necromoonyeti’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2011


I want to hop on the bandwagon. It would be a little silly for me to post my real top 10; for one thing, it would include four Krallice tracks. That aside, nearly everything I’d put on it I’ve either posted on this site as a Song of the Day or included in both my review of its album and my top albums post. So to make this a bit different from my past posts, I’m going to limit myself to one song per band, stick to stuff that I imagine might appeal to people who aren’t interested in extreme metal, and keep it on the catchy side. I’ll list a more honest top 10 at the end.

10. Powerwolf – Son of a Wolf (from Blood of the Saints)

As such, my tenth place selection is about as metal as it’s going to get. Powerwolf’s Blood of the Saints might be simple and repetitive, but it’s about the catchiest power/heavy metal album I’ve ever heard. It indulges the same guilty pleasure for me as Lordi and Twisted Sister–two bands that inexplicably pump me up despite being entirely tame. It also offers some amazing operatic vocals and Dracula keyboards, the cheesiness of which can be easily forgiven. Son of a Wolf might be one of the more generic tracks in a sense, but it’s the one most often stuck in my head.

9. Alestorm – Barrett’s Privateers (from Back Through Time)

The only thing I love more than traditional folk and sea chanties is folk punk and metal. When the latter covers the former, I’m in bliss. Alestorm are emerging as the sort of Dropkick Murphys of metal with all their covers lately, and I hope they keep it up. I loved Barrett’s Privateers before what you’re hearing ever happened, and the metal version delights me to no end.

8. The Decemberists – Rox in the Box (from The King is Dead)

The Decemberists really toned it down this year. Where The Hazards of Love could be described as an epic rock opera, The King is Dead sticks to simple, pleasant folk. But Colin Meloy thoroughly researches pretty much every subject he’s ever tackled, and The King is Dead pays ample homage to its predecessors. Rox in the Box incorporates Irish traditional song Raggle Taggle Gypsy with delightful success.

7. Nekrogoblikon – Goblin Box (from Stench)

With a keen eye towards contemporary folk metal like Alestorm and Finntroll, melodic death classics like In Flames and Children of Bodom, and much else besides, former gimmick band Nekrogoblikon really forged their own unique sound in the world of folk metal in 2011. At least half of the album is this good. Stench is the most unexpected surprise the year had to offer by far.

6. Korpiklaani – Surma (from Ukon Wacka)

Korpiklaani almost always end their albums with something special, and 2011 is no exception. The melody of Surma is beautiful, and Jonne Järvelä’s metal take on traditional Finnish vocals is as entertaining as ever.

5. Turisas – Hunting Pirates (from Stand Up and Fight)

I couldn’t find a youtube video that effectively captured the full scope of Turisas’s sound in such limited bitrates, but believe me, it’s huge. Go buy the album and find out for yourselves. Unlike Varangian Way, not every track is this good, but on a select number Turisas appear in their finest form. Adventurous, exciting, epic beyond compare, this band delivers with all of the high definition special effects of a Hollywood blockbuster.

4. The Flight of Sleipnir – Transcendence (from Essence of Nine)

Essence of Nine kicks off with a kaleidoscope of everything that makes stoner metal great, while reaching beyond the genre to incorporate folk and Akerfeldt-esque vocals. A beautifully constructed song, it crushes you even as it floats through the sky. I could imagine Tony Iommi himself rocking out to this one.

3. Boris – Black Original (from New Album)

From crust punk to black metal, there’s nothing Boris don’t do well, and 2011 has shown more than ever that there’s no style they’ll hesitate from dominating. I don’t know what’s been going on in the past few years with this popular rise of 80s sounds and weird electronics. I don’t listen to it, so I can’t relate. But if I expected it sounded anything nearly as good as what Boris pulled off this year I’d be all over it.

2. Tom Waits – Chicago (from Bad as Me)

Bad as Me kicks off with one of my favorite Tom Waits songs to date. It’s a timeless theme for him, but it feels more appropriate now than ever, and his dirty blues perfectly capture the sort of fear and excitement of packing up and seeking out a better life.

1. Dropkick Murphys – Take ‘Em Down (from Going Out in Style)

In a year just begging for good protest songs, Flogging Molly tried really hard and fell flat. Dropkick Murphys, another band you’d expect to join the cause, released perhaps their most generic album to date (still good mind you, but not a real chart topper). Take ‘Em Down is kind of out of place on the album, but it’s DKM to the core, and as best I can gather it’s an original song, not a cover of a traditional track. If so, it’s probably the most appropriate thing written all year. (The video is fan made.)

If you’re interested in my actual top 10, it runs something like this:

10. Falkenbach – Where His Ravens Fly…
9. Waldgeflüster – Kapitel I: Seenland
8. Liturgy – High Gold
7. Endstille – Endstille (Völkerschlächter)
6. Blut aus Nord – Epitome I
5. Krallice – Intro/Inhume
4. Liturgy – Harmonia
3. Krallice – Diotima
2. Krallice – Telluric Rings
1. Krallice – Dust and Light

And that excludes so many dozens of amazing songs that it seems almost pointless to post it.

Review: The Flight of Sleipnir – Essence of Nine


This has been sort of the year of stoner metal. I swear a new entry to the stoner/doom/sludge genre comes out every week. I’ve ignored most of it. It’s not that I dislike it, I just haven’t been in the mood. But once in a while I’ll sample a few tracks here and there, give each band a minute or two of my time. The Flight of Sleipnir didn’t even require that much effort–within the first ten seconds of the opening track I was hooked.

Transcendence

How these guys aren’t on the radar is beyond me, because this is pretty much everything I could ever want from an album. Sure, the production isn’t that great, but neither is Black Sabbath’s, so let’s get over that right form the start and soak this all in. Here’s a band that just hands you everything you could wnat on a silver platter right form the get-go. A killer bluesy stoner metal groove, delicious acoustic interludes, perfectly executed black metal style screaming, beautiful clean vocals that harken to Mikael Akerfeldt, and we’re only five minutes into the album.

As Ashes Rise (The Embrace of Dusk)

As you might have expected, the opener is just an introduction to what they have in store. Sure they’ve played all of their cards. No additional styles or elements are implemented further down the line. But what they’ve introduced just keeps on improving as the album progresses.

There is a surprising prominence of acoustic melodies packed into Essence of Nine, so much so that I’m inclined to call it folk metal just as much as stoner metal. The abundant allusions to Norse mythology and use of rune stones on a decidedly doom metal album cover suggest that the band would agree. That distinction alone could make an album stand apart, but if “stoner folk metal” is now a term with meaning, they’ve done more than initiate. They’ve come awfully close to perfecting it.

The Seer in White

Because the quality of their song writing overshadows the fact that what they’re doing here is unique. And while I’ve showcased those songs that most appeal to me–the most folk-centric of the lot–there is plenty to be had for fans of the more punishing characteristics of doom. It’s never quite crushing enough to rival the best artists of that sort of music, but as a compliment to the folk side of their sound rather than the main focus of the music, it’s certainly sufficient. Given a live venue and enough amplification I think they would blow me away.

As Cinders Burn (The Wake of Dawn)

Anyway, there you have it. I think I’ll spend more time talking about this album than actually listening to it throughout the year. It’s not the sort of thing I’m always in the mood for, but I can find no fault. People looking for strictly doom metal might find it lacking, but if you’re interested in something a bit more diverse Essence of Nine is a sure bet.