Monday, January 08, 2007

1992 - The Miracle and The Sleeper

I have decided to continue the top 10 lists, sort of as a side project. Hopefully, I will find other things to write. Really, the blog from now on will be postings and ramblings of what I find interesting, be it music, sports, current events, the planned murder of Bill Bellicheck, etc.

Anyway, back to 1992. As I stated in an early blog, these were not good times for metal, especially if you don't really like thrash. In any case, I narrowed down 1992 to about 15 albums I really liked. Most of these are good albums, but nothing I would consider great or special. Competent is a good word.

10. Rage - Trapped!

Rage is one of those compromise bands. So, if you have 4 metal heads in a car for three hours, and one of them is an Iron Maiden fan, and another listens to Opeth, a third likes Motley Crue, and the last prefers Xasthur, you can still put on a Rage CD, and no one can legitimately complain.

9. Axel Rudi Pell - Eternal Prisoner

Axel Rudi Pell has had this solo band of his since 1989, and while I have not heard his more recent releases, Eternal Prisoner is traditional metal fare for the age. Slick guitar and clean production are the draws here, as the vocals and lyrics are perfunctory at best. All things considered, this is a good album.

8. Immortal - Sons of Northern Darkness

I really am not a Black Metal fan, but there is something special about this album, the debut from Norway's Immortal. Immortal would produce better albums than this one, but this one is the beginning, and in a weak year, deserves a spot in the top 10.

7. Blind Guardian - Somewhere Far Beyond

Perhaps Blind Guardian's best album, Somewhere Far Beyond is what Power Metal should be. It is fast, melodic, and flawless executed. Certainly, the slow parts here ooze with cheese, and stories of elves and fairies are never my favorite. That said, this is still a real good album, and worth your time to give it a chance.

6. Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer

I still say this record is a disappointment. Far below Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules, Dehumanizer is a competent Black Sabbath album, comparable to all of the albums of the Tony Martin era. Still, it is one of the top albums in a dismal year for metal.

5. W.A.S.P. - The Crimson Idol

One of the rare concept albums that actually works, Crimson Idol is W.A.S.P.'s finest hour. Lawless' vocals are great, and as far as traditional metal is concerned, the band really finds their sound. Gone are the pseudo glam elements from early in their career, and what remains is pure metal. Good stuff.

4. Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark

While still one of the worst Iron Maiden records ever made, it was a vast improvement from the dismal No Prayer for the Dying. Perhaps a tad experimental, and while most of it falls flat, I give Maiden some credit for trying. By now it was obvious Dickinson was mailing it in. Still the title track is one of the greatest Maiden songs ever done, and really does redeem the album.

3. Alice in Chains - Dirt

Not at all metal, but still a damn good album, Dirt is probably the single best album to come out of the short-lived (thankfully) grunge movement.

2. Running Wild - Pile of Skulls

The highpoint of Running Wild's career is Pile of Skulls. It is a great album through and through, from the playing to the production, song writing and execution. Perhaps it is neither brilliant nor ground breaking, but flawless nevertheless.

1. Dream Theater - Images & Words

The best album of the 1990's, by far, bar none. It is so far ahead of anything else that came out in 1992, or really the entire decade for that matter. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. It is so hard to sum it up in one paragraph, but really what it always comes down to is, the songs are all great. The album is progressive, yet focused. The playing is brilliant, yet not at all self-indulgent. It is the perfect album, and sadly the only such album Dream Theater would ever record.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Top 10 of 2006 - Not Yet

Now is the time we see a lot of those top 10 lists. I still am undecided on my top 10 for 2006, but I think the year was not quite as good as 2005 in general. I also looked back at my 2005 list that I did around this time last year, and that list no longer holds up, so any list I do now, will invariably change a year from now, as I discover new bands.

Anyway, just for fun, here is my 2005 list as it originally appeared:

1. Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet
2. Slough Feg - Atavism
3. Masterplan - Aeronautics
4. Gamma Ray - Majestic
5. Opeth - Ghost Reveries
6. Candlemass – Candlemass
7. Brainstorm - Liquid Monster
8. Nevermore - This Godless Endeavor
9. Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness
10. Arcturus - Sideshow Symphonies

The revised list would probably look like:

1. Subterranean Masquerade - Suspended Animation Dreams
2. Moonsorrow - Verisäkeet
3. Slough Feg - Atavism
4. Masterplan - Aeronautics
5. Opeth - Ghost Reveries
6. Machine Men - Elegies
7. The Absence - From Your Grave
8. Silent Stream of Godless Elegy - Relic Dances
9. Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness
10. Kamelot - The Black Halo

Those 7-10 spots are pretty interchangable as there are about 10 other albums that could go there.

So, the moral of the story is, Who Gives A F%@*, or WGAF.