The round-up of the decade continues with Conclusion of a Decade Part 2. Much like the previous part, the picks for 2011 span the entire width of the genre. The albums I picked for this year, however, might be the most controversial picks in the entire series. I do believe all these albums to be masterpieces of their genres, so continue reading to find out why.
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room
40 Watt Sun rose from the ashes of UK doom legend Warning. And just like Warning’s masterpiece Watching from a Distance, The Inside Room is an intimate look into frontman Patrick Walker’s life and thoughts. Much to his dismay, the band’s label marketed The Inside Room as a doom metal album when doom is really only one of the influences at play here. The Inside Room borrows from slowcore to craft tracks with an oceanic flow as it replaces the epic scale of a doom album with intimacy and introversion.
And, like every project he touches, Patrick Walker’s remarkable voice adds an unmistakable quality to the album that makes it not just memorable but also very personal. The Inside Room is an act of laying bare one’s heart with an honesty that is seldom found.
Liturgy – Aesthethica
On Aesthethica, Liturgy proposed a new meaning for black metal, dubbed “transcendental black metal”. In his vision, project mastermind Hunter Hunt-Hendrix inverts the values of black metal, so it comes as no surprise that the album wasn’t taken to kindly by large parts of the scene. But listen closely and you can hear Hendrix ideas in practice on Aesthethica.
Aesthethica is beautiful, vibrant and powerful. The songs evoke an excitement that is second to none in extreme music. Glory Bronze realizes the ecstasy of the penultimate, of the “almost” and “not yet”. True Will and Tragic Laurel boast unmatched emotional depth in a clash of blissful triumph and heartrending parting. Veins of God and Generation are displays of majestically evolving songwriting. Aesthethica is the boldest black metal album of this decade and hopefully the ideas on here will find more recognition in the future.
Read more about Aesthethica in Looking Back: Aesthethica.
Mastodon – The Hunter
The Hunter has a reputation of being a scatterbrained misstep in Mastodon‘s discography. More than that, the album had to follow in the footsteps of one of the band’s most critically acclaimed albums, Crack the Skye. But The Hunter isn’t so much an unorganized bundle of songs as it is one of Mastodon’s most diverse offerings. Stylistically sound, the band effortlessly dances through one metal subgenre after another.
With Spectrelight pulling from Mastodon’s sludge roots, Creature Lives and The Sporrow further develop the progressive side of their sound. More importantly, however, The Hunter is the most fun album Mastodon has put out. Blasteroid, Octopus has no Friends, Dry Bone Valley, Bedazzled Fingernails, almost every track on here is bursting with energy and gusto that gets fists pumping and heads banging.
Uneven Structure – Februus
Uneven Structure made their debut when djent was at the height of its popularity. Februus channels the virtues of the genre into an artistic and cinematic experience. From the irresistable rhythms of the opening tracks to the release of Plentitude, the album is overflowing with passionate performances. Drawing from post-metal and ambient, crystalline guitars and glistening synths complete the cold clarity of the album’s atmosphere. In a genre that was often waved off as a passing fad, Uneven Structure delivered a creatively mature album that would stand the test of time.