Thursday, September 13, 2007

1995 - Rebellion is Here

1995 was probably the best metal year since 1990, with more variety that ever before. Some pretty good albums did not make the cut here (Psycho Motel - State of Mind and Blind Guardian - Imaginations from the Other Side immediately come to mind).

In any case, the sub genres are exploding, as black metal adds atmospheric black metal and death metal adds progressive death metal, etc.

To summarize, as Frank said, it was a very good year.

10. Motörhead - Sacrifice

This is not my favorite Motörhead record, and in my book it is a significant step below 1993's Bastards. They have not regressed down to March or Die, which was horrific, but a step down for sure. Despite this, there is some good riffage here, and some definite signature Motörhead moments.

9. Death - Symbolic

Symbolic is probably my favorite Death album, as there is the right blend of death metal and melodic passages. Schuldiner was a great musician, and always kept the music relevant and fresh.

8. In the Woods - Heart of the Ages

Basically, this is a black metal album, but definitely more like progressive or atmospheric black metal. There are many elements of traditional black metal here (the more annoying moments on the CD) but there are other elements and layers that make this a very interesting and enjoyable listen. Not really driving or hanging-out music, it is more appropriate to listen to when you are just listening to music.

7. Kamelot - Eternity

Oh that awful singer! This album would easily be in the top 2 or 3 if they had a better singer. This guy (I cannot recall his name, but he never got another singing job after Kamelot) is horrible. He is kind of like a poor man's John Patrick McDonald who is a poor man's Geoff Tate. Anyway, you get the picture. This album is full of cool riffs, melodies and solos and despite the singing is a real good debut album from a band who would eventually deliver big time.

6. Running Wild - Masquerade

The wheels are coming off just a little, and Rockin' Rolf's well of ideas may be running a tad dry. In any case Masquerade is a solid but not remarkable album from Running Wild. Really it is only a notch below their last couple. Good stuff.

5. Iron Maiden - The X Factor

I could write volumes on this record. Easily the most underrated album in Maiden's catalog, and probably one of the ten most underrated in metal history. Blaze Bayley is not a good singer, but on this album, a good singer is not necessary. The album is dark and brooding and is perfect for Bayley's voice. A very different approach for Maiden, and here it works quite well.

4. Opeth - Orchid

So it begins, the brilliant career of Opeth. In the early days, Opeth was reaching new heights with every release, and this was the beginning. Really a very good album, considering it is a debut, and while it does not have that perfect ebb and flow like subsequent releases, there are some terrific passages on this record. This album is not recommended for those new to Opeth, but only after one can appreciate their greatness.

3. Conception - In Your Multitude

Easily, this Conception's best to date. It is much more focused and powerful that the first two albums, yet still maintains all the hallmarks of great progressive metal. If you have not heard this band - start here. They were a great band.

2. Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings

Matt Barlow was the missing piece of the puzzle for Iced Earth. The band reaches new heights here, and their crowning achievement, the epic Dante's Inferno is featured on this record. That song alone puts Burnt Offerings in the top 10, but there are a few other stand out tracks here as well.

1. Gamma Ray - Land of the Free

I think most people would agree that Ralf Scheepers is a better singer than Kai Hansen. He is. However, for some reason dumping Scheepers was the best thing to ever happen to Gamma Ray. Land of the Free is a breakthrough album for this band, and for the next half decade, they were the gold standard for power metal. Infectious riffs and powerful melodies lead the charge as Gamma Ray takes it to the next level.


spacebeagle said...

Another very interesting list. There's some really good albums here. I totally agree with you on the Maiden album and I think you hit the nail right on the head about Gamma Ray. I can't say anything about the black metal bands. Not something I listen to.

T-_Bone said...

spacebeagle - you should really try and pick up that Conception record. It is a boon!!

Metal Mark said...

I thought X-factor was limp. it sounded like Maiden trying to be the Cult. I agree about Motorhead and Death, but largely the years from 94-98 were pretty dead for music as far I was concerned.