Saturday, June 28, 2008

Albums of the Year: Mid-year

This list is ever changing it seems like. There are so many solid albums coming out this year that I might have to do a top 20. Great year for metal, so let's get started...

1. Testament: Formation of Damnation - This should be the top album of the year, unless Metallica's album, Death Magnetic, is a true return to form. I am a sucker for Bay Area Thrash and this album brings it back in all it's glory. Chuck Billy hasn't lost his harsher vocals either. I was a little worried that with the original line-up reuniting that we would see some more catchy stuff, but we got some classic Testament. It isn't as "hard" as The Gathering. The album feels like a natural progression from Low (my favorite Testament album).
Testament's Myspace

2. Mercenary: Architect of Lies - Ahh Mercenary, started out as a pure death metal band, then added a "clean" vocalist and went big. 11 Dreams was a classic, but after that album the "death" vocalist left the band. It showed on their follow-up, Hours That Remain. It was a solid album, but they needed a death vocalist. Well they got one again and it's nice to see classic Mercenary. Not as solid as 11 Dreams, but a big improvement over Hours That Remain.
Mercenary's Myspace

3. Biomechanical: Cannibalized - Biomechanical is a crazy band. If I had to describe them I would say they are part Halford, part Strapping Young Lad, and part symphony. Yeah it's that crazy. I was blown away by Empires of the World, but this is harder, heavier, and faster. It also completes the trilogy of the albums, but honestly I can't figure out the story. The vocals go from the high Halford-esque to some pretty solid harsh vocals. Musically, it's all over the place.
Biomechanical's Myspace

4. Protest the Hero: Fortress - I thought this would be my album of the year. I was waiting on this one ever since I heard their debut, Kezia. It sounds pretty much like Kezia part 2, which is a good thing. Nothing seems forced and the album flows very well.
Protest the Hero's Myspace

5. Eluveitie: Slania - It seems like every year an album comes along and is just so different it makes my top 10. Last year it was Deadlock and before that it was Borknagar. Now it is Eluveitie's turn. Their music is described as folk metal, and does it eveer come across that way. Imagine a death metal band with a violin and a hurdy gurdy! yeah that's not a typo. The music is so grand it's not even funny. Throw in some female vocals and you have yourself one hell of an album.
Eluveitie's Myspace

6. Mygrain: Signs of Existence - Mygrain's sophmore follow-up is so much better than their debut. This is pure Swedish Death Metal. Great riffs, stellar keyboards, fantastic vocals, and of course catchy choruses. A surprise album if there ever was one.
Mygrain's Myspace

7. Textures: Silhouettes - This is an album that is growing on me like you wouldn't believe. For me they are coming across as a heavier version of Into Eternity. Not as progressive as Circles, but it's not straight death metal either. Great combination and they somehow tweaked their formula just enough to catch me.
Textures' Myspace

8. Warrel Dane: Praises to the Warmachine - Ok for those of you who are into metal, you know who Warrel Dane is..lead singer of Nevermore. Now, Nevermore is one of my favorite bands. I hate it when bands do side projects because I am worried about them breaking up because of it. This year Dane is doing one as is their guitarist, Jeff Loomis. So I was worried, but then I heard it wasn't going to be anything like Nevermore...ok I feel better. But wait, this album is Nevermore light. Seriously, if you are a fan of The Heart Collector or The River Dragon pick this up. I don't know why some of these songs never made it to an album, but they are solid Nevermore style songs. So where does this leave Nevermore? I guess we will have to wait and see.
Warrel Dane's Myspace

9. 36 Crazyfists: The Tide and Its Takers - Now somewhere in the last few years I started to appreciate the metalcore genre. I couldn't stand it at first, but some bands can do it and make it sound great. 36 Crazyfists is one of those bands. Their latest is classic metalcore. The music is sharp and the breakdowns are memorable. The first track The All Night Lights is killer and sets the tempo for the rest of the album. Vocals go from Tompa screams to clean singing, not the emo style either, just clean vocals. Huge surprise for me.
36 Crazyfists' Myspace

10. Machinery: The Passing - Who is Machinery? An upstart band that plays some classic thrash inspired metal. Now, Helloween's The Dark Ride is one of my favorite albums of all time and at times that's what this reminds me of... only darker and heavier. The vocalist is reminiscent of Andi Deris at times, but not a complete copy. Musically, like I said classic thrash with some tight solos. Of all the albums I picked up this year, this one is the most surprising.
Machinery's Myspace

on the bubble:
Pyramaze: Immortal - return of Matt Barlow on lead vocals. Killer album. I expect this or Iced Earth's new one in the top 10.

Eminence: The God of all Mistakes - tribal metal combined with thrash...better than Sepultura, but not as solid as Soulfly's last album. Most years this would be in the top 10 right now.

Arsis: We Are the Nightmare - an improvement over United in Regret, but still something is missing.

In Flames: A Sense of Purpose - I am a huge In Flames fan, but this is just missing some memorable songs right now. When I heard Take This Life, lead single off of their last album, I was hooked. Nothing like that here.

Bullet for My Valentine: Scream, Aim, Fire - ok this might make it in the top 10. I couldn't stand it when I heard it the first time, but it is growing on me like nobody's business. Plus a cover of No Easy Way Out...come on.

The Arcane Order: In the Wake of Collisions - classic melodic death metal with some symphonic undertones...definitely original.

Perzonal War: Bloodlines - classic thrash.

Raunchy: Wasteland Discotheque - This is what Mnemic's Passenger should have sounded like. Classic industrial metal with those catchy choruses. This should easily make the top 10. It comes out on Tuesday, but is streaming on their myspace, HERE.

So there you have a good 15 albums, and there is still 6 months to go. And what's to come. Ok second part of the Iced Earth double album with Matt Barlow back on lead vocals. Into Eternity's latest album and 1st concept album. All That Remain's new one. And their last album was a classic... not one filler song on that thing. Trivium, who are said to be going back to a style more similar to Ascendancy which would be a great thing. Oh yeah and this little band called Metallica. We might as well give #1 to Metallica now. I am a sucker for new Metallica. So you can see that there are at least 4 albums that will probably end up in the top 10. Exciitng year.

Now playing: Eminence - Day 7
via FoxyTunes

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