Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Year In Review: Music

This year I bought 43 new releases, and added around about 100 CDs to my collection. Here's what I thought about some of them:

Album of the Year
Kreator - Phantom Antichrist
This surprised the hell out of me. I'm not really a Thrash Metal fan at all, and as such I'd never bothered to check out the legendary Kreator. Bought on a whim, this has been at the top of my playlist ever since. If you're a guitarist, you need to hear this album. The riffs on it are amazing - very technical, but what elevates it to a level of greatness is the melody that's injected into each song. This is not a band just trying to blast out fast music, everything is given an epic feeling. Also, the lead guitarist has killer technique and writes awesome solos. It's one of those rare albums that just inspires me to pick up a guitar and jam with it.

Album of the Year (Runner Up)
Ahab - The Giant
So before I got the Kreator album, I was thinking this was an absolute certainty for best of the year. I love the band's two previous albums, but this was a little bit surprising. It's a lot more mellow than their previous outings. The crushingly heavy riffs and guttural vocals are still there, and all still moving at glacially slow speed. They have added a much more serene element to the mix, bringing to mind the final album by Morgion. To be honest, I didn't completely like it at first- it took many listens for it to work it's way into my brain, for the haunting melodies to take root and reveal their beauty. But I'm glad I stuck with it.

Notable Mentions
Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent
A return to form after a slightly lackluster previous album. Symphonic Metal at it's best, just be sure to get it on Vinyl if you're a hardcore fan as the track "Serenade of Self Destruction" has a bunch of vocal tracks that are missing on the CD version (and it's a better song with them!)

Eluveitie - Helvetios
I'll freely admit to being a fanboy of this Folk Metal band so their inclusion isn't much of a surprise. Not really anything new, just the continuation of a class act.

Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
Over the course of their last 3 albums they've been steadily regressing their sound back to their mid-90's glory days. This continues the trend. Everything I need from a good Doom Metal album.

Winterfylleth - The Threnody of Triumph
The 3rd album from this Black Folk Metal group. Loved their previous album, but this one blows it away. In a year that also saw a solid release from Drudkh, these guys managed to beat the Ukrainian masters at their own game. Raw and aggressive yet somehow captivating and beautiful at the same time.

Top 3 Songs of the Year
Asphyx - Into The Timewastes
It's nothing new or clever, it's just one hell of a great groove from 1:08 onward.

Ahab - Antarctica The Polymorphess
This song encapsulates everything great about the new album, and the band in general. Haunting, and like all good doom should, has a killer guitar melody at the end.

My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures
The title track from MDB's best album in 10 years. The riff from 4:10 is brilliantly bleak.

Worst Album of the Year
Fear Factory - The Industrialist

Two words that one should never read when it come to FF: drum machine. Everything that was ever cool about Fear Factory revolved around the tight interplay between the guitar and drums. Raymond Herrera's double-kick drum work was just fun to listen to (and later, Gene Hoglan). Now in place of an actual human we get a drum machine, sucking the soul from the music and rendering it unlistenable. Sure, it doesn't *sound* any different, but knowing it's a computer just kills it for me.

Worst Song of the Year
Delain - We Are The Others
I discovered Delain this year, and really loved them. Their new album is fantastic. HOWEVER... they decided to rerecord this song from the album and release it as a single. I like the original version. The new one has "sellout" written all over it. Delain's music in general has a commercial direction to it, and that's perfectly ok. Watering down one of your songs to get airplay is NOT ok. In all honesty, I haven't been able to listen to the band since this single came out. I care about artistic integrity, and this band has none.

On that controversial note, we'll leave it there ;)

No comments: