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Monday, January 10, 2011

My Top 5 Albums of 2010

Ladies and djentlemen,

I'd like to present to you my favorite music albums to be released in the year 2010. I've gotta say, nothing extremely groundbreaking this year, but there were a few gems to be found. As usual, all but one of these are metal albums. That's what happens when last.fm recommends you music based on what you already listen to, haha. Anyway, here are the records that I enjoyed the most.

#5 - Mnemic: Sons of the System

Favorite Track - #2: Diesel Uterus

After a fairly 'meh' previous album, Danish modern metal band Mnemic (pronounced 'Nem-ick' by the members themselves) returns with a surprisingly solid fourth record titled 'Sons of the System'. After the departure of their phenomenal vocalist Michael Bogballe after the release of their second album, Mnemic adopted ex-Scarve vocalist Guillaume Bideau. Bideau's performance on their third album 'Passenger' was very satisfying in the clean vocals department, but his 'puke-scream' harsh delivery bothered the absolute shit out of me. After Passenger, I did not have super high hopes for the band's fourth album. Thankfully, Bideau got vocal lessons or radioactive superpowers or something, because his performance on Sons of the System is nearly flawless. This record is a much easier and straightforward listen than the former, and every song carries a killer hook and a catchy chorus. Standout tracks are the oddly named single 'Diesel Uterus', 'Climbing Toward Stars' with a throat-tearing chorus, and 'Hero(in)' with its groovy start-stop riffing and beautiful melodies. My major complaint with this album is the method of compression on the drums which makes the cymbals pump in an extremely unnatural way. In addition, some tracks seem a bit less inspired than others, with the verse jumping into the chorus with no sort of fluid transition. These complaints shouldn't deter one from giving this record a listen, however. Any fan of heavy music should check this one out for sure.


#4 - Coheed and Cambria: Year of the Black Rainbow

Favorite Track - #2: The Broken

Anyone who knows me probably expected this album to immediately jump to #1 on my list. Coheed and Cambria is the group that really got me into music as more than just a method of drowning out teachers' voices in class. Year of the Black Rainbow isn't as personal for me as their last album, as this one is a prequel to the entire Coheed and Cambria story. The story behind this record is more of a love story than an action movie, which is great in and of itself, but after experiencing the epic tale unfold with the previous albums, to step backward in time and flesh out the backstory of two characters who by the next album are *spoilers* dead *spoilers*, seems pointless to me. But really, the quality of an album should be judged based on the music mainly, and musically, I'm very bi-polar about this record. On the good side, nearly every staple of a Coheed record is here. Legendarily powerful opening track? Got it. Badass, pulse-pounding rock track? Got it. Tear-jerking ballad? Absolutely (for real, don't call me a puss till you listen to the album). With all this, however, comes a bit of a shift in production style which, while pristine and sonically flawless, places focus on creating textures based on the subtle interplay between the two guitarists and takes focus off of the monster riffs and genius playing style of guitarists Sanchez and Stever. The skill is there, but it's not at the forefront where, in my opinion, it should be. Instead the listener is treated to a catchy and accessible swirling of sounds, which is by no means unpleasant, but it's not Coheed and Cambria. The bottom line is, to the die-hard Coheed fan, this record is solid, but not up to par with their previous work. To any other listener, this is a fantastic and extremely enjoyable listen, and my nerd rage should not defer you from what could likely be your new favorite record.


#3 - Keep of Kalessin: Reptilian

Favorite Track - #7: The Divine Land

Here's one that snuck up on me! Keep of Kalessin is a Norwegian band who is classified as black metal, but is, in my opinion, much more polished and melodically focused than the standard black metal band. I cannot comment on their earlier work, as this is the first and only album I have from them, but this album is chock full of tight guitar riffs that would make any rock guitar nerd wee themselves (myself included...brb, changing). The album has eight tracks, all of which are longer than most songs, and all of which are about dragons. Fuck yeah. The guitarist (only one) and the drummer are the main focus here. The drums are, by any black metal band's standards, a brisk workout, but by any normal artist's standards, batshit insane. In the second-to-last track (which in my opinion should be the final track), drummer Vyl blastbeats for nearly seven minutes straight under a massive and beautiful wall of guitar work and choir vocals. I'm listening to it right now and I'm losing my breath just thinking about it. Don't let the single, which is strangely the worst and most lackluster song on the album, fool you. As the title and theme indicates, this is one monster of an album.


