This is 110-101
As I stated earlier (#143 to be precise) I felt like all the pieces we're coming together for Katatonia on "Tonight's Decision" (1999). The follow-up known as "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (2001) was a trainwreck of epic proportions where only the single "Teargas" was something that I could bare myself listening to. I stopped following Katatonia then and there and did not look back until many years later. I think they had released "Dead End Kings" (2012) then and I worked myself back through the band's catalouge in hope of finding something redeeming. I found it in "Viva Emptiness". All of a sudden, the band decided to write damn good songs instead of the sleeping pills found elsewhere in the majority of the band's discography. I don't know what happened during this recording but the entire band just feels so hungry and it's pure joy to listen through the entire album. In general, I think these songs are shorter than on most of their other albums, which is why this one doesn't feel as watered down as the others. A damn fine record in my opinion.
When I was 12 years old, I discovered RATM and the teenage me loved absolutely every damn second of their debut album. This self-titled mixture of hip-hop, hardcore, metal and rap came just at the right time and I cannot think of a better time to use the phrase "lightning in a bottle", because this is exactly what the band captured here. It felt so fresh and almost out of this world back in the early 90's, which I think is difficult to comprehend if one didn't listen to it then and there. When the band finally released a follow-up 4 years later, it was too late. Even if there are a couple of good tracks on "Evil Empire" (1996) the world was already at a different place and to me personally, RATM was a thing of the past. This debut feels very dated when listening to it today, but still, one cannot deny the quality in each and every one of the songs here.
I refer to 1999-2008 as My Dying Bride's mid-period where they at times felt confused as to what they exactly wanted with their patented gothic doom metal. This one obviously falls under that category and while there are good songs here, it's quite boring at times - for being a My Dying Bride-album that is. But it's very rare that this band dissapoints me at all (apart from that album from 1998 which had better be unspoken of) and even though this album just feels like "any other MDB-album" it's still good. Obviously. If I just have to give a special notion to one song, I have to say that I absolutely love the opener "The Wreckage of My Flesh".
This is the album where Tiamat went gothic rock/metal all the way. It was bound to happen eventually when one looks at the band's previous two albums; "Wildhoney" (1994) stripped the band from it's death metal-roots while "A Deeper Kind of Slumber" (1997) stripped away everything metal. Even though this album is "more metal" than it's predecessor, it's main strengths does not lie in guitars but in keyboards, choruses and overall catchiness. I know that many people can't stand Johan's vocals and even though I agree that they aren't the best - nor are they 100% in key all the time either - they suite the music perfectly here. There's an instrumental track and a horrendous cover of Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" that I usually skip when I listen to the album, but all the other songs are great goth metal tracks.
Swedish one-man army Arckanum have consistantly been releasing inconsistent black metal albums since 1995 and for that, we should all be thankful. This is basically the last killer album the man released as everything since have mostly been dull black metal without feeling or purpose. On this, somewhat ridicously titled album, most things are spot-on. It is a black metal album with good and clear production, loads of melodic riffing and atmosphere. It is not cold, badly produced nor is it dark or menacing. I guess it is a very "accessible" black metal album which of course means both pros and cons. I like the way that many of the first track sound so alike to each other, this makes for a very hypnotizing album, even though I can see why many people would find it dull instead. As usual when it comes to Arckanum, there are boring instrumental "songs" which feels out of place and destroys the flow of the album. There are also (as usual) tracks that are slower and feels like messed-up doom metal songs. Not a huge fan of those either. What I am a huge fan of is Shamatee's voice and the way he pronounces. It makes you feel like he means each and every word he spits out, which only adds to the atmosphere.
What!? A Vintersorg-album this low? On this blog? Yes, it's true. Even though I have blindly bought everything that Andreas Hedlund has done ever since I discovered Otyg back in 1999, even I cannot oblige to blind fanboyism. Make no misstake though, this album is good. Songs such as "Ur Aska och Sot", "Överallt och Ingenstans", "Lågornas Rov" and especially the magnificent "Elddraken" are damn fine, classic V-compositions. But here's the real deal: We have heard this album before. It is basically a mish-mash of the two previous albums "Orkan" (2012) and "Jordpuls" (2011) - nothing more, nothing less. And since I like those two albums a lot - this is of course not a bad thing. It's just that I would've wanted to feel something different here - would it be so much to ask of as a little more variety? Something unexpected? Long gone are the days since Vintersorg actually amazed me and knocked me off my feet. It is still all very competent and interesting - just not that interesting anymore. It doesn't help the album either that songs such as "Rymdens Brinnande Öar", "Natten Visste Vad Skymningen Såg" and "Urdarmåne" feels genuinely uninspired and dull.
My Dying Bride's debut album is most certainly a hit and miss-album. One of it's feet is kicking frantically at the death metal-landscape. No surprise really, since this was the scene that dominated metal back then and as the youngsters they were, this was easliy the most natural and most "evil" thing to play. The other foot is firmly grounded in deep doom metal-concrete. This resulted in a quite uneven album where the more faster-paced sections feels boring and out of place, while the some (not all) of the slower sections reeks of atmosphere. While listening to the album today, one can almost feel what was about to errupt only one year later, but more on that further up this list. "The Bitterness and the Beravement" and "Vast Choirs" are the tracks that truly stands out for me, even though I enjoy parts of "Sear Me" and "The Return of the Beautiful" as well. The less said about the dullest, most clichéd death metal track I've ever heard - "The Forever People" - the better.
This is partly a concept-album about working in an office. Finally, a brilliant concept that many people can follow and relate to. The line-up basically consists of members from the black metal band Winds + Lars Nedland (Solefald, Borknagar ex-Ásmegin) on vocals. If you're familiar with Nedlands' vocals from before, you'll either think of Solefald or Ásmegin when you listen to "Acceleration". Musically, this is not far from the madness of Solefald either. So if you enjoy said bands, you're sure to enjoy this somewhat forgotten gem in the realm of avantgarde metal. The keyboards on this album (Andy Winter is a god on keys) plays a huge part in the soundscape and this has more to do with progressive- rather than black metal. Still, I think every metal fan can find something they like on this album. I really recommend you check this out if you haven't.
Hands down, this is the best black metal-album ever to come from Marduk. Yes, I know that they've been active since the early 90's and pounding out album after album. I don't care much about their early "classic" period since I find those records just having ferocity without finesse. I can understand that those early albums might have been interesting when they were new, but judging them from my viewpoint today, it's mostly uninteresting to my ears. No, for me the band didn't become truly interesting until they got the incredibly talented vocalist (and lyricist) Mortuus in their ranks. And even then their albums have been, quite frankly, uneven. But "Frontschwein" is the perfect Marduk-album since it represents everything they are about - from neck-breaking speed to slow death-marches. Mortuus lyrics are always a joy to read and the album has a flow from start to finish that I haven't found on any of their previous ones. Colour me impressed!
I had to wait 10 fucking long years to finally get a follow-up to "Sideshow Symphonies" (#135) so you can safely assume that I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, I feel sort of let down. For while "Arcturian" is a very competent album, better that it's predecessor and would've been awesome coming from any other band - it just feels as though Arcturus have forgotten to surprise it's audience. Much of the riffing and keyboard-melodies present here are things we've heard before, only slightly variated and twisted. But they try and are somewhat granted success in songs such as "The Arcturian Sign", "Warp" and "Game Over". The album is more cohesive than it's predecessor and there are nods the band's entire back-catalouge. All in all, this is an album that feels uninspired at times and then all of a sudden we get a new twist and I find myself smiling and banging my head. I guess schizophrenic is a good way to describe it.
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80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41| 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1