Best music albums 2009

12 November 2009

Most of good albums for 2009 are already out. I’ve compiled the traditional top 10 list for this year. Any album that is still coming out i doubt will figure in this list since 2009 was such a great year for music compared with 2008.

Please feel free to comment if you think some album in your opinion is missing. I didn’t make the review for all of them because I didn’t want to post too much crap, if you want a specific review in this list let me know.

Total list i listened to was 146 albums for this year, this is the top 10.

1. Riverside – Anno Domini High Definition

riversicde_anhd

Riverside comes back with a the first album of a new trilogy. New sounds, cohesive music changes, innovative and fresh music. Riverside have composed an album which is a perfect reflection of our times. An offering full of symbolism starting with the fact that the title of their fourth release consists of four words and that the album is precisely 44:44 minutes long and an intelligent take on current reality. Anno Domini High Definition is not a concept album in the classic sense, although it features a central theme and a haunting message. “It’s an album about people who know they need to speed up or they’ll get left behind”

2. Porcupine Tree – The Incident

PT_The-Incident

London’s legendary Porcupine tree 10th studio album. Takes the listener on a thrilling audio journey. In turns haunting, desolate, hypnotic and euphoric, its centre-piece is the title track: a stunning 55-minute musical statement that breaks down into 14 separate and often diverse (though interlinked) vignettes. Not the best work of the band but still whatever Porcupine Tree delivers is above anything out in the market. Excellent sound mixing and supreme recording quality.

3.  Mastodon – Crack the Skye

mastadon-crack-the-skye4Mastodon has taken hold of the leadership of the New Wave of Progressive Heavy Metal. Crack The Skye, its fourth original studio album, mines subject matter from czarist Russia and astral travel to out-of-body experiences and Stephen Hawking’s theories on wormholes for an unrepentantly heavy aural assault that will shake the heavens. Some personal songs for the band members and really really impressive guitar riffs make this the third on the list for 2009.

4.  Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Dreamtheater_bcsl Black Clouds & Silver Linings marks another milestone on Dream Theater’s iconoclastic musical journey, which began two and a half decades ago and now encompasses a hugely impressive body of music that’s established the durable progressive metal outfit as a one-of-a-kind creative force with a fiercely devoted international fan base. The new album – produced by band members Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci, who also serve as the group’s main lyricists – offers a vibrant manifestation of the world-class musicianship, vivid lyrical scenarios and ambitious, multi-leveled compositions that have established Dream Theater as a uniquely compelling creative force.

5. Transatlantic – The Whirlwind

61kW9XBMBrL._SL500_AA240_A nice surprise in a year full of nice surprises! Not bad at all! I have to sayI was never a big fan of Transatlantic. Not that they were bad, no way. I have both their first albums and I think they are quite good. But I felt something was missing even if their sound had most of what a prog fan wanted: great musicanship, good songwriting, good production and the right influences (meaning symphonic rock of the 70´s). But it lacked a kind of spark. Besides, Neal Morse was clearly the main protagonist on those CDs, making them sound a bit too much like Spock´s Beard (never one of my favorite bands).Well, I´m glad to say that with The Whirldwind they finally made the album we were all waiting for when we heard those musicians were assembling a group. The record drips with the power and conviction that lacked on the previous CDs. And Roine Stolt definitly takes the spotlight here much of the time. Now the band sounds fully like a band. Peter Trewavas is playing some of the heaviest bass in his career (much in the vein of the great Chris Squire), while Mike Portnoy shows he is a truly prog drummer. Best Transatlantic CD to date! The one the finally fulfilled the great expectations of having such extraordinaire musicians doing something as a group.

6.  Lamb of God – Wrath

Lamb_of_God_-_WrathWrath is inspired by and based on the 10 plagues from the book of Exodus. After the reflective Sacrament (2006), a deeply personal album that found Blythe exorcising his personal demons, Wrath turns its lyrical focus outward, and returns to more of the breakneck riffing that characterized the band’s early material. A more “raw” sound that revives the metal genre with this excelent release from the pure american metal band, Lamb of God. As always, the musicianship is top notch here, especially the guitar playing, and of course, the drums. I consider Chris Adler to be the druming act that nowadays defies genre.