#2 - Dagoba: Poseidon

Favorite Track - #7: Black Smokers (752 Fahrenheit)

I became completely enamored with this band after their song "The Fall of Men" came up in my last.fm station and I heard the singer's mandate "BE FUCKED OR BE ROASTED!". This four-piece groove metal group hails from the port town of Marseilles, France and is often referred to as "the only good thing to come out of France" by esteemed Youtube user critics. It's hard for me to point out a choice few songs from this band's catalog as my favorites, as I am really just drawn to their overall style. Headbangability is paramount with this album, and it does not disappoint in that respect. This record is, from start to finish, a neck-breaker. It is extremely battery-focused, as they have one of the best drummers around behind the kit. This is the reason, I think, that this album has the clickiest kick drum I've ever heard. Most people will find it obnoxiously clicky, myself included, but it's not too difficult to get used to, and it really is the driving force behind the album, anyway. The theme of this album is of life at sea, pirates, storms, and...I dunno...probably sea monsters and barnacles. Standout tracks include the phenomenal opener Dead Lion Reef; Devil's Triangle, which is a crushing song about having a devil's threesome (can anyone relate to this?); the mid-album instrumental The Horn Cape, which consists almost entirely of the same note (B); and the killer single Black Smokers. If you are a metalhead and want a reason to swing your flowing locks from side to side, this is the record for you.

#1 - Eluveitie: Everything Remains as it Never Was

Favorite Track - #2: Everything Remains as it Never Was

I bet the first thing you're saying, if you're not already familiar with the band, is "how the bloody hell do you pronounce that name? That's the first thing I thought, at least. It's pronounced 'El-vay-tee-uh', and it's Gaulish for 'I am Helvetian', which more or less refers to someone who is from Switzerland. Are you sitting down for this next factoid? Get ready...the band is from....Switzerland. Now you're wondering what the purpose of all this historical crap is. It's relevant to the music, as Eluveitie is a folk metal band, whose music and lyrics are thematically based on ancient Gaulish folk stories and music. A sane person would hear the phrase 'folk metal' and think that it sounds stupid, and that's because most folk metal is very, very stupid. :P But Eluveitie is an exception. Whereas most folk metal bands just play heavy metal drinking songs, Eluveitie plays modern melodic metal while skillfully weaving in melodies played on a variety of folk instruments, such as flutes, tin whistles, bagpipes, fiddle, and the unfortunately named hurdy-gurdy (it's legit). This record consists of 13 of some of the best metal songs you'll ever hear, with the added uniqueness of swirling textures provided by various folk instruments and melodies, which evoke a certain ancient, tribal emotion. Of special note is the band's drummer (who for added awesomeness possesses the birth name 'Merlin'), who is probably one of the most talented and tasteful drummers I know of. He is able to weave between thrashy metal passages and bounding folk phrases with a precision and keen sense of groove that is unrivaled by most individuals today. This entire record is a journey that is undeniably formulaic on paper, yet it is never, ever gimmicky...and while it can even be said that it is unoriginal, as it borrows from so many pioneers which came before; at its core, this record is a dynamic, one of a kind experience, whose execution is unique, fresh, and absolutely deserving of respect.

Thanks for reading! If you have actually read it, that is... I'm always open to suggestions. What was your favorite this year?


