TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2007
It’s already the end of 2007…wasn’t the world supposed to end seven years ago? And isn’t that a moot point anyway because the guy who established our current calendar system miscalculated Jesus’ birth by some number of years so our calendar is off anyway? Whatever, that’s not the point. Here are my top 25 albums of 2007. I’m a metal dude, but there are some non-metal ones in here as well. I hope you enjoy, and if you disagree with me, you’re wrong.
I’m counting down from 25, like a VH1 best of episode with out the shitty guest talent or commercials.
25. ANTIGAMA Resonance (Relapse)
Here’s another Relapse band that sounds like NO ONE else out there. It’s a fusion of industrial and grind like nothing I’ve heard before - and they’re out of Warsaw, Poland of all places. Resonance is one of the tightest sounding records of the year - I’d really like to see these guys live. I have no doubts that it’s like seeing Meshuggah; sure the record is awesome, but seeing it live is mind blowing.
24. SHIT OUTTA LUCK Family Tradition (Organized Crime)
This band is an audio bar fight. Five dudes playing a fusion of southern rock/metal and hardcore straight out of the beer capital of the US, Milwaukee, WI. There are a shit ton of lyrics that’ll stick in your head: “get outta my way frat boy!”, “I think that’s my drink son!”, “this ain’t my first rodeo son, I’ll beat my way outta this bar if I have to” - and that’s just in the final track on the cd, “Friday Night Fights”. To give you a good idea of the attitude of these guys - they’re like the metal version of David Allen Coe, the record even ends with a DAC quote. Turn this cd on when you’re drinking with friends and it’s sure to encourage drinking, rounds of shots, and fights. Good times.
23. THE OCEAN Precambrian (Metal Blade)
Shear brilliance. Two discs, songs named after different geologic periods, and enough instruments and musicians to fill a school bus. This band has flown under the radar in the US, mostly due to not having toured here quite yet. If you like your music spastic, cerebral, orchestral, artistic, melodic, and explosive - then check this out. (Think BTBAM sans the speed and irony)
22. THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD Malice (Prosthetic)
Sheer brutality. New vocalist Nate Johnson's vocals are ten tons of balls. The last record was good, this record is fucking fantastic. Through the Eyes has finally found their own sound. Listening to this cd is like listening to a 24 oz Porterhouse being shoved into your eye. It's THAT meaty. And the band brings it live - they crushed opening on the As I Lay Dying/All That Remains/Haste the Day tour this Fall.
21. KING DIAMOND Give Me Your Soul…Please (Metal Blade)
I’ve never been a huge King Diamond fan…until I heard this cd. Sure the average metal kid of today might find his voice a little hard to swallow, or might even find some of the lyrics a little too obvious, but this guy is one of the reasons half the bands we listen to today are even around. The fact that he still can belt out metal vocals and write music in his 50s is phenomenal. Sure The Eagles, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and more are still around, but name one singer in any of those bands that is 1) actually good 2) can hit high notes like King. NO ONE.
And King Diamond actually reads his myspace messages, what a guy, huh?
20. THE CHARIOT The Fiancée (Solid State)
The new record from the Chariot is one of the more cerebral records of the year. The packaging, lyrics, song titles, everything fits together. The music takes a little while to digest at times - but I like this. In a world of instant gratification and single song downloading, I like to see bands that put time and effort into creating an entire piece of art in a record. The song titles even read together as a sentence as you read them on the back over. Plus Josh Scogin is an incredibly entertaining live vocalist.
19. ANIMOSITY Animal (Black Market Activities)
Animal is fast; one of the fastest albums of the year, both in speed and running time (11 songs clocking in at just under 30 min). These dudes know how to lay it down; the musicianship is far ahead of the curve compared to many of their peers. It’s not exactly hardcore, it’s not exactly death metal, it’s just a bad ass fusion of blast beats, groove, and some high flying guitar work.
18. MIDDIAN Age Eternal (Metal Blade)
Loud. Heavy. Doom. Mike Scheidt is the master of American doom, hands down. After the fall of YOB, Mike joined up with bassist Will Lindsay, and drummer Scott Headrick to form Middian. They’re everything that was great about YOB with some added upbeat tempos, tons of vocal variations, and guitar effects. The drumming is simply powerful; it’s tasteful. Songs like Dreamless Eye sound like the soundtrack to the post apocalypse. After listening to brees and breakdowns all day, Middian is a MUCH needed breath of fresh air.
17. RWAKE Voices of Omens (Relapse)
Relapse has a knack for finding bands like this. This is by far one of the most original sounding albums this year. The songs are long, but keep you interested with subtle hooks in the vocals and guitars. I can really only describe them as a doom/sludge metal band in the vain of YOB/Middian, with a hint of southern groove. This really hasn’t left my iTunes rotation since I picked it up back in February.
