With 2011 nearing a close, it's time to compile some best-of lists. I blog infrequently and may or may not post another one, but for this one I'll focus on music. Here are some of my favorite albums that dropped this year, along with some vague reasons why I enjoyed them so much.
Beautifully brooding, this album is a trip to hell with the lovely Chelsea Wolfe as your guide. Exceptionally dark and unpredictable, this record is a standout from a female singer-songwriter that certainly deserves your attention.
deafheaven- Roads to Judah
With "Roads to Judah" deafheaven have created an astounding release of captivating and highly emotional metal-infused shoegaze. While the shoegaze sound is trendy in black metal at the moment, I feel that deafheaven go above and beyond those other bands by creating expansive songs that remain interesting throughout their entirety. Rather than ride the wave of this trend, deafheaven have created something entirely unique that feels genuine.
Altar of Plagues- Mammal
This Irish metal act has released yet another captivating album effectively combining elements of both post-metal and black metal. This took some time to sink in with me, but it has now become one of my favorites from the year. "All Life Converges to Some Centre" gives me chills.
Full of Hell- Roots of Earth Are Consuming My Home
Dark, angry, crusty hardcore in the vein of Cursed and His Hero is Gone from a very young band. This is definitely my favorite hardcore release from this year.
SubRosa- No Help for the Mighty Ones
High-energy grindcore with a heavy punk influence straight out of Singapore. Easily my favorite grind release this year.
Andrew Jackson Jihad- Knife Man
With witty lyrics that somehow make me laugh and feel like crap at the same time (though not all of the lyrical content is light-hearted, this might be their bleakest album yet), along with insanely memorable songs, this one is a standout.
"Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi"
"Hate, Rain On Me"
"Zombie by The Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad"
The Atlas Moth- An Ache for the Distance
(censored for Gamespot :P )
This is an excellent psychedelic sludge record containing a mash up of many other genres. "Holes in the Desert" rips.
KEN mode- Venerable
Cave In- White Silence
Cave In has been all over the place in terms of their sound progression, and I feel like this album perfectly exemplifies this. This album goes into so many directions that it took a few listens to click with me, but once it did I really admired it. There are heavy songs early on that are closest to their earlier hardcore music, but by the end of the album they are channeling space rock.
All Pigs Must Die- God is War
This band is practically a supergroup, featuring members of The Hope Conspiracy, Converge, Bloodhorse, and The Red Chord. This record is heavy, angry, and merciless thanks in no small part to Ben Koller's manic drumming.
Antediluvian- Through the Cervix of Hawwah
My favorite death metal release this year. While Antediluvian's prior release was entirely passable, this one seemed to come out of nowhere and floored me. This album is crushing and extremely well put together.
"...Through the Cervix of Hawwah"
"Scions Of Ha Nachash (Sceptre Of The Burning Valley)"
La Dispute- Wildlife
I was not a fan of these guys before, but this album came as a nice surprise to me. There is some great emotional storytelling in the lyrics and the almost-spoken-word vocals are reminiscent of mewithoutYou, as well as the music itself. There is some really catchy guitarwork.
"Edward Benz, 27 Times"
"St. Paul Missionary Baptist Blues"
Ulcerate- The Destroyers of All
Technical death metal in every way possible with an emphasis on an incredible bleak atmosphere. Ulcerate is simply an exceptionally tight band, and this album proves (once again) why they are one of the best in the genre. Also, MY GOD THAT DRUMMING!
"The Hollow Idols"
"The Destroyers of All"
There are a few duds here, but overall this is a solid album. It should be said that there is a great use of samples on here with only a track or two that indulge a bit too much.
"Darkness (Dream On)"
"My Habit (I Haven't Changed)"
Eisley- The Valley
Eisley continues to bring the quality. If you have never listened to Eisley, this is a great place to start. The music is intricately layered, as is the Dupree sisters' wonderful harmonized vocals. A grand pop album.
Worthy of mention
Some of these I have not listened to enough to form a strong opinion yet. All of them are great.
Light Bearer- Lapsus
Touché Amoré-Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me
Flourishing- The Sum of All Fossils
Trap Them- Darker Handcraft
Raekwon- Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang
Vektor- Outer Isolation
Defeater- Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
O'Brother- Garden Window
**** the Facts- Die Miserable
Weekend Nachos- Worthless
Death Grips- Exmilitary