Thursday, January 19, 2012

2011 Record Label of the Year

The Second Annual Record Label of the Year, as decided by Kingdom of Noise, is awarded to.....Canada's own Profound Lore Records!!
The basis I use to determine the RLOTY is basically, the label that released the most albums on my Top 40 Albums of the Year list. This year the race wasn't even close. Profound Lore released a whopping 14 out of 41 albums on the list, including my Top 3! That's 34%!  Incredible! Now here's a label that knows how to pick 'em. Even the releases that didn't end up on my Top 41 were still solid, solid albums. Not a dud to be found. I can't say enough about founder Chris Bruni's ability to sign such amazing bands and get their music out there. Well done, sir. And thank you very, very much for making 2011 a great year for music.
I also have to mention the other labels that released multiple albums that made my Top 41. Last year's ranking in parentheses.
2nd Place, with 6 releases, Relapse Records. (1st. Relapse narrowly beat out Nuclear Blast and Season of Mist for last year's honour.)
3rd Place, with 4 releases, including 2 in the Top 10, Metal Blade Records. (T-4th)
4th Place, with 4 releases, Prosthetic Records. (5th)
5th Place, with 2 releases, Century Media.(Did not rank)
(If you count Megadeth and Cavalera Conspiracy (special mentions on my list) Roadrunner takes 5th with 3 releases.)
I have to give special mention to Gilead Media. I only discovered this label late in the year so I didn't get to spend very much time with the releases but their lineup is stellar. False, Barghest, Fell Voices, Ash Borer and Northless are all really good. Not to mention they distributed the vinyl version of my AOTY, Diotima by Krallice. (I think I saw the Yob LP on there too.) I look forward to seeing what Gilead has to offer for 2012.
I'd also like to thank the rest of the labels with releases that "charted".
Nuclear Blast, Seventh Rule, Earache, Reprise, Willowtip, Candlelight, E1, Indie, Tankcrimes, and although no album charted, Grindcore Karaoke.

Monday, January 16, 2012

R.I.P. David Gold

As you most likely already know, Woods of Ypres frontman David Gold was killed in a car accident a few days before Christmas. I'd just like to say a few things.
I only became aware of Woods of Ypres last year.  I listened to Woods 4: The Green Album and became and instant fan. Later than day, I tweeted a couple thoughts about the album and before the screen had faded on my phone, David had responded to my thoughts. We had a little back and forth that day and that was it. That one brief conversation with him was the only time we ever "spoke" but it left a mark. See, I didn't initiate contact. He did. He was actively seeking out comments about Woods of Ypres and willfully interacting with the fans. I said to myself, "Wow. That's cool." This is but one small example of the dedication David had for his band and its fans.
I enjoyed following the progress of the making of Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light.  I was very excited to see how it turned out. I wasn't the only one. The buzz surrounding the band seemed to be growing. It was looking like 2012 was going to be big for Woods of Ypres. Then the hammer blow.
I was on break in the middle of a night shift when I heard.  I was stunned. My eyes grew big as saucers and my jaw hit the floor. I didn't believe it at first. I didn't want to believe it. I wanted to find out it was a hoax. Soon enough it became apparent that wasn't the case. In the words of Gold himself, "Only death is real." I can't say I was 100% surprised that Gold met his end before his time. He didn't appear to be a happy man. Optimists and happy-go-lucky souls don't write that many songs about death. But with all the recognition and what not the band was getting, I had hoped that other kind of tragedy would be a non-issue. If you take my meaning. Although, if he believed what he sang about in "Death is Not an Exit", he realized that suicide is never the solution. It's a very small consolation that this was an accident, but nevertheless, a tremendous talent was taken away far too early.
Earache Records released a digital promo of Woods 5 shortly after Gold's death. Whenever I listen to it, I feel like it's being sung by a ghost. As if the album wasn't haunting enough. I was singing along to it on my drive to work this morning and I could hardly see for the tears. It doesn't make any sense why I should grieve so much for a man I didn't even know. I've been more upset these past few weeks about Gold's passing that I have been for some extended family members. Perhaps the tragic nature and the age of the deceased played a part. More than likely, my grief is born of selfishness. Woods 5 will be the last WoY album. I will never meet David. I'll never get to see him perform live. All those things are now denied to me. Of course, I also have the deepest compassion for his family, close friends and most rabid fans. The road to enlightenment is paved with compassion, and as a Buddhist practitioner, that's my ultimate goal. So deep down, most of those tears are shed for them.
I didn't feel this bad about any of the metal figures that have passed recently. Not for Dio, nor Cory Smoot, nor Paul Gray, nor Peter Steele. All in bands with bigger profiles than WoY. Bands I've been fans of for years. I don't even think I felt this genuinely sad for Cobain. And I was a huge Nirvana fan. (I was more angry than anything.) Even though I've only been a Woods of Ypres fan less than a year, this hurts more than any of those. So much potential, lost in the blink of an eye.
I will leave you with a chilling thought. In the song "Alternate Ending" on Woods 5, there are the lyrics "Back on the highway, under the moon. My final moments, still wondering about you." It's like he knew.
Return In Peace, David. May your next life bring you happiness.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Guilty Pleasures" of 2011