11:39 am - 2 comments - 2 Kudos
Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Top 5 Albums of 2009

Current mood: METALLL

Matt's Top 5 Albums of 2009

Greetings, parasites! This might be a bit late, as it is already nearly February, but it was on my mind recently (that's a lie, it's on my mind all the time), so I figured I'd take a look back at all the records I obtained in 2009, and give an overview of the ones that were, in my opinion, the best. Compared to 2008, this year was MILES ahead in terms of fantastic new releases, like some kind of morbid inverse of '08 and '09's significant celebrity death ratios. Whereas last year I struggled to even find five solid albums, this year I found it incredibly difficult to narrow the list down to JUST five (hence why I sorta cheated). Each album in this list is a perfect 10 out of 10, 5 stars, etc. It's probably worth noting here and now at the beginning, however, that I most certainly did not listen to every record released in 09. I pretty much stick to my own 'comfort zone' in terms of genre, so I'll preface this article right now by saying: the following works listed are pretty much all metal albums. If you have a recommendation for me, I'd be more than happy to give it a few listens, but for now, here are the albums of 2009 which I thought were fantastic.

#5 - Devin Townsend: Ki / Addicted
Best Song- Ki, Track 2: Coast
- Addicted, Track 4: Supercrush

This list starts off with a little double album action from modern musical genius and, more personally, my biggest musical influence and hero, Devin Townsend. These two albums, titled Ki and Addicted, respectfully, are records #1 and #2 in a four-album series, which is why they were both released this year; Ki in May, and Addicted in November. Despite this, these are full albums and can stand just fine on their own, and in fact, don't really seem at all related, musically. The first record, Ki carries a calm, relaxing feel due to the abundance of clean guitar and scarce, downplayed session drumming from a 62 year old blues musician. Atmosphere is the name of the game with this record, and Ki is as effective in this regard in the silence between the notes as it is with the notes themselves. This is my choice chill-out record, despite the fact that it is brimming with tense emotion. Indeed there are very intense build-ups in many of the songs, but just as you think the song is going to explode into a massive passage, you are immediately let down. In addition to spirituality and focus, this record is about restraint, and the restraint exhibited in this album is both shocking and moving, considering the music comes from the same mind which perfected the art of truly massive music in addition to creating the most relentless, punishing skull-crusher of an album ever made.

The second record in this shifty little two-parter, Addicted, contains the loudness listeners have come to expect from Townsend, but with a bit of a twist. Townsend himself stated that this was his 'pop' record. Ten songs, average length, short and to the point, here's a beat, here's some synth, here's a huge chorus...now fuck the drama in life, let's dance! While all this is true, the record is a far cry from anything you'd expect to hear in the Top 40, as it seamlessly blends these catchy pop sensibilities with Devin's trademark "not right in the head" style. For every catchy hook there is a scream, and for every Euro-pop melody, there's a crushing wall of guitars. The addition of angelic female vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen to counteract Townsend is nothing but beneficial to the overall picture. My favorite moment is Track #4, appropriately titled Supercrush, which is a break from the dance-pop of the previous track. This song features the TASTEFULLY auto-tuned vocals of Giersbergen (take notes, people) in the verses, before exploding into an absolutely massive chorus, where Devin gives one of the most powerful vocal performances I've ever experienced. This record is an audio engineer's heaven, and you're doing an injustice to music if you listen to it on youtube. There is so much subtle work going on throughout the album, that the more intently (loudly) you listen, the more you will enjoy it. Overall, the duality in this record between uplifting and intense is perfectly merged into something that is ultimately beautiful. This is one to crank up, folks. It's worth every decibel of hearing loss.

