For me it’s kind of mission impossible to strip down the music of 2011 to a top 10 or something. And definitively it would be totally unfair.
I had a few expectations, I had a few surprises and a few disappointments, it was a busy year with too many releases, a quite mad over dumping it’s going on in the music industry in the last couple of years, I guess mainly because of the massive piracy, but also because lately everybody singing, nobody’s listening, kind of: there are more people on the stage than in the audience. At least almost. Unfortunately not everybody is talented, gifted as well, but eventually better promoted. Music became a product, not a way of expression and communication, it’s… strictly business. But I still love the music, I’m addicted. I had listen and I wrote about a few hundred albums this year.
I’m breathing music. And I’m talking about music, not artificially created labels, not genres, styles or bloody trends, but MUSIC. My list of favorite artist and albums of 2011 include extremely different kinds of musics from Electronic to Jazz and from Punk and Metal to Dance. If I had to pick exclusively one and only one artist and album from the 2011’s releases that probably would be The Fall and their “Ersatz G.B.” . But I don’t have and I won’t. 🙂 And this was eventually quite a random pick while no pick – in this cases anyway – is a fair one after all.
I mentioned surprises, well, The Fall was one of them among many others. I also mentioned disappointments. “Lulu” , the “collision” of Lou Reed with Metallica was one of them and exactly on this area of music “Ersatz G.B.” managed to fulfill the possible expectations and The Fall merged perfectly rawness and subtlety into a brilliant album. Also good-old Tom Waits had his share of revenge with “Bad As Me” after almost 7 years proving once again what exactly Alternative means. But I had many-many surprises in 2011, my list of favorites became extensively large, actually up to 150 releases. And to avoid the suspicion of any kind of classification, I put this list exclusively in alphabetic order.
On the other hand this is definitively NOT an attempt to deliver my “best of” list for the passed year. Artist such as Anthrax and Limp Bizkit were actually two of my disappointments, but still they both remains some of my favorite bands, so… I was at least indulgent and absolutely subjective – while Korn and Lou Reed with Metallica didn’t made it to this list. As many others eventually. Korn delivered a noisy, extremely trendy and well produced product, but they didn’t managed to write songs. Bring a trendy producer as Skrillex won’t save anybody from the total lack of inspiration. Machine Head also delivered a quite mediocre album, really disappointing.
For 2012 I’m already have high expectations. There will be a new Marilyn Manson album, “Born Villain” the upcoming eighth full-length is scheduled for release in February and also another Industrial legend, Ministry will also return with a brand new album entitled “Relapse”, planned to be released on March 3, 2012.
“Clockwork Angels”, the upcoming 19th full-length studio album by Rush is also set to be released in spring of 2012. Metallica is also working on a new album which should wash away the taste of “Lulu”. I’m still hoping for a new Faith No More album for instance. And well, probably there will be plenty other surprises.
So, good-bye 2011, let’s kick in loud and noisy into 2012!
4Star – Daylight (2011) If you’re looking for some biting hip hop mixed up with cutting edge industrial, this is it, no use to looking further. Obviously the first thing coming on my mind is Saul Williams’ 2007 album “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!”, and actually there’s a quite impressive vibe of Nine Inch Nails behind these songs, but still, 4Star sounds different, more aggressive, more intense, eventually raw in its very positive – street – sense. “Daylight” probably is not a radio-friendly product, not something build upon the public and mainstream taste, still, it sounds simple and massive simultaneously, blow your head off. I’m gonna give them credit, this is an excellent album and the future might sound even more murderous. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
6h33 – Orphan of Good Maners (2011) 6:33 is quite an unique and intense blending of music including metal rawness, electro/jazz/funk vibe, industrial shapes, darkwave and pop like melodies and… maladies and… lot of healthy sickness. The way out is through… together in sickness and filth… as long as somebody can really explain me what “weirdo” means, what is actually sick or filthy. It’s quite small chances to let myself tied up as it’s just don’t seems an option to torture somebody for my own pleasure, but that really don’t make me healthier as those who doing this kind of “kinky” stuffs are not by default sicker then me. Still, there’s always a first time for everything and… never say never because as a joke of life, when you refuse something it will comes down on you crushing. Differences make us unique, and right or wrong is just a matter of perception. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
