naisian – Mammalian (2011) Far off from the Brit scene and tends, Naisian from Sheffield, brings to the surface a tumultuous, contorted metal with roots back both to the classic Black Sabbath sound and the mixture of sludge and post-hardcore riffs, in their music is a perfect balance between dark and noisy elements and sometimes psychedelic, other time warm and calm, spacy moments. James Borrowdale – guitar and vocals, Adam Zejma – guitar and vocals, Micheal Aitken – bass and vocals and Jordan Garlick – (only 🙂 ) drums, create a quite exciting and unique blending of intense metal and avantgardist surfing. “Mammalian” can be listen and downloaded (“name your price”) from the band’s Bandcamp page. It worth every minute and every penny.
Necrodeath – The Age Of Fear (2011) The band was formed in 1984 under the name Ghostrider by Claudio (guitars) and Peso (drums) right after they saw Venom in concert. Under the influence of bands such as Slayer, Possessed, Kreator, Celtic Frost and Bathory, Necrodeath released a cult-demo tape titled “The Shining Pentagram” and obtained an incredible success through the underground. Tons of tributes in major magazines, fanzines and other underground features highlighted the release of the first two legendary albums “Into The Macabre” (1987) and “Fragments Of Insanity” (1989). “The Age of Fear” is a collection of some of their most powerful songs: it contains 15 tracks, the first 12 of which are taken from the band’s past eight albums, arranged chronologically and the previously unreleased “onyric” version of the song “Queen Of Desire”, featuring guest appearances by Giorgia Gueglio (Mastercastle) on vocals and Botys Beezard (Godyva) on piano, and also the killer cover version of Slayer’s classic “Black Magic” and the live version of the band’s own “The Theory”.
Nervecell – Psychogenocide (2011) For those who cries back the most brutal era of Sepultura (Morbid Visions, Beneath the Remains, Arise), Nervecell from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, brings back all that merciless butchery with crushing, clean and powerful sound, “Psychogenocide”, their second full-length album released through Lifeforce Records in Europe and Spellbind Records in the Middle East, might be the new favorite. And Nervecell managed to merge with style all that classic thrash and death schemes with technical, brutal and still colorful, modern metal sounds also introducing Pantera like riffings, short acoustic or exotic, Oriental spiced moments, Slayer like schizophrenic solos, in few words, they put together a killer metal machine which definitively will rip off your head instantly.
New Discolour – Short Of Ink (2011) Remains me most of Pantera, New Discolour bring a heavy blend of old-school metal, hardcore with a sort of modern and extremely intense approach, actually their put together a very powerful and exciting material. They still looking for a record label and I hope someone will credit them with support, “Short Of Ink” is an excellent product and for this kind of straight, heavy, ass kicking metal there always be a huge fan base. And New Discolour are really managed to make a quality material with interesting rhythmical structures, inspired riffings and shiftings, intense themes, but also with taste for melodious tunes. Technical, but soulful, “Short Of Ink” is everything what any of Pantera’s fans – but not only them – are missing now days.
No Made Sense – New Season/New Blues (2011) Before saying anything else: you can download this album for free and at top quality from the band’s Bandcamp page, “name your price” actually means that you can “give” even zero. It’s not fair, not even elegant, but… I still believe work and mainly creative ones should and must be rewarded substantially, but well, I’m a fucking weirdo. Somehow they remembered me of The Stone Roses, maybe it was the last time when a band from UK were actually creative and delivered something absolutely original and unique, and well, reached out the mainstream. No Made Sense comes with something quite unique, they have some links back to bands such as Tool or Neurosis, but also some strong roots back to the 70s Brit rock scene and finally the music they bring to the surface is absolutely their own. If I’m gonna label it post-hardcore some may think of a bunch of faceless/tasteless bands from NME and Billboard and No Made Sense have nothing to do or share with them.
Of Mice and Men – The Flood (2011) For a year or two I’m at least suspicious if not directly sick only when I hear of “indie” or “alternative” labels, this year I got myself a new syndrome, I get sick when I hear of “metalcore”. Too many faceless bands does the same kind of shit and it becomes pretty boring. Fortunately there are always few exception, and talking bout metalcore, Of Mice and Men are still manage to put on the table exciting materials. Released on June 14, 2011, through Rise Records consist of 12 new, powerful songs, intense and colorful blending of Pantera like riffs, smooth breaks, the dialogue of clean and growling vocals. What make the differece between Of Mice and Men and most of the other metalcore acts is the fact that they managed to write intense, inspired and catchy songs, they have the skill and abilities to express them self and not only recycling the well-knowned schemes and cliches. Shayley Bourget have a melodic, powerful voice. “The Flood” is heavy and absolutely convincing. It’s noisy, but cutting, it’s heavy but melodious enough, I love it.