#4 - Disarmonia Mundi: The Isolation Game
Best Song- Track 6: The Isolation Game

Disarmonia Mundi. "World Chaos" in latin. I've been a huge fan of this Italian melodic metal band for a few years, now. The word 'band' though, feels wrong when addressing these guys. Two guys, to be specific. One of which, Ettore Rigotti, writes and plays ALL of the music. I consider DM to be 100% his project and his music. The other half of the band, Claudio Ravinale, jumped aboard two albums into Ettore's career, bringing to the music lyrics and half of the vocals. His presence is felt much stronger on this record than past efforts. Claudio delivers almost all of the screams on The Isolation Game, alternating in every song between a very solid, run-of-the-mill metal scream to a high pitched, gothic, banshee shriek. He is, however, far from the primary focus of the music. Rather, Ettore shines yet again on this record as a master of brutality without losing his sense of groove. The 'groove' is something I find infinitely enjoyable in the metal genre, yet is at the same time constantly lost in the sea of bands trying to 'out-brutalize' the rest. Let it be clear that this record is definitely not without its share of blast beats and double kick insanity. In fact, these and similar thrashy aspects are abundant here, but at the same time, there is a huge focus placed on maintaining a backbeat and being able to just bang your head without breaking your neck from extreme BPM. It's something that's hard to explain and really has to be heard. In ADDITION to this, the music never loses it's melody. Ettore tends to hide guitar leads very, very far back in the mix, with chugging rhythm tracks brought to the front. This adds to a very unique and EFFECTIVE kind of melodic texture. It's amazing how every track will both crush your bones and put a smile on your face at the same time. For sheer brutality, check out the track "Stepchild of Laceration", which contains a sheer speed-fest for a chorus. For straightforward headbanging with an epic chorus delivered by Soilwork vocalist Bjorn Strid, give the song "The Isolation Game" a listen. Overall, if you want to rage yourself to exhaustion and still have a great melody to sing along to when you're passed out on the floor, this is the album for you.

#3 - Amorphis: Skyforger
Best Song- Track 1: Sampo

Here's where it gets REALLY tough to choose a #1 for the year. I mean, REALLY tough. Amorphis' newest record had been 'spinning' on my iPod for many, many months after it was released (early February), and I still listen to it at least once every two weeks or so. This record (along with Amorphis' previous masterpiece Silent Waters) just OOZE quality songwriting. Though Skyforger is technically a metal album, it's far from fast, and far from angry. Most growling is saved for the bridge of each song, if it appears at all, which I actually enjoy. When vocalist Tomi Joutsen employs a death growl, YOU PAY ATTENTION. Otherwise, Joutsen sings in a very pleasing baritone. Most lyrics are delivered with subtle inflection during the verses and extremely powerful belting during the choruses (often vice versa). Aside from the vocals, the entire record moves along at a steady mid-tempo pace, and EVERY song has a melodic hook which will draw you in instantly. The melodies created on this record are deep, moving, and beautiful, and are usually carried by the lead guitar or the piano. If you want to know what I'm talking about in terms of the hooks in this record, listen to the first few bars of the song "Sky is Mine". I guarantee you'll be listening to the rest of the song after hearing that, and you should! Every song on this record works cohesively and each plays an important part in the whole picture. This album is the sonic equivalent of a sequence of Monet paintings. Every piece is huge and driving, yet never intimidating or 'angry', which most lay-listeners would use to describe any metal work. There is a world of difference between ANGRY and POWERFUL, and this record is 100% the latter. Skyforger is barely a metal album, and I highly recommend it to anyone who would be interested in truly epic, powerful music. Oh, and the record's closer is mind-blowing.

