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  #51  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:27 PM
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#35 Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa

Finnish for "As Shadows we Walk in the Land of the Dead." This one took me forever to get through. It's definitely not an album for a listener with little patience. Still, it was one of my most highly anticipated albums coming into the year. I knew they were set to release it early, and I was ready for it. It's "epic," just like I expected it to be. Moonsorrow has progressed as a band, and through their progressions their sound has just become more "epic" with an almost cinematic quality to it, while still retaining that folkish black metal vibe. Unfortunately the "epicness" is sometimes detrimental to the interestingness. This definitely isn't the most "interesting" of Moonsorrow albums. Organized with four real songs (all well over ten, and even fifteen, minutes in length), separated by three transitional songs, all of which are mostly soft tracks where we hear the sound of horse hoofs, footsteps, wind, screams, battle sounds, etc., this album tells the story of a wonderer who is lost in the harsh wilderness and the perils of his journey. Through his journey, he experiences desperation, spirituality, fear of death, torment, solitude, etc. and each song captures an element of the wonderer's emotions with its sound. It's like a tragic tale in music form. If "epic" blackened folk metal is your favorite genre, there's no band that does it better than Moonsorrow; this is more than likely one of your favorite albums of the year.



#34 The Atlas Moth - An Ache for the Distance

Another great band on Profound Lore's roster. The dual vocals - black metalish screams contrasted with cleans - really give this album an edge. The screams are much lower in the mix and the cleans are much higher in the mix. The sound itself is a very sludgy psychedelic mixture of stoner rock and stoner doom. The guitars are very heavy. And the riffs are very melodic. Nothing's too crazy or over the top, it's just very rock 'n roll inspired stoner doom. It moves along at a nice pace. Like Tombs' Path of Totality, this record has received a lot of praise throughout the metal community, and if you've noticed, this record is right alongside Tombs' on a lot of EOY lists. Path of Totality is in every sense more aggressive and more heavy and more crushing than this record, but this record has more feeling in it.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Holes in the Desert," "Gemini," "An Ache for the Distance," "Horse Thieves"



#33 Deafheaven - Roads to Judah

Okay, so this record drew a lot of attention from Alcest and Lantlós lovers. idrinkwine said early in the year that this record would be the "Écailles de Lune of 2011." Part of me wants to agree with that, and part of me wants to curb stomp the idea that this record is even remotely close to the caliber of Écailles de Lune. There are times when I feel it, and there are times when I don't. It's completely safe to say, however, that this album doesn't even compare on an emotional level to Écailles de Lune, to me at least. I've revisited it more than a few times, thinking I might pick something up from it I overlooked before, but nope. This record stands with me now just as it did when I first heard it. I don't even understand the argument that this isn't black metal. Sure, it's better classified as post-black metal, but black metal it is nonetheless. In fact I think this record is far more "black" than Écailles de Lune was. It's very blastbeat-filled, it features mid-paced beats against a wall of atmosphere, and all the vocals are black metal vocals. Post influenced black metal haters hate, I'm really liking where the genre's at right now.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Violet" (best song on the album), "Language Games," "Tunnel of Trees" (second best song on the album)



#32 Sólstafir - Svartir Sandar

After I first heard this it immediately broke my top 15. And there's no way I'd argue against someone having it that high. But as happens so often, my tendency to overhype an album slowly subsides with time... and that's exactly what happened here. I realized I didn't like this album as much as I thought I did. Stylistically, Sólstafir isn't the same band that used to play viking black metal. They've gone in a completely different direction with their sound, and it's working for them. This album is brilliantly executed. Spanning two discs, it's quite a lot to take in, and while I feel it might've actually been stronger with a few songs omitted, this album should be recognized as a cohesively well-constructed body of work. Ranging from solemn, melancholic tunes to uptempo, aggressive, dark gothic metal tunes, Svartir Sandar covers a broad spectrum of feeling. There's really something punk about this album as well, even though I can't put my finger on it (maybe the vocals remind me of punk?). Side I is better than side II overall. If the whole album was the quality of the first two tracks, it'd be a top 10 for sure with top 5 potential. Kudos to Sólstafir for trying something new and running with it.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Ljós í Stormi," "Fjara," "Kukl"



