When: Thu., Sept. 1, 8 p.m. 2011
I don't maintain a list of each year's most beautiful records, but if I did, the 2011 edition would lean heavier on black metal than would seem possible given the genre's historical hostility to accessibility. Just a few months after Liturgy's Aesthethica hit the streets, Wolves in the Throne Room's Celestial Lineage (Southern Lord) takes the band's interests in atmosphere, texture, and sprawl further than they've ever gone. During my first listen I had to stop what I was doing about a dozen times to admire a brutal onslaught of riffage as it unraveled into gorgeous ambience or what sounded like a sword dragged across stone. Not great for my productivity, but excellent for my feelings about metal in 2011. —Miles Raymer Indian and Bloodiest open.