Here is what I liked and loved death metal wise in 2011.
51. Puteraeon - The Esoteric Order
Heavy as hell, rumbling old school death with massive sound and vocals. Works for me but the songs could and should have been stronger to lift it higher up the table. Good to put on when you just want to play something brutal, groovy and classic sounding.
50. Amentia - Incurable Disease
Deathbringer side band which is good but not quite as good as the main band. The riffing is nice and tech but the production lets them down pretty badly IMO. If they sort that out they could make a few small waves in the tech death field.
49. Pestilence - Doctrine
A disappointment compared to the previous comeback album which I must be the only idiot in the world to love. The vocals are completely stupid but there are some great riffs and bass playing which saves it from being dumped out of the top 50 on sheer talent alone.
48. Deviant Syndrome - Inflicted Deviations
Quality melodeath again from Russia or one of those ex Soviet states I forget which. They are very good at ripping melodic riffs out though and worth a listen for any melodeathster worth his salt.
47. Symbolic - Scarvest
Semi technical death metal band with clean choppy riffs and a pristine production which helps no end. They have the ability to write groovy succinct tunes that stay catchy and don't get too boring.
46. Incise - From The Crypt They Rise
Somewhat melodic chugging death metal with big riffs bouncing here there and everywhere. The production could have been a touch more polished for my tastes but the songs on this short album are more than enjoyable and very easy to head bang along to.
45. Charnier - Humanicide
Standard old school death metal with fat riffs that rumble along with a little hint of melody here and there. Not an amazing release but catchy enough for the likes of me or any regular old school death metal fan.
44. Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions
A decent and enjoyable Arch Enemy record with cool riffing. I'll never be a huge fan of her vocals but the riffing and solos are excellent as always.
43. Vallenfyre - A Fragile King
A vehicle for old school death rumbling with decent snappy riffs and typical Swedeath sound. I like it but don't love it, but it's very solid as the participants are all old hands at this game. If they make another album it should be stronger still.
42. Turbid North - Orogeny
Unknown band that caught my ear with their so called "mountain metal" which was pretty technical and interesting at the same time. The songs were a bit difficult and long winded but eventually I got a fair amount of joy from this album as they approached death metal from a fairly unique angle.
41. Trifixion - A Utopia For The Damned
Standard but well played death metal with tons of riffs thrusting to and fro. The good production as usual helps the band to move above average as far as I'm concerned plus they are from the UK and almost everyone plays deathcore here so when some one doesn't you have to give them the time of day.
40. Orpheus - Bleed The Way
An Aussie band playing super clean and fast melodeath with somewhat cheesy dance keys. The riffs are excellent and very fast and melodic all the way. Easily one of the year's best melodeath release for me.
39. Vader - Welcome to The Morbid Reich
A bit surprised by this release from the Polish Gods of classic death metal as I didn't expect to like it much. The sound is very pristine with clean, fast, catchy riffing and Peter's usual great vocals. However the best thing about this release are the wonderful melodic solos by the Esqariaal dude. Their best album since De Profundis.
38. Burning Casket - To Burn A False Prophet
Chunky well played death metal with heavy riffage from mid to fast pace. Regular death growls and cool grooving are prevalent to allow this band to reveal their catchy arsenal of death metal riffs. A good start for them to build on in the future as this is a long EP more than a full album. By the way the last song is a cover of Megadeth's Wake Up Dead with bad growled vocals and doesn't quite work IMO. It is quite fun to listen to though cause the original is so awesome.
37. Jungle Rot - Kill on Command
Swedish deathgrind machine with fantastic clinical sound. I like the way they switch with ease between a grind or blast to a chuggy groove within the same song. The vocals are also excellent. If you like your death metal to sound monstrous then Jungle Rot is the band for you.
36. Lock Up - Necroplis Transparent
Blistering grindcore from this supergroup of deathgrind merchants. I always found them too brutal in the past but this album is more palatable to my taste whilst right on the threshold of heaviness that my poor ears can take. Anymore brutal and it would do my head in! As it is this is gargantuan grind with mammoth earth shaking riffs and enough blasts to send you to hell and back.
35. The Rotted - Ad Nauseam
When they were Gorerotted they sucked bad. When they became The Rotted and learned how to play their instruments properly they became a half decent professional deathgrind band. On their new album they polish up all their skills pretty well and deliver a well produced nice mix between death, grind and some punk pretty similar to Lock Up or Napalm Death. This album has some very cool grooves and some rancid angry punk elements but overall it all comes to a pleasingly savage whole and works well IMO.
