|3 Quarters -- What's Missing?|
So, this is my top 60 after making it 3/4 of the way through the year. Anything missing?
Theories of Flight
4.5 -- This sounds like what could have come after Parallels if the band had taken that album's slick, song-oriented sound in a more expanded, prog-oriented direction while stepping up the heaviness and riffs. Easily their best, most consistent and catchy release since Parallels.
4.3 -- This is the pinnacle of Insomnium's sound. The best of their melodic death metal sound mixed with progressive tendencies, acoustic guitars, and even a few black metal-ish moments. The clean singing, too, finally works for the band in a way it never has in the past. Not a single wasted moment in the entire 40 minutes.
Here Be Dragons
4.2 -- This is like At the Gates combined with the technical chaos of Atheist combined with the quirky rhythmic experimentation and heaviness of Meshuggah without all the repetition. Yeah, it's pretty good.
|4||Devin Townsend Project|
4.0 -- Takes the best parts of Ocean Machine and Terria, and mixes it with the catchier parts of his DTP stuff and ends up with his best album in a long time. It's about damn time.
Shores of the Abstract Line
4.0 -- These guys do a blend of proggy post metal and Djent, with mellow atmospheric moments and spoken word parts. The overall sound has definitely improved and so have the vocals. The big change is that the mellower moments actually fit the songs and are entertaining parts of the whole.
Concepts of Math: Book One
4.0 -- Basically picks up right where Control & Resistence left off, but with a heavier, more riffy sound. Also the vocalist has dropped the ultra-high vocals and traded them for a style somewhere between the power prog of Hades and the 90s alt metal of Non-Fiction (two of his other bands). Still one of the best tech metal bands ever. They haven't lost a step.
|7||Circle of Dust|
Circle of Dust (Remastered)
4.0 -- Finally they've remastered their debut album. It sounds much better and blends with the rest of my music when on shuffle. One of the best blends of industrial and metal out there.
|8||Cradle of Filth|
Dusk and Her Embrace - The Original Sin
4.0 -- Dusk and Her Embrace as it would have originally been released. The sound is somewhere between the muddy debut and the razor-sharp Vempire, but nowhere near as full and warm as the Dusk… that eventually got released. This album is much more raw and doesn't feature the constant screeches that the final version of Dusk had all over the place. On the other hand, there are a lot of differences between this and what eventually came out, and it is much more aggresive sounding. Well worth checking out.
The Storm Within
4.0 -- The best parts of Traditional Progressive Metal meets the best parts (most of them) of Djent/modern progressive. I don't really keep up with the band, but I'm pretty sure this is a new sound for them and they pull it off really well.
The Art of Loss
4.0 -- Excellently heavy progressive metal that features Ray Alder of Fates Warning and no less than three ex-Megadeth guitarists, including Chris Poland.
4.0 -- Reminds me of Riverside crossed with modern Katatonia, but probably a bit heavier than either of those bands. Really good stuff.
Live Im Schatten Der Ringe
4.0 -- Die Krupps have always sounded better live than they do in the studio and this album just goes to prove that it is still true. 30+ years and still one of the top industrial metal bands.
3.9 -- The original was already pretty good, but this remaster fixes the minor issues. Louder sound, better separation, and more powerful beats/riffs sound. One of the coolest and most diverse industrial metal albums ever.
|14||Flotsam and Jetsam|
Flotsam and Jetsam
3.8 -- After the lackluster 'Ugly Noise', Flotsam and Jetsam have returned with a vengeance. This self-titled album takes the thrashy energy of 'No Place for Disgrace' and blends it with the riffy modern sounds of their 'The Cold' album. One of their top 5 releases, for sure.
For All Kings
3.8 -- Like a cross between Persistence of Time and Worship Music. Riffy and relentless like PoT, but catchy and song-oriented like Worship Music. Definitely the best they've done since PoT.
|16||Circle of Dust|
3.8 -- Circle of Dust goes full industrial metal on this album. Whereas the debut was a nice blend of electronics and metal, this one is almost entirely metal-influenced industrial. Great riffs, rhythmic beats, and lots of electronics. The remaster definitely bumps up the power of the songs.
