Before I get this started, I listened to a total of 124 albums this year, and my top 50 is representative of how killer everything was. Just because 50 is all the way down at 50 doesn't mean that it isn't a kick ass album. In fact, it was above the upper half of the albums I listened to. Also, keep in mind that the difference between 38 and 44 isn't very large, considering the volume. So turn that frown upside down and let's get started.
50. Origin - Entity
Throughout my relatively short time as an avid listener of death metal, I realized that its technical counterpart walks a very very fine line throughout the genre. You have your mindless "wankery" of a band like Brain Drill and you have your "technical" bands like the Faceless whose occasional sweep apparently makes their material technical. I've always considered Origin to be more on the less technical side of the tech death spectrum, but their 2011 release Entity starts out with a nauseating series of scales and sweeps that were immediately frustrating. However, throughout the course of this 36 minute beast, Origin display their brand of vocally and instrumentally varied death metal that reminded me that there is still a lot of use in this genre.
49. 417.3 - _(-_-)_
Yeah. You read that right. I know it's a sickening amount of numbers, but this band really puts themselves together as a post-rock outfit. As one of the sixty million post-rock bands from Russia, it's very easy to listen to 417.3 and discard them as a more cookie cutter group, but they intrigued me early on with a minimalist mood that brought me back to listening to more of a Yo-Yo Ma type outfit. The cello's intertwining notes with the light guitar picking in songs like 5 are a soothing mixture that many other cello based post rock bands turn into a runny eggs-esque sound. Sure, it's the basic crescendoing and spiraling upward, but god damnit this band just does it better than everyone else.
48. Miasmal - Miasmal
As I staggered away from their MDF performance, I made a mental note to check out the new record of 4 Swedish kids that I just saw tear up the stage. Clocking in at just over an hour, Miasmal's self titled really sets itself apart from the pack, creating a longer and more sustained death/thrash attack than their counterparts in the genre. Just when you think a guitar part is going to speed up, it slows down and just when you think that thrash break is going to end, it keeps on kicking. For a four piece out of Gothenburg, I went into this album thinking I knew every turn that it was going to make, but Miasmal created an effort that takes a series of left turns where every other death metal band went the other way.
47. Septic Flesh - The Great Mass
After having my eardrums blown off by 2008's Communion, the new album from Greek death metallers Septic Flesh was one of my most anticipated albums of 2011. The Great Mass continues in the same vein that Communion did, with its symphonic undertone keeping me feeling like I was listening to death metal made for a thriller movie. However, there was a creeping realization that made me feel very old throughout the album. The riffs just weren't as good as the last one. I sat listening to Communion thinking "how didn't anyone else think of that before?" back when I was just a wee little metal listener, and I sat listening to the Great Mass thinking "They thought of that before." This album is probably the first in a series of albums that I really wanted to like a lot more than I did.
46. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
How I felt about Foo Fighters going into the year was a really weird feeling for me. I wanted to be behind Grohl and Co. a lot more than their music was making me be. I always liked their self titled and the massively popular The Colour and the Shape, but Dave Grohl's awesomeness really made me want him to release an album that I loved. The Foo Fighters came pretty damn close with Wasting Light. The cutting and catchy main riff in White Limo, coupled with the unorthodox vocal production made my foot irresistible to tapping. Rope, a song much more in Foo Fighter's main vein, also provided the enjoyable piece that made me feel like I was actually sort of getting what everyone was saying about this album. Definitely one of the more fun albums out of the year.
45. Bloodiest - Descent
As much as I love getting my hands on a totally weird album, Illinois' Bloodiest's debut Descent, might have been a little bit too out of left field for me. With a sterling recommendation from Illuminatus, I was quick to check this one out, and its tremolo picking out of the gate made me begin to gush. My gushing quickly turned to a little bit of a question mark around Coh, where I felt like I was listening to the musical equivalent of a square peg going into a round hole. The Billy Anderson-esque production style coupled with the crowing call of vocalist Bruce Lamont made me feel like this is an album to be sipped like a fine wine. I still haven't wrapped my mind around it almost 5 months later, but there is no denying the oddity of Descent.
44. Grayceon - All We Destroy
Along with the Great Mass, cello metallers Grayceon's follow up to 2008's stunning This Grand Show was a heavily anticipated album. Being one of the two San Francisco gems I truly regret not seeing before I departed the fine area, the excellence of this album really took a toll on me. As I started hearing the peculiar eastern influences in the beginning of Shellmounds and the spine shivering gang vocals featured on We Can, I realized that they had topped one of my favorite local efforts, the aforementioned This Grand Show, with All We Destroy. With the Jackie Perez Gratz delivering the rarely seen excellent vocal performance, Grayceon created an album that rightly should place them near the top of the bursting-with-excellence San Francisco metal scene.
43. This Will Destroy You - Tunnel Blanket
I don't think I've ever seen a fanbase turn against a band like This Will Destroy You after they released Tunnel Blanket. Highly anticipated after their self titled, Tunnel Blanket disappointed many with a departure from their focused style of heavier post-rock. I believe I'm in the minority when I say that Tunnel Blanket is a great album, and the 12 minute epic of an opener, Little Smoke, absolutely blew my socks off on first listen. I immediately anointed it my favorite album of 2011 thus far, and considered it to be their best work. I was drawn to its ethereal and minimalist production style, while still being equally as massive although much more atmospheric. As the album sunk in though, I realized that its substance was based around a drawn out and failed attempt at an aesthetic I couldn't quite put my finger on. It began to feel like it has the traits of a failed effort instead of an intentional foray into something new. Still, it puts on a show unlike most post-rock albums managed to this year.
42. Assaulter - Boundless!
I'm going to be honest. I checked this album out purely because it was listed as Death/Thrash and it had an exclamation point in the title. The combination of the two were enough to raise my eyebrow for me to take it on and boy am I glad. Boundless! is the Australian baby of a black/thrash band with a traditional heavy metal curve to it that brings out a very fun feeling. It has the thrash edge that makes you want to drink and sing along with your buddies and the black edge reminiscent of Aura Noir. For such a unique attempt at a sound, Boundless! is much more of a success than it will get credit for.
41. Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand
I've never played Skyrim or any of the Elder Scrolls games before, but every time I see it, I think "man, I really wanna listen to Primordial and play that game." Let's cut the bullshit, you knew what you were getting with this album. You knew you were going to get that folky black metal album that made your Irish roots, whether you have them or not, jump with joy inside of you. Nemtheanga sounds as if he recorded this album inside a castle in a fuckin' castle in Dublin, and the band's roots to traditional Celtic music are as pure as always. I feel like it cheats other albums, having this listed on the top 50, because in reality, it should be assumed that Primordial are going to release one of the better albums of the year.
Also, if you say you didn't sing along to at least one part of this album throughout a listen, then you're a god damn liar.