34. Demisery - Hive of Mutation
Surprisingly classic death metal effort from the djent guy. Good job he never included any djent riffs in this as that would have pissed me right off as I don't have any interest in that genre at all. So all in all this is some cool regular death metal with above average songwriting and loads of memorable riffing in each song. The cover of Death's Flattening of Emotions is also masterful at the end.
33. Revolting - In Grisly Rapture
Classic old school death metal with nice clean sound, great vocals and catchy tunes. Of course it's one of Rogga Johansson's countless death metal projects. The guy knows all about this style like the back of his hand and delivers yet again.
32. Undead Creep - The Ever-Burning Torch
Unknown cult old school death metal from Italy. The feel and sound reeks of pure Gothenburg from every pore. The songs are very simple but have a great evil feel and catchiness to make you feel like you're in a rotting cave while ghouls are clawing at your back. I find the production could have been a touch better but the songs are just perfect old school death.
31. Dim Mak - The Emergence of Reptillian Altars
Well played and tight semi tech death metal with the usual interesting historical and mythological subject matter from these guys. Nice growled vocals which are very understandable with almost a spoken delivery at times. The music is very cool with enjoyable fast riff patterns and some cool blast sections.
30. Archspire - All Shall Align
A new breed tech death band with immense quality and brilliance in their playing. It was not a full album to me though and more like a long EP as such, but the quality was so high that it had to place fairly high in my list. These guys could and should be huge once they get a full album released. For now they are a top class tech death band with whirling, jamming riffage that should have the tech death heroes of today looking over their shoulders for sure.
29. Fallujah - The Harvest Wombs
A technical deathcore band that I'm loathed to include, but this one was just too good to ignore. I loved their clean sound and technical ability and they did not annoy me like many bands of this style with incessant breakdowns and stupid yelping vocals. A slight black metal blasty feel in some parts were not to my taste, however in the main I found them to be one of the best in this style I heard this year.
28. Last Chance to Reason - Level 2
A band that came out of nowhere with impressive Cynic worship on a more heavy level with some tiny core elements which I shall forgive. The riffing was excellent indeed and showed off the band's amazing abilities with their instruments. I need to play this more often!
27. Burning at the Stake - Nefarious Campaign
A new band with a very cool album indeed. Pretty technical whirling riffs, good solid production and decent songs made this album rather enjoyable for me. I look forward to more music from these guys as surely they can get better still.
26. Amon Amarth - Surtur Rising
The kings of marauding Viking death metal delivered yet again this year. Surely it wasn't their best effort song wise or production wise but you can rely on Amon Amarth to delivery quality, head banging music and then some. Could have been better, but even an average AA disk is worth it's weight in gold for head bangers and fist bangers alike.
25. Vile - Metamorphosis
The return of the American kings of straight up death metal was nigh on timely as we needed a good dose of classic death after a fairly barren run in the last month or so as I recall. Vile returned with a very interesting record with their usual sound with a slightly more relaxed take on things. They play fast but yet it's quite accessible and even melodic without being melodic death. The vocals are very good too. Overall a very cool death metal release.
24. MyGrain - st
Their past albums have been decent melodeath but this time round the inspiration was stronger with a wonderful shiny and layered production helping no end to lift the songs out of the mere mundane. The choruses were sung all melodic which helped with the memorability factor and the musicianship was at a high level enabling the band to deliver song after song of catchy powermelodeath music.
23. Ribspreader - The Van Murders
It's my old mate mate Rogga again with another of his death metal bands. This was Rogga delivering the classic death metal goods again. Rumbling catchy riffs, heavy vocals and rampant drums. What more could an old school fan ask for?
22. Lost Conception - Paroxysm of Despair
A quality tech death release from Russia I believe. Thanks to Mr. Miller for pointing this one out though I guess I would have got round to it eventually. However with his urgings and regular coreboy hype machine persuasion, I lent this an ear sooner than I was going to and was mightily impressed. These guys are experts at the tech death game and know tons of killer riffs. From memory I would say that they need to tighten up the production on future efforts to really make a name for themselves as they have the skills in abundance.
21. Origin - Entity
Probably one of the fastest tech death metal bands in history returned once again with a blistering album. Sure they slow down a touch from time to time but it's rare. These guys probably start playing fast in the studio and then halfway through press the record button! There's no build up or finesse, it's face removal from the word go but at least they have the technical skill to back it up. Entity was a fine return and sated my need for speed!
20. Nightrage - Insidious
Didn't really expect to like this melodeath band's album but I was completely won over by the guitar melodies and playing in general. Very catchy riffs flowed freely from the guitar players fingers making this album a joy to listen to. The odd part was a little bit slower or mundane but that was easily forgivable when the majority was of such beautiful melodic quality.
