Jon is a longtime Blistering confidant and a metal fiend of the highest order, thus warranting inclusion in our “Best-of” festivities. – David E. Gehlke/editor
Well, this year sucked. Pretty plain and simple. I heard something on The Daily Show where there was a study that said: “Seventy-five percent of people said 2011 was a bad year or one of the worst years of their lives.” I'm going to subscribe to the 75%. But that's okay because there were so many awesome records that came out this year that it balanced pretty well. You know it’s a killer year when quite a few relatively sure-fire bands don't make your list but still put out pretty awesome records (Decapitated, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc).
When I started doing these top ten things a few years ago and publishing them through random mags and on my band's Facebook, (OBLIGATORY PLUG: www.facebook.com/jobforacowboy. NEW RECORD COMING OUT IN 2012!) it was mainly just for fans to reflect and throw up what their favorite records were for that particular year. I loved this, mainly because a lot of the time I would miss records, backtrack and listen to them. It’s like letting the rest of the metal world sift through the garbage to find the gems so you can reap the rewards at the end of the year. To me, that's pretty rad. While I am one of those people always sifting and always trying to feed the insatiable hunger to find new, awesome music, having a ton of reputable sources compile lists makes that job that much easier.
And while this is a time consuming endeavor, I love doing it every year. I used to title my earlier lists “The Ten Best Records of the Year.” What an arrogant thing to say, now that I think about it, but I've long since changed it to “My Top Ten Favorite Records of the Year,” and somehow every year choosing my favorite ten records that came out that year gets harder and harder. But as previously stated when I said this was a bit of a rough year personally, the only thing that would've made this music year better (and made choosing the records for my list a lot harder) was if Slough Feg released a new record...
1. The Devil's Blood - The Thousandfold Epicentre (Metal Blade) They just keep getting better and better. From Come, Reap to The Time of No Time Evermore to this, the quality keeps rising. So many sure-fire hits on this record and while the last three songs are a bit of filler, the rest of the record just crushes. While most people are flipping out over Ghost, this band deserves the same, if not more, attention than the ghouls who shall not be named.
2. Yob – Atma (Profound Lore) If the build up into the riff at the 6:45 mark of “Prepare the Ground” doesn't make you want to headbang your measly skull into oblivion, I don't want to be friends with you. Simple. An awesome slab of stoner doom with fantastic vocals, good songs and catchy riffs. What more could you want? Also, my favorite album art of the year.
3. Trap Them - Darker Handcraft (Prosthetic) When I first heard Trap Them, I didn't get it. To me, it took touring with them and being able to experience a very angry, visceral live show to count me a convert. In addition to having one of the most insanely good drummers in our scene (Mr. Chris Maggio) the songs are just too damn good and angry, yet still catchy. While I'm a sucker for anything using an HM-2 pedal, this band is at the top of the heap.
4. Red Fang - Murder the Mountains (Relapse) Not only is this record awesome, with the hits rolling and the dirty rock and roll flowing like PBR at a shitty hipster house show in Portland, somehow this band has made the two best music videos of recent memory. While Wires was one of my favorite songs of the year, the video took the cake. I've never laughed or enjoyed a metal video like I have the video for Wires or the video for Prehistoric Dog. Killer band, killer songs, shitty beer. It works.
5. Deafheaven - Roads to Judah (Deathwish) While everyone was waiting for a new Wolves in the Throne Room record this year, one band came out and did the whole epic, atmospheric black metal thing better. That band was Deafheaven. Incredibly catchy, sprawling black metal with incredibly infectious vocal patterns, awesome drumming and songs that made you want to listen to it again and again. Clocking in at 38 minutes and 22 seconds, from start to finish it feels like it’s over in a flash. Something about that makes for an incredibly good record.
6. Opeth – Heritage (Roadrunner) I'm pretty sure Mikael Akerfeldt and company could collectively take a massive dump onto a Pro-Tools rig and the end product would still be better than 95% of the metal records that come out today. Heritage isn't your standard Opeth BUT IT’S STILL OPETH. And that's why it’s still awesome.
7. Batillus – Furnace (Seventh Rule) Overwhelming and awesome stoner doom with some funeral doom thrown in for good measure. The chorus of “Deadweight” was enough for me to lose it and while that song is a stand out, the record on the whole is fantastic.
8. Orchid – Capricorn (Church Within) I totally stumbled across this record and man was I happy that happened. I was going on one of my standard “download everything related to stoner-doom-sludge raids” and this one just randomly popped up. Seriously 70's influence with awesome tone, awesome songs and choruses everywhere. The only thing that kept this from placing higher on my list was the fact that the name of the song is in every single chorus and I know it’s a bit OCD, but for some reason that really bothers me. Anyway, very well done stuff in the vein of Witchcraft, Graveyard, and Noctem.
9. Revocation - Chaos of Forms (Relapse) Four words: Riffs, horn section, RIFFS. Jesus, there are so many tasty licks on this record you'll think you're diving head first into a goddamn Tootsie pop. I don't think with all the licks on here you could go through a bag of tootsie pops. Undeniably awesome technical thrash mixed with death metal mixed with whatever the hell else Dave Davidson and company decide to throw at you. I was skeptical when we first toured with them in Japan as to how they would fair live but, we were so impressed we brought them out on a headliner months later.
10. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math (Columbia) The surprise pick on my list, to be perfectly honest. I'm not a fan of indie rock and I probably never will be. Fact. However, with the guidance of my younger brother Louie, he steered me in the direction of this record by taking me to an O'Brother, Manchester Orchestra and Cage the Elephant show. Holy hell, Cage the Elephant was awful, but I digress. This record is a depressing, catchy and, at times, doomy record. Virgin was one of my favorite songs of the year, with its haunting children chorus and slow, dirge-like feel. A real “step out of the comfort zone” record for me, but I was pretty damn happy I did.