Thursday, December 10, 2009


So, here it is year-end. WGAF.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2001 - The Sun Sets Forever Over Blackwater Park

In the late 1990's metal started its resurgence. By 2001, there were so many bands, in so many sub-genres that there were dozens of good metal albums. Many of the 2001 albums that were barely on my radar would have been easy top 10's during the 1990's.

The funny thing is that because of my taste and preference for certain musicians we see a lot of related bands in the below top 10. As such it is no surprise that the top 10 consists of 5 Power Metal albums.

10. Angra - Rebirth

This is a little too "flowery" for my normal taste, but the symphonic and keyboard elements are muted enough to provide accent rather that distraction. As such this album stands out enough from the crowd to surpass other good albums from 2001 to take the number 10 spot. Angra hails from Brazil, and this is my favorite of all their albums, and the most commercially successful.

9. Primal Fear - Nuclear Fire

Primal Fear is three for three in making the top 10. Nuclear Fire is slightly more evolved than their first two albums, but there is room for improvement, as will be seen on later albums. But as far as Germanic Power Metal, these guys do it well, but there are two bands that do it better, one of those is….

8. Gamma Ray - No World Order

This is the last great Gamma Ray album and a step back from their greatness in the 1990's. Still, this is a great album. This album has all the qualities of a classic metal record, but it may be a bit too classic. Maybe Hansen tried to return to more of a Helloween sound from the "Keeper" days, but this is just a bit less polished than Powerplant or Land of the Free.

7. Into Eternity - Dead or Dreaming

I guess you would describe Into Eternity as Canada's most progressive melodic death metal band. Vocal shift from clean to harsh and the music can sound technical progressive to thrash. Really you need to be on your toes here as there are many different styles and sounds. Sometimes this approach does not work, but here it comes off very well. I think I liked this record more when it first came out, but it is still a top choice for 2001.

6. Children of Bodom - Follow the Reaper

Again, a variety of styles are present here. There are a lot of keyboards and some terrific guitar work from Alexi Laiho. The song Hate Me! is one of my favorites. I wish it existed when I was an angry teenager. Now I have to settle for it as an angry quadragenarian.

5. Ensiferum - Ensiferum

This band calls themselves "heroic folk metal". I always thought if that really as a Viking Metal type genre. Labels aside, I just really like this album. They use a good mix of harsh and clean vocals. Very cool intros and very ethnic sounds complete the album. Good stuff.

4. Edguy - Mandrake

More German Power Metal. One of the things I like about Edguy, is they do not take themselves too seriously. Mandrake is possibly my favorite Edguy album. This also could be their heaviest album as I cannot recall any annoying whinny ballads.

3. Iron Savior - Dark Assault

This is such a great album, that three seems like an under-rate, but 2001 was a phenomenal year. For some reason, Iron Savior is underappreciated by most metal fans. I really do not know why Gamma Ray is treated differently, to me Iron Savior is better (at least Iron Savior's best moments are).

2. ARK - Burn the Sun

If any other year, this would probably be number one. I think this album is pretty well respected in underground circles and covers many different sub-genres from power to progressive to even more bizarre styles. I really like the guitar player here (Tore Ostby). It is a shame he has been relatively inactive since this record came out, as unfortunately, ARK only recorded two records.

1. Opeth - Blackwater Park

Best. Album. Ever. Well, not quite, but top 5 all time easily. I have written an entire blog entry dedicated to this album, and I like it more now that I did then. Really, this is the perfect album. At times it rages, brutal and heavy and is followed by long acoustic passages. Some parts sound like traditional metal, and other parts are very progressive, and I don't mean Dream Theater progressive, I mean Van der Graaf Generator progressive. Brilliant album, just brilliant.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Not a lot going on right now. Things are very busy. I am still not close to ready for a 2001 list. Nothing too interesting in the political front. No new inspiring albums.

Friday, May 01, 2009

My Life in Music

Perhaps it is the fact that I am 40 that has caused me to reflect on my life. I thought it would be interesting to do a playlist (in the old days we would do a compilation) of songs that would chronicle my life in music. I would start with my introduction to rock (probably Springsteen) and pass through various phases. Some good, some not so good. There will be plenty of cheese along the way, but I think overall it will be an interesting experiment.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2000 - The Dark Ride

By the turn of the century, metal was truly back and this decade has provided more great metal than ever before. In 2000 solid albums like Starfire by Jorn Lande or We Are Motorhead can't crack the top 10, when they may have been Top 5 in some of the years in the 1990s.

10. HammerFall - Renegade

This was the last of the good HammerFall records. Clearly the ideas were drying up by now, but this album is well executed and worthy of inclusion with the first two releases.

