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Year in review: Top 11 albums of 2011

2011 has seen some of the best releases from musicians of all genres. These are my top 11 albums of 2011.

*Disclaimer: Originally I set out to put these in some sort of order though after listening to each album through again, I decided that I couldn’t. The order reflects on how much I listened to each album in the past couple of weeks. I have also come to the conclusion that they are all great albums that for the most part sound nothing alike and it would be almost impossible to rank them.

1)      Close Your Eyes- “Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts”
– Their first album “We Will Overcome” was pretty good. There were a few bumps in the album, but nothing too much to complain about. “Empty Hands and Heavy Hearts,” in my opinion, is absolutely flawless. From the opening track “Hope Slips Away” to the last track “Heavy Hearts”, this a great album that can catch both hardcore and alternative fans. It brings back an old style of punk that was popular before hardcore that goes along the veins of older bands such as Social Distortion and The Offspring. It is fast all the way through with only a few slow parts. Everyone brings there A game and it is definitely one of the best albums of 2011.

2)      The Horrible Crowes- “Elise”

-Brian Fallon’s attempt at a more soulful and less punk rock/Bruce Springsteen oriented band turned out to be a success. The Horrible Crowes debut album is exactly what I expected it to be and more. I wasn’t expecting such a diverse group of songs and I bought it on the first day it came out, I fell in love with it and have been listening to it ever since. While it is definitely a slower album than anything Fallon has done with The Gaslight Anthem, Fallon still manages to throw as much emotion in his voice as he can. If you’re looking for a record with a lot of emotion put into the songs, “Elise” is what you should be listening to.

3)      The Last Ten Seconds of Life- “Know Your Exits”
-If you want to hear something heavy than there isn’t anything heavier than this deathcore quintet  from Mansfield, PA. With  guest vocals from Tyler Guida of Dr. Acula and Carson Slocak of Century there isn’t anything this year that is heavier than “Know Your Exits.” From serious songs (A Face Amongst Flames) to goofier but still heavy songs (Can’t turn a Ho into a Housewife) The debut has something for everyone and if you haven’t picked it up yet, you should.

4)       The Black Dahlia Murder –“Ritual”
– TBDM only get better with each album and as the second album with lead guitarist Ryan Knight, the band didn’t stick to what made them successful with “Deflorate.” Though they kept the melody that made them popular, they’ve also added a few chamber instruments to make the concept of the occult on the album come to life. One of my personal favorites on the album stepped outside of the melodic death metal genre and put a foot into a lower tuned hardcore song called “Den of the Picquerist.” Though it is the shortest song on the album it shows that the guys in Dahlia can write great music without shredding or melody. The album was a risk and received few bad reviews and hopefully they’ll be able to produce the same quality music every couple of years to keep fans entertained.

5)      Evan Brewer-“Alone”
After the buzz of Animals as Leaders died down for a little bit metal heads began looking for a new instrumental album that they could sink their teeth into and take a break from moshing/dancing/head banging while listening to. Who knew that the new bassist to The Faceless would be the one to do that. Evan Brewer’s “Alone” cannot be listened to one song at a time. In order to truly appreciate his level of skill and really enjoy the music you should probably listen to it more than once and in its entirety.  Though some of my favorite tracks include “Currency,” and “Looking West,” it all blends together very well. Better yet, “Alone” isn’t just for the music aficionados who can tell you what scale in what key is being played. “Alone” is a relaxing record that can be enjoyed while doing virtually anything. I would love if he would create another record to this effect.

6)      Lower than Atlantis- “World Record”
-After “Far Q”  LTA changed their style up somewhat and have taken the world by storm after touring the U.S twice and went out on their first headlining tour in Britain. “World Record” didn’t create a new genre, it didn’t do anything unique, and it wasn’t a technical record that had musicians praising the guitar playing of Mike Duce. However, it was a great record. From “(Motor) Way of Life” to “R.O.I” it is just a great record. A mix of alternative and an off color pop-punk, “World Record” can’t truly be defined by genre though every song fits. The lads are set to release a new single in January and if they keep to the same formula they will continue to be successful.

7)      Born of Osiris- “The Discovery”
-After not caring for BOO too much after Two EPs and one Full Length, I was skeptical about buying, yes buying, “The Discovery” based on only hearing the single “Follow the signs.” I was in shock that this band I quite frankly didn’t care for put me on my ass with a heavy melodic album that took my breath away. Musically it is one of the most technically albums of the year and has a unique take on Djent mixed with small doses of electronic music that fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the music.

8)      Gallows- “Death is Birth”
-When Wade MacNeil joined Gallows, no one knew exactly how it would work out. After all, they put a Canadian guitar player to front a very, very British band the skepticism made sense. However, “Death is Birth” put a new spin on Gallows that we haven’t heard before. Musically the record is less technical and the songs are a lot shorter and MacNeil’s vocals allow the band to branch out to a more global view rather than just one from a British perspective. The EP is great and I can’t wait for a full-length with the new line-up.

9)      The Foo Fighters- “Wasted Light”
-This record definitely reminded me of the 90s. Despite the fact that I wasn’t yet a teenager in the 90s and the only recollection I have of it is Rugrats and Doug on TV, the sound of the Foos in the 90s sounds a lot like wasted light. They came back after a short hiatus to make a record that really rocked. It’s nothing the Foo Fighters haven’t done before but they something they just may have lost touch of over the years of trying to not create the same record over again. By far one of the best releases of 2011 and if they gave up after this record I would be satisfied, but then I’d miss them and ask that they write a similar record.

10)   All Shall Perish- “This is Where it Ends”
-Again, a band I wasn’t crazy about before this release but “This Is Where it Ends” is a great album for fans of deathcore who are looking for something other than bends and breakdowns. The addition of guitarist Francesco Artusato and drummer Adam Pierce (formerly of Sea of Treachery) helped push the band in a new direction while keeping to their original sound. They play the perfect version of deathcore. Not slowing down too much but keeping the melody slower than The B;ack Dahlia Murder. This is another album that really has to be listened to all the way through to really appreciate it.

11)  Fake the Attack- “You Call This Freedom”
– Though there are only three brand new songs on this EP it is a great way show off to the world just exactly what they can do.It for the most part is an alternative record with creative lyrics and melodic guitar riffs.  There isn’t too much to say except for the fact that it is a promising record and shows that this band will be doing more than just playing local shows for the duration of their career. I would be very surprised if they are without label support by the end of 2012.

We here at EspyRock hope you all have a wonderful new year and continue to come back to for all of your music information needs. We’re sure what is to come in 2012, but we hope these bands and others continue to create and release new music that continues to push what they’ve done before.



About Dan Clark

I'm a student at the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania who is working on becoming a journalist. I have an interest in all genres of music but focus primarily on Metal, Punk, and Alternative Rock.


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