# 15 Nemesea – The Quiet Resistance
Nemesea’s third full length album was a surprise for me, the band had change so much and the level of their music has grown so much as well, and I am very happy for that. The Quiet Resistance is full of new directions and influences, that can be found on tracks like Caught On The Middle, Afterlife or my favorite Whenever. The voice of Manda is more powerful than ever, and the rest of the band sounds amazing. A great album by a constant growing band.
# 14 Midnattsol – The Metamorphosis Of Melody
Midnattsol came back this year with The Metamorphosis Melody a more progressive album, than it’s predecessor Nordly’s but keeping their roots on folk metal. the album presents us with songs like Korg Valemons Kamp, Spellbound, My re-creation and Forlorn. Many of the lyrics are based on love, personal experiences and norwegian tales thanks to the influence of Carmen Espenæs the singer of the band. The Metamorphosis Of Melody is a great album to relax and just enjoy a fairytale of harmony.
# 13 Symfonia – In Paradisum
Symfonia begun as a project by Timo Tolki (ex-Stratovarius) aided by Andre Matos (ex-Angra, Shaaman) and Uli Kusch (ex-Helloween) the supergroup presented In Paradisum. An album full of great and complex melodies, you can find influences of the member’s previous work with other projects, but not a similitude to their sound. The concept is based on the idea of a post modern world after the information revolution. Tracks like Field Of Avalon, Santiago, Pilgrim Road are the best out of this release.
# 12 Draconian – A Rose For The Apocalypse
Draconian has been the leading band in gothic doom metal for quite a while now, A Rose For The Apocalypse is a masterpiece of sorrow and sadness. Dark and melodic, the band propose nothing new to the genre, but in the contrary they present a traditional well done gothic doom metal album. Some of the tracks to watch out for are: Elysian night, Last Hour Of Ancient Sunlight, and A Phantom Dissonance. Unfortunately the band parted ways with their female singer Lisa Johansson a couple months ago.
#11 Thulcandra – Under A Frozen Sun
Thulcandra took me by surprise with this release, as the side project of Steffen Kummerer guitar player of the technical death metal band Obscura, the project is a total opposite to Obscura, the sound is totally based on old school death metal. You can listen strong influences of Dissection and The Unanimated, Under A Frozen Sun is just a kick in the face that it would make you head bang non stop to tracks like, Black Flags Of Hell, Gates Of Eden, and Echoing Voices. I really would like to see this band live, unfortunately so far is not tour plans due to timing and other band compromises of the band members.
#10 Van Canto - Break The Silence
I never thought that metal could exist without electric instruments, but Van Canto has proved me wrong, since their debut in 2006, and after their performance in Wacken Open Air 2008 their fame as the only “metal a capella” band in the world has growing a lot. This year they released Break The Silence, a really well produce album full of fine songs like Seller Of Souls, Neuer Wind, Black Winds Of Hate, and a cover of Primo Victoria by Sabaton. Break The Silence is full of vocal talent that without using conventional instruments, besides the drums will put you to head bang from the first to the last track.
#9 MaYan – Quarterpast
Out the mind of Mark Jansen (Epica) came this idea of a more aggressive form of Symphonic metal, for this Mark was joined by some of his partners of Epica including Simone Simmons who recorded back vocals for some of the tracks. MaYan is a project that speak for itself and that is way different from Epica in music and content. Their debut album Quaterpast is an album full of progressions in a death metal context that combined with symphonic elements results on a opus of violent proportions. The most impressive tracks on this album are, Symphony Of Aggression, Course Of life, Bite The Bullet, War On Terror and Drown The Demon.
#8 ChThonic – Takasago Army
Taiwanese demons Chthonic returned on 2011 with Takasago Army the closing episode of the “souls reposed trilogy” that started with Seediq Bale back in 2006, the album is based on the stories of Taiwanese soldiers that fought with the Japanese army against Chinese forces during WWII. Musically is the best album the band has put out so far, is straight forward extreme metal with some oriental folk instruments that add the identity component to their music, my favorite tracks on Takasago Army are, Takao, The Island, Broken Jade, Oceanquake and Quell the Souls of Sing Ling Temple.