When I started counting down my favourite albums of 2011 I mentioned that there were a couple of albums I intentionally left off. I left them off not because I wouldn't consider them among my favourite 40 but because I know they aren't among the best 40. My bias towards these artists is too strong to allow me to judge them fairly against the rest of the list. So instead of trying to find the proper place and then imagine people saying "Are you kidding me?!" I just decided to make a separate post.
Megadeth - TH1RT3EN: I don't really feel guilty per se for liking this album as much as I do. But I'm not going to pretend that it's AMAZING either. I'm also not going to pretend that 13 is their best album either. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I don't believe there are any duds. It's Megadeth doing what Megadeth does. You have to admit that besides Slayer, Megadeth are the best and most consistent band among the BIg 4. Megadeth played a big part in my early metalhead life. For a time, they were my favourite metal band of all time. This band has had so much influence on me, and holds a special place in my heart.  I actually framed my autographed sleeve for The World Needs a Hero. I met them, had it signed and saw them perform an acoustic on the day it was released. That's actually the only time I've seen them live. UNTIL FEBRUARY 5TH!!! For all that, I can't judge Megadeth. Unless they pull a Metallica. Then all bets are off.
Traditionally, any new release from Clutch graces the top spot on my list. I don't have to worry about bias. They ARE the best. But with no new release from them in 2011, (the Blast Tyrant re-issue doesn't count) a Clutch album doesn't come into play here. In such (disappointing) years as Clutch fail to release an album,.top honours usually go to Soulfly. Their release schedules are mostly staggered. Since no Soulfly album was released either, my second "guilty pleasure" of 2011 is:
Cavalera Conspiracy - Blunt Force Trauma: This feels like more of a guilty pleasure. CC get no respect. Soulfly doesn't get much either for that matter and really, in a blind taste test, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two. But I have a man-crush on Max Cavalera as a musician (he's not much to look at) so I really dig just about anything he is involved in. It's really unfortunate that his name is so associated with nu-metal. I really dig this album and I don't care what you think. Although, "I Speak Hate" isn't Max's best effort.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Kingdom of Noise Album of the Year for 2011: KRALLICE - DIOTIMA