#2 - Mastodon: Crack the Skye
Best Song- Track 7: The Last Baron

This one should come as no surprise to anyone who has heard it, really. Mastodon's newest record received almost unanimously 5-star reviews upon its release in March. It's a bit of a stylistic shift from previous works by the band, but no less enjoyable. There's a bit of backstory regarding the members of the band that led to the music on this album, I'll try to put it as short as I can. Basically, guitarist and vocalist Brent Hinds was punched in the back of the head by a man and landed face first on the concrete of the Vegas Strip. He was dead for a while, but eventually he woke up, only with the injury came a bit of a mental irregularity which led to numerous episodes of vertigo and...'carving a wooden idol out of a log which faces magnetic north but only being able to work on it during certain hours of the day' syndrome. Despite these oddities, the other band members noted a huge stylistic advance in Hinds' guitar playing, writing and overall musical approach. This, combined with drummer Brann Dailor's increasing emotions over his sister Skye's suicide in 1990, is what led to this extremely dark and melancholic, but masterful and one-of-a-kind work. Lyrically, the album's concept has to do with a paralyzed man who astrally projects his spirit into space, travels back in time, possesses the body of Rasputin in czarist Russia, gets killed, and meets up with a bunch of other spirits which try to help him get back to his original body. The music on the album reflects the lyrical themes. The music is very ethereal, spacey, and dark. It is also, I am suddenly learning, VERY difficult to describe. Imagine a band made up of an impossibly skilled jazzy drummer, a bluegrass / country guitarist, an ACTUAL mastodon, and the god of beards. Ugh...this is hard...you really need to listen to the record to realize what a work of art it is. People who are predominantly turned on by vocal-based music will NOT understand it. I'm sorry, you just won't. Other listeners will still have to give it at least three full listens through to get it, but once you get it...man it's really something else. There is a LOT going on in every bar. Thematically, artistically, and sonically this album says something very profound. What it is saying is up to the listener, but just listen to any of the guitar solos on this record and you'll be treated to a very emotionally heavy experience which you won't easily understand, but is just as difficult to forget.

#1 - Dredg: The Pariah, The Parrot, The Delusion

Believe it or not, #1 is NOT a metal album! Not surprising, though, for anyone who knows just how much I LOVE this band. Hmm...how to describe Dredg. Post-Indie-Art-Rock-Progressive-Alternative-Experimental? That's the best I can come up with. Conceptually this record is explained as "a letter to the seven billionth citizen", meaning it is meant as a message to one, or really any, newborn life as a kind of "introduction to life as a human on Earth". It's kind of philosophical in a positive way. Musically, this band is made up of only FOUR members, one of which is one of my favorite guitarists, another, one of my favorite singers, and a third, by far my favorite drummer of all time. Aside from having a fantastically tasteful and enjoyable drumming style, the guy plays the piano. And the drums. At the same time. With this record, Dredg absolutely surpassed my already ludicrously high expectations. The production on this record is FLAWLESS, and they recorded it all on their own, in their own studio, more or less on their own dime. These four guys are musicians in every sense of the word, four guys who really understand the ins and outs of emotional expression through sound. Each note is perfectly placed, and every word delivered with precision. With this record, not only are we treated to a fantastic length of music, but we are witness to a wonderful journey. This record MUST be listened to front to back. When you literally FEEL every chord change, you'll agree. These guys busted their asses working on this record, and it really shows. Every layer is pristine, clear, and very well defined. The sound is catchy and poppy for sure, but it's also artistically integral and above all else, infinitely beautiful. The melodies in this record wash across the listener like a breeze in summer, refreshing and uplifting. I really hope everyone has a band or artist or such whom they experience a similar feeling with when listening to their music. It really is fantastic.

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!
11:58 am - 0 comments - 0 Kudos
Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Technology I'd Like to See in the Year 2019

Current mood: Supersonic...Electro nic

Inspired by a thread paintITblack39 made in the Pit today in addition to the fact that I just got done watching the newest Futurama movie. I was going to respond in the thread, but my response was so long, I decided to turn it into a blog.

Here's some technology that I have always seen in movies and TV that I'd really like to see become a reality. Note: I'm ignoring the ethical and moral implications of these inventions for the sake of interest.

-Gadgets that attach to your lower arm, wristband type things, that do everything for you. Wallet, phone, camera, music, video, conference calls, GPS, news, internet...all on your arm. I know modern phones are trying to do this 'everything in one' device, but none have done it perfectly (no, not even the iPhone), and I'd like to see that. The wrist attachment part is just for a bit of a 'badass' touch.

