Baroness Gold & Grey
Gold & Grey is being met with a lot of grief from Baroness fans, citing that the production/mix is unlistenable and that the loss of long-time Baroness guitarist/vocalist Peter Adams is palpable. In spite of these grievances, Gold & Grey soars with emotion. To me the production choices add a welcomed half awake/half asleep atmosphere that I find enticing and visceral. Gold & Grey, the last in the colors series, will grow better with age thanks to raw song-writing ingenuity and Baroness’ ability to tell a deeply vulnerable story.
Candlemass The Door to Doom
Read Lauryn's review of The Door to Doom here.
The Door to Doom feels timeless and satisfying. The ballad "Bridge of the Blind" is sung with straight-forward lyricism and a seasoned, not worn-out, warble that offers winsome wisdom. Each track is captivating and allures with a gripping presence that only experience can provide. Thanks to The Door to Doom, my fears of Candlemass fading into has-beens, grasping on to their heyday, have been obliterated. Shame on me, good on them.
Dream Theater Distance Over Time
Distance Over Time took a while to grow on me, but after listening to the album quite a few times, I can call this album one of Dream Theater’s best works in a decade. Undeniably Dream Theater-y, Distance Over Time has a new sparkling energy that feels exciting and oddly familiar. Instead of listening to Distance Over Time with a musician’s analytical ear, I sat back and enjoyed the album at face value. Distance Over Time is easier to listen to than a large portion of Dream Theater’s discography while being every bit as technical and odd as Dream Theater’s hallmark promises.
Periphery Periphery IV: HAIL STAN
Picking Periphery IV: HAIL STAN as a contender of AOTY was an absolute no brainer for me. Periphery IV comes out of the gates swinging with an evolved and emotional 16-minute track that made me forget to count the time ticking past. The success of Periphery IV lies in the intent in each track – not a single drum hit, djenty moment, or swelling accompaniment is out of place. Periphery IV is uniquely layered; the low-lows combined with cleaner, wider, full-mouthed vocals make the album feel enormous. Thanks to explorative soundscaping and track isolation within the songs, Periphery IV pushes Periphery into what sounds like a completely new genre. This unpredictable, expansive album crushes it with an absolute 10/10 from me.
Within Temptation Resist
Symphonic metal is a derisive subgenre of metal, often accused of being far too pop-sounding, inartistically over-the-top, and as being too lyrically cheesy. Within Temptation have been evolving their sound within this subgenre for over 2 decades, and their newest effort Resist can be accused of the same old symphonic metal gripes. However, Resist pushes symphonic metal into a modern era bereft of many like-minded acts without being too try-hard. Contemporary-sounding while staying classically gothy and dramatic, Resist is well-produced and fun to listen to.