OneLegMan – The Crack (2011) OneLegMan works almost surgically clean with pounding drums, pumping basses, cutting edge riffs and powerful vocals delivering straight, striking at first, extremely groovy rock/metal. “The Crack” reminds me of Helmet back in 1992 when they released “Meantime”, while OneLegMan sounds fresh and powerful, precise and catchy. Their nine songs juggling smoothly between approaches and genres, from Southern Rock to Groove Metal and from classy Heavy Metal to Post Hardcore and Grunge, but staying focused always to being hard as rock and groovy. It’s almost like a costume ball, which every song they dressed up differently, but there’s all along something very OneLegMan, they managed to leave their own trademark all over. The band was formed in 2003 in Reggio, Italy, by four talented musicians using alias: CHUPACABRA – vocals, CHICKEN BREAST – guitars, LOW PRESSURE – bass and DR. MASTERMIND – drums. They released a highly acclaimed self-produced demo album in 2007 and they was the opening act for Deep Purple in Italy.
Orchid – Capricorn (2011) There are at least six bands called Orchid, it seems it’s a very-very popular name along artist all over the planet. Theo Mindell – vocals and percussion, Mark Thomas Baker – guitar and moog synthesizer, Nickel – bass guitar and Carter Kennedy – drums are the members of the San Francisco’s based doom metal band and “Capricorn” is their latest release through The Church Within label. And hell yeah, this is Black Sabbather than Black Sabbath. It’s enough to listen songs like “Black Funeral” for instance. A world of witches, spells, dark forces and mystic fires breaks loose. And you believe it or not, this sounds goddamn fresh, still have hypnotizing power and unbelievable strength.
Otep – Atavist (2011) “Atavist”, the fifth full-length studio album by Otep, is an extreme and intense incursion in the modern, sometimes twisted world of Metal, there’s no even trace of compromises, no second thoughts, only killer tracks and pure creativity transposed with full energy. This girl rocks harder than many of the uncertain boys of the actual Metal scene and deliver regularly quality albums. Extreme metal and experimental passages shifting and overlapping on this brutally brilliant “Atavist”, dark, gloomy moments coloring the intense, brutal, but still kind of bright and edgy parts. “Stay”, the mysterious “Baby Breath” and “Bible Belt”, the crushing “Atom To Adam”, the heavy “Remember To Forget”, the mixture of sensitivity and aggression from “Skin of the Master” are all pearls on a perfect and compact album, another masterpiece by Otep.
PAIN – You Only Live Twice (2011) Peter Tägtgren started playing drums at the age of 9 and later learned to play guitar, bass and keyboard. After he’s first band Conquest disbanded, he went to the United States where he became part of the death metal scene, participating in practice sessions with Malevolent Creation’s guitarist, Phil Fasciana. After spending three years in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tägtgren moved back to Sweden in 1990, he formed the band Hypocrisy, at this time a one-man project, and played all instruments himself. Get the attention and signed a recording contract with Nuclear Blast and since released eleventh studio albums. Although Hypocrisy is his main focus, he has also worked on many other Swedish metal projects. These also include PAIN, for which he performs all instruments and vocals and composes all songs. He’s project baptized Pain and typeset as PAIN was formed in 1996 as a hobby project and the idea was to fuse metal with 1980’s-inspired electro-industrial and techno influences, mentioned as one influence to start the project Fear Factory’s 1992 album “Soul of a New Machine.” “You Only Live Twice” is the seventh album by this project, Peter Tägtgren plays vocals and all instruments in the studio, live he’s supported by David Wallin on drums (since 2003), Michael Bohlin on guitar (since 2007) and Johan Husgafvel on bass (since 2007).
Peter Murphy – Ninth (2011) Older dudes like me remember Bauhaus appeared during the opening sequences of the horror movie “The Hunger” featuring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve, performing one of their most popular songs, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. It was almost a lifetime ago, back in 1983… After Bauhaus disbanded in 1983, Murphy worked with Mick Karn of Japan (bassist, keyboardist, guitarist, saxophonist) and Paul Vincent Lawford (rhythm construction) in the band Dali’s Car and released one album in 1984 “The Waking Hour” before going solo and releasing several albums. “Ninth” – obviously – is the ninth studio album by Murphy, working with: Mark Gemini Thwaite – electric guitars, John Andrews – acoustic/electric guitars, Jeff Schartoff – infinite bass guitars, Nick Lucero – drums and producer David Baron. We’ve got 46 minutes of rock, dark rock. Murphy’s voice still hypnotizing, the album is a perfect mixture of pumping rock anthems and gloomy, psychotic tracks. Some lead us back to Bauhaus, others looking forward, but all of them are fresh and deep cuts into Murphy’s vibrating musical world.
The Phantom Carriage – New Thing (2011) Throatruiner Records have a nice, fan-friendly approach by making most of their products accessible for free-download. I just wanna say this, on one hand the legal – or not – free downloads helps to spread and popularize the music and the new bands mainly, but on the other hand, every and each free download makes the artist lives one grade harder and one drop bitterer. The Phantom Carriage are an extreme, but excitingly experimenting band combining different genres from black metal to jazz. “New Thing” is gloomy, intense and exciting, so don’t let yourself scared away by the very first impression. “Musical open-mindedness turns to a plague only when one have shitty taste”, once said the prophet. Well, “New Thing” is a twisted collection of perfectly blended genres from Jazz to Black Metal squeezed through the filter of what mainly we call “post metal” now days. This five piece band manage to melt into one all this different sounds and they came up with a very intense, brutally dark, but still breathing alive material. It’s not an easy/listening, and perhaps the aggressive beginning of “The Horses Feed Their Birds” may be extreme for some, but “New Thing” is quite a brilliant piece of work and it worth the effort to dive deep into its laborious and gloomy depths.
