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Old 12-21-2013, 06:56 PM   #31 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by The Batlord View Post
...Why would anyone want to listen to Rise of the Tyrants when they could just put this on instead?
Because some people don't care about good muzak my batty broseph.

So...onward to numbah 11!

11. Brother Ape - Force Majeure


Genre: Indie-prog, Swedish Power Pop, Math Rock, Electronic Rock

Sounds Like: Blur, Rush, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Yes, Mew, The Outfield


Criminally underrated and obscure to the point of incredulity, I can't think of a band I've ever run across who deserve a wider audience more than Swedish prog rock power trio Brother Ape. Their albums are vital, hungry sounding things with more than a touch of melancholy and wide-eyed hope, and 2013's Force Majeure is no exception. Riddle me this: is it possible to be musically life affirming whilst simultaneously making you feel like you've been standing in the middle of a wide open field as an ice cold wind blows by? Through a marriage of beautiful inconsistencies, this band somehow does the trick. They're way beyond "prog" or whatever people like to peg them as: they're simply masters of good music, period.

The songs throughout this little odyssey work on many levels: some are deliberately crafted to have some of the most inspired verse-to-chorus hook progressions this side of 90's Brit-pop ('The Mirror', 'Doing Just Fine', 'Life') while other songs will go out of their way to challenge you with extended instrumental sections and stylistic fragmentations ('Distinction', 'A Hundred Voices'). What constant elements there are consist of the languid, soaring vocals + guitar fretwork of Stefan Damicolas, the fluid drum intricacies of Max Bergman and some massive basslines courtesy of Gunnar Maxén...and dayum son, that's a helluva chemistry.

Six albums in now and I never see these guys get talked about, even in the hardcore prog circles. Hopefully this magnificent little record will start to turn that trend around, but hey...sometimes its not a bad thing to have all the best bands to yourself. Happy to share in any case!




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Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

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Old 12-22-2013, 11:15 PM   #32 (permalink)
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10. Projected Twin - Earth Vs. World


Genre: Ambient Rock, Alternative Rock, Post-Rock

Sounds Like: Karnivool, Pink Floyd, Anathema, Matthew Good Band


A lot of impressive recordings came out of Australia's proggier rock scene this year. We had new offerings from Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Caligula's Horse, and many others...and in all honesty, there's nary a bad song between the lot of them. And yet the Australian artist who ended up crafting the best rock/metal LP came under the radar this year before any of these bigger players, letting loose upon us the second chapter in a story about the end of life on Earth as we know it. That artist is musical DIY entrepreneur Shaun Holton under the moniker Projected Twin, and the record in question is Earth Vs. World. To put it mildly, it is the geocentric apocalypse brought to life as a pure sonic spectacle...and it is majesty incarnate.

In the same way that some of the great bands in metal out there (such as Opeth or Porcupine Tree) take great care when making use of contrast in their sound, Mr. Holton takes a slightly different twist to the idea: he turns on a dime between acoustic guitar ripostes and a more melodic, cinematic take on doom metal, walking the thin line of coherency with his powerful voice as the guiding light to unite seemingly opposite dynamics. Lots of lyrically striking moments to derive as well...but I suppose when you are detailing Mother Earth's violent rejection of humanity on a song-by-song basis, its hard not to get drawn in by the sheer power of it all.

Key tracks for me include opening cut 'You Threw The Stone', Armageddon monsterpiece 'The Ritual' and the catchy 'Grab On Please', but there's no missteps to be had no matter which songs end up finding a place in your soul to stick to. I'm still in awe of it even now...





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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
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Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-22-2013 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:54 PM   #33 (permalink)
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9. Haken - The Mountain


Genre: Ear-friendly-mind-bending rock/metal

Sounds Like: Gentle Giant, Queen, Elbow, Dream Theater


When people think of progression in terms of rock & metal, its often said that we've already seen everything under the sun. How much stylistic deviation and off-the-wall dynamism can you actually put into a recording before it ceases being interesting on an accessible level, fated to become yet another Rock In Opposition album nobody will ever listen to?

If there's one band in 2013 that prove the validity of honest-to-God evolution in rock music, it would be the U.K.'s Haken. The Mountain marks their 3rd full length effort: the album cover looks almost like a custom Tarot card, the closet living metaphor for a human life as you'll ever find. And sonically, they've never been richer: lead singer Ross Jennings gives Freddie Mercury a run for his money in sheer versatility, but between all the great guitar work, piano playing, keyboards, drums and bass...well, it's a damn fine ensemble with enough jazzy, propulsive interplay and ideas to keep even the most ADD among us entertained for an hour or more.