3.6 -- I feel like I'm listening to the same album over and over again. These guys really are a one-trick pony. They do an ultra-melodic, symphonic industrial-death metal thing, and they do it really well... over and over and over…
All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend
3.5 -- Very chill, slightly dark electro-pop with female vocals. Similar to stuff like Kerli, Bjork, Florence + The Machine, Ladytron, etc.
3.5 -- A very good mix of doom, death, black metal and post metal that doesn't sound disjointed at all. Excellent pacing, cool melodies, and pretty damn heavy.
3.5 -- Kamelot meets Practice-era Testament meets Galactic Cowboys. Huge proggy songs, blazing solos, tons of riffs and huge infectious choruses. The singer does really remind me of what 80s era Chuck Billy could sound like if he sang, ha ha.There's even some death metal vocals to accentuate the singing.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere
3.5 -- I haven't really been a fan of Thrice since Vheissu back in 2005, and the last album of theirs that I totally enjoyed was Artist in the Ambulance in 2003. Of course, they'll never go back to that sound but this album is much better than the Alchemy albums and anything that came after them. They're just kind of chill, adult-oriented alt. rock at this point, but they're doing it really well.
All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us
3.5 -- Melodic semi-progressive keyboard-driven metalcore. It's pretty good, but all of the songs kind of blend together. 'Gone With the Wind' is a standout, though.
Return to Nothing
3.5 -- Kind of a mix of Tool/Soen and Riverside with just the slightest bit of Djent. There are even moments where I can hear classic Opeth in the melodies (without the death metal influence). Really good stuff. I can see this one growing on me even more.
Voice of the Void
3.5 -- Definitely a heavier, more intense version of Anciients. They've got traditional prog, progressive death metal, bits of black metal. These guys are doing great things.
3.5 -- Picking up right where Construct let off, but with a kind of stripped down The Mind's I approach. It nothing new or out of left field for these guys, but it's still a great release.
3.5 -- Kind of a tech metal/metalcore sound. Definitely more on the tech/prog side of things, though. Really good stuff.
3.5 -- I'm not a fan of the Deftones. I love White Pony, but most of what they do gets on my nerves because of the vocalist. This album is pretty good, though. On the latter half of the album I feel like I'm hearing a lot of Thrice and Glassjaw influences… or maybe they were copying some of Deftones' sound? I don't know, but I hear it.
3.5 -- Very catchy, lush, electro-pop. Not a bad song on here.
The Holographic Principle
3.5 -- Epica are easily the best of the Symphonic Metal bunch. They aren't cheesy (very often), they know how to play their instruments, very riffy, great death/female vocals, and she's pretty damn hot.
3.5 -- I've always had a soft spot for these guys, despite the fact that there's nothing extraordinary about them. This is some great, chugging melodic metalcore. It will definitely be added to my gym playlist.
3.5 -- I'm not a Crystal Castles fan. I've never thought they sucked, but they've never really kept my attention either. This is really good. Great beats, noisy and melodic at the same time, and I like the vocals.
Revisions of the Past
3.5 -- I've never heard the original versions of the two remastered albums on this release, but they sound pretty damn good here. Excellent black metal.
Shrines of Paralysis
3.5 -- Another batch of dark, chaotic, technical death metal. I don't hear much difference between this and their last few albums, but it's still good.
|34||Thank You Scientist|
Stranger Heads Prevail
3.5 -- Alt Prog with jazz influences, to include all kinds of brass instrumentation. Kind of reminds me of Coheed meets Art By Numbers meets Fair to Midland. It's excellent, as is the rest of their discography.
3.5 -- Gorguts are one of the definitive old-school technical death metal bands. This 33-minute song only goes to prove it.
|36||Necromancing the Stone|
Jewel of the Vile
3.4 -- Basically Traditional/Power metal with a bit of a black metal/occult sound to it. Really well done, though.
Stranger to Violence
3.4 -- Gothy, electro, industrial, post punk stuff. The only thing I don't hear is what they're decscribed as: progressive rock. It's really good, whatever it is.
The Dark Hereafter
3.4 -- Another excellent release from these melodic/folk black metallers. The fact that they end with an Ulver cover just seals the deal.
3.4 -- Their 80s output was bad, and their 90s stuff totally sucked. Surprisingly, though, their 2000s output has been pretty damn good. Another great technical thrash/metal release... as long as you can deal with Halford-ish vocals.