No album of 2011 captured me the way Diotima (Profound Lore) did. Krallice have crafted a masterpiece that at times has left me literally speechless. Rendered mute and dumbfounded by the sheer brilliance of their creation. The immensity of talent that forms Krallice is mind-blowing. And I feel ashamed that I haven't realized that until this year. I can almost guarantee that I heard Dimensional Bleedthrough but for whatever reason it didn't click with me. As I've said before, Black Metal in general is a taste I have only acquired in the past couple years. The less black there is in my hair, the more black there is in my heart. Granted, Diotima is considered avant-garde as far as Black Metal goes but it hasn't transcended the genre altogether. One of the aspects of Black Metal that I particularly enjoy, and that Krallice perform with considerable success, is the sense of motion. Specifically a sense of flight. For the entire length of the album, my consciousness soars through time. Landscapes and colours shift and fade in my mind's eye. Darkness and light explode across my being or creep through my veins. My mind, body and spirit melt into one entity, content in nothing other than the absorption of the sound waves.
I may sound like I am being overly dramatic but this album affected me on a level much deeper than simply auditory pleasure. A sensory satisfaction that mundane can be satiated a thousand times over before you happen across something that is so good it hurts. That's what good art does. It makes you feel. You may feel joy. You may feel anxiety or fear. Anger, Sadness. Pride. Elation or disappointment. It could make you feel powerful, or weak. Or it may make you feel all of these things. The point is that it makes you feel something. That's what Diotima does for me. It makes me feel all those things. Often in the same song. As the soundscape unfolds, I envision it as the soundtrack to a world. It's stories and drama unravelling in sonic elegance. A journey beyond the speakers. An epic worthy of reverence for its ability to move your soul through the ether to a place outside of the everyday. And this is how I feel before I've even read the lyrics. The artfulness of the music is carried through into the words. The screams and growls and howls serve as more than just another instrument. They act as a vehicle for the poetic beauty of the written words. The juxtaposition of the cerebral lyrics and "animalistic" nature of the vocals is somewhat striking but not unexpected. Nothing about Diotima would suggest anything otherwise. One wouldn't expect such care to be taken musically to create such grandeur and nuance only to throw trivial lyrics over it. The lyrics get the listener thinking and the music sets the tone and fleshes out the details which together creates a magnificent singular piece of immensely satisfying art. For me, all this has enough impact to destroy a world. Perhaps similar to the impact that is theorized to have destroyed Tiamat and created our Solar System's asteroid belt. One of those asteroids is coincidentally named 423 Diotima. Named for the historical Greek figure, Diotima's discourses with Socrates are said to be the origins of the concept of Platonic love. While I assure you I have no intentions of proposing marriage to any members of the band, or my double vinyl copy of the album for that matter, my love for Diotima does push the very limits of the definition of Platonic.*
The dramatis personae performing this masterwork consists of vocalist/guitarist Mick Barr (Orthrelm, Ocrilim), guitarist Colin Marston (Behold...Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts), bassist/vocalist Nick McMaster and drummer Lev Weinstein. This foursome possesses a superb wealth of talent. Each an absolute master of their craft. Thankfully, it appears that ego does not come part and parcel with all that ability. In the liner notes, writing credits are presented as "MUSIC INITIATED BY..." :LYRICS BY...". I love that term "initiated by". This would lead me to believe (and I have read elsewhere) that this is a total band effort. Each member contributing to and building on an idea, a concept, a framework, initiated by one member. In fact, every member's name appears in the music and/or lyrics. As much as I deride "artists" who don't write their own "songs", I applaud even more so for bands that collaborate as a team. On this their third album, Krallice are now champions.
*According to the Wikipedia, entry for Diotima, "with genuine Platonic love, the beautiful or lovely other person inspires the mind and the soul and directs one's attention to spiritual things." That sounds about right. "Oh my GOD, this is awesome!"

CD available from Profound Lore here.
2LP vinyl available from Gilead Media here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#2: Subrosa - No Help For The Mighty Ones

Subrosa is one of those bands I had never heard of until I saw posts about them on Twitter. Their record label, Profound Lore, was using tweets to promote the release of No Help For The Mighty Ones. After repeated posts I said to myself, "Well fuck. I should probably check it out." Don't tell me social media doesn't work! I was floored! I knew I was going to like it when I heard the Electric Wizard-esque opening riff on "Borrowed Time, Borrowed Eyes". I'm a sucker for tone and Subrosa nailed it. Love at first head nod. So you can imagine my jaw dropping when the already formidable wall of noise was joined by electric violins! At first I didn't even know what I was hearing. I thought at least one of them was a brass instrument. A little research cleared that up however. It wasn't so much ignorance that lead to the error as much as unexpectedness. On subsequent listens my appreciation of the contrast between the tones ripened even more. I now can't even entertain the notion of that insectile presence not being there to balance out the mammoth bottom end. It's a symbiotic relationship. Another unexpected surprise was how much I liked the singing. Yes singing. No quotation marks. Usually the only clean female singing I hear is from the crap my wife likes on the radio. Or worse, the crap my parents made me listen to growing up. I can't tell you how many times I found myself singing along unabashedly to those powerful, memorable, emotional choruses. A general sense of sorrow permeates the album. At times I felt myself on the verge of tears. Not only because of Subrosa's ability to draw out the emotions but also just because it's so damn good! Especially during "House Carpenter". The sometimes skittery, sometimes mournful violins, the subterranean oppressiveness of the Kyuss-ian guitars and the beautiful singing would be nothing if it weren't for the phenomenal song writing. Hooks both vocal and instrumental sink their barbs in deep. Every track is a testament to music as an art form. Brilliant in every way.
For a (much) more in depth treatise on my unrepentant fondness for No Help For The Mighty Ones, check out the detailed review I wrote earlier this year.
Who do you think will take the top spot this year?

