Best Albums of 2011
by: Pedro Azevedo

Examining the history of the CoC Album of the Year award since it started back in 2003, one can idle away entire days (okay, minutes) finding a number of statistical curiosities that might mildly boggle the mind -- if yours tends to be so easily boggled, that is. For instance:

- Black metal(-ish) albums have won the majority of the CoC Album of the Year awards so far, while death metal has never won and only grabbed its first podium finish last year;

- The most successful bands ever in these awards are all of different nationalities: Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States are all represented exactly once in the overall list before there were any repetitions;

- Whenever Primordial release an album, it wins (2005, 2007);

- Wolves in the Throne Room and Moonsorrow, no matter how high their releases get every time, just can't seem to grab a win.

Well, this year some of these statistics are nicely reinforced, while others get a real kick in the teeth.

Having won the award in 2005 with _The Gathering Wilderness_ and 2007 with _To the Nameless Dead_, Primordial are astonishingly absent from the choices of every CoC scribe this year. Clearly their _Redemption at the Puritan's Hand_ has roundly failed to convince anyone at CoC, as it hardly seems like the type of release that would just pass us all by unnoticed.

The clear and undisputed winners this year, then: Wolves in the Throne Room. Their _Celestial Lineage_ was the most consensual choice, with most of the writers finding a place for it somewhere on their lists, and in the end that played an important role in a year that saw every writer pick a different winner. WitTR had already found themselves in second place in 2007 with _Two Hunters_ and third in 2009 with _Black Cascade_ (a year that also saw their _Malevolent Grain_ EP claw its way to seventh). This year, _Celestial Lineage_ ensures the Wolves join the select few bands who have won the CoC Album of the Year award -- besides the aforementioned Primordial and Katatonia, only Melechesh, Drudkh, Opeth and Agalloch have done it. Fine company indeed.

For the most part, the other bands in the overall top 10 are newcomers to these lists. The major exception is Moonsorrow, who fought with Wolves in the Throne Room for the chance to break a rather similar duck of their own: after reaching third place twice (in 2005 with _Verisäkeet_ and 2007 with _V: Hävitetty_), this year the Finns were unable to go beyond second place. This is still a very commendable sequence of results however, ensuring they remain one of the most consistent and successful bands in the history of the CoC Album of the Year award -- in fact, they are arguably the most successful band never to have won the award, although Enslaved might challenge that claim.

Third place goes to _New World Shadows_ by Omnium Gatherum, who finished very close indeed to their compatriots Moonsorrow. Having been around for quite a few years, this is the first time Omnium Gatherum have made an appearance in one of our yearly lists, so well done for nabbing that podium finish with this fifth full-length of theirs.

The rest of the list finds a rather eclectic collection of highly experienced bands: Cynic, Esoteric, Septicflesh, Hate Eternal and Novembers Doom have all been around for a long time (with Cynic first emerging in the '80s and the rest throughout the '90s). Obscura and Mitochondrion help finish off the top 10 list, with the likes of Devin Townsend, Fen and Nightbringer narrowly missing out.

CoC Writers' Best Albums of 2011

1. Wolves in the Throne Room - _Celestial Lineage_
2. Moonsorrow - _Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa_
3. Omnium Gatherum - _New World Shadows_
4. Cynic - _Carbon-Based Anatomy_
5. Esoteric - _Paragon of Dissonance_
6. Hate Eternal - _Phoenix Amongst the Ashes_
=. Novembers Doom - _Aphotic_
=. Obscura - _Omnivium_
9. Mitochondrion - _Parasignosis_
=. Septicflesh - _The Great Mass_

Pedro Azevedo's Top 10

1. Wolves in the Throne Room - _Celestial Lineage_
2. Fen - _Epoch_
3. Before the Rain - _Frail_
4. Finnr's Cane - _Wanderlust_
5. Tenhi - _Saivo_
6. Mastodon - _The Hunter_
7. Textures - _Dualism_
8. Lantlos - _Agape_
9. Dornenreich - _Flammentriebe_
10. Deceased - _Surreal Overdose_

Aaron McKay's Top 10

1. Hate Eternal - _Phoenix Amongst the Ashes_
2. Vader - _Welcome to the Morbid Reich_
3. Autopsy - _Macabre Eternal_
4. Cynic - _Carbon-Based Anatomy_
5. Novembers Doom - _Aphotic_
6. Excommunicated - _Skeleton Key_
7. Finnr's Cane - _Wanderlust_
8. Agnostic Front - _My Life, My Way_
9. Septicflesh - _The Great Mass_
10. Trap Them - _Darker Handcraft_

Chaim Drishner's Top 10

1. Nightbringer - _Hierophany of the Open Grave_
2. Abstract Spirit - _Horror Vacui_
3. Aardia - _Conquest of the Ancient Halls_
4. Midnight Odyssey - _Funerals From the Astral Sphere_
5. Unholy Fables - _Stone_
6. Serpent Ascending - _The Enigma Unsettled_
7. Smohalia - _Résilience_
8. Chryst - _Phantasmachronica_
9. The Moon and the Nightspirit - _Mohalepte_
10. Funeral - _To Mourn Is a Virtue_

Aly Hassab El Naby's Top 10

1. Moonsorrow - _Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa_
2. Septicflesh - _The Great Mass_
3. Omnium Gatherum - _New World Shadows_
4. Fleshgod Apocalypse - _Agony_
5. Grails - _Deep Politics_
6. Omega Massif - _Karpatia_
7. Wolves in the Throne Room - _Celestial Lineage_
8. Steven Wilson - _Grace for Drowning_
9. Riverside - Memories in My Head_
10. Between the Buried and Me - _The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues_

Mark Dolson's Top 10

1. Omnium Gatherum - _New World Shadows_
2. Moonsorrow - _Varjoina Kuljemme Kuolleiden Maassa_
3. Novembers Doom - _Aphotic_
4. Falconer - _Armod_
5. Helrunar - _Sol_
6. Insomnium - _One for Sorrow_
7. Mournful Congregation - _The Book of Kings_
8. Isole - _Born From Shadows_
9. Torchbearer - _Death Meditations_
10. Tyr - _The Lay of Thrym_

Jonathan A. Carbon's Top 10

1. Obscura - _Omnivium_
2. Wolves in the Throne Room - _Celestial Lineage_
3. Mitochondrion - _Parasignosis_
4. Rhapsody of Fire - _From Chaos to Eternity_
5. Esoteric - _Paragon of Dissonance_
6. Leviathan - _True Traitor, True Whore_
7. Altar of Plagues - _Mammal_
8. Woods of Desolation - _Torn Beyond Reason_
9. Light Bearer - _Lapsus_
10. Vektor - _Outer Isolation_

Daniel Lake's Top 10

1. Devin Townsend - _Deconstruction_
2. Cynic - _Carbon-Based Anatomy_
3. Blut Aus Nord - _777 (Sects & Desanctification)_
4. Esoteric - _Paragon of Dissonance_
5. WAIL - _WAIL_
6. Deafheaven - _Road to Judah_
7. Wolves in the Throne Room - _Celestial Lineage_
8. Mastodon - _The Hunter_
9. Blood Stain Child - _Epsilon_
10. Thy Catafalque - _Rengeteg_

(article submitted 12/2/2012)

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