Since Hellbound.ca is a Canadian-owned and operated metal publication, we do things a little bit different than most. While 2011 was coming to a close we asked all of our contributors to pick their Top Canadian metal albums of the year. We then tabulated up their responses and have created our third annual Top 10 Canadian Metal Albums writers poll.
The response was pretty much positive across the board as to participating in the poll. A few writers did politely back out from submitting, feeling they hadn’t heard enough Canadian albums released this year, fair enough, and some submitted only one album for their list. However, the final outcome of this list has not been tampered with, changed, fucked with, etc. etc. by anyone – the bands are listed in the order they were voted by our great contributors. So, without further adieu, here are the Top 10 Canadian Metal Albums of 2011, counted down from #10 to #1 with a brief write up on each. Please enjoy.
#10: Cauldron – Burning Fortune
I’m always one to espouse the inclusivity of heavy metal, how it’s for everyone and not for just a select few, and indeed Cauldron’s second album is the kind of perfectly realized traditional heavy metal that all metal fans should appreciate. That said, though, there’s a certain Canadian metal demographic that Cauldron fits comfortably with like an old bullet belt. If you lived and breathed heavy metal in Canada in the 1980s, collected Banzai cassettes, watched the Power Hour religiously, read Metallion, bought Moose Molten Metal (both volumes), and listened to Reckless, Thor, and Hateful Snake, then Burning Fortune is for you. With Dokken’s Under Lock and Key and Scorpions’ Blackout serving as the templates, Cauldron take on the more melodic side of ‘80s metal and absolutely nail it with hook-driven songs like “All or Nothing”, “Miss You to Death”, and “Tears Have Come”, producer Jameson Elliott eschewing all modern trappings in favor of a style that’s sincerely classic rather than tritely “retro”. All we need now, guys, is to hear that cover of Gowan’s “Moonlight Desires” you’ve recorded.
#9: ANVIL – Juggernaut of Justice
(The End Records)
Call it a return to form, finally finding the right producer or the acclaim from the documentary kicking the band in the ass, Anvil have created an incredible record. Juggernaut of Justice is catchy, inspired and memorable for the right reasons. This is the album that Anvil needed to make, following all the hoopla surrounding the documentary and this does not disappoint. Anvil have outdone themselves and created an album that fits easily amongst their classics and is miles ahead of recent output. This is not only a great album it’s an important one for both Anvil and Canadian metal.
#8: FUCKED UP – David Comes To Life
David Comes To Life is clearly not a metal album, but it is an album that a few of our metal writers love voraciously. In fact, two writers made it their number one album of the year. It’s not as crazy as their earlier records, but this concept record is sort of like a modern day equivalent to Husker Du’s classic Zen Arcade album in that it is timeless and definitely something that an open minded metal fan could enjoy. Not an album that made my top ten, but it is one that I enjoy nonetheless.
#7: UNTIMELY DEMISE – City Of Steel
(Sonic Unyon Metal)
Saskatoon’s thrash warriors Untimely Demise originally released City of Steel on their own, however the Glen Drover (ex-Megadeth, Eidolon) produced album grabbed the attention of Hamilton’s Sonic Unyon who have just reissued the album on their new Sonic Unyon Metal imprint. One listen to this album (which track wise is identical to the self released version) will explain why this band was so sought after by the label. These youngsters know their old school thrash and also know how to lay it down without sounding like a revivalist or retro act. There is also a smattering of melodic death metal in their sound, which combined with Drover’s clean production helps to give the album a modern feel without detracting from the dirty thrash growl of Matt Cuthbertson. Rounded out by a solid rhythm section in Matt’s brother Murray on bass and Scott Cross on drums, it’s easy to hear Untimely Demise haven’t tried to make their music too difficult and intricate, which really works to their advantage
#6: MITOCHONDRION – Parasignosis
Any metal band named after partners in the symbiote relationships that make up our bodies is bound to perk interest. The fact that Victoria, B.C.-based Mitochondrion produce music that is also a relentless and tiring combination of death and black metal is a major plus. Parasignosis is the band’s first full-length release on a label like Profound Lore, and if it’s that relationship which has enabled the efforts found here, then hopefully it will continue. To refer to the band’s music as “tiring” is a compliment — Mitochondrion’s sophomore album is an exhausting ride. Its intertwined layers invoke both the messiness and complexity of the human body itself. Ending on a lengthy, different, but welcome ambient/noise metal note, Parasignosis is one of the strongest combinations of black and death metal I’ve heard in a while.
#5: DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT – Ghost
(Inside Out / E1 Canada)
Ghost is one of a pair of albums released by the indefatigable Canadian heavy music icon in 2011, the softer, lunar twin to the complex and chaotic Deconstruction. It’s an album characterized by emotional integrity and musical restraint. The instrumentation is simple and spare, sometimes reduced to a single flute melody or a few sweet, strummed notes on Townsend’s guitar. There’s a deep peace at the album’s core, and even at its most emotionally passionate and sonically intense there’s an almost Zen sense of quiet beneath everything else. Where Deconstruction is a roiling ocean, a seething cauldron filled with strange ingredients and brimstone, Ghost retains the purity of a lonely beach cove. It’s that rare heavy album that can only be described as quiet.
#4: BLOOD CEREMONY – Living With The Ancients
(Rise Above / Metal Blade)
A lot has happened in the world of hard rock and metal since Blood Ceremony released their self-titled debut some three years ago. Most surprisingly has been the reemergence of female fronted occult tinged bands. In no short time, an entire scene has emerged which includes bands such as The Devil’s Blood, Jex Thoth, etc., most of which released their debuts in and around the same time (early 2008). Living With The Ancients still has much of the same sound of the first BC album, but things have been put together much better second time out. The band (thanks to a new bassist) is a tighter, more focused unit than they were on the debut, the song-writing chops have been tightened up a bit and the album production this time around, courtesy of current go-to-guy Sanford Parker, is a perfect fit. Living With The Ancients is a strong step forward for a band that is definitely on its way to making its mark.
#3: DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: 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.
#2 FUCK THE FACTS – Die Miserable
Fuck the Facts grow and evolve with every release without losing sight of what it is they do or alienating their fanbase (which is the real trick). Allowing the ‘new’ band members to contribute to the writing and creation of this album has helped to make Die Miserable the heaviest, most diverse album of the band’s career and ‘Census Blank’ may very well be the best song they’ve ever recorded. Die Miserable is both the logical next step and a left turn for the band, making things at once familiar and exciting and this album essential.
#1: 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.