50. SERPENT VENOM "Carnal Altar"
Slow and heavy stoner/doom metal with a nice magic and dark atmosphere. This slow doom march is driven by heavy and almost droning riffs, and a nice clean vocals work. The band features members of vanished british doomsters Sloth (not to be mistaken with Sloth from US). One of the big surprises of the year, since this is their first full-length album although they had already released a demo in 2010.
49. WITCH MOUNTAIN "South of Salem"
Sure you remember Witch Mountain’s debut “Come to the Mountain”, a retro-mood stoner/doom dosage released at 2001. It took ten years for Witch Mountain to publish new material. This new album features a new vocalist, a female vocalist this time. Her voice is catching and brings originality and dynamism to the album and fits in an outstanding way with the mood of the album, just like Acid King’s Loris does it. You’ll also find excellent heavy riffs and solos with the retro feeling onward.
48. TRANQVILLITAS MARIS "The Longing"
Extremely underground one-man project from Luxemburg. The album has a funeral doom metal based sound, although it is often less slow that the tempo with the “funeral” tag. What makes this album so haunting is their melancholic weeping guitars, in the vein of melodic death doom metal bands. Furthermore, the album features a nice use of spoken words, clean vocals and growls. The result is a melancholic and sad atmosphere that can take Saturnus or Mournful Congregation to mind. Hope this project keep on growing and receive more acknowledgment. The album is available for free download in the band-camp page of the project.
47. PYLON "Armoury of God"
Fourth full-length album by swiss traditional doom metal band Pÿlon. This time they seem to have cleaned up their quality of recording. The outstanding groovy and heavy riffs sound wonderful, however the music of Pÿlon remains being raw and basic (you’ll maybe have in mind the one-only guitar sound of Saint Vitus). Perhaps the best album released by this band, although I miss the organ used in their 2009 recording simply named “Doom”.
46. ORDOG "Remorse"
Another band that seems to have created their best one is Ordog. They use to apply some experiments to their songs which sometimes made them not really enjoyable to my ears. But this time they have hit the mark with their new album “Remorse”. The death-doom metal framework is ornamented with outstanding keyboards, including piano, flute, choirs, and other elements that create a nice doomed atmosphere. Quite dynamic doom metal that should not be missing in any 2011 collection.
45. THE RAVEONETTES "Rave in the Grave"
The fifth release by Danish duo The Raveonettes brought a nice amount of distortion and melodies to 2011 year. The album, entitled “Raven in the Grave” sounds great with some pop-ish songs but also some others filled with feedback effects and good enough noisy distortion. The soft vocals of both Wagner and Sharin fill the most exigent shoegazer ears. A matter that I really enjoy from The Raveonettes is the lack of drums, this brings very atmospheric yet dense noisy tracks. A drum machine is included in other songs as well as some keybords.
44. BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEP "Dark as Light"
From Greece arrives this nice psychedelic album. Brotherhood of Sleep is a three-piece band that plays very enjoyable instrumental stoner metal. Both guitar and bass in this album show a good combination of heavy distortion. The music varies from stoner rock, dense drone, noise and even some jazz-like passages... The whole package is an ultra psychedelic atmosphere. One only problem appears when one listens to this album: it seems to be too short, 50 minutes of nice music that one wants to keep on listening to. Fans of Uffomammut would surely enjoy this album which, by the way, is available for download in the mode of “pay what you want” at Band-camp.com
43. SUNSMASHER "Mammothian/Loud/Cult"
As the name of the band suggests it, they are here to smash your speakers. This was one of the first (if not the first) surprise of the year, released in January, “Mammothian/Loud/Cult” is a extremely loud and harsh discharge of doom, drone, noise, crust, sludge and hardcore. The band varies their sound from slow raw moments in the vein of Fistula to crust fast elements, but always with a quite noisy and loud sounding. You’ll also find drum-less noise/drone passages. Vocals are sometimes in the vein of Eyehategod’s Mike but not sounding like a clone, just in the hardcore style. This interesting and crushing album is another piece available for free download at the band-camp band’s page.
