Sunday, December 21, 2014

Album #10; 'Love. Death. Immortality.' - The Glitch Mob

Joining our list at #10 this year is 'Love Death Immortality' by The Glitch Mob; the only electronic album to make my final Top 20. Released in February of this year, 'LDI' is The Glitch Mob's second album release, and debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200, selling 40,000 copies as of July of this year. It's garnered rave reviews, from critics, myself, and friends.

I'll admit, I'm not as easily impressed with electronic albums as I am rock and metal albums, and that's why the fact that 'LDI' has stuck at #10 on the final list even though it came out in the second month of the year is even more of an accomplishment. Honestly, however, there isn't another album released this year that pumps me up as much when I listen to it as this album does.

'Mind of a Beast' is an incredibly killer opening song, and the amazing tracks don't stop there; 'Skullclub', 'Carry The Sun', and 'Skytoucher' are fantastic songs that get me up and moving with ease. Most of the other songs feature guest singers, and are great compliments to the album; 'Fly By Night Only' is a wonderful example of this. However, the best track on the album, and another track that competes for Top 10 songs of the year is 'Our Demons', which features Aja Volkman, the lead singer of a small band called Nico Vega. It's an incredible song, and you should really listen.

Tracklist (favorites in orange, shocking, right?):

Mind of a Beast - 4:17
Our Demons - 5:16
Skullclub - 5:48
Becoming Harmonious - 4:40
Can't Kill Us - 4:55
I Need My Memory Back - 5:48
Skytoucher - 6:08
Fly By Night Only - 4:47
Carry the Sun - 4:56
Beauty of the Unhidden Heart - 4:30

Onto #9! Single digits now! This is where it gets rough...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Album #11 'The Turn' - Live

Coming into the countdown at #11 is one of my most anticipated releases of the year; 'The Turn' by Live. Live hadn't released an album since 2006, and has gone through a nasty 'hiatus' and break up with former singer, Ed since then. Given the incredible lasting effect their old releases have had on me, I was hesitant but hopeful for this release when it was announced. Officially released on October 28th, the album debuted at #133 on the Billboard 200, but has been meant with warm reviews, most of them praising the return to Live's old sounds, and how seamlessly new singer Chris Shinn is integrated into the album.

While this album didn't blow me away, it's definitely a solid release and wonderful beginning for the band with the new singer. Featuring the usual soaring guitar sounds and heartfelt spiritual lyrics, this album is a step forward, while still acknowledging where the band came from. While Chris isn't Ed (who's voice is almost unrivaled in my opinion), he does a great job making the music his own and has a wonderful range himself. I look forward to future releases featuring Chris, as I think there is a fair amount of untapped potential and they've only scratched the surface with this release. The best tracks are 'Siren's Call', 'Natural Born Killers', and 'The Way Around Is Through', the last being the most catchy and most like the Live of old.

Traclist (favorites, as always, are in orange):

Siren's Call - 4:11
Don't Run To Wait - 3:47
Natural Born Killers - 4:37
6310 Rodgerton Dr. - 4:09
By Design - 4:21
The Way Around Is Through - 4:52
Need Tonight - 4:12
The Strength To Hold On - 5:32
We Open The Door - 4:53
He Could Teach The Devil Tricks - 4:10
Till You Came Around - 4:42

Up next, #10! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Album #12; 'Reincarnate' - Motionless in White

Coming into the countdown at #12 is 'Reincarnate' by Motionless in White; yet another new band I discovered this year, and only through a certain song, 'Contemptress'. MiW has evolved in every single one of their releases, and this one is a wonderful choice of direction.

Featuring some really hard shredding guitars and pummeling drums, the lead singers screams are gorgeously backed up in every single song. 'Death March' is a great anthem song to kick off the album, and 'Reincarnate' is arguably one of the best hard rock songs of the year; 'Break The Cycle', 'Unstoppable', and 'Carry The Torch' are also incredible in your face tracks. Near the back half of the album, MiW seems to deviate from the norm of the rest of the album and go for more of an electro-rock sound, with songs like 'Wasp', and 'Final Dictvm', and while both are pretty solid songs, they take away form the overall power this album has throughout the first half.

'Contemptress' is far and beyond the best song on this album; featuring Maria Brink from In This Moment on vocals, it is an absolutely killer song that is easily in my Top 10 on the year. Give it a listen, trust me, they kill it on this track.

