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  #91  
Old 12-18-2011, 10:33 PM
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Great reviews. You have me sold on quite a few of these albums.
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  #92  
Old 12-19-2011, 04:50 AM
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Originally Posted by illuminatus917 View Post
Is that a "well shit this isn't what I was expecting" or a "well shit I haven't heard this stuff" ?
Both.
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  #93  
Old 12-19-2011, 05:48 AM
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After reading these reviews, I can't believe I was so fucking lazy with mine. I could've written something like this if I wanted to.
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  #94  
Old 12-19-2011, 06:28 AM
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Great Vektor review. Other than being a mortal lock for my Top 10 I agree with everything you said.
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  #95  
Old 12-19-2011, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by larvtard View Post
After reading these reviews, I can't believe I was so fucking lazy with mine. I could've written something like this if I wanted to.
You're going to regret this for the rest of your life.

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Originally Posted by jhdeity View Post
Great Vektor review. Other than being a mortal lock for my Top 10 I agree with everything you said.
If I liked thrash as much now as I did two or three years ago, Vektor would unquestionably be in my top 5.
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  #96  
Old 12-20-2011, 11:12 AM
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Before I start with the top 10, here's a brief list of albums I really wish I'd listened to sooner (AKA: before I started my list). All of these are definitely worth checking out.

Polar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt Pride
Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
Doomraiser - Mountains of Madness
Atriarch - Forever the End
Yes - Fly From Here
Dirge - Elysian Magnetic Fields
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  #97  
Old 12-21-2011, 07:21 PM
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#10 Tides From Nebula - Earthshine

Let me first remark that if I were to do a "best cover art of 2011" list, this album would be #1 on it.

When I first listened to this album, I though it was absolutely fantastic, and a definite contender for post-rock album of the year. For some reason I kept expecting its charm to wear off on me, but it never did. And had I not learned of the two post-rock records that absolutely blew my socks off and ultimately beat it, Earthshine indeed would've been that record this year. There was not a post-rock album released last year better than this one, if that tells you anything.

There's a very cinematic quality about this album. This might just be because the album was produced by Zbigniew Preisner, a Polish composer who's compositional style represents a form of neo-romanticism. "I just can't put my feelings into words" is the epitome of what post-rock is based around. Many consider the absence of vocals a detriment, but when an album comes along like this one I really have a hard time understanding how people can't relate to the music in some form or fashion. The sheer beauty of it is awe-inspiring. No vocals could ever express the feeling captured by the instruments here. The album starts off with a piano and synths, shimmering and laden with atmosphere. Then tribal drums come in and slowly grow louder and louder until the guitars finally explode in a crescendo. The three minute build up to jumpstart the album is fantastic, and from there onward, dynamic, gorgeous, rich, melodic post-rock is what Tides From Nebula exemplifies with perfection. "Caravans" is my favorite track on the album, and "Siberia" is my second favorite; both of these seem to tell stories with their longer compositions. More aggressive tracks ("The Fall of Leviathan") contrast beautifully with softer ambient songs ("Waiting for the World to Turn Back"). This is just an impressively well constructed album, and super emotional to boot. This record cries for interpretation. Just relax and let your imagination flow, and this record will do great things for you.
HIGHLIGHTS: "These Days, Glory Days," "Waiting for the World to Turn Back," "Caravans," "White Gardens," "Siberia"



#9 Midnight Odyssey - Funerals From the Astral Sphere

Whereas the previous album would top the "best cover art of 2011" list, this one would be at the bottom. Don't let the cover fool you, though. Behind some serious crappy cover art lays a gymn of an album.

Nevertheless, I'm having some second thoughts about placing this one so high. There was a time earlier in the year when I thought this would be the best black metal album of 2011. And atmospheric-wise, it probably is. But I've been listening to it again to write the review, and it doesn't seem as deserving as it did a few months ago. Nevertheless, Midnight Odyssey is a one man project from Brisbane, Australia. I know, not typically a place we associate black metal with. But Dis Pater has written a humongous amount of material for his first release, Funerals From the Astral Sphere. Both sides combine for a total of two hours and four minutes in length. At first I though it was a bit absurd, to debut a double sided album like this, but at some point I realized the length of the album just added to its mystique. This album begs to be listened to out on a lake or something. Just go outside and listen to it, preferably around dusk. It can do so much for you if you let it.