7.  The mars Volta – Octahedron

Marsvolta_octahedronHailed by The New Yorker as ‘perhaps the most musically adventurous act currently signed to a major label’ and by Rolling Stone as 2008’s Best Prog-Rock Band, The Mars Volta makes its Warner Bros. debut with Octahedron, the highly acclaimed group’s fifth studio album. Compared to last year Bedlam in goliath this is a completely different approach from the band to a more acoutic music development. Beautifully constructed, with nice melodic sections accross all the album.
My number one complaint (and there were very few of them) about The Bedlam in Goliath is that the band never took a moment to relax on that album. With every song being fast paced and loud I longed for those moments on a Volta record where I could take a breather before the next relentless thirteen minute prog rock latin jazz head bopping track would begin. Octahedron is the Ying to that albums Yang. I for one welcome a much slower album that builds to a more meaningful and impactful conclusion.

8.  Sonata Arctica – The Days of Grays

Sonata_DOGI wasn’t really sure if the finish Sonata Arctica would even make the top 10 this year on the first few listens to the album. However The Days of Grays is a nice consolidation of what Sonata Arctica has done on the past few years. With inventive and accurate musicianship the have managed to place all the pieces of the jigsaw together and make a nice mix of (Silence / Winterheart’s Guild) and ( Reckoning Night / Unia ) which were two different eras in the band’s history. Now the’ve returned more to their roots but seems like after passing through the Reckoning /Unia era they have brought back with them the best of that musical approach to the traditional speedy that is more like the early days that made them known worldwide.

9.  The Dear Hunter – Act III: Life and death

dear-hunter3Following up where Act II left off Act III is more melodic record with the heavy parts heavier, and the soft parts more serene. Set in a WWI era, “Act III” documents the metamorphosis of a fictional central character as he makes the transition from innocence to impurity. This is heavily produced, highly emotional crossover-prog-rock. A lot of it plays like old time show tunes, or like Broadway musical tunes. There are multilayered harmonies (gorgeous), punctuating horns, and soaring string arrangements, alongside inventive guitar and keyboard parts. The Dear Hunter has been one of the underground bands that deserve more attention due of the crescent quality of their music along with every release. Act III beign the best so far that the band has released.

10.  Maudlin of the Well – Part the Second

maudlin_part

Maudlin of the Well’s Part the Second is an almost unbelievable testament to what can happen between a truly talented artist and devoted fans. This album was funded by fan contributions (in fact expanded from a limited record of old ideas to a complete album project integrating new and old material) and then returned to those fans over the internet for free. This alone is so mind-blowingly cool, how music should be, that the album will hold a place in history that I hope becomes a model for what can be when we keep the music as the focus. But the fact is that the result is worthy of its historical place, a modern masterpiece. How all these things aligned seems almost divine. But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. The love of music will never die. And not just any music would be able to muster this kind of support. Perhaps it was the fuel of that love that made the music as wonderful as it turned out.  Despite being very experimental, melodic themes pass through different parts in classical fashion, moods ebb and flow perfectly, and rhythms evolve from simple to complex without ever announcing their cleverness.

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So with this we conclude this years list. Every single album is excellent, hurray for 2009 in music. I just picked them as I like them best. Hope you like the list !!

Some other good recommendations are:

Gazpacho – Tick Tock;
Diablo Swing Orchestra – Sing Along Songs for the damned and delirious;
Between the buried and me – the great misdirect

Doctor-X


Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings Review

24 May 2009

blackclouds Ártista: Dream Theater

Álbum: Black Clouds and Silver Linings                            Release Date: 23-JUN-2009

Label: Roadrunner Records

Genre: Progressive Metal

Teniendo muchos reviews por delante que escribir decidí ponerlos todos atrás con tal de escribir el de el décimo álbum de la banda estadounidense Dream Theater; tomándo el riesgo de que cualquier cosa que diga del álbum no le hará justicia.

