Speed demons or sweet feelings. The great gamut of music boiled down to that binary definition for most of 2011.
Music had only two roles: to put fire in my belly or smooth my furrowed brow.
I’m not cut out for new fatherhood, even second time around. My synapses need more help than ever to fire and my cranium is forever creaking, aching.
This list – my top 10 albums of 2011 – reflects this.
No black metal, no doom. Neither hip-hop, post-metal nor bass fuckery. Just various blends of death metal, crust and hardcore, preferably with that heartstarting Sunlight tone, or the polar opposite: the pastoral, the dreamy.
10. The Antlers – Burst Apart
At turns gentle and spacious, at others euphoric yet off-kilter, these gorgeous, swirling synth-driven sad yet tentatively hopeful leftfield pop songs will worm their way into your heart.
Especially when your no-sleep headache precludes anything to vicious.
9. Amebix – Sonic Mass
After 24 years of inactivity, crust legends Amebix came roaring back with an absolute classic.
Epic in ways that could only come from a man who actually makes big fucking swords on a tiny windswept island, Sonic Mass is a singular record indeed.
A wonderful stew of Killing Joke-style post-punk, thunderous metal, crust and folk with a warm, rich production full of organic detail that’s a million miles from their lo-fi heyday.
8. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
How do you follow the stone-cold classic-for-the-ages minimalist heartbreak suite To Emma, Forever Ago?
You rip up the rule book.
Forget isolated woodcabins, skeletal arrangements and falsetto (actually keep the falsetto). Instead go lush, lush, LUSH!
Album highlight Holocene is contender for song of the year and while the rest of the record doesn’t quite shine as brightly, it’s still a fitting diadem for that fine jewel.
7. Vastum – Carnal Law
Forget for a moment that the lyrics explore pyschosexuality and the writings of French thinker Georges Bataille and just sink your teeth into those swampy, ominous proper old school death metal riffs.
Guitarist/joint-growler Leila Abdul-Rauf has had a stormer of a year between this and the new Hammers of Misfortune.
Let’s hope she can find the time to rejoin the band and flesh out this stunning demo into a fully-fledged debut.
6. Disma – Towards The Megalith
Old school death metal done right.
Downtuned, low-slung and lightly swung – strap yourself to the unstoppable beast that is Disma for a thrilling trample through the thick prehistoric undergrowth.
Definitely the best in show for straight-up death metal in a fruitful year for the genre.
5. All Pigs Must Die – God is War
Go and stick your fingers in an electric socket. How does it feel?
Not unlike listening to All Pigs Must Die, I’ll wager.
If you don’t like hardcore in your metal then the door’s that way you whining purist jizz-stain on the old sock underneath the internet.
If you do, then get yourself into some APMD for some Entombed-infused hardcore that dials down the latter and pumps up the former for this follow up to last year’s ripper debut EP.
4. Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
There’s no doubt this groundbreaking hardcore punk/chamber pop rock-opera is as flawed as it is masterful.
Yet the sheer exuberance, intelligence and ambition of its best moments far outshine its failings.
At its best, this is a life-affirming collision between the viscerality of punk and the beauty of perfect guitar pop, so who cares if the “story” is impenetrable and could do with a trim.
3. Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
Whhoooaaa, Monkey! What’s this? From “headache-inducing” to third favourite record of the year in a couple of weeks?
You flip-flopping, u-turning sonofabitch, you!
Guilty as charged, your honour but I just can’t get enough of this turbocharged cocaine injection to my cerebral cortex.
Pure rage that’s soars skyward on vicious little melodies.
2. Acephalix – Interminable Night
Offering a twist on the winning Sunlight+hardcore formula, Acephalix is a crust band that slipped into the deathly abyss.
The dials on their HM-2 pedals are clearly set to OBLITERATE, so throbbingly monstrous and heavy is their sound.
Fortunately, they also have the riffs and the songs to raise the very dead (or MDG after a night of sprog-wailing).
Wodge some Acephalix down your lugholes and feel invincible for half an hour, I heartily recommend it.
1. Book of Black Earth – The Cold Testament
We are the road dogs from HELLLLLL. We’re shit out of luck, we don’t give a fuck, cos this is the life we choose. We are the road dogs from HELLLLLL!
A metal-lovin’ album for metal lovers that smelts death, black, thrash, pünk and classic metal into a ball-grabbing euphoric riff-o-coaster.
So much fun, so much heavy and yet so raw in places blood will seep out of your headphones onto your silk blouse, ahem vintage Slayer tee.
- Explosions in the Sky – Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
- Alpinist – Lichtlaerm/Minus.mensch
- Tombs – Path of Totality
- Entrails – The Tomb Awaits
- Bones S/T
Merry Christmas motherfuckers, thanks for reading and here’s to a storming 2012!