The songs here cross pollinate some really intriguing ideas about the human condition: for example, lead single 'Atlas Stone' contemplates perseverance as we struggle to succeed against adversity, 'Cockroach King' gives us a jazzy, polyphonic insight into celebrity idealization with lots of awesome counterpoint vox, and even when things slow down with 'Because It's There', your drawn into something resembling a Gregorian ballad. And that's not even detailing the first half of the album completely: the journey up the mountain is a bizarre yet beautiful one in equal measure.

This is an album about being alive, the struggles & joys that arise from being such complicated, self-aware creatures in an indifferent world that defies our understanding. Seeking truth and certainty but constantly being pulled astray by pareidolic falsehoods throughout our respective journeys. Stuff like this is a big pill to swallow no matter what style of music you call your home, but this band pulls it off with flying colors, hooks and plenty of musicianship. Get it if you know what's good for you!




__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-24-2013 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 12-24-2013, 10:58 PM   #34 (permalink)
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8. Ramage Inc. - Feel The Waves


Genre: Ambient Metal, Industrial, Djent, Post-Grunge

Sounds Like: Fear Factory, Soundgarden, Deftones, Klone, Devin Townsend


So I'm not going to have to explain the whole "djent" metal thing here am I? Good. If you know what the machine-gun, super sleek guitar work of bands like Meshuggah sounds like, you've probably got an idea of the general sound. One band a few years back that had a promising start in the so called "djent" movement was a thrashy little bunch called CILICE. And they weren't too bad at all, but didn't last beyond their monstrous debut LP Deranged Headtrip back in 2009. Fast forward a few years later here to 2013, and the single best element of that particular group (lead vocalist Bryan Ramage) decides to form his own band and release a record...

...and it is a maniacal masterstroke! Feel The Waves is not only ball-crushingly heavy, but it's got enough atmospheric layers of melody to make the universe's most delectable cosmic onion. Think a more blistering, thicker and less operatic Devin Townsend. Or maybe a more guitar-driven Deftones bar the "nu-metal" BS. Ramage howls his goddamn soul out over tectonic shifting guitar tapestries, sludge squirming bass and swampwater drums that crash like thunder off a midnight storm. And strike me dead if it ain't the very definition of a good time eh?

So say hello to melodic heavy metal's underdog of 2013, because he's got one helluva bite. Fans of the previously mentioned Devin Townsend, Deftones, other artists in the genre preface, etc....yeah, here's your new drug courtesy of your favorite ant-munching dealer. Merry XXX!




__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-24-2013 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 12-25-2013, 06:15 PM   #35 (permalink)
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7. Dimension - 26


Genre: Contemporary Jazz-Fusion

Sounds Like: Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Rippingtons, T-Square


So...I love jazz. Love it no matter what shape, form or category it manifests in. Whether it's the big band stuff of the 40's, the crazy fusion experimentation of the 70's or the modern hip-hop/nu-jazz/whatever else hybridization that has emerged over the last decade, I'm a sucker for saxes, brass ensembles and the intense level of ability you need just to do anything half decent in the genre.

Enter Japanese jazz-trio Dimension, one of the best high energy fusion ensembles on the planet and boasting not only a wicked, greased lightning-like chemistry between the sax, guitar and other instrumentation, but some crackin' songwriting chops as well. 26 is, as you might guess, their 26th release since their formation in the late 80's. And as someone who has heard all their stuff (more or less)...well, it might just be right at the top of the heap for me. Some of the best "hooks" and punchiest arrangements I've ever heard from them are right here on this LP, with special mention to the supersonic "Skype Me', the 8-minute epic shuffle of 'Visions' and the keyboard led 'Cool In The Shade' which simply bristles with life.

I've been pretty enamored with this band's particular approach to contemporary jazz for quite some time now, but they've always been a hard sell to someone who doesn't like the smoother side of fusion to begin with. Still, 2013 was lucky to get another release from 'em, and this baby's so on point I think I'll just recommend 26 to everyone as the gateway record into their music and let the rest take care of itself.




__________________
My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frownland
You can't blame the Jews for everything...just most things.
Quote:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-25-2013 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 12-26-2013, 09:36 PM   #36 (permalink)
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6. Soilwork - The Living Infinite


Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Sounds Like: Scar Symmetry, Opeth, At The Gates, Edge Of Sanity


There aren't too many "melodeath" bands out there with the audacity to release a double album at any point in their careers, much less 2013. But then again, there is only one Soilwork. And if they're not considered the kings of the style yet, it won't be much longer now.

