Reggie’s (Plantera7’s) Top 15 Albums of 2011

To me, 2011 was a great year for metal. September, in particular, was a busy month and full of quality releases. The following list is my personal Top 15 for the year with a brief explanation for each. I hope you had a great 2011. I look forward to another year of concerts, awesome metal albums, and more importantly chatting with you about everything metal!

If you are surpised to see that a particular band you like didn’t make my list, it might just be that I didn’t get a chance to listen to that album, such as Moonsorrow for example.  I just never got it, but I see it on many blogger’s lists.  I wish I had all the time in the world to sample new stuff, but taking into consideration where I am now compared to about 4 years ago…my horizons have been seriously broadened and I owe that to fellow bloggers (especially Matt) and readers who post about the bands they like.  Thank you for tuning in this year.  We look forward to a new and exciting 2012 in metal!

15. DevilDriver – Beast

Listening to DevilDriver is like getting a shot of adrenaline to the heart. They are and probably always will be nothing short of fast and furious (not a movie reference). It may be boring for some to see the band on a continuous path of brutality, but DevilDriver does it so well. Their shows are energetic and they consistently produce solid metal albums. Beast is no exception. Favorite song on the album: You Make Me Sick

14. Ghost – Opus Eponymous

This album was a surprise. I never heard of this band and until it was profiled by Matt on A Metal State of Mind, I checked them out and really dug Opus Eponymous. I like the groovy beat which seems to contrast Satan-laced lyrics. Typically, anything Satan-related is full of angst, speed, and fury. Ghost is the opposite. I like their approach by taking lyrics that would piss off the general public and making it all sound too cool to be related to Satan. Favorite song on the album: Ritual.

13. Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning

If I had purchased this album sooner, it would probably be higher on my list for 2011. Grace for Drowning is a musical masterpiece. It isn’t heavy or too slow, but still contains quite an eclectic array of musical diversity. This is the same guy that worked on Opeth’s Heritage album, if that is any indication of what you should expect on Grace For Drowning. This is still getting quite a few spins during my workday. Favorite song on the album: Postcard.

12. Evile – Five Serpent’s Teeth

Every time I listen to Evile, I think of old-school Exodus or Testament. They have a raw sound that separates them from the more polished bands emerging today. Although Five Serpent’s Teeth is the most polished Evile album, I still get that classic metal feel when I listen to it. It’s a no-frills experience; just metal! Bands like Evile give me hope that traditional metal will carry on. Favorite song on the album: Xaraya.

11. Iced Earth – Dystopia

I was never into Iced Earth until Stu Block was recruited as vocalist. Dystopia is the reason I am going to enjoy future releases from Iced Earth. The music is crisp, clean and hard-hitting. Stu has quite a vocal range and I expect more out him when he is involved in future Iced Earth writings. Sucks for Into Eternity to lose a strong vocalist; Iced Earth will reap the benefits of their new addition. Favorite song on the album: Boiling Point.

10. Chimaira – The Age of Hell

My top 10 is loaded with adrenaline–fueled metal and Chimaira is just the start of that. Despite a large turnover in personnel, The Age of Hell is a continuation of Chimaira’s hard-edge while also an exploration of new musical avenues. Others have said The Age of Hell falls flat after a while; I don’t see it that way. It’s not Chimaira’s best, but definitely better than the last. I look forward to the future of Cleveland’s Chimaira. Favorite song on the album: Born in Blood.

9. Insomnium – One For Sorrow

This was an experiment that met its hypothesis. Album art played a role in my choice for listening to this Finnish band. One for Sorrow is a great mix of melodic/death metal. Don’t get me going on specific genre labels; this is how Wikipedia describes them. To me, it’s all just metal. Their instrumentals are haunting and their death/thrash/metal is a completely satisfying head banging experience. I wish I had discovered this band sooner, but for now I have One For Sorrow on heavy rotation. After that it will be time to start looking into their older material. Insomnium reached #1 on the Finnish Indie charts and #6 on the Finnish charts. Favorite song on the album: Only One Who Waits.

 8. Anthrax – Worship Music

I have to admit, I was surprised at how good Worship Music was when I finally got to hear it. Belladonna’s vocals are stronger than ever and the rest of band finally matured and got away from that continual chugga-chugga guitar riff they are known for. I really find no major faults with Worship music. I don’t find it earth shattering, but definitely a strong album in the Anthrax vault. It’s an all-around great Anthrax album. I hope they don’t wait another 8-years to release new music, but for now I am quite happy with Worship Music. Favorite song on the album: The Devil You Know.

 7. Trivium – In Waves

I was hoping for more of the technical guitar work we heard on Shogun, but Trivium decided to play things down a bit with In Waves. I typically don’t hold it against a band for trying new things, so I gave Trivium time…for me to get used to the new material. It took a while to really appreciate this album. I think the opening track, In Waves, was a meager choice that poorly set up the album; it’s tough to get over a less than stellar first track. I think there are some real gems that save the rest of the CD such as: Watch the World Burn, Black, Caustic are the Ties That Bind, and Forsake Not the Dream. Overall, In Waves is a quality Trivium album. They are another reason I have hope for the future of American thrash metal. Trivium also does kick-ass cover tunes which holds true for Sepultura’s Slave New World on the bonus CD version of In Waves. Favorite song on the album: Caustic are the Ties That Bind.

