Tombs - Path Of Totality

Before the quibbling starts: I didn’t include YOB’s Atma because it isn’t out until August. It would be way up there. I’ve also been listening to Dragged Into Sunlight’s Hatred For Mankind quite a bit, but since it has an original release date of ’09 before Prosthetic’s 2011 reissue, I didn’t include that either. On the other side of things, I’ve recently started listening pretty intensely to Servile Sect’s Trvth (Handmade Birds), a collection that feels like it’ll stick around for awhile. Otherwise, this is what I’ve found myself returning to most often in 2011. (Or at least some of it … the list is forever shifting.) Regarding No 1: I always enjoyed Winter Hours, but as mentioned previously, everything comes together on Path Of Totality in the strongest, heaviest, most compelling ways possible. The selection also has something to do with sweating my ass off in a humid, urine-scented NYC for another summer: I appreciate the stoic, uncorking violence on this one. That, and the way a no-bullshit New York noise-rock toughness marries moving, surprisingly delicate “blackened” ambitiousness. (Plus, gotta respect a dude who talks about gearing up for band practice with weight training and protein shakes.) The list:

Portrait - Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae26 PortraitCrimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae (Metal Blade)

Liturgy - Aesthethica25 LiturgyAesthethica (Thrill Jockey)

Negative Plane – Stained Glass Revelations24 Negative PlaneStained Glass Revelations (AJNA Offensive)

Vastum – Carnal Law23 VastumCarnal Law (20 Buck Spin)

KEN Mode - Venerable22 KEN ModeVenerable (Profound Lore)

Maruta – Forward Into Regression21 MarutaForward Into Regression (Willowtip)

Loss - Despond20 LossDespond (Profound Lore)

Burzum - Fallen19 BurzumFallen (Byelobog Productions)

40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room18 40 Watt SunThe Inside Room (Metal Blade)

Autopsy – Macabre Eternal17 AutopsyMacabre Eternal (Peaceville)

Ash Borer – Ash Borer16 Ash BorerAsh Borer (Psychic Violence)

Trap Them – Darker Handcraft15 Trap ThemDarker Handcraft (Prosthetic)

Indian - Guiltless14 IndianGuiltless (Relapse)

Peste Noire - L'Ordure à l'État Pur13 Peste NoireL’Ordure à l’État Pur (Transcendental Creations/Tour De Garde)

Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s)12 Blut Aus Nord777 Sect(s) (Debemur Morti)

Sonne Adam - Transformation11 Sonne AdamTransformation (Century Media)

In Solitude – The World, The Flesh, The Devil10 In SolitudeThe World, The Flesh, The Devil (Metal Blade)

Primordial – Redemption At The Puritan’s Hand09 PrimordialRedemption At The Puritan’s Hand (Metal Blade)

Altar Of Plagues – Mammal08 Altar Of PlaguesMammal (Profound Lore)

Gridlink - Orphan07 GridlinkOrphan (Hydra Head)

Morne - Asylum06 MorneAsylum (Profound Lore)

Necros Christos – Doom Of The Occult05 Necros ChristosDoom Of The Occult (Sepulchural Voice)

Krallice – Diotima04 KralliceDiotima (Profound Lore)

Ulcerate – The Destroyers Of All03 UlcerateThe Destroyers Of All

Disma – Towards The Megalith02 DismaTowards The Megalith
(Profound Lore)

Tombs – Path Of Totality01 TombsPath Of Totality (Relapse)

Comments (82)
  1. Also, SubRosa was very close to making the list. I cut it off this morning.

  2. Wow, I’m surprised I thought for sure krallice would be your number one! Now I’m even more excited for Disma though, it got a nine in decibel and i was excited, but number two of the year so far? Sign me up. ‘ll also have to check out Ulcerate again for sure.

    God, I love lists so much

  3. Already so many amazing albums released this year

  4. Haunting the Chapel’s list >>>> Stereogum’s list ;)
    Although I have to say I didn’t care for Necros Christos, Burzum or Altar of Plagues.