#3: Yob - Atma

When talking about the Batillus album I referred to it as "doom at its best". That's different than "the best doom". That honour goes to Atma (Profound Lore). Guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Reiseberg and drummer Travis Foster have summoned forth a monumental slab of thunderous doom mastery. Thick as molasses riffs unfold at a glacial pace, as unstoppable as that very force of nature. The hypnotic nature of the riffs coupled with the fuzzed out, overdriven tone can lull you into a state of bliss that allows the music to permeate every fiber of your being. It is a transcendental and meditative experience. As doomy as it is, Atma doesn't bring me down. I feel uplifted by its positive energy. Although, the guest vocals by Scott Kelly of Neurosis on "Before We Dreamed of Two" are somewhat sombre. Kelly also appears on "Adrift in the Ocean". Also, Stevie Floyd of Dark Castle provided the stunning artwork. "Adrift in the Ocean" is actually a decent metaphor for another way I feel about the album. The fluidity of the album and the way the riffs rise and fall gives one the sense of riding waves. Also, sometimes the tension that is felt reminds me of the perils that lurk in the vastness of the open ocean. Above and below the water. Storm or serpent. That may not sound very uplifting, but I still feel good listening to Atma. In terms of the word "atma" itself, it is defined as "the self". Self in the vastest sense of the word. This gives me a somewhat personal connection to the album. As a practitioner of an Eastern philosophy (NKT Buddhism), the self or "I" is at the heart of the practice. We are taught that the "I" is not this body, is not a physical thing. It is a formless mental continuum that carries our karmic potentialities from consciousness to consciousness as long as we are trapped in the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth called samsara. Heavy stuff. Heavy stuff calls for heavy music and you won't find many bands as heavy, or as good, as Yob.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

#4: Rwake - Rest

And I thought Voices of Omens was good! Obviously the 4 years that past between its release and 2011's Rest (Relapse) was time well spent. I have a horrible memory and I haven't listened to Voices in at least three years. Therefore, I can't really make a direct comparison between the two albums. Rest is so good, however, that the fact that I can't quite remember Voices that well doesn't bother me a bit. I find the album very hypnotic. Not in a wholly psychedelic sense but more that I have a hard time keeping my eyes fully open. I prefer to close myself off from visual distraction and let the music flow through me. And flow it does. It might not seem like it should with all the tempo changes and non-traditional song structures but it does. Whether it's an acoustic passage, spoken word, a vicious pummeling or just straight sludge, every piece fits naturally. Almost like there is some supernatural force dictating how the album plays out. That follows with one of the general themes that I feel from the album. The theme that there is more to life than what can be seen. More in our environment, more in our world, more in our universe. There are forces at play that we can't begin to contemplate until we open our minds fully. This album is one of those albums that puts my mind into altered states without the use of drugs. The music itself gets me high. In addition to just plain blowing my mind, Rest also receives addition Kingdom of Noise "awards" for 2011. First, The Vocal Performance of the Year. The energy and passion displayed by vocalist CT and co-vocalist B puts a fire in my heart. Such conviction! Second, Song of the Year for "Was Only A Dream". That song just speaks to me. I could (and did) listen to it on repeat for days. It's so powerful. I have quite the affinity for trees. They are the life force of our planet. Deforestation for raising livestock is one of the reasons I became a vegetarian. (If I was single, without kids, I'd be vegan) So it would come as no surprise given my fondness for trees that the third award is for Album Cover of the Year. It depicts a gnarly, barren tree bathed in sunlight filtered through a light fog. Part of what I love about it is it looks strikingly similar to a couple of trees right in my very own yard. Those trees are part of the reason we bought the house. Also, the lack of foliage represents, to me, not only the cycle of the seasons but also the fact that our planet is slow dying. You would think that an album that I have bestowed so much praise upon would rank as #1 but remember, anything in my Top 5 could be #1 on any given day. It's like trying to chose my favourite child. It can't be done. But on some days, one can be more endearing than the others. I feel really bad that I have yet to purchase Rest. It needs to be part of my collection. And with that all important lyric sheet, my connection to and understanding of the album could only be deepened.

