Holy shit the year is nearly on its head

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December 8, 2013 by Beldrac

…like I said, 2013 is nearing it’s doom and this is normally the time of year where music writers, blog-ists and pretenders start compiling lists of albums they particularly enjoyed.

I realise that my last post was months!! ago and on the same subject and I won’t make excuses for my absence nor try to get out of the fact that I’ve been a bit lazy and devoid of ideas. Note the use of the word “pretender” in the preceding paragraph…

Last time around I mentioned albums from Riverside, Hypocrisy, Ghost, Amon Amarth, Amorphis and since then…well, “Infestissumam”, “End of Disclosure” and even “Deceiver of the Gods” have faded a little. “All is One” has grown much stronger, “Circle” has stayed pretty much where it was, and “Shrine of New Generation Slaves” is still in contention for album of the year.

So what’s happened since? Well, out of the blue Vulture Industries swept down with “The Tower” and pecked so many holes in my brain I couldn’t help being impressed. This is their third album and I hadn’t heard any their earlier works, but if this one was anything to go by I’ll end up becoming a big fan. They play a twisted type of Black Metal, often called Avant Garde, that will appeal to those who remember old Arcturus – and I’m talking about the “La Masquerade Infernale” era with Mr. Rygg at the helm. “The Tower” is somehow a weird mixture of Arcturus and Nick Cave, in that it’s quite dark and menacing, not that aforementioned album wasn’t, but there’s something that at first reminded me rather keenly of the “Murder Ballads” album. It’s since grown to be something much more than that, but is in contention for the number one spot.

You can listen to the WHOLE album, courtesy of Season of Mist Youtube channel

Another new discovery I made was a band called Jupiter Society, made up of members present and past of Swedish doomsters Candlemass. This ain’t Doom, though. The members play a SciFi-inspired brand of Progressive Metal, which at times reminded me of the masterful Ayreon duo “The Universal Migrator”s. By all accounts “From Endangered to Extinct” is a concept album and it’s one of the best of the sort that I’ve heard over the last few years. A number of vocalists play a number of characters, none of which are perhaps very famous to most of us, with the exception of Mats Levén – currently of Candlemass.

Speaking of Ayreon, Arjen Anthony Lucassen dropped another one of his legendary epics on us this year and “The Theory of Everything” has certainly had a lion’s share of ear time or late. It’s a marathon of a double album with the 42 tracks mainly consisting of short scenes played by guest vocalists who include Christina Scabbia, Tommy Karevik, Marco Hietala and John Wetton. Joining them are Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Jordan Rudess and the Ayreon stalwart behind the drums, Ed Warby. I don’t think I’ve found all there is to this album yet as there’s a lot to get through, but it’s certainly a contender for top five.

And then, oh yes, there was Leprous‘ “Coal” Looking back over the year doesn’t leave me with many albums that deserve the #1 spot, but this is one of them. This is a philosopher’s Progressive Metal, as opposed to mathematician’s Progressive Metal – it’s not as clear cut and defined, there are murky parts, areas where it toes the line into other realms – almost typical of what you expect from Norwegians nowaday. There are some ‘extreme’ Metal elements that gives the album a sharp edge and an almost theatrical flair, but overall it’s just a great listen.

Yes, Leprous gets two videos, because it’s such a good album:

There’s also a non-metal release on here…I’m a long-time fan of Pearl Jam, “Ten” was the very first CD I ever bought and their latest album “Lightning Bolt” is the one I’ve enjoyed the most since “No Code.” It has some more of that old crunchy Jam that I’ve missed over the last handful of albums, but also showcase the more emotional side that they did so well, though just not as raw as it used to be. I guess that mellowing is what comes with age.

I often take chances on unknown bands based on something trivial, like country of origin for example and discover a great album in the process. It’s been years since I really liked any Melodic Metal album, but Denmark’s Mythery is foremost a Progressive Metal band, but with lots of melody that’s heavily dependent on their use of violin. “The Awakening of the Beast” crept in under my skin without me even noticing, but it turned out being one of the most-easy listening yet engaging albums I’ve heard all year.

So this is where things are at now and I don’t expect any new releases to come along and blast things out of shape. It’s been a good year in Metal, yet again.

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