I recently submitted this to the Roadburn Top 10 albums of the year, if you haven’t submitted yours yet, you can do so here, but I thought I’d post the list here as well.
2011 has been a seriously good year for releases, and it was difficult to narrow it down to just 10, so for this list, I kept it to full album releases rather than including Live Albums, Splits, EP’s & Demo’s as it could have quite easily have got out of control!
I’ve also put it in alphabetical order as each release has its own flair and charm and I think it’s impossible to have an outright number 1 as the reality is their all great albums and therefore share the top spot with equal merits. So without further ado, read on to see what floated my boat in 2011 and I should say, this is just my own personal choice and not those of the The Sleeping Shaman Collective.
Across Tundras ‘Sage’
This album to simply put is amazing, it’s not doom, drone, sludge or stoner, but it blew me away with its Americana feel and flair, which at times reminded me of a dust riddled Neil Young dipping his feet into the abstract world of metal and doom that makes for compelling listening, Neurot do have this knack of digging out some real gems which could quite as easily have been overlooked.
Black Cobra ‘Invernal’
The gruesome twosome of Rafa and Jason returned with this an apocalyptic album of complete ferocity reflecting the explorations of Earnest Shackleton to the Antarctic, not a dull moment throughout its 8 tracks which really does bang home just what 2 people can do with their chosen instruments of terror.
Bong ‘Beyond Ancient Space’
This torturously slow and out worldly debut album from these Northeast deviants literally sent me into orbit, 3 tracks clocking in at just under 80 minutes of monotonous drone with an eastern flair and yeah, I guess there’s a certain cliché when it comes to the use of a sitar, I mean even Bill Hicks referenced the instrument when ranting about the pros and cons of drug use, but it works and it works well, I just hope the creative flair doesn’t dry up and they continue to broaden our psychedelic horizon’s in 2012 and beyond…
Grifter – ST
This band just go from strength to strength, often tagged as Stoner, which is a bit of a disservice really as their fat riffs and infectious grooves are more in the camp of Heavy Classic Rock while doffing their caps to the likes of Humble Pie over Kyuss, and with the backing of the ever faithful Ripple Music, Grifter are gonna be a band to watch in 2012.
Paul Catten ‘Themes And Variations For Strings And Electronics’
Often described as a twisted genius, Paul Catten’s debut solo album brought experimental music to a new level, the thoughts and processes behind this recording are awe inspiring as on first listen, my jaw hit the floor, and when the final track ‘Finale: Serenity In An Ocean Of Storms’ creeps out of the speakers, the journey your taken on is simply serene.
Pombagira ‘Iconoclast Dream’
The 2nd 2 piece outfit to be featured on the list, a very different beast to Black Cobra, and armed with a drumkit and a colossal wall of amps, the destruction that the duo of Pete and Carolyn bring forth is breath taking, this album was also a slight deviation from previous offerings, being just 1 track running in at just under 43 minutes that twists, turns and morphs its way into a doom trodden journey.
Serpent Venom ‘Carnal Altar’
OK I might be slightly biased with this choice as I grew up on the same street as their drummer Suth in the shit hole that is known as Barrow-in-Furness so I’ve literally been friends with him for far too many years to mention, but put that to one side and Serpent Venom do deliver the goods with a hark back to the grandiose traditions of Doom with their very heavy, slow and mournful sound, I was also a big fan of Sloth back in the day, so it was great to once again be enticed by Gazz’s sombre cries.
Sigiriya ‘Return To Earth’
I couldn’t contain my excitement when the news broke that the lads from Acrimony, a band I’d followed since their ‘A Sombre Thought’ demo days, were back, and as much of a fan of Acrimony I am, this isn’t a clone of bygone times, yeah it still has that feel that we all became to know and love, but Sigiriya have a more 70’s Heavy Rock feel to proceedings, they’re also quite active on the gigging front, so hopefully I’ll finally catch these Welsh hippies live in 2012.
The Body & Braveyoung ‘Nothing Passes’
I really don’t know where to start with describing this collaboration which takes the world of the Heavy to an all new stratosphere, combing the earthy tones of The Body, with the experimentation of Braveyoung, the result is a compelling 4 track album of outstanding beauty and monolithic doom.
Uzala – ST
The newest album to be featured on this list as it has just literally been released but is an album I’ve been anticipating for a while after hearing their early recordings, I will admit to having to have a good few listens of it for the sonics to fully sink in, but sink in they did as this isn’t just your bog standard run of the mill doom, male and female vocals as well as an abundance of dark and debauched influences are thrown into the mix, the result is a breath taking slab of wax that every fan of the heavy should have in their collection.
So there we have it, of course there’s a plethora of other releases that saw the light of day in 2011, for instance, we got the new Amebix album ‘Sonic Mass’ which is an incredible release and only just narrowly missed out on making this list. The same can be said for Wino’s new outfit Premonition 13 and their album ‘13’ which saw Wino share guitar duties and put a very different spin on Doom.
I was also introduced to the Oxford based behemoths Undersmile in 2011 and with a new album set for release in 2012, they are a band that really need to be checked out.
Other noteworthy albums include the concept album ‘The Fall Of Altrusia’ by Sleestak and White Hills epic live recording from this year’s Roadburn along with their full length offering ‘H-P1’, Windham also reared their ugly heads with their amazing debut album and of course the monstrously heavy split between Conan and Slomatics which put the newly formed Head Of Crom Records well and truly on the map.
There’s bound to be other releases that have slipped my mind but you can’t please everyone all of the time.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the continued hard work from all of The Sleeping Shaman’s contributors as without you, there would be no webzine and of course our loyal readership for their continued support so here’s to a doomy and gloomy 2012.
Scribed by: Lee Edwards