Jul 012011

(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…

SylosisEdge Of The Earth
EradicationDreams Of Reality
Born Of OsirisThe Discovery
Rotten SoundCursed
Amon AmarthSurtur Rising
CrowbarSever The Wicked Hand
Paul WardinghamAssimilate/Regenerate
Times Of GraceHymn Of A Broken Man
DeicideTo 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: PestilenceDoctrine

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: KartikeyaMahayuga

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: CypherTyrian 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 OrderSelf-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 SkiesReanimation 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 CagedThe 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 XIconoclast

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 MurderRitual

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: XerathII

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.

  32 Responses to “THE TOP 10 ALBUMS OF Q2 2011”

  1. I’m tired cuz of that politically themed post on MS. I kept writing stuff but in the end I kept getting rid of it all. By I digress.

    I have a weird question, note: I’m against file-sharing, and I have OCD so please try to understand why I asked this.

    Do you guys think that YouTube is like file sharing, like you can go online and just listen to it however many times you want. I mean I’m just trying bands out and stuff usually, or just listening until I pick an album up, but am I as bad as someone who goes online and downloads music via P2P onto their iPod or MP3? What about listening to a friend’s iPod or CD?

    If this question is answered like I hope it will be, then I’ll be able to make a relevant comment. Sorry guys, minor OCD issues take front seat once more; being OCD + trying to be moral = stuff like this.

    • I don’t think so. You can’t put YouTube vids on a player or burn them to disc and with the sound compression they’re only good for sampling/finding music, imo. I also don’t see a problem with listening to or borrowing music of a friend’s, that’s how we used to sample/find new music before the internet.

    • I’m with byrd36 — I think there’s a difference between streaming music and putting up song files for download (and downloading them). The latter is a substitute for buying the music; the former isn’t. The former is no different from listening on someone else’s music player — you can’t take it with you. (I’m putting aside software that allows you to rip the audio from a YouTube clip; to me, the fact that such software exists doesn’t change the distinction that byrd and I are making.)

    • I think the main distinction is in the name: filesharing is passing files to another person. YouTube is not.

      Now, are they problems with YouTube? According to the folks trying to make it a $10,000 offense to do so, probably they would say yes. (I made that $10,000 up outta my poop hole.)
      Personally, but personally I don’t. But, if you’re against filesharing AND you think YouTube is bad…remember not all the videos posted on YouTube have been illegally posted. Some of them were posted by record labels/bands, so there’s certainly nothing wrong with watching those videos.

      In other words: the Phro gives your OCD permission to relax and enjoy YouTube! I know that’s what you really wanted to hear. 😛 (I’m sure you couldn’t care less what I think…but I’m gonna tell you anyway!)

      I’m not gonna comment on whether or not I think filesharing is bad, though.

    • There is nothing wrong with pirating, as there are other means of supporting the bands you enjoy. For example, I have every Black Dahlia Murder release, including early demos. The only one I paid for is Nocturnal. However, I will be seing TBDM on tour this summer. I think this is the 7th or 8th time I’ve seen them? Not to mention, over the years, I’ve probably purchased 7-8 of their shirts and at least two of their hoodies. In my opinion, that’s some serious dedication and support for a band that I like. My point being, you don’t have to buy a band’s music to still support what they do. I’ve put 10 times in their pocket compared the the music I’ve *stolen* I prefer to buy a shirt or a ticket, instead of a cd because I know when I go to a show and drop money on a shirt, all that cash is going in the band’s pocket, not to some guy sitting behind a desk at Metal Blade. And you can argue that without cd sales, the band is less likely to have an opportunity to make more music in the future. And you have a valid point if that’s your stance. But where there is a will, there is a way. The internet is a powerful tool. With or without lable support, a band can always find a way to get their music heard. Just my two cents.

      • I know a lot of people agree with this, and I think you have some very valid points. And I’m not actually going to disagree with you, or really even state a strong opinion either way. But I do recall reading an interview with Alexi Laiho a few years back where they mentioned pirating. If I remember what he said correctly, it seems like they (Children of Bodom) understand and sympathize with that frame of mind, but since the labels actually support and help bands tour, if album sales are too low, bands will have that much more of a difficult time getting support to tour.