Tracklist (favorites in orange, still, even 4 days later):

Death March - 4:43
Reincarnate - 3:40
Puppets 3 (The Grand Finale) - 4:16
Unstoppable - 3:28
Everybody Sells Cocaine - 3:55
Contemptress - 4:03
Break The Cycle - 4:03
Generation Lost - 2:59
Dark Passenger - 3:49
Wasp - 7:02
Dead as F**k - 2:57
Final Dictvm - 5:06
Carry The Torch - 5:57

And onto #11! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Album #13; 'How We Both Wondrously Perish' - Being As An Ocean

Lucky #13 on this countdown is another new band I discovered this year, Being As An Ocean, with their album 'How We Both Wondrously Perish'. An emotionally charged release that I was lucky enough to find during the middle of the year, it's a very solid album overall.

Featuring two lead vocalists and a very full sound, this band knows what it is doing and does it well. One vocalist handles most of the soaring choruses, and the other vocalist handles the screamed verses; though the screamer also has a tendency to have a 'talking' voice, so to speak that, personally, I think absolutely highlights most tracks on this album.

Housing one of my favorite songs of the year in 'The Poets Cry For More', this album is an emotional roller coaster of an album. 'The Poets' is an incredibly emotionally powerful song with lyrics that really grab at me. "We have all made mistakes, and God I've made mistakes, but my mistakes haven't made me" is a wonderful lyric that ends a haunting opening monologue of sorts; add in the fact that the title track comes before it and leads into it perfectly, and you've got the recipe for an amazing part of this album. Other highlight songs of this album include 'We Drag The Dead On Leashes', 'Mothers', and 'Grace, Teach Us What We Lack', all of which tug emotionally and really make the listener think.

When I first picked up this album, it had a place inside my Top 6, but has since fallen; mostly due to the fact that I believe the screaming on the album doesn't really add much; the album is at its best during is melodic choruses and during clean vocals from the verses. Given that and the short runtime (39 minutes), it was knocked down a couple pegs. I'd still suggest giving it a listen, however, because overall it's quite strong.

Tracklist (favorites in orange again, right?):

Mediocre Shakespeare - 3:40
Death's Great Black Wing Scrapes The Air - 4:18
L'exquisite douleur - 3:55
How We Both Wondrously Perish - 1:10
The Poets Cry For More - 3:29
We Drag The Dead On Leashes - 4:55
Even The Dead Have Their Tasks - 3:26
Grace, Teach Us What We Lack - 4:24
Mothers - 5:06
Natures - 4:46

That's all for #13! #12 is next! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Album #14; 'Black Veil Brides' - Black Veil Brides

Arriving at the countdown at #14 is the self titled release by Black Veil Brides, their fourth full length studio album. Personally, I was really excited and had high expectations for the album after the release of 'Wretched and Divine' last year (which slotted at #2 on my end of year list last year), and while I'm sad to say it's nowhere near the expectations, and nowhere near the caliber of W&D from last year, it's a solid rock album nonetheless, and manages to slot in at #14 this year.

'Heart of Fire' is the first track, and is so far the biggest hit off this album on the radio, and rightfully so, it's a great demonstration of what BVB is good at and has done for a long time. 'Faithless' is my personal favorite off this album; with a haunting intro that truly has an Avenged Sevenfold-esque aura to it, and then a wonderfully hard guitar riff to follow it up, it's truly the strongest offering on this release.

One thing I will commend on this release is that it seems that Andy is willing to return the screams of old and exemplifies that quite well on a couple tracks on this album, 'Stolen Omen' being the best example of this. Overall, however, this album feels almost rushed to me, like it could've been given a couple more tweaks before it was released. It seems that they had too many songs written for W&D, and decided to take the extras and expand them into a second album.

They've had two straight years of releases now, and I've seen both the supporting tours for each album. The first year, they played almost the entirety of W&D; this year, the only played 3 songs off this album, and I think that's a very good indicator that the album isn't nearly as strong, whether it's live or in studio.

Tracklist (favorites in orange, just like everytime):

Heart of Fire - 3:21
Faithless - 4:48
Devil in the Mirror -3:30
Goodbye Agony - 4:09
World of Sacrifice - 3:30
Last Rites - 3:33
Stolen Omen - 3:47
Walk Away - 5:57
Drag Me to the Grave - 3:45
The Shattered God - 4:03
Crown of Thorns - 3:39

That's #14! Seems #13 is next, eh?

