Metal 2011: 18 Best Albums

Metal 2011: 18 Best Albums
Listen to our Best of 2011: Metal playlist on Rdio by clicking here.

1. KEN Mode
2. Mastodon
3. Fuck the Facts
4. Wolves In The Throne Room
5. Today is the Day
6. Liturgy
7. Hammers of Misfortune
8. Opeth
9. Imbroglio
10. Brutal Truth
11. Graf Orlock
12. Black Tusk
13. Helms Alee
14. Prurient
15. The Atlas Moth
16. Flourishing
17. Retox
18. Tombs

1. KEN Mode Venerable (Profound Lore)
"It has been exactly what we wanted it to be, as a statement for the band. For the time and place that it was done, it was the perfect version of KEN Mode." Jesse Matthewson doesn't pull his punches ― 2011 wasn't the year he hoped that it would be, but Venerable is one of the things he still believes in. When Exclaim! interviewed him in March, KEN Mode were on the verge of their longest tour in years, a leap into the unknown on the strength of the best record of their career. Then, their bassist quit. Again. "We've had different bassists on almost every tour this year," Matthewson says. "I would have to train a new person before every tour, and we'd have to get used to the quirks of a new bassist every time. I'm not happy that that's how we had to do it, but we got it done." KEN Mode clocked over five months across North American and Europe following the album's release, and Matthewson was optimistic that they could power through a gruelling DIY schedule on Venerable's strength. They couldn't.

"I have lost a fair amount of optimism," he says. "Touring North America non-stop will do that to you. It's taken its toll on my life in general. I'm not in a very good place right now." It's a telling sentiment from the creator of an album listed here as this year's best. KEN Mode are a far cry from a Warped Tour-ready metalcore act, and critical acclaim doesn't fill bars or basements. Like too many great heavy acts before them, the band's well-earned recognition may be slow to catch on. Matthewson might not be optimistic, but he's not giving up. "Not a lot of bands are willing to take that chance. We took it. We learned from it. There is no killing this band." He pauses. "You can kill the bassist, but you can't kill the band."
Sam Sutherland