 6. Opeth – Heritage

This is only one of a few nonmetal albums in my top 15 for 2011. This would have appeared lower on my list, but after seeing Opeth live not too long ago, I have much more appreciation for 70s style progressive rock that is Heritage. Again, I have nothing against a band trying something different than their norm. I think we would all love to see another “traditional” Opeth album, but you have to hand it to Opeth, they are one of a very few bands that could pull off such a change in musical direction and do it well. These guys are a class act. Favorite song on the album: Slither.

5. Megadeth – TH1RT3EN

This is my favorite band of all time and very hard to not just throw them at #1 and call it a day. I am known to be biased toward Megadeth and don’t want to do that here. TH1RT3EN is a great throwback to the Youthanasia era. Megadeth is nothing less than consistent with (13). Instead of trying something new like many other bands, they recycled some older recorded material lying around and polished it with the current mega-lineup. With the lack of time they had to record (13), I can accept the reason they resurrected some older material while still creating a few new songs. The only fault I can find with (13) is probably the number of songs (overall length). I think it could have been cut off after #10- Wrecker. Other than that, this album is everything I would expect from Megadeth. I think they know what their fans want and they gave us just that; another superb quality riff-heavy Megadeth album. Favorite song on the album: Never Dead.

 4. Symphony X – Iconoclast

Iconoclast was sensory overload. I sampled a few Symphony X songs here and there and thought they were ok…things changed when I got a hold of Iconoclast. I must have listened to this album consistently for months. Iconoclast is a faultless mix of progressive/thrash elements throughout. It was number #2 at my midpoint best of 2011 and didn’t move far from there; it held up well considering the amount of new material in the last six months. Favorite song on the album: Reign in Madness.

3. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events

Despite some not-so-stellar Dream Theater albums over the last few years, I always found the hidden gems within. There isn’t one Dream Theater album I can say I do NOT like. A shakeup with primary songwriter Mike Portnoy leaving the band could have left Dream Theater crippled…not quite! A reinvigorated Dream Theater is upon us thanks to the addition of Mike Mangini. A Dramatic Turn of Events put Dream Theater right back on track. Their latest album is a great response and continuation of Dream Theater greatness. Favorite song on the album: Breaking All Illusions.

2. Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising

Slipping from number one to two from the six month point signifies the strength of Surtur Rising. Amon Amarth is an adrenaline fueled fit of fury! This is one album that can literally pick you up and pump you up no matter what mood. Not too many bands can have that effect just from listening to the CD. Their live shows are even more fury-tastic. This is one of the few bands that can command crowd participation without asking for it. Surtur Rising is a spotless album with a killer cover of Ariels by System of a Down. Unlikely cover…but they made it their own. I thought this was going to be number one, until my number one came along. Favorite song on the album: Doom Over Dead Man.

1. Machine Head – Unto The Locust.

You have to ask yourself, how could Machine Head outdo The Blackening? I figured Unto The Locust would be something great, but damn! This is another colossal Machine Head album worthy of besting The Blackening which some professional outfits labeled “album of the (last) decade.” Machine Head exceeded all expectations and set the bar even higher for thrash bands. From start to finish, Unto The Locust is what thrash metal is all about; heavy, fast, crushing, and loaded with riffs and awesome solos. McClain’s drumming is top-notch! Unto The Locust yields no compromise for radio play. For a band that almost ceased to exist, they have come back and proven themselves 10-fold. Favorite song on the album: Be Still and Know.

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About Reggie

Just a dude writing a heavy metal blog and always on the prowl for a cool metal show. I am also a family man...first and foremost!

Posted on January 4, 2012, in Best of 2011, Metal Lists and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Some amazing picks dude!! That Insomnium album will be my next purchase, I’ve been meaning to get it since you reviewed it. I do have to give that Trivium record another couple spins, I liked it when i got it when it first came out but never really kept on listening to it. Like you I was expecting something like Shogun. I need to give it a chance to grow.
    Glad I opened your ears to some new tunes!! You did the same for me!! I’m definitely digging on Chimaira, and especially Evile!!
    Peace Love and Metal!!!

  2. While I may disagree with you on the Chimaira album, this is still a strong list. In fact, that’s probably the only one I would disagree with being on a year-end/best of list! I’ll have to give Evile a turn in the next few weeks here, I have yet to check out their new one. Great job, man!

    -Dan

    • Thanks man, yeah Chimaira didn’t win over too many hearts this time around. I am supposed to go see them in March, but with the current member shakeup, I am not sure what is going to happen. Their website says they are still on tour. It will be different seeing them without Arnold on lead. I hope you like the new Evile. It is a bit more polished than their older material, but still sounds like raw 80’s thrash.

      • They just posted the new band line-up the other day on their website, so you’ll definitely get a chance to see a form of Chimaira. Eyal Levi (Daath) moved from bass in Chimaira to lead guitar, so there will be no slouching in that department at least!

        -Dan

  3. Also, I posted about the new line-up on Monday. Don’t know why I didn’t link to it. Brain fart. http://dcmetalreview.com/2012/01/02/some-brief-reflections-on-the-new-chimaira-line-up/

    -Dan

  1. Pingback: Reggie’s Top 15 Albums of 2014 | A Metal State of Mind

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