|Sab's mini 2019 list|
I definitively no longer recognize most of my old ratings and I haven't rated anything in 2019. My year-end lists don't get much attention but they are interesting for me to revisit, so here I am with the fifth annual thingy. As I honestly didn't give that much attention to music this year, I decided to do more of a shoutouts/early impressions list so that I could mention more lesser known albums for the fun of it and round it at 50 entries. Anyway, the first ~20 positions are somewhat ranked and make the actual mini list of 2019 favorites.
Sulle ali di un sogno
Prog rock // Shoutout because this classic act is about to end its long career started in the 60s, but this is the furthest from an essential release you can imagine as it is mostly made of (questionable?) reinterpretations of old material, not to mention it only has one founding member. Still, it's probably the last time I can feature Le Orme in this kind of list, so why not.
Il Risveglio Del Principe
Prog rock, symphonic, medieval flavor // Shoutout to another surprising comeback for a band with a 70s cult debut, but other than that it didn't thrill me enough to properly listen to it due to a certain easy-listening coat.
Heavy metal // Shoutout to Geoff Tate for being part of something new that isn't completely embarrassing. Clearly aimed to fans of Mindcrime.
Emo // It has its serviceable songs like the opener "Fantasmi", reminder for me to properly check this even though it doesn't have a great reputation. Girl on vox if you are interested.
Funeral Parade Of Lovers
Gothic rock // Very catchy/poppy, with kind of a "saloon"(?) vibe. Check the song "Killing Fields".
Shoegaze, post-punk // Very pretty and ethereal, both her voice and the instrumental side, but it seemed very samey throughout.
Post-punk // Reminding myself to check this out one day for curiosity. Post-punk with gothy vox. I like the slow burn of "Empire".
Chaotic metalcore // nyp! https://stormo.bandcamp.com/album/finis-terrae // They sound pretty damn pissed but the production makes it exhausting.
Blackgaze // Blackgaze 101 but the crisp mix makes it worth a shot.
Spiritual jazz // Jammed as background music, it's pretty serviceable although I wouldn't actively go back to it. "Ślęża" and "Przywitanie Słońca" were the most memorable tracks.
Racconti Del Focolare
Dungeon synth for Christmas // Chill!
Heavy/speed metal gone AOR-ish // This band always knows how to bring the catchiness, but I didn't properly check this as it has gained the fame of being their "commercial" record and indeed the singles told me so. The song "Searching for You" deserves a shot for its energy though, and "Sail On" is also enjoyable in its simplicity.
Post black metal // Need to recheck someday as it seemed a bit too predictable, but I do remember the title track which has to be a highlight with its use of clean vocals. There was also a dissonant pained outro that I found interesting in "Portrait of Pieces".
The Quiet Lakes
Dungeon synth // Little EP with killer artwork, I can't get enough of the mood in "1889".
Damno Lumina Nocte
Avant-Garde black metal // Very atmospheric and over in less than 40 minutes.
Post-rock, spoken word // Cynical reflections over wandering music. If only this was more advertised man, our mainstream could really use some creative music. Need to properly check, can't really judge a spoken word record until then, can I? Musically it sounds like a return to form.
Jazz fusion // Checked as background music because I really dug the softer tracks from the debut. I didn't stay in the long run but it certainly wasn't bad, though a bit too "manufactured" perhaps. Check "Another Again".
Experimental big band, vocal jazz, free jazz // Heard once as background and it absolutely did its job. Still, just like Fire!'s last couple of records, I don't feel the interest to go back to it. It feels like everytime I stop to pay attention to it suddenly it's not as interesting anymore. Favs: "Dressed in Smoke. Blown Away", "Silver Trees", "At Last I Am Free".
Into the Purgatory
Power metal, neoclassical shred // A band on autopilot but if you are a power metal fan and don't know them then absolutely join the party. "Fighting for Eternity" jams.
Gothic metal, some growls // Heads-up: this album on Qobuz (and Spotify I think) is DR13 but sadly the CDs are brickwalled (DR7) so avoid them like the plague. As for the music itself it's extreme metal driven by clean vocals and some growls. If you find it a cheesefest I invite you to check the debut instead, which dooms quite harder. Favs: "Nephilim Grove", "Black Light", "Petrichor".
Age of Unreason
Punk rock // It doesn't add anything to the discography but it's short banger after short banger nonetheless, with a heavy-ish edge. Kind of a True North but with much less emotions. Favs: "Do the Paranoid Style", "Faces of Grief", "Chaos from Within".
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
Edgy pop // Listen I kinda dig it okay? Lyrics are what they are but the songs are mostly pretty slick except for "8" which I don't like. I wish she toyed more with the aggressive edge of certain songs, as edgy as it may be it's still what gives her music identity. Favs: "xanny" (dig the dinner-jazz atmosphere), "bury a friend", "ilomilo".
Hard rock, heavy metal // Third album by this reliable act, 25 minutes of well-crafted rockers with plenty of melodic goods and the right production. Just press play.