#5: Batillus - Furnace

I heard the UPS guy threw out his back when he delivered my vinyl copy of Furnace (Seventh Rule). 180g my ass! This fucker is ungodly heavy. In fact, it's so heavy that when I asked my buddy Atlas (the Greek God) to hold it for me, he replied with an emphatic "FUCK. THAT."  Nevertheless, I somehow managed to summon my Herculean might and drop the needle on the heaviest release I've heard for 2011.  Furnace is rife with monolithic riffs so dense they must have been forged in the furnace that burns at the center of the Earth. This is DOOM at its best Ladies and Gents. But what makes it so great is the dynamics. It's not all plodding, mind-crushing/numbing drone. There are peaks and valleys to compliment the immensity. The impact of the crushing moments is heightened by the build up. The other side of the mountain isn't a gentle slope, it's a sheer cliff. There's no way to save yourself from being flattened. I have to give special mention to the track "Deadweight". It epitomizes the way  I feel about Furnace. The chorus is ridiculously heavy. The lyrics "Fall on your knees/Crushed by your soul/Poisoned your mind/That serves you no more" are accompanied by an absolutely pulverizing chug that literally compels me to fall on my knees. My soul is indeed crushed, mind poisoned. No album this year has elicited such an undeniable physical response from me. I don't claim to be any kind of format expert, but for maximum richness, I'd spend my money on the vinyl. And enjoy the soul-crushing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

#6: Wolves In The Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

This album is a perfect example of how my personal tastes are always evolving. Back in 2009 when I heard Black Cascade, I didn't "get it". I still wasn't much for Black Metal yet. Since then, the part of my brain that understands albums such as Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord) has woken up. And it's saying "go back and listen to the rest of the albums". (I will. Eventually.) I'm not going to go into all that "Cascadian Black Metal" stuff. I'll let other people debate that. What I can say is putting all preconceptions aside, the album does sound very natural, earthen, organic and well, celestial. Unlike the previous two entries on this AOTY list, WITTR are definitely Black Metal in my books. More than basement, corpsepainted BM yes, but still "troo" to me anyway. Much like their Norwegian counterparts draw inspiration from their frost-bitten habitat, Celestial Lineage feels like the environment that surrounds the Olympia, WA based band. It's incredibly rich, textured and life-giving like the the humus of the forest floor. Instruments and voices come and go as creatures of wing and foot move through the trees. Wind and rain play their part too as bells chime and the album is drenched in atmosphere. The power and beauty of nature in the Northwest US seems to transform itself into a sonic entity as complex and interdependent as a living ecosystem. To create you must destroy. Celestial Lineage perpetuates that truism in the delicate balance of devastating, cacophonous black metal and a reverent appreciation for dynamics and space. The Brothers Weaver could not have sculpted such a masterpiece without a little assistance however.  Helping to sing the album into existence, as Aslan did Narnia, was Aaron Turner of Isis fame, and the angelic voices of Turner's wife Faith Coloccia and Jessika Kenney. I don't live anywhere near the Northwest. I have actually never been farther west then Windsor,ON and the forests here are not near as lush as those on the other side of the Rockies but I nevertheless feel at home when I listen to Celestial Lineage. It feels like a musical representation of my ideal living environment. The energies of nature made into sound.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

#7: Altar of Plagues - Mammal

I'm definitely running into some descriptory fatigue. I'm even making up words. That bums me out more than the doomy, depressive, post-black metal of Ireland's Altar of Plagues. Mammal (Profound Lore) is very atmospheric and dark. The fuzzy, lo-fi guitars and other effects (reverb? I'm no gear head) make the album feel like it was recorded in a cavern. Damp, cold and devoid of sunlight. When AoP choose to go full-on BM, it's a bitter assault. I could handle a whole album of it. But it's the other aspects that make it such a great album. I'm not a patient man (at least in terms of music) but somehow Mammal is able to hold my attention during the gaze-y parts. I find myself entranced as the music soars, gliding above the sorrowful landscape below. The mote of consciousness climbing ever skyward only to plunge back into the blackened hole from which it sprang and erupting in an explosion of emotion.  Even the "keening' parts failed to bore me, as their inclusion only serves to enhance the mood of the album. '09's White Tomb was good, Mammal is better. If AoP can keep up this career trajectory, their future is looking bright. But bleak. Bleak-induced brightness? Sure.