    I can’t complain with Ulcerate, Tombs, Primordial and Krallice making the top 10.
    Here’s my mandatory “where’s _____???” though: where’s Mitochondrion??? Maybe there’s a limit on the amount of Profound Lore releases one is allowed to include on a list (full stream of the album on btw)

    Here’s another good one:

    • Nice with the Embers and Mitochondrion picks. Mitochondrion came out WAY early–I think it was Profound Lore’s first release of the year. I’m also a big fan of the new Shitty Fucker, Gorgasm, Noisear, Lifelover, and Meek Is Murder albums. Check them out if you haven’t heard them

      • I just never got into the Mitochondrion as much as I thought I’d get into it… But you know, I really should have included Gates Of Slumber somewhere on there. The Wretch is excellent. If 2011 continues this way, I’ll need to do a Top 100 in December/January.

      • I usually don’t care for grindcore (or anything-core really) but I’ll check out the others, thanks. Gorgasm sounds good.

  5. Amon Amarth?

  6. Between the Buried and Me’s EP still seems better than most of these albums. No hate on the list, though! Krallice kills it.

  7. Im surprised you put Ash Borer on here. My favorite metal release so far this year. Solid list though.

  8. The Weekend Nachos record is as killer as the band’s name is bad.

  9. Speaking of the whole Northwest metal stuff, the new Fell Voices is pretty great as well. And I’m pretty sure WITTR are putting a new one out this year. But yeah, Raspberry Bulbs album is good, I just can’t get past their name!

  10. Deafheaven?

    • Another good one. Like I said, I’ll just do a list of my 666 favorite albums of 2011 next time…

      • Oh, I was just curious as to whether you dug it. Wasn’t complaining that it wasn’t included.

        Also, just listened to Portrait for the first time. Totally killer.

        • Yeah, I do like Deafheaven. Excited about the newer-school USBM: Feels like there are already a bunch of “second-generation” American black metal groups, you know? A second chapter in progress… or a third…. as if the history can start being rewritten with less need to reference Scandinavia. I’m thinking specifically about this USBM article I wrote in 2008. So much richer now.

          Anyhow, on a totally different wavelength, Portrait indeed rules. Horns in the air…

          • Nice article. So perhaps the second generation is the post-Weakling era? And I guess that would mean USBM is mostly identified by its post-i-ness. It tends maybe to have a bit more crossover appeal, too. Melting Pot Metal, I suppose.

          • Maybe it’s because Deafheaven was mentioned here, but it seems to me like many of the newest USBM bands come from the early Darkthrone/Burzum model. That was the most interesting fork of the Scandinavian sound to me, as well as the one with the most possibilities, as focused on mood over metal tropes as it was. Still, it’s another spin on a Scandinavian inspiration.

            I do agree that we’re slowly making our way out; I’ve just noticed that many of the same people who were into post-hardcore/punk/screamo in the 90′s and 00′s have moved to black metal, and many of these bands are clearly inspired by the old guard mentioned above. I like most of the music, I just don’t find it nearly as exciting as the outer reaches of, say, the French bands, which seem to have very little urge to play in Varg’s territory.

  11. Yeah, that’s another album (roads to judah) that I have noticed hasn’t recieved any love from HTC. I was pretty skeptical of Deafheaven at first, but I have fallen in love with their new album. And their live show just showed me how talented these dudes are.

  12. I really love Mamaleek – “Kurdaitcha”. I haven’t really listened to an album in a long time that really brought me somewhere like that album did.

  13. Yeah… Mamaleek, Portrait, In Solitude, and, my favorite of the year so far… Lifelover’s ~Sjukdom~. Nice list… several I will have to look in to for the first time… several more I’ll need to give a second chance. For whatever reason, despite my love for AmRep / Touch and Go noisy stuff from the 80s / 90s (Big Black, Jesus Lizard, you know… the usual suspects), I can’t get in to this new wave of blackened noise / post-punk-tinged bleakness. I like (and in some cases LOVE) the ingredients, but I can’t crave the resultant dish (Tombs, KEN Mode, etc). Maybe I should keep eating it…? IDK. I will say that as a fan of both metal and indie rock, metal is kicking indie’s emasculated, pansy ass this year (I felt last year was the opposite story).