#31 Autopsy - Macabre Eternal

Old-school death metallers, Autopsy, have returned with their first full-length in sixteen years. It's been universally acclaimed, and when juxtaposed with Morbid Angel's train wreck of a release, Macabre Eternal seems like an indubitable masterpiece. It doesn't rival the band's mangos opus, Mental Funeral, but it's still an impressive release. Notably, Autopsy have fused their old death metal formula with newer death metal touches, which results most noticeably in a higher tempo style that we've not seen from them before, while still retaining that Mental Funeral vibe. Autopsy is one of my favorite death metal bands just because they've always played death metal at a doom pace, and as a result they've been highly influential, along with bands like Incantation and Novembers Doom, to the accession of death/doom bands we've seen over the years. Well this album actually moves, at times, at a faster pace. And at times it moves like Mental Funeral. In this sense I think it's satisfied old-school death metal fans as well as fans that are head over heels for bands like Dimsa and Ulcerate.
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  #52  
Old 12-08-2011, 03:35 PM
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#35 Moonsorrow - Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa

Finnish for "As Shadows we Walk in the Land of the Dead." This one took me forever to get through. It's definitely not an album for a listener with little patience. Still, it was one of my most highly anticipated albums coming into the year. I knew they were set to release it early, and I was ready for it. It's "epic," just like I expected it to be. Moonsorrow has progressed as a band, and through their progressions their sound has just become more "epic" with an almost cinematic quality to it, while still retaining that folkish black metal vibe. Unfortunately the "epicness" is sometimes detrimental to the interestingness. This definitely isn't the most "interesting" of Moonsorrow albums. Organized with four real songs (all well over ten, and even fifteen, minutes in length), separated by three transitional songs, all of which are mostly soft tracks where we hear the sound of horse hoofs, footsteps, wind, screams, battle sounds, etc., this album tells the story of a wonderer who is lost in the harsh wilderness and the perils of his journey. Through his journey, he experiences desperation, spirituality, fear of death, torment, solitude, etc. and each song captures an element of the wonderer's emotions with its sound. It's like a tragic tale in music form. If "epic" blackened folk metal is your favorite genre, there's no band that does it better than Moonsorrow; this is more than likely one of your favorite albums of the year.
Agree that it can be quite a draining experience for a listener not akin to Moonsorrow's tunes but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.


Quote:

#32 Sólstafir - Svartir Sandar

After I first heard this it immediately broke my top 15. And there's no way I'd argue against someone having it that high. But as happens so often, my tendency to overhype an album slowly subsides with time... and that's exactly what happened here. I realized I didn't like this album as much as I thought I did. Stylistically, Sólstafir isn't the same band that used to play viking black metal. They've gone in a completely different direction with their sound, and it's working for them. This album is brilliantly executed. Spanning two discs, it's quite a lot to take in, and while I feel it might've actually been stronger with a few songs omitted, this album should be recognized as a cohesively well-constructed body of work. Ranging from solemn, melancholic tunes to uptempo, aggressive, dark gothic metal tunes, Svartir Sandar covers a broad spectrum of feeling. There's really something punk about this album as well, even though I can't put my finger on it (maybe the vocals remind me of punk?). Side I is better than side II overall. If the whole album was the quality of the first two tracks, it'd be a top 10 for sure with top 5 potential. Kudos to Sólstafir for trying something new and running with it.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Ljós í Stormi," "Fjara," "Kukl"
Again I agree that on first listen this album may even have cracked my top 10! With subsequent listens though, eventually it didn't even make my top 25 but that's not to detract from its quality.