#8: Primordial - Redemption at the Puritan's Hand

This is my Album of Second Chances. The first time I listened to Redemption (Metal Blade) I don't think I made it past through the first track. The next time I might have got past the first two tracks. I must have been listening to a lot of death metal or something because I just couldn't get past the vocals. But something told me to keep trying. If I ever find that something I'm going to buy it a horn of ale. I owe it at least that for saving me from potentially missing out on an outstanding album. I always thought Primordial was a black metal band. Probably due to the inclusion of the band in a black metal documentary I watched. But since this is the first Primordial album I've heard, I can't say how it compares to their previous work. I can hear flashes of black metal on Redemption but I don't hear it as a "Black Metal" album. What I hear is epic in every sense of the word. The sweeping melodies bring to mind rolling green hills and windswept cliffs. A.A Nemtheanga's vocals/lyrics hearken back to the days when kings meant something, battles were won with blood, not bombs, and man and nature coexisted in balance. Just listening to it makes me feel like more of a man. What I especially like about RATPH is how it is put together. Every individual performer is represented amazingly compositionally and/or production wise. AA tells the story. I croon along best I can but I can't match his timbre or command. I yearn to fully comprehend everything that he sings about. The guitars paint the picture beautifully and weave their tendrils around the pleasure centers in my brain. The tone and clarity (and the fact that I can hear it. Well. And always.) of Pól MacAmlaigh's bass warms my heart and soul like you wouldn't believe. The drums hold the whole thing together. The style and resurfacing themes that pop up in the drumming links all the songs together. I once tweeted that Primordial should soundtrack A Game of Thrones and I stand by that. Redemption at the Puritan's Hand makes me proud that I am of Irish ancestry.

#9: Barn Burner - Bangers II: Scum of the Earth

Montreal's Barn Burner are one of Canada's best young bands. On the their second album, Bangers II: Scum of the Earth (Metal Blade) they have further entrenched themselves as such. These beasts of the stage are equally as stimulating in recorded format. Last year I snuck Bangers on to my list due to a release date technicality. That wasn't necessary this year. There's nothing sneaky about Bangers II. Right from the opening/title track "Scum of the Earth" (bitchin' video) you know this baby is rip-tits. But it's not the kind of album that sounds all "FUCK YEAH!" the first few times but fails to garner the same reaction a dozen times later. I knew this barn burner (he he) was going to rank on my list. But the fact that I never got tired of it and actually as I got to listen to it more and more and picked up more lyrics and what not, it continued to grow on me and that vaulted it to its current position. It became my preferred album for making boring things better. Cooking Kraft Diner, cleaning house, mowing the grass for 3 hours + Bangers II = a kickass good time! I probably did a better job articulating my adoration when I reviewed the album a few months so I'll leave you with this: Buy the album. Go to the shows. Party hard and have your face melted off. Support Canadian Metal!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

#10: Wormrot - Dirge

Breathing room is for pussies.
I wanted to just leave the blurb at that (that's all that's necessary) but Dirge (Earache) deserves a little more props. I will write the blurb in less time that it takes to listen to it though. Dirge is 25 tracks of face-ripping fury in 19 minutes from what I consider the best grind band on the planet. From Singapore. If you add in the bonus awesomeness from the Noise EP (Scion A/V) and their contribution to the Decibel Magazine flexi series, you've got a pretty good trio of blistering grind releases from a blistering grind trio.