42. STONE SOUL FOUNDATION "Electric Valley"
Hell yeah, excellent rock album to be played while you’re on the road. Stone Soul Foundation is a well known name inside the stoner rock circles. The band plays a good-hearted rock’n’roll with outstanding guitar work. The groovy riffs and nice solos make of this an irresistible album in the vein of the legends of heavy metal and hard rock like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and many other. The vocalist makes a wonderful job varying from melodic clean vocals to raspy ones reminding us to AC/DC. With “good-hearted” I mean the lyrics seem to have a very positive feeling. You’ll also find blues and even funk influence.
41. KAIRI "My Light, My Flesh"
Believe it or not, this is in really the first official full-length Kairi album. Kairi is a well known name inside the underground funeral doom metal scene. This time, with a more worked cover than ever, Kairi releases a 45 minutes album in the same line of very atmospheric funeral doom with long ambient passages. However, this time you’ll also find some crushing, not that slow, moments. The whole sound is very melancholic and seems to be based in an introspective image of self Kairi, the man behind the project. Kairi also advances that from now on every of his releases will sound different. We’ll be waiting. By now, let’s ‘enjoy’ this melancholic piece of music.
40. ROBIN GUTHRIE "Emeralds"
Pioneer and master of dream-pop Robin Guthrie releases another masterpiece, this time entitled “Emeralds”. Ex-member of the disappeared 80’s dream-pop legend Cocteau Twins, Robin Guthrie brings in this new album a beautiful and elegant demonstration of a dozen of guitar effects and use of pedals. “Emeralds” seems to paint different soundscapes with a lot of moving, just like the own cover seems to claim, you’ll feel like floating or traveling among white clouds. Robin Guthrie also features in this album nice keyboards that helps to perform the whole atmosphere. Some may tag this album as post-rock, perhaps because fans of Hammock would surely enjoy it. The droning guitars and the echoes that appears everywhere make of this album an excellent option to be played late at night just before going to bed, just like I did lots of those nights in 2011, relaxing every muscle of your body.
39. WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM "Celestial Lineage"
Here’s another relentless album by north-american outfit Wolves in the Throne Room. Once again, it is black metal with a good amount of ambient elements. In this album the band adds female vocals performed by Faith, the woman behind Mamiffer (who is also in this top). These vocals bring an atmosphere of mystery that fits very well with the aggressive black metal moments. But, as we know, Wolves in the Throne Room also have outstanding long moments of slow torturous music with a good amount of distortion in the guitars. This also drives us to some nice drone and noise passages. The band also adds a church-like dark atmosphere with the use of organ. Wolves in the Throne Room have made it again!
38. EL SCAR "God's in His Heaven, All's Right With the World"
Outstanding djent developed by a guy that seems to be in really interested on anime. El Scar has a very unique interpretation of djent: while he brings very heavy and groovy riffage, played with 8 strings, he also is concerned in surrounding you in a nice atmosphere, using clean guitars, other effects and keys. Sometimes we can even find a post-rock influence. The overall sound is powerful with the ultra heavy guitars played alongside the drum machine. Other important progressive/djent projects may come to mind listening to this album, maybe Chimp Spanner and Animals as Leaders. Another album in the mode of “pay what you want” at band-camp.com
37. UNTIL MY FUNERALS BEGAN "Behind the Window"
Not much is known about this funeral doom act, but it seems like Until My Funerals Began is no longer a one-man project as we formerly know it. This second release shows the project as a three-piece band. The sound of “Behind the Window” is utterly similar to the debut album. Slow and crushing funeral doom with a relativlye low recording quality which make it sound rawer. Nevertheless, it is the keys what makes so interesting this album. They create an extremely melancholic atmosphere, helped by weeping guitars, growls and spoken tortured vocals in the vein of Lord Grief. An unmissable album for fans of Reclusiam, for example.
