|Willie's Q2 Listens|
Every 2014 release that I've heard in Q2 (in my order of quality). What am I missing?
In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary
5.0 - The 20th anniversary version of this album is awesome. The first disc is listed as the 'Original' mix of the album, but it sounds exactly like the remastered version that I already owned. The bonus tracks on this disc are unreleased songs (I think...). The second disc is the 'alternate mix' which seems to really push the volume of the guitars and make the keyboards mostly a backing instrument. The extra tracks on the second disc are raw versions of songs that made the album. Not to mention the packaging....
4.0 - These guys really kicked up the aggression on this album. Almost all of the cheesy elements of the previous album are gone, but so are the really catchy choruses and melodic prog parts. There's still clean singing and progressive sections, but they're buried under a wall of sound. Don't get me wrong, this is obviously a progression for the band (and the clean singing is much better) but I miss the 'instant' feel of the previous release too. For those that don't know, this is really well-done progressive melodic death metal. They go through a lot of different sounds and styles and it's well worth checking out.
In a Mirror Darkly
4.0 - Dark, heavy progressive metal. Kind of has an early Fates Warning / latter-day Psychotic Waltz vibe, but they're definitely doing their own thing.
|4||Grey Skies Fallen|
The Many Sides of Truth
3.7 - This is some pretty cool proggy doom with just a hint of black metal influence. Heavy, atmospheric, riffy and varied enough to keep you til the end.
Roads to the North
3.7 - Another eclectic black metal album from these guys. This one is a bit more streamlined than the bluegrass/country meets black metal of the previous release. On the other hand, there are still some of those influences scattered around the album. The drumming on this is awesome.
3.7 - Album number 3 of the same basic formula starts to feel a bit stale (by Anathema standards). It's still really good, but I can't say I'm a fan of the electronic portion of the album. Antimatter (which featured a member of Anathema) integrated the electronics much better.
3.5 - Very melodic, atmospheric, female-fronted metal. They still have a bit of that 'ethnic' feel to their music and some
occasional death growls, but the mood has definitely changed. This is definitely a very emotionally cathartic release.
|8||At the Soundawn|
3.5 - This album kind of came in under the radar because the band have opted to handle every aspect of the release on their own. It's a shame, because this is pretty damn good. They've dropped a lot of their post metal influences in favor of a stoner rock meets alt rock meets post rock sound. There's no throaty shouts anymore, but the clean vocals can carry the album for the most part and the post metal is still there in the actual construction of the songs even though it's not really in the actual sound anymore.
3.5 - Another small step forward for these symphonic death metal masters. This will definitely take a few listens to set in, but it's a pretty great release and will definitely appeal to those that liked their previous releases.
Best of Anberlin
3.5 - It's some of the best songs that Anberlin have ever done. Of course it's great.
The Quantum Enigma
3.5 - This is probably the best that Epica have ever done. It's heavy, catchy and contains some of the best song writing of their career... of course it's still Epica, so there's the big 'cheese' factor as well.
3.5 - No-frills doom. These guys are finally starting to get in a groove. This album is heavy, melodic (in places), dark and slow-as-fuck.
3.5 - Very good melodic black metal. Fast tempos, cool melodic parts and dynamic pacing.
3.5 - Excellent sypmphonic metal. Great female vocals and the music is light on the cheese.
Time Travelers and Bonfires
3.5 - Sevendust are definitely consistent. They never make anything super awesome, but they never release shit either. This compiliation is definitely more mellow than most of their other releases, but it's also probably near the top of their discography. I like what they've done here.
|16||Wolves in the Throne Room|
3.5 - Reminds me of a more focused (and slightly more orchestral) version of Aphex Twin's 'Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2' -- hey Burzum, Emperor, Samael, etc this is how it should be done.
Live You to Death 2 - American Punishment
3.5 - An awesome career-spanning live album from one of the originators of American traditional/power metal.
3.5 - These guys are good again. The songs are dark and gritty electro/industrial, but they're also memorable again and there's just enough atmosphere and melody to carry the entire release.
3.4 - Like a heavier version of Kill Hannah. Why the fuck not? It works.
The Hunting Party
3.4 - I've never disliked a Linkin Park album (although Minutes to Midnight came close), but my favorite was the electronics-filled 'A Thousand Suns'. Having said that, I'm not overly impressed with this but it's not bad. I guess they needed to return to a rock sound, but they could have kept some of the electronic stuff.
