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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reg's Top 20 Albums of 2011







Well, it's that time of year again when I share what albums I believe to be the very best of the year or at least the ones that I enjoyed the most this year. The hardest thing to do when hearing well over 400 albums each year is to narrow that list down to a Top 20. Most of the bands listed here have been featured on Heavy Planet in one way or another by either myself or one of my talented writers within the past year. So without further adieu, I share with you my Top 20 Albums of 2011. ~Reg

#20. Black Acid Devil-Mountains of Madness























Every year I wait until the end of the year to compile my best of list because there may be one last album that blows you away for one reason or another. This year that album happened to be "Mountains of Madness" from Boulder, Colorado's very own sludge demons Black Acid Devil. "The band plays a fierce blend of Stoner/Sludge metal. By blending monsterous riffs, monumental time changes, furious bass lines and gritty vocals the band beckons the ominous sky like a rolling metallic thunder. As the band states...Black Acid Devil Slays...INDEED!"

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#19. Grifter-Grifter


























With catchy melodies and memorable hooks, this band from the UK finally got the recognition they deserved from Stoner/Classic Rock label Ripple Music this year. Taking their influences from seventies classic hard rock, Grifter injects a feel good energy, heavy blues riffs, bouncing bass lines and great vocals into a very tasty debut. This album is just a terrific listen all the way through. Get off your ass right now and move to the groove. Check out more about the band at the links below.

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#18. Thalamus-Subterfuge

























I must admit I am a sucker for great vocals and guitarist/vocalist Kjell Bergendahl doesn't short change you in that department. "Subterfuge" is a great homage to great heavy blues rock bands of the seventies. Scorching solos, powerful harmonies, killer grooves and a banging hammond organ prove that a band can still be great without all of the flash and filler. The band even gets a little doomy on the tracks "When Goblins Cheer" and "Still Dancing on My Grave". Freakin' fantastic!

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#17. Maligno-The Funeral Domine


























This album by Mexican Doom metal band Maligno was a bit overlooked. Powerful vocals, masterful doom riffage, seering guitars and a classic metal stomp round out a very formidible album complete with guest appearances by Alex Skolnick and acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela.

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#16. Eggnogg-Moments in Vaccuum


























One great thing about this blog is getting to hear many bands that I would probably never know about. This is a great band that you should know about. After seeing their name show up on other website Top 10 lists it is evident that others are taking notice. "Simply put, Eggnog is brilliant! This band from Brooklyn, NY utilizes a multitude of tones and effects to create a psych-tinged ambience amongst heavy as all hell doom riffs. If you are in search of a spacey, fuzzed-out, infectious, bluesy...I could go on and on and on. Sometimes a band is so good I am at a loss for words."

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#15. Red Fang-Murder the Mountains


























There are so many great bands coming out of the state of Oregon as of late and Red Fang is no exception. These guys are all over the board with their sound which lends to an amazing effort of overall balance and incredible musicianship. This release did not garner the attention it was predicted and that is unfornuate. Seth states, "I can listen to Murder the Mountains and hear well over a dozen of my most rewarding life experiences without actually hearing about them on the news. Perhaps you can find the time to discover this album, avoid getting arrested, and smile with friends like you know something the rest of the world doesn't. Feels good, huh?"

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#14. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats - Blood Lust


























This is one of those albums that kind of came out of left field. I'm not even sure where I saw it but saw the name of the band and decided to see what they had available on YouTube. I was hooked! They play an acid-soaked late-sixties early seventies inspired Sabbath-like style of doom complete with horrific songs about murder, drug use and the occult. This is unholy doom at it's finest!

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#13. Weedeater-Jason...the Dragon


























I'm gonna probably take a lot of slack from this, but I thought this album was the pinnacle of all straight-up Sludge Metal releases this past year. Dixie Dave and Co. created with "Jason...The Dragon" another humorous, filthy, and stauch piece of southern-fried sludge. Seth firmly states, "There aren't enough bands like this. Weedeater is nothing more than three free-wheelin' mudslingers who operate on their own schedules and don't rely on your response to stroke their egos. I'll never run out of elements indicating why they should play at your July 4th backyard barbecue; Weedeater perfectly exemplify southern sludge metal. And I can't think of a better way to celebrate a muggy summer holiday than playing with guns, throwing in a lipper, and listening to these guys."

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#12. YOB-Atma


























Yet another impressive album from Oregon Doom legends YOB. These guys are the masters of the riff. What impresses me about this release is not so much how skillfully each riff is played, but rather the soul and passion that is sweated into each song. For this release, the band has added more depth and dynamics for a build-up that is so intense and powerful. If you have never listened to this band, what better time than now!

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#11. The Heavy Eyes-Heavy Eyes


























I marvel at how a band can take simplicity and reform it into such an outstanding piece of work. On the band's latest simply titled "Heavy Eyes" the band kicks into heavily inspired 70's blues rock with a gritty southern stomp. The Black Keys are doing it, but the Heavy Eyes are doing it better. Zac states, "Tripp Shumake's vocals and guitar style are soulful, enhancing the southern feel of the record and Eric Garcia's drums and Wally Anderson's bass will have your feet stomping, The production quality is raw and very fitting."

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#10. Elvis Deluxe-Favourite State of Mind


























These full-throttle rockers from Poland put out quite possibly one of the best straight-forward rocking albums of the past year. The familiar desert groove is there on tunes such as "This Time", but this time around the band adds the sparkle of psychedelia and the ferocity of punk for a more layered sound. As Zac simply states, " Elvis Deluxe, you have completely won this listener over. What a great combination of my favorite styles of rock, this is what I live for."

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#09. Black Cobra-Invernal


























After seeing these two dudes (that's right I said two) open up for Kyuss Lives! they immediately shot up my list. Actually, to be perfectly honest I didn't even have them on my list. Their blistering live perfomance in front of a rather unfortunately sparse crowd promted me to re-visit their latest Stoner/Sludge/Thrash opus, "Invernal". As Seth states, "This riff-oriented collection is far too immense and far too fast to serve as background music while you wash dishes. Give it your full attention. Let it wear you out like the drunk whore at your block party, and make sure you ask for seconds. "Invernal" will burn and blister, but it's gonna heal a lot better than the stupid tribal tattoo you just sat through."

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#08. Wizard Smoke-The Speed of Smoke


























Doomy, fuzzy, psychedelic, unworldly, spooky, what else could you want. This is an exceptional album from beginning to end. As Seth states, "The Speed of Smoke", so fully encapsulates what Heavy Planet is all about...sit back as you’re guided through a black cosmos." Not only that but the album is avaible for FREE! Astonishing.

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#07. Freedom Hawk-Holding On


























I think the thing that keeps bringing me back to this album time and time again are the songs. As Toby states, "these are songs…songs that you’ll want to return to and that’ll have you singing along by your second time through the record. They are both catchy and memorable and in this day and age, that’s to be commended. Also notable is the fact that Freedom Hawk avoids the current trend found on albums by many of their peers to extend songs well beyond a reasonable run time. This is a band who clearly understands that less can in fact be more and that it’s actually a good thing to leave their listeners wanting just that…more." Besides the gift of great song-writing is the obvious high-pitched Ozzy vocal comparison. These guys are a great band that write great songs. Fly High Freedom Hawk!

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06. Elder-Dead Roots Stirring


























Since making my Top 10 of 2009 with their self-titled release, Boston's Elder has been on my radar with avid anticipation. With their latest release "Dead Roots Stirring", the band has built upon their sound and taken it into very epic boundaries. Devastating heaviness, spellbinding rhythms, and more psychedelia took the band into a new direction and hope they can expand upon it for their next release sure to make another Top of the year list. As Zac states, "The instruments, vocals, and lyrics are truly cohesive here, not one over-rides the other. Each work in perfect harmony fabricating a new sound of (what we all like to call) 'Heavy'.