Planeta Imaginario – Optical Delusions (2011) Combining elements of classic British progressive rock and jazz, not so popular genres nowadays, probably may seem commercial suicide, but this extremely exciting eight piece band from Barcelona, Spain, delivering an absolutely groovy and colorful mixture of jazz, jazz rock and progressive rock, their music overlapping the classic sounds of the 60s and 70s, but introducing modern, avant-garde textures, glows, experimental turns and subtle colors, creating unique, new musical fusions. Founded in Barcelona in 1999, the band is named after a radically creative children’s TV show from the early 1980s – Imaginary Planet. Their music should appeal to listeners of such diverse artists as: Anekdoten, AKA moon, Area, John Coltrane, King Crimson, Avishai Cohen, Steve Coleman, Deus ex Machina, Gabriel Faure, Gilgamesh, Hatfield at the North, Pat Metheny, Nucleus, Soft Machine, Van der Graaf Generator, Frederic Mompou, National Health, Weather Report, Kenny Werner, Frank Zappa, and John Zorn.
Planningtorock – W (2011) Janine Rostron, Berlin based, London born, musician/conceptual-artist and record label owner, has been flirting with a wider audience via her LCD Soundsystem opening slot and become a frequent collaborator of The Knife. She’s back now with her second full-length album, “W” and her smooth, but gloomy explorations of tense rhythms and quite particular timbre keyboard, classic instruments and shady, electric and electrifying layers, floating vocals merged into her unique, sparkling sound. “W” is a quite unique trip filled with expressive and soulful music, exciting layers and bright tunes, there’s a sort of strange but exciting tension, it’s spacy but vibrating, sparkling and unexpectedly sounds like nothing else. Janine Rostron find her own path, her own space and she share it with us once again. There’s no use to talk about it, it something to listen.
Polkadot Cadaver – Sex Offender (2011) This is one of the best albums of 2011 and I became fan instantly and unconditionally as I heard “Sex Offender”. If this Spanish/Portuguese sound like “Polkadot Cadaver” don’t sound familiar, Dog Fashion Disco should ring the bell. Actually, “Sex Offender” is their second album, their debut album, Purgatory Dance Party, was released in November, 2007. When Baltimore based Alt-Metal act Dog Fashion Disco came to an end in 2007, it wasn’t the end of front man Todd Smith, guitarist Jasan Stepp Guitar and drummer John Ensminger musical output, they just get sick of living the vagabond lifestyle that a touring metal band requires, so they decided to start a (more) studio band. And Polkadot Cadaver seems to be the perfect form to unleash their schizophrenic musical madness. “Sex Offender” is extremely colorful and intense, full of great songs.
Pop Will Eat Itself – New Noise Designed by a Sadist (2011) After a 17 years gap, PWEI will release their sixth studio album entitled “New Noise Designed By A Sadist”. And time’s up, here we go again. 11 tracks, the guys sounds fresh and still kicking like two decades ago and they bring us a little bit of chaos & mayhem, some old-school (cool 🙂 ) noises and anti-plastic anthems. It feels like yesterday, but it’s so now and eventually looking into the future. “New Noise Designed by a Sadist” is a classic PWEI album released 25 years after their first EP and proving that they still have lot to deliver. I’m absolutely sucker for this. In few words: they are back to business! Dig out your dancing shoes, grab your air guitar and bang your head: you’re so wasted!
Primus – Green Naugahyde (2011) The Sailors of the Seas of Cheese are back and they bring new Antipop Tales from the Punchbowl. Claypool’s bass licks and riffs are punches right in your face, LaLonde have all those impossible and crazy solos and Lane are a balanced, powerful drummer delivering solid rhythmic background, but also colorful poundings for this boiling insanity. And it feels just right as back in the old days. If “Frizzle Fry” would had a second disc, this would be that one. On the other hand, “Green Naugahyde” includes also 20 years of experience, there are many subtle musical “cookies” hidden beneath the surface which gives another dimension to their “traditional madness”. Primus managed to create new things doing the same thing as they ever did and it’s still charming, have the same magic. Obviously: brilliant as always, dissection overruled.
Queensrÿche – Dedicated To Chaos (2011) I cut the crap and I’m gonna tell you directly what to aspect: if you’re looking for a quality and quite exciting hard rock album, “Dedicated To Chaos” might just fit your taste. Those who still waiting for what actually meant till ’88/’90 (the genius “Operation: Mindcrime” (1988), respectively “Empire” (1990), well, maybe it’s time to accept that “this” Queensrÿche is not “that” Queensrÿche anymore and probably they will never be again. I love the atmosphere of “Dedicated To Chaos”. It’s kind of smooth but tensioned, spacy but heavy enough and it have a good groove, some kind of exciting vibe. Queensrÿche finally re-find them self, find again a path of their own, this space between hard rock and heavy metal with smooth oriental perfume and extremely subtle progressive shades, fit them perfectly. And “Dedicated To Chaos” it’s quite colorful.
