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 three of our continuing series, here is albums #10 through 6…
10. AMON AMARTH – Surtur Rising
Amon Amarth have never been ones to drastically fix what ain’t never been broke, but the affable Swedes offer a few subtle tweaks here and there on their eighth album. Coming on the heels of 2008’s very successful Twilight of the Thunder Gods, Surtur Rising is a little rawer and less polished, the production accentuating the band’s aggressive side a little more. However, the more robust tone never comes at the expense of the catchy, headbang-inducing riffs the band has always excelled at, and this album is absolutely loaded with them.
9. PRIMORDIAL – Puritan at the Puritan’s Hand
Ireland’s Primordial aren’t ones for surprises, but for god’s sake, never take them for granted. Their albums are consistently excellent; full of passion and insight courtesy of singer/lyricist A. A. Nemtheanga’s unflinching treatises on the lessons of history and the follies of mankind. Redemption… has an especially stern atmosphere to suit these troubled times, with its stark cover art and lyrical imagery of death’s claws, wolves’ eyes, and the hangman’s hand. Even if you don’t have any Irish in ya, you’re invited to raise a glass, raise hell, and join the maelstrom.
8. OBSCURA – Omnivium
Obscura’s third album turned out to another immaculately crafted and executed technical death metal record, with more than enough dexterity and physicality to thrill guitar nerds and mosh pit denizens alike, but Omnivium’s biggest accomplishment is its stunning, seemingly improbably marriage of technicality and genuine hooks. The degree to which Steffen Kummerer continues to take Obscura into melodic territory without betraying its core sound is astounding, proof that no matter how well you can shred, songwriting skill matters the most.
7. KEN MODE – Venerable
Upon going into the recording of Venerable, the members of Winnipeg’s KEN Mode were at a crossroads; an extreme music equivalent of a mid-life crisis you could say. The Matthewson brothers (guitarist/vocalist Jesse and his drumming bro Shane) were both ensconced in accountancy careers, but the fire and desire to take an all-encompassing stab at the band that has been part of their lives for fourteen years was being stoked. What came out on the other end of their decision to dive head first into putting their careers on hold so that they can play metallic noise rock and tour until their nipples fall off is one of the year’s masterworks. Abrasiveness and infectiousness find a happy home on Venerable‘s sculpted anthems which, unsurprisingly, are some of the best songs they’ve ever written.
6. YOB – Atma
The title of this new YOB album, Atma, is used in many Eastern religions to describe one having a complete vision of themselves and their surroundings. It is an apt title for this latest release in that YOB’s leader, guitarist Mike Scheidt, is exactly that. Anyone who has crossed paths with him will tell you he is a driven, spirited individual who knows exactly what he wants to do musically and has the means to do it. Atma is an extremely propulsive album for a doom record. Consisting only of five tracks yet lasting nearly an hour, the songs are epic, heavy and always moving forward. This is not an album that drags. It has vision, it is continuously gaining momentum and remains after months and months of repeated listens, an album that requires repeated visits.