15. Wormrot—Abuse (Earache)
There's good to be found in all genres, and I like to find the best in everything during the course of a year. Wormrot's Abuse is my grind album of 2011. Sometimes I just want to experience pure rage through music, but it must also rock. Wormrot manage this again and again and again.
14. Neil Young—Le Noise (Reprise)
Quite a dark and haunting trip with Neil Young; these deceptively simple tunes performed solo then pushed through Daniel Lanois' filters of studio mystery. His production infests the album with ghosts. Is it a gimmick, an elaborate cloak for run-of-the-mill songs? I don't think so. The murky swirl of murmurs, rumble and thrum create a inviting soundworld, while Neil's voice and amplifier roar with anger and love.
13. Enslaved—Axioma Ethica Odoni (Nuclear Blast)
I thought Vertebrae was just okay. Their live set helped me discover a couple gems on it. Axioma Ethica Odoni (rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?) is quite a bit better. In fact, the prevalence of proggy riffs reminds me of their Monumension and Below the Lights-era leaps into the post-BM beyond, making for a welcome reinvigoration of their sound. Only the everything-louder-than-everything-else mix detracts from my listening pleasure. I wish they'd do a stripped-down, live-in-the-studio recording sometime. It would destroy.
12. The Pineapple Thief—Someone Here is Missing (kscope)
We're back to the "best of everything" ethos here. This time we're in the realm of slick, mainstreamy semi-prog rock, and The Pineapple Thief. I'm glad I finally caught up with this band. They're quality.
11. Slough Feg—The Animal Spirits (Profound Lore)
You can't really go wrong with Slough Feg. Seeing them live in Vancouver was one of the highlights of the year. I'm sure they played a couple tracks from this album, but I'll be buggered if I can remember which ones. There's a great fistful of bangable songs here, from "Trick the Vicar" to "Materia Prima" (where Southern rock trades shots & pints with the NWOBHM) to "Free Market Barbarian" (a truly masterful hard rock song). If the album dips in the middle it's okay because they take it home with an Alan Parsons Project cover ("The Tell-Tale Heart") and the frantic "Tactical Air War." Brawn, brains, great tunes, and twin leads out the yin-yang—that's our Slough Feg.