Alright, it has been a hell of a time narrowing down the list to 10 albums, talk about a year jam packed with great fucking records! I didn’t even make a list in 2010, so it has been nice to actually have so much great music released that I felt the desire to comb through it and figure out what my favorite ten albums of the year would be. I highly recommend checking out all of these releases if you’re looking for some good tunes. Feel free to register on the site and leave any thoughts or recommendations you have as well. I know this is late, but who gives a crap, right?
#10. Protest The Hero – Scurrilous
I saw Protest The Hero open for As I Lay Dying a while back and they destroyed everyone on the bill. This is an album I caught fairly late in the year, and though it seems to drive everyone around me crazy I really don’t give a crap. The musicianship is absolutely insane, great song structure and melodies, highly recommended.
These guys are one of my favorite Idaho-based bands. I am such a fan of this album that I asked them if I could try to spread the word by hosting it earlier this year as a free download at spacnumrecords.com. Yes, they are my friends so there may be some bias here, but I have yet to play this album for anyone who wasn’t thoroughly impressed by it. This is the kind of shit that should be on rock radio. Go download it, and follow them at facebook.com/faultparadox.
#8. Mastodon – The Hunter
Another fantastic release from the almighty Mastodon. Definitely a bit of a change that apparently pissed off a few of their fans, but it seemed like a pretty natural progression from Crack The Skye to me. What more is there to say? It’s fucking Mastodon. Get it. Very glad to see that they broke into mainstream rock radio with Curl of the Burl. They deserve the success.
#7. Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning
Steven Wilson, if you’re not familiar with the name, is best known for his work in Porcupine Tree. Grace For Drowning is a two-disc album, jam packed with ridiculous musicianship, soaring soundscapes, plenty of phenomenal guitar work and epic song structure. Not a particulary “loud” release, but a perfect album to turn on and let your brain churn.
#6. Yob – Atma
The heaviest band of all time unleashes another crushing masterpiece that requires it be blasted at the loudest possible volume level to truly appreciate. If you have a nice heavy-duty sound system make sure to throw on a diaper before listening. Don’t come in expecting relentless death metal if you aren’t familiar with what I am talking about when I say “heavy”. Heavy = CRUSHING.
Another Spacnum Records release, what do you want me to say? We don’t release shitty releases. Steve McMichael, the man behind the skins for The Reptilians unleashed his second solo album this year and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. The man is not only a drummer, but one hell of a riff creator. This album of both new and revised tracks from his solo work was completed in it’s entirety with no musicians involved aside from the man himself. If you’ve never heard his songwriting or guitar skills at work you should certainly check this release out. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened to this.
#4. Scale The Summit – The Collective
Hadn’t listened to these guys for a while up until this release, though I racked up countless listens of their previous release Carving Desert Canyons. Scale The Summit is an all instrumental band, and many years ago when we were doing strictly instrumental stuff I discovered them on MySpace and immediately fell in love with their material. Somehow missed that this album had been released until late 2011, but it has been getting a spin almost every day since I picked it up. Don’t let the instrumental thing discourage you, these guys will keep your interest, I assure you. These guys are some of those most talented musicians out there. Honored to be playing with them in a few weeks. Badass.
3. Opeth – Heritage
I don’t think Opeth could fail to amaze me with anything they release. Though a very different album from what they’ve done previously, once you let this album get under your skin prepare to be blown away and find something new to appreciate with every listen. The music video for The Devil’s Orchard is the best music video I viewed all year long, and the riffage in that track alone would have landed Opeth a spot on my top ten list for 2011. However, the album certainly packs countless other memorable moments that make for some of the most captivating music I’ve ever experienced.
#2. Elder – Dead Roots Stirring
The album that caught me by surprise. The album that actually made me crave listening to music again. I received this album as a recommendation from Nick McGarvey of Initial Point, Zombunist, and Psychedelic Sex Organ fame in late 2011. I don’t really know what my problem was, but for almost a year I didn’t really listen to much music at all. This started back in 2010 at some point, perhaps it was due to the lack of memorable albums that were released that year. No matter what initiated my lack of interest in music, all I listened to for the most part for over a year were comedy albums and podcasts. When I received Elder – Dead Roots Stirring, I knew it was going to be enjoyable as myself and Nick share very similar musical tastes and he was absolutely raving about the disc. At that time I had listened to most all of the albums I have named in this list thus far, and certainly enjoyed them, but I don’t think I would ended up becoming obsessed with all of them like I did and start listening to music all day long again had it not been for Elder. Nick is probably surprised this ended up so high on my list, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought it would upon receiving it, considering I’d never heard of the band. However, a couple minutes into the first track, Gemini, I was hooked. By the end of the title track, the second track on the album, I was floored. I might go a day or two without throwing it on, but on the days that I do throw it on I listen to it at least twice. A refreshing new(er) band combining elements of stoner rock, doom, sludge, psychedelia, I just don’t see how anyone who gives this album a listen from start to finish won’t be slack-jawed and floored that they hadn’t heard it sooner. It’s some of the catchiest, yet absolutely heavy shit I’ve ever heard. Had it not been for the absolutely overwhelming masterpiece that is my pick for number one album of 2011, Elder would have gotten the crown simply based on the number of times I’ve listened to it without tiring of it.
And now, my pick for the #1 album of 2011…
#1. Devin Townsend – Deconstruction
The reason it has taken me so long to compile this list is because I have no way to describe this album. The unearthly magnificence that is Deconstruction is something that I cannot describe in words. It has everything. It is the Sgt. Pepper of Devin Townsend’s work. I never thought that Synchestra or City could be topped individually in the zone of Townsend’s work they reside in, let alone both topped by one album all on it’s own. Deconstruction is an overwhelming experience, and though I couldn’t even attempt to count the number of times I’ve listened to it I find countless new mindblowing new things with every listen. If I were to actually sit down and honestly lay down all of the thoughts and emotions I get listening to this album you would think I was insane. Beef and cheese. This is one of the greatest albums that has ever been created. One of my top 10 albums of all time. I like every Townsend release, but I had no idea what I was in for the first time I gave this one a play. And another. And another. Listen to this album. Listen to it, over and over.
So there you go, my top ten albums of the year. I keep finding more and more awesome 2011 releases, and some of them I’ve only recently found, thus they could very well overtake some of the others in the list above. Therefore, I must list my honorable mentions below as they are killer as well.
- Puscifer – Conditions Of My Parole
- Devin Townsend Project – Ghost
- Red Fang – Murder The Mountains
- Animals As Leaders – Weightless
- Rwake – Rest
- Psychostick – Space Vampires vs. Zombie Dinosaurs in 3D
- Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
- Elitist – Earth
- Tessaract – One
- The Atlas Moth – An Ache For The Distance
- All Of That Other Stuff I Left Out Because I Can’t Think Of It Right Now.