Seeing as we're already in space we hop aboard the Discovery One to rendezvous with the Star Child at Saturn...
Entries in top 10 (40)
We've been half-way across the globe already; so we prepare ourselves to project into the stars with my #8 pick...or is that picks?
I genuinely felt for the resonant Mr. Rossetti, the pain in knowing his character can never tell anyone in fear of persecution - much like Jean Valjean's "Who Am I?" lament in Les Miserables. As the facade of human irrationality peels away, the music really imbues that feeling of enlightenment which is a feat in and of itself, all the while exploding with polyrhythmic jam-style fury and colorful harmony.
Even his brutal vocals are to be commended especially in the weightier and punchier Anthropocentric, as is the warm and layered production that binds together a collective of eight highly talented musicians. Much like the Orphaned Land record that came in at #10, its depth is almost fathomless and requires careful attention, although individual tracks taken out of context are quite capable of holding their own.
Moving into the single digits, we travel from the whimsical sands of the Middle East to the abrasive, wintry tundra of Scandinavia.
Most of the melodic death metal greats are struggling to repeat their past successes and have succumbed to commercialism, laziness or some kind of unfortunate amalgam of the two. Wichers’ time away from the band has done the whole a world of good. The record has the muscular vigor of youth discovering metal for the first time and the nuance of veteran metalheads teasing all they can from the genre and patiently adding to the canon. It’s a complete package – there’s almost no filler, there’s no placating to trends – it’s unashamedly and authentically Soilwork. Their brand is their mark of quality and it speaks for itself.
And so the the Top 10 metal records of 2010 begins with #10.
That aside, this album truly sounds like an arduous yet rewarding spiritual journey through the land of the ancients with a musicianship unrivaled in metal, rock or any contemporary music. They take the best parts of modern progressive metal and baptize it in the rhythmic waters of the Middle East and orient for a truly immersive, time-honored and weighty record. It's not immediate and it's not meant for constant replay. But it was six years in the making. For an album this good, I’d have waited six years more.
This year I'm taking a different approach to posting my Top 10 of 2010. I've listened to so much music - most of it metal - this year, I've decided to post my list as individual posts. I'm trying something new instead of blurting out a whole spiel and cursing myself later for not taking my time. It'll be a considered, measured and thoughtful list from me this year.
As is customary, I choose 10 of the best and give three honorable mentions - the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards respectively. In keeping with the spirit of ceremony, the Bronze award goes to:
The Silver award goes to:
Of course, Therion are the standard-bearers for contemporary classical inspired metal and they run the gamut of the canon, streaking Vivaldi, Bach and Saint-Saens (as well as a symphonic metal "re-imagining" of Phantom of the Opera on the track Unugentum Sabbati) throughout the layers upon layers of seductive guitar rhythms, orchestral harmonies, tantric grooves and exotic, esoteric melody. Christofer Johnsson confirms yet again he is a master composer who is able to expertly balance his love of mystical epics and pomp with his propensity for power metal hooks and balladeering only to augment both. A balanced record with plenty of sweet guitar licks, instrumental surprises and measured choral lamentation.
The Gold award winner is:
You can almost envision the shag carpeting underneath all of the band's feet as they lovingly give re-birth to 70s hard rock jam - it's like Uriah Heep and Nazareth got together to share their innermost feelings and take a whole bunch of ecstasy - but in the most honest and life-affirming way.
I've always argued that Pain of Salvation are the true (flower) kings of prog metal - and prog music in general - and Road Salt One proves it once again. Looking very forward to Road Salt Two early next year.