A silly little blog for me to drop the excrement of my mind.
Published on January 25, 2007 By BlueDev In Music
San Chonino and I were discussing which albums we would place in our top ten albums of the year article.  However, we both were having a difficult time really selecting a stand out track, unlike last year.  That isn't to say that there weren't some great albums in 2006.  There really were.  But nothing that grabbed us.  Plus, when there are so many albums that slip under your radar, making a top ten list seems presumptuous.  For example, Deadsoul Tribe's The Dead Word should have been in our list, but neither of us had heard it until early 2006.  Likewise, Riverside's Second Life Syndrome would have taken the top spot away from Redemption, had we simply heard of these guys.  And so, choosing to eschew the top ten list format, here are our notable notes from last year: 
Best Random Sampler:

Riverside - Voices in my Head

BlueDev: Voices in my Head is an anomaly.  It doesn't fit comfortably in the middle of Riverside's other two records, but it is a beautiful peak into the versatility of what is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands.  Acoustic, electronic, some trance along with some harder versions of songs off their debut release, Voices in my Head increases my admiration and respect for Riverside.  Awesome album.

San Chonino: Riverside have a style all their own.  While this EP doesn't necessarily follow the same sort of style as their two LPs, more than anything this album demonstrates their versatility as an act.  And the song 'Dna ts. Rednum or F. Raf'?  One of the best building, creepy sounding songs.  Love it.  I anxiously await a new album by this incredible band.


Best Female-Fronted Album:

Lacuna Coil - Karmacode

San Chonino: Lacuna Coil has really hit their groove with their fourth full-length album.  It's crunchier than past releases, while still maintaining those beautiful, haunting Cristina Scabbia vocals.  And the male vocalist sounds better than ever - he seems to have tightened up his sound a lot.  Add to that the amazing amount of bass in this disc, and my little Hyundai Accent is shaking with delight.

BlueDev: Karmacode is a cool album.  I really, really enjoyed it.  But I don't know if I can call it my best female-fronted album, primarily because I find myself getting bored when listening now.  In fact, and this hurts me a bit to say it, I am going to have to go with:

Biggest Surprise:

Evanescence - The Open Door

BlueDev: Evanescence's rise to stardom pissed me off, to be honest.  There were other bands doing what they did long before them, and they were doing it better.  And their previous release, while having some good songs, left me nonplussed.  Well, much to my surprise, The Open Door is a great album.  Amy Lee does a wonderful job on lead vocals, and many of the songs are quite haunting.  I am surprised, and more than a little embarrassed, at just how much I like this album.  Honestly, I am enjoying it more than Karmacode.  It tugs at the heart strings a bit more.  I'll hang my head in shame now.

San Chonino: Haven't heard it.  Wouldn't know.  Eventually I'll hear it, but for now . . . I've got nothing.


Best Live Release:

Kamelot - One Cold Winter's Night

San Chonino: This one was a tough category, with some great competition coming from Stream of Passion, but Kamelot has won the day, with one of the strongest live releases I've ever heard.  Khan, the vocalist, sounds great live (something I'd worried about - his voice is so unique, I was afraid it would lose some of its grandeur when sung live) and Thomas Youngblood, the guitarist, can truly shred with the best of them.  A wonderful slice of live.

BlueDev: Tons of energy, beautiful production, and hey, all three parts of "Elizabeth" are on disc 2, in order.  That is mighty tough to beat.  The band was in fine form that cold February night in Oslo, and the album captures it beautifully.  I'm torn between this and Live in the Real World by Stream of Passion.  The importance of the Stream of Passion disc is that it demonstrated to any detractors that as a band, Stream of Passion really, really play well together.  It is also wonderful to hear some Ayreon songs performed a little differently.  Both are wonderful.


Best "Return to Form":

Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death 

San Chonino: One word:  Finally.  This was the Maiden album I've been hoping for for years.  I'm a huge Maiden fan, owning their entire catalog, and I've never been quite so impressed with one of their albums as the very first time I put in Powerslave.  But finally, they've outdone their selves and given us a disc that's complex, layered, rocking, and wonderful.  Easily their best in twenty years.

BlueDev: Okay, my one word: Epic.  That is really when, in my opinion, Maiden is at their best; when writing epic metal songs that are just big, lyrically, thematically and musically.  And A Matter of Life and Death is just about the most epic Maiden has ever sounded.  I would never pretend to be the Maiden fan that my brother is, but this is one great album.


Biggest Treat/Best Evolution:

OSI - Free

BlueDev: Any time Jim Matheos writes and records new music, it is a huge treat.  He has penned more amazing songs than anyone has a right to.  And hooking him up with Kevin Moore for some more OSI goodness, well, it is like a never-ending banana split for the ice cream fan.  OSI is a work in progress.  Free is distinctly different from the first album, and is a wonderful evolution of Kevin Moore's Chroma Key work, and Jim Matheos' Fates work.  They blend so many different styles of music flawlessly, creating a thing of rare beauty.  Let's hope these two guys keep working together.  There is some amazing synergy going on that would be a tragedy to lose.

