(As part of our series of posts on the Year in Metal, we invited musicians from some of our favorite bands to tell us what 2011 albums made an impression on them. Today, we hear from Jesse Zuretti, the talented guitarist and song-writer from The Binary Code.)
Although I’ve assembled a top 15 list, I highly encourage you to check out my honorable mentions down below. There were too many good releases this year.
1. Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows
This album, albeit non-metal, is packed with nostalgia for me. Hearing Ed Lover’s voice on this album was icing on the cake. Talib Kweli is one of the most well-versed rhymers of all time. His music is passionate, original, powerful, and adventurous. Listening to his lyrics is like hearing someone you look up to tell a story about something you relate to, and just exceeding your expectations with the outcome.
Why is this album number one for me? Because this is the first album of the entire year that made me say, “HOLY SHIT!” out loud. I’m not a man of uncontrollable, Tourette Syndrome-esque outbursts at the drop of a note from an artist – be it metal, hip hop, jazz, etc. Those “HOLY SHIT!” moments are generally found when something along the lines of a Pat Metheny solo rips into gear, or when Dennis Chambers flails into a comet trail of fills and ghost notes over a Victor Wooten tune. Talib Kweli handcrafted sound, lyrics, and power into a unique and TOLERABLE hip-hop album in the grand year of 2011. Fuck-all rare if you ask me, considering the amount of cocky-yarble these pretend gangster womanizer rappers have been pooping out into our wretched youths’ ears. Take a minute, pop on this disc (or WINRAR your Mediafire link) and let it roll.
2. Tombs – Path of Totality
I remember when I first heard about how sick this album was via an old-fashioned game of telephone (months and months before it released) from our then traveling bassist Brett Bamberger (of East of the Wall/Argonauts) who heard the description of the album from Dave Witte (of Burnt by the Sun/Municipal Waste/Argonauts/every good band ever). To say that the album exceeded my expectations is an understatement. Elements of shoegaze, black metal, hardcore, post-metal, and punk shine through this album in the best ways each genre has ever offered up.
This is definitely the kind of album you should listen to in reverse track order. Listening to an album back to front, and front to back has a great impact on the listener. This makes you feel the entire album instead of hearing just a few songs and not understanding the vibe the artist was going for. It’s also important to point out that Thomas Hooper created the album artwork, and he is one of the most brilliant and prolific artists I’ve ever seen. Contrary to popular belief, album artwork is another way to dictate the emotions behind the music. This album is the package deal!
3. Textures – Dualism
Amazing album. I play “Burning the Midnight Oil” on repeat at some point almost every day. That fact that 9 years ago or so I never thought I’d ever see this band live, let alone become friends with them, and later play a show with them, blows my mind. To me, this band is up there in the same realm as Metallica for some folks. All bias aside, Textures will never disappoint me.
4. Northless – Clandestine Abuse
It’s safe for you to assume that this is the HEAVIEST album of 2011. In all aspects, tonally, emotionally, and instrumentally. This album would be #1 for me if I verified said heaviness via their live show (which I had to miss due to an injury). It was reported that they are heavier live. There is NO HEAVIER ALBUM THIS YEAR! Mark my words!
5. Elitist – Fear in a Handful of Dust
Elitist from Portland, Oregon on Season of Mist Records (there is a band from Texas or something with the same name playing some kind of form of deathcore) is by far one of the meanest sounding bands I’ve heard this year. And by “mean”, I’m talking about a band that could frighten ghosts back into their dimension with the sheer ferocity and fright instilled in every syrupy note played from the opening track to the end of the album.
6. Defeatist – Tyranny of Decay
Okay, this album is pretty pissed off sounding, too, but…the groove is what makes it too much fun to be considered angry! The d-beats this band pumps out are Skitsystem’d out! Unrelenting, fierce ferocity! Put this album on and work out to it at your local ‘roid & tan gym and you’ll end up with an aggravated assault charge for beating the piss out of every man and woman in the building involuntarily.
7. Virus – The Agent That Shapes the Desert
Another Dave Witte recommendation. Groovey, dissonant, surf-rock from the deserts of Mars, featuring sci-fi stories told by David Bowie. In a perfect world, David Bowie would bring these guys on tour with him as an opening act, and later perform all of Outside. It’s very likely that Virus is a band sent to us from the future as a result of the Hadron Collider creating a wormhole. Their world and the time they came from is something like that of the movie Dune. Get into it!
8. Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All
The Isis of death metal, if you ask me. Ulcerate is the most organic-sounding death metal band out there, fusing elements of post-metal (see Isis, Neurosis) with extreme metal (see Nile, Hate Eternal), but with the mindset of a doom band (see…Profound Lore bands). Their music is the soundtrack to barren wastelands in post-apocalyptic New Zealand.
9. Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death
One part the Cure, one part the Deftones, and you have one of my favorite “post” bands out. I’ve been waiting for an album with songs as powerful as “Hiding Knives” for quite some time. Well, they did it again, but this time, every song seems to holster that very power that drew me to them in the first place.
10. Drive Soundtrack
First off, the movie was amazing. Secondly, “Nightcall” is one of the heaviest songs of the year, and it’s not even metal! The Daft Punk-esque heaviness of the robot vocals over the NIN-style beat wreaks havoc on my emotional strings. It’s a perfect accompaniment to the movie, and to driving your car at night.
11. Phurpa – The Sound of Dakini Laughter
You’ll need to look this one up, because I’ll bet my bollocks to a barnyard dance that you would have no idea what I’m talking about if I described to you what I’m hearing when I listen to this stuff. If you’re into Tuvian or Tibetan throat singing, but you also like bands such as Portal, check this shit out immediately. I dare you to masturbate whilst listening to this group of super-humans. When I get back into meditating again in the near future, I plan on spinning this throughout to take me into the right frame of mind.
12. Mastodon – The Hunter
This is the first time since Remission that a Mastodon album has made my year-end list! I can’t find a single thing wrong with this album. At all. Exceeded my expectations.
13. Uneven Structure – Februus
I’ll give credit where credit is due: No Clean Singing’s very own Israel (TheMadIsraeli) turned me onto these guys. I’m not a fan of the “djent” wave per se (I dig a few of the bands doing it well), but I can say that this band has one of the best singers I’ve heard in YEARS! The ambience mixed with the beautiful vocals and very carefully restricted drum-work makes this disc repeatable. I want to see them live.
14. Leviathan – True Traitor, True Whore
Wrest is one of my favorite black metal musicians. It’ll be hard to convince 99.9% of you new-found audiophile djentaholics to give black metal a try, so I’ll leave it short and sweet. This album will make sense to you when you realize how ugly this society we live in really is. That’s when all black metal will make sense to you.
15. Craft – Void
Another black metal album you won’t get (whoever you are, reading this). Make yourself a time-capsule with only an iPod with this list of albums, bury it in your parents back yard, email yourself directions on how and where to locate it, and dig it up in 10 years. I promise it’ll make more sense then. If it doesn’t, you already started digging, might as well make it big enough for your body. If you do get black metal, go check out this album, and then refer to Fuck the Universe, their previous release. I’m positive this album could make a Buddhist monk assault a newborn duckling.
Harms Way – Isolation
Ghost – Opus Eponymous
Disma – Towards the Megalith
7 Horns 7 Eyes – Convalescence
Dominic – 7”
Maruta – Forward Into Regression
Rivers of Nihil – 2011 Single
Century – Red Giant
East of the Wall – The Apologist
Fallujah – Harvest Wombs
Mournful Congregation – The Book of Kings
Blut Aus Nord – 777-The Desanctification (Debemur Morti)
True Widow – I.N.O.
True Widow – As High As The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth
Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage
All Pigs Must Die – God is War
White Arms of Athena – Astrodrama
Yob – Atma
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room
Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire – Visceral EP
The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
Converge / Dropdead – split 7”
The Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction/Ghost
Fair to Midland – Arrows and Anchors
Boris – Heavy Rocks
Aosoth – III
Last Chance to Reason – Level 2
Red Fang – Murder the Mountains
Rotten Sound – Cursed
Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
Weedeater – Jason…the Dragon
Neuraxis – Asylon
Crowbar – Sever the Wicked Hand
Motörhead– The World Is Yours
Rot in Hell – As Pearls Before Swine
Leprous – Bilateral