19. Neuraxis - Asylon
Canadian tech death merchants returned with an excellent album and by far their best in my eyes. The songs were well crafted and showed off their playing abilities to the full. A slightly more relaxed affair at times as well allowing the songs to breathe a little more rather being frenetic technicality 100% of the time. Great production also helped the album to easily be worthy of a top 20 spot in my list.
18. Alarum - Natural Causes
A really cool and quirky tech death metal release. The clean vocals are a bit difficult but in the main the music more than makes up for it. Very much like a more metal version of Cynic. A really positive and enjoyable come back disk.
17. Abraxas - Damnation
The true Morbid Angel album of 2011! If this album said Morbid Angel on the cover no one would have batted an eyelid it's that close to 'ancient ones'. The riffing is totally Morbid Angelish in style as are the vocals. A very strong release of classic death metal with room for improvement in production maybe. I was surprised I enjoyed this unknown band so much but you can never be sure when a band turns up with an album that far super cedes their main influence.
16. Illogicist - The Unconsciousness of Living
The Italian Death worshippers came back with a very strong effort indeed. It took a couple of plays to convince but it got there in the end. I am not 100% convinced by the vocals which are a bit harsh but I'll get over it. The riffing is pure Chuck to the bone but on a slightly less focused or song based level. The only thing that holds the album back slightly for me is the lack of memorability in the song writing. Everything else is top class Death worship. Better than their last album and a fine effort overall.
15. Nervecell - Psycogenocide
It can't be easy being a death metal band in Dubai but Nervecell show such immense quality that you can easily forget the struggles they have in their homeland living out the life of a death metal band. You'd expect the band to be struggling to deliver quality music and production, but not a bit of it. This is high quality ,precise, chunky death metal with catchy songs galore. The production is nice and fat allowing all instruments to be heard clearly. Their influences lie on both classic and more modern death metal bands but it's the song writing abilities that shine through most. Just an enjoyable slab of catchy, groovy death metal with no little technical ability.
14. Anterior - Echoes of the Fallen
Amazingly an English melodeathcore band makes my list and in a quite high position. Anterior really stepped it up many notches on this release. I don't like the vocals of course but I can tolerate them. The guitars are completely wonderful in this release though. The riffs are melodic as hell but it's the solos that really showcase their talent. Along with the solos in the new Vader album, these guys made my heart leap the most with their wonderfully fluid and anthemic solos. Top job!
13. Brought By Pain - The Dreamer's Will
Side project by Beyond Creation people showcasing a slightly less technical version of their main band. It's still pretty tech at times though with some brilliant passages of music. The harsh black rasping vocals annoys me somewhat and holds me back from placing this higher still cause the music is surely up there with the best. Some nice audible bass lines in this band too. Might go up in my estimation given a few more plays.
12. Vomitory - Opus Mortis VIII
A very surprise high entry by the long running Swedish death metal merchants. Their previous albums have been ok but fairly average affairs for me but their 8th album as neatly indicated by the title, is an amazing slab of punishing heavy death metal. The production is really something and easily one of the best I've heard this year on a death metal album. It's crisp and clean but heavy as lead to boot. The songs are fast to mid paced affairs with plenty of change up groove riffs along with the blast beats. The vocals are perfect for the band as well, being deep growls in a catchy rhythmic style. Their best album after so many years bashing away at this death metal game.
11. The Soulless - Isolated
The Ignominious Incarceration boys stripped away all the technicality of their previous incarnation and went to straight ahead melodeathcore on this release. The riffing on this album is just stupendous I must say. I love the way the guy can manage to pull out killer riff after killer as if it's a piece of cake. Only the deathcore vocals stop me from loving this more as the music is such brilliance to listen to.
10. Volturyon - Coordinated Mutilation
Their previous disk was excellent and I think they even managed to step it up a notch. This is the definition of great standard death metal beautiful fat chunky riffage and heavy vocals. The riffs pound you into dust and the songs are catchy to boot. Not too much more I can ask for as a regular death metal fan.
09. Obscura - Omnivium
The Necrophagist spin off band delivers on all accounts on this occasion. I am not sure their songwriting capabilities are still quite up to Muhammed's but everything else is. What more can I say other than if you like tech death then you like Obscura.
