Brad Barratt's Top 10 of 2011

As I sit here with my glass of Imperial Stout Trooper, I stroke my beard and think about the metal releases that stoked my interest in 2011. Most of those were doom metal, stoner rock, or a hybrid of the two genres.  What can I say? I like to mellow out after a day of being wound tighter than Pickles when his brother Seth tortures him. [Which reminds me: when is the last time I watched Metalocalypse?  ~Ed.]

The Gates of Slumber The Wretch
I cannot recall a time in my experiences with doom metal when a song just grabbed me so fucking hard that I didn’t know what the hell had hit me. That song was “Coven of Cain” and it brought back fond memories of Saint Vitus, especially from Born Too Late. The Gates of Slumber are a band that ALL fans of doom metal should watch because I have a feeling that 2012 will be their year. The sting from those boilermakers was worth it.

Cauldron Burning Fortune
I remember the first time I heard Burning Fortune by Cauldron. It’s one of those album that I just could not stop listening to. When I interviewed Ian Chains, he had a choice response that I feel defines Cauldron’s purpose in the metal world: New wave of nothing, we used to just call it heavy metal, I don’t think we’re a part of it. We were around before that tag came along and will probably be around after the “wave” bands are gone. What will they call it then? Well said.

Argus Boldly Stride The Doomed
Stride? Argus STORMED my ears that fateful day in April with punishing riffs that evoked doom virtuosos Candlemass and Trouble. The title track brought Samson to mind. Vocalist Butch Balich’s impersonation of Messiah Marcolin tops this album on “Pieces of Your Smile” with a stellar backing on skins by Kevin Latchaw.  It’s my hope that Argus will pick up more steam in 2012!

Cathedral Anniversary
Yet another excellent (albeit live) release from the doom (and later stoner metal) pioneers. I couldn’t get enough of this album, and the fact that most songs came from their Carnival Bizarre release was enough to seal the deal. 2012 is possibly the final year for Cathedral and I expect The Last Spire will inspire fans of doom metal, both old and young. [Good, because The Guessing Game does as its title suggests!  ~Ed.]

Hammers of Misfortune 17th Street
I was stoked to hear of this release after reviewing reissues of their last four albums on Metal Blade Records. MetalMattLongo tackled this release, and like him, 17th Street amazed me from first listen. I also agree that a shorter album length and a new guitarist (Leila Abdul-Rauf) paid off. I like “The Grain” and “Going Somewhere”, “Summer Tears” is the sleeper hit.

Electric Wizard Black Masses
This was one of the first new (U.S) releases for 2011 that I spun over and over. I first became familiar with Electric Wizard when Willie Strausser started spinning their older material on his show, ‘Native Metal’. It’s no surprise that his words resonate with my thoughts on this album. While not the best out there (I’m partial to Dopethrone), it was a welcome release, and it compliments several other doom releases that I later enjoyed in 2011.

Pentagram Last Rites
2011 was a marvelous year for Pentagram with Last Rites, an album that served as a reminder that they hadn’t kicked the bucket just yet. I still stand by my words, especially on the track “Horseman” (which really, really should have been the b-side to “Be Forewarned”). Frontman Bobby Liebling also conducted an excellent interview in Spin magazine this year, in which he talked about battling his demons and keeping the band together. I would love to see Pentagram tour with Saint Vitus, Cathedral and Black Sabbath before I get too old.

Serpent Venom Carnal Altar
I never expected to find myself in a Carnal Altar, but I admit that it was one of my most mind-bending experiences—one I haven’t been able to recreate. Fortunately, there’s a lot to like about this album. “Four Walls of Solitude” pays homage to the Lord of Doom, Tony Iommi, while “Devilshire” is reminiscent of Electric Wizard. If the young’uns still don’t know what a Stereo 8 is, they should seriously ask their parents.

End of Level Boss – Eklectric
Eklectric
from End of Level Boss was another surprise this year. They certainly aren’t easy to peg and that’s a good thing because you’ll hear a mixture of doom, sludge and progressive metal, with thought-provoking themes that contributed heavily to my review.

 

Karma to Burn  V
I have to admit, V almost wasn’t on my radar and some reviews on other sites were less forgiving. Regardless, I spent hours loving it, and have since added several older K2B releases to my collection. I don’t know how to describe it, but there’s just something about their music that clicks with me. Karma to Burn should be consumed by all fans of sludgy stoner rock.

 

~Brad Barratt 

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