"2011", "Absu", "Anaal Nathrakh", "Blut Aus Nord", "David Lynch", "Dephosphorus", "Mitochondrion", "Nightbringer", "best of", "black metal", "death metal", "hammers of misfortune", "metal", "reviews", "skeletonwitch"

Favorite Albums of 2011

I'm no music critic. And I certainly never claim to be an expert about anything, especially music. But anyone that truly knows me will tell you that I love music more than anyone else they know. I can guarantee that. Hell, practically my entire reason for having a job is so that I can buy music (actual tangible releases of music) and have a place of my own to keep it and listen to it. Without music, especially metal, I would not be alive right now.

On that note, here are 10 albums I've heard from 2011 that I love the most... For all it's worth.

10. David Lynch - Crazy Clown Time
This might throw a lot of people off, but I love Crazy Clown Time. It moved me the first time I heard it. It was one of those moments that I wouldn't trade for anything. As far as I'm concerned, it was just me in a dark room listening to David Lynch play music for me, and me alone.

Listen to Pinky's Dream

9. Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination
I picked up the vinyl of Forever Abomination (and a sweet shirt) after Skeletonwitch destroyed Lawrence, Kansas this year. Not only did they put on one hell of a show, but they were also genuinely nice guys. This album has been in my circulation ever since. "Drink Beer! Smoke Weed! Eat Pussy!"

8. Nightbringer - Hierophany of the Open Grave
Apocalypse Sun is one of my favorite recent black metal albums. I actually wasn't sure if Nightbringer was going to be able to top something so enthralling and otherworldly. Well, I'm not quite sure if Hierophany of the Open Grave is better, but it is by all means equal. This grabs me and drags me on a horrifying journey no matter where I hear it.

7. Blut Aus Nord - 777 – Sect(S)
Nightbringer's Hierophany of the Open Grave successfully takes me on a journey. Blut Aus Nord's 777 - Sect(s) takes me to a higher level of consciousness. This is thought provoking, terrifying, jaw dropping metal that is black as black can be.

Listen to Epitome I

6. Blut Aus Nord - 777 – The Desanctification
What's that? One band successfully took two consecutive slots in my best of 2011 list? Yep. Actually, I am not sure which of these two entries in the 777 trilogy I like better. They both go hand in hand, yet they are also totally separate entities, all the while recognizable as Blut Aus Nord. I can't wait for the final chapter.

Listen to Epitome XIII

5. Mitochondrion - Parasigniosis
This is raw, nasty and technically impressive. As any extreme metal fan knows, that's a hard combination to achieve. It also has one of the best opening tracks I've heard in a while. It's a slow burn for the first 2 minutes, but once everything explodes it's just amplifies the intensity. An intensity that never fucking stops.

Listen to Parasignosis

4. Dephosphorus - Axiom
Sadly, I don't even remember where I first read about Dephosphorus. I easily follow over 50 metal sites in my Google Reader. But I am eternally grateful to whoever it was that wrote about this album and enticed me to download it (they released it for free, I do not steal music). For about the first month after I had it on my computer I constantly found myself craving and revisiting it. So I ordered the vinyl, because these guys definitely deserve the support. Axiom hits every sweet spot in my body. Raw fucking energy, intelligent lyrics and a captivating aesthetic. If you haven't heard this yet, download the free copy and give it a listen. And if you like it fucking buy it. Support the music you love. It feels good. Trust me.

Listen to Continuum

3. Anaal Nathrakh - Passion
The new album from Anaal Nathrakh was the first thing I heard this year that really floored me. I will never forget this moment: When I first received Passion in the mail, I popped it in the cd player of my car to give it a listen on the way to the grocery store. By the middle of Tod Huetet Uebel I literally had to pull off the road into a parking lot because I realized I wasn't paying attention to anything but the music. I honestly couldn't believe what I was hearing. So I sat in that dark, empty parking lot and finished listening to Passion. And when it was over, I sat there and listened to it in its entirety again.

Listen to Who Thinks of the Executioner

2. Hammers of Misfortune - 17th Street
While compiling this list, I've constantly been moving albums up and down in order. Anyone that's made a list like this has surely experienced the same thing. It can be rather frustrating. So I decided to set a standard for this list (and myself), and that is staying power. 17th Street has serious staying power. I can't predict the future, but I'm pretty good at being realistic. Example: When I ask myself, "Which of these ten albums can I see myself thoroughly enjoying when I'm 80 as much as I do today?" The answer is hands down 17th Street. I remember asking a similar question to myself in college when I had to sell a bunch of my cd's because I was low on cash and needed to eat. I decided to keep all of my Danzig and Slayer. If I ever have to do the same thing in the future, I will not part ways with Hammers of Misfortune's 17th Street.

Listen to 17th Street

1. Absu - Abzu
You know that last bit about staying power? Well, when I'm 80 I can realistically see myself enjoying Abzu as much as 17th Street. Now at this point everyone reading this surely thinks I'm crazy, because this is practically the polar opposite when it comes to metal. So let me explain. Absu's latest album embodies all that I love and live for. I recently turned 30 years old, so I'm no spring chicken. Yet Abzu gives me the same, spine tingling feeling as when I first heard Emperor when I was 16. The feeling that only hordes of metal fans can relate to. The feeling that makes me want to kick my desk over and chop it up with a battle axe. The feeling that makes me want to burn everything I own and eat nothing but what I kill with my bare hands. And realistically, when I'm 80, I can see myself wanting to feel like I'm 16 again. Kill fucking everything. This is album of the year.

Listen to Skrying in the Spirit Vision