-Teleportation. To be honest, I'd probably be afraid to try it myself, but I think the epitome of human scientific achievement would be standardized teleportation. There are so many ways teleportation could be used as an advantage to everyday life. It would change everything. There is also an equal amount of ways that it could be used for EVIIIIIL, though. It's probably the second most dangerous technological advancement next to time travel, though...which I'm pretty sure is impossible. So most dangerous.

-Fully functional HUDs. Like in Iron Man. In helmets or cars or better yet, in sunglasses. I think this would easily become my favorite. Think about it. Somehow this could plug into a database (probably through your badass wrist apparatus), and access info on every person you see, and display this info right in the air next to them. Like 3D Facebook, basically...only it wouldn't actually be floating in the air, but it would appear so through your sick shades. On the side you'd have gauges displaying the status of different body functions, like blood pressure, temperature, mood or what not...pretty much like a health bar (can you tell i play a lot of video games yet?). Oh man, I could go on and on about the possibilities...weather alerts, GPS directions and maps, danger indicators...fuck yeah.

-Come to think of it...Iron Man suits.

-Robots are a given, I think. Of course, I'm thinking of a world like in Futurama, where robots just become a race of people. I'd want my own robot best friend, like Bender.

-I'd like a sexy female voice to speak to me about stuff whenever I'm in my house. I could just be hanging out watching TV, and I could say, "Computer, how's the weather looking today?" and a breathy female voice would reply, "Currently, it is 66 degrees outside, with a high of 73 later in the afternoon, and a 25% chance of showers, Mr. Bard". And when I get into my car to go somewhere, she is there too, giving me voice directions. I know GPS devices have these voice functions, but I mean, the voice computer of the future complements me on my wardrobe, no matter how poorly matched my shirt and pants are. The future is wonderful.

-And of course, to conclude, this is one I've wanted for the longest time: Lightsabers. Methinks I need not say more, friends.

So leave a comment and let me know what you guys think, as well. I know there's a lot I overlooked, but I'm leaving it up to you to fill in the blanks.

4:50 am - 2 comments - 6 Kudos
Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spoony's Theory on Bathroom Hand Washing

Current mood: awake

Spoony's Theory on Bathroom Hand Washing

Here's my philosophy on washing your hands after peeing (for guys, I don't know exactly how it works for girls, nor do I want to know). Here's the deal. I wake up in the morning and hop right in the shower, wash my ding dong, then put on a clean pair of underwear. Now from then until 24 hours later when I wake up and do the exact same thing, my ding dong never leaves my underpants.

My HANDS, on the other hand (pun, ha!), touch EVERYTHING. Computer, dog, pencil, crusty guitar strings, boogers...everything. By the time I enter the restroom, my hands are absolutely filthy. So if we've established that when I go pee, my hands are dirty, my wiener is squeaky clean, and I don't touch anything but my wiener...why then, should I wash my hands after I go pee?

That's right, I wash my hands BEFORE I pee. I clean all the dirt and crap off my dirty ass hands before I touch my pristine pen0r. As long as I don't pee all over my hands, which I generally don't do, I have no reason to wash my hands after I urinate. I don't touch the seat, as I have my own restroom which I do not share at home, so the seat is always up. When I'm in a public bathroom, I just don't flush the toilet. It's simple. You can all thank me for the pro advice. I know you will all be washing your hands after you pee from now on.
6:51 am - 8 comments - 6 Kudos
Thursday, February 05, 2009


Current mood: irate

I just did a super profile update. Added a background image and a bunch of gear with pictures. Also, I added this blog. So, for anyone brave enough to read this, I have added a quiz for you, for me to know you better. Because I love all of you tiny little goofballs!

