• A compilation of 2011 albums that made a difference in my life

    Jan 16 2012, 4h42

    After a proper sit-down-shut-up-and-listen session I came to a valid conclusion on what albums I should list here. This 25 album list consists of the albums that were produced in 2011 and were important to me in a strong manner. The list does not show them in an order from the best to worst because in my opinion a comparison between various genres of music is just impossible. Instead it shows them in an order on how much impact they had on my life - how they shaped my past year of 2011.

    For a more detailed list, please visit my blog: thought.stream

    If you have any comments or opinions on the list, please drop a comment! I hope you can find something on the list that you haven't tried before and support the artists by buying their music. Enjoy!

    25. A Storm Of Light] - As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade

    24. KASHIWA Daisuke - 88

    23. Logreybeam - Perhaps

    22. Sobre A Maquina - Areia

    21. Wolves in the Throne Room - Celestial Lineage

    20. Steven Wilson - Grace for Drowning

    19. CunninLynguists - Oneirology

    18. Vektor - Outer Isolation

    17. Like Rats from a Sinking Ship - We Get Along Like A House On Fire

    16. Uitgezonderd - Burning giraffes at Sea

    15. A Winged Victory For The Sullen - A Winged Victory for the Sullen

    14. Long Distance Calling - Long Distance Calling

    13. Cave In - White Silence

    12. Thursday - No Devolución

    11. Myrath - Tales of the Sands

    10. Times of Grace - The Hymn of a Broken Man

    9. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming

    8. Grails - Deep Politics

    7. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

    6. SBTRKT - SBTRKT

    5. Tenhi - Saivo

    4. Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us

    3. Mastodon - The Hunter

    2. Fair to Midland - Arrows and Anchors

    1. *shels - Plains of the Purple Buffalo
  • Sobre A Màquina - Areia (2011)

    Dez 11 2011, 22h20

    Sobre a Máquina - Areia



    The first time I listened to Sobre A Máquina was an unintetionally terrifying moment. I had moved all of my stuff out of my apartment and the only things left were the four gray walls, a flat mattress and my nearly ancient, yet still sound-producing, speakers. I had forgotten my speakers on a volume just slightly too loud and when I pressed play on Lingua Negra I was met with a drill that drove straight into my eardrums and seemed to escape out of every hole in my body. I was left immobilized on the floor with the hauntigly slow melodies starting to occupy my mind. I couldn't turn the volume lower because some sadistic part of myself was already enjoying the cacophony created by the music bouncing off the empty walls of my flat, creating a vortex of echoes that made me balance on the verge of sanity.

    Hailing from Brazil the band delivers a sound you might necessarily not expect. There is no cheer, no uproar, no emotion in this music. Areia presents the sounds of an abandoned factory in a world that seized to exist an eternity ago. The machines produce nothing and run on anything. Barca, a broken ship, is somehow full of unknown melacholy. Machinery of sadness.

    The general sound of the album is quite raw and the line of enjoyment is not far. Consisting of only four tracks you would like them to form an entity as opposed to being singular track productions. Foz, for example, would work as a towering single piece of music but is not a team player, grasping all the attention.

    A few years from now, I would like to have the same echo-experience with a matured Sobre A Màquina in a white apartment room with the resemblance of a sanitarium studio. A factory of dead sounds that would make me feel alive.

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  • Myrath - Tales Of The Sands (2011)

    Nov 22 2011, 7h01

    Myrath - Tales of the Sands



    With the beginning riff of Under Siege, devastating as the fall of Carthage, bringing forth the album with the strength of a thousand mercenaries, you're left standing in the sandstorm. Captivated, intrigued, desperate to hear more. Tales of the Sands, the third release by Myrath, takes you a step further into the desert of modern day North African music, which rarely sees daylight. Their combination of symphonic power metal and arabian folk music is mature take on infusing ethinicity with sounds - and one can only sit down on the top of the widest dune, feel the wind blowing grains of sand against the barren valleys of your face and wait for the battle to brew.

    With the general focus residing within the ethnic touch of arabian music - supporting, even dominating, the song structures - Myrath have ruthlessly abandoned the traditional lines of their genre. Carefully balancing between the walls of overdone and amazing, the oriental touch casts you into a dance with bedouin swords.

    Epic lyrics of warmongery and waging great battles, the pitfall of many power metal bands, is something I can enjoy here, though. Zorgati's vocals draw the interest rather into the sound of them than the actual message; to emphasize this even more the Arabic vocal sections in songs such as the title track make you forget about the reality of words. Whereas the excessively done keyboard spikes want you to hear less of instruments and more of vocals.