2011's Less Than Impressed List

The following is a list of albums that I may or may not have necessarily expected to like, but in any case, failed to impress me. Sometimes I got all the way through the album. Sometimes not. Sometimes I even made it through multiples times! I can be a sucker for punishment sometimes.
In no particular order:
Lou Reed/Metallica - Lulu: I made it through this piece of shit four fucking times and lived to tell about it. It ended up being my most read blog post ever. But some scars never heal. 
Anthrax - Worship Music: Weaksauce. I much prefer John Bush-era 'Thrax to Belladonna. Now anyway.
Revocation - Chaos of Forms: I'm sorry. I just don't get them.
Pestilence -  Doctrine: I thought I liked their previous album. Did I? Or am I just misremembering?
MonstrO: Yawn. Would someone just piss on the camp fire already so we can go to bed?
Autopsy - Macabre Eternal: Some death metal is just not for everyone.
Trivium - In Waves: In one ear and out the other. I don't remember a thing about it other than it sucked.
Turisas - Stand Up and Fight: Not worth bloodying my knuckles.
Chimaira - Age of Hell: I once fell asleep during a Chimaira concert. Literally. In the middle of the day. On a concrete floor. I could have fallen asleep to this too but I never finished the album.
Devildriver - Beast: Seriously. "Shitlist"? And to think I once wore a Coal Chamber patch on my backpack with pride.
Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra: At least I assume it's shit. I'm not putting myself through that.
Korn - The Path of Totality: See Limp Bizkit.
Jasta: Um. Stick to Kingdom of Sorrow. Or Hatebreed. Or even Icepick.
Chelsea Grin - My Damnation: My decision making abilities were obviously impaired.
Morbid Angel - Illud Divinum Insanus: If I have to explain......
Dimmu Borgir - Abrahadabra: Rubbish. Not a fan of symphonics.
Kittie - I've Failed You: Yes. Yes you have.
Opeth- Heritage: Margaret Atwood reading one of her books aloud would be more stimulating.
Flourishing - The Sum of All Fossils: I should like this but it didn't do anything for me.
The Devin Townsend Project - Deconstruction/Ghost: See Flourishing.
Brutal Truth - End Time: See Flourishing.
The Black Dahlia Murder - Ritual: Am I just too old?
In Flames - Sounds of a Playground Fading: Did ANYONE like this?
The Haunted - Unseen: See In Flames.
Arch Enemy - Khaos Legions: I don't even think Gossow is hot.
Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The Atomic Bitchwax - The Local Fuzz: This band seems to have a short half-life.
Just think of all that wasted bandwidth.

#11: Skeletonwitch - Forever Abomination

You could almost have guessed that it was about time for another "fun" album. Forever Abomination (Prosthetic) is wicked fun. Skeletonwitch is able to take the feel of their live performance and replicate that in the studio. Listening to the album on any format is just as intense as seeing the band live. Every time I hear it, I can visualize the band on stage blowing the minds of the masses. This is metal. Pure and simple. Sure, there is thrash speed, black metal vocals, death metal imagery, NWOBHM guitar harmonies, ripping solos and furious blasting drums. But at the end of the day, it's just fucking metal. Uncompromising, relentless, beer drinkin', week smokin', pussy eatin', fucking metal. The Garnette Bros (Chance-vox, Nate-guitars), guitarist Scott Hendrick, bassist Evan Linger and new drummer Dustin Boltjes (ex-Demiricous) have distilled the art of kicking ass into some high octane, face-melting moonshine, motherfucker. It's an album that requires more than two hands to enjoy properly. Two for air guitar, one holding an invisible orange, one throwing some horns and one pumping fist. And one holding a beer. This is what metal is meant to be. \m/

#12: Tombs - Path of Totality

At this point, I am starting to get burnt out trying to find ways to describe why I liked an album. And really, with an album like Path of Totality (Relapse) I shouldn't have to explain myself. But I have nothing better to do at the moment so I will anyway. Tombs have most often been described as a Black Metal band but that really isn't accurate enough. Path of Totality is more than that. It brings together Black Metal, Doom and Sludge in a cohesive whole. It's more than the sum of its parts. It doesn't sound contrived or forced in any way. It's definitely a very dark album. I don't feel any colours when I hear it. Deep textures and shading paint a bleak picture of  post-apocalyptic urban devastation. (Not sure if that follows what the lyrics are saying. We've talk about my lyrical shortcomings before.) Mike Hill's brusque vocals maintain authority over the survivors but are still multi-dimensional and human. I have a feeling this Path of Totality is a much more intelligent road that I am able to comprehend by more or less scratching the surface as I have. For an album that I have given such high praise to (as well as countless other metal opinion outlets) I should just buy the LP already. Go deeper. Absorb the essence. At least I'd know I was getting my money's worth. Just so long as I don't go down that other Path of Totality released in 2011.