1. Name:
2. Favorite Color:
3. Favorite Band:
4. Favorite Song:
5. Guitar:
6. Guitar's name:
7. Great-grandpa's name:
8. Favorite kind of cheese:
9. Where you most want to visit / live:
10. Celebrity crush:
11. Kind of shampoo you use:
12. Favorite movie:
13. On a scale of 1-10, how spoony are you?
14. Greatest fear:
15. Best show you've been to:
16. Soulmate:
17. Your mission:
18. Do you find mullets sexy?
19. Bros or hos?
20. Who ARE you really?

Please post answers in the comments! Love you.
1:11 am - 6 comments - 1 Kudos
Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Top 5 Albums of 2008

Matt's Top 5 Albums of 2008

(Note: This was imported from my Facebook. I wrote it in 2008. Since then I've discovered better albums from that year. I'd replace #4 with Cynic's "Traced in Air", for starters.)

2008 was a pretty abysmal year for music, as I've been mostly listening to albums released pre-2005 throughout the year, but I've tried to scrounge up five good albums that were released this year. Here's what I found. Suggestions are always appreciated. (Side Note: If you're thinking to yourself, "Hey, ________ was a great album! Why didn't he mention it?", chances are I didn't listen to it. Sorry!)


#5 - Bullet for my Valentine: Scream, Aim, Fire

Best Song- Track 9: End of Days


At #5 is Bullet for my Valentine's second album, Scream Aim Fire, which was released in January. While not as satisfying as their debut, this album had enough solid songs and killer riffs to be thoroughly enjoyable. When you overlook a few cheesy ballads, some 'wtf?' lyrics, and a final track that never seems to end, Scream Aim Fire is a killer metalcore album. Bullet is one of the few modern bands who I feel deserve their overwhelming commercial success, even if 90% of their fans are budding British middle school scenesters.



#4 - Haste the Day: Dreamer

Best Song- Track 1: 68


I discovered Haste the Day over Summer of 2007, and they quickly became a favorite of mine with the catchy riffage, amazing vocal harmonies, and ability to include a good, kick-to-the-ass breakdown out of seemingly nowhere. All this, and they never seemed to fall into the endless black hole of cookie-cutter "gratuitous breakdown" hardcore bands. Needless to say, I was extremely excited for Dreamer. Was I disappointed? Yes and no. The album is great, don't get me wrong, but it suffers from a syndrome which is all too common nowadays, brevity. Let's do some math here. The album contains a total of 11 tracks. Subtract the last track, which is a beautiful one-take acoustic song, but it is a re-recording. Now subtract Track 9, a spacey ambient track which, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time. Now subtract Track 5, which is a solid but failed attempt at 'changing it up a bit' that just ends up slowing the record's pace to a crawl. We are left with 8 tracks...8 wonderful in-your-face, headbanging, melodic tracks that are to be expected of Haste the Day. These tracks, especially the first three, are where this record shines. This album could have made it higher on my list if it did not suffer from its unfortunate shortness. That, and the fact that the signature vocal harmonies found in their previous album, Pressure the Hinges, are nowhere to be found. But that's a story too tragic to tell.


#3 - Story of the Year: The Black Swan

Best Song- Track 2: Wake Up


I've always said "You haven't lived until you've seen one of Story of the Year's headlining shows". What? I haven't said that to you? Well, I'm saying it now, because I still believe it. With The Black Swan, Story of the Year continues their streak of awesome modern rock badassery. When I picked up this record, there was no doubt in my mind that it would not disappoint, and I was right. The only downside to this record is that it does come off as a very formulaic, standard, ABABCB structured record. But this is the kind of stuff I used to love, and this record brought me back to those good ol' times before all the guitarists dropped tunings, and the drummers needed racks because their kits started to resemble a college drumline battery's instrument closet. Story of the Year is about fun, no BS (punk) rock, and this album delivers all the way through. With each song, I can just imagine the energy causing the entire crowd to jump up and down with the beat as the guitarists do backflips off the amps and toss their beautiful $3000+ Paul Reed Smith's between each other without a care because dammit this is rock n' roll and there's a guy in a gorilla suit on stage because we just don't give a f***! Man, I need to see them again...