36. NORTHLESS "Clandestine Abuse"
Aggressive, solid and direct sludge metal from the United States. The band has a very dynamic sound, but always with persistent heavy riffs and aggressive hardcore vocals. The album is blessed with an excellent recording quality what may contradict some sludge metal outfits. The band also incorporates some elements like clean guitars and shoegazing effects that may take in mind the so-called post-metal sound like Cult of Luna and Neurosis. Also early Mastodon works come to mind.
35. KLIMT "Agape"
Klimt is a one man project from Poland. He caught our attention in 2008 by releasing his debut album “Jesienne Odcienie Melancholii”. Klimt plays extremely rich music, featuring lots of guitar effects, mostly shoegazer effects. This second album entitled “Agape” is, in my opinion, much better than his debut, since drums are now persistent and not keyboard generated. This is a less atmospheric album, Klimt seems to have escaped from the depths of the water to the surface with a more solid sound. Nonetheless, this album creates a good atmosphere yet, including not only lots of guitar effects, but also amazing melodies, soft vocals whispers and nice keys.
34. MAMIFFER "Mare Decendrii"
This project gained a lot of popularity during the year, and it is not a surprise, this release is just outstanding and seems to be essential to everyone interested on experimental music. Mamiffer is the project leaded by Faith, an artist who appears in Mamiffer as pianist. Helped by his husband the very Aaron Turner (Isis, House of Low Culture, Lotus Eater, Twilight and Lotus Eater) Mamiffer seems to be a painting, with a quite beautiful structure driven by Faith’s piano, but stained by brushstrokes of noise, feedback and lots of experiments, featuring some folk instruments, and enigmatic vocals. The whole soundscape is amazing, one can’t just stop listening to this beautiful album. Hope the project keeps on growing.
33. MERZBOW "Kamadhenu"
Here is Merzbow’s latest noise attack. “Kamadhenu” is the first part of the trilogy entitled as “Merzcow” which is inspired in the caring and worship for cattle of cows in Hinduism. The trilogy also looks like a criticism to the cow cattle abuse and consume. This should not be surprising to us since the vegetarianism of Masami Akita is well known. The album is divided in three long parts delivering a total of 57 minutes of noise worship. In this recording I find interesting how Merzbow uses high frequency elements to simulate screams, this really sounds scaring and gives a nice atmosphere. The album runs through the 3 parts with tons of digital experimentation and harsh noise. A good release from the digital noise master.
32. THIS WILL DESTROY YOU "Tunnel Blanket"
Doomgaze, had the world heard about this before? This Will Destroy You assaulted the world in May with a second release entitled “Tunnel Blanket”, the band described the sound of the album as “doomgaze”. This new album is clearly different to their debut, it is less melodic, it is darker, heavier and harsher. This Will Destroy You claims the patent of the genre doomgaze as a dark mixture of doom metal and shoegaze and this is exactly how “Tunnel Blanket” sounds like. It is slow and noisy, guitars are lots of heavy pedals with echoing shoegazing sound. One also finds long atmospheric passages contrasting with the dense noise of guitars. The result is terrific, a really epic sound. However, lots of acts could actually have played music that seems to fit with the doomgaze tag since a long time ago, for example Nadja, The Angelic Process and Jesu, to name some.
31. OCEAN TOWERS "Chapter 1"
Very young band from Canada, Ocean Towers hit the stoner rock scene in February with their debut album. The band delivers a good experimentation through psychedelic fields of the guitar effects and riffs. They do an excellent work on guitars with heavy and distorted riffs and experiments which brings a lot of dynamism to their music. The band also has a good percussion work bringing more psychodelia with a Tool-like track. An album that may be interesting for fans of bands that go from Kyuss to Aqua Nebula Oscilator. Another album available for download in the “pay what you want” mode at Band-camp.com
30. LOSS "Despond"
Another well-known band that release their first full-length album after a long time of demos, EP’s and splits is the northamerican doom metal act Loss. In this album, entitled “Despond”, the band remains playing extremely depressive death/doom metal which reaches the funeral doom slowness in lots of moments during the album, guitars are ultra heavy but contrast with some atmospheric passages with clean guitars. The melancholic approach is blessed with amazing weeping guitars. This is the formula of Loss. Also the brutal deep growls are there, which reminds me to Thergothon. Without doubt, an album that has everything that a doom metal fan can wish.