        Now, this could be total bullshit or a distortion of the facts. I’m not sure, especially for more established bands like CoB where they seem like they could more easily go on tour on their own dime and expect to make all the money back, but it kind of makes sense to me. Especially for smaller/less well known bands. That’s actually one of the big reasons I started making sure I was paying for the music I listened to. (Also, I rarely attend concerts.)

        On the other hand, I would say that you’ve probably done more to support BDM than people who’ve only bought the CDs, and I’m not in any position to question either your loyalty or integrity. I think it’s just an interesting counter argument that deserves to be considered.

        • I thought of this, but I wasn’t sure if I know enough about what a label’s job is to make the argument, so I just decided to let it go. I agree to some point with MorbidCorpse, because if I didn’t buy the music in the first place, I’d probably be able to buy more merch (which, in retrospect, I feel bad about :/), but again, I feel like I’m stealing when I do it.

          I’d really like to know the bands’ opinions on file sharing, I’m sure that those opinions would change with the popularity of the band, because like Phro said: the label helps bands tour, and smaller bands aren’t easily self-sustainable. I’m sure a band like Mutant Supremacy (if they had a label) would be against file sharing (they already gave their album out for free I think, but if they had a label backing them up, they’d probably start selling it so it’d profit the label), while a band like Lamb of God doesn’t really care if you share your music.

        • This is off-topic and doesn’t really have a point, but I recall a few years back, I think it was 2007?, when Necrophagist headlined The Summer Slaughter Tour for the first time. I recall Muhammed Suiçmez stating in the press that they were recieving ZERO lable support to do a full U.S. tour, which, aside from some one-off festival gigs, was their first. I recall him stating that the band was doing it ENTIRELY on their own and using funds generated at each show to make it to the next gig. Is that a profitable way to tour? Probably not the most economical. I guess my point is, even without lable support, a big headline tour can be accomplished with success. Then again, Necrophagist have turned into the Guns n’ Roses of death metal, so maybe that lack of album sales/lable support makes a difference after all? None of these rants probably make any sense. Disregard them. I’m old and senile.

          • I getcha’. No need to disregard though: I’m young and paranoid :P.

          • I’m completely mystified about Necrophagist’s failure to release any new music — even an EP. Hell, they could re-record some of their old songs and people would still be slobbering over it. Extremely odd.

      • I see where you’re coming from with your views on pirating, and honestly, it sounds like you’ve contributed a lot more to a band than I ever have despite the fact that I buy the music. I just feel like I’m stealing when filesharing I suppose, and I don’t like stealing, or the feeling I get from it.

  2. some good stuff here – I forgot how much I love Symphony X!!!

  3. I haven’t actually heard any of the albums on your list (it’s been not such a great quarter for me financially), so I’m clearly not going to say you’re wrong about any of your picks.

    But I would just like to say that I (quite obviously) think a certain technical death metal band from Kansas with penchant for outer space imagery deserved to have their album mentioned. 😛

  4. Pestilence and Kartikeya are pretty good, although IMO Pestience doesn’t qualify since it isn’t actually out yet. I like Kartiekeya, but I can’t listen to that album more than once because it gets old too fast. As for the rest of your picks, I see a whole lot of stuff that sounds mediocre to me.

  5. TBDM at #9? Surely, you jest????

    • I should let Israel speak for himself, but since #10 is his top pick, I’m assuming he’s counting up instead of counting down, which would make BDM his second favorite. Or maybe the list is in no particular order?

  6. None of these are in an order. Xerath is my favorite for sure but otherwise, I don’t know that I could order these.

  7. Thanks for all the feedback guys! You’ve been a great help.

    And yes Phro, I do care what you think.

  8. Decent list, and one where I’m more familiar with the contents of – from your Q1 list, Tesseract is the only one I’ve head more than a song from (I still don’t have One though, just Concealing Fate).

