Another year, another list. Depending on who you ask, this is the end of the first decade of the new millennium, though, that argument is probably for another post, regardless of if it’s the last or the penultimate, it was an interesting year for music. Despite working in a different part of the industry for the past year where I should have had equal access to new material, I actually feel like I fell furthest behind in my listening yet. Despite that, I still found a few new bands to be excited about, a few old favorites who put out some exceptional releases and more than enough things to be rocking out to. So without further chance of embarrassment discussing how long I’ve been doing this (oh, since the early 90s, you can go back and read the old ones, they’re all posted) or how many of these bands have shown up year after year we will hop right into this:
Iron Age The Sleeping eye
Scar Symmetry Dark Matter Dimensions
Lamb of God Wrath
Trail of Tears Bloodstained Endurance
Ah, the thrash and death… my soft spot. I’ll listen to bad thrash before I’ll listen to good pop on some days. Sad, isn’t it. Well, let me get this out of the way first… Slayer World Pained Blood deserves huge props… I am not a Slayer fan by any stretch of the imagination (enter condemnation here), but I can recognize a good record when I hear it and this is the best Slayer record in 15 years for me, dating back probably to Seasons… and maybe one of three in the catalog I can get more than 30 minutes through (which is nice, considering their records rarely clock in over 40) … as for this list … Iron Age was one of the two surprises of the year in terms of records that really just knocked me back off my chair and left me for dead. I was revived… don’t you worry… but the record, it left a lasting impact, to say the least. Trail of Tears was a pleasant surprise to find. I stumbled across them by accident while browsing something on Dark Tranquility and when the vocals kicked in I was just stunned at the dynamics. Scar Symmetry picked up with the same amazing sound featuring a new tandem of vocalists that did exactly what I wanted them to. Neither is not the most original, or most amazing thing, but are predictable records for me to get attached easily to. Of course, the rest of the list isn’t anything that should surprise anyone either, it’s all releases that would typically turn my head to begin with from band’s I’ve always enjoyed.
Between the Burried and Me the Great Misdirect
Despised Icon Day of Mourning
the Number 12 Looks Like You Worse than Alone
Converge Axe to Fall
The tech and grind segment contains two surprises that (Obscura & Exivious) shouldn’t really be surprises considering what I typically listen to in the first place. It was extraordinary to get Coalesce back, to say the least and for a good part of the year, they were the record to beat, but the record of the year that blew my mind was the BTBAM. By far and away, it did everything to me a record should: left me intrigued, inspired and adrenalized. Converge and #12 did what I expected, meeting expectation, for me when I can be overly critical, is never a bad thing.
Them Crooked Vultures
Mastodon Crack the Skye
Clutch Strange Cousins from the West
Buried inside finally wrote something to turn me into a quantifiable fan (seems like at least once a year someone does this, and it’s always nice to know I was wrong about the initial impression of them) but Them Crooked Vultures complete throwback sound was the one that did it for me. It is everything I loved about the late 60s early 70s rock vibe done up in nice new millennium dressing. The hype almost turned me off, but sometimes, just sometimes they hype might be right. I’m still digesting the Clutch (my own copy would certainly help) but it’s already feeling like a much better record than the last one.
the Gathering the West Pole
Porcupine Tree the Incident
The Baliset was probably the surprise on this list, it’s the solo project from Greg Massi, x-Maudlin of the Well / KayoDot guitarist. It, was, a jawdropper. I’ve been following the development of this for years so to finally see it come to fruition was not only pleasant from a level of a friend, but stunning when the final version blew me away. Of course DT and PTree put together their typical arrangements of astounding (both of which I need to buy and not just keep streaming online) and Amorphis made a very nice return to form after having lost me for a few records that just didn’t grip me the way I wanted them to. The Gathering though returned for an easy top ten of the year offering that, as always, will leave me begging for the next record while burning out the catalog till it comes.
Muse The Resistance
Oceansize Home & Minor
Kiss kiss the Meak Will Inherit What’s Left
Cursive Mama, I’m Swollen
Poison the Well of three
Ok, so this group is kind of a bunch of odd-balls. No real surprises in who made it. Moreso, what it comes down to is how they all seem to nicely fit together as a listen in-and-of themsevles despite being from different musical backgrounds. Since finally breaking into being a Muse fan on the last record I’ve been curious to see where they would go next and they went right where i wanted them to. On the flip side, Oceansize did not, and although it took a good many listens to finally digest the album, when I did I was more than pleasantly enjoying it.
honorable mention that doesn’t have a real category:
tori amos abnormally attracted to the sun
Because, well, Tori is Tori. She delivers sensual melody yet again in that quirky way that will always hold my heart. Funny too, the Tiny reissued one of my fave records from their catalog this year too, and a friend finally sold me on why I am a PJ Harvey fan in the closest, so it made me really revisit my love of Tori because it gave me a reason to truly enjoy that kind of odd, and it came at a great time.
Things I didn’t hear and probably should have (so if you have them for me to hear, there’s still time for me to squeeze them into the list!): , Cave in Planets of Old, Every Time I Die New Junk Aesthetic, Skinlab the Scars Between Us, Shadows Fall Retribution, Herod the Curse of the King, Candiria Toying with Insanity, Paradise Lost Faith Divides Us, the Red Chord Fed Through the Teeth Machine, the Devin Towsend Project Addicted, God forbid Earth’s Blood, Chimeria the Infection, Green Day 21st Century Breakdown and an honorable mention here is Disembodied – Psalms Of Sheol, not that I don’t have some of these songs somewhere but the collection itself deserves a spot in my catalog.
And, as for next year, I’m already looking forward to Living Sacrifice (how is this NOT out yet!), Most Precious Blood,