29. M83 "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"
French outfit M83 released in October the most accessible album of their career. In the beginning I was not really convinced about the album after listening to first single “Midnight City” which appeared an electronic pop song. Nonetheless, I caught M83 in Mexico City at the Corona Capital Fest in same October and some new songs were played in a very powerful and catching way. This encouraged me to listen to the whole “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” album. It is a double CD, and some old M83 fans will surely enjoy the CD 2 more than the first. There are lots of good points to M83, first one is the atmosphere, it’s wonderful: keys, electronics, feedback and even acoustic guitars brings a real atmosphere of dreaming. You’ll find still some outstanding shoegaze effects. M83 now insist even more on electronics as well as on vocals and melodies, this makes of the album a really easy listening music, so much so that the album peaked the position 15 in the US charts.
28. KARMA TO BURN "V"
Fifth full-length by northamerican stoner metal band Karma to Burn is released just one year after their “Appalachian Incantation”. This new album, entitled just “V” is another discharge of nice heavy mostly instrumental stoner rock with catching riffs y nice groove in the overall sounding. There is no significant change in the sound of Karma to Burn, just more amazing songs with that need no vocals and that surely make a nice couple with bands like Pelican and Tank 86. Some vocals may be found although, they do not represent an important element. Not losing the tradition, the songs have titles of numbers.
27. IXION "To the Void"
Utterly majestic doom metal in the vein of latest Void of Silence album. Ixion is a France based band that paints a very catching astral and majestic atmosphere. The base of their sound is death/doom metal with both growls and clean vocals. The brushes that Ixion uses to create the atmosphere are the keyboards which are constant in the whole album, this astral/nocturnal sound may result similar to Mexican outfit A Perpetual Dying Mirror. This debut album is also blessed by an excellent composition gift.
26. LOVESLIESCRUSHING "Heart of Fire" ("EverythingIsChamical, Virtual 7" No. 7")
Enigmatic and beautiful are the best words to describe the music that master Scott Cortez creates under the moniker of Lovesliescrushing being helped by the ethereal voice of Melissa. Lovesliescrushing is offering for free download their EP “Heart of Fire”, you may have listened to the homonymous song since 2010 in their Myspace page. This short EP is released as a part of the free downloadable series Everythingischemical, available at bandcamp.com. Scott Cortez brings once again quite mysterious music, three ambient songs of drones, amazing floating guitar effects and some electronics. Of course, Melissa’s voice sounds wonderful assembling together the characteristic sound of Lovesliescrushing.
25. PANTHEIST "Pantheist"
Here’s Pantheist latest production. Three years ago we saw how the band parted ways with funeral doom canons to experiment other territories. In that year 2008, I wasn’t convinced about the sound of Pantheist, but in 2011 the band released an album that confirmed the progressive orientation of their sound. In my opinion, Pantheist have finally landed after the step they took with “Journey Through Lands Unknown”, their sound is now more rock-oriented, with mostly clean vocals. Nevertheless, the doom and church-like atmosphere seems to remain being an important element letting the organ to lead some nice passages of the album. The composition and song-writing is outstanding, with dynamic drums, acoustic guitars, keys, piano and even a sax, making of the album a very rich experience. The album features one of the most beautiful songs of the year: “Be Here” which shows a melancholic yet lightened atmosphere.
