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  • Best of 2008

    Dez 29 2008, 16h54

    Best of 2008

    This year it was rather difficult coming up with a decent list of 2008 albums, mainly because I have been listening to a lot of older stuff and missing out on 2008 stuff as a consequence. It took me quite some time to search and remember albums from 2008 that I really enjoyed as nothing seemed to really stand out at first. I do think that I came up with what would most likely be my list of favourites for this year. There might be things I have forgotten, but I doubt I will update this list after it is officially posted.

    Again the same thing happened as I described in last year's "Best of 2007" entry: there is too much music out there that I think I might enjoy and there is too much that I do indeed enjoy listening it. At the same time, there is far too little time to listen to everything that sounds interesting and sometimes you make the wrong choices on what to focus on (goes for life in general as well...). All of this simply means that at some point in the coming year(s) I will listen to some album released in 2008 and wonder why I never picked that up earlier. To err is human...

    The Good:
    A Forest of Stars - The Corpse of Rebirth
    Not only at the top of the list because it is in alphabetical order, but probably also because this is one of my favourite releases for 2008. Black metal, violins, avant-garde tendencies, strange vocals, gorgeous packaging... this has got it all. If you want to get something more out of your black metal albums, "The Corpse of Rebirth" is definitely worth trying.

    Anathema - Hindsight
    I have to come clean in writing something about this album, a confession of sorts. Regardless of how shameful it is, I have to admit that I had never really cared about or even really listened to this band before this year. Of course, I had heard a lot about them and I might have heard some random songs of theirs over the years, but that was it. Well, I am glad that I am able to add to that confession that I am glad to have discovered this band and that they have some quality releases (especially "Alternative 4"...). "Hindsight" is a thing of beauty in its own right and despite not being too familiar with most of the reworked songs, that has not kept me from thoroughly enjoying this album.

    Black Lotus - Harvest of Seasons
    This gem I discovered in the nick of time! Maybe two weeks later and they would not have been on this list at all or they would have been a great reason for editing the list! Lovely black metal with a clear folkish sentiment. Love for nature abound on this album. I cannot help but be reminded of Borknagar at times, especially because of the use of clean vocals, and I do not think that it could be anything but a compliment to be likened to that band.

    Doom:vs - Dead Words Speak
    While I am still slightly more impressed with the debut "Aeternum Vale", I have to admit that Johan Ericsson has a knack for creating and maintaining atmospheres throughout songs and albums. The music is dark and slow, but unlike a lot of other funeral doom stuff does not get boring or tedious. 'Dead Words Speak' has to be my favourite song hear, especially because of the "chorus".

    Enslaved - Vertebrae
    Enslaved keep doing it. They release great records and as far as I can tell, they will keep releasing great records until they break up. "Vertebrae" is a great record and, in my opinion, better than "Isa" or "Ruun". I cannot really compare this band with their viking stuff anymore and I guess I can understand why some people would argue that they should have changed their name, but Enslaved's music has shown a clear progression through the years. They are different, but none the worse because of it.

    Forefather - Steadfast
    Forefather have been pretty prolific in their 10 years of releasing albums, but none of them have ever really stuck to me like "Steadfast" has. "Engla Tocyme" and "Ours is the Kingdom" are decent albums, but "Steadfast" is a firm step beyond the level reached on those two. The music is more complex than before and I still love the way Forefather use clean vocals in their music. It seems like taking a little extra time for producing this record has really paid off.

    Mgła - Groza
    This album took me by surprise, really. I had heard Mgła on the "Crushing the Holy Trinity" six-way split with Deathspell Omega, Clandestine Blaze and others, but that did not really impress me much. Fast-forward to 2008 and Mgła's first full-length effort. "Groza" ("dread" in Polish... fitting title) is an evil album and what mostly shows that is the quality of the production. Sure, it is not clean or polished, but it fits the music perfectly. Also, great natural-sounding drums. Good job!

