leif Edling riffs make up for any shortcomings this album has.
67. Vektor - Outer Isolation
Pretty solid technical thrash album. The only thing I've found a bit annoying is vocals.
68. Machine Head - Unto The Locust
Machine Head managed to make a solid and a bit diverse record. Maybe not the album of the year (nor their best work so far) but still a worthy record.
69. Krisiun - The Great Execution
I never was a fan of Krisiun but this album struck me with its power and intensity.
70. Mechina - Conqueror
Usually I don't like those overly-epic Hollywood-blockbuster-soundtrack-sounding oppressive orchestrations but this time they are accompanied by some pretty heavy riffs and vocals reminiscent of Fear Factory which is... good.
71. Noctem - Oblivion
A healthy mixture of brutality and melody with the dark vibes as a seasoning. A wonderful meal for extreme metal gourmets.
72. Botanist - I: The Suicide Tree / II: A Rose From The Dead
Black metal albums without any guitars? While it may not be the pinnacle of a musical genius, still it sounds refreshing and interesting.
73. EndName - Anthropomachy
Wonderfully performed instrumental doom-laden post-metal.
74. Black Tusk - Set The Dial
Definitely not the most original album in its sub-genre, not the grooviest and not the most powerful but... Somehow I enjoyed. I'd advise the admirers of Baroness, Kylesa or other similar bands to give this one a try.
75. Crom - Of Love And Death
It came as a big surprise that I enjoyed this album quite a lot. Maybe it's the feeling of honesty and naivety of the music and lyrics presented on this record that made me experience nostalgia for the good old days when I just started my journey into the lands of metal...
76. Omnium Gatherum - New World Shadows
A melodeath album I enjoyed? That's hard to believe. But these Finns are one of those few exception that make me not give up on the subgenre. Powerful grunts, rare clean vocals, pleasant melodies and a good deal of heaviness - that's their recipe.
77. Death Valley Driver - Choke The River
Now, this album really almost choked me with its pummeling drumming and crushing riffs. And it still has a firm hold on my neck...
78. Landmine Marathon - Gallows
Is it just me or these guys (and gal) has become better since the last time I heard their vicious music (which was just a year ago, by the way)? Seems so. At least, for half an hour I couldn't help but headbang... And headbang relentlessly!
79. Milking The Goatmachine - Clockwork Udder
While this one is by no means the most original album of the year it's still a pleasant listening experience for those who aren't sick of grindcore and are able to appreciate the bands that have fun playing their music (just like me!).

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by NocturnalStalker ]


‹‹ Back to Lists
Comments: 2   Visited by: 65 users
16.12.2011 - 14:03
Account deleted
One of the nicest 2011 lists I've encountered. Will use your descriptions to find stuff that caught my attention, which I haven't checked out yet.
16.12.2011 - 14:35
Metal Addict
Written by Guest on 16.12.2011 at 14:03

One of the nicest 2011 lists I've encountered. Will use your descriptions to find stuff that caught my attention, which I haven't checked out yet.

Thank you for your kind words. I hope you'll be able to discover some new albums/bands.
"And we are not who we think we are
We are who we're afraid to be"
- Lux Occulta "The Opening of Eleventh Sephirah"

Hits total: 2990 | This month: 9