What better way to restart this blog and the new year than by looking back 10 years ago to see what was happening in the world of metal back then? As the case was with 2002, I am sure that I will forget a couple of important albums. But hey, this is my blog and since when did I actually care? Just ask the Therion-fanboys ;-) Here we go!
Amon Amarth - Versus the World
As most people know by now, this was supposed to be the swansong from these viking-loving melodeath-Swedes, but instead it became their landmark album which today is considered the classic in the band's discography. And it's easy to understand why, as this is much more solid all through the disc when compared to their previous and latter works.
Recommended track: Almost everybody seems to dig the hell out of "Death in Fire" and I am no exception. It's so damn headbanging-friendly and always gets me in a good mood.
In my opinion, the band's previous effort "A Fine Day to Exit" (2001) was the band last good album, even though that one cannot compare to the two predecessors "Judgement" (1999) and "Alternative 4" (1998). Here, almost every hint of anything metal is gone. Not that there's anything wrong in that, since the albums I just mentioned also had very little of that. But here, the keyboards take up too much space, the songs seem to drag on forever and the overall feeling is just boooooredom.
Recommended track: Some songs are better than others and my favorite has to be "Are You There?".
I've already covered this album quite thoroughly in the Monuments-section and I still stand by the fact that this is one of the best albums of the 00's and one of the best debut albums of all time.
Recommended track: Still, the opener "Af Helvegum" gives me goosebumps, chills and a hard-on to this day as one of the best folk metal songs ever made.
As I look through this list now, I can see that a lot went wrong for many bands this year and Cradle of Filth is no exception as I feel that the bands last listenable album was "Midian" (2000). Here, everything that can go wrong did so. It's no secret that Dani has lost his ability to make those high-pitch screams and you can really hear that he lost it somewhere between said album and this one. Also, the songwriting started to become real boring here.
Recommended track: Well, it's not a proper catastrophe, but damn close as "Better to Reign in Hell" is the only song that I can stomach and it's not that good either...
Haha, I always get a smile on my face when I see DCA's incredibly ugly ashtray-eye of a cover. There's aboslutely nothing good with that cover. The album pretty much suffers from the same ugliness, with the exception of that obvious hit-song, which is bearable due to it's epicness and the vocal contributions from Vortex and Abbath.
Recommended track: Yes, it's of course "Progenies of the Great Apocalypse" I'm talking about.
Back in 2003 when this was just released, this was the first time I ever heard something from Falkebach and I simply loved it. The thing is, compared to "Hin Vordende Sod og Sø" - another epic metal album released this year - it hasn't really aged that well. And though I admit I still take it out for an occasional spin now and then, it feels like there's something missing here. Especially when compared to the band's debut album "En Their Medh Riki Fara" (1996)
Recommended track: There are some good tracks here and my favorite is probably the opener "Vanadis" which captures both rawness and epic moments.
I always feel it's a shame that so few people know of and appreciate this band which had a quite unique mix of epic black metal (mostly with clean vocals) and some serious Pink Floyd-worship. This, their swansong is as much a live album as a best-of album. We get to hear lovely versions of classics such as "HEart of the Ages", "Weeping Willow", "299.796 km/s", "I am Your Flesh!" and the cool Jefferson Airplane cover of "White Rabbit". Sure, the overall sound and production leaves a lot to desire and for a newbie of this band, I'd recommend the excellent "Omino" (1997) instead.
Recommended track: I would actually recommend most tracks here, but since this is the only place where you can hear the never-released song "Beer" - it gets my vote for sure.
I know I will go out on a limb now by saying that I really feel this is Katatonia's last really good album up to this day. Why you say? Well, because there's lots of good tracks here and I feel that their latter albums have all been really uneven songwise. This album is even and good as well. Get it?
Recommended track: Hmm, there's a couple to choose from here, but I think I will go with the opener "Ghost of the Sun" since I like the attitude and tempo on that one.
