Its that time of year again! Time for everyone to think really, really hard about all the metal they heard this year and figure out what was good, bad, and what kept you from going into the mental institute. As always, I like to start out with the bad. Well, not necessarily bad but these are my biggest disappointments of 2005. Here they are:
Chimaira Chimaira: A noble attempt at trying to lose the metalcore tag, unfortunately when they lost it, they lost all the interesting parts of their sound.
Arcturus Sideshow Symphonies: I know I came down hard on their last release, The Sham Mirrors, but Sideshow Symphonies even makes THAT disc sound phenomenal.
Meshuggah Catch 33: What ever did happened to the Meshuggah that wrote songs that didnt put you to sleep? This was nearly as bad as Nothing.
Though I admit it had it's fair share of crap, 2005 was yet another year of great metal releases and I was hard pressed to crunch down my list to twenty discs from a total of over 200. So with that in mind, here are a few that I thought deserve mention, even if they just missed the top 20 cut:
Fear Factory Transgression
Opeth - Ghost Reveries
Grimfist - 10 Steps to Hell
Arise - The Beautiful New World
Arch Enemy - Doomsday Machine
Detonation - Portals to Uphobia
Crionics - Armageddon's Evolution
Divine Empire - Method of Execution
The Duskfall - Lifetime Supply of Guilt
Now on to my favorite part; without further adieu, here are my top 20 discs of 2005:
20. Crimson Moonlight Veil of Remembrance: It was a toss-up between this and FFs Transgression, but when I thought about it, 9 tracks of solid, brutal black metal easily beat out an effort thats stained with a few clunkers. A must-have for fans of Dissection and melodic black metal.
19. The Agony Scene The Darkest Red: While my personal interest in metalcore seems to be waning by the day, The Darkest Red is a shining example of how things can be done well in the genre. Catchy clean vocals (even if sometimes whiny) and heavy At the Gates riffing have kept this one in my rotation for months now. Plus, "Scapegoat" is just an asskicking song.
18. The Absence From Your Grave: Proof that all American metal doesn't have to cite Killswitch and Shadows Fall as influences. Straight-up melodic death done the way it should be. No clean vocals need apply (well, for the most part).
17. Terror 2000 Terror For Sale: The Swedes really found their sound on this one. Laughable lyrics courtesy of Speed Strid are only made more impressionable by frantic, speedy thrash with nods to older traditional metal. Crack open a beer and enjoy!
16. Aborted The Archaic Abattoir: The masters of gore return with their most polished and mature effort to date. Solid songwriting that is memorable enough for non-brutal characters to enjoy, yet technical and heavy enough for long-time fans to appreciate.
15. Charon Songs For the Sinners: Yet another consistently strong disc from what is arguably the best goth-metal band going. With the exception of She Hates, this is easily the bands strongest effort yet.
14. Mors Principium Est The Unborn: Talk about coming out of nowhere! I was far from impressed with MPEs debut, but with some tinkering I couldnt get enough of The Unborn. Effective female vocals, a shift in sound towards the futuristic and mechanical (as opposed to the Bodom-esque debut), and sometimes dizzying guitarwork get my stamp of approval.
13. Rapture The Silent Stage: Seems like this disc came and went without anyone really noticing it. Silent Stage is Raptures finest hour, firmly enhancing their sound and further attempting to break out of the mold that many have cast them in as early Katatonia wannabes. Great depressing death/doom.
12. Darkane Layers of Lies: Darkanes latest sees the band upping the technical aspect once again, yet keeping catchy melodies in mind at the same time. Huge choruses and frantic guitar work are abundant, making this a disc to remember.
11. Scar Symmetry Symmetric in Design: In what is arguably one of the best metal supergroups around, Scar Symmetry play melodic death that is not unlike the newer discs of Soilwork, albeit heavier and with the fantastic vocals of Christian Alvestam. Absolutely fantastic debut.
10. Deadlock Earth.Revolt: Melodic death a la early Dark Tranquillity, with some metalcore and black metal influences thrown in for good measure. A concept album with a message, going through all of the emotions in the process, from anger and rage to sorrow and sadness. Awakened by Sirens is still spine-tingly good six months later.
9. Arsis A Diamond For Disease: Ive always made it a point not to include CD-singles or EPs on my list, but Ill be damned if this little 3 song disc doesnt kick more ass than the majority of full-length discs released this year. From the 13 minute title-track to the Alice Cooper cover, to the short but sweet Promise of Never, Arsis is ready to make the case that melodic death can still be innovative and original, even in this day and age.