San Chonino: OSI's first disc was the best selling album ever released on Inside Out records, and with good reason.  It was frantic, moody, crunchy, and just cool.  I mean, "shutDOWN"; what's better than this?  So it was with great anticipation that I picked up Free, hoping for another winner, and the Matheos/Moore team did not disappoint.  They've changed their sound quite a bit, incorporated more of the ambiance and programming and making the disc less guitar-oriented, but it remains one of my favorite releases for the year.


Best Chill Music:

Thom Yorke - The Eraser

San Chonino: Radiohead's Kid A was largely praised as their pinnacle - the ultimate in atmospheric, synth-driven strange alternative rock.  This tradition of beat-propelled music continues with The Eraser, Thom Yorke's solo disc.  It could aptly be called Kid B for the obvious overtones to that incomparable album, but it maintains a style all its own.  It's got a great beat; not necessarily a dancing beat, but a good chill beat.  Great for kicking back and enjoying.

BlueDev: I tried.  I tried to like it.  I tried to enjoy it.  But it just didn't do anything for me.  Then again, chalk me up as one of those who just doesn't like Radiohead.  Blech.  I'll pass.


Least Disappointing:

Queensryche - Operation: Mindcrime II

BlueDev: When I heard the rumors that The Ryche was going to do Mindcrime II I prepared for the worst.  I feared this album like I have never feared an album before.  When it was released, I discovered that my fears were unrealized.  No, Mindcrime II is not even remotely as good as the original Mindcrime.  But I never thought it would be.  What it is is a far better album than Queensryche had released in over a decade (since 1994's stunning Promised Land).  I went in preparing for the worst and found something much better than what I expected.

San Chonino: I've loved the first Mindcrime since I bought it, many many years ago.  It remains one of the best concept albums ever pulled off by a group, with its ability to be listened to as a whole, or enjoyed track-by-track.  Mindcrime II scared me, because of the absolute musicianship that permeated the first disc and that has been missing from Queensryche of late.  But, surprises don't have to be as unpleasant as my experience with 10,000 Days.  The boys of the Ryche pulled off a winner here.


Most Disappointing:

Tool - 10,000 Days

BlueDev: Lateralus is an amazing album.  It is one of those albums you just don't expect a band to top with their next release.  But I didn't expect nearly the let down that was 10,000 Days.  The biggest disappointment is that, for the first 4 tracks (25-30 minutes or so) the album is amazing.  After track 4 though, it starts to spiral down and just never recovers.  There is simply too much random noise on this album, with entire songs being dedicated to an atonal mish-mash of crap.  If I were a true fan, I suppose I would eat it up blindly.  But I am not.  What I am is disappointed.

San Chonino: It was with much excitement that I purchased this album.  I remember going to the store during my lunch break the day that Lateralus came out, and I remember my euphoria at the excellence of that album.  I was hoping to have a similar experience with 10,000 Days.  I stuck it in the car's CD player and was rocked hard for five songs - and then promptly dropped.  The album was over, while sound and some semblance of "ambient music" continued.  Message to Tool:  you guys broke my heart with this one.  I expected so much more.


Most Conspicuously Absent:

Symphony X

BlueDev: I was jazzed for a new Symphony X album this year.  But sickness and many other problems have delayed the release of their next album.  Studio reports are that most of the band recording is done, vocals are being worked on and it should be out in the first half of 2007.  Let's hope so. 

San Chonino: Please?  Soon?  I love your music.  Please give me something else.  You're killing me, guys.


Best Album by a Band With the Most Redundant Name:

Jon Oliva's Pain - Maniacal Renderings

BlueDev: Why the hell is the band not just called Pain?  Probably because there is another band out there called Pain.  But Jon Oliva's Pain?  It sounds like I should be taking out his appendix or something.  Let's be honest and just call this Savatage.  Sure, it is missing most of the people who "comprise" Savatage these days (they are all rolling in the concert earnings as Trans-Siberian Orchestra), but is has Jon Oliva, many of the songs were written, in part, by the late Criss Oliva (found on demo tapes and hand written by Criss himself) and so, is more Savatage than the last few Savatage albums were.  It rocks, it rolls, and it has all the trademarks of old Savatage, grown up and matured for an older audience.

San Chonino: I love this album.  I picked it up a few weeks back and just love the flavor of music that Jon Oliva brings to the table.  It makes me ache for the old Savatage.