24. LAKE OF TEARS "Illwill"
I’m a huge fan of Lake of Tears and even though their changes during their career they have never disappointed me. This time, they offers “Illwill”, immediately one notices that the cover does not look like a Lake of Tears one. The music inside is also a bit different. Lake of Tears have added some uptempo moments and speed metal riffage that brings the band closer to typical metal sound. However, their music is still fairly creative, conserving the acid and psychedelic moments as well as the dynamic vocals. This album shows also a less melodic or melancholic Lake of Tears, this time there are no acoustic ballads, perhaps this is a angrier and colder Lake of Tears.
23. ELDER "Dead Roots Stirring"
A new production Massachusetts-based band Elder. This album delivers another dosage of wonderful grooving heavy riffs as well as a nice amount of psychodelia. The music remains downtempo most of the times, however there are good mid-tempo moments, this kind of not always slow stoner doom metal will surely remind you to stoner metal legend Sleep. This dynamic music shows an Elder a bit more creative than the one from the debut recording.
22. COMATOSE VIGIL "Fuimus, Non Sumus"
After a short break from the band, A.K. Iezor is back in the line-up of Comatose Vigil, one the biggest monsters of Russian funeral doom metal. This time the band releases “Fuimus, non Sumus”. This album has a polished sound, a high recording quality that seems to put the band closer to their brother band Abstract Spirit with same Iezor on vocals. This album is terrific, extremely slow and crushing guitars, monotonous down-tempo drums, the brutal characteristic vocals and the majestic and horror-like keyboards. Another band that seems to have hit the mark and released their best work.
21. KOKOMO "If Wolves"
Kokomo is a german instrumental post-rock that released their third full-length album this 2011. This is one of these well-hidden gems of post-rock, young guys with a big talent whose popularity should be growing. The band bases their music on post-rock as well as on dance music although you’ll not find electronics here, just amazing clean guitars, shoegaze effects and amazing melodies. Even thought their concern for the atmosphere generated by their sound, the band seems to play a bit heavier that other post-rock bands, adding heavy riffs and gloomy moments. For example, second song “91 Meter” could easily be tagged as “doomgaze”. Very high quality post-rock.
20. COLLAPSE UNDER THE EMPIRE "Shoulders and Giants"
Another high quality post-rock album from Germany. Collapse Under the Empire is a duo that adds electronics and keyboards to their atmospheric post-rock. The result is an elegant and solid sound. As it has to be in this genre, guitar melodies and effects are amazing as well as the composition duty. These guys seem to be concerned on showing their gifts as guitarists, developing some complexity in their guitar work, as well as a quite polychromatic use of pedals.
19. ARGUS "Boldy Stride the Doomed"
One of the big surprises of the year was the second album released by Pennsylvania-based band Argus. This band seems to have the tag “this is how heavy/doom metal should sound”, since they reach an excellent mixture of the elements that one wishes to hear when one runs into an album in this genre. They have a nice high vocalist, amazing riffs and solos, doomed lyrics and a lot dynamism. Their guitar work seems to search for complexity, which is an extra point for Argus. The overall sound arrives to Solitude Aeturnus territories. An essential 2011 release for people inside the traditional and epic doom metal scene. READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
18. OMIT "Repose"
Norwegian singer Cecilie Langlie is sort of a muse of doom metal, Omit is her newest project releasing in 2011 their first production which seems a bit confusing since one could hope Cecilie would better release new Skumring material. This new project offers a long double CD of melancholic and torturous doom metal blessed with Cecilie’s beautiful voice and a brilliantly executed violin that brings even more melancholy to the whole sound of Omit. The tempo is not as down as in Skumring, drums are less monotonous. In my opinion, the lack of growls avoids the idea of cheesing “the beauty and the beast” metal which is good for me, just the same that happens with Skumring.
17. MOURNFUL CONGREGATION "The Book of Kings"
Australian funeral doom metal band Mournful Congregation is back with a new release after their 2009 “June Frost”. This new album is entitled “The Book of the Kings” and seems to continue with the ideas developed in “June Frost”. The band keeps on playing slow and torturous funeral doom although these last two albums are a less dark and painfully slow that their early works. The keyword here is melodies. Mournful Congregation drives their music with excellent weeping guitars and that unique alternation of deep growls and tortured clean vocals. “The Book of Kings” remains being an outstanding funeral doom metal album, amazing to any doomster’s ears.
