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26 Dic 2011, 19:06

Here is my humble top 20 at the end of this year.

20. TesseracT- One
Fine mix of djent-y prog metal with excellent vocals and atmosphere.

19. Liturgy- Aesthethica
Essential hipster black metal. I find the band's point of view hilarious but the music is great.

18. Beardfish - Mammoth
After Destined Solitaire, I am happy to see a Beardfish album come close to 2008's Sleeping in Traffic Part 2.

17. Efrim Manuel Menuck - Plays 'High Gospel'
Like a a sliver mount zion album, but easier to digest, and with a broader range.

16. Falls of Rauros - The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood
Agalloch-esque folky epic black metal. Does the job nicely. Well mixed, too.

15. Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You
This sort of album rides so high in my charts this year because, compared to the albums above (especially the metal ones), it is simply more fun to listen to. Doesn't hold a candle to Stadium Arcadium but still contains many excellent songs.

14. Mastodon - The Hunter
Initally I was really disappointed with this - "Mastopop" was what I was hearing. After repeated listens, it's clear that despite the "simpler" turn they've taken, it is just as strong a progression as the last two albums, and it's nearly as much fun, too.

13. Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
A really facinating release, glad I found it.

12. KASHIWA Daisuke - 88
Hearing that Kashiwa was dropping the electronics for his new album was intially a disappointment but this piano only record oozes with his playing style. Highlights include the stella reprise during Scorpion of Red Eyes. One of the nicest suprises all year. My fondest memory of this was listening to it whilst canoeing in Dasland, Sweden.

11. This Will Destroy You - Tunnel Blanket
"Drone doom" is probably the best genre name I've heard for this album. Much less about the build up to a climax, and much more about the quiet bits surrounding them. Fantastic atmosphere, and probably the close to what I'd want to produce if I was in a band of this kind (but, of course, they got here first). Incredible live, bud sadly I didn't hear the album's closer, Hand Powdered.

10. And So I Watch You From Afar - Gangs
I had a long debate between Gangs and The Collective (my self christened instrumental rock titans of 2011) for which should come above the other. This album is not a big progression for the band, and the mix feels inferior to the stellar self titled 2009 album - but damn, they're having some fun here.

9. Scale the Summit - The Collective
Scale The Summit matures on this album. Where their previous work was focused around them noodling on guitars making very self-contained tracks, their new album sees them making, well, much more a full album. Far better flow, mix, atmosphere, songwriting, dynamics, the list goes on. Whilst I can pick out flaws in individual song structures, the overall product is far more rewarding than Carving Desert Canyons.

8. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972
I never realised how much I loved this album until the end of the year. Very much an "evening music" ambient album, over only a few months I listened to it 15 times (and many times since then) and feel like I have a working knowledge of the whole thing. Ambient album of the year.

7. Boris- New Album
Avant-garde drone metal band plays pop music - blew Heavy Rocks II and Attention Please out of the water. This year I really got into Boris and this album, along with Flood and the orignial Heavy Rocks, have become eternal favourites.

6. Thy cataflaque - Rengeteg
I only heard this a few weeks ago, so perhaps giving it such a high position is a bit forwards, but this really blends extreme metal, electronics and folk so well. Absolutely crushing at times, often catchy, always mixed well, and excellently paced.

5. Woods of Desolation - Torn Beyond Reason
Soon after hearing this, early in the year, I saw my favourite black metal album (at least of 2011, perhaps more). This is down to the incredible mix and atmosphere, fantastic melodies, and awesome vocals. Like all good metal should, this really makes you feel powerful, lifts you high - but does so with a sentimental edge. In a word, magical.

4. Cynic - Carbon Based Anatomy
Cynic tread new ground on this release. When I saw them live, the new material was not well recieved... people found it too ambient and atmospheric, barely gripping, and not heavy enough. It's true, live, it doesn't come out well, but the studio recordings bring Cynic to very new territory. All three of the songs are fantastic and the interludes make them a really complete piece that doesn't out stay its welcome (not that any Cynic ever has). And the transition to a more atmospheric style is almost like Cynic saw me and thought "Hey, you know that new direction we were gonna take? Let's do it for him."

3. Devin Townsend Project - Ghost
...and here comes Devin Townsend. Most people who know me will know I'm a bit of a fanboy. Sorry. I'll make this short: beautiful.

2. *shels - Plains of the Purple Buffalo
I'm just gonna call this post rock, but don't be put off. What sticks out first are the dynamic changes on this - triumphant, soaring verses and choruses matched with delicate, quiet moments. The epic title track and the killer Butterfiles On Luci's Way are my favourites and showcase this very well. Really not sure how to put it, really... it's a really beautiful, heavy album, it doesn't feel generic, it's got great pacing... yeah, just put it on, and hold onto the volume knob for dear life.

1. Devin Townsend Project - Deconstruction
Once again, I'll keep this short. CHEESE-BURGER!

Honourable mentions: Three Trapped Tigers, The Dear Hunter (particularly Indigo and Black), Fair to Midland, Grouper, Turisas, Petrychor, Earlyguard, Septicflesh, Horseback, Steven Wilson, Radiohead, Wobbler, Protest the Hero, Explosions in the Sky, Blackfield.

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