Monday, 16 January 2012

Top 5 Anticipated Albums of 2012

I realise most 2012 previews came out at the end of 2011, but we're only 2 weeks into the new year. I figured the potential of 50 weeks of new material is still worth a preview.

5. Lamb of God - Resolution
The purveyors of pure American metal return just over 2 years on from their last album Wrath, and not much has changed (except frontman Randy Blythe's embracement of Twitter, film appearances and launching a campaign for US President: In all serious LOG have never been ones to comprimise and Resolution promises to be as ear crushingly brutal as all their rest. It's also set to include some clean singing from Mr Blythe. But don't let that fool you.

4. Dragonforce - (As Yet Untitled)
Since 2008's Ultra Beatdown it hasn't been an easy time for Dragonforce, mainly due to their long time vocalist and co-founder ZP Theart leaving the band in 2010. This led to auditions and finding a replacement in Marc Hudson. Whilst a few live performances have proved he's got the voice live, how will it come across on record? Will they be as cheesy? Has their novelty worn off? These questions and more (including: how many video game references will there be?) will soon be answered.

3. Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast
Having been active in the touring circuit and busy with various side projects (check out Cannabis Corpse- bassist LandPhil's Cannibal Corpse parody) the Waste are soon to be back. Massive Aggressive took a more serious approach, in both lyrics and musicianship but with a title like The Fatal Feast it would appear their sense of humour will be shining through on album number 5.

2. Metallica - (As Yet Untitled)
Approaching 4 years since their last album (Lulu ignored) now is the perfect time for Metallica to prove they're 'still metal'. For many Death Magnetic was a step towards their former glories, if only the production qualities hadn't let them down it could have been up there with the best of them. So hopefully their 2012 release will build on that, they've shown they're as tight as ever live, so why won't this be the year that's represented on record? Just no references to dining room furniture please.

1. Black Sabbath - (As Yet Untitled)
33 years later the inventors of heavy metal are back together for good and promising a new album (whether it's released this year is yet to be confirmed). With all members being active musically for most of their lives they've certainly still got the abilities, but can they work together and will there be the same spark as there was in the 70s? They all nearly qualify for a pension and their drug intake is probably more aspirin than acid based, will the creativity still be there? Let's hope so.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Top 5 Albums of 2011

My top 5 albums, because I can.

1. Mastodon-The Hunter
Sticking with the trend that every album Mastodon release is hailed as 'their best yet', The Hunter truly is. Considering the might of their previous two efforts Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye, this is an  achievement of mammoth proportions.  Unlike the latter mentioned, The Hunter is full of shorter songs ranging between the more commercial 3-5 minutes, there are no 13 minute opuses here, which works in their favour. The vocals seem clearer and the guitars are catchy as hell, just try listening to 'Curl Of The Burl' without getting it stuck in your head. A magnificent record from a magnificent band who never fail to deliver.

2. Machine Head-Unto The Locust
After the huge amount of critical praise aimed at 2007's The Blackening, earning Machine Head not only album of the year but album of the decade by Metal Hammer, the pressure really was on for it's successor. And if it was half as good as The Blackening there could have been few complaints. As it turns out Unto The Locust somehow manages to surpass it. It basically sounds like Machine Head at the top of their game, which it is. Robb's roaring vocals, Phil Demmel's squeeling guitars, Adam Duce's chugging bass, and Dave McClain playing his heart out on drums. Just listen to it, loud.

3. Megadeth-Th1rt3en
In a year that saw the demise of Thrash titans Metallica with that which we do not speak of (Lulu), it was otherwise a fantastic year for Thrash Metal's continuing resurgence. Megadeth have been around for over 25 years now and Th1rt3en harks back to their glory days from earlier in their career. The return of Dave Ellefson surely had a big impact on their sound which basically sticks to the classic Megadeth thrash attack, fast guitar riffs/solos and Dave Mustaine's trademark snarl combine majestically on all 13 songs. With the astounding return of Anthrax and Slayer never treading far from the path, that only leaves the biggest of the 'Big 4' letting the side down. 

4. Architects-The Here And NowReleased way back in January 2011, this seemed to be missed off most people's top 10 lists, hopefully becasue of it's early release. Shifting to a less hardcore sound worked wonders for these Brighton boys, the clean vocals showcasing a different side to Sam Carter's voice, and the contrast works magnificently. The breakdowns are still there and the songs are still snappy but there is also the addition of two slow burners in 'An Open Letter To Myself' and 'Heartburn'. One of the more dramatic sound changes/developments for a band last year seems to have paid off.

5. Wolves In The Throne Room-Celestial Lineage
Nobody does Black Metal better than the Norwegians, except maybe these guys. Hailing from outside Washington, USA, the two Weaver brothers stripped off all the satanic imagery from the Scandinavian style and instead created their own vast, ambient, eco-friendly version. This is their fourth album and shows a clear development, there are less of the harsh vocals (although they still frequent most tracks) with more emphasis on creating vast soundscapes using guitars, drums and various other instruments. This is achieved brilliantly. The addition of female vocals adds to the sense of wonderment and conjures up all sorts of nature based imagery.

Additional Mentions
Those which just missed out:
Black Spiders-Sons Of The North
Trivium-In Waves
Rise To Remain-City Of Vultures

Those which I have yet to listen to:
Anthrax-Worship Music
TRC-Bright Lights