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|Toondude10's 100% Pt 1: The Home Stretch|
Well it's only a few weeks until the end of the year and there really isn't that much in terms of major releases within that time span, and of course everyone else is already posting their top 10-20-whatever lists so I might as well do mine. This is going to be released in parts (how many I'm still deciding) as I will be doing the fourth quarter, best and worst of the year, most disappointing, honorable mentions, and best songs. Not sure if I'm going to do worst songs of the year but I'm still keeping that in mind. It's a lot but since my semester is over I pretty much have a crap ton of time to do these. This is the most recent releases from the final quarter.
A Head Full of Dreams
I was never really a fan of Coldplay to begin with. Every time I try to listen to one of their albums I just end up falling asleep because of how boring they are. I'll give this album credit that it did somewhat keep my attention going but in the end this still felt like a half-assed record with little effort thrown into it. It certainly had more hooks than their usual style, but that didn't make it any better. It still resulted in an empty experience that just didn't do anything, and to find out that Coldplay is headlining the next Super Bowl (there have been worse choices, though let's face it who even cares at this point) is actually kinda hilarious. In any case, I'm still sticking with 'Clocks' and 'Viva la Vida', the only two songs I legitimately like from Coldplay.
Justin Bieber manages to make a record that doesn't suck, well kinda. There's still a lot of that typical whiny and corny songwriting on here and for an album in which he actually ties to be a bit more mature (just a bit) you pretty much got what you expected. However, I'll give him this: his voice has improved dramatically since, well, he released his first single. There's still autotune on here but not as much as there usually is and he doesn't sound like a whiny girl throughout much of this. That being said, it doesn't mean I'm going back to this, at least not that often. I just listened to this out of curiosity and it turns out it didn't suck as much as I was expecting.
Adele is typically hit or miss for me. She's got a great voice and some of her best hits like "Set Fire to The Rain" and "Rolling in the Deep" are some of the best mainstream pop songs out there, at least in my opinion. However, there are times where she's just annoying as fuck like "Someone Like You" which makes me cringe at times. However, much like Coldplay, this record doesn't really go anywhere. Most of these songs are the typical Adele melodies that you've heard constantly on the radio. There's a couple good songs like "I Miss You" and "Remedy" but the rest of this is just so slow paced and boring that it really begs the question: is this all that Adele has to offer?
Nightmares In The Waking State Pt. 1
Speaking of boring albums, this is easily the most boring metal record I've listened to so far this year. I was kinda hoping that some of this would be good, but considering that I wasn't a big fan of their last album either my expectations were low. The instrumentation is fine, great even at times, but the songs just drag on and on and on, you just keep asking yourself is it ever going to end. The solos lacking are in energy, the melodies weakly-written, and Christian Alvestam's vocals are just so uninteresting that the whole record becomes stale within the first song. I don't hate this record, but it should've been so much better than it is.
Typical Foo Fighters EP for the most part. It's fun but at the same time it's stuff you've heard from them before. For those who were disappointed in "Sonic Highways" this might comfort you a little bit. It's definitely more on the sound of "Wasting Light" and maybe even a bit of "The Color and The Shape" at times.
|6||The Icarus Complex|
Horizons of Endless Gray
Shoutout to XfingTheSullen's project. Pretty decent work when it comes to the instrumentation and the harsh vocals aren't bad. Nothing too original or anything but man those clean vocals desperately need work. Hopefully he'll improve within time.
|7||Devil You Know|
They Bleed Red
Comparing to Devil You Know's debut that came out last year, there really isn't that much to say. There's a slight improvement on the instrumentation and the overall songwriting is a bit stronger as well but Howard Jone's clean vocals are still obnoxious as fuck and the record is still overproduced. To be fair, if you haven't listened to this album but you've listened to their debut, you aren't missing much.
