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


Lamb Of God – Wrath Review

17 May 2009

Artista: Lamb Of God
Álbum: Wrath                                         Release date: 23 Feb 2009
Label: Roadrunner Records & Epic Records
Genre: Metal

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wrath_cover

Si un álbum levantó expectativas para 2009 ese difinitivamente tendría que ser Wrath de Lamb Of God. La banda de Richmond, Virginia se ha poco a poco introducido en el “mainstream” del metal; convirtiéndolos en una de las bandas más habladas y conocidas de los últimos años. Su estilo de música muchas veces recuerda a pantera pero con un poco de frescura y brutalidad actuales.
Si algo ha caraterizado a muchas bandas actualmente es que todo tiene que ser brutalidad y riffs escandalosos sin sentido. Pero cuando te topas con cualquier álbum de lamb of god es tocar el metal en su máxima expresión. Wrath es metal puro y limpio.
Algunos fans se sintieron desilusionados con el release anterior (Sacrament, 2006) que por si sólo fue excelente; pero sin embargo fue más técnico que su predecesor. Con Wrath podemos ver a la banda consumar el estilo de los primeros álbumes con Sacrament. La agresividad en conjunción con el tecnicismo y pureza en esta ocasión son palpables con este record.
Siempre he pensado que los intros instrumentales no aportan mucho a un álbum; y sin embargo Wrath abre con “The Passing”, un arpeggio que de pronto comienza a generar expectativas sobre si lamb of god se ha suavizado en esta ocasión. Buen ritmo que sirve la mesa al estilo épico de lo que esta por venir.
“In your Words” sigue la línea del estilo que trazaron con Sacrament, con ritmos “groovy” y breakdowns alentados. Por primera vez escuchamos a Randy Blythe cantar limpio, que si bien parece no ser del todo su estilo, encaja bien con el ritmo de la canción. Una excelente opener. Continuando con “Set To Fail” que no te deja respirar desde el comienzo de la canción. Riffs poderosos, la batería de Adler en su máxima expresión; aqui se comienza a percibir la consumación de los records anteriores más Sacrament. sencillamente esta es Impresionante y contiene uno de los solos de guitarra más memorables de los últimos años; que si bien no suena tan “metal”, simplemente encaja como anillo al dedo.
A lo largo del disco te encuentras con todo tipo de variantes musicales, desde arppegios como en Grace hasta canciones más oscuras y pesadas como Fake Messiah. Nuevas aproximaciones al genero como en Contractor hasta re-visitas a típicos hits metaleros como en Broken Hands.
“Choke Sermon” me recuerda mucho a lo que Ashes of The Wake propuso en su momento mientras que “Reclamation” continúa lo que Vigil comenzó años atrás.

Vocalmente la única diferencia es los coros semi-limpios de Randy en algunas canciones. Sin embargo no hay mucha diferencia en cuanto a álbumes anteriores; nada que cambié la forma en que vocalemente se escucha a Lamb Of God. El bajeo pasa prácticamente sin pena ni gloria pues a menos que escuches la edición de producción podrás detectar las notas que si bien son muy parecidas a las pisadas de la guitarra principal no deja de ser importante. La guitarra de Willie Adler perfecta como siempre y creo que eso es lo que le ha dado tanto éxito a la banda: esa cohesión que tienen los hermanos Adler para hacer música. Es esa comunicación nata que ellos traen es la que brinda a lamb of god la solidez técnica que tienen. Ahora, el premio de performance del disco tiene que ser definitivamente a Chris Adler que debe ser uno de los bateristas más creativos en el ámbito. Wrath no podría haber sido tan épico sin la batería de Adler. Solidos ritmos dinámicos que hacen que el disco tenga variedad musical.

Wrath es una aportación fresca al metal, no podrás dejar de mover la cabeza y quitarte las melodias de la mente por un buen rato. Wrath es uno de esos álbumes que gusta y gusta cada vez más conforme lo vas escuchando. Excelente en la primer escuchada, Épico conforme vas digiriendo la música que Lamb Of God ha creado en este nuevo record. Con sus fallas por supuesto, wrath tampoco es un ícono del arte en su máxima expresión pero sí de lo mejor que ha producido Lamb Of God; wrath se codea a la par con Ashes Of The Wake como los mejores álbumes que la banda ha dado a luz.

Wrath es un “must” para los amantes del metal. Lamb of God continúa enseñando a tocar a toda la cultura metal y demuestra nuevamente porqué ocupan el lugar que ocupan en el escenario. Sin tapujos he de decir que el quinteto de Virginia se encuentra donde Metallica estaba hace 20 años.

Pistas Clave: In Your Words, Set To Fail, Fake Messiah, Everything to Nothing, Choke Sermon, Reclamation.
Overall Rate:  9.0/10