08. Entrails - The Tomb Awaits
I went nuts when I first heard this album let me tell ya! It was one of the best old school albums I'd heard in years. Their first album was good but everything had been turned up a notch on this release especially the production. The sawblade guitars were especially rabid and cut through the mix like vicious shards of cut glass whilst the singer gurgled away like a maniac and the drummer pounded like his life depended on it. Over a little more playing time, some of the novelty and brilliance of this classic old school death metal release was dampened a touch with the realisation that not all the songs were as fantastic as some, and hence the drop down the table. However this is still my fave classic death metal release of 2011 and boy does that guitar sound rule!
07. Ouroboros - Glorification of a Myth
An Aussie troop that came out of nowhere with this superb thrashy tech death release. Once again the sound is not heavy or crunchy but features a huge load of whirling, killing riffs that zip round your head like a swarm of angry bees. These boys are already at the top level and can improve further with a slightly fatter production in the future. A great release in any case.
06. Beyond Creation - The Aura
Fantastic Necrophagist worship from Canada. Since the real thing seems to have gone comatose, we have to see what the necro-worship bands can do and Beyond Creation fill that void nicely. The production is not heavy, but clean and warm as you would expect. The playing is just perfect. The catchiness of the songs is good but not amazing. A great start for this band and hopefully the follow up will be even better when they tighten up the songs a little more.
05. Blood Red Throne - Brutalitarian Regime
I have liked the last two BRT releases but they have improved even further since the last album. The production is comletely savage, being heavy as lead and yet with great sharpness and bite to the guitars. The songwriting is very catchy and succinct. They still have the odd black metal blast which is accepted with the roots of the band being in Emperor of course with Tchort. In the main they play chunky brutal death metal with great vocals and memorable riffing bouncing off the walls like a crackerjack! Love it!
04. Vale of Pnath - The Prodigal Empire
These boys have delivered a masterpiece of tech death on this album though this is about as frenetic as I can take, any more and it starts to grate on me. These chaps know how to shred like maniacs but still deliver catchiness or grooves to make the songs acessible and memorable. The production is also amazingly super clean allowing for all instruments to be heard to the minute detail. Probably one of my best full on tech death release of all time.
03. Sectu - Inundate
Another new comer Swedish thrashy death metal band with absolutely monstrous production and chunky crunchy riffing. This held the number one spot for a long before dropping slightly due to the other two having more plays overall. This is still a phenomenal debut release by this band. I am sure they can improve even further on the next album and deliver more of this fantastic death metal mastery that they willfully display on Inundate.
02. I Chaos - The Human Repellent
I loved this one and almost put it at the top cause it was very close. I often reach for this if I want to play something with class and a heavy production. The riff attack on this album is just very cool indeed. The riffs are full of chunky fatness and yet have a great groove to them. The album is a little samey sounding but this bothers me little as each song is blessed with countless killer riffs to enjoy. A very pleasant surprise and I hope they continue to develop and make a great follow up.
01. Anatomy of I - Substratum
I had this album placed a little lower in the top 10 a while back but then every time I had the urge to listen to some death metal I found myself wanting another dose of Anatomy of I. When I first heard the album the vocals were what pained me most. I felt they were far too blackened for the music and I still feel that way to a degree but I have become far more accustomed to them. However the music which I was initially pleased about has completely won me over now. There are so many wonderous riffs on this album. Chunky, technical and melodic with great flow from one section to another. The lovely thick fuzzy production also helps no end. The album doesn't sound too clinical or mechanical like in most tech death bands which is another plus in my book. It sounds less like a machine and more like actual humans playing the music. Mr. DiGiorgio's bass is also something special to behold. His lines give the music added warmth and propel this album to the top of my list for 2011. I do hope there is another album from these guys in the future although this could possibly be just a project, we shall see. For now Substratum is a joyous listening experience for any fan of melodic and technical death.
Some notes about albums that didn't make the list:
Morbid Angel's crap. Why go industrial when you are the kings of death metal. The album has 3 or 4 cool tunes but that doesn't make the album worthwhile. WHY??? And now they are doing an industrial remix of some songs which doesn't make sense to me as the songs are already industrial!
Paganizer - Into The Catacombs. Rogga's final death metal project of 2011 was a big let down. Very few cool riffs. Once too often to the well eh Rogga?
Hate Eternal - Phoenix Amongst the Ashes. I so want to like Hate Eternal but they continue to offer me nothing. Rutan is a great player but the guy can't write a memorable song if his life depended upon it IMO at least.
Deicide - To Hell With God. Where has the catchiness and memorability gone Mr. Benton?
Decapitated - Carnival is Forever. They could not capture the glory of old for me. Too industrial in feel. Some decent riffs but a disappointment for me.
Monumental Torment. Did my head in with blurry note filled tapping riffs. Just more than I can take.