A Head Full Of Moonlight
Not really seeing why this is getting high ratings. There are a couple of catchy tracks and the instrumentation is decent but overall this album is just, well, "good" (no pun intended). Elliot's vocals varies from Daniel Thompkins (TesseracT) to Rody Walker (Protest the Hero) to downright Tommy Rogers (Between the Buried and Me). Overall he's kind of a mixed bag and I'm not entirely sure what his main influence is. There's nothing particularly unique about the production or the songwriting in general. It's not that it's bad, it's just somewhat underwhelming. I still find myself coming back to "Where Are The Birds" though, it's just such a catchy tune. Shame I can't say the same for most of this record. They have potential, it's just not really found here.
|9||Icarus the Owl|
A fun, albeit kinda unremarkable, progressive rock/post-hardcore album. The vocals kinda remind me of Casey from The Dear Hunter at times, which is fine, and the overall instrumentation is pretty good. Again, nothing particularly original but for what it is it's definitely one of the better standard rock albums this year. "Skysweeper" in particular is a good jam that I'll play every once in a while. The melodies are decently written and the performances from all the members are good. Shame that's there's only 10 tracks though, would've liked to hear some more out of this.
|10||Born of Osiris|
This is pretty much my deathcore replacement for the that terrible Veil of Maya album, because unlike that garbage, this actually has substance. It doesn't feel like a Periphery knockoff, for one, the vocals are good, and there are some pretty fun moments overall. "The Other Half of Me" and "Illuminate" I often come back to, the former being really catchy and the latter having some great melodies. That being said, I can understand why some people can be turned off by this. Some of the songs blend together too often and others just aren't that well written (Throw Me In The Jungle" being a good example), which is something that I feel a lot of modern deathcore seems to suffer from. Even so, I'm kinda surprised that this ended up being an enjoyable record. I'm not too huge into deathcore due to the aforementioned flaws, but this I can get down with.
Every Open Eye
A really fun pop record for the most part. Lauren's vocals and the catchy rhythms are the ultimate selling points of this album and I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for those elements, I probably would've found this to be boring. The album is a little too consistent for it's own good and the songs run together pretty often, but individually they stand out a lot, particularly "Never Ending Cirlces" and "Leave A Trace". If there were a bit more variation in the beats and the production, then it would certainly help break the monotony. I still have yet to listen to their debut, which I hear is better than this, but this album in general has certainly peaked my interest in CHVRCHES.
I've been noticing that more and more people are absolutely loving this for some reason, but I just see this as "pretty good" overall. There were some really great melodies like "Winding Cloth", which is probably one of the best instrumental tracks I've heard this year, and "Glass Coughs". But then there were a few boring ones like "Laundered" and "Eiffel" that just didn't do anything for me. I feel that Foxing in general has the potential to make a masterpiece and I still see that in here. There's just a few rough spots that prevent them from doing so. I hope they will at some point though.
|13||Coheed and Cambria|
The Color Before The Sun
By far Coheed and Cambria's weakest effort so far, though I'm sure most of you know that. However, much like Breaking Benjamin's "Dark Before Dawn", I don't think this was meant to be their best album. It's not that they didn't try or anything, it's just that they seem a bit more honest this time, probably because this is their first (and only so far) non-conceptual album in their careers. There are some duds like "Young Love" and "You've Got Spirit, Kid" but then there's "Here To Mars" and "Atlas" which just help bring out the emotion in Claudio's voice while "Ghost" and "Peace to the Mountain" give the record it's lighter, more moody side. Much like Icarus The Owl, I would've liked a few more than 10 tracks, but for what we've got it's pretty good. Nothing amazing, especially for Coheed and Cambria standards, but I think it was meant to be that way.
A really great black metal/post-metal album that manages to bring out a surprising amount of emotion in pretty much everything. From the instrumentation, the orchestral composition, and even in the vocals, this whole album definitely brings out the "cinematic" approach in So Hideous' sound. The overall production in this is just stellar and I can't think of another album like this that manages to bring out that epic sound to it so well. There's a lot to take in on this album, and it really pays off. I'm glad I listened to it when I got the chance, otherwise this would've been under the radar.
