10. Logic Of Denial – Incipit Of Abhorrence
Although an italian outfit, Logic Of Denial has much more in common with an american group like Malignancy or Impaled than the regional scene populated by bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse and this influence is exactly what catapults them onto this list. As far as technical death metal goes, it’s fairly straightforward and nothing groundbreaking but that seems to be their guiding principle. This is pure headbanging delight and it doesn’t need to be anything more than just great jamming tunes since it accomplishes that so well.
9. Slaughterbox – The Ubiquity Of Subjugation
When I first listened to Slaughterbox, I was amazed to discover two things; that drummer is also the vocalist and the vocals do have a good deal of pig squeals in them which I generally can’t stand. After listening to the entire release (and not just the promo they had out for a while) I can honestly say that regardless of my initial reservations, this is Grade A deathgrind that manages to surprise and astound even when you think you’ve figured it all out. Aside from the drummer (who is absolutely unbelievable, to the point of having to look up a live video to be sure of no drum machine) guitarists Matt Thompson and Nick Liuzzi also included passages that could very well be from unreleased Sleep Terror material. All of this culminates into a band that while initially very jarring has become a breath of fresh air in a cluttered pocket of deathgrind. As an added bonus, several of the band’s members are also huge Larry David fans and created a grindcore band to celebrate that fact. Extremely talented musicians worth a second, third or fifteenth look.
8. Hate Eternal – Phoenix Amongst The Ashes
Ever since listening to ‘King Of All Kings’ I’ve been convinced that Hate Eternal is the new Morbid Angel. After the travesty of ‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ that fact was further cemented. For those who have followed Hate Eternal for awhile, the overall feel of ‘Phoenix Amongst The Ashes’ is not much different than their previous releases but much like Amon Amarth, they can fully get away with the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ policy of songwriting and continue to give fans quality material each time. The production quality also gives off a raw edge that compliments the technicality and sheer viciousness perfectly. If you’ve never been a fan of Hate Eternal, don’t think this release will change your mind. For the rest of us, Hate Eternal continue to please and them some. The king (Morbid Angel) is dead. Long live the new king! (Hate Eternal)
7. Monumental Torment – Element Of Chaos
As a fanatic tech-death fan, I’m always looking for bands that manage to go even faster, be even harsher and melt faces even quicker. Monumental Torment is among a burgeoning contingency of tech-death populated by masters like Brain Drill and Viraemia, and much like those two bands I’m absolutely enraptured. There’s no end to the onslaught and I love every bone breaking, mind erasing, house destroying moment of this sonic tornado. The most I had known of Russian Death Metal for the longest time was Katalepsy, who have severely disappointed recently. If Monumental Torment can manage to influence that regional scene however, I think I’ll be on a discovery binge for quite some time. Outstanding work.
6. Origin – Entity
Origin has been a staple in my tech-death love for quite some time and with their newest release, I’m convinced they’ve managed to outdo all of their other work. Without sacrificing their trademark break neck speeds or earth shattering brutality, Origin managed to even put in riffs that would make even their most loyal haters admit they’ve been wrong this whole time. News flash to those who still don’t understand; Origin has not been deterred by your hatred, they’ve only become stronger and more refined. You cannot stop them and they will only continue to gain momentum with each new album. Keep trying if you must, but don’t think it will work. Horns up for Paul Ryan, John Longstreth and Mike Flores!
5. Ouroboros – Glorification Of A Myth
The Australian Death Metal scene is one of the most interesting on the planet; it can range from tech-death wizardry like Psycroptic to progressive wonders like Alchemist. Ouroboros is one of the latest bands from down under and they manage to do something with their Death Metal that newer school outfits like Allegaeon should take note of; they have a fundamental understanding of groove. It makes repeated listens a must, especially this is only a debut. Many have described their sound as a mixture of tech-death and thrash and while a fair assessment, I definitely hear much more tech-death than other combinations of the two genres like Legion Of The Damned. This plays to the band’s advantage significantly, as it has all of the perks of thrash as an icing to a very well constructed technical death metal whole. The weakest link on the album are the vocals, but even that’s not a real issue since everything meshes together so well; it makes whatever minor imperfections this debut has irrelevant. Very impressive.
4. Fleshgod Apocalypse – Agony
I’ve long used the nickname ‘Necrophagist Killer’ to crudely summarize Fleshgod Apocalypse, but since becoming a devoted listener, they’ve developed into oh so much more, killing a good deal of other bands someone could compare them to as well. Symphonic Death Metal is not something that’s gotten much press in the past, but I don’t think it can be avoided any longer, especially with Fleshgod Apocalypse as one of the prime examples of how utterly magnificent it can be. Everything I loved from previous Fleshgod releases is still here (the godlike drumming, the absolute precision, the wonderful mixture of seemingly disparate elements) but now it’s been taken to the nth degree, with results that astounded even a dyed in the wool fan like me. Beauty and destruction combine to create what can only be described as a cosmic achievement. This album is a classic already and further advances my theory that whatever Black Metal can do, Death Metal can do much better.
3. Cynic – Carbon Based Anatomy
Sure, Cynic have become less ‘death metal’ with each release, but I’m still convinced they belong on my list. This is a release that defies classification, metal or otherwise and as such I feel that as a work of beautiful music, it needed to be on my Top 10. This EP (like their other work for sure) is an experience; a journey into the wonders of the infinite made possible by brilliant musicians and their devotion to this band. This release sure is technical and it sure is beautiful, but beyond that, words fail to describe it, even from the most verbose people.
2. Archspire – All Shall Align
Simply put, this is one of the greatest debuts I’ve heard period. A myriad of avenues in tech-death are explored in this release, from breathtaking solos to mind numbing dissonance to a combination of speed, technicality and brutality that have already created a force to be reckoned with. It’s not for the faint of heart and even an experienced listener can be taken aback by certain portions. In the end though, every direction explored in this release is a smashing success, something that even veteran bands should be envious of. I have and will continue to play this album nonstop and whatever comes next from these wonderful Canadians will surely be on one of my other Top 10 lists.
And the number one album from 2011 is…
1. Septic Flesh – The Great Mass
As soon as I discovered Septic Flesh with 2008’s ‘Communion’, I knew I had stumbled onto something marvelous in a way I had never believed possible; beautiful symphonies juxtaposed with demonic vocals/instrumentation, giving a true sense of diving head first into the forces beyond mortal comprehension. ‘The Great Mass’ is the next step in that journey. The technicality is but the tip of the iceberg, giving way to something that can only be approximated as Wagner and Lucifer conducting an orchestra of the damned. Even that approximation falls short, but there’s no instance where I cannot recommend this album. Want frenetic drumming? Fotis Benardo provides the best of speed and discipline. Want a vocalist worth his salt? Seth Siro Anton is easily of the best vocalists in all of metal, let alone death metal. His growls are among the more inhuman I’ve heard short of Demilich. Septic Flesh has all of the requirements for a classic band, but they don’t stop there; aside from being musicians of the highest caliber themselves, the filharmonic orchestra and choir of Prague is along for the ride. Out of every Symphonic Death Metal band, I’d argue that Septic Flesh is the most influential *and* the best of a wonderful bunch. Like ‘Communion’, this is an album with no real faults. Combine that with having everything I love about tech-death set to an orchestra and the number one spot on this list was a no brainer.