Trying to break down the album is a pretty daunting task. The opening track, "Falling From Firmament," sets the tone for the entire album. It's one of two 12+ minute songs, both of which (the other being "Those Who Linger at Night") stand out as two of the best tracks on the album. A lot of the material is very soft, ambient, and spacious. He's got the epic space atmosphere down to an art form. There's certainly nothing crushingly heavy about this album. However, there are plenty of black metal moments in the traditional sense. "From a Celestial Throne" is one of the heavier songs on the album, as is "Tears of Starfire." The whole thing is very shoegazish. Vocals are mostly screeches, but there are some moments with clean vocals as well (which are surprisingly effective). "Shores Serene," which isn't a metal track at all, features cleans. As does "An Ode to Dying Spirits," which is the oddball song on the album. The latter is an acoustic gothic sounding song, with clean vocals over an oriental guitar (might be a sitar?). Despite its length, the album flows in dark motion, subsides at times, but always picks itself back up. A truly beautiful album.
HIGHLIGHTS:
Side I: "Fallen From Firmament," "A Death so Pure," "An Ode To Dying Spirits," "When Death Comes Crawling"
Side II: "Journey Across the Stars," "Never to Return," "Shores Serene," "Those Who Linger at Night"



#8 Bloodiest - Descent

I've explicitly stated in previous reviews characteristics that constitute what I perceive to be "uniqueness," in terms of music. The most unique albums of the year have been 1) SORNE's House of Stone, and 2) Oranssi Pazuzu's Kosmonument. If there were to be a third "most unique album of the year," I think Bloodiest's Descent would get it.

Bloodiest is a sludgy post-metal band from Chicago comprised of, currently, ten members. I think there were only seven or so though involved in the recording of this album. They've been active for a while now, but this is their first release. If I had to genrify the record myself, I'd go with something along the lines of dark sludgy native Americana post-metal, if that makes any sense. When asked in an interview "What are some of the band members involved in when they are not playing music?," Tony Lazzara answered "cooking and hypnosis." Setting the foremost aside, let's zero in on that second "activity" momentarily - hypnosis. The humorous thing is, that answer should come as sort of surprising. It's not everyday you hear someone answer a question like that with "cooking and hypnosis." But for anyone who's heard Descent, it's not surprising. Because if there's any one perfect adjective to describe this album, it's "hypnotic." "Coh" is simply one of the most hypnotic songs I've ever heard. The first time I listened to that song, as it ended I swear I "snapped back to reality." I think it put me in a two-minute trance.
Pros:
- All the musicians work and play off each other to perfection (one of Bloodiest's greatest strengths)
- The vocals are incredible… rarely are vocals such a vital component of a band's sound. After listening to this album you realize they're an absolute necessity
- A "directionless" or "wandering" approach to songwriting is usually a bad thing, but here the album totally benefits from it
Cons:
- Album length. Descent is a bit short for a post-metal/sludge album...

The piano and acoustic guitar are pivotal to the band's sound, in addition to the vocals. When the album isn't hypnotic and tranquil, it's riveting and suffocating. This band seems to be full of all kinds of ideas. Bloodiest have created a highly impressive work of abstract art with this album. And the good news is, they're already working on their next one.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Coh," "Pastures," "Dead Inside," Slave Rule"



#7 Cormorant - Dwellings

I was blissfully ignorant of this band just a year and a half ago when I happened upon the Mayhem Boards where I saw this fellow named idrinkwine raving about this band 'Cormorant' that I'd never heard of, and I was like "eh I doubt they're that good." But I looked them up and found the stunningly beautiful album cover of Metazoa, I listened to it, and wow... I was impressed. From the opening melody in "Scavengers Feast" on, I was hooked. I've been following them ever since. And now here they are two years later with a new album out. The album art for Dwellings can be viewed in its entirety here: http://dcmetalreview.com/2011/11/28/...album-of-2011/.
This was the last album I listened to that really shot its way up on my list.

I'll start by saying that everything about this album lives up to Metazoa, or, more accurately, everything about this album indicates that it should live up to Metazoa. I think I'm so used to Metazoa that I'm having a hard time letting this album have the impact on me that it should - the impact that it's fully capable of having if the listener's capable of absorbing it. Because let's face it, this album is brilliant. It's as coherent as any metal album I've heard this year, it's far more technical than any album needs to be to be good, it's tight and fluid all the way through (the band claims it's even tighter and more focused than Metazoa), it's as dynamic as all get out, the songwriting and tempo variations are flawless, the riffs are melodic, the overlaying of instrumental melodies are executed with pinpoint accuracy... this really is a titan of an album. And I'm not the only one that thinks so. Dwellings might be the only metal album of the year more critically acclaimed than Tombs' Path of Totality. The only difference is, I feel Cormorant really deserves it.

