DEVIL’S DOZEN 2011 + THE LAST JUDGEMENT
This was a year that was full of surprises. First of all – and it pains me to say it again – the massive let-down of Mastodon‘s implosion by way of The Hunter. It sucks to think that the band that I utterly adored for so many years would probably want to punch my lights out if we ever met in person, but I don’t do this shit to duck and cover on the tough calls, fake people out or kiss anyone’s ass. My hopes are high that they’ll right the ship and get things back on track with their next release.
The other surprise was that my personal list this year is so heavily dominated by black metal. To be completely honest, I reserve a healthy degree of skepticism for “black metal” as a narrowly defined by the notion of genre.
Someone makes a another boring doom or stoner rock record… so what? We all turn our heads and move on. Black metal, on the other hand, is particularly dependent on authenticity and every year that goes by, there is just more and more phony, uninspired bullshit that plagues this music as an artform. The mystical and the occult is a terrible, TERRIBLE thing when placed in the hands of morons. Not to mention all of the unbearable theatrical misanthropy that goes along with it. Therefore, I take black metal on a case-by-case basis and the bar is set mighty high.
So here we have it: without further adue… The 2011 edition of The Bone Reader’s personal Devil’s Dozen!!
#13. Skeletonwitch + Forever Abomination
I don’t know why, but somehow, I still think of Skeletonwich as something of a “guilty pleasure”. It’s probably because they’re these guys are having so much goddamn fun and in spite of all their success, they don’t take themselves too seriously.
In any case, Forever Abomination is their best work yet and if you have the opportunity to catch them live, by all means, I suggest that you do because the Witch is the BITCH!
#12. Sourvein + Black Fangs
Although the searing blast of feedback that opens the album should serve as fair warning, it’s hard to prepare yourself for the incredible wallop that Black Fangs packs. (the guitar sound is just absolutely ABSURD). Even if you were prepared and well braced for the impact, it just keeps going anyways and you’re going to be completely bashed in by the end.
#11. Hail!Hornet + Disperse The Curse
It’s hard for me to put the weight of an entire year on one fucking song, but if I was going to, “Kill The Pigs” might just be it. I must have listened to this tune several hundred times this year and I swear to you, it still puts the hairs up on the back of my neck each and every mother fucking time.
You see, this isn’t just another vitriolic “fight song” or some sort of self-induced tantrum caught on tape. This is the true sound of the Horn of Jerico, my friends: Babylon DESTROYER. Followed by “Gifted Horse”, the title track and “Beast Of Bourbon”, it’s undeniably qualified for this year’s Devil’s Dozen.
The rest of the album may not burn quite as brightly, but if you sleep on this release, shame and SHAME!!
#10. Bloodiest + Descent
I don’t mean to sound cynical or elitist but frankly, it’s easy to see this one going over a lot of people’s heads. But to quote Barry Manilow, “Misfits aren’t misfits around other misfits” so we’re all in good company, right?
…OK. Barry Manilow was a fucking dweeb, but that’s not the point.
Maybe people got this one, maybe not. Who fucking cares?!? Either way, I stand by this as being one of the most worthwhile and enjoyable releases of 2011. Don’t be a fucking dweeb.
#9. Rotten Sound + Cursed
How can something that sounds so fucking Rotten still be so goddamn beautiful? It’s probably a result of the combination of repeated blunt force trauma together with a copy of the lyric sheet for Cursed. It comes with the album, by the way, so fucking BUY IT if you haven’t already.
#8. Trap Them + Darker Handicraft
There are some very particular reasons that I am so fond of Trap Them. First and foremost, they put the absolute maximum amount of energy that they possibly can into kicking ass at all times.
The second reason is that they have a sharply refined – and frankly, rather unnerving – artistic vision, courtesy of vocalist Ryan McKenny. What I really appreciate about McKenny is that rather than simply painting a picture, he’s got the gift of bringing the listener into his world. It isn’t so much “post apocalyptic” as it is a revealing depiction of humanity’s failings and just how fragile the human condition really is.
While they don’t go out of their way to glorify the world that they depict, it’s put forward in a vivid and all-encompassing way. While it isn’t pleasant, what makes it great is that somehow, it is deeply personal – even intimate. Intimacy is scary on anyone’s terms – even moreso when everyone in the picture is dead, dying or soon to join them.
#7. Earth + Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light pt. 1
Angels of Darkness stands on it’s own as a work of absolute genius. However, my hunch is that with the release of Angles of Darkness pt. 2 later in 2012, the whole will be greater than the sum of it’s parts. Besides, the reality is that after subjecting oneself to all manner of skull-crushing heaviness day in and day out, you gotta clear the air every now and then.
