Niek’s List of Best 15 Albums Reviewed – Part 3
The big moment! The top four of albums I’ve reviewed this year, the best ones! If you’ve missed what came before this, these four were preceded by eleven other albums in Part 1 and Part 2 of this list. Today’s four are the absolute cream of the crop.
As you’ll read on, there’s one thing you might notice: Finland’s the winner. Each and every single band in this top 4 hails out of the most Metal nation on the planet. Something I only just discovered myself. I think the Finnish are to Metal what American are to hamburgers. What Germans are to cars. And what Dutchmen are to drugs and prostitutes.
Anyfuck, I can make this a long and boring speech up front, like they do with most award shows, but I think everyone would just prefer to fuckin’ get going with this! After all, it’s Christmas Eve tonight and I’m sure you’ll want to get back to spinning Metal albums sitting under the Christmas tree.
Before the Dawn – Deathstar Rising
Of all of the bands Tuomas Saukkonen operates in, Before the Dawn must be my favorite. The mix of Tuomas’ own deep growling and Lars Eikind’s – who unfortunately has recently left the band – cleans carrying a certain sadness is a golden combination. Can’t be beaten.
Deathstar Rising is the sixth full-length released by BtD and it came out in late February, carrying ten songs – 14 if you’ve got the bonus version like me – that drive a man. In whatever he wants to do. I’ve been listening to these songs while running or while working out in the gym and despite that there isn’t a particular up-tempo beat or anything, these tracks still make me go faster and faster.
In comparing it with the band’s previous two releases in the review I couldn’t decide on which is better. And I still can’t today. It’s just another winner.
Deathstar Rising is an album that’s been eluding me over time. I just can’t describe it. Can’t put my finger on it. Can’t figure it out even. I just really really fuckin’ love it and that’s in essence as far as I get. Exactly as far as I got in my March review: ”I just don’t seem to be able to grab its essence and put it down on fuckin’ paper. Perhaps that’s a good sign. It just pushed it straight into my face: good music can’t be accurately captured in words. It needs to be listened to. So, my simple recommendation: buy it and dive into it!”
Here’s the title track to start with!
Mors Subita – Human Waste Compression
Mors Subita’s debut record Human Waste Compression came out in September. With this one I wasn’t quite sure whether to put it in the top 4 or to swap it against the Sylosis album I discussed in Part 2. Technically Sylosis is a (much) stronger album, with pretty much virtuoso guitaring action. Mors Subita doesn’t have that, but what it does have instead of that is just massive bucketloads of groove and punch delivered in tight execution. Actually, it’s Groove and Punch, or as I’ve put it earlier, it’s ”focused on groove, punch, power and a fist in the eye socket”.
That groove is exactly what makes it so delicious that I couldn’t deny it its spot in the top layer of the list. It also has a perfect mix of plain ol’ heavy and catchiness and a very subtle Finnishness that I can’t put my finger on. But it’s surely there!
What I wrote about Human Waste Compression is this: ”I’ve reviewed a lot of material lately, and also a lot of material that I really really liked, but it’s been a while since I’ve had something that just so instantly appealed to my inner tastes, and this has translated in this being one of the easiest, most naturally flowing, reviews I’ve written in a long fuckin’ time.”
Still the best track on the record:
Omnium Gatherum – New World Shadows
To be really honest, I think that if I have to make a choice for the top performer in this list or die, New World Shadows would crown our Top 15 here. This record so violently impressed me that there’s no denying it. Finland’s Omnium Gatherum must be making the most harmonious Metal on the face of the earth.
Every single song on New World Shadows, their fifth album to date, breathes a certain wholeness. Every single song is complete, is at peace with itself, has come full circle. I don’t know how they do it, but there is just no way to improve on this. There’s just so much to discover and marvel at that the album resulted in one of the longest reviews I’ve written. Ever. And I could’ve made it longer. But to summarize it, New World Shadows”delivers something in which there practically are no distinctive layers anymore and the music becomes a continuum also in depth direction, like emotions expanding out in all directions.”
When we interviewed guitar player Markus Vanhalla at the start of this year, he said: ”In an OG song there should always be a perfect balance between aggression and melody played well. They should paint big landscapes and emotions in your mind during listening, but still kick your ass big time at the same time.” And that’s exactly what’s going on with every single song on New World Shadows.
The review concluded with: ”this is an album that you must have. It is also an album that you must listen to, dig into, as it keeps growing on you. I loved the first tunes of this album I heard and now, hours of playing time further, I’m still loving it more and more. It’s like the joy of listening never ends. Trust me, this’ll be among the best investments you’ll ever make!” This is still true, a year and an almost worn CD later.
Have yourself the official music video to the title track!
RouteSielu – Pimeys
Yep, another one involving Finland’s most busy Metal wonderboy, Tuomas Saukkonen. In this project he’s also joined, by four other musicians from A-class Finnish Metal bands. Pimeys is the band’s album that came out of absolutely nowhere in February and which contains such a brilliant atmosphere that is a mix between Saukkonen’s other work, an icecold Finnish darkness and a more Folk-like approach to Metal-making.
I said: “The songs on this album clearly have their own separate identities, but the general characteristics are rhythm sections that really carry the song forward, progressive and stimulating, and they do that without ending up in boasting ostentation. It’s all very clean, free from unnecessary fumbling and squeaking and blasting and freaking. There’s just what needs to be there, and it still sounds incredibly rich and full.”
In that same review I wrote in early March I stated that Pimeys ”is already my favorite of the year – alright, alright, together with Omnium Gatherum – and I doubt whether anything is going to be able to bump it down from there.” Well, as you can see, it’s still in the top!
Soturi is one of my two (the other one’s called Kaipaus) favorite tracks on the album and it most definitely has the most Folk in it. But it also carries many surprises.
I wish you all a very Metal Christmas and a Heavy New Year!