Quintorigo – English Garden (2011) Quintorigo is an Italian band founded in 1996 and their genre vary from experimental jazz through reggae and pop to (alternative) rock. Although the musical ensemble is composed only by acoustic instruments, the band often makes heavy use of sound effects like distortion, flanger, wah-wah to recreate most of the rock sound in their songs. And as they declare: “Experimentation is the research of what doesn’t exist. Quintorigo search, invent, upset; they destroy in order to rebuild a new language from the ruins of the glorious past; a language made up of unheard sounds, free structures, heterodox expressions and estranging atmospheres.” Quintorigo play a different music without prejudices of all sorts (historical, geographical, ethnical…), without degrading compromises, far from media and commercial reasons, led by a congenital and total love for the object of their research, music itself.
Red Snapper – Key (2011) This is absolutely bloody ass kicking! And I mean it. Don’t judge a book by its cover and a CD by its label. In this particular case the label was “hip hop” and well, maybe there’s some hip hop left-overs in it, but this have nothing to do with what usually we thought of hip hop. This is jazz, modern, alive, pulsing, experimental jazz without being kind of exclusivist, it’s avantgardist without being abstract, in not so many words: this is fucking music! Well, if we trying hard enough we may find some parallels with US3, eventually with the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, but still. If there some other band which reminds me of , perhaps that would be Morphine. Honestly I don’t know where I kept or what I did with my ears in the last few years, but I stumbled into Red Snappers only yesterday while it seems they being around since 1994. But I can take off “Key” from the player since.
Rolo Tomassi – Eternal Youth (2011) A friend of mine from London bring to my attention this band from Sheffield, England, in 2009 and their debut album entitled “Hysterics” released one year earlier blow off my mind. Define as “progressive hardcore”, labeled as jazzcore, mathcore or simply progressive rock, Rolo Tomassi delivering a fresh and powerful mixture of hardcore, punk, post metal and avant-garde jazz which is quite innovative and brilliant. The band was formed in 2005 and immediately began to perform at local venues and pubs. “Eternal Youth” is a two-disk anthology of rare and unreleased tracks to mark the start of Rolo Tomassi’s own record label, Destination Moon. The anthology contains tracks spanning from their earliest recordings, cut six years ago, to tracks taped last summer. This is an interesting trip into the evolution of the band and their sound, from stunning heavy and technical songs to experimental, jazz or psychedelic like twists, sometimes they turning from one edge to the other quite in the same song. 36 absolutely killer tracks.
Rotting Out – Street Prowl (2011) Fast and furious. 6131 Records promised “energetic, fast paced hardcore in the vein of Striking Distance and Black Flag” and it’s reminds me of Billy Milano’s M.O.D. (Method of Destruction) with less thrash infusion, but still on the same crossover/hardcore punk direction. And it’s something here also from the unfamous Billy’s humor, one of their best song being “Laugh Now, Die Later”. Walter, Carlos, Tank, Jorge and Ben comes from Los Angeles, California and their hardcore punk is fast as it is possible, still melodious, two decades ago for sure I would mosh out my ass on it. This high-energy, pumping, straight and powerful approach has its indisputable charm and live, down at the club, there’s nothing proper than this loud and angry, spitting right in your face approach.
Samael – Lux Mundi (2011) Samael was a hell of a guy! 😆 😆 😆 Actually an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil. Also called Sammael and Samil, he is considered in legend both a member of the heavenly host with often grim and destructive duties and a fallen angel, equatable with Satan and the chief of the evil spirits. One of Samael’s greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the angel of death. In this capacity he is a fallen angel but nevertheless remains one of the Lord’s servants. As a good angel, Samael supposedly resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven. It is said that he was the guardian angel of Esau and a patron of the Roman empire. The current line-up of the band includes Vorphalack (Vorph) – vocals and guitar, his brother, Xytraguptor (Xy) – live and programmed drums, keyboards, samples, Masmiseim (Mas) – bass (ex-Alastis) and Makro (Mak) – guitar. “Lux Mundi” is their ninth forthcoming studio album and Samael brings and deliver their best. They have a kind of ancient fire, primal force, black and dark, epic sounds are merged with heavy guitar riffs, raw vocals and colorful industrial textures. “Lux Mundi” is another intense, crushing and swaggering incursion in the heavy and dark side of the modern metal. A brilliant release with 12 exclusive pearls.
Sankt Otten – Gottes Synthesizer (2011) In the manner of Klaus Schulze/Tangerine Dream and in the best tradition of Neu! with dark electro textures and Krautrock resonances, Sankt Otten, the duo from Osnabrück, Germany formed by Stephan Otten (drums, keys, programming) and Oliver Klemm (guitar, keys), in 1998, delivered a new trip into the warm analogue sounds, sequencer lines and electric drums of the 70s and 80s, but still breathing alive, looking into the future. Especially the title track, “Gottes Synthesizer”, over 13 minutes, is a brilliant piece with tunes that re-call Robert Fripp.
