Friday, December 16, 2011

My Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Chelsea Wolfe - "Apocalypsis"
2. Evanescence - "Evanescence"
3. Nightwish - "Imaginaerum"
4. Arch Enemy - "Khaos Legions"
5. PJ Harvey - "Let England Shake"
6. IAMX - "Volatile Times"
7. KoRn - "The Path of Totality"
8. Disturbed - "The Lost Children"
9. Florence and the Machine - "Ceremonials"
10. Incubus - "If Not Now, When?"
11. Omega Lithium - "Kinetik"
12. The Birthday Massacre - "Imaginary Monsters"
13. Collide- "Counting to Zero"
14. Jimmy Gnecco - 'The Heart X Edition"
15. Kidneythieves - "The Invisible Plan"
16. Otep - "Atavist"
17. Guano Apes - "Bel Air"
18. Esben and the Witch - "Hexagons EP"
19. Darren Hayes - "Secret Codes and Battleships
20. Never Before - "Timeless"
21. In Flames - "Sounds of a Playground Fading"
22. Bush - "The Sea of Memories"
23. Ben Moody - "You Can't Regret What You Don't Remember"
24. Aqua -"Megalomania"
25. Puscifer - "Conditions of My Parole"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don't be a Digital Deadhead!

   Everywhere one can find an advertisement for the newest phone to surf the web and watch movies on. Remember when a phone was to actually communicate and have a real vocal conversation? I know, what a crazy medieval thought! Recently I was at a local CD store in Cedar City, Utah and was having a great conversation with one of the owners. I watched someone come in and text the entire time they were in the store, never once looking up even when asking what artists say a particular song.  Then to add insult to injury, once this guy had his answer he made the comment he’d just go home and download it.
   What is becoming the norm is scary. We’re tossing aside such basic things because technology is becoming the in thing now. Everyone goes on about how their phones can tell you where to go and what to wear. We’re becoming slaves to digital while companies like Apple monopolizes off Itunes, all the while slowly killing the music industry and small business, yet some of you cheer in the digital age as dreams are dying.
   Generation to generation, first editions of books have been past down. Now instead of a wonderful hard backed book that will last forever if taken care of people are choosing a file. I cracked open a book yesterday and discovered it belonged to my late grandfather. Made me smile and remember all the good times of he and I reading together when I was a kid. Treasured memories like those who owned books before us that have been passed down will become extinct because amazon thinks the kindle is where is at.
   I’m not saying that all digital ideas are unwise, but some truly are. For example, say you go into a local independently owned CD or bookstore, right? You buy a CD that you can get on Itunes for a whole dollar more then the digital price. You’ve got a physical thing that if taken care of can last forever; you’ve kept your money in the community, so in turn that will feed it. Go and buy a book, write something in it that means something, and give it to someone you love. Hold on to these things and remember that just because it’s faster, easier or vastly talked about doesn’t mean it’s good. In the end we need to remember that being a digital deadhead will only take us down a peg. Nothing can replace human conversation and the ability to actually hold our possessions in our hands. I encourage you all to think about it!

Nightwish "Imaginaerum"

   Symphonic Metal stars Nightwish are back on the scene with the intriguing “Imaginaerum.” The album is a concept album, telling the story of an old and dying composer reminiscing of his youth. The heart of Nightwish is still very present with their signature sound of symphonic metal. That said however, the band also journeys into new ground and does so quite fantastically.
   A fine example of this would be “Slow, Love, Slow.” Incorporating a lounge style, the song opens up on a piano and mellow, jazzy percussion. Anette Olzen’s voice glides in adding the perfect vibe to the song. It takes the listener into an old 1930’s club, with a smoky atmosphere, the band playing in suits and the woman in the red dress casting that perfect spell over all who hear her.
   “I Want My Tears Back” is another track that also shows off new elements, adding a Celtic sound into the mix with uilleann pipes. The song is very well arranged and catchy and is sure to be a favorite of fans
   Matching with the new Celtic infused idea is the only ballad on the album, “Turn Loose the Mermaids.” The song opens with beautifully matched acoustic guitar and flute, which flow into beautiful vocal done solely by Anette. There’s also a spaghetti western accompaniment to the song with whistles and orchestra. 
   Many fans jumped ship when original vocalist, the lovely lyric soprano Tarja Turunen parted ways with the band. A change in vocalists is always a make or break for a band, especially one with a history spanning fifteen years long.  If you did now is a perfect time to climb back on board. Anette has stepped up her game and proven herself with her second album with Nightwish. The band has crafted something magical with the new album. “Imaginaerum” is a testament to the progression of songwriter Tuomas Holopainen and the evolution of the band itself.. It will captivate the imagination and make you fall in love with this band for the first time or all over again. 


