Best metal of 2011’s third quarter

Brutal Truth (photo by Taija Horne)

Seeing as how we’re now in October, the time is nigh to revisit the best metal albums that were released in the third quarter of 2011. I like and don’t like doing these stories. I always enjoy going back to the records that lit my world on fire the past few months, but considering I wrote about all of these discs, it always feels like these stories are practices in redundancy.

Then again, I can’t pretend that all of you readers have been here every single day of Meat Mead Metal’s coverage, so maybe you missed some of these albums. So I’ll try to keep each one brief, as not to bore return readers to tears, but hopefully this will be informative enough so that if you’re unfamiliar with any of these albums, I can perhaps entice you to give them a stab.

We’ll kick off with those ugly bastards you see at the top of the entry. No offense, dudes. Anyway, Brutal Truth are back with their second album since their reformation in 2006. “End Time” sounds like the soundtrack to the apocalypse, and considering all the craziness going on just in the United States alone, one would be hard-pressed to fight back against their cynicism and pessimism, packed into a mind-mangling blast of grindcore madness. The music, as one should expect from this band, is astonishingly earth-quaking, furious and darkly comical. “End Time” leaves no room for avoiding roundhouse punches, and Kevin Sharp’s direct, bloody diatribes are the monstrous emissions of a  crazy man out of control, who wants to let the rest of the world know to take cover. Maybe he’s not so mad after all. This thing peaks on the title track, “Fuck Cancer,” “Gut Check,” “Killing Planet Earth” and my personal favorite cut “Butcher.”

For more on the band, go here: http://www.facebook.com/brutaltruth?v=app_178091127385

To buy “End Time,” go here: http://www.relapse.com/label/artist/brutal-truth.html

For more on the label, go here: http://www.relapse.com/

If I had to make a decision right now on my favorite album of 2011, it would be the untitled debut release from black metal warriors FALSE. Ever since I got the digital promo, and even better the vinyl, it’s been in constant rotation. I absolutely love this album, and this is one of those first shots from a band that could go down as one of the greatest debuts in metal history. No, I don’t think that’s being hyperbolic or knee-jerk, because I’ve had several months to decide if I really feel this way. There is a fury and a passion behind this band’s delivery that is rarely heard these days because the thing that seems most important to groups is to just sound evil. But most miss the heart and soul, and this band has that in spades. Just hearing the vocals should send you into a frenzy. The power and majesty of these two songs (yeah, only two cuts, but they’re damn long and physically exhausting) go a long way toward establishing FALSE as one of the finest bands in the entire black metal genre and one that should be a hugely coveted entity in the future by any label that has a clue. Thankfully, the combination of Gilead Media and Howling Mind gave this band their first real exposure, and for that, we have to dub those folks geniuses.

For more on the band (sort of), go here: http://noladiy.org/howlingmine.html

To buy the album, go here: http://gileadmedia.net/store/

For more on the label, go here: http://gileadmedia.net/

Wolves in the Throne Room had something of a spiritual rebirth on their new record “Celestial Lineage.” They’re recaptured the epic glory of their “Diadem of 12 Stars” and “Two Hunters” days after offering up a somewhat mundane and droning third record “Black Cascade.” That wasn’t a bad album, by the way. But I just like it and don’t love it. Yet that made this fourth record, the final in a trilogy that began with “Hunters,” that much more satisfying because it’s WITTR as I like them best. Melodies burst out of the trees, the vocals are dark and savage, the drumming is relentless, and the gorgeous pipes of Jessika Kinney are back to give lush color and a female voice to this madness. The record also has the most cuts ever on a Wolves album, largely because of the shorter interludes that are on here to act as passages between storms, and it’s one of the most enjoyable albums in their canon. I’m curious as to where, if anywhere, this band travels next, but at the same time, I’m in no hurry to get there. I’ll be spending a lot of time absorbing this foggy, misty black metal dream for some time to come, and I imagine it’ll sound even better when I land a vinyl copy. Go ahead and call me a dork. I deserve it.

For more on the band, go here: http://wittr.com/

To buy “Celestial Lineage,” go here: http://www.southernlord.com/store.php

For more on the label, go here: http://www.southernlord.com/

Certainly the most bizarre and head-scratching record from the last quarter, hell, the entire year, comes from one-man project Botanist called “I. he Suicide Tree/II. A Rose From the Dead.” It’s weird, it’s unconventional, and if you let sink in the theme of plant life rising up and choking out the human species that give them no regard, it’s scary. It’s a far-fetched idea, sure, but considering we live in a world where a group of politicians won’t even consider global warming as a possibility, it’s also a real thought-provoker and a challenger that refuses to back down from its stance. The two-disc album also stands out from the rest of the metal world by featuring only hammered dulcimer, drums, and creaky, garbled vocals as its instruments. It takes some time to adjust to what’s on this piece of work, and it’s not easy to make the adjustment, but it forces you earn it. It’s also so intriguing that, no matter how you feel the first time through, my guess is you’ll return for more just to see how you react on subsequent visits. It’s black metal at heart, but there’s plenty of chamber and baroque influences, as well as some goth pop strains, whether that was intentional or not. Go get this thing and prepare to have the way you think about metal, and the world, re-programmed.

For more on the band, go here: http://botanist.nu/

To buy “I. The Suicide Tree/II. A Rose From the Dead,” go here (you’ll need to do a search): http://aquariusrecords.org/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.tumult.net/

Some other notable best-of releases are: The Atlas Moth, “An Ache for the Distance” (Profound Lore); Rwake, “Rest” (Relapse); Falloch, “Where Distant Spirits Remain” (Candlelight); 40 Watt Sun, “The Inside Room” (Metal Blade); Disma, “Towards the Megalith” (Profound Lore); Baring Teeth, “Atrophy” (Willowtip); Decapitated, “Carnival Is Forever” (Nuclear Blast); Barghest, untitled (Gilead Media); Old Silver Key, “Tales of Wanderings” (Season of Mist)

The final quarter of the year should be an active one, with many potential high marks, including new stuff from: Leviathan, Dreaming Dead, Mournful Congregation, Cormorant, Locrian, Wolvhammer, Giant Squid, Heartless, and Blut Aus Nord. We’ll have something on every one of those releases, you can be sure.