I was really getting pissed off at year end best of lists this year because: (A) they starting popping up in LATE NOVEMBER, and (B) EVERYONE seemed to be doing them. I was however forced to comb through an inordinate amount of them, because I was sifting through an inordinate amount of music blogs over the past month, looking for ones that would potentially review an album that I played on and released.
The main thing I noticed from these year end lists was that: (A) dirty old school death metal is going through a some kind of renaissance, and (B) almost no one (including one person who did a TOP 100 albums of 2011) was including any releases from Bay Area bands. Now it's not my opinion, it's a stone cold FACT that the Bay Area has a world class metal scene (punk scene too, duh), and we really got the cold shoulder this year, while bands from, well... ALMOST EVERYWHERE ELSE were getting their nuts fondled by the self important tastemakers of the internet kingdom.
So here I have, not only my top ten Bay Area releases list of 2011, but also a list of the most overlooked metal releases of the year, period. If you have not heard of some of these bands or releases, by all means CHECK THEM OUT. I have included links to music and external websites wherever possible.
This isn't a popularity contest (or a POOPularity contest, hence the lack of Shitty Fucker at number 11!) so the releases are in no particular order,
just kidding: they're in alphabetical order, which is a PARTICULAR
order, but has nothing to do with how much I like them. Please also take
note that I gracefully refrained from including any releases that I
performed on; this would have been a very different list otherwise, peppered liberally with Hazzard's Cure, A.N.S. and Owl releases.
20 Buck Spin
After the party time styles of Night After Night, the false start of Yellow Eyes, and the spaced out Hüsker-Mötorhead jams called Pins Of Light, I was really stoked to see Shane Baker doing some REALLY DARK vocals again. A dream come true for an old timer Dead And Gone fan such as myself. The rest of the band is great too, the icing on the cake being the cruel, biting, reptilian sound of Russ Kent's guitar.
Badr Vogu: Exitium
What is comfort food to you? Apple pie? Meatloaf? Well, comfort music in Oakland, to me, is downtuned, crusty street sludge. The East Bay does it best, and we're doing it again. Welcome Bädr Vogu, the newest purveyors of Oakland's most perfected and imitated genre. Perhaps not breaking open a vast swath of new territory, B.V. instead brings something as timeless and perennial as an afternoon fog rolling in through the Golden Gate, forlorn cranes down at the harbor, and a bum lying in his own vomit on a broken glass strewn sidewalk.
Black Cobra: Invernal
The full on thickness of Black Cobra's sound has consistently transcended my dislike of two piece bands for many years. Indeed, they are one of the few that does it right. Another VERY solid release from this powerhouse of sludge.
LISTEN to "Avalanche"
Brainoil: Death Of This Dry Season
20 Buck Spin
Refer to Badr Vogu review above, except rather than the new kids on the block, Brainoil are the "seasoned" veterans of the genre, the grizzled old prospectors who occasionally come down from the hills to show the young 'uns how it's done.
Futur Skullz: Self Titled
Thrash. Fast. Guitar Solos. Weakling. Drums. Facedowninshit. Bass. Aggressive. Lookbackandlaugh. Speedmetal. Double kick. Harsh. Vo-kills. Fucking Champs. Guitarz. Californialove. Metal. Metal. Metal. Punk. Hardcore. Metal. Breakout. Metal. Finally.
Listen to "Gun Fund"
Glitter Wizard: Solar Hits
I recently had the opportunity to see Glitter Wizard while tripping on acid in a small club in Hollywood. There's no point to that statement. I'm just saying. If you're into shit like Hawkwind, old Alice Cooper, etc, check this band out. You may think it's cheesy that they have costumes and cod pieces and whatever, but at the heart of it, they are a rockin' band. The songs are tight, the riffs are heavy. They put weak "psychedelic" bands to shame.
Hightower: Tower To The People
My favorite group of San Francisco skater/stoner/thrahsers finally released their second album this year; the songs I've been hearing them play for the past five years are finally on wax! The skatin' Iron Maiden sound has come to full fruition this time around, with truly epic jams, and a party till you puke till you skate till you die attitude that can't be fucked with.
Hollow Mirrors: S/T
Current and former members of Badr Vogu and Saros. Hollow Mirrors bring a sophisticated psychedelic prog sound into the mix of the Bay Area. Almost gothic at times, and somewhat drone-y, the band really is attempting to alter your mind. I especially dig side two, which is like an epic alternate universe journey through late 60's era Pink Floyd. Cool! Pass the hash, dawg.
No Statik: We All Die In The End
An all star cast of USHC ragers comes together to release a record that gives the Bay Area punk scene a much needed kick in the arse. I don't know if this is an album or a twelve inch EP, but I'm going to pretend it's an album cause I need one more in here. If there isn't a pulverizing live No Statik show near you any time soon, this will serve as a reasonable, temporary substitute.
When We Wake by No Statik
Prizehog: Thought Nest
Fans of Melvins and Harvey Milk beware! A new slovenly beast is staggering in across the horizon of San Francisco's low end spectrum. They don't even have a bass player, but they are still heavy as shit! Ominous, guitar and keyboard-scapes punctuated by razor tight drums. Not to be fucked with.
Listen to "Aykranoid"
BONUS! TOP EPs and Demos of 2011!
Can you believe it? A new death metal band that's neither wallowing in the filthy sludge of the old school renaissance, nor painting it's self into a corner with technical suburban camo-shorts wearing wankery?
A breath of fresh air in the Bay Area doom scene. Fianlly something that can be called elegant, epic, and interesting, qualities that the recent trendy wave of slow bands do not seem to be familiar with.
Negative Standards: Demo
This should really just serve as a gateway to you seeing the band live, so you can experience the rage, the fury, the videos... the videos?! Trust me.
Listen to some stuff HERE.
Swamp Witch: Gnosis Tape
Some crushing nasty new doom sludge. Loud and mean sounding, like it really is exploding out of a plutonium bong in some un-dead infested swamp in doomsylvania.
Emerald Serpent by SwampWitch
Goddamn this post was a pain in the ass to do! But I was determined to do it right! The sound clips, the hyperlinks... ugh. If you actually made it through this whole thing, please leave a comment! Even if it's to tell me how all these bands suck and the list is bullshit, I'll be happy to argue with you until the end of time.