(NCS writer Israel Flanders bravely sticks his neck out with his list of the best albums released during the second quarter of 2011 — April, May, and June.)
So I’m back. Been out of it for the last week or so and just decided it was time to take some lazy days, but it’s time to get back to the fuckin’ metal and the fuckin’ headbanging action. It’s now the end of the second quarter of 2011 and I figured I would continue my top ten of every quarter series, which I started at The Metal Register. So, just for refreshers sake, let’s take a look at what I picked for Q1. In no particular order I had…
Sylosis – Edge Of The Earth
Eradication – Dreams Of Reality
TesseracT – One
Born Of Osiris – The Discovery
Rotten Sound – Cursed
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
Crowbar – Sever The Wicked Hand
Paul Wardingham – Assimilate/Regenerate
Times Of Grace – Hymn Of A Broken Man
Deicide – To Hell With God
So now we move on to the list for Q2. I know people are going to complain, bitch, moan, and otherwise cry at me through the comments on how often I didn’t pick your favorite tech-death band that sounds like rejected Psycroptic demos, but if I haven’t heard it, I’m not gonna pick it. Now let’s get to the albums shall we? (after the jump . . .)
#1: Pestilence – Doctrine
If I hear another enbittered old-school, death-metal asshat bitch about the use of 8 string guitars on this album, I’m going to punch them with a fist full o’ fury. The sinister melodies, the sludgy grooves, the dissonance, and Patrick Mameli‘s vocal style he adapted for this album, which causes him to sound like a mental patient in a straight-jacket, helped create a unique, and downright terrifying sounding album that gets an unfair amount of flack from the elitist crowd.
#2: Kartikeya – Mahayuga
I reviewed this album here and as you can tell, I liked it quite a bit. Now I love it. The way this band incorporates their ethnic influences into their blasting death metal formula is the best I’ve heard since Nile. The song-writing here, too, was just top notch, especially in the way they built up their songs to the climaxes.
Also that Shakira cover whoops some serious ass.
#3: Cypher – Tyrian MMVIII EP
I know what you’re gonna say, “but Israel, this came out in 2008!”. Yeah… and I brought it to the public for the first time (here), which was in 2011. Don’t like it? Suck it. This was a three-song EP of some of the most intense, finely crafted melodic death metal I ever heard in my entire life. Thankfully, this band will be continuing under a new name in this vein. There are blast beats, epic melodies, shredding solos, brutal vocals — it’s just all so GOOD!
#4: The Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction
I am going to admit to not liking this at first, but after forcing repeated listens, I am convinced this album is just insane. There is no other word for it. The amount of ideas being processed into even the shortest of the songs on the album is insane, save when good ol’ Hevy Devy decided to pass the 7 minute mark in epics such as Planet Of The Apes, The Mighty Masturbator, and the title track. This is metal for mental patients.
#5: The Apocryphal Order – Self-Titled EP
I’m still jamming this consistently after my review (here), and it still hasn’t gotten old. This is just deathrash perfection with the right amount of progressive meandering. Perfect. You can download it here as part of an EP bundle that I posted about before.
#6: Shattered Skies – Reanimation EP
Shattered Skies are a band who surprised me with their interesting brand of symphonically tinged, low-tuned groove metal, channeling bands such as Evergrey, Dark Tranquillity, and TesseracT to create a truly captivating sound with a lot of emotion brimming through. They are located in the same previously mentioned EP bundle if you wanna grab this.
#7: Sun Caged – The Lotus Effect
Sun Caged is Dream Theater if Dream Theater didn’t suck. Hailing from the Netherlands, they bring us some finely tuned progressive metal with an oddly mellow vibe that’s hard for me to describe. It’s heavy, it’s intricate, it’s like a journey, but you could also chill out to this. It sounds as if they execute the music with such ease. This album saw them introducing 8 strings into their sound, as well as expanding their stylistic diversity. Clocking in at an hour and a half, this album I found to be most impressive, and the best prog metal album of the year thus far.
#8: Symphony X – Iconoclast
Symphony X is a legendary band and has been a long-time stand-by and favorite for me. This is simply the band at their absolute best, taking the new found aggressive direction of Paradise Losta step further and bringing it into full-steam-ahead territory. This is the band’s heaviest, yet most sophisticated material to date.
#9: The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
This isn’t just another BDM record, this is THE BDM record. The riffs, the melodies, the songs, this is them at their most finely tuned. The addition of Ryan Knight has proven to REALLY bolster their sound, as his solos have added a tasteful quality BDM was originally lacking. There is more brutality, yet more melody, incorporated here, and it’s so masterfully done.
#10: Xerath – II
This is my favorite album of all these picks. I’ve always loved the idea of orchestra incorporated into metal but always wanted to hear it in a non-symphonic, non-power metal, non-black metal context — and here it is. Playing a style of brutally infectious groove metal with orchestral arrangements laid on top that would make George Lucas himself envious, this album is made of pure win. It’s epic, it’s captivating, and the most brutal album on this list if you define brutal as being massive sounding as the earth itself.
I hope you enjoyed this list. Please share your top 10 of Q2 lists with me in the Comments, and we’ll compare and fight like metalheads do. My friend Jazmin once said to me: “Metal. It brings us together, and makes us fight with each other like total faggots over music”.
Songs included, as usual.
AND, for the Cypher songs, go to the NCS review here.