I’ve spent 2011 harping on about one band: Trap Them. It’s unlikely you could have had a conversation with me about music without me saying “Darker” and “Handcraft” at some point. I may have just spoilt the incredible fun of reading my list. Anyway… the other nine albums on this list are wicked as well. Buy them all.
We’ve had the pleasure of TesseracT guitarist James Monteith writing a column on this website for the past year and that only happened because we’re such big fans of the band. Tesseract are absolutely one of the premier tech metal bands around and when One was released in March it confirmed that. The balance between melody and fucking massive riffs is brilliant but Two will undoubtedly be even better. I’m looking forward to hearing Eliot Coleman sing on a TesseracT record, that’s for sure.
Nobody expected these puerile metalcore youngsters to ever write a brilliant new record but the Zombie EP hinted towards better things. Then this came along with all its thunderous riffs squealing vocals and massive spacious keyboards. It’s a good one and surprisingly heavy if you give it a chance.
This is the culmination and combination of everything that was excellent about Mastodon’s previous four albums. The Hunter is the finest example of how to progress a career properly.
This is a band that we fell in love with in 2010 when they only had a couple of songs written. Late Love didn’t disappoint. Having come out of the hardcore scene, the music they play sounds like a lot of the post-hardcore from the late 90s, whether they like it or not. Wolves Like Us aren’t the kind of band that are going to tour for three years and become massive but this album is definitely enough.
As if I could get away without an Icelandic band in my Top 10. Seriously, though, this double album is a masterpiece of sorts. There are black metal influences, rock and roll influences and huge atmospheric swathes of delicious music. It’s as thought provoking as it is satidfying. Solstafir have always been excellent but Svartir Sandar cements their position as the best Icelandic metal band around.
With every listen of Unto The Locust it became clearer and clearer that I preferred it to The Blackening. Machine Head have re-discovered the knack of being awesome.
WHVN are one of the bands to have shaped my music tastes. I was over the moon when they got back together with Grady singing and I was over another planet’s moon when I heard the results. Voir Dire is their heaviest album to date and I like it heavy. Carpe Diem and El Diablo will always have an extra special place in my heart but Voir Dire is not far off that status at all.
Like a silly, silly idiot, I left this album out of my Metal Hammer Top 20 – it would’ve been my #2 there – but all is well and good because I’m able to talk a little bit about why I love this album on here. God Is War is 32 incredible minutes of pure groove-filled fury. If Trap Them hadn’t released Darker Handcraft, this would be my heavy album of the year. But they did.
It seems as though I’m swinging from extremes here but I assure it’s no bid to appear diverse, eclectic and awesome. I just am awesome. So are …Trail Of Dead. I’d like to say they’ve always been awesome but they released two pretty shit albums until this year. Tao Of The Dead is an absolute return to form and I haven’t stopped listening to it all year. There are very, very few albums that last that long on my stereo – it’s essentially how I work out that it’s a bloody brilliant album. Yep, putting it on again.
What can I say about Darker Handcraft that I haven’t said already this year? I reviewed it here in February and again on the BBC in November. I received this album from Prosthetic Records in January and haven’t stopped listening to it all year. It’s a phenomenal record that remains eminently listenable despite being one of the heaviest things in the world. There is absolutely no excuse for you not to own this record.
I’ve also had the good fortune to have seen Trap Them live on a number of occasions this year. Beyond Darker Handcraft being my album of 2011, Trap Them are my band of 2011. No doubts.