Album #15; 'The Black Market' - Rise Against

After a couple days off due to crazy work schedules, we pick the countdown back up at #15 with 'The Black Market' by Rise Against. I've been a big fan of Rise Against since 'The Sufferer and the Witness' was released, and it's hard to believe this is four albums down the road. Always known for their hard rock and punk sound, they've grown and matured with every album and it really shows on 'The Black Market'.

'The Great Die-Off' is a great opening song with fast paced guitar shredding and drum support, and it's followed by perhaps the catchiest song on the album 'I Don't Wanna Be Here Anymore'; a fantastic anthem that speaks to the horrors that plague most walks of life. 'People Live Here' is the always wonderful foray into the acoustic side of Rise Against, and really hits home emotionally. My personal favorite song 'Tragedy + Time' is a wonderful look at how loss can change and shape you into the person you're meant to be, and how even when things look bleak, you "hold on to laugh again someday".

Tracklist (favorites are still in orange):

The Great Die-Off - 3:40
I Don't Wanna Be Here Anymore - 4:00
Tragedy + Time - 4:17
The Black Market - 4:16
The Eco-Terrorist in Me - 2:45
Sudden Life - 4:08
A Beautiful Indifference - 3:25
Methadone - 3:49 
Zero Visibility - 4:38
Awake Too Long - 3:12
People Live Here - 4:09
Bridges - 4:07

#14 is up next!  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Album #16; 'Siren Charms' - In Flames

Hitting the countdown at #16 this year is 'Siren Charms' by In Flames; an extremely solid hard rock album that has slowly grown on me over further listening throughout the year. In Flames has been around for a long time, but this is only the second album with their new guitarist, and while their sound has slightly changed, I think it's for the better. This is their first album that I've been able to listen through the entirety and enjoy the majority of it, so they're doing something right in my eyes.

The singer has a very unique voice that takes some getting used to, and the time signatures used are occasionally quite unique. While that makes this a more complex listen than a great deal of the albums I gathered this year, it's more rewarding when you start to enjoy and understand the complexity. I'll be keeping my eye out for more releases from In Flames in the future, for sure.

Tracklist (favorites are, as always, in orange):

In Plain View - 4:06
Everything's Gone - 3:24
Paralyzed - 4:15
Through Oblivion - 3:37
With Eyes Wide Open - 3:57
Siren Charms - 3:04
When The World Explodes - 4:38
Rusted Nail - 4:54
Dead Eyes - 5:23
Monsters in the Ballroom - 3:53
Filtered Truth - 3:30

That concludes entry #16... I've been Awake Too Long to write #15, so you'll have to wait for tomorrow for that one.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Album #17; 'Savages' - Theory Of A Deadman

Coming in at #17 this year is 'Savages' by Theory Of A Deadman. One of the more 'mainstream' albums on my Top 20 this year, it's a solid rock album with a couple great highlights. It was initially ranked quite high on my list (top 10 at first), but I grew tired of certain songs and it fell down the list in the past month, so I'd say it doesn't have very much in the way of 'staying power' so to speak.

Highlights of this album include 'Misery of Mankind', 'Salt In The Wound', 'Angel', and 'World War Me'; though 'Blow' and 'Savages' are great songs that poke fun at the current state of the world, and make you really think. 'Salt in the Wound' really stuck with me when I first heard it because of my situation at the time, but as that emotional burn has subsided, my connection with the song has dwindled. That said, 'Angel' has grown on me the more I've listened to it and connects with me more than it used to. 'World War Me' is a great song that says exactly the way my head tends to work.

Initially I connected with this album emotionally, but now that has slightly faded, and by that way, has dropped down my list to #17. Still a very solid album with some great rock anthems and riffs, I'd suggest it as a way to get into current rock music and beyond.