16. EVERGREEN TERRACE Wolfbiker (Metal Blade)
High energy, high impact, punk/rock/metal/hardcore. This cd has elements that’ll make kids mosh, circle pit, and sing along. This band has been around the block a few times and is credited with helping to create metalcore as a genre - even though they sound nothing like the metalcore bands out there today. They sound more like a punk band that got ran over by Pantera’s tour bus. If you’re having a slow morning, throw on Wolfbiker and you’ll get pumped up enough to fight a rhino, and win.
15. DARKEST HOUR Deliver Us (Victory)
These guys are pure fun. I saw them on the Strhess tour a while back in Milwaukee and they dedicated a song to PBR. Yes THE PBR. If you don’t know what PBR is, then go buy some. Delicious and thrify. Anyway, Darkest Hour slay, with tons of memorable riffs, great triplet fills in the drums/guitars, which allows the music to be fast as well as groovy and full of hooks. Plus the vocals don’t sound like anyone; when you hear Darkest Hour, you fucking know it’s Darkest Hour - which is a lot to ask in metal lately.
14. YEAR OF DESOLATION Year of Desolation (Prosthetic)
Holy shred Batman! Are you sick of the “scene”, sick of bands that just string breakdowns and gang vocals together for 3 minutes? Then check out Prosthetic’s Year of Desolation. These dudes do nothing but shred. It’s by far some of the best riffing and soloing I’ve heard on a cd in a LONG, LONG time. This cd was made for headbanging, mosh pits (sans the hardcore dancers), and plenty, I mean PLENTY of circle pits.
13. THE TONY DANZA TAP DANCE EXTRAVAGANZA Danza II: The Electric Boogaloo (Black Market Activities)
I’ve been a fan of these guys since their full length on Corrosive. With songs like Big Pun’s Not Dead I Just Saw Him at Krispy Kreme and Cliff Burton Surprise, it’s a dead giveaway that you’re in for something different. With Danza II, they went even FARTHER outside of the box and created a record that works almost like its own audio play or movie. The story revolves around a midget who goes to bar and just takes shit from everyone, before snapping and killing everyone with a chainsaw (which is one of the coolest sounding tracks on the cd). Listening to this band is pure fun - don’t over analyze it, just shut up and enjoy.
12. STRUNG OUT Blackhawks Over Los Angeles (Fat Wreck Chords)
My favorite thing about this band is that none of them have shitty hair. No hair over their cry eye, and no edge guys making everyone feel bad for being drunk. They’ve been around for what seems like forever and they still know how to make kick ass melodic, riff laden, punk rock. They bring it live.http://www.myspace.com/strungout
11. THE NETWORK This is Your Pig’s Portrait (Black Market Activities)
PISSED OFF. This band is incredibly pissed off, like good east coast hardcore should be. I’m not talking about Agnostic Front tough guy, I’m talking about spastic Converge style shit. When their new vocalist Mike joined the band, guitarist Pete asked him “what would you do if I hit you in the face on stage?” Mike replied, “I’d probably hit you back”. They haven’t looked back since. This band is the definition of DIY. Support this band, especially on the road.
10. THE FUNERAL PYRE The Nature of Betrayal (Prosthetic)
Melodic black/euro rooted death metal at its finest. The atmospheric keys, fret melting guitar work, and punctuated, percussive vocals create an audio landscape that will actually leave you feeling slightly emotional. Check out Victims and you’ll hear what I’m talking about. I can’t wait to hear new stuff from this band…
9. THE RED CHORD Prey for Eyes (Metal Blade)
“Where’s my fucking BBQ? I know you have it!” With lyrics like that, you know this cd is twisted. This is another release with art and packaging worth having - check out the story behind the lyrics and title in the sleeve. We should all know how ridiculous The Red Chord are, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you how bad ass the music is, just try me when I say it’s kick ass.
8. BEHEMOTH The Apostasy (Century Media)
This band is the real deal. Like Hatebreed, they have a ridiculously strong work ethic and the BELIEVE in what they are doing. This is some of the darkest music you’ll hear all year. It’s black metal, but not BORINGLY black metal. There’s enough guitar work to keep even casual black metal fans interested and song titles that aren’t too over the top…unless you count Christgrinding Avenue…
7. BAYSIDE The Walking Wounded (Victory)
This is another one of my non-metal guilty pleasures. Even though they aren’t metal, guitarist Jack O’Shea still shreds with solos that put some metal bands to shame. Anthony Raneri seriously writes some of the best lyrics I’ve EVER heard. They’re the most memorable, non cliché lyrics out there right now. And the vocals don’t sound like whiny emo garbage - they’re just right to sing along to. It’s good to see an honest, no bullshit rock band continue to do well. And none of them have overly shitty hair cuts (see: AFI).
