Usually I do these at the beginning of a new year but since this year in music was overall incredibulously disappointing and there's nothing more coming out, it can be done earlier this time.
This year marks the lowest new releases ever since 2001 where it was a few less than this year. I blame a lot of bands who split a few years ago or are on hiatus, whose schedule would dictate a new record this year.
Just like for the Summary 2014 this will be short rants / statements about more or less memorable releases.
- Born Of Osiris - Soul Sphere
- Breaking Benjamin - Dark Before Dawn
- Buried In Verona - Vultures Above, Lions Below
- Dagoba - Tales Of The Black Dawn
- Diablo - Silvër Horizon
- Ektomorf - Aggressor
- Entwine - Chaotic Nation
- Eskimo Callboy - Crystals
- Falling Up - Falling Up
- Hackneyed - Inhabitants Of Carcosa
- Lindemann - Skills In Pills
- Oomph! - XXV
- Solution .45 - Nightmares In The Waking State (Part 1)
- Trivium - Silence In The Snow
Technical Death Metal/ Djent - 46:50mins
BOO have usually really pretty cover artworks. Even if you don't like their music, you gotta admit that. I started actively listening to this band with The Discovery from 2011 but they changed drastically. They always change some parts of their sound with each new record. Early years the focus was on Death Metal, these days it's more Djent. The predecessor from 2013, Tomorrow We Die Alive was more electronic and overall their lowpoint, though.
Glad to see the band coming back to their feet with this record but still somehow misses that BOO sound I learned to like. Hopefully the next record is again a bit more Death Metal, the Djent parts ruin a lot of the rhythms in the songs.
The Other Half of Me is one of their best songs anyway and a fitting opener.
Alternative Rock - 42:45mins
This one actually surprised me. BB had some issues with past members and legal issues of the bandname but somehow were able to settle this. That itself is surprising as most bands simply take another name or leave the music business entirely due to missing replacements and stuff.
But Breaking Benjamin pulled it together, it's been about 6 years between this and the predecessor but Breaking Benjamin pretty much sounds as if nothing happened. Not saying they didn't evolve musically.
While I wouldn't say I am a big fan of Breaking Benjamin in general I really do like the voice of the singer and the very distinguishable guitar sound. I'm glad they didn't lose that after all what happened. Having said that, not my most favourite record but enjoyable.
Metal(core) - 47:00mins
This band has been busy. Only last year was the predecessor released, Faceless, what was among my favourites. Although not Top 5. This one is overall weaker than Faceless but the production and quality is quite perfect but not too perfect, if you know what I mean. Extraction is in my Top 5 songs this year, that particular song makes me go back to this record every now and then.
Although it is sad that drums, lead guitar and bass player left the band after Faceless. On the other hand it gave this band some fresh wind, hearable as well. They aren't necessarily core anymore but still rather heavy overall.
Some new attempts of the direction are appearing here and there, though. I'm intrigued how this band will develop from here on. Dark Age for example was a Death Metal band and turned into a Rock band. Something a lot of fans didn't particularly like.
Neo Thrash Metal - 40:36mins
Delivering their weakest effort so far. If I think back on why I started to listen to this band, songs like Cancer, or The Things Within come to mind. Especially the former is lyrically and instrumentally among my all time favourites and I am incredibly nitpicky.
In recent years, however, this band focused at first on their fantastic drummer, cutting back on guitars and put them, like the vocals, into the background on Poseidon. I didn't really like that but still was able to find very enjoyable songs on it.
But perhaps they learned from this that focusing on drums alone is not the best idea and so they balanced it out much more on Post Mortem Nihil Est again, my most favourite record from Dagoba.
Tales Of The Black Dawn is still balanced but there is so much else lacking. Three songs, Born Twice, The Loss and barely Morning Light are more or less memorable songs, the rest is forgettable mediocre shredding, making me wonder if I would bother with this band if it wouldn't be for the past records. I think I wouldn't and I don't like that.
Melodic Death Metal - 51:19mins
It felt like this record was announced forever. Was it three years? More? I am not sure anymore but definitely for a very long time and the predecessor is from 2008. 7 years and finally this one was released.
The result is a totally different band with a new vocalist (it's the same person). At least that is the impression that I get and an impression that I do not like. There's literally nothing on this record that I would listen even occasionally. Among the overall disappointment this year, this particular record is among the greatest disappointments, alongside The Arcane Order. What I dislike about this record and criticise here is literally the same for the new The Arcane Order. It's been seven years for The Arcane Order as well.
I am sure some people will like the progressiveness of these two records but I certainly am not. Other than that there's nothing special about the songs, making me go "that's why I am listening to this record / band!". Too bad, really.
Thrash Metal - 46:48mins
Ektomorf is a band that isn't reinventing themselves or anything. It's one of those bands standing still, repeating themselves over and over again. Churning out record after record to make some easy money. So why is this record in this list? Easy, two reasons:
Evil By Nature is the best song and only because of the guest vocalist. The hilarious thing here is, if you hear George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher from Cannibal Corpse, a band I don't like to listen to (voice is cool, anyway), in direct comparison to the singer of Ektomorf you hear how awful the latter is as a singer.
