Sunday, December 25, 2011

TMHTimes Top 50 Albums of 2011: Part 1

So it's Christmas morning, which means it's finally time for me to post part 1 of 5 of the top albums/eps/singles of 2011. I wouldn't call 2011 a particularly great year for music. You could call this the year of the 8 string. 2011 was also the year where the scene became over saturated in new bands with a do it yourself work ethic. Thanks to improvements in computer technology, recording has never been easier or more affordable. But regardless, there were great albums in 2011 and there were some terrible ones too. A lot of the albums in Part 1 seem to be the ones that I wanted to love and was disappointed by. And so let's begin...

50) The Bunny The Bear - If You Don't Have Anything Nice To Say (June 28, 2011 via Victory Records)

The Bunny The Bear is one of the newest bands to explode off of the Victory Records roster. Their sound is a combination of dance-electro and metal mixed together with the dual vocal work of "The Bunny" and "The Bear". "The Bunny" provides us with heavy dark growls while "The Bear" belts out the singing melodies that sound like he just huffed a bunch of helium (think Coheed). The contract of vocals and maturity behind the songwriting is what really sets this band apart from the copious amount of bands in the scene today. Tracks like "Aisle" and "Ocean Floor" are catchy beyond belief and will remain stuck in your head for days while others are easy to pass over.

49) Suicide Silence - The Black Crown (July 12th, 2011 via Century Media Records)

Crushing, brutal, heavy as fuck... these words easily describe what you get from The Black Crown. The subject matter on this record is pretty dark, especially in tracks like "Fuck Everything" and "Slaves to Substance." Vocalist Mitch Lucker definitely experiments more with his range and different vocal techniques which keeps his screams and growls the most interesting part of this deathcore act. While I enjoyed this release a lot at first, the band really needs to work on having some diversity in their songs because after awhile I get lost amid the muddy guitar and typical riffs you'd expect from SS. This is their last release with Century Media, so it will be interesting to see if this band decides to move onto a major label.

48) Periphery - Periphery (April 20th, 2011 via Sumerian Records)

Although considered to be one of the 'forerunners' of the djent movement, this is a release I never fell completely in love with. While I love a lot of the technical guitar work, I cannot for the most part stand the vocal work. If comes off to be as flat and misplaced. It's not the fact that Periphery almost entirely uses clean singing but the fact the vocals never really seem to fit with the feeling or emotion behind the music. Crushing, heavy parts have whiny quiet vocals layered on top which takes away from  the power of the instruments. I enjoy the instrumental side of this band but the new vocalist almost ruins it for me. However, no other band sounds quite like them which is what gives this album a nice freshness to it in a world of djent.

47) The Devil Wears Prada - Dead Throne (September 13th, 2011 via Ferret Music)

I generally have a serious problem with Christian bands in the scene but DWP has grown on me ever since the release of their Zombie EP last year. So I was eager to check out their newest release Dead Throne. This is definitely DWP's heaviest release to date and contains almost as much singing as the Zombie EP. Here we see the band experimenting with new sounds and instruments (especially 7 string guitars) for the first time. Hranica's gritty vocals are more powerful than ever before and the clean singing sounds much more natural and not "autotuned" like past their past releases. Dead Throne sees the band leaving their old sound behind and brings in a new heavier/angrier DWP.

46) August Burns Red - Leveler (June 21st, 2011 via Solid State Records)

I remember back in 2006 when I was obsessed with Thrill Seeker, the same cannot be said in 2011 about Leveler. While this record is definitely listenable, I still feel like I'm listening to Messenger B-sides. 4 years ago ABR found the sound that made them into the one of the most successful metalcore acts there's ever been but they haven't changed one bit since. ABR is trapped in a cycle of regurgitating their own riffs and ideas (much like As I Lay Dying a few years back) to the point where I can't tell the songs apart anymore. While a couple tracks stand out and bring me back, I doubt I'll even check out the next ABR album. Actually I`m not really sure how this even made it on my list....

45) Big Business - Quadruple Single (2011 via Gold Metal Records)

This is the latest release from sludge metal band, Big Business. While this is only an EP with 4 songs, the tracks are long and full of all that Big Business sound I`ve come to love. This 3 piece is able to writing songs that not only catching and edgy but also chill and laid back at the same time. The vocal style is a rough gruff singing voice that sounds like it`s been abused by years with whisky and cigarettes. The drumming is very metal influenced and progressive which makes the band have a more distinct sound within their genre vs. a slow poly rhythmic beat. This is definitely "heavier" than their past releases. Always have this on my iTunes to keep things interesting.

44) The Browning - Burn This World (October 4th, 2011 via Earache Records)

This release took A LONG TIME for it to grow on me. When I first heard it I was ready to instantly send that shit to the recycling bin. Surprisingly what we have here is something that is actually unique in its own right. Burn This World is breakdowns and synth riffs meshed together (*eyes rolling*) into one. However, we have an album that has absolutely no clean singing on it and a group of dudes that don`t act or dress like their still in high school. Although they are a bit of a one trick pony, The Browning are able to write songs that are memorable and heavy without dumbing down their sound to appeal to the masses. Could use a little more depth in the lyrics and guitar work.

43) Tonight Alive - "Little Lion Man" (Single from Pop Goes Punk 4 via Fearless Records)
(For crazy reason my computer freezes when I tried to upload any version of the album artwork. FTW.)

I'd never really heard of Tonight Alive before until I (illegally) downloaded Pop Goes Punk 4 this fall and gave it a spin. I literally listened to each tune for about 30 seconds each before I started to feel a little sick and wondered if I could ever listen to another pop cover with a big breakdown in the middle. That's why this track stood out so much to me. Tonight Alive have an excellent grasp on turning the folk-indie sound of Mumford & Sons into a fun and fast pop punk cover. The lead guitar riff that imitates the banjo playing is an amazing rendition of the melody and female vocalist Jenna McDougall gives it her all to completes the energy that Tonight Alive brings to the tune.

42) In The Midst Of Lions - Shadows (November 22nd, 2011 via Facedown Records)

Here we have yet another Christian metalcore band that brings the heavy breakdowns and growling vocals but at the same time is all about worshiping the lord. Fortunately, the vocals are hard to make out for the most part and the guitar work is all I really care about anyways. I mean this is your pretty standard deathcore/metalcore album but something about it speaks better than average. The riffs are catchy and the flow of the album sits well with me. I can have this on in the background and zone out but then I find myself head banging along and doing some air guitar. Fun and heavy. This album is good times.

41) Thomas Giles - Pulse (February 1st, 2011 via Metal Blade Records)

Here we have one of my favourite "more chill" releases of 2011 from Between The Buried And Me front-man Thomas Giles. Released early this year, this album features Giles writing and playing all the instruments on this record. This is purely a one man show. No guests at all. This critically solo album features Giles on all aspects of the musical spectrum. We have some seriously sad tunes, some electronic tunes, and even some more metal tunes that sound reminiscent of his full time
act (BTBM). It is rare that you get a solo release that contains so much musical diversity and excellent songwriting. I can only describe this album as chilling, eerie, and awesome.

Check back tomorrow for 40 - 31!

Contributor --> Phil Keeling's Top 6 of 2011:
1. Counterparts - The Current Will Carry Us
2. Stray From The Path - Rising Sun
3. Defeater - Empty Days & Sleepless Nights
4 It Prevails - Stroma
5. The Human Abstract -Digital Veil
6. Bury Your Dead - Mosh 'n' Roll

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