    Opeth - Watershed
    Yep, they made the list. Watershed, what can I say? It took me a fair while to get into the album, but it is admittedly a much better album than "Ghost Reveries" was. I love how Per's keyboard playing is integrated much better within the rest of the music instead of being simply an afterthought. A lot has changed since Orchid, but change need not necessarily be a bad thing in all cases.

    Serpentcult - Weight of Light
    Traditional doom metal is something that I have always appreciated more than the whole grunty kind of doom metal. Female vocals I have never really liked all that much. It is quite surprising, then, to realise that female vocals work pretty well in traditional doom metal... at least in Serpentcult's case. Nice crunchy music and female vocals. It works.

    Taake - Taake
    I love Taake... they are probably my favourite black metal band out there and I am not afraid to admit it. Especially not when every single (full-length) release of theirs is great. I am not too fond of some of the EP stuff they have done, but the fact remains that Taake keep giving us some really nice music. There is just something about their material to which no other black metal band seems to be able to get even close.

    The Bad:
    Ásmegin - Arv
    Waiting 5 years for new material by this band and what I heard was very disappointing. Have been reading up on the recording process and the circumstances under which this album was recorded and released and though I can feel for those guys, this is still not a very good album in my opinion. I miss the aggression and the song writing they showed on "Hin Vordende Sod & Sø". Here's to hoping "Tusind Tabte Siæles Kakofoni" will eventually see the light of day.

    Dark Age - Minus Exitus
    I did not really want to add this album to this section at first, because I usually only put in albums that I looked forward to, but found disappointing or simply horrible upon listening. Anyway, I was sent this album and asked to write a review and damn what a chore it was to listen to this album more than once and write a decent review of it. Horribly insipid music and it still seems to get quite decent ratings all around. Maybe there is something wrong with me. Read my full review here.

    Death Angel - Killing Season
    Okay, I was not expecting much of this and I guess I got exactly that. Nothing interesting and nothing I would want to listen to again. Lacks speed, lacks focus, lacks basically anything that could possibly make this a good album.

    Iced Earth - The Crucible of Man
    I have to admit that I was one of the people that were really, truly hoping that Matt Barlow's return would suddenly "fix" Iced Earth again and restore peace and balance to the universe. Alas, "we" were deceived. Although it is nice to hear Barlow with Iced Earth again, it does not make the music any better and I guess if I had been slightly more clear-headed about it, I could have expected that.

    Týr - Land
    Although "Ragnarok" was a great album, I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed with "Land". The songs are over-long and do not really go anywhere, leaving the album as a whole feeling tedious and uninteresting. For a more detailed review I wrote, see here (never mind the numerical rating, it should have been lower than that).

    The Honourable Mentions:
    Agalloch - The White
    For being a fun little EP.

    ColdWorld - Melancholie²
    For being a nice piece of depressive music.

    Enforcer - Into the Night
    For kicking butt.

    Fen - The Malediction Fields
    For seeming like an awesome album, but not making it into the list because I simply have not had the time to listen to it enough.

    Lifelover - Konkurs
    For not making it into the list this year... perhaps because it is a bit too long.

    C'est tout. Comments, people, comments!
  • Best of 2007

    Dez 24 2007, 14h48

    I am quite early with my year list this time around, but 2007 has been a very good year, indeed. I think my original list of potential candidates was about 42 entries long! Going through the list actually made me realise I still have a lot of albums I need to buy...

    A lot of very good albums didn't make it on the list, often because I simply haven't heard them enough to really make a correct judgement. The new Winds album is a case in point; I know it's a good album, but I've hardly heard it enough to really say anything about it and the same goes for the new Alchemist record.

    On the other hand, however, this has also been a year of some very disappointing releases. The new albums by Agent Steel and Mekong Delta do not stand a chance to make it to the list, which is a complete and utter shame, really. Even the new The Vision Bleak, though in no way a bad album, was disappointing since it was 'just okay' and not much more. I would've expected The Vision Bleak to come up with something more appealing than they did this time around.