8. Soilwork Stabbing the Drama: Its no secret that Soilwork are one of my favorite metal bands and StD is another exercise in melodic metal goodness. New drummer Dirk added a new dimension to the band, and Speeds always improving clean vocal range is showcased well in songs like Distance and Nerve. Then theres Blind Eye Halo, which proves the band can still play the speedier material if they choose to.
7. The Black Dahlia Murder Miasma: I recently attempted listening to Miasma and Unhallowed back-to-back and there is no comparison. With all the affection showered upon Unhallowed, it cannot hold a candle to Miasma. A heavier approach with tighter songwriting that drew them further from At the Gates and more towards Floridian death metal is just one reason that fans of the debut should already own this.
6. Dark Tranquillity Character: A more complex follow-up to the heavily-acclaimed Damage Done shows that the band are still the kings of the throne of Gothenburg. Even though it was released very early in the year, it has held my attention since then, and might just surpass Haven as my personal favorite DT release.
5. The Project Hate Armageddon March Eternal: I hadnt really kept up with TPE since their debut, but this is a monster of an album. Dedicated to Mieszko Talarczyk, the band truly put forth a monumental effort to further their unique fusion of brutal death metal with angelic female vocals and electronics/industrial atmosphere. Jorgens vocals are absolutely punishing and Im convinced that female vocalist Jo Enckell is one of metals best kept secrets.
4. Construcdead The Grand Machinery: Construcdeads lastest brought them from an well, theyre okay band to a holy jesus that was good band. Casting aside all the more melodic elements from the past record, The Grand Machinery is streamlined Swedish thrash at its best. Additionally, vocalist Jens Broman puts on a hell of a performance!
3. Fear My Thoughts Hell Sweet Hell: The fact that Ive literally played out 2 copies of this disc that Ive burned to put in my car has got to say something about Hell Sweet Hell. I think that this disc, more than any other this year, Ive growled/sung the lyrics to while blazing down the road, mostly due to songs like Windows For the Dead, Sweetest Hell, and Tie Fighting (the coolest Star Wars-inspired song ever). The idea that they ditched all elements of their metalcore roots to create such a fantastic melodic death release gets them some kudos as well.
2. Hypocrisy Virus: Granted, I thought that The Arrival was a terrific return-to-form after Catch 22 but I really longed for some devastating, speedy Hypocrisy songs. With the combination of a more growling Peter and new drummer Horgh, Virus contains just the right combination of classic, speedy Hypocrisy anthems with the more mid-tempo stuff the band is known for. In fact, this may just be the strongest Hypocrisy disc ever, or at least a rival to Abducted. Finally, cheers to Peter for FINALLY including the lyrics
its about damn time!
1. Nevermore This Godless Endeavor: Anyone who has followed this site and my reviews this year shouldnt really be surprised by this one. From the first time I heard this, I knew it was something special and no disc this year has been able to come close to over-throwing this disc from its rightful throne. Danes vocals are stronger than ever and Loomis and Smyths guitar work is second-to-none. At this point, I can say without question that this is my favorite Nevermore disc and it really is coming close to moving past Katatonias Viva Emtiness and Lilitus Delores Lesion as my pick of the 21st century. Anyone who even considers themselves to be a metal fan should at least hear this once.
Finally, I leave you with some random top awards to cap off the year with:
TOP THREE CONCERTS ATTENDED:
Fear Factory/Soilwork/Strapping Young Lad/Darkane - 4 kickass bands and no metalcore filler, not to mention it was Darkanes first US tour.
New England Hardcore and Metal Festival - Expanded for three days, with the 3rd day being incredible (Dark Tranquillity, Soilwork, Hypocrisy, Mnemic for starters)
Opeth/Nevermore/Into Eternity - Not so much for the snooze-worthy Opeth live act but Nevermore played This Godless Endeavor, Ill admit I was damn close to drooling and IEs live act finally got me into them.
TOP THREE SONGS:
Nevermore This Godless Endeavor: This song is just about as close to musical perfection as Ive heard. Ive heard the song countless times now and my spine still tingles!
Fear My Thoughts Windows for the Dead: The crunchy breakdown accompanied by the growled windows for the dead made this song this years answer to Bloodbaths Eaten.
Arsis A Diamond For Disease: A 13 minute song, created for a ballet! Technical, yet not wanky and I love how it comes back to revisit earlier parts of the song as it progresses. A melodic death classic.
Worst release of the year
Catheter Dimension 303: Not even worth the plastic used in its creation, just noise that suits no purpose other than to annoy all the people that got it as promos, because no self-respecting individual would actually enjoy this enough to go purchase it.
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