Saul Williams – Volcanic Sunlight (2011) Poet, writer, actor and musician, Saul Williams, graduated in acting and philosophy, comes back with his fourth studio album and the same colorful, vibrating and intense mixture of hip hop with noisy – industrialized – electronic and spices of Afro beats and tribal and rapping vocals. Saul Williams sounds distinguishing even for the alternative hip hop scene, he’s a strong character with attitude and he’s one of the most vocal critic of the so-called War on Terrorism. I love the genius “The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!” from 2007 produced by Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and “Volcanic Sunlight” is more powerful and intense album even than his previous works.
Septicflesh – The Great Mass (2011) In very few words, “The Great Mass” is the intercourse of the fallen angel’s deadly howls with the angel’s enlighted chants, it’s another (master) piece in the creative development of this interesting band from Greece, their eighth studio album it’s a bridge between their early works and simultaneously a step into their future. Septicflesh fans knows for sure what I’m talking about and they won’t be disappointed. But I think those who are not actually familiar with the universe of Septicflesh can discover an intense and colorful world through this brand new release. Spiros “Seth” Antoniou and his band mates merged intense black/death metal massacres and melodious heavy constructions with sophisticated symphonic elements, Peter Togtgren proof once again his abilities in metal productions and Christos Antoniou write some inspired orchestration performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sicfaist – Road Unknown (2011) Bill Friese – vocals, Eric Britt – guitar, Ken Campbell – drums and Darren McClelland – bass bring to the surface pieces from a shattered universe, while their music have roots back to bands such as Deftones, Tool, System Of A Down and Korn. Actually, they name as their influences bands such as Mudvayne, Tool, Killswitch Engage, Incubus, Gojira, Deftones, Lamb of god, Sevendust, 40 Below Summer, Meshuggah, Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Anyway, these American guys from St. Louis, Missouri, delivering some dark, contorted and sometimes quite strange, but sparkling and beautiful, still heavy enough, modern metal.
Skindred – Union Black (2011) Skindred has sometimes been compared to Bad Brains, they got in their vain that hardcore explosion which made them one of the most exciting live acts in the UK, they reminds me of Asian Dub Foundation or the heaviest moments of Subsource, but as well they may be compared to Limp Bizkit. Union Black is the fourth album by Skindred and we’ve got 12 full of energy, smashing, brand new songs. It’s heavier, catchier, even if in the studio they never managed to captured the absolute intensity of what they are capable of, this is a very breathing, alive, groovy and absolutely pumping music. And once again, Skindred delivering good songs, consistence and not only form.
Skinny Puppy – HanDover (2011) From the classy industrial area slipping to the post-industrial and more cinematic, dark electronic segment of music, Skinny Puppy, the pioneer Canadian band, remains one of the leading motors of the genre. Al Jourgensen of Ministry was part of the band back in 1989, also Bill Leeb of Front Line Assembly, Noise Unit, etc as many other famous figures contributed to this band since their formation in 1982 and till now. The band almost disbanded in 1995 when drugs and internal conflicts and ultimately death strikes the band which moved from the safety of Vancouver to the temptations of Malibu, but they managed to regroup after a five year gap and since 2000 Nivek Ogre (vocals) and cEvin Key (synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar, drums) reunited and performed live extensively. This might be the more darkest ant trippy release of the band up to date, but this is still an intense and exciting hell of a ride into the ambiental/dark electronic area of futuristic music.
Stardown – Venom (2011) Merging the rawness and intensity of Pantera with the gloomy and twisted moments of Korn while Ardentis sung on a scale from howling brutality up till clean vocals which sometimes reminds me of Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) often then of Jonathan Davis (Korn), Stardown includes leaders of Russian metal scene from Amatory and Korea and delivering an extremely intense and powerful modern metal album. Blowing out from the Pantera taste-like riffings of “Pray For Nothing” and till the very last cutting tunes of “Dangerous” – a disturbing mixture of intense riffings and gloomy themes, Stardown delivered a set of 10 killer metal tracks, matching the perfect balance between intensity and harmony, brutal riffings and melodious passages, remaining on a heavy, powerful path, a collision line of Pantera with Korn, but adding their own touch of strong metal.
Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning (2011) Steven John Wilson is a self-taught, yet twice Grammy nominated producer, audio engineer, guitar and keyboard player, playing other instruments as and where required, including bass guitar, concert harp, hammer dulcimer and flute. He is involved in many bands and projects such as Altamont, Karma, No-Man, Incredible Expanding Mindfuck, Bass Communion, Blackfield and not at least he is best known as the founder, lead guitarist, singer and songwriter of progressive rock band Porcupine Tree. From jazz to heavy metal and from psychedelic to avant-garde, from blues to folk, “Grace For Drowning” takes you all over. It’s like a move, or much better, like life itself. As Wilson said: “There’s everything from Ennio Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23 minute progressive jazz inspired piece. I’ve actually used a few jazz musicians this time, which is something I picked up from my work remixing the King Crimson records”.
Sum 41 – Screaming Bloody Murder (2011) With their debut effort “All Killer No Filler” released back in 2001 certified platinum in Canada, the United States and in the UK and the following three releases certified platinum in Canada, Sum 41 definitively it’s what we call a mainstream rock/punk band. Still, these Canadian guys rocks harder then 99.9% of the so-called rock and punk bands the record companies and the media trying to sell us as “real stuffs”. They blending intelligently rock, punk and hardcore elements and they have a good taste to write real songs. “Screaming Bloody Murder” is not only in its title a killer piece of work, it’s really an intense material far from the usual “bubble gum” and “soap box” pseudo-punk stuffs we get used with lately.
Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving – Deaden The Fields (2011) This one comes from Australia and it’s a creative, breathing mixture of rock/post-rock elements with progressive and space-rock music and avant-garde jazz experiments while the space between is filled up with noises, intelligently built in electronica and cinematic soundscapes. Very fresh, unpredictable, colourful, flowing and ever changing. While the opening “Landmarks” runs for over 17 minutes, the shortest one is “And Sever Us From the Present” with its only 4 minutes. But this is a complex and compact work, once you’re in its flow, you can stop swimming around in its beautiful circles. The album have a sparkling glow and an excellent groove, there’s a perfect balance between motion and emotion.
Terrorvision – Super Delux (2011) Terrorvision Rocks. In the good old-fashioned way: cutting edge guitars, pumping bass, solid drums, voice with character and it’s all about feeling good. I loved “Oblivion” from their second album “How to Make Friends and Influence People” released back in 1994, and Terrorvision managed to hit Top 40 in UK subsequently with all they singles released till 1999. But after their forth album “Shaving Peaches” EMI drop them and after one more album released by Papillon Records in 2001 “Good to Go” the band splitting up and vanished. On the brand new “Super Delux” we’ve got 11 brand new Rock tracks, but somehow I have the feeling none of them have a good charting chance, there’s no new “Oblivion” or “Tequila”. I love “Pushover” and the little bit jazzy “Friend in Need”, actually the whole material is still the same good old Rock, but none of this songs sounds like a real anthem and without the support of a real pushing big gun record label behind their back, in 2011 it’s hard to make another breakthrough. I’m glad to see them back and I hope they will manage to resist trough this rough times.
Thievery Corporation – Culture of Fear (2011) While Brits have Massive Attack, Americans have Thievery Corporation. In 1996 Thievery Corporation released “Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi”, their debut album, and with it they defined an entire genre of music and crystallized their distinct “outernational sound” aesthetic. Thievery Corporation was formed in the summer of 1995 at Washington D.C.’s Eighteenth Street Lounge by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton. Over the next 14 years the duo would write and record several more critically acclaimed studio albums. Thievery Corporation has taken progressive political stances on various issues, opposing war and exploitative trade agreements, while supporting human rights and food programs.
The Thing – Mono (2011) Mats Gustafsson (saxophones), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (double bass), and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) also known as The Thing, are back. Those who know them, know exactly what I’m talking about, what to expect from them, those who never had the chance – or misfortune – to collide with them until now, can’t even imagine what’s this trio about. Avant-gard, free jazz, action-jazz, 101% improvising, no grooves, riffs, themes, nothing to hang on, this is quite something anti-establishment, anti-pattern, anti-structure, and not at least anti-music form of expression. Art – or madness, quite impossible to drew a line between them. This time they delivered “only” 30 and so minutes and as the album title announce it, this was recorded in mono. And this time no other artist were involved, we’ve got exclusively the three core members of this project. It’s quite enough I guess. This is hardcore.
Thomas Giles – Pulse (2011) “Pulse” is one of the most wonderful and exciting records I had the pleasure to listen this year and I admit it, it was a huge surprise. Tommy Giles Rogers Jr. is the lead singer and founder of the band Between the Buried and Me, one of the leaders of the new – twisted – metal wave, a powerful and extremely creative band wich show a new direction and proved once again: metal is not dead. “Pulse” is actually the second solo album by Tommy, the first was released back in 2004 under the name Giles. The new material is extremely colorful, impossible to label, crammed in some particular box. Although, “Pulse” is quit polyphonic, multi-dimensional. Reminded me of the early Ian Brown’s solo albums (ex-The Stone Roses), the searches of Thom Yorke’s (Radiohead) on his solo album, but the sound palette covers a much wider area, it’s a colorful and intense trip between Muse, Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie and King Crimson. However – “Pulse” is unlike anything.
Thot – Obscured by the Wind (2011) Thoth was considered one of the most important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. Directed by Gregoire Fray, Thot cleverly mixes rock and electronic music, industrial and acoustics sounds, freeing itself from any codes and turning stages upside down. “Obscured by The Wind” reminds me of the “The Fragile” era’s Nine Inch Nails (one extremely creative period for Reznor & Co.), but also of Android Lust. It’s a quite intense and colorful material, smoother, gloomier passages are twisted into powerful noise hurricanes, distorted guitars and electronic textures, filtered noises create intense, vibrating atmosphere and this unique construction made of catchy melodies and aggressive noises, rock explosions together bring to the surface a very interesting and expressive music.