    Anyway, my top 10 (in alphabetic order):

    Akercocke - Antichrist

    I think Akercocke get better with each and every album they release. Initially I wasn't too sure about The Antichrist when comparing it to Words That Go Unspoken..., but it is a great album and I do think it surpasses the previous album. When comparing The Antichrist to the first to records it immediately becomes clear how much Akercocke have evolved within their own sound.

    Favourite song: Summon the Antichrist

    Bergraven - Dödsvisioner

    Bergraven's album is pretty diverse and has a great atmosphere to it. Lots of diversity within the songs as well.

    Favourite song: Det man med själen...

    Clutch - From Beale Street to Oblivion

    This is actually the first album I heard of Clutch. A lot of people I know seem to this like this band and I'm not quite sure why. It's a pretty straightforwardly fun album to me and song such as The Devil & Me are great.

    Favourite song: The Devil & Me

    Crippled Black Phoenix - A Love of Shared Disasters

    Collaboration of people from various bands such as Mogwai and Electric Wizard. A supergroup, I guess you could call it. Nice quiet and relaxing songs in a kind of post-rock fashion, interesting albums really.

    Favourite song: The Northern Cobbler

    Deathspell Omega - FAS - Ite, Maledicti, in ignem Aeternum

    Chaos! The new Deathspell Omega was an album I was looking forward to immensely and in my opinion they did not let down. I do still think that Si, Monumentum Requires Circumspice is better than this, but I can't deny this is a great album.

    Favourite song: The Shrine of Mad Laughter

    Hypothermia - Rakbladsvalsen

    Ah yes, the great suicidal black metal trend. Seems like 2007 saw a lot of those releases, but Hypothermia has to be the top of the bill for me. Incredibly bleak and incredibly repetitional, yet still incredibly interesting... Go figure.

    Favourite song: -

    Lifelover - Erotik

    What do you get when you mix black metal with elements that are much too light-hearted for black metal? Something awkward, I guess.

    Favourite song: Höstdepressioner

    Primordial - To the Nameless Dead

    The Primordial guys are just in time to make it on the list. Good progression from The Gathering Wilderness with a very different concept, but equally appealing. The digibook edition is gorgeous.

    Favourite song: As Rome Burns

    Shining - V: Halmstad

    Shining are an intense band (especially live...) and I think their new album shows this off much more than their previous releases. From hard blasting black metal to quiet piano pieces, none of it really makes me want to off myself, but the music is still great.

    Favourite song: Låt oss ta allt från varandra

    Slough Feg - Hardworlder

    Oh yes, I'm a Slough Feg fanboy and not afraid to admit it. Though Atavism was slightly disappointing in my opinion (songs were too short and such), Slough Feg is back with a vengeance on Hardworlder. Interesting spacy concept again.

    Favourite song: Galactic Nomad

    Honourable mentions:
    Grimm - Heksenkringen

    Grimm's latest is many, many steps ahead of any of their previous work and I applaud them for finally releasing a good album that's actually worth listening to.

    Hardingrock - Grimen

    Project of Ihsahn together with violinist Knut Buen. Very cool songs and definitely worth checking out for anyone.
  • Seen Live (upd. 08-02-11)

    Fev 21 2007, 16h39

    Pretty straightforward list of things I can remember having seen live:

    65daysofstatic
    Aborted
    Aereogramme
    Agalloch
    Ahumado Granujo
    Altar of Plagues
    Amon Amarth
    Anaphylactic Shock
    Anathema
    Angantyr
    Apparatschik
    Arkona (Rus)
    Asphyx
    Astra
    Aura Noir
    Atlantis
    Battlelore x2
    Beef! x3
    Belphegor
    Bison B.C. x2
    Blacklodge
    Blind Guardian
    Bonded By Blood
    Bossk
    Bran Barr
    Bunkur
    Burden
    Burst
    Candlemass
    Carach Angren
    Caro Emerald
    Cirrha Niva
    C-Mon & Kypski
    Coliseum
    Cock and Ball Torture
    Conorach
    Corvus Corax
    Cruachan
    Cryptopsy
    Cult of Luna
    Darkane
    De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig
    Deicide
    Dew-Scented
    Diskreet
    Dismember
    Dornenreich
    Dr. Lektroluv
    Dropkick Murphys
    EF
    Elexorien x3
    Eluveitie x2
    Endstille
    Ensiferum
    Enslaved x2
    Eskorzo
    Face Tomorrow
    Farsot
    Finntroll
    Flogging Molly
    Fluisterwoud
    Forbidden
    Front Line Assembly
    Fuelblooded
    Gama Bomb x2
    Geïst
    Gernotshagen
    Ghoul
    God Dethroned
    God Is An Astronaut
    Goddess of Desire
    Grimm (hol)
    Gronibard
    Hackensaw Boys
    Haggard
    Haydamaky
    Heidevolk x ∞ (too often to count)
    Helritt
    Helrunar
    Heretic
    Hollenthon x2
    Holy Moses
    Horna
    Ignite
    Ill Niño
    In Solitude
    Israthoum
    Isthar
    Jex Thoth
    Karma to Burn
    Katatonia
    Keep of Kalessin
    Kensington
    Koldbrann
    Korpiklaani
    Krezip
    Kromlek
    Kronos
    Kvelertak
    Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards
    Leng Tch'e
    Machine Head
    Marduk
    Marilyn Manson
    Mastodon
    Medeia
    Melechesh
    Mely
    Menhir
    Metallica
    Moonsorrow x2
    Mourning Beloveth
    Minas Morgul x2
    Misery Index
    Mudvayne
    Municipal Waste x3
    Myrkskog
    Månegarm x2
    Nailed
    Nazxul
    Necrophagist
    Negligent Collateral Collapse
    Negurã Bunget x4
    Nifelheim
    Nile x3
    No Return
    Novembers Doom
    Novembre
    Nneka
    Omnia
    Only Seven Left
    Opeth x3
    Origin
    Orphanage
    Panchrysia
    Pantha du Prince
    Pennywise
    Pete Philly & Perquisite
    Peter Pan Speedrock
    Primordial x3
    Prostitute Disfigurement
    Psycroptic
    Ramesses
    Rapalje
    Rompeprop
    Salacious Gods
    Sauron (hol)
    Schelmisch
    Sear Bliss x2
    Secrets of the Moon
    Serpentcult
    Severe Torture
    Shining
    Shining (Nor) x2
    Sinister
    Skyforger x3
    Slechtvalk
    Sodom
    Sólstafir
    Steelwing
    Strapping Young Lad
    Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition
    SuidAkrA
    Sungrazer
    Svidgar
    Sworn
    Sworn Amongst
    Taake
    Textures
    The Ballroomquartet
    The Bloody Beetroots
    The Devil's Blood x2
    The Exploited
    The Flying Eyes
    The Ocean
    The Old Dead Tree
    The Real McKenzies
    The Revival Okapi
    The Toasters
    The Vision Bleak
    Toxic Holocaust
    Turisas
    Týr
    Thyrfing
    Thronar x4
    Trimonium
    Troll
    TrollfesT
    Unearthly Trance
    Unleashed x2
    Urfaust
    Urgehal
    Vader
    Valient Thorr
    Vanderbuyst
    Verdunkeln
    Visceral Bleeding
    Viral Load
    Vorkreist
    Vreid
    Walpurgisnacht
    Waylander
    Within Temptation
    Wolfchant
    Wolfenmond
    Wolves in the Throne Room x3
    XIV Dark Centuries x2
    Xystus

    Will be updated whenever I go to a concert or when I remember something I forgot to add.