16. THE GATES OF SLUMBER "The Wretch"
I really find the new The Gates of Slumber album more depressive than their past “Conqueror”. Entitled “The Wretch”, this album sounds just perfect with amazing crushing and groovy riffs, this time with more slow moments. The formula of The Gates of Slumber remains the same, featuring those wonderful solos, the great vocal work, the doomed feeling and the suitable retro elements that makes of The Gates of Slumber one of the most important traditional doom metal band with a very pure sound.
15. TIM HECKER "Ravedeath, 1972"
Master of electronics Tim Hecker is back with another excellent dosage of experimental electronica. “Ravedeath, 1972” is a huge piece of sound art. Tim Hecker uses lots of both hardware and software components to create a quite beautiful experience. The album features a real church organ and piano recording that has been manipulated with delays and things like that to build a very unique, beautiful and haunting atmosphere. This epic release drives the listener through different soundscapes, sometimes soft and calm distant sounds and others harsh and dense feedback attacks. This album is a true masterpiece that should not be missed by anyone interested on experimental music. The album is mastered by the very James Plotkin.
14. KONTAKTE "We Move Through Negative Spaces"
I love this album, since the very first time I listened to it I felt in love. Kontakte plays fairly inspired instrumental post-rock in the vein of old This Will Distroy You, but with the original idea of not using drums but replacing them with electronic beats which brings a very unique sound. Just imagine what happens when melodic clean guitars, shoegaze effects, distortion pedals and electronics are placed in the same piece of song. The result is a very unique atmosphere that seems to transmit lots of feelings without saying a word. The album contains long atmospheric parts and also features nice keys of analog instruments like cellos. READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
13. WOODS OF DESOLATION "Torn Beyond Reason"
New Woods of Desolation album “Torn Beyond Reason” seems to take the band into a more accessible framework. This is sometimes almost offensive for depressive black metal fans, so, as one could imagine, this album have received some bad criticism. For me, Woods of Desolation remains being an excellent band. After a moment of experimentation on depressive rock lands with their project Grey Waters, the band seem to incorporate some of those melodic depressive rock elements to the black metal structure. The album has a very catching sound featuring melodies, fast drums blasts, distorted raw guitars and both clean and tortured harsh black metal vocals. Woods of Desolation delivers a quite sad and melancholic experience.
12. HEINALI AND MATT FINNEY "Ain't No Night"
A huge surprise was the new album of this strange project. Heinali, a multi-instrumentalist musician who, as far as I remember, had already worked on post-rock before and Matt Finney, an introspective poet from Alabama have joined to produce a very unique music experience. In 2010 they came to my ears with “Lemonade” which result interesting to me, but not really convincing. However in 2011 Heinali and Matt Finney were back with a new album filled with a different atmosphere. “Ain’t No Night” is heavy, noisy, crushing, dark, mysterious and just epic in the vein of The Angelic Process. Guitars are now much more consistent with excellent shoegaze sounding. Matt Finney’s spoken words bring that enigmatic and strange feeling. Another one that could fit in the “doomgaze” tag.
11. AETHER "The Gods Have Forgotten Us"
Extremely underground band based on Argentina. Aether was introduced to me by a friend, they had released two EP’s one in 2008 and this new one in 2011. The band plays a unique form of melodic death doom metal with an excellent vocal work featuring 3 different vocal styles. Clean vocals are similar to Isole, while musically the band shows a huge influence from My Dying Bride, varying their sound from slow to mid tempo and using those characteristic melodic guitars. For such an underground band, the album has a very high recording quality. Hope this project keep on earning more acknowledge.