6. LIZZY BORDEN Appointment with Death (Metal Blade)
I never thought I would listen to a Lizzy Borden record so much. I can’t say I know a lot of Lizzy’s back catalogue - but now I WANT to. Appointment isn’t just a throwback to 80s sounding metal, it sounds modern. Lizzy seems to actually be getting better with age. Unlike some of his 80s peers, his voice is much more melancholy; less high pitched and abrasive. A slew of guest musicians play on the album, including Cory from Trivium, Dave from Y&T and MUCH more. There’s something about this cd that makes me smile as I sing along. It’s fun! Remember when music was supposed to be fun?
5. BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME Colors (Victory)
The highly anticipated follow up to Alaska delivered much more than anyone expected. BTBAM pretty much touched on every genre of music that a metal band can touch on in one record - and more. This is one of those cds where you’ll pick up something new that you missed on the previous listen. The songs are lengthy, but they move around enough to keep you more than interested. The lyrics are incredibly well thought out and if you take the time to figure out what they’re about, it only adds to the listening experience.
4. THE HANDSHAKE MURDERS Usurper (Goodfellow)
These guys don’t fuck around. Their music is polyrhythmic, groovy, and technical. They’ll go from groovy Meshuggah-esque rhythms straight into technical speed riffs with out hesitation. Somehow it works - the songs flow with out sounding like a cut and paste mess of tech. Tasteful. Check it.
3. AS I LAY DYING An Ocean Between Us (Metal Blade)
The mighty As I Lay Dying; one of the few true metal powerhouses out there today, surprised the hell out of me with their latest. This is their 4th true full length. It’s common to see metal bands soften up with age in an effort to widen their fan base. Many of them alienate their former fans and fall into obscurity or even break up (see: Eighteen Visions). As I Lay Dying did the complete opposite. They recorded the most brutal, and SOMEHOW, most melodic record of their careers. When As I Lay Dying released the first single, Within Destruction, from the cd on their myspace, people ACTUALLY commented “omg where are the breakdowns?!??!” People are seriously that retarded. Well with An Ocean Between Us, As I Lay Dying didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they augmented their previous sound with more elements of thrash and much more high flying guitar work. And it WORKS.
I have another gripe with people who call As I Lay Dying a Christian band. None of their lyrics reference Christianity…so what makes them a “Christian” band? If a plumber came to your house and said he was Christian, would you call him a “Christian” plumber? No! As I Lay Dying is a metal band, so shut the hell up.
2. THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER Nocturnal (Metal Blade)
Critics have been saying this record is way better than the last album, which I don’t understand, because Miasma killer…maybe people didn’t want lyrics to stray away from horror themes? And anyone that calls Black Dahlia “core” should be shoveled into the furnace of a steam engine at full speed. The Black Dahlia Murder know what the fuck they’re doing - especially with new members in Bart (bass) and Shannon Lucas (drums). With a solid lineup, this band can do some damage. And Shannon Lucas can drum! Watching this guy play is not even fair.
1. 3 The End is Begun (Metal Blade)
If you don’t know anything about 3, it’s time get to get your off your ass and catch up. Before you start throwing around comparisons to Coheed & Cambria, know that 3’s been around longer and Coheed used to open up for them. 3 are loosely called a progressive rock band. I say loosely because generally when you think progressive rock, you think of bands that play for themselves with less regard to writing catchy songs. 3 write songs that are musically intimidating, yet catchy enough for those who don’t know anything about music to enjoy. Joey Eppard’s voice gets compared to Claudio’s from Coheed, but is much more smooth and palatable. It doesn’t matter what crowd 3 plays in front of, they leave them speechless. They slayed at New England Hardcore & Metal Fest, they slayed on the road with Porcupine Tree, and they’ll slay next year on the Progressive Nation Tour with Dream Theatre, Opeth & Between the Buried and Me.
I liked a lot of records this year, so here are my honorable mentions:
Benea Reach - Monument Bineothan
Beneath the Massacre - Mechanics of Dysfuncion
Beyond the Sixth Seal - the Resurrection of Everything Tough
Cephalic Carnage - Xenosapien
Clutch - From Beale St. to Oblivion
Dark Tranquillity - Fiction
Dimmu Borgir - In Sorte Diaboli
Job for a Cowboy - Genesis
Primordial - To the Nameless Dead
Vital Remains - Icons of Evil