3.4 - New Vocalist, same made-for-the-masses melodic death metal sound. This one is a bit better than most their discography, for whatever that's worth.
The Application of Loneliness, Ignorance...
3.3 - This is some in-your-face post metal. No build-ups, no extended silence or atmospheric parts. Just kick ass, punky, post metal.
|23||Son of Aurelius|
Under a Western Sun
3.3 - These guys used to be death metal? Could have fooled me. This album is well-done modern progressive metal with occasional 'extreme metal' influences. The clean vocals need some work, but overall I like it.
3.3 - Old school doom/death. Much better than their debut album.
3.3 - Apparently this album is just acoustic remakes of a few of their songs. I don't know how they normally sound because this is my first introduction to the band. I like it, though. Kind of upbeat indie pop with male/female harmonized vocals.
From Wisdom to Baked
3.3 - I've never heard these guys before and was really surprised. I expected some half-assed, bland death metal that got by on its (stupid) little theme. Instead, this is some good, very thrashy, death metal. I especially liked that the bass guitar was very audible and also had some pretty good parts.
3.3 - Chill progressive rock from the touring guitarist for Porcupine Tree.
Decline & Fall
3.3 - I don't follow these guys regularly anymore, but it feels like they kind of went back to their heavier, grittier roots. Rhythmic post metal kind of 'Streetcleaner'-ish.
|29||First Aid Kit|
3.3 - Melodic indie pop with a bit of a folky twinge. It's enjoyable when I'm looking for something in the vein. The two sisters can definitely sing.
To Be Kind
3.2 - Dark and brooding. The songs go on for too long sometimes, but it's good from time to time. What kind of music is this anyway? Probably falls into one of those 'post' genres.
3.2 - Kind of standard dubstep background music with some pretty cool violin playing over the top. Interesting concept and enjoyable while listening. I don't know how often I'd come back to something like this, though.
3.2 - This is good, but Prong have lost the intensity that made their first handful of albums so awesome. They've dropped the industrial influences and the riffs have loosened up considerably. To me, there's almost a catchy, mainstream, punk influence in the sound. This is definitely their most instant album and their most accessible -- for whatever that may be worth.
3.2 - Grand Declaration of War is the only Mayhem album that I truly enjoy. The vocals are just way too much on most of the other albums. Having said that, the vocals are tolerable on this and the music is pretty good... but it's just standard stuff.
3.2 - Poppy mainstream rock that's actually very slick and well done. This is miles-away better than the pop crap that Liv Kirstine (Leaves' Eyes) keeps putting out on her solo albums. If you liked her voice on Nightwish, I think there's enough here to enjoy this, too.
3.2 - A very punky, gritty, thrash album from Voivod's 'other' vocalist. The vocals on this album kind of remind me of Chuck Schuldiner. Now that I think of it, there's definitely a little of that Spiritual Healing vibe too.
Skin and Bone
3.2 - Bluesy indie rock. This girl can really sing and every song will get stuck in your head.
DJ Dwarf 14
3.2 - Remix album that actually isn't bland and repetitive. Obviously, if you don't like the original album, you won't like this one either. The originals are still better, by the way.
|38||Mother of Millions|
3.2 - This is listed as progressive metal, but it kind of just sounds like mainstream radio metal to me, but maybe just a little heavier in places.
|39||Sleep Party People|
3.2 - Kind of reminds me of 1980s The Cure meets Trespasser Williams.
|40||Harakiri For The Sky|
3.1 - Another melodic post black metal release that sounds good in small doses, but turns out to kind of be a one-trick pony.
3.1 - Basically an Epica clone without the death metal vocals. Not bad.
Pure Adulterated Joy
3.1 - Kind of an atmospheric alt. rock. Not too bad, but missing a bit more of a hook.
|43||Front Line Assembly|
3.0 - The remix album for the band's last album. It's better than most remix albums. It actually makes a few of the songs better than the originals. I don't think FLA will ever be the same without Rhys Fulber.
3.0 - This just doesn't feel the same as older albums by Sarah McLachlan. This just feels like a going-through-the-motions album. The huge emotional element seems to be missing completely.
3.0 - Queensryche-style prog. Kind of reminds me of Rage for Order-era stuff, but mellower. Maybe a little bit of Pain of Salvation too, because this is kind of odd. The main issue is the vocals. There are some terrible fucking vocals in places.
3.0 - Run-of-the-mill indie rock. It's hard to listen to it and find anything particularly wrong with it. It's just as hard to find any reason to replay it after it's over.
