Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011: Honorable mentions

I continue my glance back at 2011 today with some records that I enjoyed, but weren't quite good enough to make my top 10 list, a few records that I didn't quite get enough time with because of a hectic work schedule late in the year, and my favorite EP.

I'll start with the records that I haven't had enough time with to form an opinion on. As you might have noticed, I didn't do a lot of writing in November and December because I had a little too much going. I got all of these records during that time, and they've been a little shortchanged in the listening. Any of them, with time, could elevate into the Top 10.
Iced Earth, Dystopia: At first, I thought Into Eternity's Stu Block was the perfect singer, blending elements of both Matt Barlow and Tim Owens, but with more listens, the effects used on the vocals too often make his vocals sound a bit unnatural. At least guitarist and primary songwriter Jon Schaffer remembered the hooks and melodies on this one, though.
Charred Walls of the Damned, Cold Winds on Timeless Days: Essentially the Tim Owens lineup of Iced Earth with producer Jason Suecof sitting in for Jon Schaffer, the band’s self-titled debut was one of my favorite records of last year, blending progressive and aggressive elements. I like this one, but it hasn’t connected with me as immediately.
Evile, Five Serpents Teeth: I was a latecomer to this one, but so far, I’m liking it. It’s great, old school 1980s Metallica-influenced thrash. I haven’t heard it enough to make a definitive call on it.
Machine Head, Unto the Locust: After blasting back on to the scene with 2007’s outstanding The Blackening, Machine Head continues to show growth on their latest. I really like what I’ve heard, but sadly need to make a little more time to spend with this one.

These albums were definitely Top 10 candidates, but were barely pushed out.
Helstar, Glory of Chaos: A fine, thrashing new release from some old favorites.
Nekromantheon, Divinity of Death: A surprising raw thrash outing from what, based on the name and album cover, I expected to be a black metal outfit.
The Shadow Theory, Behind the Black Veil: One of my early contenders, this record offers up a nice blend of atmospherics, heaviness and a little of the weird.

Pharaoh, Ten Years: Pharaoh can seemingly do no wrong, and they continue that trend with this EP, designed to whet fans' appetites for a new full-length coming next year.

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