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Old 12-27-2013, 11:36 AM   #41 (permalink)
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I enjoy In Flames too by the way: I just hope their next album is better than Sounds Of A Playground Fading.
A Sense of Purpose was kind of like their Sacrament (from Lamb of God) in that it pretty much made me lose any interest in keeping up with the band's new albums so I didn't even hear their last one.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:52 PM   #42 (permalink)
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^ Good for you man! Their last record was straight up garbage in comparison to their older stuff. And if I, a casual listener of their output, didn't like it, you can guess how the majority of In Flames fans feel.

And now, ladies and gents...on to the top five!

5. TesseracT - Altered State


Genre: Djent, Atmospheric Metal, Alternative Rock

Sounds Like: Coheed & Cambria, Meshuggah, Periphery, Textures


"Djent" metal headliners TesseracT are one of those bands that seemingly explode into prominence overnight but can't manage to keep a lineup together for more than one LP's worth. They've gone through three vocalists in three years, built up a considerable amount of hype due to the strength of 2011's One and prior EPs, plus carry the baggage of being one of the first bands to establish the whole "djent" scene and its characteristics. So the question going into 2013 was: this band is working on a second album...will it suck or soar?

The answer that sophomore record Altered State seems to supply the listener is "send you floating to the moon and back". Stripping away the harsh/clean dynamic of the previous record and bringing in Ashe O'Hara as vocalist numero tres were inspired choices. In the case of the latter change, the 3rd time around really is the charm as far as singers go I suppose, since this guy has the voice of an angel and sounds like he was born to enchant audiences like a Pied Piper over chugga-chuggah polyrhythmic groovage. His tone and range are so immersive you don't even miss the more overt metal elements from the first album, and that's no mean feat!

The album is divided into four "suites" over its 50 minute run, which totals out to ten separate tracks. There are some killer highlights to be had (like the catchy-as-fuck 'Nocturne' and the disquieting beauty of 'Retrospect') but this is really one of those releases which is meant to be listened to as a complete package from beginning to end in order to get the most mileage. As the genre tag "atmospheric metal" implies, letting the otherworldly mood of Altered State sink in is all part of the fun. Give it an inch and it'll give you a league my friends...




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Last edited by Anteater; 12-28-2013 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:41 AM   #43 (permalink)
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I have to say, I really enjoyed "Sounds of a playground fading" when I reviewed it for Metal Month. Course, I'm no In Flames fan, and don't know what the rest of their work is like, but I thought it was a great album.

(Cue sarcastic comment about girly metal from The Batlord .... here!)
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:48 PM   #44 (permalink)
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I have to say, I really enjoyed "Sounds of a playground fading" when I reviewed it for Metal Month. Course, I'm no In Flames fan, and don't know what the rest of their work is like, but I thought it was a great album.

(Cue sarcastic comment about girly metal from The Batlord .... here!)
In Flames have been around a verrrry long time. Since 1990 actually, and they've never done another album quite as good as The Jester Race back in '96. Sounds Of A Playground has some catchy moments here and there, but it's not really representative of their best work.
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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
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Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:45 PM   #45 (permalink)
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4. David Helpling & Jon Jenkins - Found


Genre: Ambient, Electronic

Sounds Like: Patrick O'Hearn, Tangerine Dream, Jonn Serrie, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno


Sometimes an hour arrives where you want to let go of rock, folk, pop, metal or whatever lyrically-motivated craftsmanship gives us emotional reprieve in favor of something abstract that takes you beyond the body. Or, in the case of the collaborative efforts of sonic maestros David Helpling & Jon Jenkins, music that takes you into the heart of space & time without words to get in the way.

See, these guys are absolute masters of organic ambient music, an approach that few attempt to begin with and even fewer excel at in 2013. Dreamy guitars, dazzling synthesizer work and all manner of exotic percussion / other layered instrumentation is here in abundance, but even describing what's involved here is doing a miraculous album like Found a disservice. It's the third and final LP in their trilogy of work (debut Treasure came out in 2007 and 2010's The Crossing was even better), the painstaking work of seasoned pros who understand the dynamics of cinematic instrumental music and what you have to do in order to create something that will stand the test of time.