16Volt – Beating Dead Horses (2011) Noisy, contorted layers of samplers and synthesizers with heavy back-up of crushing drums, cutting edge guitar riffs and raw vocals are merged with spacy, melodious themes and vocals, sensitive and subtle harmonic constructions. While the title track sounds like an industrial-rock anthem with roots back to punk (“Flogging a Dead Hors” the Sex Pistols compilation album from 1980 vs. “Beating Dead Horses” – as a parallel), in the very next track, “The Wasteland That Is Me”, 16Volt managed to melt together the industrial noises and incisive sounds with extremely colorful and surprisingly beautiful melodies. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Alienation Mental – Self Titled (2011) From Prague, Czech Republic, Alienation Mental bring their sick-minded music blender to mashup elements and sounds from classic monsters such as Napalm Death till twisted turns of Korn and the result is quite impressive. They have a lot of surprises, they do not grinding from the beginning till the end, they knew to colour they music with exciting switches, inspired twists and turns, changing of tempos and approaches from grinding to slow cutting riffs, industrial colours and noise massacres, have some inspired riffs, wrote some good themes and actually have a few very good songs, not exclusively butchering. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Ana Kefr – The Burial Tree II (2011) I’m not a Black Metal consumer, but from time to time I find myself enjoying some Black Metal products. And well, not exclusively the traditional Scandinavian scene delivering quite exciting surprises. Kyle Coughran – rhythm guitar/vocals, Shane Dawson – percussion, Alphonso Jimenez: bass guitar, Rhiis D. Lopez – lead vocals/keys and Brendan Moore – lead guitar/vocals/saxophone bring to the surface an extremely colourful, intense and exciting album. Black Metal roots are merged with Folk and Progressive Rock/Metal elements, complex structures, grinding Metal constructions are filled with style and inspiration with condiments from Folk to Jazz, from classy epic construction to spacy cinematic soundscapes. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Angelspit – Hello My Name Is (2011) This is the fourth installment from the Australian cyber-punkrockers Angelspit scheduled to be released on October 11, 2011. The band lately were enforced by addition of three new members: guitarist Valerie Gentile (Black Tape for a Blue Girl, The CrÃ¼xshadows), drummer Chris Kling (Hanzel und Gretyl, Mortiis) and video-jammer The Liar, and “Hello My Name Is” bring to the surface the same angry, noisy and ravishing electro-punk rock, eventually even more furious and viciously distorted.
And actually “Hello My Name Is” is fresh, groovy, noisy, but still melodious, catchy, full of tasty cyber punk themes, excellent, killer tracks. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Anthrax – Worship Music (2011) Back in the mid 80′s “Spreading the Disease” was one of my favorite albums. “Madhouse”, “Aftershock”, the killer “Armed and Dangerous” and “Medusa” were daily head-banging munitions for me. And I love them since as I loved the 1990′s “Persistence of Time”, “Keep It in the Family”, “Belly of the Beast” or the murderous cover of “Got the Time” by Joe Jackson were killer proofs of how great band Anthrax really are and they definitively deserves to be one of the “Big 4″ alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. “Worship Music”, the tenth studio album of the band, have history. The recordings beginning in 2008 and were finished this year… I had listen for several times the entire album and there’s one thing to say: “Bring Back Bush”! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Aram Bajakian’s Kef – Aram Bajakian’s Kef (2011) Listening to the almost raging, furious and noisy guitar hurricanes of “Sepastia” it’s obvious why Lou Reed ask guitarist Aram Bajakian to perform guitar on his summer tour. And Aram Bajakian’s Kef is electrifying. “Sumlinian” is blowing like a chainsaw from one ear to the other and will leave you breathless. Aram Bajakian – Electric And Acoustic Guitars, Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz – Acoustic Bass and Tom Swafford – Violin delivered an unique and extremely groovy mixture of traditional Klezmer music with Garage Rock resonances, merged electric explosions with sensitive acoustic braiding, combined the energy of the free Jazz improvisation with the clearness and smoothness of classic and traditional music, Aram Bajakian’s Kef puts on the same level the bursting electric guitar shredding and the joyful violin plays. I was at the middle of the 5th track, “Wroclaw”, when I noticed there’s no drums or percussion in this… Holy Moses! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Archie Shepp and Joachim Kühn – Wo!Man (2011) “Wo!man” is not the first time the two have performed together. Two or three decades ago, now not even Shepp can’t now remember the year exactly, the saxophonist worked with Kühn in a band led by Finnish drummer Edward Vesala. But “Wo!man” – quite surprisingly – is a lyrical album, album of lush romanticism. It is programmed over five sinuous Shepp/Kuhn originals and three jazz standards, Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” and Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers’ “Harlem Nocturne.” The contrast between Shepp’s lurching outbursts, sometimes quite abrasive fury and brusque tenderness, and Kuhn’s static harmony and weighted streams seems to be very effective. Romantic, but simultaneously sparkling and breathing, very alive, this is a beautiful, balanced, sophisticated but bursting album. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Arkan – Salam (2011) Arkan’s music is labeled “oriental death metal”, an inspired mixture of the sounds of East and West, the melodies of North and South, amalgamate melodic Death Metal with Oriental traditions with roots reach deep down into the ethnic sounds of Algeria and Morocco. Arkan put together the whirlwind of Arabic percussion and the magical sound of ancient oriental string instruments with crushing riffs and intense rhythms, clean singing of Sarah Layssac with the screams and growls of Florent Jannier. Mystic and intense, “Salam” (Peace) is a colourful and powerful album with all the best spices of the East and West compounding together. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Army of the Universe – Mother Ignorance (2011) Juggling between the 80s glam and dark electro/dark wave sounds and the 90s minimalist industrial demolitions with influences from acts such Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, 16 Volt, Filter, Front Line Assembly, etc, Army of the Universe arise from Milan, Italy delivered a quite refreshing blending of electronica and trance elements with anthematic rock.
