Year end tape wrap up! Yes, I know its early November but as far as I’m concerned I don’t have any more contenders coming out this year; all of the big guns that I was looking forward to have already been fired. Sure, I’ll pick up that upcoming Jay-Z but that’s it as far as I know for new music this year that I’m interested in.
Top Tapes, Jerks!
Amon Amarth - With Oden on Our Side
Amon Amarth has been a reliable name in the sub-genre of Viking Death Metal for some years now, so much so that it seemed the once mighty warriors were stuck in a bit of a rut. The previous album, Fate of Norns, had a lot of fans falling asleep on their stereos; devil horns held nowhere near the sky. Any fears born in that half mast effort were utterly devastated when “With Oden on Our Side” thundered into shops just a few months back. Blistering solos, punishing drums, roaring vocals; Amon Amarth had returned to claim the glory they once held, naysayers be damned. Glory reclaimed, lads. The old gods are quite pleased with this effort.
Virgin Steele - Visions of Eden: The Lilith Project (A Barbaric/Romantic Movie of the Mind)
Good old Virgin Steele, they have their own sound; operatic without being over the top, dramatic without being overly cheesy, heavy, but not crushing. Put in a Virgin Steele album and any self respecting metal head should be able to tell you right away what it is. After waiting something like six years between their last studio effort and this, one would think that expectations had no choice but to be dashed. David DeFeis himself kept saying, “Its coming and its going to be genius”. When someone says something like that for years on end, they’re either stalling for time and preparing to let everyone down, or they’ve really gotten their hands on something good. DeFeis and company managed to get their hands on something not only good, but great. “Visions of Eden” is not the heaviest album in town, but what it lacks in heaviness it makes up for in thoughtful poetic lyrics, powerful passages, and the always top notch vocals of David DeFeis. Fantastic album with maybe the worst and most pretentious title ever.
Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death
This one was a bit of a shock for me. I was expecting another safe “Dance of Death” style entry into the Maiden discography but I couldn’t have been more wrong. “A Matter of Life and Death” shares more with “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” and “Fear of the Dark” than it does with the previous two post-reunion albums. This is very obviously Iron Maiden, make no mistake about it, but it’s not a by the numbers release. Bruce, Steve, and the boys aren’t attempting to ape their 80’s albums, they’ve moved on, and if this new album is any indication, they’ve also matured. This seems about right for a band with all of its members pushing 50. “A Matter of Life and Death” is progressive, but not boring or pretentious (fuck off Dream Theater), with most of the songs featuring numerous time changes and 5 or 6 minute plus running times. I wouldn’t say Iron Maiden is back, they never left, but in my mind they released the best album I bought all year.
AFI - Decemberunderground
You’ve already made up your mind about AFI, I’m sure. I, for one, really enjoyed this album. I wasn’t looking for much, just some loud music to play at 3 am on the way home from a party and this more than fits the bill. The synth and giant hooks are greatly appreciated. I just had a lot of fun with this album. Album of the year quality? God no. Fun as fuck? Jeepers yes.
Meat Loaf - Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose
Bat III exceeded all of my expectations which were actually pretty damned high. I love Meat Loaf and this is very obviously Meat Loaf in top form. From the over-long and melodramatic Jim Steinman compositions that I know and love to the very well done tracks written by Desmond Child (among others), this is great stuff. It should be noted that some experimentation is present here in the form of edgier, almost metal tracks in “The Monster is Loose” and “In the Land of the Pigs the Butcher is King”, two big departures from the patented “Meat Loaf Sound”. I doubt it will change the minds of any haters, the songs are still mostly longer than the majority of people like and…oh hell, everyone knows Meat Loaf and they either already love him or hate him. I love him and I love Bat III.
Suck Ass Disappointments
The Killers - Sam's Town
What the hell, Killers? I kept reading this album “was a grower” so I gave it time to grow. It never did. I don’t want some stupid new age Bruce Springsteen; I wanted poppy/dancy-synth mixed with some rollicking riffs, not this. A huge disappointment for me. AFI out-Killers’d the Killers for me this year. Better luck next time, jerks. Revisit New Order’s, “Power, Corruption and Lies” a few hundred times before you try and throw yourselves out there again.
Blind Guardian - A Twist in the Myth
I don’t really know what I was expecting out of the new Blind Guardian release, but God, not this. Maybe it was just because I bought it the same day I bought “A Matter of Life and Death” but whatever it was, this album just never clicked with me. Too bad. I don’t hate it like I do that Killers album, but I don’t love it as much as I expected to.
Dragonforce - Inhuman Rampage
A one trick pony that has gotten stale as all fuck. This thing just sounds like a lot of noise and cheese to me. Awful in every sense of the word, this shite is no longer fun or enjoyable. I know you aren't supposed to take Dragonforce seriously, but I don't want to take them at all after this crapfest. Fuck off.
Sit down. Have a drink or get out.
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