He can't compete in the slightest with Fisher. The recording of Fisher was more like improv backstage as I have read and while the quality is okayish at best, it's still miles ahead of Zoltán Farkas' capabilities. A very debatable choice that's been made here.
The other reason is the song Holocaust. Being German I am by nature
evil strongly opinionated, so here you go: Ektomorf has a very simple mindset and a mentality of eye for an eye, that becomes very clear in the song Kill It from Black Flag, no matter the actual cruelness of the addressed crime or any other song where simple lines are repeated over and over alongside the same riffs.
Having said that, I find it very difficult if a band like Ektomorf makes a single out of that particular song, shoots a video on a related location and makes money off of it. All while the song itself has no substance or criticial discussion on the topic at hand except "Never forget, never forgive". Another bad choice.
If a band makes money off of this topic I expect it to be critical, not churning out some nonsense lines over heavy riffs. I call that exploitation and the ethnicity of the person doing it does not matter here.
I am not really sure why I still bother with this band. After The Acoustic in 2012, maybe before, their songs got more irrelevant than it's worth listening to. The cover is equally simple but nice, though.
Gothic Rock - 42:06mins
There are a lot of outstanding bands from Finland who are often overshadowed by their neighbour Sweden. For good reason, though but still. Entwine is nevertheless one of my earliest discoveries and one of my most favourite from Finland. This particular album was announced for last year alongside Tuoni's current one (the drummer in Entwine is the vocalist and perhaps drummer in Tuoni).
Somehow it got delayed and I thought, as it is often the case in Finland, released much later in 2017 or so, if at all.
Entwine has a vocalist with a very melancholic sound (and admittedly a cute accent), I like it just as I like the very easily recognizable guitar sound (and punching drums). Despite six years between this and the previous studio album it's like nothing has changed. It's pretty much the very essence of the Entwine sound - after 18 years of existence!
It is perhaps not their best album after all but at the same time I am not disappointed whatsoever. It's not as great as I hoped it to be, it's somewhat disappointing in those regards for some reason. But I am very happy about this record anyway, maybe just because Entwine were able to focus incredibly on what made them so great for me in the past.
The opening song is fittingly titled End Of Silence and perhaps one of my Top 5 songs this year. This particular song makes me come back to this record rather often. While Adrenalize totally sums up how I remember previous songs but I can't quite put my finger on what song exactly.
Besides End Of Silence there's no outstanding song on it, like Dead By Silence, Twisted, Surrender, etc. The rest is in a sense good and there's not a single song where I'd say it shouldn't be on this record, I almost never have that opinion. But I am still so indifferent about how good this record really is. You know, there are good things where you say I wanna listen to every song now, or instantly say that is good.
There are a lot of songs on this record where I do not think so, but the same kind could be said about "not good", instantly saying not good isn't possible either. The indifference this record gives me puzzles me greatly.
Top 5 candidate on that alone (it wouldn't have made it last year, though).
Experimental (Fun) Metal - 39:09mins
A surprise this year. I heard of this band before back in 2012 but didn't bother to be honest. It sounded like these Hardcore bands these days mixing over the top electronics into the music to a point where it gets very cringeworthy.
But this album was actually pretty cool to listen to, My Own Summer and Crystals hooked me from the start. Catchy af and among my most favourite songs this year. It made me actually appreciate their previous work a bit more. Although I am still not really a fan of that, it's simply too ehh.
With this record on the other hand this band set a new standard for themselves. If they keep going this way, I am sure I will like them more on their next release and they will be more successful in general. Going from the playcount this record got, it should be in my Top 5 but I am not so sure if it should be there.
Christian Rock - 63:03mins
Now let's get serious for a moment. I had a time where I started to listen to "Christian" music years ago. Weird as that label is, I enjoyed a lot of the rock bands in that commercialised genre depite not necessarily agreeing with that ideology.
A lot of those bands I started listening to became soft, they pretty much all lost their punch. Many hid behind their christian "believe" and started to make gospel or whatever you wanna call it. Falling Up was one of them.
In 2011, without a record label anymore, they started a 10.000$ crowdfunding to make a new record. They got a bit more than that. From that point on they made a charity remix EP and a two album concept release. All from 10k and perhaps some money they made by selling the crowdfunded album, very cost efficient working nontheless.
Then in 2014 they announce they want to split up but previously want to make another record. Again, crowdfunding to the rescue, with this time demanding 40.000$.
Now, I am sure, the previous 10k were met with some money they had left and some more money could be made with the endresult, despite the costs for the remix EP and the recording of two other albums, making them some more money. But it doesn't add up for me why they would demand 4 times as much now where they split up. I find this incredibly suspicious.
BTW, album is candidate for worst record.
Death Metal - 45:20mins
Hackneyed were always from the very beginning that one band embodying what I think Death Metal is perfectly. Mean growls combined with insanely great but very dark riffs. That's perhaps a very shallow description but from all the Death Metal bands I listened to to this very day not a single one was able to embody it as good as this band.
