Musical highlights of 2009 – wrap up

Have you ever basically completed an email but not sent it, forgot about it and then, when you remember it again, procrastinated on sending it because you didn't send it right away? Well, then you understand this post. ¬†ūüėČ

There has been at least 1000 metal, prog and hard rock albums released in 2009, which should amount to something like 1 months worth of music. I don't have access to any reliable statistics but it seems to me to be a significant increase over last year? I obviously haven't listened through all that, but I have in fact sneaked a peak of most of them. As usual there is a lot of shit (in particular like 70% seems to be run-of-the-mill crappy death-ish metal), but there was a couple of goodies.

Ups

Besides 'Irepress - Sol Eye Sea I', my most favorite album of the year has to be 'Mastodon - Crack the Skye'.  I cannot put my finger on any obvious special/original influences, but somehow it's not like any other album I know.  Especially the sound. If anyone knows of anything like it, let me know.  'My Universe - Infinite Spaces' was a notable instrumental album for me, one I actually enjoyed! It's not often that I feel that instrumental songs can convey a story.
As usual I've kept most to metal, but a notable non-metal release was 'Fejd - Storm' (modern folk-inspired music, actually made by metalheads).  I'm not sure I'll come back to this album much but I absolutely loved it for a while.  Cute right?

Other nice discoveries that I've made this year:

  • Animals as Leaders - Animals as Leaders
  • Blind Ego - Numb
  • Black Sun Aeon - Darkness walks beside me
  • Hourglass - Oblivious To The Obvious
  • Agnosia - Trace Decay

A lot of the albums I anticipated also turned out great:

  • Indukti - Idmen
  • Isis - Wavering Radiant
  • Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today, I'm Sorry, They Washed Away
  • OSI - Blood
  • Porcupine Tree - The Incident
  • Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition
  • Shadow Gallery - Digital Ghosts

Downs

As a 'concert year' 2009 was pretty terrible for me. Which is my fault entirely: I went to no festivals and few concerts. Off the top of my head I can only recall two small Susperia gigs and Opeth+Ihsahn in Oslo + a couple of concerts with local/acquainted bands. In particular I regret not going to Porcupine Tree, Mew and Paradise Lost when I had the chance. Hopefully I'll make up for it in 2010!

As for albums 'Pure Reason Revolutions - Amor Vincit Omnia' was by far the biggest disappointment. It's something else than their previous album (the Dark Third) entirely; upbeat with driving rhythms and vocals. For me it ends up feeling a lot simpler and more "popped", and much less polished.  It's not really a bad album, it's just very far from what I expected and wanted. 'Scar Symmetry - Dark Matter Dimensions' is a quick runner up, highly anticipated but every part of that turned out lame. I suspect I am victim of several biases here, but it seems to me that everything Nuclear Blast touches turns to shit after a short while...

Other major disappointments include:

  • Amorphis - Skyforger
  • Queensryche - American Soldier
  • Stratovarius - Polaris
  • Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings
  • Megadeth - Endgame

And even though 2009 is over I have not made up my mind about all the albums yet. Here are some releases that I might very well end up loving, but don't quuite know yet:

  • Callisto - Providence
  • Epica - Design Your Universe
  • Katatonia - Night is the New Day
  • Anekdoten - Chapters
  • Phideaux - Number 7
  • Redemption - Snowfall on Judgement Day
  • Tombs - Winter Hours
  • Paradise Lost - Faith Divides us, Death unites us
  • Seven - Cymatics

I've realized that I have a bad habit of not listening enough to albums and moving on to the next one way to fast. * For me at least, it takes quite a bit of listening to really "get" an album.  Takes a while before all the sounds turn into the known melodies, awesome rhythms and familiar words that you can actually dig. Even more so for those albums that have be potential to be mind-blowing, because they are often very different from what I'm used to.

*Not quite as horrible as my tendency to sometimes fast-forward in movies though....

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