Quote:

#31 Autopsy - Macabre Eternal

Old-school death metallers, Autopsy, have returned with their first full-length in sixteen years. It's been universally acclaimed, and when juxtaposed with Morbid Angel's train wreck of a release, Macabre Eternal seems like an indubitable masterpiece. It doesn't rival the band's mangos opus, Mental Funeral, but it's still an impressive release. Notably, Autopsy have fused their old death metal formula with newer death metal touches, which results most noticeably in a higher tempo style that we've not seen from them before, while still retaining that Mental Funeral vibe. Autopsy is one of my favorite death metal bands just because they've always played death metal at a doom pace, and as a result they've been highly influential, along with bands like Incantation and Novembers Doom, to the accession of death/doom bands we've seen over the years. Well this album actually moves, at times, at a faster pace. And at times it moves like Mental Funeral. In this sense I think it's satisfied old-school death metal fans as well as fans that are head over heels for bands like Dimsa and Ulcerate.
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  #53  
Old 12-08-2011, 04:48 PM
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Good little chunk right here!

Of these 5, Deafheaven is probably my favorite, but Moonsorrow is quite close (they're actually right next to eachother on my list).
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  #54  
Old 12-08-2011, 05:10 PM
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#33 Deafheaven - Roads to Judah

Okay, so this record drew a lot of attention from Alcest and Lantlós lovers. idrinkwine said early in the year that this record would be the "Écailles de Lune of 2011." Part of me wants to agree with that, and part of me wants to curb stomp the idea that this record is even remotely close to the caliber of Écailles de Lune. There are times when I feel it, and there are times when I don't. It's completely safe to say, however, that this album doesn't even compare on an emotional level to Écailles de Lune, to me at least. I've revisited it more than a few times, thinking I might pick something up from it I overlooked before, but nope. This record stands with me now just as it did when I first heard it. I don't even understand the argument that this isn't black metal. Sure, it's better classified as post-black metal, but black metal it is nonetheless. In fact I think this record is far more "black" than Écailles de Lune was. It's very blastbeat-filled, it features mid-paced beats against a wall of atmosphere, and all the vocals are black metal vocals. Post influenced black metal haters hate, I'm really liking where the genre's at right now.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Violet" (best song on the album), "Language Games," "Tunnel of Trees" (second best song on the album)
Re-visited this one last week after several months and it finally 'clicked' with me. Love the atmosphere it exudes.
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  #55  
Old 12-08-2011, 06:19 PM
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Good little chunk right here!
No Christrock, right?

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Re-visited this one last week after several months and it finally 'clicked' with me. Love the atmosphere it exudes.
You should post more often.
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  #56  
Old 12-10-2011, 12:11 PM
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#30 Dämmerfarben - Im Abendrot

This is probably the most ethereal black metal I've heard since Alcest's release last year. Though not on the same level as Écailles De Lune, it presents itself to the listener in the same type of fashion, minus the shoegaze. Even the artwork embodies the same dreamlike persona Écailles De Lune did. This record has a painstakingly beautiful ambiance to it. Lyrics are in German so I don't know what they're singing, but the sound is just incredible. Crystal clear acoustic guitar passages, strings, keyboards, naturistic sounds including the chirping of birds, all contribute to create this sound. I know a lot of folks ("purists") despise the "hipster" aesthetic cast upon the genre - that aesthetic that folks have the damndest time putting into words, that has been the instigator of one flame fest after another on this site, - but when the result is something like this I really don't see how even the purest of fans can't recognize its conduciveness. Sure, plenty of heavier black metal parts show up on this record (resulting in an album that's definitely more dynamic than most), yet I'd say its major drawback, at least to me, is its failure to really delve into a heavy, soul-crushing sound like, per say, Agalloch is able do so well. Amidst all the beauty and romanticism, I just wanted it to, as Natrlhi put it, "stomp my fucking face in with a size 13 steel-toed boot." This is Dämmerfarben's first album, and given the potential here, there's definitely room to believe these guys have a bright future ahead of them.
I'm going to start throwing in some random links here and there for you lazy fucks that'll never check this stuff out otherwise.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Nebel und Regen," "Graues Land," "Oktobersturm," "Einsamkeit," "Im Abendrot," "Nachtgedanken," "Hinaus in die Nacht"