But with Carnival Corpse in 2011 they started to change. It was an okay-ish album, not really bad not that good either, nothing more. I hoped they would go back to the roots with their next album but turns out they did not. The constant growling was fitting to the music on the older records and great. But in this one, it stands in the way. While the instrumental part is often times actually good and really enjoyable, the vocals ruin it, they sound flat, uninspired, yes even bored. The sonsg structures lack continuity at times and ruin the whole song in the process.
This record sums up what was wrong in the last years of Chimaira in the best way possible but the worst way possible for this band. Candidate for worst record.
Industrial Metal - 45:07mins
AOTY right there. Love it.
When I finally, after very high expectations, listened to this record, I couldn't help myself but think Till and Peter had a lot of fun recording this.
Considering the sexual nature of Till's texts it's no surprise that this album would contain mainly such texts, and boy are they sexual. Equally predictable were people getting upset about it.
And they were.
In an interview Peter said they think this is a fun album. An album you listen to before going out in high spirits. While the overall theme is a bit darker, so much so that I can't 100% agree with him, I do think this record goes in that direction. It's very over the top with its themes that makes it somewhat fun while still being incredibly iffy. Take Praise Abort for example, the title made an uproar alone. The video for it gives it a whole new deeper meaning that wasn't intended for the song alone but is great and equally iffy.
Skills In Pills, Ladyboy and Golden Shower are my favs with an honorable mention of Cowboy.
Next year will be the year Rammstein is recording their new record releasing it at the end of 2016 at its earliest I presume, spring 2017 is more likely with the obligatory world tour for about a year. That means the second album for Lindemann will sadly take a while.
Neue Deutsche Härte - 54:44mins
Overall a very mixed album, without outstanding favourite songs. But what me really surprised is that this band actually was able to get back to the roots a bit and got more serious. Like probably the majority of people I heard Oomph! for the first time when they released the single Augen Auf!, what was pretty much their first commercial success around 2004.
I am happy about this development, they lost me after Monster in 2008. Truth Or Dare (2010) was a re-recording of old songs in English and Des Wahnsinns Fette Beute was way too playful and commercial (first signs were in Monster already, but okay yet). Let's see what this band does after 25 years with the next record that hopefully won't be in (late) 2018/2019.
Melodic Death Metal - 59:47mins
Do you still remember when projects of Christian Älvestam were distinguishable between each other? Me neither. That is a big issue here. The more projects Älvestam works on, the more I get lost in between and the more interchangeable these projects become.
This record at hand sounds much more like a Self 2.0 version 2 in most songs. Älvestam is a favourite vocalists of mine but recently he's focusing much more on cleans than growls and while I do like his cleans I do prefer his growls and in S45 growls are or better were a big part. Not on Part 1.
Sure, the debut had clean vocals as well, very fittingly so, but on this the focus lies on cleans from the very beginning in many songs and the instrumental part suffers heavily from it. Besides the opener Wanderer From The Fold (with great In Flames-esque guitar riffing) and maybe Second To None there are no riffs or other instrumental parts that are memorable. That is very weak.
Not a candidate for worst record but definitely one of the weakest records.
Power Metal - 53:05mins
This one is hilarious. Trivium decided out of the blue* they do not want to make music anymore where anything else than singing is used. Because heavy music works with clean vocals as good as with shouts and Heafy is able to sing now.
Better yet, they piss off their fans even more by saying who doesn't like the singing could always listen to the old releases. Guess what, that's what they will do and forget Trivium still exists.
* Or not out of the blue? Vengeance Falls was awfully bad and maybe they wanted to make a clear cut instead of repeating the same failure?
The arrogance this band showed with this release and how defensive they get when people rightfully criticise the use of only clean vocals is astonishing. There are heavy af bands having female vocalists either alone or extending the (limited) vocal range of their male counterpart because clean vocals is a fantastic extension to heavy music. There's no reason to stick and limit yourself to only one style but apparently Trivium wants to do so. Too bad, since that personally bores me. Just like Power Metal bores me to death.
Matt Heafy has a great voice, cleans or growls, the instrumental part is definitely good if not great but they waste potential here. A lot of potential. The songs on Silence In The Snow appear irrelevant to me, they do not "speak" to me. If I read Trivium, I want Trivium, not another band.
It's like driving with the fastest car in a race but that "car" turns out not to be a car but a shopping cart. It just doesn't feel right.
This is a case where a namechange is in order. But throwing away a valueable name like Trivium? Nah. Rather exploit it and destroy your reputation while I stick with In Waves, my fav album. Yes, not The Crusade, not the Shogun but In Waves.
Hopefully next year will be much better again. This year was meh overall. Some good records, one epic record and a ton of disappointments. Known are already a few bands preparing for a 2016 release, namely among others Any Given Day, Deals Death, Impending Doom, The Vision Bleak, Ost+Front, Caliban and Illdisposed. I am stoked and so should you. However, let's close with my personal Top 5 this year (Eisbrecher is nothing special, but solid and has therefore no rant above):
- Lindemann - Skills In Pills
- Entwine - Chaotic Nation
- Oomph! - XXV
- Eisbrecher - Schock
- Eskimo Callboy - Crystals