From start to finish, The Living Infinite is both a visceral behemoth and pure candy to the eardrums. You can attribute this fantastic dichotomy to lead vocalist Björn Strid, a man dually blessed with a snarl that could kill flowerbeds and a clean tenor that could drop my girlfriend's panties faster than you you can say "blastbeat". Couple that vocal complexity with his cunning as a songwriter and the talents of the band itself...hell, it's no wonder this album has stood up so well for me since its release early this year. It's not only a top-notch melodic death metal record, but a diverse and deliciously ambitious effort in all the best possible ways.

Out of the twenty songs here, there's a little something for everyone. Miniature masterpieces 'Rise Above The Sentiment' and 'The Windswept Mercy' feature progressions and choruses that would make even some of the best melodic metal outfits green with envy, and you even get an Opeth-styled power ballad with 'Antidotes In Passing'. But for every ounce of melody throughout, expect atleast double the brutality on full throttle numbers like 'Tounge', 'Long Live The Misanthrope' and 'Spectrum Of Eternity'.

Personally, I really encourage bands to really push the creative envelope and try aiming as conceptually high as they can. The best bands like Soilwork will soar with flying colors, but even an average group can atleast look back on the effort and say "well, it's better than Top 40 radio". But I digress: you won't find a better album this year that straddles the extreme and melodic so competently, so I'd give The Living Infinite a whirl just on those merits alone. Bon apetit!




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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:04 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Aw, dude. No. No no no. Not Soilwork. Say it ain't so. I bought Sworn to a Great Divide a few years ago back when I was still listening to that kinda thing and it was one of the first things to go when I started getting rid of large swathes of unwanted records. Just a crap, crap band. In Flames wannabes with stale production and boring songs. And you put this over Carcass? For shame.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:17 PM   #38 (permalink)
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Aw, dude. No. No no no. Not Soilwork. Say it ain't so. I bought Sworn to a Great Divide a few years ago back when I was still listening to that kinda thing and it was one of the first things to go when I started getting rid of large swathes of unwanted records. Just a crap, crap band. In Flames wannabes with stale production and boring songs. And you put this over Carcass? For shame.
Eh? The Living Infinite has received nearly universal acclaim both in and out of the diehard metal community dude. I didn't like Sworn To A Great Divide much, but that doesn't mean I'm going to hate the band: I care about metal on an album-to-album basis. If a person liked early Soilwork (which is when they established their fanbase to begin with and where they were at their best), I dunno why someone wouldn't like this album. Are you just allergic to melody in general broski? Some of them are pretty inspired on this one.
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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:22 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Eh? The Living Infinite has received nearly universal acclaim among the hardest of hardcore metal guys and outside of it. And band reputation doesn't mean anything: I care about metal on an album-to-album basis. And if a person liked early Soilwork (which is when they established their fanbse to begin with), I dunno why someone wouldn't like this album. Are you just allergic to melody in general broski? Some of them are pretty inspired on this one.
Nah, I just can't stand Soilwork. Whenever I've given them a listen I've been completely bored. I love In Flames. I just couldn't give less of a **** about Soilwork.

And if you think I'm allergic to melody then you obviously missed my rave reviews for Britney Spears' entire discography in my journal.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:31 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Nah, I just can't stand Soilwork. Whenever I've given them a listen I've been completely bored. I love In Flames. I just couldn't give less of a **** about Soilwork.

And if you think I'm allergic to melody then you obviously missed my rave reviews for Britney Spears' entire discography in my journal.
Ah. I asked it as a rhetorical question. Oh well, to each their own. My review and impressions of the music was strictly in regards to the album: if I ever did an Artist Spotlight or something on Soilwork...trust me I'm not a fanboy (nor am I into most modern melodeath), lol!

Still, I'd say its to your benefit to give The Living Infinite a fair shot: its not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. Due to how much ground it covers I'd even say it might be the band's best record overall, since this is the first time where I've actually heard Strid really stretch both his harsh and clean vocals to the benefit of the songs. You may still feel bored to tears by the majority of Soilwork's output, but I think you'd find at least a couple of songs that hit you in a good place.

I enjoy In Flames too by the way: I just hope their next album is better than Sounds Of A Playground Fading.
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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
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