Niek’s List of Best 15 Albums Reviewed – Part 2
Yes! Part 2 of the most important list in the whole wide world of Metal. The list of best albums I have reviewed all year. You can’t possibly get a more complete overview of what happened in the Metallic world, anywhere.
Seriously though, this is just a list. My own little list of fifteen albums that struck a special chord with me this year. But then again, I do hear a fuckload of Metal over the course of a year and the fact that these fifteen stood out as the top albums does make them a little special, don’t you think? Hence they are albums that I highly recommend you to listen to, and buy when you can get your grubby hands on them and have no more fuckin’ debts to pay off.
Part 1, served on Wednesday, already gave six bands out of the fifteen. Today’s batch is a batch of five. These five stack up above the six I’ve treated before, but below the final four to be covered in Part 3. Today’s batch is made up of albums that are real pleasers, above and beyond what we’ve heard already on Wednesday.
There are a couple of big names today, but three of them are bands that are not household names in worldwide Metaldom. This, in my opinion, makes these albums all the more worth your while. Because, how cool is it when you come across this ace band you’ve never heard about?! But, I’m not ranking these five and so will present them, as I’ve done in Part 1, in alphabetical order to eliminate any false or true hint of preference. I’m like a mom not being able to pick which of her kids she loves most. Except that I didn’t breed these bastards!
Aspherium – The Veil of Serenity
Aspherium is a Norwegian band who’s album I reviewed very recently indeed. Just over a week ago. And it hit me like a wrecking ball on a course to smack down a big fuckin’ building. This thing, apart from being ”cross-genre visionary Extreme Metal” is also very bangable! It’s genuinely heavy and dark, but it also leaves plenty of room for groove. The type that makes your neck move like you were a tasteless idiot listening to some rap crap.
Summarizing the record I said this: ”The Veil of Serenity is an absolute gem and it contains everything I’ve ever searched for in Metal. It’s highly varied in moods and emotions and will take you all over the place. But it’s also very distinct, a very own product with its very own sound. The production is fantastic, the mix perfect, with all instruments claiming their place. The music is brilliantly written and will keep even the most decomposing listeners occupied for weeks. And then there’s the execution: spotless, dynamic, invigorating, exciting: this thing’s winning!” Fuckin’ fact!
Which song then to serve up? The Revelator! Because even though I’ve already served it in the actual review, it is a song that features a lot of the moods contained on the whole record. Exciting, groovy and stimulating in the beginning, mellow, sad and contemplating in the center part, and dark like the inside of an anus towards the end. Superb song!
Insomnium – One for Sorrow
Could any list be without these Fins this year? If you’re anywhere near a fan of Melodic Death Metal, this one has to be on it. They are one of those bands that you want to stick to their original recipe: ”With these Fins, the recipe of old would never get old. It’s such a classic recipe. Like cock-on-wine, hamburgers or fuckin’ peanut sauce. That shit never wears out.”
Still though, as noted in the review, there is one small novelty the band added: some clean vocals here and there and some extra guitar soloing. Nothing to be ashamed of, although some might say it to be a step towards making things more accessible and, dare I say, commercial. ”But actually the band is way beyond that. It’s just good. Fuckin’ good. Good up to a point where it doesn’t matter anymore what the genre is or what music you like. It’s just pure quality and you would have to love music that is crap by definition not to love this on first listen.”
Sample song: Unsung, capturing all those beautiful moments of Insomnium sorrow. To be served loud!
Okular – Probiotic
Yes, Okular, another one from Norway, but once again no Black Metal. This one is a progressive form of Death Metal that surprised the living shit out of me. Totally in a positive way! My review highlighted the fact that Probiotic is an album of exceptional intelligence. It is so incredibly rich and thought-through that it might actually be a step up in complexity from a jet engine.
Probiotic is also an album that offers a very unique way out of daily life by drifting away in thought. ”As an album, Probiotic, which is fancy-speak for ‘For Life’, is an experience. Over the course of ten tracks you’re pulled into undiscovered Metal dimensions and the experience is a bit like floating in space witnessing the hand of time morph shit all around you.” One by one the things around you fall away from your consciousness and become irrelevant. And isn’t that what we all really want?
Picked the one song I could find online in its entirety to share: Choose to Be Free. In the review I’ve linked to above you’ll also find an extensive album teaser to give you a broader idea of what can be found on Probiotic.
Red Descending – Kingdoms
My favorite band from Australia. A band that I’ve been following very closely since I discovered their 2008 debut record Where Dreams Come to Die. In August of 2011 they came up with the follow-up, entitled Kingdoms, which I baptized as ”epic” in the review.
What I like so much about the band is the fact that its music induces such a struggle between emotions. Positive, lighthearted ones on the one end and dark, depressing ones on the other. Something achieved by the extensive use of dark symphonic elements and bright as lightning guitar leads and solos. Epic.
And this epicness, as I wrote, ”speaks through every fiber of the record’s being. It’s got great tales to tell, and it wants to be listened to, not just heard. There’s no denying its immense qualities and the highly evident care and effort that have gone into making it. If you’re not suffering from some kind of mental deficit causing you to have the attention span of an amoeba, this really is an album you should feast your ears on.”
My favorite track on the album, I’d like you to listen to Kings of Torture, because it gives a good impression of the majestic battle going on between the two opposites. But also because it’s just such an incredibly grabbing song. And because there’s life footage to be enjoyed at the same time!
Sylosis – Edge of the Earth
The song that is the one played when my phone wakes me up every morning tends to be a song hated to absolute blood pudding. One exception: Sylosis’ Awakening. It has woken me up on more than half a year worth of mornings and I still fuckin’ love it! Achievement!
The UK outfit brought out Edge of the Earth in March of this year, as the follow-up to their 2008 debut album Conclusion of an Age. The album is pretty much virtuoso. So incredibly technical yet accessible, balanced yet aggressive, Thrashy yet full of brutal punch. The record is packed with ”moments that break me up into some excessive expression of emotion, be it goose bumps and tears in my eyes or angry-looking headbanging.”
This album came across to me as so strong through-out that it got me utterly confused, as put in the review: ”Usually when I’m listening to an album there’ll always be a few or a hand full of songs that just don’t quite cut it and which I will tend to skip without thinking. Push the button and on to the next. Not on Edge of the Earth! In fact, each track has me longing to hear it again, but then the next one has already captured by attention and I get utterly confused about what I need / want to hear.”
I’ll make it easy for you today and just give you the one: Empyreal. Majestic tapping!