Post-metal? // Sounds like a huge beast slowly twisting itself. Wish it had a couple more blackened shrieks because she's great. Cool drumming too, arguably the backbone of the record.
How the Garden Grows
Dungeon synth from the forest // nyp! https://apoxupon.bandcamp.com/album/how-the-garden-grows // Shoutout to garas for making a list of 2019's dungeon synth: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?listid=189332
|25||The Claypool Lennon Delirium|
South of Reality
Psych rock // Lennon channeling his Lennon ("Boriska"). The first song "Little Fishes" is very cute, but after the first few tracks the album slowly dies out for me. Some sick Claypool bass.
|24||The Haunting Green|
Post-metal // Crunchy and atmospheric, you know the deal.
Emo, mathy // Peeped for curiosity but I may have to return to this because it's a lot of cute fun, more engaging than what I thought. Like "24 Hr Drive-Tru" has that middle part with bouncy strumming and vocalizations, and after it "666 Flags" has blastbeats. "Skeleton Key" is also such an earworm.
Funeral doom // €5: https://esogenesidoom.bandcamp.com/ // Freaking crunchy.
Prog metal, black metal // Looks like the best album later Borknagar could have recorded. Great clean vocals, I'll have to properly check this someday. Check "Lights", some of the best clean-driven Borknagar I can think of.
|20|| ||Otoboke Beaver|
Punk(?) // Eccentrically energetic and at times noisy.
Nu-metal // Still filled with stadium-ready choruses but it's just tight, catchy and with enough entertaining bridges to keep it afloat. I'd say it's closer to Paradigm's quirky nature rather than Serenity (which is a very good thing for me). Luzier rocks as always but I wish he'd go back to the groovier style of III. You could say it's too high on the list for being a more of the same with a couple quirks thrown in, but I don't see how the tightness in what it wants to do can be denied. Favs: "The Darkness Is Revealing", "The Ringmaster", "Cold".
|18||Idle Hands (USA-OR)|
Goth metal // It absolutely satisfies the need for cheesy goth metal alright, but the songwriting is just too squared to give me real reasons to come back to this other than to hear a catchy vocal passage or the admittedly delicious final section of "Jackie" (more of that next time, thanks). I'd check for sure an album with more instrumental liberty. However, if you approach this as more of a pop affair than it absolutely deserves its time. Favs: "Jackie", "Double Negative", "Blade and the Will".
Di tutte le cose che abbiamo perso e perderemo
Emo // name your price: https://quercia.bandcamp.com/album/di-tutte-le-cose-che-abbiamo-perso-e-perderemo // The opening song "Buio" is an absolute earworm with an engaging structure and heartfelt vocal delivery, but sadly the rest of the record doesn't exactly live up to it in my opinion. I also think the guitars should have been mixed with more importance in some places because there a lot of buried stuff going on and a lot of colour is therefore lost (shame!). Still, you don't lose anything in checking out nyp bandcamp music. But really, I love "Buio" so much.
Indie rock, noisy touches // $5 for this, while debut is nyp: https://shadybug.bandcamp.com/album/lemon-lime // Really enjoyable mix of softer/cuter parts with heavier noisy outbursts. Sweet textures and structures. I like the vocals but I can imagine somebody calling them "white girl drivel" or something. Favs: "Spooky", "Blow", "Flake" (sweet cacophonous ending).
Doom metal // The silly band name is misleading consideing the serious tone of the music and the concept of sexual abuse by the Church. There's this section in "Poor Sisters of Nazareth" with harmonized vocals over the sound of a woman crying in the rain that stuck with me. The music doesn't reinvent the wheel but if you are looking for some nice slow ass metal with a charismatic clean voice you may want to check this out.
|14||Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso|
Prog rock // Shoutout to another RPI classic act for still existing since 1968 with a very respectable new album! A pleasant modern edge. Favs: the jazzy "L'assalto dei lupi", "Stelle sulla terra", "L'imprevisto".
Black/doom/sludge/drone metal // Yodh's cover artwork will probably remain forever unbeatable (can't deny the colours here though) but what about the music? Well, it sounds like Yodh part 2. It's great, but perhaps more accessible writing-wise and therefore arguably not as emotionally cathartic.
Listening to Pictures (Pentimento Volume One)
Ambient, jazzy, glitchy // Some mighty fine background sonicscapes by an artist that's still kicking at 82 years old. Favs: "Dreaming", "Picnic", "Ndeya".
Forever in May
Experimental blackgaze // Constantly jumps between fierce blackened goods with a hardcore edge and quiet parts that sound like the cover art, plus a detour in the pure drone centerpiece "Alone Years". This is an album that I only realize how hard I should have jammed it now that I'm putting the finishing touches on this list, damn it. Love the spazzy drumming. Check "Lyra" to have a taste.