On this mission Lord K (Vocals) and Trebla (production) benefits from the mixing and production assistance by the Grammy-award winning drummer for Nine Inch Nails, keyboardist for Marilyn Manson, and multi-gold record producer/engineer for Rasmus, Megadeth, Slipknot and Metallica, and founder of Tweaker, Chris Vrenna READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Asian Dub Foundation – A History Of Now (2011) Playing an explosive mixture of rapcore, dub, dancehall and raggae, using rock instruments and including punk and hardcore influences, ADF are one of the killer acts of Great Britain beside The Prodigy and much recently Subsource. Intense and speeding serious social and political messages, live they will smash off any scene and move the audience, their studio albums maybe do not capture all that energy and explosion, but still they are much heavier than most of the other bands and even heavier than some of the so-called “modern”, alternative or post-metal bands. They unique style of blending hardcore energy, punk rawness, electronics and dub inspired many other artists, but not so many managed to get even closer, not to mention the issue of credibility. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Attila – Outlawed (2011) The self-proclaimed “party death metal”band, ATTILA is back after the outstanding previous effort, “Rage” released on Artery Recordings one year ago. Party Metal? I don’t know, but listening to the killer songs from “Outlawed” it’s impossible not to feel the explosive vibe, can’t stay away, must jump up and scream, bang your head till wreck your neck and it’s mandatory to wave your air guitar instantly. I loved “Rage”, but “Outlawed” is one thousand times louder and stronger. This isn’t music, this is murder. Chris Fronzak – vocals, Sean Heenan – drums, Nate Salameh – guitar, Chris Linck – guitar and Comrie – bass, takes no prisoners. Pantera like killer riffs, pounding and thundering drums, raw vocals with Death Metal howls, excellent themes, complex, but catchy constructions/compositions, Attila delivered one of the most brutal and brilliant albums of the year. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Black Cat Zoot – Mutable Transformer Act (2011) Shamelessly fresh and sparking pop music mixed up smoothly with swing, funk, ska, big beat, and everything you can name it which brings pulse, balance and danceable, but charming feel-good attitude. Lisa Milla on vocals, Bambucci on saxophone, Florian Reindl and Marc Schemmer on guitars, Bernhard Hiergeist on keyboards, Alex Trier on bass and Daniel Treimer on drums are seven musicians from Munich, Germany and they put the band together back in 2005 and made a deal with Chicago´s record label “Jump Up Records”. The band cranked out clubs and prestigious festival performances and “Mutable Transformer Act” was accomplished in 2010 in Fraknfurt´s Hazelwood Studios with the assistance of the notorious producers dyad Two Horses and Kaneoka One. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Black Dots Of Death – Ever Since We Were Children (2011) Michael Shawn “Clown” Crahan, also known by his number #6 in Slipknot, is an American musician, music producer, and artist, he also is interested in photography and painting. He is best known as one of the two custom percussionists of Slipknot, but also the drummer of To My Surprise and Dirty Little Rabbits. The Black Dots Of Death is the project he’s involved most recently and this “Ever Since We Were Children” is their sick, but convincing debut album. Hard to label very explicitly this material, The Black Dots Of Death twisting around the borders of rock from its roots to the post rock, horror rock and industrial area, but they include also post grunge tunes and trip hop elements and surprisingly they are heavy without being noisy at all, they are absolutely sick, but still kind of… beautiful. Well, maybe I’m sick and pervert as well, but I really like this shit. “I’m sorry that I failed you, I’m sorry I wasn’t there, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I really don’t fucking care!” Say that again! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Black John Wayne – Serenade Of The Black And Blues (2011) This might become my favorite metal album of this year. It’s a hell of an album out of the blue. Black John Wayne? Are you kidding me, don’t you? And the answer is, well, no. This is absolutely serious shit. And brilliant. They delivering a killer combination of metal, hardcore and eventually sludge (and even sometimes blues) which sounds like a brutal collision between Slayer, Sick Of It All and Down. This is absolutely deadly! Trust me on this one. It’s been a while since I was excited that much by a metal release, altrough I had listen a lot of interesting products, some of them were quite heavy while others were gloomy and experimental. But this is different: quite groove oriented, full of hardcore energy and armed with cutting edge metal riffs, but also introducing some southern spirit and black musical ingredients (with roots back to blues and gospel), Black John Wayne are both groove and harmony oriented, managed to combine brutality and traditional taste-like musical elements resulting a quite original post-hardcore conglomerate. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Black Spires – — (2011) “This is a collection of demo’s, not a real album,” and it’s available for FREE DOWNLOAD at the band’s Bandcamp page. Black Spires are a new band from Ghent, Belgium, consist of Olivier Copejans – music, vocals, guitars and programmed/played drums and bass, and Kristof Luyckx – guitar, working together since 2010. Imagine H.P. Zinker playing Pink Floyd songs (the 1967-1972 period) in a garage. It’s quite exciting, a little bit psychedelic, but cutting, drowned in the garage/noise rock approach and sound. Slower, tensioned moments are twisted into explosive, noise rock avalanches, they use exciting shifting of moods and themes, maintaining an intense groove, alternating subtle, sometimes acoustic moments with intense and inspired rock themes, noisy releases. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Book Of Knots – Garden Of Fainting Stars (2011) Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu, They Might Be Giants, Bob Mould, Frank Black, Lucinda Williams, etc, Carla Kihlstedt of Tin Hat Trio, Tom Waits, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, 2 Foot Yard, and many many more, producer/engineer/guitarist Joel Hamilton (Elvis Costello,unsane,Frank Black,sparklehorse,Shiner, Players Club, etc) and Matthias Bossi of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Skeleton Key, Vic Thrill, etc) are the core members of this project. Collaborators are including Tom Waits, Mike Patton, David Thomas, Blixa Bargeld, Jon Langford, Carla Bozulich, Norman Westberg(Swans), Dave Curren (Unsane), Megan Reilly, Cat Oberg, Zeena Parkins, etc. Already quite impressive, isn’t it? And the result – the music – is similarly colourful, gloomy, shape-shifting, flowing and floating “something”. Something charming, hypnotizing or sweet like poison. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Breaking The Day – Survived By None (2011) Atmospheric and ravishing, “Survived By None”, the twelve tracks debut release of the British Breaking The Day will grind you to the ground. With roots back to raw black metal, but with extreme and modern, sometimes quite experimental metal in their veins, BTD find their quite unique path to explore the darkest and contorted borders of nowadays metal/post-hardcore area of music. Brutal, but expressive, gloomy, but beautiful, “Survived By None” is an astonishing panorama of apocalypse, an end not of the race or the species, but of the man and his alienated soul. Shit, at least this is what I think so. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Brian Eno with Rick Holland – Drums Between The Bells (2011) In 2003, Brian and Rick made their first music together, but the resulting work does not appear on this album. In the intervening time since that initial session they have met infrequently to work on new compositions. In early 2011, following the release of “Small Craft on a Milk Sea”, the pair managed to finally finish the project and the result is this “Drums Between the Bells”. Along Eno and and poet Rick Holland, the album features the voices of Grazyna Goworek, Caroline Wildi, Laura Spagnuolo, Elisha Mudly Aylie Cooke, Nick Robertson, and Anastasia Afonina. “Drums Between the Bells” is like a trip, it’s flowing, moving, changing, it’s about atmosphere, it’s absolutely Eno and have all its charm. Eno is a wizard, at least a sound-wizard and every time listening Eno’s works you will be surprised by his simple but extremely efficient solution, there’s always something subtle and sparking in his music and arrangements. And well, it’s not about technology, it’s about the soul behind the machines. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Bruthal 6 – Augenblick (2011) Their cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” drew attention among the metal fans and users of the YouTube back in 2006 and actually, it was a murderous cover. And well, Bruthal 6 are a murderous band, they find a brutal mixture of powerful thrash, groove and nu metal grindings with strong and melodious vocals and striking, memorable alternative metal schemes. Eventually imagine a collision between Godsmack and Sepultura, a perfect balance between aggression and harmonies, between brutality and expressive melodies. This band from Buenos Aires, Argentina fined their own, catchy and criminal style of metal. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Buckethead – Empty Space (2011) Buckethead’s 32nd studio album, as well the second edition in the Buckethead Pikes series following “It’s Alive” . More experimental, much heavier, contorted, but beautiful, “Empty Space” with a total length of 32 minutes (ten songs) bring to the surface some intense riffs, noisy textures and wild, hurricane-like solos, but also funky basses, avant-garde experiments, industrial soundscapes, in few words, Buckethead shot all his big guns at our ears and once again he spare no energy to create music. Can’t stick labels to this, can’t force it into some boxes, his music have no genre, but style and class. Probably both, genius and madman, Buckethead is by excellence the most fascinating guitar wizard. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Bunny The Bear – If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say (2011) I’ve got only and exclusively nice things to say (write) about this album. Erik Kogut and Amber Kogut – guitars, Matthew Tybor – The Bunny and Chris Hutka – The Bear – vocals, Derek Anthony – bass and Brian Dietz – drums are draws from many quite different genres of music including extremes such as electro-pop and death metal to deliver their own and quite unique blending of post-hardcore/metal. It’s true, there some other bands as well tried to merge dance music with metalcore, but these guys from Buffalo, NY, managed to create a striking, fresh and catchy blending of these styles. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Campbell Trio – The Campbell Trio Sings The Blues (2011) The album starts smoothly, acoustic guitar, few noises and a whispering voice spoken in… Hungarian about music. Pretty strange for a band from Porto Alegre, Brazil. Don’t get fooled: this is raging, contorted, striped down to the bones, pure hardcore, back to the basics but looking forward music. It’s furious and experimental, cutting and abstract simultaneously. Reminds me of a widely obscure album from 1995, “Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Zinker, a band formed at New York and unfairly forgotten, although, that particular album was Grammy nominated. Anyway, The Bruce Campbell Punk Rock Trio, commonly know just as Campbell Trio, bring to the surface parts from a world of madness. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Cartographer – Hats, Capes, Dark Arts (2011) Some people turn up they radio, others watch one of the music channels on TV, others buy and read music magazines or on-line sites, others got their music from they friends. Some says music should be free. Some people think that music is a product, others that is an expression, a form and manifestation of art. Everybody is absolutely right. I guess. I’ve got a friend who still listening exclusively his old MCs (mechanical cassettes), other friends of mine still collect vinyl records, some people buy CDs while others are completely satisfied by mp3s. Some of my friends listening all kind of musics, don’t bother label and sort them by genre and style, others listening exclusively Metal, Jazz, Punk or whatever they prefer. Love – I doubt it, but music definitively is in the air. I stumbled accidentally into Cartographer and I liked what I heard from the very first moment. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Clonepa, DJ – Courroux (2011) Mixing breakcore with classic, symphonic music and sometimes with jazz, DJ Clonepa actually make pretty interesting blending of music. Nathaniel Marlow, from Richmond, Kentucky, started in 2007 his mixing and “Courroux” is a pretty exciting and intense material, an explosive collision of groovy and twisted drums with smooth, harmonic symphonic orchestral constructions and jazzy musical inserts. Sometimes this blending is smooth, sometimes the drums overlapping everything creating hell of a noise, but still, there are some extremely interesting moments, good twists and turns, the gloomy, kind of authentic Baroque/Gothic atmosphere and these contorted rhythms and breaks are making an unique and exciting pair. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Coerce – Ethereal Surrogate Saviour (2011) “Ethereal Surrogate Saviour” bring to the surface a contorted, crushy and sometimes quite chaotic and gloomy post/experimental metal with roots back to hardcore but flavored with psychedelic and progressive spices being inspired by different bands from King Crimson to Tool and Pantera. find an unique path between progressive rock and metal and the noisy, stoner/doom infiltrated post-hardcore and merging these different styles into one they came up with something quite special and exciting. It’s not an easy listening, but life it ain’t easy and in times when almost everybody is nothing but “a copy of an imitation”, Coerce sounds absolutely refreshing, they comes like a salvation against monotony and uniformity. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Combat Astronomy – Flak Planet (2011) Mastermind, composer – and project manager 😀 – James Huggett explore the interference area of post-rock, doom and industrial with the outbursts of free jazz and avant-garde music. Space rock elements and dirty stoner rock riffs are melting down in the contorted noises and explosive outbreaks of horns. Freaky and heavy, cutting and exciting, in a fair world Combat Astronomy should be far better known as they are. But this isn’t a fair world, Britney Spears and Take That are famous and popular and I can’t blame them, not even the industry, the subordinated media, but I blame ourselves, the undefined, comfortable, predictable, lazy, fat and careless consumer. Nobody would be able to sell us shit if we wouldn’t bought it. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Comity – The Journey Is Over Now (2011) Nicolas Brillant (drums/backing vocals), Yann Daniel (guitars/saxophone/backing vocals), François Prigent (guitars/lap steel/sitar/backing vocals), and Thomas Zanghellini (bass/soundscapes/lead vocals), the members of Comity delivering high quality noise since 1996 and they like to call it “extreme rock’n roll”. Along the way they shared the stage with bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Cave In, Today Is The Day, etc and delivered several killer records. After a demo recorded in 1998 the band finally settles with a stable line in the year 2001 with a split album entitled “The catharsis syntax project” and shared with the Parisian band XII. Recorded in august 2002, the first album was released in march 2003, on Messiah Records. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Company of Thieves – Running From a Gamble (2011) Musicians have their entire lives to write their debut, and a year to complete the followup. I guess this is the result of industrializing the music and turn it from art into business. Company Of Thieves take their time with the second album while “Ordinary Riches”, originally was independently issued in 2007 and came out in February 2009 and their second album, “Running from a Gamble”, was released on May 17, 2011. And the waiting for it’s worth. The 13 new songs keeps that friendly, warm, familiar, close and tight feeling which makes Company Of Thieves so bright and special and bring them a feverish fanbase which extended lately. While Genevieve Schatz reminds me sometimes of Bjork, their music is a nice blending of indie/alternative rock with roots back to The Beatles and soft shades of blues with the gloomy texture of Portishead and the explosion of 12 Rounds (an awesome and unfairly forgotten band). READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Contemporary Noise Sextet – Ghostwriter’s Joke (2011) “Ghostwriter’s Joke” actually it’s like a dream or a journey into a moving, shifting, changing universe, like riding on a train and looking out through the window. It’s quit an exciting trip where Jewish and Eastern European musical roots joins together with pieces of jazz-rock, modern jazz and kind of ambiental contemporary music. Tomek Glazik (Kult, ex-4Syfon, Sing, Sing Penelope) proved to be quit an incredible saxophonist just like Wojtek Jahna (Sing, Sing Penelope, Mordy) is a great trumpet player, Kamil Pater knows to rock his guitar, but also plays nice and discrete parts and finally, but not at least, Patryk Weclawek pump his bass extraordinarily. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Copacabana Club – Tropical Splash (2011) Copacabana Club reminds me of another great Brazilian band: Cansei de Ser Sexy, and by the way, after a three years gap, their new album entitled “La Liberacion” will be released at the end of the next month. So, Copacabana Club have the same kind of vibe and groove, labeled by some as New Rave, they mixing indie pop with 80s funk, rock with pop and push you directly to the dancefloor. Their mixture it’s very fresh, pumping, energy full and catchy, but it’s also kind of glamorous and retro, still absolutely now days, fresh. And “Tropical Splash” is filled with one by one catchy songs, from the anthematic “Peach” to the provocative “Sex Sex Sex”, the minimalist “Pas Toujours” and the catchy “Just Do It” or the bluesy “Darling”. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Crossfaith – The Dream, The Space (2011) Before I had listen to “The Dream, The Space” the second full-length album by Crossfaith, I saw on YouTube their video of “Omen” and it just blow my head off. I’m quite a devoted Prodigy fan and “Omen” is one of my favorite songs, but these guys released a killer cover. On the other hand I have to admit, I’m sick, tired and bored of this “metalcore”, “alternative metal” trend, trillion of bands from all over the world playing the same patters, it becomes absolutely cliche this mixture of raw and clean vocals dialogue, this post-emo approach of classic metal with post-hardcore elements. Well, as always, there are a few exceptions, and these Japanese guys are one of them. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Dead Kenny G’s – Operation Long Leash (2011) If this isn’t a great band name – obviously quoting Biafra’s band name, I don’t know what it is! Eventually The Dead Kenny G Spots… 😆 😆 😆 Songs such as “Melvin Jones” merged explosive Noise-Metal with exotic aromas and Ethno-Jazz blowing, but one thing is absolutely sure: they are loud. Imagine a Rock-like noisy and loud Jazz band with suspicious taste for Klezmer and Metal and Hardcore, eventually like Primus. Not accidentally I mentioned Les Claypool’s “insane brigade”, they toured together last year. Eric Walton aka Skerik (saxophones, keyboards, loops, samples, effects and guitar), Brad Houser (bass, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and electronics) and Mike Dillon (vibraphone and percussion) – aka Critters Buggin -, are The Dead Kenny G’s! This is the highest level of musical subversion, stay tune or stay away, injuries are unavoidable! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Debauchery – Germany’s Next Death Metal (2011) According to the dictionary, “debauchery” means indulgence in sensual pleasures; scandalous activities involving sex, alcohol, or drugs without inhibition. So, let’s have some scandalous fun! The horror and fantasy world melt into noisy, powerful metal in the hands of these guys from Stuttgart, Germany. Honestly, I was a little bit afraid of another Running Wild or something, but hell no, Debauchery are kicking like a mule and they are heavy like the elephant shit! Try to imagine a freaky mixture of Gwar, Rob Zombie and add some traditional Thrash and Death – eventually Kreator – flavor to it and you will get the idea what’s Debauchery sounds like. But what actually I really like about this “Germany’s Next Death Metal” is the fact that they write some great songs and have a fantastic groove. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Defiled – Grave Times (2011) Rocksound call them “The saviours of UK alternative metal!” while Kerrang!! consider them “An explosive mangle of Manson stage craft and middle finger metal!”. When the media praise an artist unanimously, I’ve become suspicious and precocious. This 5-piece London based metal band delivering some kind of aggressive, wicked metal, something which might be described as the collision of Murderdolls with Static-X, a deadly mixture of Nu and Groove Metal. Brit-Metal or not, they sounds more American-like than similar to Iron Maiden or Bullet for My Valentine and find a loud, powerful way to put their riffs and noises in the right place and afterward punch them right in your face. So, kicking all my skepticism and prejudices considering everything labeled “metalcore” lately away, The Defiled – almost surprisingly – are absolutely worth to listen. Probably if Pantera would form today they might sound pretty close to what The Defiled deliver. Also Slipknot fans might find this album highly inflammable!!! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
dEUS – Keep You Close (2011) (Ain’t) “Living in a movie, but a franchise” – sing Tom Barman on the brand new dEUS album and once again, I’m thrilled by this Belgian band while I love them since I heard for the very first time “Suds & Soda” back in 1994. This music is not so complicated, but subtle and smoothly sophisticated, maybe they lost something from the biting wildness of their first period, but dEUS remains really alternative, truly indie – although singed to multinationals, and the same original outfit. Juggling between – and through – twisted blues, free jazz skronk, post-grunge dissonances and gloomy art rock explorations, dEUS delivered an unique blend of music. Perhaps “Vantage Point” back in 2008 was their smoothest release up to date, but still they have the magic power to hypnotize us. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Devilish Presley – The Dark Triad (2011) Hailing from the dark streets of East London, Devilish Presley finished their 5th album and make no mistake, they gonna rip your heart out. Jacqui Vixen reminds me of the raging Nina Hagen, and Devilish Presley crossing over between genres, blending explosively death, goth and punk rock into their own boiling and furious music. While we’ve got an “Evil Elvis” (aka. Glenn Danzig), a Devilish Presley comes quite as a necessity. 😀 Merging the dark side of the goth and horror rock with the energy and wildness of punk rock, Devilish Presley created an unique and extremely exciting “something” and beneath all, they write some quite catchy songs. “Cocaine Joe” or “Kiss Kiss Apocalypse” have anthematic charm, strikes instantly and “The Dark Triad” is full of good riffs, catchy vocals and singable choruses, pumping drums delivering perfect tempos for the craziest pogo. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction (2011) Devin wrote over 60 new songs at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009, and found that they fit into “four distinct styles”, so this was the starting point of a new four piece release, the first being “Ki”, released on May 22, 2009 and followed six month later by “Addicted”. While “Ki” was an exciting incursion into a world of ambiental, jazz, blues and rock blending and “Addicted” lead us into the area of power pop/alternative metal, the new material, this “Deconstruction” and its nine tracks drive us trough a contorted, gloomy world of post-metal experiment, it brings back to the noisy constructions of the Strapping Young Lad era. Very complex, sometimes maybe even “unfriendly” and perhaps quite schizophrenic, Devin put together an intense, powerful, uncompromising album. He don’t have to prove anything anymore and it seems he’s aware of it, so he just “spit” off the music from his head. “The Mighty Masturbator” have over 16 minutes, it’s a hell of a trip, but all the nine tracks are exhausting, but still fascinating works. “Deconstruction” seems to be a concept album which focuses around a man who goes to Hell and meets the Devil. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Diapsiquir – A.N.T.I. (2011) Formed in 1996 at Paris, France, Diapsiquir are avant-garde black metal with sick, psycho, twisted and intriguing textures, infusions of different musical genres from French chansons to rapcore and industrial, from dark-ambiental to displaced jazz. Considered “controversial french outlaw black metal band known for their decadent activities” and “never resting and fully absorbed in the savage, sexually violent, drug-laden nihilism of french subculture”, A.N.T.I., their third full-length album introduced us in a gloomy, but expressive, contorted and scary universe of sickness and filth. Leave your ridiculous hopes behind, salvation always comes too late. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Dir En Grey – Dum Spiro Spero (2011) It has been passed 2 years and 9 months since “Uroboros”, Dir En Grey previous studio album and fans are quite on fire waiting their eight album. They can surpass themselves? Delivering 14 tracks and over one hour of music, “Dum Spiro Spero”, I think worth the waiting. Dir En Grey remains the same gloomy, impossible to label, but intense and contorted, genreless, but colourful music band, one minute they can sound like a psychotic death metal band and in the very next moment they just simply switch into a pop theme. Songs like “Yokusou Ni Dreambox” will bring you through all of this and even more. God blessed hell of a journey. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You (2011) Three years I waited for the second DIOYY? album and now I can breathe realesed: it was worth it. The exuberant energy, the pumping life, their pulse that is entirely lacking in many other products lately, is still there and still alive . Maybe even more edgy and crushing. The incendiary mixture of Dance Punk, Indie Rock, New Rave and Synthpop works flawlessly and this time, the boys delivered 10 excellent songs and a perfect album. This album is quite alive and incisive. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011) It was probably one of the most expected albums of the last year by progressive metal fans. Three years after the epic “Black Clouds & Silver Linings”, the progressive metal band formed in 1985 by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy while they attended Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts are back, first time without founding member, drummer Mike Portnoy. After several listening, my “verdict” is definitive: this might be the best, the more balanced Dream Theater album so far. Well, I’m conscious, some said this about their previous album… and every new release of any band usually is nominated as their best, but this time Dream Theater actually quite managed to delivered their best. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Dub Trio – IV (2011) Their 2004 debut album “Exploring the Dangers of” was literally recorded as a live-dub experiment and the band managed to deliver their own unique interpretation of dub and push it further to the another level of an art form. DP – Dave Holmes (guitar & keyboards), Stu Brooks (bass & keyboards) and Joe Tomino (drums & Melodica) break down the walls between raggae, dub, electronica, rock, punk and heavy metal to bring to the surface their own powerful and breathing music. Although I’m generally avoid any instrumental rock album because I consider them usually kind of meaningless and boring, Dub Trio have some kind of secret magic power, have that primal, ancient and natural force to keep your interest constantly high, to crush you down with their massive sound and expressive compositions. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Dwarves – The Dwarves Are Born Again (2011) Blag Dahlia did not met Jesus or something, don’t worry! Dwarves were pretty famous for their simple, loud, yet nuanced punk repertoire, and controversial lyrics and also became notorious for self-mutilation, on-stage sex, and taking hard drugs, and their live shows would often only last around fifteen minutes, occasionally cut short due to injury caused by spectators. So, Bobby Faust – the midget – and some naked chicks are back again. 😀 Singer Blag Dahlia (aka Julius Seizure, born Paul Cafaro), and guitarist HeWhoCannotBeNamed (aka Pete Vietnamcheque) – the only two core members of the group – are backuped by “Fresh Prince of Darkness” on guitar and returning drummer Gregory Pecker (aka Gnarlie Watts) and this is another noisy, trashy, scandalous punk rock album, dirty and absolutely lovely. For those who somehow never stumbled into the Dwarves before, it sounds mainly like a sex-maniac Iggy Pop in the most incisive The Stooges era met The Ramones. So, we’re doomed. 😀 READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Engineer – Crooked Voices (2011) Dirty and contorted, merging hardcore with sludge, twisted riffs and slow grinds with breathe acoustic relieves and blue collar breaks, Engineer bring to the surface a world of darkness and suffering, pour their pain on us and drown us under the weight of their sick songs. From Syracuse, NY, Engineer are compound of three brothers and a brutal dude behind the drum kit: Bobby – vocals, Ryan – guitar, Brad – bass, respectively Mike Auclair – drums. Decibel Magazine ranked Engineer’s 2006 release “Reproach” one of the top 50 Best Albums of the Year and their noisy, deranged, modern metal have something unique and exciting. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Evan Brewer – Alone (2011) I never heard of him about one hour ago, as I never listen The Faceless, the technical death metal band in which he recently filled the bass player position. Evan was a former member of Animosity and Reflux, also filled in for two other bands, A Life Once Lost and Terror on tour, jammed with Vinyl Soup and started a project with Barry Donegan of Look What I Did. So, a bass player releasing a solo album exclusively playing bass is kind of odd even in more experimental genres as jazz for example, while the market for these kinds of acts is very limited. “Alone” is not about death metal, actually is not about any particular genre, is about music. Music played exclusively on bass, extremely technically, but also exciting and pretty soulful. Evan shifting smoothly between moods, approaches, styles and genres, “Alone” have some classic vibe, but incorporates rock, jazz and fusion flavors. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Exes For Eyes – The Amsler Grid (2011) From Canada, this band bring to the surface the perfect balance between raw hardcore and groove metal, merged into one the energy and the strength of the classic Pantera sound and some of the now days schemes of metalcore and a nice twist of southern rock delivering powerful and brutal, but still catchy and sometimes quite melodious metal anthems perfectly suitable for an extreme moshing down in the club. Songs like “Romanticize the Struggle” (over 8 minutes) are disturbing mixture of Pantera/Down like elements with a nice addition of modern, metalcore-like elements will give you a pretty good teaser of what’s Exes For Eyes essence. Most of their songs (“Feel Again”, “Stop Thinking Start Feelin'”, etc) are almost classic groove/southern metal anthems, Pantera fans are mainly targeted and for sure will be absolutely delighted, Exes For Eyes brings southern riffs back to metal as only Pantera managed before, but still, Exes For Eyes sounds quite as Exes For Eyes and their almost old-school metal comes quite refreshing while lately most of the bands struggling only to copy the now days trendy so-called metalcore cliches and recycling the same patterns. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
Eyeswithoutaface – Monotoneoteny (2011) A self-titled EP from 2010, their debut album, “Monotoneoteny” released this year in May and a remix album, “Tone Debris”, released this month, all three for free, can grab them from the band’s Bandcamp Page. Their music is a sick blending of Nine Inch Nails with sludge metal, some twisted modern psychedelia and criminal, pitched, black metal growling. Pretty rough mixture in deed, but definitively creative and quite original. So, these guys from Toronto have no connection with Billy Idol, but eventually with the 1960s film of Georges Franju, “Les yeux sans visage”. Definitively “must have” category and not only because it’s free, but they are brilliant. READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
The Fall – Ersatz G.B. (2011) Mark E. Smith might be considered the “father figure” of several punk rock generations. Or the stepfather figure. 😀 Figure it out for yourself. Formed back in 76, what Mark E. Smith said, still stands: “If it’s me and your granny on bongos, then it’s the Fall”. Not at all surprisingly, the 29th studio album by The Fall sounds fresh and it’s kicking, scratching and biting as always. And at age 54, Mark E. Smith proves to be much more alive than most of the nowadays kids with stupid hair cuts, sneakers, iPads and lack of personalities and perspectives. If I tell you that “Ersatz G.B.” it’s the best The Fall album, probably you will not believe me, but it’s actually their best album. Still, don’t know who plays the bongos and the other instruments around Mark E. Smith this time, but they all did a great job! READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
To be continued.
150 albums of 2011 – from 51 to 100
150 albums of 2011 – from 101 to 150