Tracklist (favorites are in orange):

Drown - 3:42
Blow - 3:36
Savages - 3:33
Misery of Mankind - 3:24
Salt In The Wound - 3:38
Angel - 3:22
Heavy - 3:03
Panic Room - 3:14
The One - 3:58
Livin' My Life Like A Country Song - 3:20
World War Me - 3:15
In Ruins - 3:19
The Sun Has Set On Me - 5:21

Monday, December 8, 2014

Album #18; 'Metaphor' - Cyrenic

Coming into the list at #18 this year is 'Metaphor' by Cyrenic. And incredibly unknown band, this is the second year in a row they've released an album (last year was 'Selective Memory', which in itself was great), and it's the second year in a row I've been touched by the music they've written.

Seeming to be masters of a certain craft, every single song on this album has a wonderfully soft, heartfelt rock sound. Similar to last year, the ballads on the album standout to me; 'Your Move' is a hauntingly beautiful song of desire, while 'Slow Emotion' is a heart gripping song of loss. The title track is actually two tracks with 'Angel' and 'Devil' versions, and the subtle differences are fantastic.

A very solid release that tugs at me emotionally; though I hesitate to say it's better than 'Selective Memory' from last year.

Tracklist (favorites are in orange):

Constant Change - 4:53
Die Another Day - 3:19
Metaphor (Devil) - 4:16
Tightrope - 4:02
Bite the Hands That Bleed - 4:34
Focus - 3:59
Current - 3:20
Resuscitate - 3:48
Afterlife - 4:05
Your Move - 5:21
Slow Emotion - 5:03
One Bird, Two Stones - 4:03
Autumn - 4:37
Metaphor (Angel) - 4:21

And that concludes #18; don't turn into Savages waiting for #17.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Album #19; 'Duality' - Set It Off

Slotting in at #19 on this years Top 20 is Set It Off with their album 'Duality'. Another new band I'd never heard of before this year, I'd never actually listened to any of their albums until I saw them two weeks ago with Black Veil Brides in Portland. Having only had a short time to evaluate this album, it is slotted fairly low compared to where it could've been were I given more time to listen to it.

Cody Carson, the lead singer, has an amazing voice, and the album is decidedly positive and upbeat. There isn't a bad song on this album, and when played live, the band really knows how to involve the crowd. I foresee a great future for this band, and wouldn't argue with seeing them live again.

I feel badly not being able to provide more of an opinion than this, but I've not been given a great deal of time to listen. Similar to Karnivool and Trivium last year, it is definitely possible that this album could be slotted higher up upon more listens.

Tracklist (favorites are in orange):

The Haunting - 2:53
N.M.E. - 3:29
Forever Stuck in Our Youth - 3:14
Why Worry - 3:19
Ancient History - 3:13
Bleak December - 3:07
Duality - 4:02
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - 3:08
Tomorrow - 3:36
Bad Guy - 3:09
Miss Mysterious - 4:31

Up Next, #18; be sure to Die Another Day and come read!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Album #20; 'Going To Hell' - The Pretty Reckless

Kicking off the Top 20 this year is The Pretty Reckless with 'Going To Hell'. This album has garnered some hit singles ('Heaven Knows' and 'Going to Hell'), and is overall a very solid album. 'Little' Taylor Momsen has come a long way from her role in 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas', and has developed quite the singing voice to complement her stunning looks.

The opening song 'Follow Me Down' is my personal favorite off this album (ohhhh that intro), but 'Heaven Knows', 'Fucked Up World', and 'Sweet Things' are also high points. If you haven't heard 'Heaven Knows' yet, than you probably haven't listened to the radio for very long this year, as it's gained extreme airplay since its release. 'Blame Me', meanwhile shows the softer side of the band, and certainly gives Taylor's voice a chance to shine. 

I missed my chance to see them live in Portland a month ago, but I'm sure it would've been a great show, and I certainly won't miss it next time they come around! Overall, this was a very strong release from a band I discovered the year, and if I'd seen them live, it'd probably be farther up this list, but alas, it slots at #20 on the year!

Tracklist (favorites are in orange):

Follow Me Down - 4:40
Going To Hell - 4:36
Heaven Knows - 3:45
House on a Hill - 4:39
Sweet Things - 5:04
Dear Sister - 0:56
Absolution - 4:34
Blame Me - 4:27
Burn - 1:48
Why'd You Bring a Shotgun to the Party? - 3:21
Fucked Up World - 4:17
Waiting for a Friend - 3:13

Tomorrow will be #19, and #20 will be Ancient History!

Friday, December 5, 2014

2014; My Year in Music!