#6. Yob + Atma
Not that I wasn’t impressed by it early on, but Atma was a bit of a creeper buzz for me. By the time you’ve read this, I’ve probably gone back and forth a hundred times thinking it should have been placed higher than it is here at #6.
Regardless of where it’s placed exactly, Atma has claimed their rightful spot among this year’s best. The most striking thing about all of this is that as Yob continues on in their journey, the best may still be yet to come.
DISCLAIMER: The next three releases have been the subject of heated debate in certain circles and some may take exception to the notion that one hasn’t been placed above another. The fact is that for me, they are all cosmically intertwined by way of their sheer and utter awesomeness. As such, they could be interchangeable at either position on my list. Don’t like it? Go fuck yourself.
#5. Craft + Void
So what makes Void such an important release? One could say that it’s absolutely undeniable in the gravity of it’s expression. Or to put it more simply, Craft have raised the bar so fucking high that all of the shitty black metal records that might have come out last year will simply be intolerable this year and won’t even be released to begin with. That alone makes it worthy of the highest forms of praise.
It’s how they did it that is the interesting part: From where I stand, it was talent combined with an intense rejection of all the phony bullshit I spoke about earlier – an unyielding desire to blast all of it into oblivion. However, it’s the last ingredient that I personally find the most interesting: Sheer force of will. Craft simply stepped up and made their blackened mark on history.
#4. Taake + Noregs Vaapen
If I haven’t overstated it by now, black metal is less of a narrow-minded obsession and more of a part of a balanced musical diet for me. Maybe that’s of the reasons that this album resonates so strongly:
On the one hand, Hoest has delivered a work that is borne of a clear and intense vision of what black metal is all about. On the other hand, the fact that he’s balanced it out so perfectly with inspirations outside of the rigid boundaries that others have imposed shows what a work of genius Noregs Vaapen truly is.
If I make that sound easy, let’s be clear that it is not. …and if anyone else comes with the banjo pickin’ their album next year, it’s a one-way ticket to the pit of flame.
#3. Tombs + Path Of Totality
Personally, I never signed any sort of black metal purity pledge so anyone that has a problem with this selection can fuck right off. Guess what? The guys in Tombs didn’t either. Instead, they just cranked out a triumphant blast of genius – easily one of this year’s best – and I couldn’t care less where they’re from or what genre it fits into.
Not to dwell on the matter, but it’s astounded me that anyone has stayed up past their bedtime trying to pigeonhole this release or find fault with it’s success. The only problem I can see for Tombs is a question of how they’re gonna top it next time.
#2. Blut Aus Nord + Sect(s) / The Desanctification
Debemur Morti Productions
Let the truth be known: Although I’d been peripherally aware of them for some time, this is a band that hadn’t really reached me until this year. The fact is that this was the year that represented my full and complete indoctrination into the majestic sound known to mortal men as Blut Aus Nord.
Now that I’ve repented and my conscience is clear, all I’m going to say is that if you haven’t heard them yet, let my experience serve as an example to one and all. Do not waste any time any further. Go forth with great haste and BUY THESE RECORDS NOW.
Heartache and regret await all those who do not heed and obey. Time is of the essence. Every second you spend without listening will only add to the depth of your sorrows. You have been warned.
#1. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats + Blood Lust
Killer Candy/Rise Above Records
Blood Lust was assured of a place on year’s list from the first moment I heard it. The only question as I began putting this list together was “what spot it would claim?”
Although there were certainly other worthy contenders for the #1 spot, this was the one album that had the most repeat listens through the year, the most interrupted listens from start to finish, gave me the most overall enjoyment and never faded in the slightest.
No filler, only killer: Blood Lust is a bone fide classic. Hats off to Uncle Acid. Long may he trip!
Weedeater + Jason… The Dragon
Black Cobra + Invernal
Totimoshi + Avenger
Anthrax + Worship Music
No, there isn’t another “kvlt” band also called Anthrax. Yes, I’m talking about the guys with the shit eating grins and the bermuda shorts that had a major hand in paving the way for 99% of the other douchebag metal bands that have come and gone after them. Hopefully, this statement has shocked a couple of hipsters to death and the world is a better place for it.
Believe me when I say that Worship Music could have placed right up there on this year’s list but the fact is that these guys are in a class all on their own.
These guys stuck to their guns when even the mighty Celtic Frost took a dive into Cold Lake. They carried the torch during the lean years of grunge where “metal” was a bad word. They earned the respect of the next generation of bands like Pantera for plenty of good reasons. Not only because they ROCKED, but also because through the years, they were ambassadors for the NYHC scene and hardcore music in general.
Worship Music isn’t just a return to former glory, it’s actually their finest hour. So if you missed them the first go ‘round, this is a perfect chance to prove that you’re not some fuckface little hipster and get with the program.