2011 had some really great records, some great songs and some just generally fantastic moments, despite burnout, European crisis and it being our last year on earth. It also had the musical equivalents of burnout, European crisis and the end of the world. In this new annual feature, we will highlight the most horrendous shit we had to listen to this year as a price for being reviewers. Some of these things may be disappointments, whereas others might just be rehashing the painful. There are some records that you might expect to be here (like Lulu) that some of us just were smart enough to avoid, so they can’t be unheard because they were never heard in the first place. But there’s still a pretty good showing of shit going on over here. But just so you know, we’ll be working hard to make you all feel better for the rest of the week after reading this list.

#5: Sirenia – The Enigma of Life –  Oh man. This was actually my first taste of Morten Veland’s post-Tristania band. As a fan of female fronted metal and of the sort of gothic metal subculture, I was hoping that it would be something special. But it was so not. Instead, I was entranced by the utter banality of the whole project. This is among the most boring things I’ve ever experienced, and I cannot imagine anyone listening to this of their own free will. If I could get the several hours I spent listening to this back, I’d probably dedicate it to listening to At Sixes and Sevens, in a desperate attempt to save Hr. Veland a little bit of face.

Shadows' Grey - Bonjour Tristesse cover#4: Shadows’ Grey – Bonjour Tristesse –  Actually, the fact that this is the second goth metal band on this list actually probably says something about where this little subgenre is these days. It’s pretty bad. This record was a particularly nutty treat, however. While the vocalist is really talented, her taste in musicians is very poor. And the music on this record was trite, mediocre and destroyed by some of the most horrendous ESL lyrics I’ve ever heard. There were glimmers of hope here, and I feel a bit guilty beating up on people who are already so down (Mr. “Maze” is so sad and deep), but these were wasted hours of my life. And I’d like them back.

Rabbits - Lower Forms#3: Rabbits – Lower Forms –  Man, I could not quit listening to this album soon enough. But being a good sport (and trying to be fair to bands I’d never heard before), I decided to give it its due. Honestly, I don’t know that I could sum up how I feel about this band any better than what I wrote at the time (and what they quoted on their website): “It’s like everything I could possibly hate about a record rolled into one and then served on a piece of shit.” Indeed. This damage cannot be undone. But I’m happy to give these guys the satisfaction of me talking about their album again! <3

#2: Morbid Angel – Illud Divinum Insanus –  Yeah. I mean, there was some OK stuff on here, but in reality I just want this guys to have not put this album out. Why’d you have to go and do this? It was just totally unnecessary. The band should have seen the backlash coming, but my guess is that they’re too surrounded by yesmen and suckups (certainly the response of other musicians was telling enough) to even have realized how bad it was. It was like that interview where someone asked George Lucas if he realized how much everyone hated Episode I and he was utterly shocked. This record should just disappear. Let’s put it away and agree to never think about it again. Please?

#1: Amaranthe – Amaranthe –  I don’t actually have much more to say. This record sucked my will to live. My only wish is that it would go back to the shadows from whence it came!

Steel Druhm

As AMG so wonderfully explained, into every reviewer’s life, some crap must fall and since AMG is the boss, more tends to fall MY way (Steel Druhm is all about team). So, without further preamble, here are the worst examples of the dinosaur poo that invaded my promo bin and staged an unauthorized, unappreciated shit show. Avoid these like a Teletubby in a dark alley.

#5: In FlamesSounds of a Playground Fading – Although I worship their first three albums still, I’ve long since given up on In Flames. Even with zero expectations, I was surprised how bad this one turned out. From the core-ish writing, abysmal vocals and moronic title, it fails every way it can. It’s almost impossible to remember this is the same band that once released The Jester Race. Sounds like a career fading.

#4: The HauntedUnseenWhile I never bought into the hype even when they were all thrashy, now they’re a big directionless, blob. Unseen cartwheels through generic nu-metal, emo, alternative rock and Clutch-worship and nothing really works. I give some props to Peter Dolving’s vocals for their flexibility but that’s all the praise Steel Druhm has for this clunker.