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05. Sungrazer-Mirador


























This album is stunning proof that desert rock is alive and well. This Dutch band is at the forefront when it comes to playing extended stoner rock jams a la Kyuss. The thing that takes this album to a whole new level is their fondness for spacey psychedelic rock and building their songs around a simplistic riff until reaching an exploding climax. "Mirador" is an absolutely brilliant piece of work and should be in everyone's Stoner Rock playlist.

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04. Borracho-Splitting Sky


























These guys are showing up on just about everyone's lists this year and deservedly so. Everytime I get done listening I immediately hit repeat and will probably continue to do so until their next release. "DC’s Borracho have crafted an absorbing debut album that says “we’re ready to join the club.” My recommendation is that you get onboard with this one right now…because chances are, you’ll be paying good money to hear Borracho play it “in its entirety” ten years from now. Splitting Sky is an instant classic. It’ll blow your mind that this whole thing started out as a side project."-Toby

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03. Valley of the Sun-The Sayings of the Seers (EP)


























Cincinnati's Valley of the Sun seemlessly blends blistering stoner grooves, stellar musicianship, and high energy low and high dynamics to their amazing sound. Oh, and did I mention that Ryan Ferrier may quite possibly be the best rock vocalist I've heard since Miles Kennedy and Chris Cornell. From the unmatched soaring vocal harmonies of opener "Hearts Aflame" , the epicness of "Mariner's Tales" to the steam rolling groove of "Deep Light Burns", Cincinnati's Valley of the Sun is a well-polished band that is ready to be singed into your brain." I will be waiting patiently for a new album by these guys, hopefully in 2012 so it can make my list next year.

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02. Wo Fat-Noche del Chupacabra
























It is no secret that Wo Fat is probably one of my new favorite bands after their incredible 2009 album "Psychedelonaut" made its way onto my Top 10 of 2009. I could not wait to hear their latest CD "Noche del Chupacabre" and man it did not disappoint. After my first listen I declared it worthy of Top 20 of 2011 status. It stood up through the course of the year amongst so many great CDs, but this thing just got a stranglehold on me. If you enjoy being "sucked through the doors of a hoodoo hut in the middle of a swamp which leads to the extraterrestrial vastness of the universe" then Wo Fat's remarkable psychedelic Stoner/Doom blend may be just what you've been searching for. Doom on Wo Fat!

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Drum roll please.............

01. Orchid-Capricorn

























I guess what drew me into San Francisco doom band Orchid is how eerily similar they sound like my favorite band of all-time Black Sabbath (minus Ozzy sounding vocals). The feel of the album has a very retro production as if it could have been recorded back in the early seventies and I think that is what I enjoy most about this album. The riffs are enormous, the soloing tremendous, and vocals superb. I can pull this album out at anytime and truly enjoy every minute of it, thus making it my solid numero uno for 2011!

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Honorable mentions:Backwoods Payback-"Momantha", Gideon Smith-"30 Weight", Serpent Venom-"Carnal Alter", Mars Red Sky-"Self-Titled", Sleestak-"The Fall of Altrusia", Black Rainbows–"Supermothafuzzalicious!!", Lo-Pan-"Salvador"

Top 20 of 2011 Playlist



To listen to the playlist in it's entirety without limitations go here.

I look forward to what 2012 has to offer and want to thank the bands, readers and fans for your support of Heavy Planet!

7 comments:

  1. Nice choices Reg! It's good to see some heavier bands selected among your expanded list of 20 this year.

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  2. Good list, also consider Gentleman's Pistols, Graveyard, Ape Machine, Danava and Witch Mountain who also put out GREAT records this last year.

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  3. No doubt it was an incredible year for music.

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  4. Great picks Reg! I'll have to go back and listen to Wo Fat and Sungrazer.

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  5. Really liked 18 out of the 20 albums you listed. Spot on! Thanks for the suggestions.

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  6. This is indeed a great list. 2011 was definitely an incredible year of great music. A lot of amazing albums and singles came out which would make it impossible for me to choose my tops 20. Again, thank you for sharing this list of yours. Cheers to the great music we can all enjoy.

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