Love Exchange Failure
Black metal + dark jazz // This lacks a bit of momentum compared to Futility Report, but I appreciate how they expanded their sound. The clean vocals in the second half especially were a welcomed surprise, and I like how some sections could be sold as legit dark jazz. Still I don't think they fully mastered the duality yet as the jazz feels too interlude-ish compared to the metal, and why does the sax often sound so distant in the mix? Speaking of which the vocals don't sit well in the mix either me thinks. Ah man, it's more ambitious than the debut (it's also twice as long) but "Deviant Shapes" had a special balance between the various elements that they can't seem to replicate here. Anyway, all that said, this album still slaps and maybe it's just a transition (and a grower). Favs: "Love Exchange Failure", "Dead Heart Confession", "No Cure for Pain".
Proggy metal // The third Toodryche album gets the closest so far to a classic Ryche swagger, but still misses the classy songwriting of old. I think it needed more ballads/softer elements to achieve the famous Ryche dynamics. Anyway it's definitely a solid album with very melodious solos, engaging drumming, urgent vocals and some moments that very clearly remind of the classics (some could say even a bit too much). A clean 45 minutes affair with no filler outside of maybe a couple of minor songs. Favs: "Light-years", "Portrait", "Bent".
Prog, psych // It's Motorpsycho, of course it's cool. Always got to love their psych freak outs. Not their most interesting moment but still undeniably stuff of a certain level. It's kind of like their Close to the Edge-like album structurally, made of three songs between 9 and 20 minutes. Fav is "Lux Aeterna", but the nightmarish acid trip in the middle of the title track also deserves a mention.
In Cauda Venenum
Prog rock/metal // Much more solid than Sorceress, some truly great moments in this one and even curveballs like the djenty basses in "Charlatan" or the psych section in the middle of "Heart in Hand". Arguably the most "Opethian" record of their clean phase if you want to get to the point. Some may find the music here kind of too happy in places. Favs: "All Things Will Pass" (the coda!), "Heart in Hand", "Next of Kin".
American Football (LP3)
Post-rocky emo? // My first proper encounter with this band and I loved it, so layered and pretty in its slow progression through a misty landscape, sounds like a mature band with a vision. Still as a whole this is perhaps a bit too samey. Favs: "Silhouettes", "Heir Apparent", "I Can't Feel You".
Prog death/doom metal // $5 at https://weepingsores.bandcamp.com/album/false-confession // Simply some mighty great progressive death/doom with unusual melodic sections with violin, like ~1:00 into "The Leech Called Shame". Actually haven't jammed it hard enough like it deserves to but it's pretty clear that this rules hard. Dirty cavernous vocals perfectly complement the crystal clear instrumental side by preventing it to sound soulless. Of course, it is also saved by the great songwriting though they rarely do anything flashy. Favs: "The Leech Called Shame", "Song of Embers", "Scars Whispering Secret Tongues" (that solo section 8:30 onwards, dude).
40 Tours Around the Sun
AOR, prog/jazz elements // Even with a butchered line-up Toto is still an exceptional live act. The setlist lacks my proggy favorites but it offers very interesting deep cuts like the theme from Dune. Musically this kinda puts anything else in the list to shame for my tastes haha, just check "Jake to the Bone" and join the ~not yer mum's Toto~ cult. Also interesting is the middle of the record where they tell anectodes about some songs (like what inspired Steve Porcaro's "Human Nature", later given to Michael Jackson) before playing short acoustic versions. It worked better at the actual show, but you can just skip it on record and still have two hours of music. Favs: "Jake to the Bone", "Dune (Desert Theme)", "Lion", but I could name many more.
|3||An Isolated Mind|
I'm Losing Myself
Post black metal + ambient // name-your-price https://anisolatedmind.bandcamp.com/ // An album by Sputnik user NoremakSeggob, blending nervous unconventional blackgaze with ambient. No joke, the second half of the record is 100% dedicated to two ambient tracks ("I'm Losing Myself" / "I've Lost Myself") that complete the tension built in the raging first half. The metal side also contains its many quirks, like a song ending with a pensive clarinet-filled coda or another where the metal gives way to a section of post-apocalyptic ambience. An album of emotional catharsis. Favs: "Afraid of Dissonance", "Eternity in a Minute", "Pathologized Existence".
Ritualistic gothy post whatever // I understand calling this a big hour and half of nothing, but I really loved it. It builds slowly but the pay-offs are on point - like the last couple of minutes of "What is This?" to mention a song that won't be in the three favorites. Very atmospheric and expansive, hypnotic with its occult and at times relaxing trance. Pretty psychedelic too in its ways. Fans of goth Swans should give this a shot. It's hard to only pick three songs but I'd probably say "My Phantom Limb", "The Nub" and "Cathedrals of Heaven".
|1||Tropical Fuck Storm|
Punk blues, noise, psych // "Paradise" = SOTY. This is the second year in a row for TFS at spot number 1! Big fan of the looser approach, definitely a progression for the band and props for the increased vocals by the girls too. It's more of a slow grower compared to the debut but at the very least it's just as good. You could say they share a consistency vs highlights relationship. Personally, I think the first half of this record could be their best streak of songs so far. Favs especially are "Paradise", "The Happiest Guy Around" and "Who's My Eugene?".