Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

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Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Subway Diet » Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:09 pm

Oh, festive times!
Also time to tell you about what CDs released this year that I've picked up!

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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.

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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.

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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. :P

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? :-k
Last edited by Subway Diet on Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Snowy » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:10 am

Wow now that's a post.

I wholeheartedly agree with Marduk and Nile's latest offerings as being in the 'try harder' camp. Likewise Lindemann was a fun romp for a couple of weeks. Repentless by Slayer showed glimmers of their old glories, but the loss of Hannemann and Lombardo is keenly felt, both in the playing and lyrics, and they are still too happy to drop into mid-tempo tedium. Also Maiden's latest was a great album wrapped in 2 extra albums worth of fanny - if only they had stripped the album down properly they could have had a belter on their hands.

I also agree with Kampfar as an honourable mention.

I don't/can't/won't do power metal though so Gloryhammer are just a massive NO! ;)

So then: A top 5 from me.

5. Opeth - Damnation & Deliverance Remixed

Cheating? Perhaps, but these are two of my all-time favourite Opeth albums, and have been remastered and re-released this year. Everyone should own this pair :)

4. Ghost - Meliora

Having failed to live up to Opus Eponymous with their second album, Meliora, the third outing for weird camp 70's Hammer house of horror metallers Ghost, is a cracking return to form. I am seeing them at Koko in London tonight, if they play well they may get raised up the list...

3. Trials - This Ruined World

Solid thrash album - have kept coming back to this one all year.

2. Black Breath - Slaves Beyond Death

Seattle's Black Breath have impressed with every release. Heavy Breathing in 2010 was brutal, Sentenced to Life in 2012 was more so - better produced, harder, tighter and more polished. For 2015 they have shifted away from the more hardcore sound into a solid death metal groove, and they pull it off with aplomb. I saw them support Nasum a couple of years back and they were one of the nicest bands I have met, so looking forward to some UK dates for this one.

1. Wilderun - Sleep at the Edge of the Earth

My AotY without question though goes to Wilderun with their titanic Sleep at the Edge of the Earth. Leaning heavily on Opeth, with meaningful nods to both Turisas and Agalloch they have made a stand-out slab o' metal. Brutal yet symphonic, with a whiff of folk, here is a metal band that manages to involve strings, brass and even a fucking harp without coming across as pretentious. An album of earworms, great in isolation, better in sequence. Love this album.

There ya go Subbeh, at least one reply for you :)
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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Subway Diet » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:41 am

Nice!

Solid list. I will certainly be giving Wilderun a proper listen.
Haha. And that's why I bother to do these. On the off chance that someone might hear something they wouldn't have otherwise... assuming they don't read the Listening To Now thread and actually give a shit about the stupid metal that I'm into. :o

There's been a few "old school" bands that came back this year to poor reception, right? I've not listened to the albums, but the singles from the new Slayer, Megadeth and Iron Maiden sounded rubbish. I'm sure it's not unheard of for someone to come back and kick ass (I hear the new Killing Joke is very good, though I can't stand Jaz Coleman's accent), but these sounded like poor excuses to go on tour again so people can hear the songs they actually like.

Haha. And it's a bit of a shame as you're missing out on some fun. ;)
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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Snowy » Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:15 pm

I am in exactly the same camp mate, I don't tend to read much of the music press, so keep an eye on threads by people I know whose tastes are similar to mine in order to find new gems.

On that note, I looked up the support band for Ghost tonight and had a pleasant surprise - band name of Dead Soul, kind of Depeche Mode industrial doom metal blues fucked-if-I-know genre, but kinda digging it:

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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Subway Diet » Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:53 pm

I pretty much only read Angry Metal Guy and browse around Encyclopaedia Metallum these days. Even then, music is such a strange, subjective experience. It's stupidly hard to find new things, either due to fickle tastes or by the virtue that there's simply so damn much of it out there.

Assaulting you fannies with whatever garbage I'm spinning at the time is the least I could do. :lol:
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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Snowy » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:01 pm

Haha AMG is my little refuge too :D
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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Mantis » Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:59 am

Here are a few of my top picks for the year. Links to streaming pages or youtube clips in the hyperlinks.

Gunship - Gunship
Chilled out electronic music with a good female vocalist. Some of the more upbeat tracks are a real standout.

Iron Maiden - Book of Souls
The band that got me into heavy music, so I always lap up anything they release. Bias aside though I do think this is one of their best ever releases, on par with AMOLAD and some of their 80s work. Totally blows the last album out of the water at least.

Steven Wilson - Hand Cannot Erase
A solid release from Steven Wilson this year. Not one of his strongest overall but some of the tracks on here are more than worthy of hitting the top spot. Ninet Tayeb only has a couple of appearances but her vocals are absolutely the high point of the album. Saw her live with him too and she was even better in the flesh, completely chilling, particularly at the end of Routine.

Cloudkicker - Woum
Cloudkicker. Not much else to say. I am massively into everything this guy puts out. Not a heavy album this year though, more a continuation of his last release with a post rock vibe and lots of strange time signatures playing mellow melodies. A real contender for album of the year.

Lindemann - Skills in Pills
I know this album had a mixed reaction on here, but I think it's great. Haven't listened to it in a while but it's worth putting on the list for the quality of the music alone, got to love a bit of metal synth.

Carpenter Brut - Trilogy
Cheating a bit as only part 3 came out this year, but I'm sticking the whole trilogy on here in its complete form. Absolutely crushing synth music, with a few standout tracks finding their way onto the Hotline Miami 2 soundtrack.

Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Always been a mixed bag for me this band has, but now that Floor Jansen is their lead vocalist I can get on board. The new album is easily the best they've ever done. Heavy, epic and not as god awfully awkward as past efforts. It's crushing live too.

And the winner is:

Komara - Komara
A clear winner for me this year, mainly because this is by far the most unique release I've heard. Pat Mastelotto is one of my favourite drummers and this project is about as out there as anything else he's ever been a part of. Ambient, industrial, ethnic, jazz rock would probably be a fitting description. It's full of crazy processed guitar sounds, distorted trumpets and heavy drum beats with ethereal soundscapes thrown into the more mellow tracks for good measure. I couldn't recommend it enough if you're into slightly off beat instrumental music. I absolutely love it.

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Re: Music 2015: AOtY and stuff

Postby Subway Diet » Wed Dec 23, 2015 7:53 pm

Nice! Don't have the time at the moment, but I'll give your selection a listen soon!

Also, I wanted to commit a list faux pas. I'm swapping No.5 and No.3
Sigh is cool and all, but I'm questioning the placement. Sarpanitum, on the other hand, fuckin' crushes it every time I listen. Given more time, it might even hit No.2, but this'll have to do. :-k
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