Mutemath go for a synthpop record instead of the psychedelic blue rock approach on Odd Soul, and you know what, I'd say this is their best album since their debut. "Joy Rides" and "Monument" are just such catchy tracks and the melodic tracks of "Stratosphere" and "Remain" help develop such a great atmosphere in the record. Perhaps it does sacrifice some of the originality found in Odd Soul, but I feel like it's worth it. My problem with their last two records were that a lot of the middle tracks ended up as filler. Vitals doesn't seem to have that issue here, there aren't that much filler, if any at all to be found. The record's reliability on it's catchy, bombastic grooves really help shape the record into a solid stands. I know most people are turned off that this is more of a pop record than a prog/psych/blues record that was found on their previous records, but I feel like this is a solid record regardless.
Heaven and Earth
If SikTh doesn't take EP of the Year, my guess is that this will, and I wouldn't be surprised because this is a great EP. I haven't listened to their debut album yet, but I really should because every single song on here is fantastic. The vocals and instrumentation are definitely reminiscent of Dead Letter Circus (who also released a shitty album this year) and the production is spot on. Shame that this is only an EP and not a full album though. I would really kill for an album that has the qualities of "If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves," or "Slow Dance".
End of an Empire
This is the complete version of Klayton's year-long trailer, and it surprisingly holds up as one of my favorite releases by him. This is easily his best record since his self-titled album, which came out twelve years ago. We may have had to deal with his rather dull EPs and Compilations for the last few years but we finally get a Celldweller album that combines the best elements of both the self-titled (the crunchy, raw electric guitar) and Wish Upon a Blackstar (the electronic dub beats). Sure there's a couple of odd tracks here and there but the final product does end up being really enjoyable in the end.
Behind the Devil's Back
Fightstar are back, and are in full force. This isn't the post-hardcore band that we used to know from the Grand Unification days, this is practically a new band altogether. Not only is this their heaviest album to date, but it's also their shortest. Now I probably would say (yet again) that I would've liked a few more tracks put in, but I this time I think this album has just the right amount of content. Nothing too big and overblown, but nothing too mellow either. "Sharp Tongue," "The Blackest of Birds," "Titan" and "Dive" are the best tracks on here and boy are they fantastic, hell almost every song hits the nail on the head every time. The Deftones influenced production is probably the records biggest strength or possibly the biggest weakness depending on your overall opinion on this. For me, it one of the best records this year.
The Direction of Last Things
This album is certainly going to make it on most people's best of the year list and for a good reason. The production, the vocals, the instrumentation, the pacing, it's all fantastic. This entire album is filled with those juicy prog metal hooks that everyone loves to devour, with the interludes reminiscent to that of Animals as Leaders' previous album, which was one of my favorite records from last year. This album is just so infectious and it pulls you in immediately after the guitar riffs on "Fast Worms" hit. What else can I say, this album is just overall fantastic.
A Dream In Static
Where in God's name did this come from, and why aren't people listening to it? This is one of the most epic records I've listened to so far this year. With incredibly fantastic production, Earthside manages to create what just might be the best debut album of the year. I feel like this is what the new Scale the Summit album should've been, the problem with that album being that it didn't have much of an impact. Here, this album doesn't just impact you, it gives you an experience unlike most albums I've listened to so far this year. The guest artists do a wonderful job and fit so well with the rest of music (for those disappointed in TesseracT's recent album, check out the title track). Practically everything on this album is spot on, and I love it. Isn't it cool to find such awesome bands that live just an hour away from you?
|21||Swallow the Sun|
Songs From The North I, II & III
The only other album aside from August Burns Red that I gave a perfect score to. Much like Earthside, this album leaves you with an experience unlike most other albums this year. Pulling off a triple album is definitely an incredibly hard thing to attempt, but somehow Swallow the Sun managed to do it. The second disc is especially phenomenal as it creates such a soothing, yet uncomfortable atmosphere that just sucks you in. I also feel that the first disc is really unappreciated, everyone keeps saying that it's terrible but I can't understand why. How could you not like songs like "Silhouettes" and "From Happiness to Dust", they're all just fantastic songs. I'm still unsure if this will take AOTY away from August Burns Red but if not it'll be really damn close.