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|Willie's Top 50 Of 2011|
So, this is my finalized list for the year unless anybody has some last minute rec's (or something is released in the next few weeks).
|1||Arch / Matheos|
Definitely one of my more anticipated releases and it didn't end up failing to impress. This all-star line-up features current and ex-members of Fates Warning including their original vocalist, John Arch. The music, though, is unlike anything they've ever done previously. It's proggy, chaotic, and heavy without ever sounding like your typical progressive metal circle jerk. Also, John Arch hasn't lost a step vocally speaking, and their new drummer makes Dream Theater's new drummer look like the boring, uninspired player he really might be.
It's hard to describe this album without gushing. To me, it has elements of early Killing Joke and The Cure wrapped in an alternative container. Their vocalist, is awesome and she has a pretty unique style. The music, too, is cool because almost every song seems to build towards a crescendo that brings all the different elements together in one dense finale.
|3||Florence and the Machine|
I had never heard this band before (as far as I know), so this was definitely a surprise. Powerful female vocals, electronics and pop mix together to create a pretty compelling style.
Believer have been doing the technical thrash thing (on and off) since the late eighties and they've always managed to progress their sound with each album, but they've never really experimented with their vocals -- on this album they do both. They've dropped a lot of their thrash influence for a more ridgid progressive metal approach that sounds lonely and dispondent. The vocals are also much more accessible than they've ever been in the past. Definitely a defining album for the band.
Near Infinite Possibility
Sarah has been making music for a few years, and it has all been building towards this. It takes the emotional atmospherics of her trip-hop origins and pushes the indie/alt. rock leanings of the last few releases into a whole new territory for her. This is the sound of Sarah's most complete release, featuring a full band that rounds out her songs very nicely.
Eisley are one of the best bands to listen to when you just want to relax. Their safe, non-abrasive style of harmonzied indie pop is hard to match and it will catch you off guard with its infectious melodies and crooning vocals courtesy of the DuPree sisters.
Rabbits on the Run
Vanessa Carlton has finally grown up.She has traded the cutesy pop of her previous albums for a more personal, band-oriented direction. Kind of reminds me of a Slightly melancholy version of Eisley, but with her own style attached.
Most people have probably never heard of the black metal band Darzamat, and you're not missing anything. The female vocalist and guitarist for this band are also in Darzamat, but you'd never know. This is no-frills prog metal in the vein of mid-era Queensryche or Fates Warning, and it is awesome. Nera's vocals are clear and powerful and the backing music straddles the line between heavy and accessible, while playing around with subtle prog influences. The whole thing combines to create an atmopsheric, emotional and very catchy release that should be checked out.
One for Sorrow
With most of the big name melodic death metal bands abandoning the genre or just getting boring, Insomnium is probably one of the premeire melodic death metal bands these days. Although they've never been known for stepping outside of their comfort zone, they've finally done enough with this release to make it entertaining and their level of songwriting and melody creation has been stepped up considerably.
|10||Funeral For a Friend|
Welcome Home Armageddon
FFaF have finally got their balls back! This is a pretty good cross between "Casually Dressed" and "Hours", but with much more of an aggressive edge than either of those albums. This is probably my favorite FFaF album to date.
What would happen if a band took the dark industrial sounds of Skinny Puppy at their peak and mixed them with the sound of Depeche Mode in their heyday? This album. Dark electronics and harsh vocals blend with electro melodies and catchy choruses (featuring some very capable clean singing).
Within Temptation have been accused of being an Evanescence clone, and that's not entirely inaccurate. The thing is that this album blows the new Evanescence album out of the water and it does so without being a complete rip-off. Fans of their over-the-top symphonic style will be upset to learn that the band have finally throttled that shit back, but the result is one of the band's most compelling releases.
This band is kind of a one-trick pony, but it's a pretty good trick. They mix death metal music and vocals with a prominent middle eastern influence that also includes some pretty cool female vocals. Like I said, they know one trick and they just perform variations of it on each song, but it's a pretty cool trick.
This is raw, brutal, semi-technical death metal with a few strange WTF? moments scattered throughout.
Redemption at the Puritans Hand
This is the first Primordial album that I've liked since "Storm Before Calm". It's still basically the same unique take on folky black metal-ish music that the band have always done, but the songs are stronger and there are some pretty cool moments on here (especially the one-two punch of the first two tracks).
|16||Left Spine Down|
Take the surf punk of The Offspring's "Ignition" and mix it with a bit of an electro-industrial undercurrent and you end up with this album. It's kind of a fun, mindless take on the mix with a few interesting extra's such as the subtle Brand New influence in a few places.
