Best of 2011 – Waspman
1. Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
It may be more of the same from the Swedish Vikings, but you’ll hear no complaints from me. I still can’t get "For Victory or Death" out of my head. Hail!
2. Diamond Plate – Generation Why?
An absolute system shock, no recent thrash band has captured the classic aesthetic as perfectly as these guys. Absolutely neck-wrecking.
3. Vangough – Kingdom of Ruin
4. Suidakra – Book of Dowth
5. Myrath – Tales of the Sands
6. The Black Dahlia Murder – Ritual
7. Within Temptation – The Unforgiving
8. Stratovarius – Elysium
9. Ten – Stormwarning
10. Portrait – Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae
11. Arch/Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance
12. Evergrey – Glorious Collision
13. Iced Earth – Dystopia
14. Saxon – Call to Arms
15. Famous Underground – Famous Underground
16. Benedictum – Dominion
17. Jag Panzer – The Scourge of the Light
18. Zero Down – Looking to Start a Riot
19. Anthrax – Worship Music
20. The Last Hangmen – Servants of Justice
Best new band
Diamond Plate – Generation Why?
Pleasant Surprise of the Year
Arch/Matheos – Sympathetic Resonance
Who could have predicted this? Simply put, John Arch’s vocals & lyrics matched up with Jim Matheos’ riffs is pure prog-metal heaven and I never thought we’d get new material from these two. The fact that we did, and the fact that it’s simply mind-blowing, makes me happy indeed.
Discovery of 2011
Portrait – Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae
In the absence of King Diamond & Mercyful Fate, these guys fill the void. Stunning, ripping, ’80s metal like few are able to pull off.
Vangough – Kingdom of Ruin
Band leader Clay Withrow is a PhD in progressive metal and KINGDOM OF RUIN proves it. Vangough is definitely a band I’ll keep an ear out for.
Accept/Sabaton/Ash Lee Blade/Warmachine
I never thought I’d get to see the mighty Accept live; now I have and I’m overjoyed that these veteran Germans didn’t disappoint! It was an absolutely phenomenal concert all around, full of classics old and new. Add in the energetic Sabaton, and the return of Toronto’s mighty Warmachine, and you have the best concert of the year.
Best Live Album
Jorn – Live in Black
Jorn is one of the best vocalists in metal today and he proves it again on this raucous live album. In the absence of Ronnie James (R.I.P.), Jorn is keeping the flame burning.
Disappointments of 2011
Break up of Jag Panzer
One of the greatest unsung bands of all time finally calls it quits, leaving behind a spectacular legacy. All hail!
Opeth – Heritage
Unlike many, I don’t begrudge Mikael the stylistic shift (he’s always been upfront about his love of ’70s prog). It’s the fact that the album is full of half-baked ideas and is clearly amongst his lesser works with regard to song writing. In a word: boring.
Lake of Tears – Illwill
I never thought it possible, as Lake of Tears is one of my favourite bands ever, but my reaction to ILLWILL was basically, "Meh". It’s definitely got the classic Lake of Tears hallmarks and is in no way a poor effort, but something about the album just doesn’t connect the way that it should.
Missing a ton of new releases this year
I missed so many albums this year, from the likes of: Primordial, Hibria, Megadeth, Iron Savior, Symphony X, Dream Theater, Pharaoh, Samael, and Amorphis. Time, I just don’t have enough of it.
KK Downing leaves Judas Priest
Probably the biggest "WTF???" moment of the year that no one could have predicted. Good on KK for following his heart and not half-assing it, but it does suck that he’s gone.
Greatest Hopes for 2012
New kick ass W.A.S.P. album
BABYLON was a pretty good album, but I’m hoping that Blackie has one last rip-roaring metal beast in him.
W.A.S.P. Retrospective / Historical Set
I’m stealing this one from JP’s list from last year, but he really nailed when he said that Blackie needs to get off his duff and put out the definitive historical W.A.S.P. set. This band’s history is as interesting (and sordid) as they come and it would be a fascinating listen/viewing.
Seeing Sabaton headline
These guys were dynamite opening for Accept last year, and I can only imagine how incredible a full set will be.