    • Do keep eating it. Tomb’s sound is dirtier than KEN Mode, so maybe start focusing there? I really cut my teeth on all of that ’80s/’90s noise, know what you mean in many cases…

  14. don’t be silly, Krallice is #1

    Gorguts soon to follow …

  15. A lot of good stuff, some I haven’t heard yet but am looking forward to (Peste Noire!) some names that are new to me, most of the stuff that I do know I love (although I thought Liturgy was decent at best on the one time I listened, maybe it’s a grower?)

  16. If you haven’t heard them yet, make sure you listen to Church of Death by Vanhelgd and Tenebrous Towers by Desolate Shrine. Vanhelgd is Swedish-style death metal with some early At the Gates flair (think Gardens of Grief/TRitSiO), Desolate Shrine is Finnish death metal with some black metal and a small touch of Bolt Thrower added in.

    They’re my two favorite death metal albums of the year, with Doom of the Occult not far behind.

    • I do like that Vanhelgd. Again, one I hadn’t spent as much time with as the others, but that should be leaving it’s mark by the time we reach January.

      Will check out the Desolate Shrine!

      • You must check them.. for a debut album i was quite blown away. The finnish are hitting hard this year (Desolate Shrine, Corpsessed, Lantern, etc.)

  17. Wow, just listened to some of that Sonne Adam on YouTube. I hadn’t heard of it and wasn’t sure what to expect with that band name, but I didn’t expect the amazing blunt force pummeling I got. It’s really, really good.

    This is why I love HTC. Thanks.

  18. Great List…

    It’s been a great year so far. Here is the best of 2011.. so far, in my opinion.

    Altar Of Plagues – Mammal
    Indian – Guiltless
    Terra Tenebrosa – The Tunnels
    Seraphim – The Light In The Distance
    Desolate Shrine – Tenebrous Towers
    Owl – Owl
    Sonne Adam – Transformation
    Mitochondrion – Parasignosis
    Leucosis – Pulling Down The Sky
    Tombs – Path Of Totality
    Miasmal – Miasmal
    Corpsessed – The Dagger & The Chalice (ok, ok… é um EP mas é mesmo bom fdx)
    Thou – The Archer & the Owle (idem)
    Aderlating – Spear of Gold and Seraphim Bone Pt.1
    Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s)

    • Nice list. Man, need to hear this Desolate Shrine, I guess.

      • and i didn’t even posted my “Honorable Mentions List” and the “Still Digesting List”.. I’m going crazy with all of these new albums!!

        • Post it!


            Whitehorse – Progression
            Norska – Norska
            Yellow Eyes – Silence Threads The Evening’s Cloth (Great new BM for fans of Krallice)
            Seidr – For Winter’s Fire
            Negative Plane – Stained Glass Revelations
            Pale Chalice – Afflicting the Dichotomy of Trepid Creation
            Weekend Nachos – Worthless
            Wiccans – Skullduggery Tape
            Pulling Teeth – Funerary
            Lentic Waters – s/t
            Young And In The Way – I Am Not What I Am 12″
            Trap Them – Darker Handcraft
            Rotten Sound – Cursed
            Tree Of Sores – s/t
            Light Bearer – Lapsus

            STILL DIGESTING:

            Dark Castle – Surrender To All Life Beyond Form
            Bloodiest – Descent
            Krallice – Diotima
            Nader Sadek – In the Flesh
            Cave In – White Silence (great return!)
            Loss – Despond
            Acephalix – Interminable Night
            Book Of Black Earth – The Cold Testament
            Aosoth – III

            NON METAL:

            Belong – Common Era
            Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
            True Widow – As High As the Highest Heavens and from the Center to the Circumference of the Earth
            Young Widows – In And Out Of Youth And Lightness
            This Will Destroy You – Tunnel Blanket



            Anyway, I was disappointed by the new Krallice (it didn’t go far enough into new territory for me personally) just as much as I was surprised by that Yellow Eyes record (really undeniably solid songs). Nice to see it get a mention.

            Anyway, you have many of my favorites in your list, but there are a few I haven’t heard at all. I’m going to be hitting some blogs and the local record store pretty hard this weekend, and if the stuff I’m unfamiliar with on here is as good as the stuff I love that you’ve picked, I’ll be having a pretty nice long weekend.

  19. Great list. Any love for Amon Amarth, Rotten Sound, Arch Enemy, Children Of Bodom, Origin, Hate Eternal, Vreid?

    • I find myself nodding along to Amon Amarth, but not one of my favorites of the year. I respect the new Hate Eternal, but those guys are always a bit too clean for me. Ditto Origin. Vreid was an oversight on my part. That album’s great. It’s hard being a one-man operation… I need consultants.

  20. Great list.

    All you’re missing is Engineer’s Crooked Voices.

  21. So, Brandon (and anybody else who feels like throwing in their two cents), looking forward in the year, what is your most anticipated? Mine is definitely Dream Theater’s new one, but I’m a big fanboy so I’m positive that won’t be the general consensus.

    Also, Mastodon: excited, or totally over them?

    Finally, Opeth: I remember reading a review of Ghost Reveries you wrote, and it seemed as though you quite liked it. Are you excited at all for their new “Progressive Rock meets Jazz Fusion” approach? I don’t know what to think yet.

    • I’m not all that excited for Mastodon, no. Pretty over them.

      I am, however, excited for the Opeth. I’m usually impressed with where they take things.

    • I’m not really holding my breath for Mastodon and Opeth. What else is coming? Yob should rule, and shouldn’t Absu have a new one this year as well? If so, I’m looking for it.

      Also, US Christmas new one maybe not be exactly metal but it is quite good.

  22. It baffles my mind that you have such great picks like Blut Aus Nord, Ulcerate, Negative Plane and more on this list, but not even a mention of Mitochondrion – Parasignosis. It has a lot more depth than most of the albums listed. In fact, I have it number one.

  23. Yes, please do. As with many great albums, I found that it really only revealed itself after several listens.

    That is a good list, nonetheless.

  24. How about the new Septic Flesh?!
    It’s a real work of art, full orchestra, untouchable.

    Surprised to not see it at all…

  25. Still the best part of Stereogum.

    I still think SubRosa and Grayceon are the best two albums of the year, so obviously it pains me not to have my opinion validated by you. I’m still feeling a tad cool on Diotima.

  26. The top 26 so far according to me (it’s looking like that Sonne Adam will likely replace one of these):

    Nader Sadek – In The Flesh
    Vreid – V
    Noisear – Subvert The Dominant Paradigm
    Belphegor – Blood Magick Necromance
    Assaulter – Boundless
    Destruction – Day Of Reckoning
    Svart Crown – Witnessing the Fall
    Amon Amarth – Surtur Rising
    Autopsy – Macabre Eternal
    Aosoth – III
    Anaal Nathrakh – Passion
    Despise You / Agoraphobic Nosebleed (split) – And On And On…
    Vastum – Carnal Law
    Integrity – Detonate Worlds Plague
    Devin Townsend Project – Deconstruction
    Eastern Front – Blood On Snow
    Obscura – Omnivium
    Indian – Guiltless
    Wolf – Legions Of Bastards
    The Gates Of Slumber – The Wretch
    Ulcerate – The Destroyers of All
    Gridlink – Orphan
    Batillus – Furnace
    Krallice – Diotima
    Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sect(s)
    Dodsferd – Spitting With Hatred, The Insignificance Of Life

    • Excellent list. Is it in a particular order?