Most Versatile Artist:

Devin Townsend

San Chonino: I can't seem to gush enough about this man's talent.  My first experience with him was the first Devin Townsend Band album, and I found it stunning.  This year's release, Synchestra, is even better.  I think it's Dev's most melodic album, filled with a polyphony of musical tastiness, while still maintaining the crunchy edge that helped earn Dev his title as the Mad Scientist of metal.  It's only recently that I had the courage to listen to Strapping Young Lad, Devin's other band and alter-ego.  Their album this year, The New Black, is brutal.  Filled with spite, profanity, angst, hate, vulgarity, and just plain kick-you-in-the-face metal, this album is a killer.  Add to that it's scathing and sarcastic lyrics and tongue-in-cheek holler choruses, and you've got a genius of an album.  Top that all off with Devin's ambient instrumental album,  Hummer, released in November.  It's not easy listening, and not for the casual fan.  But it's so different from the other two discs that it amazes me that it all comes from the same source.  I fall asleep to this album at night - it's that soothing.  Maybe I gush too much, but I am a member of Devin's fan club, and I have a signed newsletter of his.  But I digress.  The man is a genius - an insane one, yes, but a genius nonetheless.  More should hear his music and revel in his versatility.

BlueDev: Devin just brims with musical energy and thoughts.  He is amazing, in part because you just never know what he is going to come up with next.  But I have to say more about Synchestra.  The brilliance of Synchestra lies in its ability to have distinct tracks, but to really be, in essence, one big, long 60+ minute song.  All the smaller parts work synergistic with each other to become a tour de force of metal.  This one is a keeper, and if I were forced to pick a top album of the year, this most likely would be it.


So there you go.  Long, I know.  But hopefully it was fun to read and gave someone out there an idea or two of some new music to check out.  


Comments
on Jan 26, 2007
Well I checked it out from the link on your whore article. A bunch of your bands I never even heard of and I like to think I'm on top of these things. I will have to download a song or two and check them out. I have to say that I don't buy albums any more so if you wanted to include your favorite song off each album that would be great.

I have to say that I think Amy Lee oversings. There is something to be said for subtlety. Then when you reach that crescendo it's much more impressive than when you just belt out the whole song.

My hubby loves Iron Maiden. Maybe I'll buy him their new album.

I saw Queensryche forever ago before I had kids and they were a great concert. They have had more staying power than the other bands that were playing at the time. I always thought they were more thoughtful than many of the other bands like them.

Tool - not my thing. I think I just can't separate them from that creepy claymation video. It gives me nightmares.

Okay whores are you happy - I came, I read, I commented.
on Jan 26, 2007
Well I checked it out from the link on your whore article. A bunch of your bands I never even heard of and I like to think I'm on top of these things. I will have to download a song or two and check them out. I have to say that I don't buy albums any more so if you wanted to include your favorite song off each album that would be great.

I have to say that I think Amy Lee oversings. There is something to be said for subtlety. Then when you reach that crescendo it's much more impressive than when you just belt out the whole song.

My hubby loves Iron Maiden. Maybe I'll buy him their new album.

I saw Queensryche forever ago before I had kids and they were a great concert. They have had more staying power than the other bands that were playing at the time. I always thought they were more thoughtful than many of the other bands like them.

Tool - not my thing. I think I just can't separate them from that creepy claymation video. It gives me nightmares.

Okay whores are you happy - I came, I read, I commented.
on Jan 26, 2007
oops and somehow I posted my comment twice then commented on my double post - you know whores love those extra points.
on Jan 26, 2007
A bunch of your bands I never even heard of and I like to think I'm on top of these things.


That's why we write this stuff, so that people can hopefully check out some bands that are really, really good but often overlooked.

Hope you check some out and find something you like!


PS the problem with listing "favorite tracks" is that, with many of these albums, there is no favorite track. The whole album is worth a listen, and that's why we didn't pick out favorite songs.
on Jan 26, 2007

PS the problem with listing "favorite tracks" is that, with many of these albums, there is no favorite track.

Plus, it would have turned an already long article into a mammoth that would be even more difficult to make through.

Locamama: Thanks so much for reading.  I agree that Amy Lee can oversing at times.  There is just something about their new album that I found very enjoyable.  It is a huge surprise, but there we go. 

on Jan 26, 2007
Great post. It will give me some new stuff to listen to. I have to disagree with the Tool part. I really liked 10,000 days.
on Jan 26, 2007

I have to disagree with the Tool part. I really liked 10,000 days.

As I mentioned, I loved the first 4 songs, #5 was okay, then it just went downhill.  I know there is another in there that is an actual song, but by the time I get there, I have lost all interest and just find it incredibly boring.

on Jan 27, 2007
Hmmm, you guys do a good job with your commentary. I like the style!

I don't know who some of those bands are though, interesting to read about them though.

The only one I do know and like is the one you hate....Evanescence ! I do love Amy's voice! She's not too over the top for me!

There you have it! Whore no more.....unless of course there's a good offer on the table!!
on Jan 27, 2007
Ohhhhh double post edit! Another five from me!hehehe
on Jan 27, 2007
Like a few others on here, I also haven't heard of some of these artists (Riverside, Lacuna Coil, Kamelot ...) so it's a good opportunity to check them out.

on Feb 04, 2007
toothpaste for dinner
toothpastefordinner.com

What most people think when they hear about these artists . . .
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