The year is almost over, and this entry will be the final one in our Best of 2010 series as Noa checks in with her picks for the Top Albums of the Year.
By: Noa Avior
I always feel uneasy about compiling a top list of my favorite "something or other". I never really want to dedicate myself to these lists because well, let's face it, I'm a girl and the things I like change with my daily hormone shiftings. Also, I feel that my fellow Metal Injection comrades covered some of the great releases of 2010. The problem is that they only covered SOME and since Brooklyn looks like it's buried in a bag of flour I will take this opportunity during my day off to represent for some of the neglected releases that moved me this year.
10. Finntroll – Nifelvind
How silly that you guys forgot about this one, but I understand it came out all the way back in February and you can barely remember what you did yesterday. This album like all Finntroll albums promotes good times, massive beer ingestion and drunken banter. A polka, folk and metal infusion. Be a man! put on your deerskin loin clothe and admit this one was one of your faves too!
9. The Sword – Warp Riders
OMFG. This album has that raunchy, old school rock n' roll sound. You will end up naked, liquored up, high off your rocker or a combination of the three after listening. It provokes bad behavior so if you're a minor maybe you should ask your parent's permission before purchasing. The Sword claim it as their first concept album but honestly I'm not enjoying it because of the story line. It's feel good, 'up all night, sleep all day' music (brownie points if you got this reference without googling). Put this on during your New Year's eve party and I guarantee the atmosphere will go from lame to RAGE!
8. Leng Tch'e- Hypomanic
Leng Tch'e have been plagued with lineup changes since early on. As a matter of fact none of the original members are on this album. I'm not even sure why they keep the name Leng Tch'e. I'm digressing. Who ever you are now, I did enjoy this record tremendously. I guess this band is classified as grindcore. I found this record to be less noisy, scratchy, squealy and more "wait, I can hear that guitar riff" and "why am I not craving bacon?" This album is a good listen for those days that I just want to pound my chest like an angry ape. It moves back and forth from grind to death and I like that because I can't tolerate too much of either for a long period of time.
7. Periphery – Periphery
WHUT!? Noa likes teh djent!? Yes people. I like being challenged when I'm trying to count time. Where as I would normally shun winey singing, Periphery's Periphery keeps it at a tolerable quota. Also the singing doesn't overshadow the technicality of the rest of the music. When I listen to this album I feel like I'm falling down a rabbit hole and it's a pretty cool trip. It also helps that they're cute. I'm a girl …remember!?
6. Kalmah- 12 Gauge
The melodies in this album flow like rivers, sometimes calm sometimes rough. I would recommend this for those of you who like unconventional compositions, the whole keyboard vs. guitar duels and lots of emphasis on guitars. Also recommended for die hard power metal fans looking for more testosterone in their music.
5. Barren Earth – Curse of The Red River
Barren Earth may be a new band to hit the scene this year but it is comprised of some experienced dudes from such bands as Amorphis, Moonsorrow, Kreator and Swallow The Sun. What I love about this album is that it is a musical soup. A heterogenous mixture of all the aforementioned bands in equal parts. Amorphis was the first band that I have ever heard combine folk and metal. They were my gateway band for a plethora of incredible music and I see Barren Earth (granted that they survive this retarded music industry and have longevity) doing that for the younger generations. Curse of the Red River is a musical journey and they actually use flutes! There, so you always wondered why do I need to learn the recorder in school? Well, you could have been that guy!
4. Ihsahn – After
This album also made Frank's Top 10 of 2010 and that's why I'm friends with Frank. He wrapped up my feelings exactly in his closing remarks "Ihsahn has always been an innovator of style, and a man who loves to move boundaries of what's accepted in metal. Proving once again you don't have to be the first to do something, you just have to be the best." For those who aren't familiar, Ihsahn sewed saxophone lines into his compositions in this album maintaining the somber, melancholy feel without trying to turn it into a nordic metal meets jazz phenomenon. As the last in a trinity (see, After & Angl) it is still enchanting and engaging. I absolutely adore the chilling sounds of the saxophone but also how Ihsahn uses his 8 string guitar. It's not easy taming this mammoth of a guitar and most guys are doing it wrong. On this album it is quite complimentary to the overall darkness theme. It's not droned and no it's not djenty! I am enthralled by the purity in Ihsahn's music. Don't get me wrong Emperor fanatics, I love that band, but there is something more human in his solo work, it breathes.
3. Nevermore – The Obsidian Conspiracy
Nevermore are a timeless a band that can't be categorized into just one of the zillion metal sub-genres. After over 20 years since their first full length 'Nevermore' they are still able to produce an album with it's own identity. The Obsidian Conspiracy is sonically a diverse metal album. It's not really for everyone, just people with good taste in music.
2. James LaBrie- Static Impulse
It's been a tough year for us Dream Theater fans. Lots of drama that you can read about here, here and here. However, with all that going on James LaBrie comes forth and proves why it's good to have a musical outlet in your life. I don't equate his relationship with Mike Portnoy to the construction of this album, a solo project should be a vehicle to get away from the tribulations one has with their band and kind of a way to find clarity. As I said in my review this album is empowering. It entered my life at a good time. When an album pushes me the extra mile to do something productive it will forever go into my favorite albums of all time bank.
1. The Ocean – Heliocentric & Anthropocentric
Oh dear, where do I even begin? Two albums for number one, why? Because they go hand in hand. It is unbelievable to me that two albums that are so intricate came out in the same friggen year! First let me say, The Ocean get an A++ for attention to detail. A map of the cosmos adorns the insides, dials of planetary revolutions and zodiac cards? Even before listening my nerdery senses had been activated. These albums are bigger than me. They navigate through philosophical and astronomical conundrums and question fundamental ideas and the locus of the universe. Heliocentric was the first of the two and came out earlier in the year. It was so refreshing to find out that The Ocean employed a cello, viola, trombone and vibraphone among other unconventional instruments here. Anthropocentric concentrated more on the regular band but being the second record was as well produced and conducted as the first. I have to admit, vocals are always last to leave an impression on me. However, the vocal lines are utilized in such a way that they add so much to the rest of the compositions. Listening through Heliocentric and Anthropocentric is more than an aural experience but also a cognitive one. GO GET THEM! NOW! HURRY!
Here are some honorable mentions in no particular order:
High on Fire – Snakes for The Divine,
Ikuinen Kaamos– Fall of Icons,
Elvenking– Red Silent Tides,
Enslaved -Axioma Ethica Odini,
The Dillinger Escape Plan– Option Paralysis.
Bah! Already I feel pangs of guilt for "rating" bands I like and I feel like I've dismissed many other great albums. I hope you're all happy!!!
I am thankful that music is so available to me in 2010 and most of all that more and more bands that I like from overseas are touring the states. If you are going to download music please support bands by going to shows and buying merch. It's not easy.