As the case was with Falkenbach's album a bit further up, I simply adored this album when it came out. And if "Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty" hadn't aged very well, this is even worse. This is folk metal played in it's most clichéd and boring way, even though some tracks are ok. I cannot believe how gullable I was back in the days when it came to this music style.
Recommended track: Hmm, I think I'll go with "I Trollehender", since it's a quite short, solid and sing-along friendly tune.
Ok, I have to agree that vocalist Legion (his last album with the band BTW) sounds really tired and bored on this recording. But does that take away the sheer black metal brilliance of songs such as "With Satan and Victorious Weapons", "Cloven Hoof", "World Funeral", "Hearse" and the sinister death-ballad "Bleached Bones"? In my opinion, hell no!
Recommended track: Difficult this one, but I'll have to go with "Bleached Bones" since I really dig the lyrics in combination with the evil groove they got going. If you don't like it, remember that it really sticks out from this album compared to the rest.
Do you remember the hype surrounding this album before it was released? If you don't, go read this insanely brilliant writing from Lord K at Global Domination. That about says it all. I wouldn't call this an actual album. The words "joke" or "train-wreck" is closer to the truth.
Recommended track: Haha, most definitely not. There would have to be proper songs instead of pointless riffs with out-of-key vocals for me to actually choose something.
One of my old favorite bands really went dreadful beyond imagination with "Darkness and Hope" (2001) but this one might even be worse. The first three songs are ok, but weak compared to the band's discography peak from 1994 to 1999. This is pseudo-angry goth/black metal with little attitude and no bite.
Recommended track: There's a reason the band chose "In and Above Men" as the opener for this album. It's so much better than the rest of these songs.
These avantgarde black metal maniacs have - in my opinion - always been really uneven on all of their albums up until the latest one "Norrøn Livskunst" (2010) which was the peak of their discography and leaves me with high expectations for their next one. "In Harmonia Universali" is no different when it comes to begin uneven. Some tracks are gold, while some are just utterly boring.
Recommended track: Oh, my how "Mount Blanc Providence Crow" gives me the chills! Cool video as well.
Just look at that awesome cover art! It alone would be enough to recommend this album. But hell, it's The Crown so what could go wrong really? Well, nothing. This isn't exactly as solid as "Deathrace King" (2000) was, but it's better than "Crowned in Terror" (2002). You just know what you get with this band; one of the best fusions of insanely cool and groovy death metal and thrash metal.
Recommended track: While I am tempted to choose the semi-hit "Face of Destruction (Deep Hit of Death)" I have to go with the even cooler "Zombiefied!".
Released only one year after the solid "Judas Christ" (2002), I remember how I had my doubts whether this could be as good. While not extremely bad, I was somewhat right since this might be the band's most uneven album to date. One good song is usually followed by something completely pointless which makes "Prey" annoying to listen to in it's entirety.
Recommended track: While "Clovenhoof" is so damn cool for what it is, I will have to go with the video-smash-hit "Cain".
Turbonegro - Scandinavian Leather
The band disbanded after the incredible "Apocalypse Dudes" (1999), but reformed some years after whilst said album had grown quite a lot and exposed the band to a broader audience (including me). And while this is lightyears beyond said album, it still contains solid punkrock songs such as "Wipe it Till it Bleeds", "Sell Your Body (to the Night)", "Fuck the World" and "D.I.B (Drenched in Blood)".
Recommended track: I resisted the urge to choose the inevitable video-hit "Fuck the World" and instead went with the catchier "D.I.B (Drenched in Blood)". Good for me.
Windir - Likferd
This was to be Windir's swansong due to the sad passing of frontman Valfar as he froze to death in the snowy mountains of Norway in 2004. Arguably, this is also the best album this epic black metal band released. There's really nothing more to say.
Recommended track: Most of these songs are real damn good, but I've always had a soft spot for "Resurrection of the Wild".