Today Is The Day – Pain Is A Warning (2011) Today Is The Day was founded by Steve Austin and Brad Elrod in Nashville, Tennessee in 1992. Nominated as “Experimental-terror-metal noise heroes”, Today Is The Day incorporated from Alternative Rock elements to Grindcore, and from Garage Rock to Industrial noises all type of sounds and structures, genres and approaches. Contorted, still fluent, noisy, but also quite harmonious and musical, Today Is The Day are a perfect killing machine. After a four-year wait since their previous release, “Axis of Eden”, band’s founder, lead guitarist/vocalist and producer, Steve Austin teamed up with Wetnurse‘s Curran Reynolds (drums) and Ryan Jones (bass) for this ninth studio release of the band. Released on August 16, 2011 through Black Market Activities, this is one of the most exciting Extreme/Alternative Metal albums of the year. And this time “alternative” is not something fancy-trendy-sophisticated-college-bullshit, but actually real and tasty alternative.
Tom Waits – Bad As Me (2011) It’s been seven years since “Real Gone” (2004) and ladies and gentlemen, Tom Waits are back and he’s brutally fresh. “Chicago” is a noisy opening track with garage rock pulse and horn-fueled cabaret rock after-taste and the whole album flows glowing and pumping, it’s like a radiography of Wait’s whole career and his best moments projected into the future. If “alternative” and “avant-garde” rock actually means something, then Tom Waits makes sense. Nowadays nothing means anything and nothing make sense, except commercials and music is nothing, but ultimately additional accessory to our iPods. And this is the world we use to say we’re against, but we’re accept it. Tom Waits said sometimes ago: “Apparently, the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad ideally, naked and purring on the hood of a new car”, and he added: “I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor.” There’s no room for artificial intellectual bullshit, for faking alternatives. If you don’t actually feel it, better… “Get Lost”.
Triptych – Physical Fitness for Better Tyranny (2011) Best things in life comes for free! At least that’s what a buddy of mine used to say. And the best beer I ever drink was for free, the best whiskey was also for free, not to mention the best fuck. Well, sometimes free means that somebody else pay for it, that’s quit true, but what the hell?! life is full of shit enough to get lost in that kind of small details! 😀 “Physical Fitness for Better Tyranny” actually it’s for free for real. And it’s quit a nice piece of work. Well, definitively it doesn’t sound like a super sophisticated production, but it sounds very alive, absolutely honest and their music is balancing fluently from post rock experiments to jazz like solutions and turns, heavy and noise moments followed by jazzy improvisations or quiet breathes, their music swimming around in nice and colorful circles, raving and pumping without any annoying barriers. Complex and exciting journey into a very alive music.
Trunks – On The Roof (2011) “Hardfiscurry” is one of the most glowing and exciting record opener track I heard lately. It has an excellent and tensioned groove and something quite hypnotic which keeps you nailed for everything what’s coming up next. “Screaming Idiots” kicks out as a punk rock anthem, but the screaming saxophone reminds me of Morphine and shift the mood from Crass to Last Exit. Trunks is one of the best bands I had the pleasure to listen recently, they are alive and do not fit in into the trendy patterns. And each song is a different path into another universe. Different moods, different grooves, but Trunks managed to tie them all together and “On The Roof” becomes a fascinating journey. Discover every hidden treasure for yourself.
TV On The Radio – Nine Types Of Light (2011) “Nine Types of Light”, the fourth studio album by TV on the Radio consist of 10 brand new songs and the same kind of smooth, soft, tasty, very discrete, but still touching type of minimalist electronic indie construction with a charming romantic accent, but also including funk and rock, post-rock elements in a very colorful blending. If you knew and love them, you know what I’m talking about. The second track, “Keep Your Heart” instantly reminds me of “China Girl”, the song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appearing on Pop’s album “The Idiot” (1977) and rerecorded and released by Bowie on his album “Let’s Dance” (1983). But Bowie is not a news in TV On The Radio’s world. Their second studio album, “Return to Cookie Mountain”, received critical acclaim, and on the album features guest appearances from David Bowie, Celebration, Dragons of Zynth, Martin Perna and Stuart D. Bogie of Antibalas, Blonde Redhead and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner. Also, during their US tour, the band performed a few covers with Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.
Valerian Swing – A Sailor Lost Around The Earth (2011) This is a soulful, explosive, flowing, ever-changing, complex and elaborate instrumental album. I actually hesitate to say instrumental rock album because Valerian Swing are far beyond any particular label and box, this is metal, rock, even jazz sometimes, eventually contemporary heavy music. Many times technicality kill the soul of the music, but this is not the case of Valerian Swing, extremely complex themes, impressive breaks, twists and turns make their music dynamic, but without loosing anything from its sensivity and expression. Incredible depths, incisive riffs, colorful lyricism, different moods and tones are revealed by this extremely young, but very talented trio from Correggio, Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Van Der Graaf Generator – A Grounding in Numbers (2011) Released on 14 March 2011, this date written as 3,14 comprises the first three digits of the number Pi. The second track, “Mathematics”, refers to “Euler’s identity” known as the mathematical poem and the trio consisted of Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton and Guy Evansin moved on to a new label, Esoteric Records. I have to admit, I missed the previous two albums – “Present” (2005) and “Trisector” (2008) – meantime, David Jackson quit the band after releasing “Present”, but Hammill, Banton and Evansin seems to feel quite alright together and the new set of 13 tracks sounds strong as the good old stuffs, but strangely also refreshing. When I was absolutely convinced that the actual British scene is consisted exclusively by a bunch of kids with stupid haircuts, sponsored clothing and complete lack of inspiration, this old guys showed me otherwise. Perhaps “A Grounding in Numbers” is not another “H to He, Who Am the Only One” and actually I miss Jackson’s saxophone and flute, but the new material is a nice trip back to the 70s, but still looking forward.
