Oh, festive times!
Also time to tell you about what CDs released this year that I've picked up!
---Notable Highs and Lows:Best Album That Needed To Be Just A Bit Better: mind.in.a.box - Memories
Not so much a crushing disappointment as frustrating. Among the uninteresting filler, this album does has some pretty good tracks on it. Fun enough for a spin, but nothing that'll sit alongside their best. These guys have been amazing for so long, it's a bit disheartening for them to make an album that's merely "alright". I get the sense it might grow on me, but at this moment? I'm not feeling it.Second Best Album That Needed To Be Just A Bit Better: Marduk - Frontschwein
I love me some Marduk, so it's a bit of a dick kick when they're not on point. It's hard to explain what went wrong here. There are some damn fine songs on the album, and yet when taken as a whole, it leaves no impression.Best Album I Simply Couldn't Get Into: Blind Guardian - The Red Mirror
There is such a thing as too much. There are some amazing moments on this album, but there's also a lot of needless bloat. There's probably 20 something minutes you could have cut from this to make it a much more focused record. That said, even if the album was cut down, you've got the cringy lyrics to deal with. Xanaduuuuuwoooah! My Xanadu!Best Flash In The Pan: Lindemann - Skills in Pills
Super fun/gross album that got listened to hot and heavy for a month or so before my taste turned hard. It's going to be a while before I'll feel like getting back into this one.Best Album that's Too Unironically Silly: Luca Turilli's Rhapsody - Prometheus, Symphonia Ignis Divinus
There's some really fun songs on here. If it wasn't for the fact that I'd probably die if someone heard me listening to it, this would be on the Best Of list proper. The whole thing is just so cheesy, and yet it's also completely earnest at the same time. FFS, there's a Lord of the Rings track where someone does a shitty impression of Gollum... and it's played serious! What!? Noooo.Most Disappointing: Nile - What Should Not Be Unearthed
Even though Nile have done some absolutely bad-ass albums in the past, they've been treading water for the past few years. I was expecting more of the same. Ended up with something utterly dull and uninteresting. It was a soulless, needlessly fiddly and overly loud hour of nothing
. I'll give them that the single from the album is pretty ballsy.
Honourable Mentions!Kampfar - Profan
Really solid, but wont blow any minds.Öxxö Xööx - Nämïdäë
This is some amazing avant-garde gothic doom metal. It's great, but a mission to sit through for too long.VNV Nation - Resonance
VNV Nation as played by Orchestra. It's amazing, and you know VNV is one of my favorite bands ever, but I'm not that
into orchestral stuff.
The Top 8(!?):8. Powerwolf - Blessed & Possessed
Catchy heavy metal with tons of organs, werewolves and religious sarcasm.7. Enslaved - In Time
Angsty Vikings tripping on the cosmic vibes. Folky metal with licks of black metal and a heavy dose of prog. 6. Fear Factory - Genexus
Loud, shouty industrial metal. This time with a cyberpunk story and heaps of Blade Runner references. 5. Sigh - Graveward
Psychedleic Gothic metal. Some thrash, some black metal and just a whiff of visual kei.4. Arcturus - Arcturian
Avant-garde metal that I've no idea how to classify. Strangeness with a bit of everything thrown in.3. Sarpanitum - Blessed Be My Brothers
Brutal melodic death metal with a Dark Ages theme. Fantastic mix of sonic textures, if not a little too loud.2. Solafald - World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud
Esoteric blackend avant-garde. Way too smart for it's own good, but sounds great doing it.1. Gloryhammer - Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards
Epic Scottish Fantasy Power Metal.
I certainly wasn't expecting this. When I heard about this cheesy "joke" power metal band, I feared the worst. Turns out they're one of the best in the genre. The trick is that they capitalise on the best aspects of Euro fantasy metal, while also having fun with the worst of it. The result is a potent mixture of epic, fun metal that can be sang along with, but having none of the sag or bloat that some fruity, self-serious Italians would try and work in there.
They also get massive bonus points for making all the songs about Scotland. The thrill has not worn off to hear them name dropping towns around Fife and The Highlands. Unicorn! Show me the way! Lead me to the ultimate fortress!
So, how about you lot? What's your top picks for music released in 2015?