      • Roughly, from best to not-as-best-but-still-sweet-as-fuck.

        Digging your list of course, and still looking forward to checking out a few more from its I haven’t had a chance to hear yet…

    • Belphegor is another good one.

    • I’m a bit cooler on this list than the one Haxan posted above, though it’s reminding me to check out some of the bands that I tend to not gravitate towards immediately. I’m not a melo death fan at all, but I’ve been meaning to check out that Amon Amarth record after hearing an early track that blew my mind.

      Mostly I’m posting this to note how civil the behavior in the HTC comments are over the list posts on the main page. Christ, you can breathe in here.



  27. Surprised no Batillus…

  28. Speaking of “blackened noise / post-punk-tinged bleakness”, any love for the Dark Castle LP?

    • Again, really like them live — a lot — but so far album not clicking in the same way. Will spend more time with it.

      Something I left off an shouldn’t have: Vreid – V

  29. My list for metal is usually too narrow. I tend to eat up big, atmospheric albums with long churning passages. This year so far, it’s been a lot of Morne’s Asylum and Deafheaven. But of course there’s a lot of terrific metal like Trap Them that is fast and furious that I neglect for a long time. Hopefully by year’s end I’ll come around to those records which are a little different from my usual tastes and enjoy them. I know last year it took me a long time to really open up Paracletus, an album that reminds me of trying to mount a raging bull.

  30. Top faves are the Gridlink, Vastum, Wormrot, Ash Borer, and Mammoth Grinder/Hatred Surge albums. Of the things I’ve given a good listen to so far (top 19):

    Adversarial – Prophetic Plain of Abyssal Revelation
    Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Despise You Split
    Ash Borer – Untitled
    Autopsy – Macabre Eternal
    Blut Aus Nord – 777 Sects
    Burzum – Fallen
    Embers – Shadows
    Fell Voices/Ash Borer Split
    Fell Voices – Untitled
    Gorgasm – Orgy of Murder
    Gridlink – Orphan
    Hate Eternal – Phoenix Amongst The Ashes
    Mammoth Grinder/Hatred Surge Split
    Meek Is Murder – Algorithms
    Miasmal – Miasmal
    Mitochondrion – Parasigniosis
    Noisear – Subvert the Dominant Paradigm
    Shitty Fucker – Diarrheality
    SubRosa – No Help for the Mighty Ones
    Vastum – Carnal Law
    Wormrot – Dirge

  31. No lovin’ for Fen?

  32. Thanks for getting with the program, guys! :P
    I pretty much agree with your list, but I think Liturgy should have ranked higher!

    • I loved the first. Aesthetica was a nice attempt at something new, I just don’t think it was successful. Literally, half the album plainly annoys me to listen to.

      I’m not going to comment much on Triple H himself in a thread focused on the music. I’ll just admit that every time I read about or hear him speak, it annoys me so much that it must be getting to the point where it taints my opinion of the music.

  33. Striking Canadian postal workers finally got my Morne CD to me from Profound Lore…that thing is massively great. Definitely my #1 of the year so far, with Peste Noire probably # 2.

  34. Wait! There have been so many metal album releases that someone had to pick TOP 26?!?

  35. Are there any unsigned bands that ever make it onto Haunting the Chapel? Not knocking any of these releases, I love most of them, but I can’t help but notice that all of them are signed and none of them are truly independent bands. Same goes for articles here too. What about the underground?

  36. Brandon – curious as to what you thought of Aenaon’s Cendres et Sang. Definitely a strong debut, and I enjoyed it a bunch. Agree with Gates of Slumber and SubRosa – both strong releases…2011 is shaping up to be a great year for metal.

  37. I’m surprised no one has mentioned these fine releases:

    Craft – Void
    Dirge – Elysian Magnetic Fields
    Taake – Noregs Vaapen
    Terra Tenebrosa – The Tunnels (ok one of you here has mentioned this one)
    Virus – The Agent that Shapes the Desert

    I think they all deserve a place somewhere on the list.

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