Release the Panic: Recalibrated
3.0 - Re-doing the album with more symphonic elements didn't make it any better. They sound like an after thought (kind of like Metallica's S&M album).
Dirges of Elysium
3.0 - Another predictable, but well-done, doom/death release from Incantation. Vallenfyre just did the same thing, but better.
If you're a fan of Amaranthe's upbeat, female-fronted power metal then you'll most likely be a fan of this too. Not so much of a metalcore infuence as Amaranthe and that makes this even more upbeat and poppy.
3.0 - Pixies cover Pixies. It's not a bad album, but it's like a collection of all the previous albums' most average tracks.
3.0 - Standard indie pop with a bluesy undercurrent. She's definitely a good vocalist.
|52||The Pains of Being Pure at Heart|
Days of Abandon
3.0 - Mellow, poppy, dream pop. It's good in small doses but doesn't really go anywhere and is entirely unmemorable.
Blood for Blood
3.0 - Never bothered with these guys before. This is some good no-frills metal.
3.0 - Amaya has added much more pop to her subdued indie pop sound. It's not as good as her previous albums because I just can't get into the poppier sound.
3.0 - Kind of a modern metal/ post hardcore kind of sound. It's good but nothing special.
3.0 - Catchy country pop. What more could you expect from the genre?
3.0 - Another decent country pop album. Nothing special, but when is country ever special?
2.9 - It's Ice-T, bitches! Rockin' like it's 1995 -- more hardcore/metal than nu-metal, and tolerable cause it's Ice-T. Anyone new did this album and it would have never made it off its Bandcamp page. The cover of Suicidal Tendencies' 'Institutionalized' is definitely worth listening to.
Morals of a Dead Wave
2.9 - Faceless alt. prog without anything to really make it stand out. Even the vocals are just kind of there. How do you make prog that does nothing and goes nowhere?
|60||Lenore S. Fingers|
2.9 - I love doom, goth and all that kind of stuff -- but, my god, this just seems to drag. There's some cool ideas, decent melodies and the tempos vary enough to keep things going, but the female vocals are so damn bland.
2.9 - "Hello My Name Is" and "Carbon Beauty" were such good albums. The band had finally started to expand on their bare-bones beats/noise/punky vocals formula and it was working. This is a step back. Bummer.
Empire of the Undead
2.8 - There are a few moments of brilliance, but this is mostly boring, mostly lethargic and Kai Hansen's voice still gets on my nerves. Bring back the vocalist (and energy) from the first three albums!
Always on My Mind
2.7 - Pop Rock. Female fronted pop rock. Not average, but not much above it either.
2.5 - Terrible generic modern metal with even worse vocals. WTF?
2.5 - Barely average pop punk with a bit of an 80s rock sound. The vocalist sounds like a bad 80s singer, too. So maybe this is really 80s rock with a bit of pop punk thrown in. Does it matter if it's a turd covered in vomit or vomit covered in turds?
2.5 - I liked her earlier stuff. This seems pretty damn average, though.
The Serpent and the Sphere
2.5 - I've never been a big fan of these guys, and now I'm even less of one. This is aimless and without the few redeeming qualities that occasionally made them tolerable.
Life Through a Window
2.5 - They call it progressive hardcore (or something), but it's basically the worst parts of post hardcore and the worst parts of Djent.
|69||Guided By Voices|
2.5 - Lo-fi indie rock... kind of too little going on for me.
2.0 - Give me an instrumental version of this and I'd love it. This is musically ambitious alt. rock with all kinds of other influences. The vocalist is annoying as fuck, though.
2.0 - Cheesy emo/post hardcore crap. Lots of screaming, boring backing music. Whatever.
Gypsy Heart Side A
2.0 - Her music always danced the line between good/tolerable and straight-up bland, assembly line pop. She has crossed that line.
The Ways of Yore
1.5 - This guy and Mortiis should get together and write a concept album about fairies. In the liner notes they can thank their 1982 Casio keyboards for providing years of inspiration. Varg can add a little personal note about how it was his Casio that got him through years of prisoners using him for games of butt darts. Seriously, 16-Bit Castlevania games provided better soundtracks.
|74||Eternal Silence (IT)|
1.0 - Below average music, average female vocals and terrible clean male singing. This is symphonic metal for someone that feels to need to support Italy or Symphonic metal or some weird desire to punish one's self.