Dec 062011

PopMatters is a popular culture web site with broad coverage of music, film, television, books, comics, software and video games — you name it. It distributes a syndicated newspaper column, its articles get picked up regularly by the mainstream media, and it claims a readership of more than 1 million unique visitors per month. In other words, it fits the profile of “big platform” web sites whose lists of 2011’s best metal we’ve been re-publishing here at NCS over the last few weeks — not because these lists are necessarily ones we’d recommend as reliable arbiters of extreme music, but because we’re curious about what metal is being touted to big segments of the reading public (many of whom aren’t likely to be metalheads).

Recently, PopMatters published its list of “The Best Metal of 2011”, ranking the chosen albums from #20 to #1. The list was compiled by Adrien Begrand, Chris Colgan, Brice Ezell, Craig Hayes, and Dane Prokofiev (who has contributed to NCS under a different pseudonym). To see the list with accompanying descriptions and explanations of the choices along with sample tracks from the listed albums, use this link.

You will see some names that have appeared on every list we’ve published so far. You’ll also see some new entries, including — finallyAmon Amarth, as well as Dir En Grey, Leviathan, and (gasp) Liturgy. I predict that many of you readers who dwell deep in the underground of metal will find too much hipster in this list, and I suspect most of you are going to disagree about the placement of the Top 5 albums. Anyway, the PopMatters list is right after the jump.

20.  Unearth, Darkness In the Light

19.  Primordial, Redemption At the Puritan’s Hand

18.  Dir En Grey, Dum Spiro Spero

17.  Machine Head, Unto the Locust

16.  Revocation, Chaos of Forms

15. Scar Symmetry, The Unseen Empire

14.  Krallice, Diotima

13.  Amon Amarth, Surtur Rising

12. Blut Aus Nord, 777: Sects

11.  Russian Circles, Empros

10.  Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues

9.   Becoming the Archetype, Celestial Completion

8.   Obscura, Omnivium

7.   The Atlas Moth, An Ache For the Distance

6.   Leviathan, True Traitor, True Whore

5.   Liturgy, Aesthetica

4.   Opeth, Heritage

3.   Wolves In the Throne Room, Celestial Lineage

2.   Hammers of Misfortune, 17th Street

1.   40 Watt Sun, The Inside Room


  1. Wait… Amon Amarth hasn’t been on any of the lists NCS has posted so far? WTF?

  2. I’m surprised that BaN is appearing on so many of these lists, not because they don’t deserve it, but because even within the metal community they aren’t exactly easy listening, imagine joe six pack who watches glee being exposed to BaN …

    • All of the lists we’ve published so far have included some surprising choices (BaN being one of them), despite the fact that the sites appeal to more of a mass audience than metal-only blogs. Of course, those choices are being made by writers who actually know the genre. On the other hand, I suppose a cynic would say that there’s some calculated diversity in the lists, and BaU is the kind of “out there” choice designed to prove you’re not pandering to the audience.

      • yeah, the cynic in me is thinking in the same lines. BaN is probably considered so avantguarde that for writers
        of mass media it’s probably a badge of honor to include them

  3. Don’t worry, Amon Amarth is appearing in one of my lists.

  4. What an unusual website.
    There are some pretty bold statements in that list, one being comparing Dark Matter Dimensions to Slaughter of the Soul. Not that I agree or disagree (I reallly like Scar Symmetry), but referincing that album usually stirs up some strong responses.
    Also the becoming the archetype review, where the writer ponders the exitence of Christian metal. I didn’t realize that was still a wierd thing; it seems like a non-issue/not worth mentioning.
    It’s definitley cool that they have some fairly distinctive views and opinions on that list, and after browsing through some of the features of the site that does seem to be substantial element to their articles.It’s weird though that I can’t quite pin-down what the theme of the site is. I guess the mission statement is in the title? I guess I’ll check it out for a little while and see where it takes me.

    • I’m really not familiar with PopMatters as a whole. I paid attention to this list only because it’s a very big site and because I either know or know of the people who put their list together.

  5. So after reading this one I have realized that I have no clue who the Hell 40 Watt Sun is. Ive seen them on a ton of Top Somethings these last few weeks but had no clue who they were.

    So of course I went trolling around to see what I could find. No wikipedia page so I went straight to YouTube, and began to think to myself, “This sounds like that British Doom band Warning”. Well it turns out that it basically is warning. Im listening to it now and Im not sure if I would say its the #1 for 2011.

    Then again, I prefer Death and its Sub Genres over all else and give preferential treatment to them. I would also like to state once again (and I know Im being a broken record here) I was NOT impressed by Opeth this year and I dont think they should be in any Top 5. I think people feel obligated to put them in any top 10 if they have a release that year. Personally I think Bloodbath is better and I would like to see more effort put in that direction.

    • Dude, before spending time hunting the web for info about 40 Watt Sun, or anything else, use the search function on NCS first. 🙂

      Completely agree about Opeth’s “Heritage”. It’s difficult for me to be objective, since I’m not a huge fan of 70s prog, but I thought Heritage was really underwhelming. New Bloodbath would be VERY welcome.

      • Yea you know what I didnt even think to do that LOL.

        So Ive been listening to them for the past hour and I really wouldnt say #1. In all honesty I think Neurosis does that style way better and its far more depressing, more dirty, more experimental, and more dramatic, which basically makes it more. Ill keep listening to it incase it eventually clicks in.

        It took a long time for me to like Swallow The Sun’s “New Moon”. Now its on rotation just about every day.

        • Like you, I really prefer death metal and grindcore, so I’m probably not the best person to comment on 40 Watt Sun, but the song posted here on NCS was…well, it didn’t do anything for me.

          It seemed more grunge-y to me than doom metal, but we can probably chalk that up to me being functionally retarded. (No offense intended, so please don’t shoot me, Ms. Palin.)

        • I enjoyed the one song I heard when I finally got fed up of hearing their name and not knowing their sound. I really enjoyed it, so much so that now I made their album a must-get on my list of to-gets.

  6. It’s a solid list. But the inclusion of the Becoming the Archetype sticks out like a sore thumb. Horrible, horrible album, especially considering that their last album was fan-fucking-tastic.

  7. You know what, Im going to go on record and say that I believe that the new Ghost Brigade CD deserves to be on this list more then most of these bands and I tried really really hard to hate the new CD.

  8. Why is Hull never mentioned!?

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