10. LENTO "Icon"
Lento is an Italian-based band that figures into the top ten due their excellent instrumental music that can fit into the post-metal tag. Fairly powerful riffs that vary their mood across the album, but the overall atmosphere is dark and filled with bewilderment. The guitar work is very rich since the band features three guitarist, which delivers lots of possibilities. “Icon” is their third work and is one of those albums that one enjoys since the first track to last riff. Highly recommended for fans of Pelican. READ THE WHOLE REVIEW
9. ÆTHENOR "En Form for Blå"
Super group Aethenor has earned good criticism during their existence. But, in my very own opinion, this is their most mature work, Aethenor has reached their most polychromatic sound. Vincent de Roguin from Shora is no longer a part of the project and did not took part of this album. However, Steve Noble and Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg are added to Aethenor's line-up. Of course, O’Malley and Guapo’s Daniel O’Sullivan remain into the project. “En Form For Blå” brings an amazing collage of sound art. As you could wait it, the brad new element are the percussions executed by Noble. We notice a clear Guapo influence in the electronic noises as well as the typical keys and electronics from Ulver. O’Malleys guitar do not represent the main instrument, although the add the harsh element to the atmosphere.
8. CASSIE "Something You Always Wanted to Hear"
Not to be confused with the R&B singer Cassie, this is a young post-rock band based on Finland. In fact, this is their very first EP, they have reached position 8 in this top due their extremely unique sound. Cassie plays post-rock with an outstanding atmosphere, clean guitars and some shoegaze effects. But what makes this band so unique is their vocalist, a girl with a very sweet and poignant voice. She expresses amazing lyrics filled with sorrow and sometimes hope. It took just a few plays for me to fall in love with this really short EP. As a more personal fact, lyrics from “Tin Cans and Strings” fitted almost exactly with a situation I was involved in late October. Melodies from this album are wonderful, creating an irresistible hook to your ears. Very soft, melodic and melancholic music, a nice caress to the ear that surely lots who enjoy post-rock will love.
7. MY DYING BRIDE "The Barghest O'Whitby"
They said “we have never been so connected to doom metal before” as they announced the release of this short EP of one only long song. Well, My Dying Bride didn’t fail to their doomster fans. After their polemic “Evinta”, the bride was back with this piece of melancholic doom. “The Barguest O’Whitby” is slow and crushing, Aaron makes both harsh tortured vocals and his typical expressive clean ones. Of course, weeping guitars couldn’t be missing. But one of the biggest highlights of the album is the violin. While “For Lies I Sire” represented the back of a violin to the bride I didn’t really enjoyed it because it didn’t sound good enough. That violinist was fired and this new EP is the first recording with Macgowan on violin, he makes a much better job and My Dying Bride finally seems to sound complete with that melancholic violin passages. This album is dark, cold and melancholic, I just can’t imagine what will happen when the bride releases their up-coming full-length… I just can’t wait!
6. ABSTRACT SPIRIT "Horror Vacui"
Abstract Spirit is one of those bands that seem to get better each album they release. These Russian monuments to funeral doom have polished and improved their sound with an album in which they have taken care of every detail, the recording quality is much more better than most of the funeral doom metal albums. However, what takes Abstract Spirit to position 5 is the orchestration added. The band works with, as far as I know, real trumpets, cellos and violas. Add this funeral orchestra to the ultra slow drums, crushing riffs and Iezor’s powerful guttural vocals and you’ll have a colossal sound that, as the title of the album suggest it, brings a horror and funerary atmosphere. One can find oneself slowly walking in a funeral procession listening to this.
5. MURKRAT "Druidging the Mire"
God! What to say about MurkRat’s latest album. These girls do an utterly original doom metal in such a way that a collage of lots of bands come to mind while one dives into this masterpiece. The music is slow, with repetitive riffs similar to The Funeral Orchestra. They add keys and an amazing piano. Vocals are the most interesting matter about this album, while one can hope a romantic soprano like in many female-fronted doom metal bands, MurkRat seem to be concerned in sounding ugly and scary yet with some operatic moments. Bloody Panda, Cortisol (in their “Infinite Supply of Nothing” song) and perhaps even very early Opera IX may come to mind when one listens to this, but, believe in me, Murkrat has a unique sound.
