Jeremy Davey – Assistant Editor, CD Reviewer and Resident Dylan fan.
I hate having to pick! There were so many excellent releases this year that trying to pick just a couple isn’t easy, but I also don’t want to write a short story, so here are my top three (in no particular order):
Imperative Reaction – Imperative Reaction
This album was just what I expected it to be: Awesome. It has a slightly more rock sound than previous IR releases, but doesn’t forget about the coolness of what came before. Imperative Reaction’s sound evolves with each release, and this album is no different. The sound has been tweaked a little, but there’s no mistaking who you’re listening to. Imperative Reaction has, without doubt, consistently proven over the course of six full-length albums that they belong in the upper echelon of electro/industrial music. Fantastic lyrics, fantastic music, fantastic vocals. What more could you possibly want? What is left to say? (Pun intended.)
Surgyn â€“ VanityThis isn’t just one of the best albums of the year, it’s what I would consider to be one of the best debut albums, ever. It has a malevolence and harshness to it that never crosses over into the clichÃ©d ultra-distorted sound that has become an almost generic template for “harsh electro”, and at the same time manages to keep a semblance of melody. The clean vocals are great, too. Many of the lyrics are a perfect (to me, at least) mirror to hold up to modern society and its obsession with the superficial aspects of who a person is. Did I mention that it will pound you into the floor like an elephant on a pogo-stick? Yeah, it will.
VNV Nation – Automatic There are people who will disagree with me on this pick because “it’s just not the same VNV sound”. And that is why it kicks ass. VNV has never been a musical entity that will just remain stagnant and keep putting out the same album over and over again, and I give them all the credit in the world for that. But it isn’t on this “favorites” list just for that reason. Automatic is an amazing album with an uplifting and epic quality that is lacking in a lot of today’s electro music. It’s refreshing to hear a band that has been around for a long time still breaking boundaries and surprising fans with the originality of what they create.
I live in the icy tundra of Duluth, Minnesota, so the chances for me to see good bands play live are few and far between. Needless to say, I saw no concerts this year. BUT, if I could have seen any show, it would have been the Triptych Tour (Imperative Reaction, God Module, System Syn). Three killer bands that I love, all of whom released awesome new albums this year, playing on the same stage; it would have been mind-blowing! Unfortunately, the closest they came to Duluth was Chicago. Dammit.
Favorite Newly Discovered Artists
Well, if you’ve read from the beginning, it should be pretty obvious who’s going to take this category for me. Surgyn, with no ifs, ands, or buts about it. With Vanity being as stellar as it is, I can’t wait to see what Surgyn has to offer in the future. If you haven’t heard them yet, you should get out from under your rock and do so.
With that being said, I feel the need to mention four other bands I heard for the first time this year: Fractured, Left Spine Down, Encephalon, and Terrolokaust. All of these bands put out phenomenal albums in 2011 and, in my opinion, need to be heard. They all offer something unique and refreshing, and I can’t recommend them hard enough.
Now, bring on 2012 and the end of mankind as we know it! Oh yeah, before I forget, I would also like to thank all of my cohorts at COMA Music Magazine for just being cool people, and all of you who keep reading and supporting us! Thanks, everyone!