This is another semi-technical death metal band, but with a twist. Instead of taking their technical influences from bands like Obscura, they seem to come straight from Nevermore's best stuff. It's a cool twist and kind of makes the album.
This Mortal Coil
Redemption are probably one of the better progressive metal bands, because they manage to do what Dream Theater cannot -- showcase their talents, maintain a constant metal vibe (well, that went away with Mike Portnoy), but still put the songs first. They feature Fates Warning's current vocalist, Ray Alder and come back with an album that is darker, grittier and heavier than anything they've done previously.
This was a late addition to my list, but it has stuck with me since I first listened to it. To me it sounds like instrumental post metal with just enough of a melodic post rock influence to keep it memorable from beginning to end, while occasionally bludgioning you over the head.
Natalie Walker began here career as the vocalist for Trip Hop band Daughter Darling, but they only released one album before she left. Her first solo album was basically trip-hop too, but her second one was much more poppy. Thank fully this one moves a little closer to trip hop while still maintaining the poppy undercurrent.
|21||Fair to Midland|
Arrows and Anchors
Fair to Miland's previous album was one of my favorites, but they seemed to lose something on this release. Don't get me wrong, their quirky mash-up of prog and alt. rock is still really good when they're on, but the increased emphasis on heaviness seems to have caused them to lose the ability to deliver unique, yet catchy melodies that could stick with you for days.With that being said, still a very solid release.
|22||Wolves in the Throne Room|
One of the only black metal bands that are still releasing albums that I enjoy. I don't know if there's too much difference between this and previous releases, but it's definitely another solid slab of atmopsheric black metal.
Still So New
She has a very endearing voice that I can't get enough of. The music is a nice blend of country, folk, pop and just a hint of indie pop.
I Was Here for a Moment, Then I was Gone
I've always appreciated the post rock bands that could deliver a full listening experience without resorting to long drawn-out songs, and this is one of those bands that can. It doesn't hurt that their music is very melodic, but also more energetic than your average post rock band. It keeps your attention from beginning to end.
This is dark, disturbing industrial. The best way to describe this is that it's like being trapped in the mind of a serial killer. From the jarring samples of people screaming in pain, to spoken word sections discussing random fucked up topics -- it's here. it's not as dense and opppressive as their previous album, but it is still guaranteed to make the average person very uncomfortable.
The Heart and the Broken Compass
Imagine Hoobastank (back when they were decent) with a bit of "Hours"-era Funeral For a Friend and you've got this album. Very good alt. metal with the occasional cool musical flourish, and it's pretty damn catchy.
|27||Before the Rain|
Solid funeral doom with excellent melodies, harsh growls and even some decent clean singing in places. Kind of reminds me Mourning Beloveth's "A Disease for the Ages" album.
War of Currents
It's good post rock with songs that don't ever get too long or lull you to sleep long before the crescendo pops up. Kind of a gritty release that stays a bit heavier than a lot of what I've heard.
A lot of their longtime fans hate this album, but I'm not a longtime fan. This is basically mainstream female fronted metal (Lacuna Coil-ish) with a metalcore edge that includes the growled vocals. The vocals are all really good and the choruses are totally infectious.
Rise Against return to their roots just enough to make this another excellent punk album in their discography.
|31||The Devin Townsend Project|
This is easily the most mellow thing that Devin Townsend has ever done. It's like he took the chill, lush sections of Terria and expanded them into an entire album, and how can that be bad? The answer is that it's not.
|32||While Heaven Wept|
Fear of Infinity
These guys just keep getting better and better. They're a traditional style doom band similar to Candlemass or Solitude Aeturnus, but with songs that always seem to be very catchy. This particular album ups the ante by taking on a bit of a black metal influence in places.
A Rose for the Apocolypse
Great doom band featuring growled male vocals and sung female vocals.It's not as instant as the previous releases, but it also seems to have more replay value because of it.
Plains of the Purple Buffalo
Post rock with a orchestral infuence and a harsh edge due to the 'vocals'. Good stuff.
A Dramatic Turn of Events
The band return to the prog style that made Images & Words and Awake so good, but forget to get a drummer that isn't boring as fuck. Still good, but missing that cool percussive element.