With every year bringing more and more music in every genre imaginable to your attention and only a tiny little fraction of it ever getting decent attention from your favorite publications, its easy for a purely instrumental outing with a vaguely 80's Eno vibe getting completely lost in the shuffle...but you don't want to pass this one up folks. This duo have excellent chemistry, so give 'em their due and hear the magic for yourselves with Found.



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

Last edited by Anteater; 01-12-2014 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:07 PM   #46 (permalink)
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3. Queensr˙che - Queensr˙che


Genre: Heavy/Progressive Metal

Sounds Like: Queensr˙che (obviously), Pagan's Mind, Kamelot


Without a doubt the album I looked forward to most in 2013, this lean n' mean musical rebirth of my all time favorite band is 35 minutes of catchy, heavy metal awesome. It's the sort of sonic revolution most decades-old acts are incapable of pulling off...yet here it is, alive and breathing.

To put it mildly, I've always hated the fact that these metal gods faded into near complete irrelevance after the magnificent Promised Land back in 1994. From '97 onwards it was just mediocre album after mediocre album. But good things do seem to come to those who wait: after years of enduring abuse and unwanted creative control, the founding band members gave formally great frontman Geoff Tate the boot back in 2012. Despite being a good thing though, it was a move that made many long-time fans think the band was out of their minds: Tate's voice, even diminished, was QR's calling card to fame in their heyday and a signature element (like Dickinson to Iron Maiden). Sure he was a pretentious controlling fuckwad, but unless you can fill that mic stand with someone truly special, the music will undoubtedly suffer even more than it had previously.

Enter Florida local metal-scene drummer Todd La Torre, a complete unknown who happens to possess a voice that puts him right in the top shelf alongside any of heavy metal's icons, including Dio, Halford and of course Tate whom he replaced. This new self-titled album is La Torre's debut album as a lead singer in a band, and he makes one helluva entrance to say the least. A baritenor who can go from G1 to B5 at the drop of a hat, I can't think of a heavy metal band today who wouldn't give their left nut for someone this good.

Still, this isn't quite your daddy's 'Ryche either. While the overall vibe is right at home in the Operation: Mindcrime - Empire period, there are elements of modern power metal and other little touches here and there that demonstrate a keener pop sensibility that you'd expect from guys 19 years past their last great album, especially on earworms like 'Don't Look Back', 'Fallout' and the smoldering yet oddly moving 'A World Without'.

The issue of which one of the two existing lineups of QR will get to retain the band name (Todd La Torre + founding members or Geoff Tate and his hired band) won't get settled until January, but this meaty little record is a screaming declaration of legitimacy that bodes well for future material by a Tate-less 'Ryche. And hell, it pretty much made my year.




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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:
Originally Posted by OccultHawk
Trump might be the best thing since free jazz.

Last edited by Anteater; 12-29-2013 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 12-30-2013, 09:44 AM   #47 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
I have to say, I really enjoyed "Sounds of a playground fading" when I reviewed it for Metal Month. Course, I'm no In Flames fan, and don't know what the rest of their work is like, but I thought it was a great album.

(Cue sarcastic comment about girly metal from The Batlord .... here!)
Like any band their earlier work is superior to the stuff they're making almost two decades later. I don't think you'd be much into The Jester Race. Too close to actual death metal for you. But Colony or Clayman might just be your speed.


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Old 12-30-2013, 08:47 PM   #48 (permalink)
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2. Circle Of Illusion - Jeremias: Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms


Genre: Rock Opera, Jazz, Funk, Disco, Soul, Progressive Metal, Experimental

Sounds Like: Ayreon, Queen, EW&F, Kool & The Gang, Epica, Nightwish, Pain Of Salvation


Sometimes you pick up an album out of morbid curiosity and expect it to be bland, mediocre, or half assed. I've certainly heard enough music in my favorite genres to say I've done my own fair share of digging through trash in hopes of uncovering something unique. To be specific: when it comes to a lot of progressive metal, I've definitely more jaded than I was a decade ago. Too many albums trying to emulate the pioneers and not enough spontaneous creativity. You can imagine how refreshing it is, then, to actually run across something fresh in the genre that innovates and still manages to entertain. Real 'progress', if you will.