Nickelback "Here and Now"

    Canadian rockers Nickelback return once again, bringing with them their usual method sound of rock with a few ballads. With their seventh release “Here and Now” the band proves one thing; they have a sound and they don’t feel any need to change it much at all. It is always the typical meat and potatoes rock. Their albums always go something like this: rock song about being a bad ass (this album’s version is “This Means War”; rock song about drinking (“Bottoms Up)”; pop rock song about how we all need to embrace everyone (‘When We Stand Together”), song about sex (“Gotta Get Me Some”; ballad (“Lullaby”) and so on and so forth. I’ll be the first to admit it; once upon a time I really liked the band. Then the radio stations discovered them and decided to play their singles into the ground. Since that happened the band decided to just keep on going with more of the same, because hey, it works for radio play right? It feels like the band literally has no progression and every album follows the same method. I think the band has potential somewhere, really I do. But if you’re looking for all new and amazing from Nickelback, don’t look here. “Here and Now” is another carbon copy of the band’s last few CDs using the same methods, lacking originality and doesn’t amount to much of anything at all sadly.

Nightrage "Insidious"

    If Arch Enemy and In Flames got together and had band offspring it would be Nightrage. Bursting out of the gates with their fifth album “Insidious” the band is still going strong. With a collision of heavy, dark riffs with soaring leads mixed with clean and harsh vocals, they’re sure to entertain. This is good, hard metal with a bite, not that overplayed generic trash you find on the mainstream radio.
   The album gets off to an excellent beginning, with the first five songs all being intense and well written. “Hate Turns Black” mixes great lead guitar playing with a memorable chorus while heavy riffs and wicked drums support the song and further drive it away from obscurity. The title track is totally primal with Tomas Lindberg’s vocals just reaching out and attacking the listener’s ears.
   The second half of the album is where things begin to dwindle down a bit and drag. The songs begin to almost fuse together, causing confusion as to when one song starts and when another ends. Don’t get me wrong, I like it but there really needs to be distinction between tracks.
   All in all I really enjoyed the album, “Insidious” is sure to catch the ear of metal heads and delight fans. There are no fluffy bunny alternative radio friendly songs here and the album sounds good and plays hard. It’s a nice change into high gear, which is something I’m down with. Be sure to not only pick up the cd, but to also catch the band on tour with Arsi and Firewind!

Nemesea "The Quiet Resistance"

   Another “gothic metal band” from The Netherlands is Nemesea. Setting the dividing line between them and the rest of the sound the same band is a unique blend of alternative/modern rock, trip hop and some electronica elements. With their third release “The Quiet Resistance” they try to cross more genres, this time venturing into a more popish flavored rock. They almost come across as a mix of Evanescence and Paramore. Sometimes the newer style helps out the album and other times it is a hindrance and takes away from the potential of a song.
   Opening the album with a whisper of  "I dug this hole in the backyard, the quiet resistance"is the title track. It builds up with heavy guitar and a little industrial programming, and then just cuts off rather then leading into the next song. “Caught in the Middle” is one of the more metal song s on the album and flows pretty well. There’s a pause in the music which puts a heavy emphasis on Manda Ophuis’ voice really has a chance to show you just how talented she is.
   “Afterlife” follows in next, and as the album’s first single it is pretty decent. There’s a heavy emphasis to the pop alternative/modern rock and from here this trend begins to take hold of the album. “Stay With Me” contains more of the gutsy metal style sound that attracted me to the band.  It reminds just how good they can be when they stick with what they know.
   Honestly, the more you delve deeper into the album the more you find the metal sound has melted away almost entirely; turning the album into something that would make a top 40 hits list perhaps. Nemesea has lost some of the element that drew me in with previous albums, however the new album is sure to attract a new following.