Several weeks ago, I posted my list of what I believed to be the best albums of 2011. Well friends, those beliefs have been shaken. In the weeks since 2011 ended and we began our slow crawl towards the Mayan apocalypse at the end of this year, I’ve discovered a handful of albums released in 2011 that deserve to be recognized. Had I heard these albums prior to writing my original list, it might have looked quite different (though, rest assured, Amebix’s Sonic Mass would still hold the number one spot, but the competition would be stronger.)
Here’s a quick list of 4 albums I completely overlooked, and that you owe to yourself to check out.
Deafheaven – Roads to Judah I reviewed Deafheaven’s Roads to Judah just recently, and my sentiments about the album and the band remain true. The album offers such a feeling of relief in the black metal genre, which has been plagued by stagnation and way too much “depressive” music over the past decade. The music on Roads to Judah evokes a feeling of triumph and hope rather than anger or sadness — as if the listener is taking their first step towards a brighter future after an era of darkness. The band is by no means a “trve” black metal band, evidenced by their post-hardcore aesthetic and influences, and disregard for current black metal trends. If there’s one album to rival Amebix’s Sonic Mass for me, this is it. A phenomenal release in every aspect.
Wolves Like Us – Late Love Wolves Like Us are an interesting band. These Norwegians are obvious fans of dark, metallic post-hardcore but in terms of musical direction they are a much different beast. Late Hearts feels like the emotionally complex version of Trap Them’s Darker Handicraft, or fellow countrymen Kvelertak’s self titled debut, just without the party and slowed down a few beats. They’re a hard band to categorize, to be sure, but their music speaks for itself. There’s an emotional punch behind the lyrics, giving each song a deeply personal feel, while the hooks and riffs will have you coming back for more time and time again.
Cloudicker – Let Yourself be Huge Cloudkicker, the one man instrumental metal act of musician Ben Sharp, is usually synonymous with other like-minded acts such as Animals as Leaders or Pelican. But here, instead of challenging polyrhythmic time signatures and crazy song structure, Sharp has molded his song writing skills into a much softer form. Let Yourself be Huge is, for the most part, an acoustic album, though many of the songs do feature electric guitar and electronic effects that Cloudkicker is known for. On Let Yourself be Huge however, those spastic riffs have been transformed into complex acoustic melodies that blend and dance together, creating a unique listening experience, and do something with the Cloudkicker formula that hasn’t been done before.
Khann – Erode Imagine if you will, the music of The Number twelve Looks Like You combined with that of Coliseum. What you’d be left with is Khann, and their new LP Erode. Part hard hitting post-harcore (noticing a trend) part proggy math-rock, Erode is a crazy ride. Khann has its roots in experiemental grind, and it shows. The songs and riffs on this album can go from spastic, to heavy, to understated in a matter of seconds. The vocals (I’m not sure how many vocalists they have, or if it’s just one guy) are dizzying and acrobatic, yet still make room for gang shouts, and know when to dial it back and let the music take precedent. I heard very little about this album which is surprising given that Khann guitarist Andrew LaCour is the younger brother of Trap Them guitarist Stephen LaCour, showing that the other half of this axe-swingin’ brotherhood can hold its own as well. For sure this year’s sleeper hit.