On July 2nd at exactly noon, the Gregorian calendar reached its median. This probably would have been a better time to list my favorite metal albums of the year thus far but I got distracted with something and forgot all about it until now. Since the year’s inception, 6 (now almost 7) months ago I’ve been as happy as a fat kid in a candy store with this year’s releases, too overwhelmed with all the quality metal my ears have consumed to write a proper, ordered ten item list. So here’re my picks for the best heavy metal albums of 2011 (so far) in no particular order (other than alphabetical by band name) and indiscriminate, or perhaps more aptly titled; Some Albums I’ve Listened To A Lot This Year (Thus Far).
Man or Machine is severely underrated, underexposed, and more’s the pity. This album delivers track after track, riff after riff of phenomenal German power/speed metal that never stops and never slows down. This is one great album made even better by the fact that it’s only Alpha Tiger's first full-length offering. Highly recommended.
I could talk about this amazing fucker right here all day long, but instead I’ll refer you to a post I published last week in which I lauded and doted and you can listen to the track 42-7-29. Also very highly recommended.
I’m still straddling the fence on this one but I’ve included it in this list because I’ve listened to it a fair amount since its release. I really like Burzum, and I really enjoyed the direction this album took with the more medieval sounds and all, but I’m not so sure it’s top ten material. Only time and more listens will tell where this album will find it’s self.
Fun. I’m not sure if there is much here besides that, but what more do you really need? This Canadian heavy metal band was spawned from the remnants of the doom act Goat Horn who swung over to the traditional side of things and released this nine-track follow up to their debut in February. This isn’t an album I could ever go into any depth analyzing but like I said, it’s fun. It’s rip-roaring, it’s “shreddy” as shit and I like it. You probably will too. Listen to it.
Near and dear to my heart, this release is another that I could easily drop a thousand or more words on but will instead refer you to a previous entry where you can read my hails and listen to a track. Highly, highly recommended.
Being a lover of all things Immortal, this Viking metal project from the mighty Demonaz (Immortal’s once guitarist, now chief lyricist) is right up my alley. Calling upon influences from the likes of Bathory and staying true to the Immortal tradition of cold riffs and epic lyrics, March of the Norse is rock solid. For fans of Immortal, I.
Not sure why I love this so but I’ve always enjoyed these Italian’s take on tradition doom. When placed side by side with, say, Let The Battle Commence, The Eternal Battle does pale slightly but it’s still Doomsword, still excellent, still one of the better metal offerings this year.
It seems not too much is known about this German symphonic black metal outfit (ala- Limbonic Art... ish) but what I do know is they released two albums this year, Kainsmal and Patina, and I like ‘em both. Enough said.
Wow, what an album! I think that some of the press releases and statements from the band preceding this release gave fans the wrong impression about what to expect but just because it’s different, and it really is, does not make it inferior to whatever your favorite Falconer release may be. Unless your favorite album happens to be Among Beggars and Thieves, that album slays. At any rate, Armod is a solid power metal release, well deserving of a spot on this list.
This compilation of un-released demos from the Norwegian doom outfit Funeral was originally recorded as early as 1996 through 2004 and re-mastered for release in May. While the band’s recent stylings have seen them fostering a more death/doom sound, To Mourn Is A Virtue is a pure doom effort and it’s worth trying to get your hands on one of the exclusive 999 copies the label made available.
The mighty Manilla Road is back, bitches! And though I’ve only given Playground… one proper listen all the way though, and the production takes some getting used to, it’s Manilla Road, so yeah, it deserves a spot on this list and I’ll be spinning the shit out of it in the months to come.
Stay tuned for part two tomorrow...
**UPDATE** Read part two here.