#29 Corrupted - Garten Der Unbewusstheit

Three tracks, an hour and three minutes long. There's no doubt Corrupted has had better releases, but this one's great too. The first track,"Garten," starts off extremely slow and we don't hear vocals until after the 8:00 mark. It first gets heavy at 9:58 in that classic Corrupted way, and while it grabs your attention it's probably fairer to say "it grabs your attention even more" because the acoustic guitar intro (basically a long sequence of plucking strings and building atmosphere) is pretty impressive, though it's sparse and not necessarily what I'd expect doom enthusiasts to be yearning for. In fact the first two tacks could be classified as ambient. There's just not a ton going on. It's not 'til "Gekkou No Daichi" that this album really blows wide open. All of a sudden we have massive, despondent doom. This is the track everyone looking for Corrupted style doom should listen to.
HIGHLIGHT: "Gekkou No Daichi"



#28 Light Bearer - Lapsus

Once named Aeshćttr, featuring the vocalist from Fall of Efrafa (post-metal outfit from Brighton), London's Light Bearer impresses with their debut. This album is only this low because its heavy parts didn't do as much for me as I would've liked. Perhaps it's the hardcore element. I'm not sure. But it's extremely well executed. It's another example of post-rock's influence on metal, which usually comes in the form of sludge/post-metal/whatever (Light Bearer as much as said their main influences include bands such as Neurosis, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Agalloch and Buried Inside). We don't hear clean vocals until 5:24 into "Prelapsus," or thereabout, and man they're a breath of fresh air. If vocal harmonies such as the ones featured in "Prelapsus" were more prominent throughout the album it would've been all the better. The three longest tracks on the record, "Primum Movens," "Armoury Choir," and the title-track, "Lapsus," are the best bodies of work here, but the comparatively shorter "Prelapsus," is one of easier tracks on the ears. "Lapsus" is the perfect closing song, combining most everything on the record into one massive piece. The closing minutes of the album are some of its best.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Primum Movens," "Armoury Choir," "Prelapsus," "Lapsus"



#27 Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

Wolves in the Throne Room has really set the precedent in recent years for atmospheric black metal. They're the band to imitate, and I really think they've become massively influential, especially in the post-black metal scene. Aaron Weaver has said bands such as Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel, and Tangerine Dream have massively influenced them, not just musically but more so with their approach to music. This includes incorporating minimal classical music theories into rock instrumentation. Wolves in the Throne Room is more interested in atmosphere, trance inducing sounds, and creating a space for a listener to become involved in than they are in producing metal music. If you don't understand this, you won't understand Wolves in the Throne Room's music.
Aaron Weaver has also stated, and this should come as a surprise to no one, that Celestial Lineage is the third installment in Wolves in the Throne Room's trilogy of albums. Two Hunters is a very raw and personal record that revolves around encountering deities and spirits of the wild. Black Cascade is more or less a repetition of Two Hunters, seeking to bring back the initial experience while being darker and more mythical. And Celestial Lineage is the aftermath of that experience.

Jessica Kenny has returned for vocals. I'll just go ahead and say I much prefer Hammers of Misfortune's vocalist, Jamie Myers, on Malevolent Grain than Jessica Kenny on either Two Hunters or Celestial Lineage. But be that as it may, female vocals really mesh well with Wolves in the Throne Room's sound. And Jessica Kenny is still excellent on the opening track, or, the intro of the opening track I should say. I really wish they'd featured her throughout the album, or at least throughout the song, as they did with Jamie Myers in "A Looming Resonance." Jessica Kenny is deeply involved with traditional religious music and classical Persian, and it definitely shows. Her voice sounds like a spirit. The lead guitar kicks in at the 2:19 mark, and the other metal instruments join it at 3:09, and the vocals the rest of the way are that of Nathan Weaver's.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Thuja Magna Imperium," "Subterranean Initiation," "Astral Blood"