#2 - 36 Crazyfists: The Tide and Its Takers

Best Song- Track 1: The All Night Lights


36 Crazyfists holds a very special place in my (frozen/flaming) heart. At one point, they were in my coveted Top 3 bands list. When I heard news of this new album, I made the firm prediction that it would not beat their 2004 masterpiece A Snow Capped Romance, but it would be better than their previous album, 2006's Rest Inside the Flames. I was mostly correct. In my opinion, it is on about the same level as Rest Inside the Flames, enjoyable, but not as good as it could be. Tracks like The All Night Lights and Absent are the Saints carry the signature 36 Crazyfists sound, but lack that special punch...that beautiful sound heard on A Snow Capped Romance. Brock's irreplaceable vocals are there, but the soaring melodies are not. Steve's distinctive tone and heaviness are there, but his impeccable riff writing is not. Thomas' unique and powerful drumming is there, but the franticness is not. On this album, it seems like the band chose to shrug their shoulders and write deep, subtly meaningful songs instead of the 'elbow-to-the-jaw followed by beautiful powerful melody' type of songs found on their previous efforts. Nevertheless, 36 Crazyfists are still themselves, and as long as they continue to be themselves, I will continue to enjoy their music.


#1 - Secret and Whisper: Great White Whale

Best Song- Too hard to choose...I mean it, I can't do it!


There was absolutely no contest in choosing which album would take the #1 spot in my little list. I'll start with a story: waaaay back in, oh...about September of 2006 I stumbled upon the myspace of a band called Stutterfly. They had erased all of their songs from their playlist, and instead, there were two demo versions of songs called 'Vanishings' and 'Attacker'. Each had only about 100 plays. I listened to these songs, and was immediately hooked. Eventually another demo, this one titled 'Spider Besider' was put onto the music player and news of an album and a name change was released. Fast forward a few more months, and the band has changed its name to Secret and Whisper (a name I still think is EXTREMELY stupid considering how incredible their music is) to signify that they are indeed a completely new band (even though only one member had changed) with a completely new sound. For 1 year and 5 months I looped the hell out of these three demos, anxiously awaiting new material from this almost completely obscure band and praying that a label would pick them up and record their debut album. Anyway, eventually that day arrived, February 12, 2008. I put the CD in my computer, plugged in my headphones, and hit play. From the opening track, which is a suspense-building intro complete with layer after layer of vocals, synths and whale noises, to the very last track which is a prog-ish story about...well...animals and s***, I was in utter musical bliss. Okay, time to get objective. Secret and Whisper is your standard emo-tastic post-hardcore band. This begs the question, then...why are they so GOOD?! What sets them apart from their contemporaries is that they have crafted their own sound and mastered it so well, all on their first album as a band. Probably the most unique aspect of their music is the vocals. The vocalist has an outstanding voice for the genre, and his voice will either turn you off completely or catch your ear instantly. Either way, the fact that they layer and harmonize his (and possibly other peoples') voice(s) over and over and over and over again in addition to the multi-layered synths and delayed/reverb'd guitar leads which are so simple yet SO effective give this album a haunting, captivating, and all-around beautiful sound that makes Secret and Whisper stand out in a type of music that is overwhelmed by mundane mediocrity. This band is one of the few new bands that I myself really have confidence in, and that, if anything, should give you a hint.


Honorable mention- Scar Symmetry: Holographic Universe (I only really like two songs off this album, but boy are they good songs...and this band has a killer sound. Check out 'Morphogenesis' and 'Ghost Prototype I'.)


Bands who DISAPPOINTED me this year (aka Wall of Shame)

All that Remains


In Flames

Rise Against


Albums to look forward to next year

Dredg: (TBA)

Thursday: Common Existence

Disarmonia Mundi: The Isolation Game

Soilwork: (TBA)

Monty Are I: TBA


If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading! I really appreciate it. Please leave a comment!


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