The metal world is a world saturated with pretty mediocre and often stereotypical artwork. Graphic satanic imagery, violent imagery, militaristic imagery, fantastical imagery, you get the point. Once you’ve seen enough album covers, you know how rare it is to find something that truly surprises or impresses you. This year seems to have had a really nice mix of fresh, interesting takes on album art as well as wonderfully executed standard-issue album art. This is not to say, however, that 2011 didn’t have its fair share of stinkers. In fact, some of the worst metal album art to come out of the last decade very well may have been this year. We’re going to count down the best and worst of the lot.
While providing some solid albums, 2010 was a fairly lackluster year in metal. Given only the short list of albums slated to come out in the first three months of 2011, it could very well eclipse all of 2010 in just a couple months. Many 2011 albums have been announced, but many of them have tentative or inexact release dates. First, let’s take a look at albums we know release dates for:
Crowbar – Sever The Wicked Hand [February 8]
Cauldron – Burning Fortune [February 14]
Neuraxis – Asylon [February 15]
Deicide – To Hell With God [February 15]
DevilDriver – Beast [February 22]
Darkest Hour – The Human Romance [February 22]
Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising [March 29]
It looks as though, at least early on in 2011, death metal will be reigning supreme with releases from Neuraxis and Deicide” two of the most well-renowned artists in death metal’s history. Crowbar’s Sever The Wicked Hand should also be a monster record, as they’re one of the most legendary sludge metal bands ever.
In terms of anticipated releases with little to no detail and no cemented release date, there are also some heavyweight releases anticipated in the first quarter of 2011: Anthrax, Obscura, The Faceless, Symphony X, Textures, Born of Osiris and Protest The Hero.
Licking your chops yet? This is shaping up to be quite the year if the first quarter is an indication what the rest of the year will look like. And if that isn’t quite enough, there are also rumors of albums from All Shall Perish, Sanctity Opeth (which is most likely happening late 2011), In Flames, Tool (though it’s never easy to know with these guys), Unearth and Hammerfall.
Know any albums that slipped under my radar? I’d love to find out what other metal albums to look out for in early 2011!
With the advent of so many new metal sub genres in recent years, the prospect of finding a band that can be considered “pure metal” or just “metal” is a bit rare. Luckily, Polish band Chain Reaction have found a way to straddle enough sub genres to avoid being pigeon-holed into just one. From groove to thrash to progressive, Chain Reaction boasts every metal style under their belt.
The band recorded their first LP (Vicious Cycle) in 2007, just one year after releasing their “id” promo, though Vicious Cycle wasn’t released due to their lack of a label for support. The next year and half saw the band touring almost non-stop around Poland and surrounding countries. By the time early 2009 rolled around, the band signed with a label (Kolony Records) and released Vicious Cycle that March. This past May, the band released their second full-length album Cutthroat Melodies.
The most prominent sound among Chain Reaction’s songs are groovy thrash riffs akin to bands like DevilDriver, Lamb of God or Chimaira”but that would be selling the band short of their varied sound. The only part of the band’s sound that remains somewhat constant throughout each song are the booming vocals of Barton Szarek. Somewhere between a yell and an enraged growl most of the time, Barton’s vocals really bring the styles of the band together into one strong and cohesive sound. While their music doesn’t necessarily show a massive amount of virtuosity, the songwriting is pretty good and there aren’t any weak links in the band. All in all, Chain Reaction have found a unique metal sound that will make you want to move.
Dare to disagree? Check out some tracks below:
On the off chance you’re located in Estonia, Latvia, or Germany you can catch Chain Reaction on one of their upcoming tour dates in your country!
At the end of the year, when all is said and done, 10 top albums is simply not enough to give credit where it’s due. As a supplement to last week’s Top 10 of Metal, I’m giving props to all the other bands who did something right this year. Think of the following lists as the “superlatives” section of your yearbook”but for metal albums.