There was a lot that was great on the metal scene in 2011, from The Big Four's show in April to Prosthetic Records picking up U.S. distribution for Norway's Indie Recordings. (Dear Prosthetic, please get Shining over here for a tour next year.) Sure, the closing of The Blvd. Cafe in Boyle Heights was kind of a buzzkill and the debate over L.A. metal labels dropping out of Spotify was distracting. Through it all, however, there was plenty of killer music put out by L.A. metal bands in 2011, and it was a very strong year for diversity, as evidenced by the releases below.
10. Winds of Plague
Against The World
Winds of Plague continues to refine their mosh-pit friendly mix of hardcore, death metal, and nu-metal. Big, massive, and over the top, there's not much in the way of introspection here, but the energy level is fucking awesome.
Chasing The Light
Ambitious instrumental group Polarization is not yet on the same level as genre frontrunners Animals As Leaders, but their combination of strong musicianship and capable songwriting displayed on Chasing The Light proves they have all the tools to find the sweet spot soon.
Ghostlimb is composed of members of grindcore masters Graf Orlock. They toned down their satirical approach to mayhem here and took a more straight-up serious hardcore approach. Fans of Graf Orlock shouldn't worry, though; Infrastructure retains their intensity and caustic production.
7. The Fucking Wrath
Valley Of The Serpent's Soul
Not many bands on this list are equally at home on brutal metal tours and energetic punk-rock tours. The Fucking Wrath, however, is welcome damn near anywhere they go, thanks to their never-tiring amalgam of stoner rock and thrash, doom, and hardcore sounds.
Worlds Torn Asunder
On their third album Worlds Torn Asunder, road warriors Warbringer proved why they are one of the last retro-thrash bands standing. Though still grounded in an '80s thrash sound, the group writes songs and riffs that stay in your psyche well beyond the initial listen.
If the demons inside the mind of Charles Manson had sex with the demons inside the mind of Varg Vikernes, their fucked-up demon baby would likely sound like Harassor. It's dirty, grimy, blackened death metal that you have to take a shower after listening to.
4. Abysmal Dawn
Leveling The Plane Of Existence
Constant lineup changes often hamper a band's progression, but on Abysmal Dawn's third album their technical death metal shows a confident band that has fully matured their sound. That despite the only constant being lead vocalist/guitarist Charles Elliot.
3. Graf Orlock
This manic grindcore outfit known for their heavy use of '80s movie samples put out the ultimate ode to the Reagan-era with their new EP. The packaging folds out into a giant cardboard replica boombox of the era. And the six new songs enclosed aren't bad either.
2. Despise You
And On And On (split EP with Agoraphobic Nosebleed)
The violent aggression from these Inglewood shit-stirrers gets more intense with age. The group has gone from being pissed-off twenty-somethings to being even more pissed-off thirty-somethings. Their songs here contain the most visceral display of urban angst in the metal scene this year.
1. Touche Amore
Parting The Sea Between Brightness and Me
Lots of musicians and fans talk about how music saved their lives. The twenty-one minutes of pure emotional hardcore on Touche Amore's latest is sung by a vocalist who sounds like he would be in a very bad place if he did not have this outlet to express himself.