We asked all of the contributing writers here at Hellbound.ca to submit their Top 10 albums of 2011, which we then compiled into a master list, assigning points to all their choices (10 points for #1, down to 1 point for #10). After tabulating the results, we have created Hellbound.ca’s Top 20 Albums of 2011. For part two of our continuing series, here is albums #15 through 11…
15. TODAY IS THE DAY – Pain Is A Warning
(Black Market Activities)
Their influence on heavy music is undeniable, certainly evident this year through critically praised albums by KEN Mode and Mastodon—at least for the fact that two of Mastodon’s members’ careers launched from their time spent in TITD. Now joined by Wetnurse’s rhythm section, Steve Austin’s Today is the Day has completely reinvented itself yet again with Pain is a Warning, perhaps the most drastic transformation of the entity’s existence, still retaining its inherent filth, yet curiously sounding somewhat, dare I say, optimistic and accessible. Pain is a Warning is TITD’s hard rock album. It shifts gears from pseudo black metal to trance-inducing sedation, however the most salient aspects are those that are anthemic, bold and addictive.
Jay H. Gorania
14. RED FANG – Murder The Mountains
Murder the Mountains is like a day at the summer fair—scary, smelly, sexy, loud, and with a good whiff of violence in the overheated air. It’s big American rock teeming with thudding riffs and unabashed catchiness. In a year when the most-lauded music seemed weighed down by pretentious baggage, like manifestos or arguments over the separation of art and artist, this Portland quartet just plugged in and rocked out. I could go on about the clever twists within the songs or the Technicolor production, but that’s just garnish on the fact that this record stomps balls.
13. DEVIN TOWNSEND – Deconstruction
(Inside Out / E1 Canada)
As with most Devin Townsend releases, Deconstruction offers a little more with each listen and encompasses a tremendous range of dramatic extremes. Townsend’s expert guest star recruitment is among the album’s most enticing qualities, with each performer’s particular talents enhancing the tumultuous atmosphere and emotional possibilities of the tracks to which they lend a hand (or, more often, voice). A conceptual narrative journey, Deconstruction reaches a peak of ridiculousness heading into its final tracks, but the story and performance – including layer upon layer of guitar, orchestration, choirs, and so on – fuses the inane with the surprisingly profound. In the end, it all comes to a rather abrupt stop, which is, perhaps, the record’s profoundest statement of all.
12. GRAVEYARD – Hisingen Blues
To tell you that Hisingen Blues sounds an awful lot like the love child of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath wouldn’t be a lie, but it certainly would be unjust. Yes, it’s abundantly clear where Graveyard takes their influences from but the music they create is far from derivative. From opening rocker “Ain’t Fit To Live Here” to the wailing crescendo of “The Siren”, this sophomore album is packed with moment after memorable moment of authentic 1970s blues rock brilliance. Dripping with heart, soul and emotional fury, Hisingen Blues doesn’t try to be something it’s not. It’s everything it is to the core.
11. THE GATES OF SLUMBER – The Wretch
(Rise Above / Metal Blade)
The Wretch sees The Gates Of Slumber move away from their Conan crusades to something slower, harsher and more personal, as their Saint Vitus influences come to the forefront. (At least two of them have the Vitus logo tattooed on their arms—not sure about the new drummer…)
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the traditional metal gallop of older tunes like “Ice Worm” and “Iron Hammer,” but the new, slower TGOS on display on this album is right up my alley. This is a rock-solid release in my books.
Please visit us again on Thursday for part three