#3: AmarantheAmaranthe – This album embodies everything that’s wrong with commercialized metal. It’s soulless, slick, overproduced and aimed at teenagers who want to rebel, but safely (I call it “bubble gum rebellion”). Safe is not how metal is supposed to feel and this craptastic piece of shiny plastic is safer than Stryper. Avoid like your metal cred depends on it, because it does.

#2: Morbid AngelIllud Divinum Insanus An album that twisted me from shameless fanboy to enemy in one easy listen. This is one of the most stunning reverses of musical direction by a metal band (or any band for that matter) and I’ve yet to fathom what good they hoped would come from it. Don’t believe the whole “they are so brave” bullshit, this is one of the biggest sellouts the genre has ever seen and may even usurp Celtic Frost‘s Cold Lake as the sellout king. Disgraceful.

#1: Denial FiendHorror Holocaust – The most unlistenable album this year also features the worst vocal performance on a metal album, ever. Once a great old school death unit with a party vibe, with the addition of Blain Cook on the mic, it all went completely to shit. I doubt anyone can listen to his child-like screaming and cartoon voices all the way through and not want to take their own life (or his). WAAAAH!!!

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  • god! i was forced to see AMARANTHE in munich supporting hammerfall. it was so…… embarrassing … for everybody who was there. the chick is definitely their main asset…then again she would definitely be better off singing background vocals for britney spears or something.

    • That sounds painful. She’s got nothing on the Ms. Valo of Battle Beast!!

  • PS: actually hammerfall was quite underwhelming too… 

    • OzanCan

      Power Metal bands going to CockRock direction is pretty much disappointing. I could not agree you more bro!

  • Zadion

    WAT DA FUQ! Since when does everyone hate Episode I? The new trilogy are the only good Star Wars movies!

    Anyway, I’m not a reviewer getting promos sent to me for free all the time, so I don’t get to experience all the gems and crap you guys do… but my bottom albums of the year are Sounds of a Playground Fading, Doombound, Scurrilous, Dystopia, and Heritage (in that reverse order if pressed). Each one was an utter, utter disappointment. I consciously avoided Amaranthe, Morbid Angel, and the new Sirenia… I like Sirenia’s other stuff, but just too much negative press on that one!

    • Doombound had enough decent moments to spare it from my list but it was close.

      • OzanCan

        Awww c’mon! Doombound isn’t that bad! Oh well, I can’t help listening to anything considered Tolkien :) though I must admit Doombound could have been done a bit better than this…

    • OzanCan

      I think what Iced Earth did on Dystopia is really brave thing to do, hence I think they deserve my appreciation ;)
      The aforementioned bands in the article, oooohhh!!!! They suck big time!

      • Zadion

        Dystopia is far from being the worst album of the year. So is Heritage, actually. It’s just that they are very average albums that are only worth a few listens and that’s it…. I expect a lot more from both Iced Earth and Opeth. I was one of the few guys who loved the shit out of Crucible, and quite enjoyed the Barlow albums as well. And Opeth’s Watershed has some of Opeth’s best stuff to me. So when both of those bands come along and release such subpar material, I was (and still am) incredibly disappointed.

        Same actually goes for Scurrilous TBH. Only difference is Scurrilous actually is one of the worst albums of the year. I could only sit through that monstrosity once.

        • OzanCan

          I must agree with you on Opeth’s latest album, it was like listening to a spaghetti drowning in tomato sauce in a bowl! So much stuff going on and nothing makes sense and it is not even tasty or anything.

          I dunno…I still like the Iced Earth’s last album ;) I respect opinions; you have your own and I have mine.

          Scurrilous? Never heard of it? So from what you told me, I didn’t really miss a thing right? 

          • Zadion

            Owens albums* whoops. Fair enough though, I didn’t give it much of a chance either.

            And, Scurrilous is Protest the Hero’s last album… they’re probably a bit too much mathcore for most of the metal elitists around here, but I loved their debut album, and Fortress was pretty good too… Scurrilous is an abomination though. You didn’t miss a thing.