Austrian newcomers Circle Of Illusion are exactly the kick in the ass prog-metal has needed for awhile now. They stay just enough in the lines to appeal to fans of the genre, but they aren't afraid to challenge you with their Motown basslines, jazzy orchestrations straight out of the Giorgio Moroder guidebook and THREE excellent lead vocalists who play off eachother beautifully...all of which works seamlessly within the context of a fantasty/opera concept record. Such a mishmash of genres and styles normally wouldn't work...and yet somehow these guys are so talented that the whole thing sounds like a million bucks with hooks and memorability to spare!

Part of why this debut is such a consistent, awesome mindfuck is that its the sole compositional baby of keyboardist/band leader Gerald Peter. This dude, barely out of college, composed this album piece by piece between classes over a five year period before he got a band together to bring it to life. And to think he's barely into his 20's! Something like that goes way beyond talent: we're talking stone cold genius level, and the uncanny energy that fills this guy's imagination shows in every note throughout the LP.

I knew from the very first time I spun this remarkable opus that it was going to end up on my list somewhere. But if you haven't bothered to pick up anything on my list so far, then at least give this sucker a whirl. It really is extraordinary.



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My Top 30 Albums of 2018
Quote:
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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.
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Old 12-31-2013, 09:10 PM   #49 (permalink)
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1. Big Big Train - English Electric: Full Power


Genre: Progressive/Art Rock, English Folk, Power Pop

Sounds Like: 70's Genesis, early Chicago, Elbow, The Byrds, The Beatles


So...unfortunately I've never been to England before. And as far as I know, any English blood I have is three generations back on my mother's side. Hell, I was probably Hungarian or something in a past life. It stands to reason, then, that a band as quintessentially British like modern day proggers Big Big Train shouldn't really connect with me as much as they do. And yet somehow I'm always returning to their beautiful and peculiarly modern yet nostalgia-inducing take on the 70's Genesis sound.

Seriously, nothing makes my #1 in any year unless its something very special, and the music on this complete double LP compilation of English Electric Parts 1 & 2 is mindblowingly sublime when taken as a whole. Nothing else could be numero uno for me in 2013. You really should just take my word for it, but the devil is in the details I suppose...

At a grand total of 19 songs (all of which are perfect in their own respective ways), this is pound for pound the best progressive rock album of the year. Maybe the best album of the year in any genre actually. As the album title implies, you have a collection that's a time machine back to the U.K.'s industrial age, with each shot serving as a snapshot in time of an event (the song 'The First Rebreather' chronicles Alexander Lambert's famous Rebreather-dive into Severn Tunnel in 1880) or stories about the people who carved out England's history (literally or otherwise). Highlights include the 15-minute 'East Coast Racer', a triumphant number which swells into one of the best song climaxes I've ever heard around 8 or so minutes in, featuring an entire orchestra of horns, strings and woodwinds. Or how about the power pop waltz of 'Leopards'? Maybe the sheer heart wrenching piano-led closer 'Curator Of Butterflies', possibly the best ballad I've ever laid ears upon in 20 years? There's enough great songs here to fill three albums by any of your favorite non-black metal/death metal/grindcore bands!

It doesn't hurt that everyone involved in BBT is a musical phenomenon either. Lead vocalist and flautist David Longdon has a warm, emotive voice on par with Peter Gabriel at his prime, whilst you have former XTC guitar wunderkind Dave Gregory on lead guitar and drummer virtuoso Nick D'Virgillo (of Spock's Beard, Tears For Fears and Cirque du Soleil fame). Add in founding members Greg Spawton (guitar/keyboards) and bassist Andy Poole, and you have a monstrous lineup that equals any of the best in rock history.

In the same way that people look back on albums like Trespass, Foxtrot and Selling England By The Pound as landmark progressive rock albums of the 1970's, there is no doubt in my mind that Big Big Train have solidified their place in music canon with the complete English Electric experience. It not only compares favorably....I'd say it eclipses them all. Eat your heart out Gabriel, and a happy New Year to all of 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; 01-03-2014 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:46 PM   #50 (permalink)
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thanks for the list. never even heard of most artists before and discovered some really nice stuff. cheers
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