10. Mockingbird/ Red Sun, Split 7"
In at number 10 on the list is the Mockingbird/Red Sun split. At only two tracks long this may seem like an odd inclusion but they're nonetheless, two of the best examples of music from both bands. To quote my own review from a few months back: "If there's one bad thing about this release, it's that there isn't more of it." Mockingbird and Red Sun, both from Ohio, USA, came to my attention just in time for this release and I hopped on the opportunity to review the bastard! If you're into your modern sludge and you haven't heard these two bands, then pull your finger out and sort that out now! Here's a taste of Red Sun live and below is a sample from Mockingbird's previous release on Innervenus Records.
9. Triggerman, 'Brand New Day'
Triggerman, heavy rock mainstays from Derry and the first of two Irish bands on this list. Their record 'Brand New Day' comes in thick and fast like a hit and run from the Clutch tour bus. It's an album made up of simple riffs written in the rarely used key of quality, and played in those lovely smoldering guitar tones that turn heads at the first strike. Some serious drinking and driving music (though not at the same time obviously)!
8. Eggnogg, 'Moments in Vacuum'
This record is just a trip from start to finish. Pure stoner doom at times and psychedelic Sabbathesque riff-fest at others. This record is a collage of so many different colours and shades you're wondering what the fuck is going on half the time, and that's just alright with me! The richness of the album is what sets it apart, between the more than occasional sci fi film soundbytes, the effortlessly heavy tones and grooves and vocals that sound as if you are being beckoned from the far end of the channel tunnel, it all creates a thick bounty of sound with a pace that brings 'The Stars My Destination' back to mind. Listen to Eggnogg!
7. Otis Reaper, 'Self-titled'
Otis Fucking Reaper! A nice bit of filth out of Tennessee. This band tries their hand at all things heavy and to stunning effect. After just the first listen, you begin to get into the record in that grabbing, inexplicable way that has you going 'Hell Yeah!' as it goes on. The raw-as-pounded-meat production of it lends an air of simple purity too. To quote my review:" Pull out Otis Reaper's self titled record, lash it on the stereo, bring the lads over, crack a few cans, sit down, talk shite and bloody enjoy, you won't be disappointed!"
6. Lotuseater, 'Guides Demo'
Lotuseater, a band Nihilist has been following for a few months now and the second of our home grown Irish bands to be featured here. Lotuseater is a sickly sweet blend of several different styles so as my partner in crime Stephen pointed out, specific comparisons with other bands is almost futile. But primarily the band delve into trip hop territory which is refreshing to hear on the Dublin scene which is lousy with British style indie rock and electro pop. Check 'em out!
5. Wino, 'Adrift'
Where would we be without at least one album featuring Papa Wino per year. And just look at how spoiled we've been recently; Shrinebuilder, Punctuated Equilibrium, before them The Hidden Hand. However, an acoustic record was something out of the blue, and what a nice surprise it turned out to be. The Wino sound that I know, bathed in distortion and esoteric in lyric was suddenly stripped down to the simple meat and potatoes. On 'Adrift' our man Wino explored the blues and American folk with bright. loud acoustic guitars and a light seasoning of electric here and there and produced a wonderfully simple and contemplative album of songs. G'wan wino!
4. Eastern Crank, 'Songs From the Suburban Archives'
Eastern Crank, here with a record that can revive faith in instrumental heavy stoner music. 'Songs From the Suburban Archives' comes to us by way of New Jersey and it's pregnant with some of the most original ideas you'll here in instrumental stoner. The band mix elements from several different sources and hit upon some sounds all their own in doing so. Guitar riffs to sink your teeth into are a given, but here you also get extremely inventive beats which are a serious highlight and ambient synth effects that colour the music brilliantly, Steaming Heathen knows what I'm talking about!
3. Aver, 'Self-titled'
If you're a poor musician and you've ever wondered just how good a d.i.y. record could sound, look no further, the answer is here and it is a very good answer! Aver's self titled debut is nothing short of impressive. A thorough exploration of so many different rock influences while always keeping a signature edge, this is a band that is not afraid to properly write songs! Without saying too much, I'll refer you to what my review said months ago which is still true now: "At the end of the day after spending hour after hour in the college library is not the best time to review music; better to be fresh and enthusiastic than tired and looking at the bed with an almost sexual attraction. Yet despite this circumstance, this was still a joy to listen to. This record crosses the borders of smoking music, drinking music and thinking music and that is some accomplishment! All done DIY if you didn't catch it the first time!"
2. Sungrazer, 'Mirador'
This little Swedish gem came by way of Trev of 'Fuzzed Out' and Desertrock Ireland. He asked me to review it, I gladly accepted and as I was listening and writing wasn't I just enthralled! This is the kind of stoner rock that deserves the label of stoner rock, beautifully varied soundscapes and riffs galore from this Dutch power trio. Wonderfully simple throughout but the songs are so well constructed that they demand your attention. Excellent rock hooks, particularly in the vocals, that grab you from the start. Cheers to Trev for turning me onto Sun Grazer, we'll have to have a few drinks to this album!
1. Mastodon, 'The Hunter'
OK, so it's been almost exclusively underground bands on this list so far and now we are faced with a major label band stealing the number 1 spot, well in my own defense, it's fuckin' Mastodon man! It would be simple dishonesty if I did not put 'The Hunter' at number 1, I cannot put the album down! All big Mastodon fans have varying opinions on what their best album and direction has been, and call me a newbie (despite the 5 or 6 years of being a fan) but in this chap's opinion this is their best work so far. Not a fly on this record!
Well how was that then? I hope you enjoyed this little retrospective, I know I have. 2011 was a quality year all things considered. 2012 is already shaping up to be a monster year for new records: High on Fire, Gojira, Lamb of God, Orange Goblin, the list goes on and we can't bleedin' wait! Glady post your comments, let me know what you think and have a Heavy Christmas and a Fuzzy New Year!