Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Top 5 Albums of 2011

My top 5 albums, because I can.

1. Mastodon-The Hunter
Sticking with the trend that every album Mastodon release is hailed as 'their best yet', The Hunter truly is. Considering the might of their previous two efforts Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye, this is an  achievement of mammoth proportions.  Unlike the latter mentioned, The Hunter is full of shorter songs ranging between the more commercial 3-5 minutes, there are no 13 minute opuses here, which works in their favour. The vocals seem clearer and the guitars are catchy as hell, just try listening to 'Curl Of The Burl' without getting it stuck in your head. A magnificent record from a magnificent band who never fail to deliver.

2. Machine Head-Unto The Locust
After the huge amount of critical praise aimed at 2007's The Blackening, earning Machine Head not only album of the year but album of the decade by Metal Hammer, the pressure really was on for it's successor. And if it was half as good as The Blackening there could have been few complaints. As it turns out Unto The Locust somehow manages to surpass it. It basically sounds like Machine Head at the top of their game, which it is. Robb's roaring vocals, Phil Demmel's squeeling guitars, Adam Duce's chugging bass, and Dave McClain playing his heart out on drums. Just listen to it, loud.

3. Megadeth-Th1rt3en
In a year that saw the demise of Thrash titans Metallica with that which we do not speak of (Lulu), it was otherwise a fantastic year for Thrash Metal's continuing resurgence. Megadeth have been around for over 25 years now and Th1rt3en harks back to their glory days from earlier in their career. The return of Dave Ellefson surely had a big impact on their sound which basically sticks to the classic Megadeth thrash attack, fast guitar riffs/solos and Dave Mustaine's trademark snarl combine majestically on all 13 songs. With the astounding return of Anthrax and Slayer never treading far from the path, that only leaves the biggest of the 'Big 4' letting the side down. 

4. Architects-The Here And NowReleased way back in January 2011, this seemed to be missed off most people's top 10 lists, hopefully becasue of it's early release. Shifting to a less hardcore sound worked wonders for these Brighton boys, the clean vocals showcasing a different side to Sam Carter's voice, and the contrast works magnificently. The breakdowns are still there and the songs are still snappy but there is also the addition of two slow burners in 'An Open Letter To Myself' and 'Heartburn'. One of the more dramatic sound changes/developments for a band last year seems to have paid off.

5. Wolves In The Throne Room-Celestial Lineage
Nobody does Black Metal better than the Norwegians, except maybe these guys. Hailing from outside Washington, USA, the two Weaver brothers stripped off all the satanic imagery from the Scandinavian style and instead created their own vast, ambient, eco-friendly version. This is their fourth album and shows a clear development, there are less of the harsh vocals (although they still frequent most tracks) with more emphasis on creating vast soundscapes using guitars, drums and various other instruments. This is achieved brilliantly. The addition of female vocals adds to the sense of wonderment and conjures up all sorts of nature based imagery.

Additional Mentions
Those which just missed out:
Black Spiders-Sons Of The North
Trivium-In Waves
Rise To Remain-City Of Vultures

Those which I have yet to listen to:
Anthrax-Worship Music
TRC-Bright Lights

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