    Updated: 08 February, 2011. Added Melechesh & Dew-Scented.
  • Best of 2006

    Jan 12 2007, 14h27

    Top 5:
    Ihsahn - The Adversary
    My personal favourite for 2006 has to be this record by Ihsahn. Of course it was a highly anticipated album and I feel it has definitely delivered. It's a perfect blend of different styles, which still feels refreshing even after repeated listening.

    Favourite song: Citizen.

    Sahg - Sahg I
    Favourite song: Rivers Running Dry.

    Týr - Ragnarok
    Once again a great album by this band, which doesn't seem to be able to do wrong in my eyes. A lot of diversity, yet enough coherence to keep me listening through the whole album without wanting it to end any time soon.

    Favourite song: Torsteins Kvæði.

    Negurã Bunget - Om
    After hearing the Inarborat Kosmos EP in 2005, I couldn't wait to listen to the new Negurã Bunget full length. When finally getting it, I couldn't be any more happy because Negurã Bunget made masterpiece again. This is the way music is supposed to be: conveying feelings and imagery. With the help of the DVD for visual stimulation, it becomes even more clear how great this album is.
    No favourite song...

    Tenhi - Maaäet
    This is an album I love to relax to and (I hate to admit it) fall asleep to. Even though that might sound like a bad thing to say about an album, as far as I am concerned it is not. Haunting, melancholic melodies perfectly accompanied by sad vocal work.

    Favourite song: Rannalta Haettu.

    Honourable mentions:
    Myrkgrav
    Despite not having been able to actually buy this album yet (yes, I'm ashamed), I feel that this album and this band in general deserves all the attention I am able to give them. Brilliant folk metal songs all sung in Norwegian, and a big improvement when compared to the demo "Fra Fjellheimen Kaller...". Check this band out!

    Favourite song: De To Spellemenn.


    Värttinä - Miero
    I just love this folk band and I felt I had to at least include them as an honourable mention. Despite the appearance of different folk instruments and the influence of varying styles of music, the focus is mainly on the (female) vocal harmonies. Extremely beautiful and intriguing album.

    Favourite song: Riena.
  • Best of 2005

    Jan 27 2006, 17h29

    In no particular order, originally posted on http://www.vikingblood.net/forum/ :

    Lumsk - Troll
    Lumsk's sophomore album was love at first hear. Folkier and less metal than their Åsmund Fregdegjævar album, but still the songs are premium quality. Great vocals both male and female and the songs are nice to sing along to if you know the language (or are proficient at acting as though you know the language). I keep listening to this over and over again.

    Primordial - The Gathering Wilderness
    An emotional and very impressive album. This is actually first Primordial album I've heard and I must say it blew me away. Especially Coffin Ships gives me goose pimples with its lyrics and amazing vocal performance.

    Solefald - Red for Fire
    Maybe I shouldn't be adding this before I've heard part 2, but I'm stubborn. Concept albums are right up my alley, and this one has a very interesting concept, indeed. I'm looking forward to how it will end up. Enthralling poetic lyrics and some nice touches of "weirdness." It took me a while to get used to the vocals (they reminded me of Macabre for some reason), but that didn't ruin the album.

    Taake - Doedskvad
    What a way to end the trilogy (Nattestid..., ...Bjoergvin..., ...Doedskvad) and what a shame that Taake has been put on ice. Beautiful, enticing album with a feeling of mystery and desolation. No fuzzy crap here, Hoest knows what he's doing and the melodies he whips out are great.

    Thyrfing - Farsotstider
    For me a logical progression from their Vansinnesvisor album. A very dark and melancholic album with subtle, but good use of keyboards. Even though I like the style they used on, say, Valdr Galga, I prefer this side of Thyrfing over their more frivolous side.


    Honourable mentions:

    Slough Feg - Atavism
    Not their best album, but still a great effort from an interesting and fun band. "One of metal's best kept secrets," as I've heard them being called. They deserve much more attention.

    Heol Telwen - An Deiz Ruz
    Great newcomer, one of the folkier albums of the year. I can only see a bright future for these guys and can't wait to see where they'll take it from here.