Best of 2011 – Aaron Yurkiewicz
#1. Anthrax – Worship Music (Megaforce Records)
What else needs to be said about this album that hasn’t already been said? Worship Music was 100% the album that I’d hoped it would live up to be. Song for song it’s arguably the best Anthrax disc since…well, maybe ever, but it’s undoubtedly the best metal album of the year. Hell, if Worship Music only consisted of the first three tracks it’d still be good enough to hold this title. Anthrax had more to prove than any other metal band in 2011, and Worship Music validated decades of fan loyalty with an album that delivered the goods on all fronts.
#2. Orchid – Capricorn (The Church Within Records)
Capricorn is a close second for album of the year, but it’s definitely the best doom metal album of the year. Orchid summoned the unholy ghost of the first four Sabbath albums, shared a joint with it, and wrote an album of incredible tunes. I wish more people outside of doom circles had heard Capricorn; it’s absolutely that good of an album.
3. Mastodon – The Hunter
4. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
5. Crowbar – Sever the Wicked Hand
6. Exhumed – All Guts, No Glory
7. Steel Panther – Balls Out
8. Red Fang – Murder the Mountains
9. Pentagram – Last Rites
10. Unexpect – Fables of the Sleepless Empire
11. YOB – Atma
12. The Atlas Moth – An Ache for the Distance
13. Windhand – Windhand
14. Sinister Realm – The Crystal Realm
15. Macabre – Grim Scary Tales
16. Rotten Sound – Cursed
17. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
18. Obscura – Omnivium
19. Fuck the Facts – Die Miserable
20. Krux – Krux III: He Who Sleeps Amongst the Stars
Best Metal EP
My Dying Bride – The Barghest O’ Whitby
A single 27-minute track that’s basically a three-act summary of why My Dying Bride is so awesome.
Best New Metal Band
Spooky, dreamy, dreary traditional doom from Virginia, Windhand’s self-titled debut hits hard and hits heavy. I can’t to hear what comes next.
Best Metal DVD
Okay, so this isn’t necessarily a DVD, but it should be mandatory viewing for any self-respecting metal fan. Anthropologist/Metal Enthusiast Sam Dunn continues to one-up himself with yet another objective and entertaining documentary that explores the minutiae of metal. And yes, you can purchase HD episodes on Amazon and iTunes for less than the price of a value meal.
Best Metal Book
Tony Iommi – Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell with Black Sabbath
More than just another chronicle of Black Sabbath, it’s the first time that the story’s been told from the POV of an actual member of the band. As the only constant in the band’s 40-year history, this is the version of the tale that true Sabbath fans will want to read.
Best Metal Concert (Arena)
Metallica – Dreamforce 2011, San Francisco
Attending a convention in San Francisco on the company dime is pretty cool in and of itself, but when Metallica is the scheduled entertainment and the beer is flowing freely, it’s freakin’ amazing. This was Metallica’s first corporate gig and my first time seeing them live. Say what you will about Metallica’s recent artistic choices, but when the opening pummel of “Creeping Death” rang from the PA system, I felt like I was 14 years old again, discovering how awesome this band is for the first time. A mix of suits and Metallica fan club contest winners, I met an interesting mix of metal fans who felt the same way.
Best Metal Concert (Club)
Metalliance 2011 – Orlando, FL
Seeing Saint Vitus on their first East Coast tour in decades was an experience 20 years in the making. Getting to see other amazing bands like Crowbar, Kylesa, Red Fang, Howl, and The Atlas Moth share the stage was just icing on the cake.
Greatest Metal Hopes for 2012
- That the new Black Sabbath reunion album doesn’t suck! That Black Sabbath acknowledges that the United States does indeed have a southeast region, and schedules some tour dates south of Atlanta.
- That the new Saint Vitus reunion album doesn’t suck.
- The return of King Diamond. Seeing the video of him back onstage at the Metallica anniversary show filled me with more joy than words can express. And that his first post-open heart surgery performance was alongside Mercyful Fate alumni Michael Denner, Hank Shermann, and Timi Hansen was a love letter to the fans. Perhaps a prelude of things to come?
- That new bands will realize that there are other genres to explore besides lo-fi crappy black metal
Greatest Metal Disappointments of 2011
- Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Whatthefuckisthisum. What should have been the death metal album of the year became the techno circle jerk embarrassment of the year. You can try to spin this however you’d like, but this whole disc was shite. Can’t wait for the remix album!
- Loutallica – Okay, everybody except Metallica and Lou Reed knew that this was going to be a disaster, but nobody could’ve anticipated just how awful the final product would be. And James Hetfield is apparently a table.
- Having to watch Trouble open for some no-name shit nu-metal band with only 100 people in the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, Trouble were complete professionals and put on a great show, but it was a sad reminder of what a cold, heartless, effed up biz this can be sometimes.
- Pestilence – Doctrine (of Crap). We were promised a progressive death fest for the ages, but we were presented with deathcore mush of the worst kind. Fool me once Pestilence, shame on you. Fool me twice…
- Queensryche – Dedicated to Irrelevance. For a band that used to be on the cutting edge of everything, this album proves just how out of touch Queensryche is with their audience. Let’s not even start with the cabaret shows…
Best Live Metal Album
Cathedral – Anniversary (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
A great album by a great band performed in its entirety by the original lineup. Makes me weepy just typing this.
Best Metal Reissue
Death – Human (Relapse)
This award actually goes to all of the Death reissues from Relapse this year, but I’ve got a soft spot for Human. The care and detail that Relapse Records has put into each of these is absolutely remarkable. Relapse has taken a set of already exceptional albums and managed to make them even better.
Best Metal Discovery
Spotify isn’t a band, but the cloud is going to be the future of music. Having an extensive library of music in all genres at your fingertips, with links to related artists and playlists from friends has introduced me (and reintroduced me) to more bands than I could do justice by calling them out individually in this forum.