Verneri Pohjola – Aurora (2011) Finnish trumpeter/composer Verneri Pohjola seems to be a huge Miles Davis fan and the spirit of the “Dark Magus” is all over “Aurora”, more, its include also an exciting re-work of Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez”, not in the manner of Davis and Gil Evans on “Sketches of Spain”, but adding to it another – his own – perspective. Pohjola’s major inspiration is Miles Davis, particularly the legendary “Birth Of The Cool” recordings from 1947. Pohjola takes the influences of Davis and Gil Evans and filters them through an uniquely Finnish perspective adding folk and classical elements to the Davis/Evans template. Alining a total of fifteen musicians on the recording gives a nice, sparkling colour to this material without being crowded, all the orchestrations and arrangements are spacious, subtle and smooth, still, absolutely groovy and flowing. Different combinations of musicians appear on different tracks and Pohjola has described the work as being more like collection of short stories than a novele. Beautiful ones and the hauntingly catchy atmosphere and vibe is hypnotizing.
Victorian Halls – Charlatan (2011) Juggling between Noisecore and Power/Dance Pop, this Chicago four-piece band find an exciting crack on the music pallet to breaking through at and “Charlatan”, the band’s debut album comes crushing like a hurricane with songs as “A Crush Is A Crush”, the retro dizziness of “Lucky 16” or the bursting energy of “It All Started In The Hall” and won’t let you (sit) down for a second, leave no space to take even a breath. This is the future sound of the dancefloor and it’s definitively makes you jump off your shoes and do some crazy things. Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction called the band’s music a “high-strung theatrical sound … punchy and tight, the sound of Saturday night” and definitively, Victorian Halls find something of their own, Sean, Carlos, Michael and Jordan delivering not songs, but dynamites and all of them will explode right in your face if you don’t pay attention.
Wayne Static – Pighammer (2011) Might be unbelievable, but there are 12 years since the release of Static-X’s killer debut album “Wisconsin Death Trip”. God! how old I am?! Still, it seems – and feels – like yesterday. Last time, in 2009, Static-X delivered the Ministry versus White Zombie resonating “Cult of Static” and the band seems to keep up with their one album at two years precisely tempo. Meanwhile bass player Tony Campos left Static-X and joined Soulfly replacing Bobby Burns, while guitarist Koichi Fukuda since 2010 became a member of the industrial metal/ambient band Drugstore Fanatics. Wayne said: “It’s doubtful I will do anything with Static-X for the next couple years”, so “Pighammer” is the closest thing to Static-X, and officially the band went on hiatus. But fans definitively will be satisfied by “Pighammer”, this is another crushing industrial release and Wayne delivered his best. Evil disco? This time, eventually, a facelift for the Devil. 👿
Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet – Smells Like Tape Spirit (2011) This is just great, feels so good to listen it. I won’t sell you lollipops, I actually don’t have a clue what “nu jazz” means, generally speaking, I don’t know what’s modern and what not in jazz, and digging further, in music. Sometimes – nowadays – modern becomes synonym of stupid, or at least trendy and patterned, and I really don’t wanna swallow it. This is different. “Smells Like Tape Spirit” have some gentle, warm, retro and kind of classy perfume, but on the other hand it’s extremely fresh, sparkling and breathing alive, it’s – God, I hate this world! – modern, a blending of standards and improvisations, structures and free licks, a rebellion build upon the solid ground of tradition.
XMRV – Disimmunized (2011) Absolutely sick! Lasting only one minute, “Noodles” clarify at least this aspect. Xenotropic murine leukemia virus (XMRV) – is a gammaretrovirus that was first described in 2006. Initial reports linked the virus to prostate cancer, and later to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), but these were followed by a large number of studies in which no association was found. It has not been established that XMRV can infect humans, nor has it been demonstrated that XMRV is associated with or causes human disease. Numerous researchers have suggested that XMRV detection may result from contamination of clinical specimens and laboratory reagents with mouse retroviruses or related nucleic acids. A clash of nationalities, cultures, quite different tastes and musical influences and backgrounds, XMRV blending through their own creative filter hardcore, thrash metal, grunge, noise, punk, jazz, Latin music and delivering a killer sonic cocktail which will definitively knock you down. Are you ready for a punch directly in your immune system? READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE
I had listen over 1000 albums – at least – in 2011 and for sure still it is very possible that I missed some great releases. Anyway, this 150 albums are – from my point of view – some of the most interesting, exciting albums of the last year. Still, this is not a “best of” of 2011, eventually my own personal favorites and albums I recommended. And also, I admit, still I have a few hundred albums I didn’t managed to listen yet… Music’s killing me! 😆
I’d like to thank: Alex – without his support this site would not have been; Carmen; Aurélien Dubois-Pham of Domino Media Agency; Matthias Jungbluth of Throatruiner Records; all the bands and artist who submitted they releases directly to me and not at least to all of my readers.
Happy New Year everybody!