4. MOGWAI "Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will"
Mogwai seem to be unable to release a disappointing album. After their 2008 “The Hawk is Howling”, the band were back in February with “Hardcore Will Never Die, but You Will”. This album is amazing, it remains in the same style forged by the band, extremely beautiful instrumental songs, as well as other with almost indecipherable vocals. Mogwai delivers that unique combination of experimentation, melodies and excellent composition. Distortion is still a good element inside the sound of Mogwai. I caught the band in Mexico City and watched them playing “Rano Pano”, the song with the biggest number of reproductions in my iTunes in this 2011. This song is amazing, the pedal working, distortion, effects and that hooking melody show how Mogwai are incredible musicians and masters of their craft. And, believe in me, they do a wonderful job on the stage. This masterpiece seems to express a feeling-good mood, another demonstration of how to express feelings without lyrics.
3. CROWBAR "Sever the Wicked Hand"
Some of my favorite riffs of the year came from this album. It seems like not much has happened in the last 20 years. Crowbar keep on standing with a very solid and direct sound. After 6 years of waiting for a new release, Crowbar attacks with “Sever the Wicked Hand” having a very high quality of sound, the band delivers amazing heavy groovy riffs but also slow doomed songs showing that depressive feeling inside Crowbar is still alive. Kirk Windstein sounds amazing with those expressive, raspy often tortured vocals. “Sever the Wicked Hand” reaches position 3 due its catching heavy riffs, the doomed yet aggressive attitude and the composition of hooking songs like “I Only Deal in True”, one of my favorites of the year. Crowbar is an example of how sludge bands use to create music with attitude during long periods of time making no important changes to their sound. Someone said Eyehategod?
2. ESOTERIC "Paragon of Dissonance"
Every album released by Esoteric seems to peak the highest positions. As I said it for Mogwai, Esoteric is another band that seems to be unable to release a bad album. 3 years after their majestic “Manical Valley”, Esoteric is back with another colossal double CD album. Entitled “Paragon of Dissonance” there is no much to say, it is Esoteric, it is torturous, magic, unique, transcendental, slow, enigmatic… The guitar work is amazing, it is not a surprise that 3 guitarist are needed for live shows. We listen to the characteristic drones and pedal effects, but also outstanding solos. Esoteric has added some melodic and mid-tempo parts that make an interesting dynamism. Another thing that remains just haunting is the vocal work, that tortured screams and deep growls with a lot of echo that fits with the guitar effects. Esoteric offers a relatively short song, of just 7 minutes, which could be a good introduction to new listeners, it is entitled “Loss of Will” and is extremely slow and melancholic. This is one of those bands that I would not know what to do if they stop making music.
1. 40 WATT SUN "The Inside Room"
…And the prize of the best album of the year goes to Patrick Walker and his new band 40 Watt Sun. I mean it, I mean it, Walker is a genius, he’s an excellent song-writer. Since Warning announced its demise, we were waiting for the second part of “Watching from a Distance”. And finally in 2011 Walker recorded his new material. There are several changes from the framework of Warning’s doom metal. 40 Watt Sun seems to have a more rock-oriented approach, perhaps some folk-acoustic influence in the song writing style. These new elements bring to a slow doom metal base an utterly original sound. For example, some acoustic guitars are played along with the noisy distorted electric guitars, delivering a harsh yet melodic sound. The album is so expressive, lyrics are perfect and Patrick expresses them with his characteristic vocals. One can imagine Patrick Walker walking alone across a street in Christiania writing these beautiful songs. “The Inside Room” is one of those albums that leave a mark in your life. I wish the best for this project and we’ll be waiting for new material from Walker, meanwhile we’ll be enjoying this masterpiece. READ THE WHOLE REVIEW