The Beginning of Times
Their new vocalist seemed to re-energize them and cause them to embrace a bit of the metal/death influences of their past, but three albums in they kind of sounded bored again. This is a step back in the right direction with the folk influenced, prog metal style that made a lot of their best albums what they were. Not nearly as two-dimensional as the previous release.
The Great Mass
Yeah, orchestral death metal might sound like the worst thing since Korn and dubstep, but this is pretty damn good. The cool thing is that the orchestral influences don't override the heaviness or the riffy goodness.
|38||Hope For the Dying|
Very bombastic technical metalcore with growls, clean singing and a fuck-ton of keyboards. It can border on cheesy from time to time, but it never crosses that line (very often).
|39||In the Nursery|
Modern classical pieces that also make use of an abundance of percussive elements and gothy clean singing.
Samael drop the huge industrial influence and go back to the sound that made "Passage" a classic. It's rhythmic black metal with an industrial infuence that has been throttled back compared to the last few releases.
Boo hoo. It sounds like this and doesn't sound like that and they're old now, and is it still cool to enjoy this? Who cares? It's blink meets AvA and +44, and those are all good bands.
Anthrax get Joey back and release a great modern metal album, with more than a hint of the band's peak sound. Too bad they can't keep up the excellence of the first few tracks for the whole album.
Room to Run
Australia's answer to Eisley? I don't know, but they sound pretty damn close except that these guys (and girl) are a bit more diverse and upbeat.
Until We Have Faces
Everyone's most favorite Linkin Park-influenced band tries to get heavier and loses some of the solid songwriting in the process. Still good, but lacking a but in the music and choruses compared to before.
Melodic death metal or metalcore? Don't know, maybe a bit of both. To me, this album sounds like what Still Remains could have done with their second album if they had stuck with the direction of their debut. Catchy, melodic, keyboard augmented metalcore...
Hello My Name Is
This electro/industrial band has always been someone I thought that I should like, but never have. That changed with this album because they finally delivered some strong, memorable beats and they augmented the electro-punk, sloganistic vocals with some decent melodies and music that doesn't feel like an afterthought.
|47||New Found Glory|
Standard pop punk can't be on a top albums list? Yeah, fuck you too.
Come see the softer side of Skinny Puppy. Seriously, they've dropped a majority of the dissonance for chill tracks that are heavy on the ambience and electronic melodies. It's a grower for sure (like five or six listens, at least) but eventually it should stick and things will start to stand out.
Sounds of a Playground Fading
In Flames will never go back to their melodic death metal roots, but at least they're finally getting better with this modern metal direction that they keep chipping away at. The vocal are still questionable at times, but mostly they're good and the music is really good.
|50||The Human Abstract|
More technical metalcore, but with a strange vibe running through it. Every time I scroll past it in iTunes I ignore it, but everytime I hear a song randomly and then throw on the whole album, it's awesome.
|So, I'm sure this isn't metal enough for the Kill-factor or indie enough to be considered 'sputnik-approved', but it is what it is -- The albums I enjoyed regardless of how innovative or original they might be.|
|Surprised to see One For Sorrow so high|
|in b4 someone says I smell a feature|
|Ugh 44. Don't know most of these though|
|I think it's been a pretty average year for metal so not many of these would make my top 50. Really glad you liked Florence so much, though.|
|One For Sorrow really grew on me. It was an excellent step up. |
@BigHans: of course I use the feature approval power for personal gain. Anyone that says different is full of shit ;)
|needs moar Scale the Summit. And I disagree with your Fair to Midland description, A&A is just as good if not better than Fables|
|15, 21, 22, and 33 are all really good (even if 22 was a bit of a disappointment). |
|25 is absolutely great, list had far more metal than I thought it would - a really pleasant surprise|
|needs a feature so I can keep coming back easily. lots of stuff here I need a reminding of|
|I just featured it, not like it wouldn't have happened anyway.|
Awesome list Willie. Lots of these will be on my end of year list
|b-b-b-but what about Wilco?|
|Nice list! I know you'll have forgotten, but aaaaaaaaaaaages ago, I asked if you had any recs similar to Last Winter. You said you had a couple but weren't 100% on them, but you'd get back to me. Can you remember what the bands were by any chance?|
|great list man. so glad you picked 27. |
|Alarum - Natural Causes|
listen to that if you like Cynic, Atheist, and Death. that will surely change your 2011 list.
|I like Willie but I don't like any of these albums. That is, the ones I've heard.|
|It's safe to say that our tastes totally don't align, save 3 and 21. |
|@Sanders: Let me get back to you. For real this time ;)|
Added Alarum to my 2011 Spotify Playlist.
