Lo-Pan Salvador This slab of riff-rock got a lot of love over at The Obelisk. I’ve admittedly only listened to it once. It definitely rocks, and has a nice heavy sound, but it gets rather samey for me. I think all the songs are in the same key; multiple times a song literally starts on the same chord/note as the one before it ended on. Most are also in around the same tempo, with a slower one towards the end.
Red Fang Murder The Mountains – This is more like it. Hairy beer-swillin’ dudes with badass clever riffs and epic lyrics worked into songs that go places. High On Fire didn’t put out an album in ’11 and this might be the next best thing, but their sense of fun and affection for throwing in super icky distortion tones on the solos set them apart as their own thing. I had the great fortune to catch them live here in Des Moines and they did in no wise disappoint. I’m surprised not to see this on more 2011 lists, actually.
Bloodiest Descent All Bruce Lamont does is win. This one definitely ends up on the list. I was hearing praise for it all over the place, then I saw some web site was giving away a copy in a drawing so I entered it and won. End up corresponding with the guy who runs the site, he checks out Centipede Farm, and next thing I know I’m writing reviews for The Bone Reader. Even laying aside the bonus points this album gets for the story I have with it, it’s mind-blowing. I wrote a full review here somewhere so I’ll defer to my earlier words to explain what I love about it.
Bruce Lamont Feral Songs For The Epic Decline – Speaking of Bruce Lamont. This is a gorgeously dark and inventive album definitely worth hearing, though some of it now in hindsight feels like rough-sketches for some of the moods and concepts of Bloodiest. Still neat as shit though.
Marax The Weight of Insignificance – Marax is another of my new discoveries in 2011 as I somehow got contacted my Mr. Crowe to do a split 3″ CD-R with him. I have copies of same for sale or trade. A very prolific noise artist, Marax had several releases this year, many of them of very extended length and released in the form of free downloads. This one is an ultraminimalist two-part piece: in the first part he plays a low hum and static through a wah pedal for 49 minutes and 8 seconds; in the second he uses the first as source material and gives it more layers through additional effects and post-processing, for another 49 minutes and 8 seconds. This probably sounds like an absolute nightmare to listen to for most of you, but I jammed it in my headphones at work and enjoyed it very much, ominous yet tranquil. Given the right opportunity I would dim the lights, put this on the stereo, and just zone out to it. The noise of my upstairs neighbors’ kids stomping around and loud cars taking off from the apartment complex across the street would probably meld into it and become much less annoying.
Rwake Rest – Another of my big favorites in the metal category this year, and one of the releases I reviewed for The Bone Reader, a literally apocalyptic doom concept album of downright frightening intensity.
The Wounded Kings In the Chapel of the Black Hand – I volunteered to review this one for The Bone Reader just because I was just excited for a new Wounded Kings album. Breaking in a new lineup and new lead vocalist, Steve Mills and company added extra tunefulness to their gloomy atmosphere and came up with a big winner that has brought them a lot of new attention.
Thunder Bunny …There Is A Gate – Just reviewed this a few posts ago, go check that out.
The Seed Of Something s/t cassette – Des Moines teen garage-indie underdog heartthrobs finally bust out a recording and it’s exactly as raw and enthusiastic as you’d want it.
Richard Buckner Our Blood – After a long absence which we come to find out that the in-progress album suffered various disasters and restarts, Richard Buckner puts out something that appeared to somehow manage to appeal to both sides of his divided fanbase, that is, those who preferred his earlier country-oriented sounds and those who get down with the more rock-oriented direction since his hooking up with Merge Records. It’s neither a departure nor a return to form exactly. Though personally I could have used a couple more of the driving tunes that propel his previous couple of Merge releases, it’s the pure minimalist melodic beauty, Buckner’s real calling card, that this album makes its case on and succeeds.
SubRosa No Help For The Mighty Ones – Intriguing stuff — culty doom metal with electric violins and foresty female vocal harmonies. 7 longish maestoso-tempo songs and one a capella traditional. The harmonies and violin parts are tonally off-kilter at times, making for a strange alien feel, while elsewhere they’re gorgeously consonant. It lulls in spots but in others is absolutely beautiful.
Mutwawa Necro Zulu – Yep, Mutwawa had another release in ’11.