While most people have their "Days of Christmas" which they celebrate with family and friends. I've my "20 Days of Music". Since you could pretty much replace any sort of present I'd get for Christmas with a new music album and I'd be happy.

2014 was a year of discovery. Debut albums, new bands I'd never heard before, it was all there. Of my final Top 20, 12 were bands I'd never listened to before this year. I've always looked for new music, but this year was a special year. Around the mid year point, I was disappointed, to say the least, in what I had found, but the second half of the year certainly made up for it. 

For this entry, I'll cover a couple notable albums that didn't make my final Top 20. Every day after this I'll post the Top 20, in reverse order, obviously, so the best album comes last.

First, I'd like to mention a couple albums that were close to making the Top 20, but didn't;

Arch Enemy - 'War Eternal'

Another band I'd never listened to before this year, I discovered this album while looking through a "Best of..." list at the halfway point of the year. I was honestly shocked to discover the lead singer of this band is a female! This is the first album with a new singer (the old one was a female as well), and it's a hell of a first effort. It has garnered raving reviews, but I'll forewarn you, it isn't for the faint of heart; there are no clean vocals here. What it does have is absolutely impeccable guitar, bass, and drum work. Barely missing my Top 20, it slotted at #21.

Devin Townsend - 'Z2'

Ever since hearing 'Ziltoid' I've been waiting for a sequel to the wonderful comedic metal album, and this was it. While this is actually a double album from Townsend (the first half being more melodic and spacey, called 'Sky Blue'), the second half is what I really wanted. It continues right on it's comedic roots (arguably it's funnier), and manages to stay just as heavy as it was on the original 'Ziltoid'. However, unlike the first, it isn't all just Townsend, and for me, it loses a little bit of it's luster; almost like it's too much of a comedic effort, and the extra production seems to bring it down from what it once was on the original 'Ziltoid'. 

Not many other albums truly met the pedigree to be named in my Top 20. However, there were certainly individual songs that I loved off of other albums that deserve mention, so let's get to that, shall we? Keep in mind, these are not in any particular order, and they're only coming off albums that didn't make the Top 20.

'We Were Just Kids' - Emmure

An incredible song on an otherwise lackluster album (it had some high points in 'Nemesis' and 'N.I.A' as well), I really can't describe how much I love this song. Pretty much the only song on the entire album that doesn't try to completely rip your face of with guitar shredding, it has actual melody and is an incredible way to cap off the album. 

I honestly did not expect a new BMTH song this year, but I will not argue with it! This song is along the same vein as 'Seen It All Before' off 'Sempiternal', and I'm definitely not going to argue with that sound. I love this song, and can't wait for a possible new album in 2015!

'So Others May Live' - Atreyu 

I've been waiting for new Atreyu music since 2009, and god dammit I was so happy when this song came out. What made me even happier? It's 2006 era Atreyu! No more radio friendly BS, just pure metal. I cannot wait for their release in 2015. 

I'm not a huge 'fan' of Celldweller per say; I've only 5 songs on my playlist from him, and I've never listened through an entire album of his. However, I can say this, every single one of those songs is incredible, and this song is no different. 'End of An Empire' perfectly blends rock, metal, and electronica into a 7 minute epic of a song; seriously, give it a listen.  

While I do, for the most part, enjoy this album, this is a standout song. Featuring vocals from Danny Worsnop (of Asking Alexandria fame), this song is a heavy chugging song with great screamed vocals to accentuate the melodic chorus. The screaming during the second verse, especially, is wonderfully placed. 

Lindsey Stirling is fantastic, and add in some vocals from Lzzy Hale? You've got me immediately. An incredible song that you've probably heard before. If you haven't, what's stopping you? Click the link! 

While I was overall disappointed with this effort from Skrillex, this song is actually my favorite song from his entire catalogue. I can't really explain why (seems to be my excuse everytime dubstep is involved), I just love it. The middle section of this song confuses me so much, because it doesn't seem to fit at all, but I love it.

Another singer I'd never heard of before this year, I was introduced to her through the song 'Our Demons' by The Glitch Mob, and discovered that I absolutely loved her voice. A very mellow, easy to listen to track, I highly recommend it. 

That concludes my first entry in my 2014 'Year in Review'!

Next up, the Top 20! Heaven Knows what could be #20!