Dream Theater ha sido una de las bandas de metal progressivo de mayor prestigio en el mundo por más de 15 años. Reconocidos por récords épicos como “Images and Words”, “Awake”, “Scenes From A Memory”. Teniendo en su alineación a uno de los mejores guitarrista (Petrucci), bateristas (Portnoy) y tecladistas (Rudess) del mundo han hecho música para recordar; sin embargo, desde el año 2000 que si bien no han sido malos récords no habían podido igualar los discos clásicos anteriormente mencionados. El disco anterior Systematic Chaos dejó todavía a más de uno decepcionado pues no estaba supuestamente a la altura de la calidad de Dream Theater. Pues bien señores ha llegado Black CLouds and SIlver Linings y es definitivamente uno de los mejores discos que ha sacado a luz la banda. 74 Minutos divididos en 6 canciones descritas a continuación:

Es un disco altamente progresivo, con cambios de ritmos y tiempos impresionantes. Estructuras y mixes con antiguas canciones (por razones obvias) de lujo. Se metieron al salón del ensayo para traer frescura en su música con la primer canción “A nightmare to Remember” que aborda con elegancia el género Gótico con los teclados de Jordan Rudess. La canción relata un accidente en el que se vio envuelto Petrucci de niño; relatado por LaBrie con la tradicional marca vocal de la banda. Solos dinámicos tanto por parte del teclado como por parte de la guitarra. Excelente canción. 15 minutos de absoluto deleite que ponen la marca para lo que será el álbum.

Continúa “A Rite Of Passage” que pretende ser la canción famosa del álbum a-la Forsaken de Systematic Chaos. Muy bien pulidos los solos; James canta en registro bajo con un coro muy pegadizo que en mi caso quedó grabado instantáneamente. “Turn the key, walk through the gate, the great ascent to reach a higher state, a right of passage.” Linda melodía.

Algunos fans podrán sentirse decepcionados por la falta de falsettos en la canción pero a mi gusto creo que no le hacen falta. Tal vez hubiera quedado de más o muy forzado la inclusion de los mismos. De la mitad en adelante trae momentos “headbangeros” y un solo perfecto. No puedo entender como Petrucci puede mover los dedos de esa manera.

“Wither” es la canción que bien podría estar en la radio. Lo que más resalta es LaBrie. Definitivamente la canción más floja del disco, y con ésto digo que es la única que podría calificar con un 10; pues las demás estan fuera de mi alcance para calificar. Obviamente Dream Theater tiene mejores baladas en su repertorio; buenos liricos a pesar de todo.

“The Shattered Fortress”; O Dios Mio!! Esta es a mi gusto la mejor canción del disco. Es la última parte de lo que Mike Portnoy llama la AA Saga. Conformada por “The Glass Prison”, “This Dying Soul”, “The Root of All Evil”,  “Repentance” y “The Shattered Fortress”. COnformada por partes de todas las canciones anteriores y con nuevos riffs, coros y melodias. Es en esta canción donde se ve el expertise de la banda al poder mezclas los ritmos y tiempos de una manera tan natural que suena como una sola canción. Excelente, Excelente. No puedo describirla de otro modo.

“The Best Of Times” es el tributo de Mike POrtnoy a su difunto padre. Una canción muy sentimental y personal. Me hizo recordar que los momentos son importantes con la gente que amamos y es precisamente por esto que incluso en este punto la música puede transmitir sentimientos y emociones. Los teclados empapan la canción de profundidad. Es para mi también la descripción de muchos pensamientos que pasan por la mente cuando pierdes a tu padre. Otra canción incapaz de ponerle siquiera un 10; pues me sentiría corto al hacerlo.

El álbum cierra con lo que se llama “The Count of Tuscany”, una rola de más de 19 minutos que brinda todos lso elementos que han hecho famosos a Dream Theater: Metal, progresión, grandes coros, evolución melódica y diferentes tempos.  En otros reviews es considerada la canción del álbum sin embargo me quedo con The Shattered Fortress por ser la parte final de un trabajo de años de Portnoy.

Al final uno se queda con la impresión que naturalmente dejan 4 canciones épicas; tanto en longitud como en el aspecto técnico. ¿Qué ha logrado aqui Dream Theater? Es un álbum sólido, un álbum personal, un álbum de metal pero también de sentimientos. Cerca de ser el mejor disco que la banda haya registrado en su historia y muy problamente es el mejor álbum de Dream Theater de la década. Pocas veces en años sale a la luz un álbum con éste peso. 2009 es para Dream Theater el año en que regresan al escenario enseñoreandose como los mejores.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings es un clásico instantáneo.

Final Rate: 9.0/10
Pistas Clave: Todas