9. In Flames - Clayman

Again, the last good release by this band as well. Solid Gothenburg style here, nothing really derivative from the genre this band helped define. After this record In Flames tried to be NWOAHM and abandoned their sound.

8. Persuader - The Hunter

The third Swedish band of the countdown. Persuader is a good power metal band. They may have over achieved here based on their later work, but this is a sold debut.

7. Iron Maiden - Brave New World

A more important album than it is a good album. The return of Bruce and Adrian saved Maiden and their later efforts are certainly great albums. This one is more like Virtual XII. Really I would define this as a shit sandwich. The first song and the last song are great, but the material in the middle is questionable by Maiden's standards. Still, overall a good effort.

6. Running Wild - Victory

Solid album for one of the most consistent bands in the genre. Nothing really ground breaking, but very proficient.

5. Enslaved - Mardum - Beyond the Within

A surprising pick here. Enslaved is generally heavier and less melodic that the music I typically like. Also, I rarely like Black Metal, though I think that label does not fit this record. There are several brutal sections here, but they are well placed and never ramble on endlessly, like so many albums of this genre do. Whatever you want to call it, this is a standout album from a good band.

4. Halford - Resurrection

After years of nonsense like Fight and Two, Rob Halford decided it was time to make a metal album again. He brought in a competent, but not brilliant band. He wrote some really good songs, and brought in a top producer in Roy Z. The result is a really good album and like Bruce Dickinson who made solo albums better than his former band, he forced the hand of his former band to fire their inferior singer and reunite.

3. Blaze - Silicon Messiah

Speaking of inferior singers….Really I don't get it. Blaze was bordering on incompetent with Maiden, especially live. However, despite this, he managed to create an album better than Maiden's. I still don't get it, but this album is really great, and that is all that counts.

2. Tad Morose - Undead

This is smokin'. Urban Breed is one of those singers that makes an average band extraordinary.

1. Helloween - The Dark Ride

Every now and then, an album comes from out of nowhere to knock your socks off. This album is better every time I hear it. This is probably the best Helloween album ever, and that counts all of the Kiske/Hansen efforts. I don't know why they never reached this level before, and never did again, but everything lined up right for this album.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eat your heart out Mr. Rall

WGAF has hired a political cartoonist!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Spiral Architect

There have been several news stories lately that have me thinking about politics. Of course there is the "Stimulus" package (aka Obama paying back his supporters). Then there is the continuous stories of celebrities touting the virtues of limousine liberalism from their ivory towers. It got me thinking:

Watching eyes of celluloid tell you how to live
Metaphoric motor replay give, give, give

Of course the last line in the Black Sabbath classic is for President Obama and his predecessor, the traitor George Bush:

Spiral city architect, I build you pay.

Presidents basically rape their constituents to give money to their political allies and supporters. Bush did it and now Obama is doing it.

Is this change, as Obama promised? Hardly. The only change is that Hollywood and the media love Obama and detest Bush. Quite honestly, in terms of economic policy, I really see little difference between the two men.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The New Boss - Not the Same as the Old Boss

My reader knows that I am a metal fan. That being said, the reader is also aware of my fandom for certain artists of the non metal variety. Probably the most derivative and most prominent in my collection of these is Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen has always been a left wing nut, and generally I do not like when artists put their politics on display. However, while we all knew his political stance for many years, it was not always so prevalent in his music and in your face at his concerts until this decade. Bruce sung about the struggles of his characters. He may have blamed Reagan for these struggles, but never really came out and said it. Since his 1999 reunion tour, Bruce has released several inferior records, including a new one that came out last week. I will not purchase it, based on the crap from Devils and Dust, The Seger Sessions and Magic. The Rising was barely tolerable in itself.

Anyway, the reason for this post is not to bash the Boss, but to further provide anectodal evidence that I just don't get it. As with Buffett, I refuse to drink the Springsteen Kool-Aid, but I never really did. Even before this recent stint of poor records, I never saw eye to eye with the common Bruce fan. I am in a very small minority who feel that Human Touch and Lucky Town are superior albums to Born in the USA and The River.

I will never forget the 1999 Reunion Tour, for it was a celebration of Bruce the way I liked it. No Glory Days, no Rosilita, no Born in the USA. His show on August 11, 1999 is still one of the best concerts I have ever attended. Look up the set list and you will see why.

I was browsing through a book store recently and came upon a book called the Top 100 Bruce Springsteen songs. I skimmed through the book and not surprisingly, thought this list would be completely dissimilar to mine. Perhaps in a later post, I will provide a reconciliation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Checking In

Really, checking in with no one, but still....Anyway, saw some clips of the inaguration. Yawn. I really do not understand what President Obama has done in his career that so many people have such high hopes for him. It just does not make any sense.