Part of the tightness comes from almost sole use of metal instruments. There are no violins or cellos, and the only use of a piano comes near the end of "Funambulist," and it's extremely faint. This album's a lot more straightforward. As concentrated as it is, the influences are vast. Black metal, progressive metal, traditional metal, doom metal, jazz, and maybe even some post-rock. The band stated, which is definitely true, that the last track on the album, "Unearthly Dreamings," is probably the best showcase of all the band's styles and influences molded into and represented in one track. One of my favorite parts on the album comes at around the 2:15 mark of "Junta," and then the explosion at the 3:37 mark. And the riffs in the first one minute of "The Purest Land." And the solo during the last two minutes of "Funambulist," and the bass during the last one minute. There's so much to dissect with this album, between the different vocal styles, the guitar solos, the riffs, the lyrics... you could literally write a 10-20 page essay breaking this album down.
An elegantly magnificant release.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Funambulist," "Junta," "The Purest Land," "A Howling Dust," "Unearthly Dreamings"



#6 Burzum - Fallen

About a month ago I was sitting in my apartment listening to this album and one of my roommates brought some club from school back to the apartment, and all these kids walked in right around the 4:30 minute mark of "Vanvidd" (perfect timing). I don't think I've ever seen a group of college kids look so uncomfortable.

I'm sure most of you are aware of the story behind Varg, so I see no need to talk about it. What I will say is that all the prison time seems to have enhanced Varg's songwriting prowess. Either that or he spent his long incarceration developing the ideas for this album (and Belus). Varg has created the catchiest album in his 20-year history with Burzum (yes, I think it's catchier than Belus). Part of the catchiness comes from the clean vocal chants he delivers, the likes of which we've never heard on a Burzum album before. This is especially the case in the first track after the intro, "Jeg Faller," as well as in "Valen," "Vanvidd," and "Budstikken." Of course the vocals are in Norwegian, and I haven't taken the time to translate and look up the lyrics, but I feel it's rather beside the point. These vocals really draw the listener's attention. Probably because clean vocal hooks/clean humming/murmuring of this sort aren't exactly emphasized focal points in the black metal rulebook.

The catchiness can also be attributed to the riffs and the guitar melodies. "Jeg Faller" serves as an example for this as well. The opening riff, and the one that comes in at 2:33 (following a brief acoustic bass line, it sounds like), are both extremely memorable. Plus, there's an eventual reprise of the opening riff later in the song. Nearly every song opens up with a highly memorable riff. "Enhver til Sitt" opens up with a slower riff that's one of the most memorable on the album, and it's reprised in various forms throughout the rest of the song (you can hear it solo at 0:01 and 4:21).

Also, the production. The production is very black metal sounding, but more importantly, it's clean and raw sounding simultaneously. Nothing about this is reminiscent of the cold, dismal, grey, desolate Burzum of the 90's. It sounds very polished for a black metal album, and I guess it's the production that accounts for that incredible guitar tone (if it's not I'm at a loss, because I've never heard equipment, or a combination of equipment, create a tone like that... then again I don't really know anything about equipment so maybe I shouldn't be commenting on this). Maybe it was an amp simulator or something. Bottom line, awesome tone. However Varg did it, it sounds incredible. Burzum's Fallen is the second best black metal album of the year.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Jeg Faller," "Vanvidd," "Enhver til Sitt," "Budstikken"
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Last edited by illuminatus917; 08-14-2012 at 07:31 PM.
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  #98  
Old 12-21-2011, 07:28 PM
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Man, you should become a professional reviewer or something.

Agreed on Bloodiest - vocals are so entrancing. But I think it's the perfect length, haha. I never even thought about it as a post-rock album anyway.
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  #99  
Old 12-21-2011, 07:31 PM
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Great calls on Bloodiest and Cormorant. I've heard of Tides of Nebula before, but now I'll definitely check 'em out.
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  #100  
Old 12-21-2011, 08:00 PM
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A great start to the top 10. Few will have Earthshine in it, but damn that's a fine album.
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