    I haven’t gotten through all of Deconstruction yet (so much going on for me atm), but I’ve liked what I’ve heard from it so far. Well okay, maybe not the beginning of the title track… there’s enough figurative shit in metal, I don’t need a literal helping as well.

    Symphony X’s new one is fairly high on my ‘to get’ list. I prefer progressive metal that isn’t stuffed full of cheese and wank (but some of that’s okay too). Symphony X hasn’t really disappointed, although I am admittedly not very familiar with all their material.

    I like Kartikeya’s album, but I have a hard time getting through the whole album in one sitting, so I think I have to echo Misha’s comment about it getting old too quick. Great stuff, but not as easily digestible as I prefer.

  9. I’ll be publishing my list of “Great”, “Good” and “Disappointing” (along with my personal top 10) at the end of the year. So will save all the controversy until then.

    But this list has reminded me I need to get hold of the new Crowbar asap. Only a (relatively) recent convert to the group but really loving their sound.

  10. Gave a listen to all the new acquaintances(DTP, Xerath and Kartikeya excluded), not really my cup of tea. Ah well, this means I get to spend more time with my new BFF Minushuman, while waiting for the treats in Q3.

  11. What is everyone on here, post-metal and black metal junkies!?

  12. I’m really more of a heroin junkie. Gives me that buzz to get me up in the morning.

    It just happens that many of the records you’ve listed haven’t really given me that same same buzz I crave in my metal-loving veins. There’s some good stuff there, but not really anything that’s given me “the rush”.

    Or indeed, “the gush”.

  13. Nice choices man, you included all my favorites from this quarter. “Iconoclast” is a complete blast from start to finish, “Ritual” takes TBDM’s sound to a whole new level of sophistication, and I, too, have been blasting The Apocryphal Order’s EP like crazy (at first, I wasn’t into it that much, but over time it grew on me so much that now, I love it). And not to mention “Mahayuga”, which had me banging my head the first time I heard it. Frankly, every release you’ve included here is epic (although I still can’t get into the vocals on “Doctrine”). As for Q3, I’m highly anticipating Fleshgod Apocalype’s “Agony”, Vader’s “Welcome To The Morbid Reich”, Revocation’s “Chaos Of Forms”, and Insomnium’s “One For Sorrow”. I feel like I’m forgetting one, but oh well.

  14. When I listened to the new vocal style of Mameli, I was dissapointed. I liked the vox on Resurrection Macabre, but honestly I don’t like the Van Drunen style, just not my thing. It’s something I want to get past so I can try to enjoy the old Pestilence albums.

    The Black Dahlia Murder is highlighted red on my list of to gets. That means it’s one of the releases that takes precendence over the others, it’s one of those “If I don’t get it before Christmas, it’s going on THAT list!” items. I find it strange I ask for black metal albums for Christmas sometimes…

    I don’t really understand all the hype over Devin Townsend, I liked one of his songs, “Addicted”, which I heard a while back, but it doesn’t live up to what people make it seem. The more recent stuff I’ve heard kinda’ bores me. I’m sorry guys, I really dropped the ball on this one. It’s okay if I get kicked to the bottom of the pecking order… wait… what do you mean I’m already there?

    Xerath sounds interesting…

    • I finally got to see Devin Townsend live last Monday night for the first time, with Obscura, Septic Flesh and Children of Bodom, and DT puts on one helluva show. He has an amazing voice and incredible stage presence. I’ve never been a huge fan since the end of Strapping Young Lad, though I thought Deconstruction was a true work of creative genius. Actually, the song he did in his live set that I liked the best was “Supercrush”.

  15. I am thoroughly digging Shattered Skies, thank you guys very much for sharing.
    There’s a recent interview with Marvin Gibbs on Invisible Oranges where he talks about bands having “swing”; These guys definitely have it in spades. I am particularly impressed by the singer, for I hear something in his voice that’s unique in metal: soul. It really sounds like he could be in some kinda cross over R&B band if they weren’t playing such groovy metal. As they say round the way, “that boy could saang”
    The Irony of hearing one of the best singing performances on record this year from a site called NoCleanSinging is not lost on me. Thanks again.

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