@bloc: really? None of them?
@Greg: I don't think my tastes totally align with most Sputnik users.
|Needs some Submotion Orchestra|
|Mine neithter, I'm afraid...|
|Skraeckoedlan - Appeltradet|
listen and love it
|cant agree with anything here from what ive actually listened to
but draconian was good
waiting for a smaller top 20 metal list, not metalcore, but you know, m/|
|Well, you at least get some points for originality, Trey.|
|Yeah, Bobby Jarzombek is insane.|
8: I'm intriqued..
|This will def rival my list in terms of the most unusual/obscure/wtf-did-he-think list of the year. lol|
"Skraeckoedlan - Appeltradet"
^ What? Someone else besides me is digging this album on here? Cool.
|Yeah Greg, album rules hard and is in consideration for my AOTY.|
|some interesting looking stuff here I'll have to check out|
|As per usual, Trey shoots his load early! ;-)|
Great read. Again, you won't be too lonely with a few of these albums, as they'll be on my list too. Good to see you gave Rise Against an honorable mention too.
|2 of the 4 albums that caught my eye here start "fuck you"!!|
I need to hear 2.
|I love you Trey. |
|well, your taste is certainly your own. the one album i have heard I love, but they all have great descriptions. Great list 'willie'. originality is cool|
|good list |
|--Needs some Submotion Orchestra--|
Spotify doesn't have them. I'll have to actually use Google.
--Skraeckoedlan - Appeltradet--
--8: I'm intriqued..--
I think you'd like it, Sound.
--As per usual, Trey shoots his load early!--
Ha ha, I'm looking for things I may have missed and also trying to whore a few of these things that I like that no one has probably bothered to check out before. The list could still change ;)
--I love you Trey.--
My Life is now complete
@TheFonz: Try some shit on here.
|Try White Silence by Cave In. I'm feeling it for my top of 2011 list. |
|Ties recommended me the album previous to 18 and that was pretty enjoyable so maybe I should check out 18 after all.|
|you would feature you're own list you vain BASTARD|
|i commend you for putting the jezzies over flomesh|
|Ha ha. I would have probably featured it eventually, but I didn't get the chance before someone else did it.
@TheAcademy: I have no idea what you said.
Edit: nevermind. I'm dumb. |
|hey willie last minute rec here. check out Chelsea Wolfe - Ἀποκάλυψις. gotta rep the family.|
|just got that on the biG V its great^^|
|Glad to see 5 on here because that album seriously rules.|
|willie im gonna assume you checked out lungs after you enjoyed ceremonials? bc it rules too|
|I haven't listened to Lungs yet. I'm trying to catch up on 2011 still. |
|You may have convinced me to finally listen to that Rise Against album, I'm very wary though, Appeal to Reason didn't do all that much for me.|
|It didn't do much for me either. Endgame was a step back in the right direction.|
|eisley is probably my real aoty but im gonna go with limp or thrice|
|There's a lot of good stuff on here (2 and 3 would be in my top 10 as well), but I'm surprised you'd include something like 45 :/|
|I like 45. I also liked Still Remains' second album (I wrote the review back in the day). I make no apologies ;)|
|Damn, this year we have a lot less in common than the two years before. Oh well, at least theres some stuff I enjoyed off this, like 4, 13, 33, 36, 40, 42 and 49.|
So, because we have so little in common, I feel obliged to fix it even a little so I'll shoot a few recs I think you might like:
Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us
Esoteric - Paragon of Dissonance
Isole - Born From Shadows
Woods of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason
Blue Stahli - Blue Stahli
Skindred - Union Black
Check any of them out at your leisure (and if you're even interested haha). Also, I'll finally get on that Insomnium release and there are a few other ones I might also look into :).