#7 Arkona – Slovo
Russian pagan metal band Arkona released Slovo at the beginning of fall. It was a surprise to me how folky and more melodic was these album in relation to Goi Rode Goi of 2009. The album is a mixture of progressions and folk melodies with lyrics obviously about slavic mythology, a great album full of little treasures and epic pagan songs like, Leshy, Stenka Na Stenku, Az, and Zakliatie.
#6 Ancient Bards – Soulless Child
The biggest surprise on my top 15, Ancient Bards is a Italian Symphonic on the tradition of Rhapsody Of Fire, but with a fresh approach to the saga storytelling. Soulless Child is the second chapter of the black crystal sword saga. a story of sorcery, betrayal and a race to conquer the world and those who want to save it. The musical level on the album is amazing, the best tracks are To The Master Of Darkness, Soulless Child, Gates Of Nolan and Struggle For Life.
#5 Serenity – Death & Legacy
The third studio album of Serenity is a full roller coaster of melody and history, and I say this because the album is full of historical characters and events, which is what makes this album so appealing to me. The musical work is astonish and the band included guesses like Charlotte Wessels of Delain, Ailyn of Sirenia and Amanda Somerville whose work with Avantasia, Kamelot & Trillum is well known. The best tracks of this album are Serenate Of Flames, The Chevalier, Far From Home, and Youngest Of Widows.
#4 HELL – Human Remains
After 30 years a band that was forgotten on time returned. HELL, was part of the NWOBHM back in the 80′s, but for unknown reasons never got the recognition they deserved like their peers of Iron Maiden, Saxon or Def Leppard. Their album Human Remains is a collection of satanic work that bring back that sense of fear and censorship to the heavy metal genre. Supported and the joined by producer Andy Sneap, the band delivered a HELL of musical debauchery and blasphemy that has been absent of the metal scene in years, songs like On Earth As It Is In Hell, Save Us From Those Who Would Save Us, Blasphemy And The Master, and The Devils Deadly Weapon.
#3 Leaves Eyes – Meredead
Norwegian/German gothic metal band Leaves Eyes arrived this year with their 4rd studio album Meredead, a more melodic and mature album than it’s predecessor Njord. with the aid of guesses like Maite Itoiz and John Kelly of Elfenthal on the track Tell Tale Eyes which is the most folky song of the whole album, Liv Kristine also included her own sister Carmen of Midnattsol for the song Sigrlinn. Mereadead is so far the best album that Leaves Eyes has recorded so far, the production and the execution are amazing. Some of the best tracks besides the ones named above are, Krakevisa, Velvet Heart, Meredead and Mine Taror Er Ei Grimme.
#2 Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions
After a silence of four long years Arch Enemy emerged triumphant with a kick ass record in 2011, and I say this because literally this album will blow your mind, the guitar work of the Amott brothers, and Angela’s voice will rip your soul apart. The idea behind the album screams just one thing, REVOLUTION, songs like Yesterday Is Dead And Gone, Bloodstained Cross and No Gods No Masters are the hymns of this Khaos Legions. A call to question those in power, don’t get me wrong this is no a political album, but an awaking call for change. The production work and the clean guitars made this album a must have to any metal head. Other great tracks of this release are, Under Black Flags We March, Through The Eyes Of A Raven and Cult Of Chaos.
#1 Nightwish - Imaginaerum
Finally the best record for me in 2011 goes to Nightwish 7th studio album, Imaginaerum. I know this record could go on the best of 2012, but talent has to be recognized where it belongs and the work that the Finnish quintet put on this album is amazing. Tuomas Holopainen had created a masterpiece that I haven’t listen in years since Sirenia’s Nine Destinies and a Downfall (2007), Tristania’s Beyond The Veil (1999) or Theater Of Tragedy ‘s Velvet Darkness They Fear (1996).
The band really revamped their sound and make it more epic and bombastic that before, a real adaptation to the new path the band decided to take years ago. Imaginaerum is a new concept on album making with phenomenal orchestrations and a diversity of influences from movie soundtracks, jazz, blues and of course classical music, a real masterpiece. Tracks to be listen of this album, hmmm! listen the whole thing from beginning to end, I have a couple songs that I like. I Want My Tears Back and Scaretale. But generally the whole album is astonish.