End of the year lists are like assholes. Everyone has one. Some people might not give a shit about said lists but I'd have to say that I enjoy compiling my own. It gives me a chance to reminisce about the year whether it's through music, shows, travel, food or fill in the blank. So here's to looking back to another year that has past and looking forward to the new year to come to which one more list of my favorite memories will be created.
My favorite albums of 2011 in no particular order:
Indian - Guiltless
I love this album! These guys certainly know how to take heavy to a whole new level. Along with the heaviness they seem to carve their own niche of sound that walks the line between chaos, terror and emotion. It reminds me of bands from back in the mid nineties scene. Their live show is as ferocious as this album and they seem to get better and better with each recording. If you ever get a chance to see them live I highly recommend it. Ramble forth!
B A T I L L U S - Furnace
B A T I L L U S are HEAVY as FUCK! Live and recorded. Chunky riffs reminiscent of Sleep and great soundscapes waving throughout make B A T I L L U S a breath of fresh air. I'm definitely looking forward to their next album.
Mastodon - the Hunter
These guys can't do wrong in my book. No body has the talent to keep re-inventing themselves like Mastodon does. Their first non-concept album in a long time and the timing could not be more perfect. Every song is different then the previous (which keeps me from getting bored. thank you) and every riff seems to flow with ease out of these guys' fingertips. They make it look so easy. The amount of talent whether it'd be song structure, melody or artwork creates an overall concept that even though they're not going for is obviously present. Mastodon will always be one of my favorite bands no matter how large they become. I only see them getting bigger and is to do what you love for the rest of your life such a bad thing?
Russian Circles - EMPROS
I'm just barely jumping onto the Russian Circle train and aren't quite familiar with their earlier stuff but if it's anything like EMPROS than count me in. Great album that's full of rhythm and ambiance that just gets more epic after each song. I can't believe that this is only a 3 piece and can't wait to see them live.
YOB - Atma
I'm gonna start by saying that the reformation of YOB is one of the best things to happen to metal in a long time. Mike Scheidt is truly a master at his craft. YOB has an unmistakable sound that absolutely pummels you from the moment that the first chord is struck leaving you listening while picking your jaw off of the ground. Atma is another masterpiece from YOB and that's all that I have to say about that.
Atriarch - Forever the End
Atriarch are both haunting and beautiful. This album gives me the chills every time I listen to it. I'm a big fan of Nick Phit's work with Graves at Sea and love the Goth influence that creeps out of this album. They are just as dark live as they are on this record right down to the burning of sage to ward of spirits while they play.
Dark Castle - Surrender to all Life Beyond Form
Dark Castle are one of my favorite new bands. Huge riffs and melodies that are simple but very effective. It's hard to believe that this is a 2 piece. Their last album Spirited Migration is constantly on rotation on my iPod. This album has a Middle Eastern influence that works well with their sound. Between Rob's minimal but creative drum patterns and Stevie's chaotic dissonance on guitar, the recording is as full as it can get. Her vocals are strong and sound a lot more emotional than on Spirited. She also creates great interludes for their albums. I'm bummed that I missed them come through San Francisco this year (with YOB nonetheless) but I'm sure they'll be back in 2012.
Defeatist - Tyranny of Decay
Defeatist are the best straight forward grind band that unfortunately just broke up. Joel's drumming is impeccable and so fucking creative that all I can do is stare in awe whenever I watch him play. I never got a chance to see them live because they never made it to the west coast but at least there's youtube. I'm also a fan of Aaron's artwork for all of their flyers and albums along with his stint in Kalibas.
Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Explosions create beautiful sounds and melodies that fade in and out through waves of emotion. Still haven't seen them live but they're on my list for 2012. If you dig dreamy and ambient instrumental tunes then I highly recommend these guys.
Tombs - Path of Totality
Path of Totality is such a great album. Mike Hill and Co. are writing some of the most creative music in metal right now. So many influences are heard throughout this album from Bauhaus to Joy Division and Tombs blends it in a manner that opens up new sonic dimensions. What a great live band too