|You not gonna hold out for the Korn album chief?|
|You know, the sad thing is he'll probably enjoy it haha|
|not feelin Isole|
Woods of desolation ok but drums to high in the mix
blue stahli- not my style
skindred - lol no offense to u
esoteric obviously digs
|Isole is a definite grower, it doesn't hit home on the first or second spin immediately. And the new Skindred ruled, don't be hatin haha. I'm sure Willie would agree with me if he'd listen to the album.|
|i can see why some may like, it had a reggea rock vibe to it, not really my thing, but ups to those who dig it|
may come back to isole, we'll see
|Skindred - Union Black |
|I'll check all of those recs, before our year-end lists are due. I've already listened to the few that were rec'd yesterday (except Deviant's). Also, I probably will like the new Korn. I've liked the two songs released so far. |
|Btw Willie, I was wondering, didn't you enjoy Tech N9ne?|
|Another rec for you|
TBC by Amatorski
|Also just downloaded NeraNature, Redemption, Ariel Abshire & Natalie Walker|
Liking redemption so far, they're a far more ballsier DT
|I need to listen to 20. 3 is probably my number one for 2011.|
|I like Willie but I don't like any of these albums. That is, the ones I've heard. |
|New Korn will be top 5 of the year, guaranteed|
|"Another rec for you|
TBC by Amatorski
Me like :)
Interesting list, although none of these are in my end-of-year list
|you missed omnium gatherum!!! and deivos!|
9, 13 and 37 are awsome anyway
|what about hurry up, we're dreaming |
Pianos Become The Teeth
Will think of more lol|
|Willie, did you check out Sit Resist by Laura Stevenson and the Cans? my aoty easily.|
|Where the fuck is Thrice?!?!?!?!?!?|
|solid list, i really need to listen to 3 badly.|
but duuuuddddee you're missing the new uneven structure album that came out a few weeks ago
|Baseline is such a horrible user.|
|-Skraeckoedlan: I listened to this and it's pretty damn cool, but I don't think it will make my top albums lists.|
--Also just downloaded NeraNature, Redemption, Ariel Abshire & Natalie Walker--
Have you checked any of them out yet?
--you missed omnium gatherum!!! --
I didn't miss it. I just don't think that it's all that interesting.
--Glaring omissions: Thrice The Weeknd James Blake Pianos Become The Teeth --
I listened to those throughout the year and didn't really like any of them. At this point, I think Thrice is just getting by on nostalgia.
--but duuuuddddee you're missing the new uneven structure album that came out a few weeks ago--
I haven't heard that yet.
|It's nice to see Arch/Matheos on one of these lists. Maybe it'll have 50 ratings by the end of the year? Nah.|
|cool. none of these are on my list. but cool.|
|well except for 19. that was pretty good|
|"Have you checked any of them out yet?"|
Yeah, all of them actually. Really dig Redemption; like I said, I think they're a more ballsier DT or Symphony X without the operatic power metal inclinations. Abshire is nice, though a little breezy and fluffy. I've heard Walker's first album before, this is just as enjoyable though nothing ground breaking and that Neranature album is an interesting listen
|Previous Redemption album was a little better|
|I just grabbed them all haha|
|I might do that too|
|I don't know, bloc. Snowfall had great songs and everything, but this one is more complete as an album to me. The emotion throughout and the way the lyrics connect with the music is almost perfect. It's probably my second favorite now (Origins of Ruin is #1).|
|31 is literally the only one i listened to |
|Their last two are the only albums I've heard so far, but I have to admit it was damn to close when trying to pick the one I liked more. Tbh, I've only given each of them only one listen so it's definitely possible I'll hear things I didn't hear before next time.|
|Too early for this list buddy. I like your choices though. Nice to see a list with variety and some noteworthy surprises.|
|It has to come early for the sake of the site. I'm trying to get more people on my side ;)|
|Just ordered Plains on vinyl, so stoked for it. Need to listen to Russian Circles release more though. Excellent list|
|willie u heard Chelsea Wolfe yet?|
|damn i've only heard one of these|
|I have not heard Chelsea Wolfe yet, but my final list isn't due until the 18th and it's already different than this thanks to recs I've recieved. |
|Your lists are the best, Willie. I like how you take your time to actually write something for EVERY album on the list. Also, they never look like anyone else's. I gonna have a cup of coffee while reading through your list, hopefully I will find something I could check out. I remember last year's The Birthday Massacre. I revisited the album and it turned out to be much better than I remembered. Nice work.|
|Great to see another Medeia fan here, I live in Finland and have had the pleasure of witnessing them 4 times live so far, they're fucking awesome.|