Archive for December, 2009

Albums of the year… 2009…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

It’s the time of year when people make lists to fill the internet with content, so for anyone that cares I’m going to talk about music for a few moments.

In my eyes (ears?) there are three obvious contenders to album of the year but choosing between them is exceptionally difficult…

1. Alice In Chains – Black Gives Way To Blue

A perfect Alice album, stunning, but at the same time, EXACTLY what I expected from Alice In Chains.  Excellent but unsurprising.  Had the pleasure of seeing them play the 900 capacity gig in London just before the album released and was blown away.  If anything, I actually was let down by how much they didn’t let new front man William Duvall lead the album, falling back on Jerry Cantrell performing most of the leads (presumably so as not to alienate the fans).  The irony being, Duvall’s one track “Last of my kind” practically steals the show ever so slightly nudged out by “Acid Bubble”.

2. Mastodon – Crack The Skye

Simply stunning.  A cut above anything Mastadon have done before, subtle, progressive and excellently written.  Swings from dramatic and fast back down to slow winding near-ballads.  Totally unexpected and excellent.  There is honestly not a track on this album that I don’t feel is outstanding.  Full of enough straight out metal to please just about anyone while drenching listeners with atmosphere and sprawling epics.  As full-of-platitudes as that description sounds it’s pretty accurate.  “The Last Baron” totally steals the show.

3. Katatonia – Night Is The New Day

Somehow a cumulation of everything Katatonia have attempted in the past.  The production is some of the best in modern metal (and all self-produced) and Jonas’ vocals REALLY shine, mixed with the signature ethereal Katatonia guitar and a few bleak bleak moments.  Again redefining what melodic dark hard rock should sound like.  Very intimate.  This is a dark album, upsetting in tone full of little uplifting refrains.  I love the subtle guitar parts and optimistic feel on “Onward Into Battle”, the driving brooding bass on “The Promise of Deceit” and clearly the most miserable song I’ve heard in years in “Nephilim” (bleak beyond words), but in the end “The Longest Year” steals the show, not with darkness and misery but with a hint of optimism.

I think the album I enjoy most is Katatonia’s effort, but in measured consideration, Mastodon is the most impressive, excellent album I’ve heard all year.

Honourable mentions?

Porcupine Tree – The Incident (under rated compared to Fear of a Blank Planet)
Devin Townsend Project – Addicted (just plain excellent, but we all know Deconstruction is where it’s going to be at)
Riverside – Anno Domini High Definition. (nice grown up brooding hard rock)