3.4 -- I liked her debut album, but this one is really good. There's more of an 'electronic' kind of feel and way less pop and much more atmosphere. It almost borders on straight-up Trip Hop.
|41||Heaven Shall Burn|
3.4 -- Maybe a little more aggressive and riffy than they've been in awhile, but it's basically another cookie-cutter Heaven Shall Burn release. They should be capable of more, but this is still pretty good.
3.4 -- This is a very lush and atmospheric version of melodic death metal. Yes, there is double bass and death growls but I hesitate to use the word 'aggression' to describe any part of this. It's still good, but very non-confrontational.
|43||Dawn of Ashes|
3.4 -- Aggressive industrial black metal that really does a good job of blending the best of both genres.
|44||Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas|
3.4 -- Post metal with a female vocalist? Well, it definitely relieves some of the monotony I commonly associate with your average lumbering post metal release. Pretty good stuff.
Autonomy: The 4th Quarter 2
3.4 -- I'm not a Hip-hop expert or fan, but every once in awhile I'll hear an album that catches my attention. Guess I'll need to check out the rest of his discography.
3.4 -- After a few missteps, Lacuna Coil have finally regained their composure. This album takes the best elements of Comalies and mixes it with a stripped down version of what bands like Tesseract and Textures play. The best thing is that the male vocalist doesn't sing anymore. He growls and shouts through most of his parts, which is a much better role for him.
3.4 -- There's some awesome musicianship on here and it's probably their most diverse album, but they're still basically a one-trick pony.
3.4 -- More moody progressive metal than black metal these days, but there's still a decent amount of that black metal sound. Definitely an album that requires a few listens.
Commitment to Complications
3.4 -- This reminds me of 'Addiction'-era Skinny Puppy goes digital hardcore. Musically it is really good, which shouldn't be a surprise since Rhys Fulber (Front Line Assembly, Fear Factory) produced it. The stickler is the monotone shouted vocals. They're not bad, but they need to diversify the vocal delivery.
|50||Bat for Lashes|
3.4 -- There's something about the mellow, atmospheric side of Bat for Lashes' music. This album is full of that side and is easily my favorite of the discography.
3.4 -- I know this isn't an official all-new album, but that almost makes it more crazy because all the songs are really good. Soilwork is on a roll.
The Fall of Hearts
3.4 -- Katatonia make their biggest leap since dropping their doom/death roots. On this album, they've jumped straight into Opeth-inspired moody prog mixed with the blueprint of their last few albums. I'm more a fan of the catchy direction found on 'Viva Emptiness' through 'Night is a New Day'.
3.4 -- Epic symphonic death metal with growls and clean singing. It's really good in the moment, but it all kinds of blends together by the end.
|54||Oceans of Slumber|
3.4 -- Kind of a blend of doom, post metal and prog with female singing and occasional male shouts/growls. There are some really good songs on here, but a few that are a little weak. I see good things for this band.
3.4 -- I'm not a Killswitch Engage fan. I'm a fan of 'Alive or Just Breathing' and 'Disarm the Descent' because of Jesse's vocals and the heavier musical direction. Their crooning, melodic stuff with the other guy bores me to death. Musically, that's basically what they've gone back to except with Jesse on vocals. He helps make this listenable, but not nearly as good as the other two releases that he has sang on.
3.4 -- Borknagar have pretty much perfected their progressive black metal sound while they slowly move closer to the prog side of the house. I really like all the vocalists they have on this release.
3.4 -- I'm a big fan of this band, but I've liked each new release a little less than the one before it. This one is still pretty great, but it is a little too streamlined for my taste. I liked the bigger risks on the first two releases.
|58||Trees of Eternity|
Hour of the Nightingale
3.4 -- Very ethereal, female-fronted doom metal that shares quite a bit with Projekt Records-style bands such as Love Spirals Downwards. Features the guitar player from Swallow the Sun.
|59||Imminent Sonic Destruction|
Much more melodic and traditional than their debut. It seems like they decided to play things a little bit safe this time… too safe, in my opinion. It's still a great progressive metal album, but they've lost a lot of what made their debut exciting.
Fires Within Fires
3.4 -- I really liked them more in their earlier days when they were still using violins and horns, and the tempos were more diverse. Having said that, it's still Neurosis and it's still really good.