#26 Giant Squid - Cenotes

I don't think this album is as good as The Ichthyologist. Then again, when I first heard The Ichthyologist I didn't think it was as good as Metridium Fields. But I grew to like The Ichthyologist more. I think the real difference though is that Cenotes isn't nearly as much to digest (likely being because it's only 35 minutes in length, which is a mini-album compared to their first two). Thus, I'm extremely skeptical I'll grow to like it more than The Ichthyologist. Nevertheless, it's a fabulous album. But it's a very different album. Just like The Ichthyologist was very different than Metridium Fields. Cenotes is much more progressive and less heavy, very noticeably so. What "heaviness" we do get here doesn't seem intended to produce a metal vibe. Giant Squid's sound is extremely hard to explain in words. Sometimes it's hypnotic and mesmerizing, sometimes it's chugging and dense, and sometimes I swear it sounds like psychedelic folk (parts of "Snakehead," especially). It's a very post-rock influenced record, but whereas at one point their sound could be described as post-metal, I'm not sure how to genrify this record. If it was ten or fifteen minutes longer I might go ahead and say it's their best release yet. Highlights are very difficult to pick on this one, but I'll give it a shot:
HIGHLIGHTS: "Mating Scars (Isurus metridium)," "Snakehead (Channidae erectus)," "Cenotes (Troglocambarus maclanei)"
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Last edited by illuminatus917; 12-11-2011 at 09:42 AM.
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  #57  
Old 12-10-2011, 01:25 PM
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I love, love, LOVE Lapsus. While it's much, much higher on my list, I get the points you make justifying its spot on your list. Primum Movens is my favorite song of 2011.
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  #58  
Old 12-10-2011, 04:51 PM
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I love, love, LOVE Lapsus. While it's much, much higher on my list, I get the points you make justifying its spot on your list. Primum Movens is my favorite song of 2011.
I knew Lapsus was contending for your album of the year, which I can totally understand. Definitely one of the strongest post-metal albums of the year.

Thanks for reading man.
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Old 12-10-2011, 11:43 PM
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#34 The Atlas Moth - An Ache for the Distance

Another great band on Profound Lore's roster. The dual vocals - black metalish screams contrasted with cleans - really give this album an edge. The screams are much lower in the mix and the cleans are much higher in the mix. The sound itself is a very sludgy psychedelic mixture of stoner rock and stoner doom. The guitars are very heavy. And the riffs are very melodic. Nothing's too crazy or over the top, it's just very rock 'n roll inspired stoner doom. It moves along at a nice pace. Like Tombs' Path of Totality, this record has received a lot of praise throughout the metal community, and if you've noticed, this record is right alongside Tombs' on a lot of EOY lists. Path of Totality is in every sense more aggressive and more heavy and more crushing than this record, but this record has more feeling in it.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Holes in the Desert," "Gemini," "An Ache for the Distance," "Horse Thieves"



#33 Deafheaven - Roads to Judah

Okay, so this record drew a lot of attention from Alcest and Lantlós lovers. idrinkwine said early in the year that this record would be the "Écailles de Lune of 2011." Part of me wants to agree with that, and part of me wants to curb stomp the idea that this record is even remotely close to the caliber of Écailles de Lune. There are times when I feel it, and there are times when I don't. It's completely safe to say, however, that this album doesn't even compare on an emotional level to Écailles de Lune, to me at least. I've revisited it more than a few times, thinking I might pick something up from it I overlooked before, but nope. This record stands with me now just as it did when I first heard it. I don't even understand the argument that this isn't black metal. Sure, it's better classified as post-black metal, but black metal it is nonetheless. In fact I think this record is far more "black" than Écailles de Lune was. It's very blastbeat-filled, it features mid-paced beats against a wall of atmosphere, and all the vocals are black metal vocals. Post influenced black metal haters hate, I'm really liking where the genre's at right now.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Violet" (best song on the album), "Language Games," "Tunnel of Trees" (second best song on the album)
Awesome picks man, totally agree with you on The Atlas Moth being better than Tombs. Also on where post-metal black metal is headed, with bands like Deafheaven, and Atlar of Plagues leading the charge.
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:10 AM
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Dammerfarben sounds interesting.....will have to check them out.
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