          • OzanCan

            Oh wow, then I am glad that “I dodged a bullet” there :)
            Mathcore, metalcore, rapcore, …core!!!??? ah no no no no for me! Is Slipknot considered anything core? because if they are, they are the only “core” stuff I like. The other than them is a no no no for me!

            well, Zadion thanks for the heads up m/

      • Juular

        I loved Dystopia. It wasn’t all that ingenious or anything, but it was great! Really fun, and lively. Stu Block really threw me for a loop, and I love him for that.

  • OzanCan

    the bands from the article, I could NOT agree you guys more! However, I actually really really liked Iced Earth’s Dystopia. It is not the Iced Earth we all know and appreciate but the changing direction of the band is kinda exciting and courageous…well, you know this is just my opinion; it is not a dogmatic law which is written on stone :)

  • so… no hate for the new Queensryche album??

    also, an Avantasia live album was a wrong idea

    Metallica & Lou Reed provided the turd to decorate the shit cake, Amaranthe, Morbid Angel & In Flames… well, pretty shitty too!

    • Juular

      Yeah, but everyone expected Loutallica to be shit. Including them would just be redundant.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus H that Queensryche is horrible. I wasn’t expecting good but jeeeeez. 

  • that real …. all awful and rubbish .. I hate Sirenia and Amaranthe it stupid group ….

  • Chris Kennard

    I just really don’t get all the hate going towards Amaranthe. I get it, they have massive production values, a little bit of autotune, and all the songs sound basically the same, but by god its catchy! I think that this bias that metalheads have  against anything catchy. I think that catchy, sing-along chorus metal can be good! I’m kind of rambling here, but I wish people would use other reasons to hate on Amaranthe other than that they are “soulless.” What does that even mean?

    • Soulless = You can easily imagine a group of corporate suits sitting around a conference room table cynically writing the music to be as mainstream and marketable as possible.

      • Chris Kennard

        That definition works for me, but I still don’t feel that Amaranthe fits that bill. If they were trying to make it as mainstream as possible, I think that they would have left out the screams. Now I have a lot of respect for you guys. You write some awesome reviews, and most of the time I agree with you. I just think that your opinion of the band is really representative of the knee-jerk reaction that most metalheads have when they hear of this. Good metal doesn’t need to be dangerous, innovative, or obscure. Brainstorm, a great heavy metal band, could fall into the same definition of soulless that you presented. They seem to just strive to be the epitome of heavy metal, and I could see a bunch of higher ups running a little formula for how to create a great “Brainstorm” band, and then releasing 9 albums of basically the same exact stuff. It’s good stuff, but its never changing, its safe, typical heavy metal stuff, and it knows its market. Amaranthe knows its market, but I think that it is far from soulless. It’s trying something, gathering some great musicians, and playing some good metal. I don’t want to say stuff like, Steel Druhm’s stupid, or something, and I understand that these lists are just your guys personal opinions. I just think that you hit it on the nose when you said ”
        This album embodies everything that’s wrong with commercialized metal.” Except I think your and AMG’s response embodies what wrong with metal fans these days. They tell themselves they want constant innovation and/or to remain obscure, and when a new band tries to fit in with the mainstream, they are shot down as being “unoriginal”, “being just a corporate tool”, or “soulless”. Again, sorry for arguing, but I just wanted to say this.

        • sathriel

          So my first encounter with the group was on youtube. It was a “Hunger” video. And when I saw the vocalist I knew there will be trouble. She is gorgeous and has a good vocal but she is clearly lost in a metal genre, here moves, vocals, looks it all belongs in pop music. She is clearly the band’s prime assets but not because of her talents but because of her looks. So their greatest strength becomes their greatest weakness. 

          This band has a very pop-ish feel to it and because of that many metal fans will disregard it or scorn it.  

          And if you think that Amaranthe is trying to break the mould and reinvent the wheel by going mainstream then what where you doing when “S&M” was released? But seriously, Nightwish was doing a catchy metal with a lot more “soul” long ago. 

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  • don’t believe the smearing of the new denial fiend album. if you are a fan of the accused you will appreciate this record. thrashy crossover with blaines signature snarling screaming style. even though the beginning of the song “after party massacre” is annoying in a converge way, this album is pretty awesome.

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