    The frailty of the album lies within repetition, which was quite expected when you see the track listing consisting of 11 songs with their lengths bound from their ankles to the five-minute fence of mediocrity. The powerful effect of short tracks get lost somewhere between the third and the fifth track, which is a shame because the rest of the album provides outstanding riffs and razing drum lines in songs like Beyond The Stars.

    Standing on the brink of greatness, Myrath showed an oasis at the end of a three album march. Their sound leaves a craving ring into your ears and you're left on the same dune, wanting to descend into the battle with your shashka pointing towards the clear bue skies. Tales Of The Sands is not the city of Carthage in its peak of glory but makes the morning sun rise in the East for a new day in power metal.
  • Mastodon - The Hunter (2011)

    Set 22 2011, 8h13

    Mastodon - The Hunter



    The fallen leaves of Crack the Skye rattle under your feet while you tramp the forest floor of the autumn with a steady pace. The long melodies of the summer are far gone from your mind, like anything else. Your focus is keen on one thing, your game. With the rifle latched against your shoulder, your eyes screening the wooden wastelands for the slightest sign of movement, your feet moving forward in a unnoticed manner. The acute bark of a dog. Your muscles tense, your senses sharpen. A bulky caribou strides in front of your eyes and your finger finds the ever-so soothing trigger of the gun.

    The heavy introductory appearance of Black Tongue bursts out violently and shreds all hope apart. The direction of the album has been set to short, striking, dynamic. Singular spectacles skattered around the woods with Curl Of The Burl following the genesis of the album with a radio-friendly chorus that you can't help enjoying. The forbidden fruits of Mastodon have all been adjusted into a tight pack of wolves. The Hunter has been born.

    The non-conceptuality of The Hunter strikes down hard as a fresh new wind in an autumn storm. The album is easy to listen to, there are no unnecessary breakdowns, the flow is powerful, dynamic even and Drailor's vocals blend well into the overall sound with Creature Lives being a vocal vantage point for him.

    The title track of the album and Thickening exemplify the musicianships of Hinds and Kelliher with sounds of their guitars slowly drilling into your face.The heavy riffs splintered with sharp solos make the majority of the album a pleasure to listen to.

    Mastodon's bullet never hit the target with The Hunter but the sound is definitely not just a dog whistle driving your inner self to the edge of sanity. A sludge metal shotgun - the shot explodes onwards as a blunt entity, splinters into shards of single heavy pieces of metal and strikes the target triumphantly straight into the heart.

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  • Black Sheep Wall - I Am God Songs (2008)

    Set 9 2011, 16h07

    Black Sheep Wall - I am God Songs



    The aggregrated rawness penetrates through your chest and rips your back open right from the beginning. Nihility underlines what I Am God Songs is about. Brutal vocals, serrated sludge riffs and bashing the drums as if they weren't there. Generally I have found the sludge metal albums I've recently tried out borderline lackluster but Black Sheep Wall has provided me with a surprisingly refreshing release. Though, refreshing is probably not the most descriptive word - mind-repressing would probably depict the mental image of a man crouched into the corner of his chamber greedily marvelling this conglomeration of anger much better.

    Whereas I fail to see the doom metal resemblance in the music, the slight mathcore touch pleases my ears. The songs, intertwined around a spin of chaos, are quite strictly organized and Thompson's drumming stands out from the mass as forging a blade in an ironworks. Modest Machine and Ten Fucking Billion seem to be the pillars that hold the album together, seeing as how the shorter tracks seem to have a fairly redundant role.

    After some elaboration and maturity, we should have ourselves a violently good sludge metal band here right here. For a debut, Black Sheep Wall has made a formidable one.

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  • Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us (2011)

    Ago 22 2011, 18h41

    Ghost Brigade - Until Fear No Longer Defines Us



    Closed curtains refuse to let the daylight penetrate through, the slight beams of light wander lost somewhere in the gray haze of the autumn. The room behind the curtains is as dark and solemn as the man sitting inside it. The floor filled with debris, the shelves bending under the weight of drained bottles of something stronger than spring water. The only thing visible on the face of the crestfallen man are a stubble replete enough to be called a beard and the clean lines carving a canyon down from his eyes - the path of tears that have dried ages ago. He has no one but the black rain bludgeoning its droplets against the only window in the room.

    I think that when a band manages to create such vivid imagery into your mind during one monumental album, you can't help but to lay high expectations on what will follow. Isolations Songs is single-handedly emotionally the most raw, sullen creation I have heard up to date in genre of metal. Until Fear No Longer Defines Us, the third full-length album from the Finnish quintet, is not a lonesome man on the verge of a silent suicide. No, it is the repentance and penitence of a man on his knees, waiting for the sunlight to burst into his heart.

    Sitting on my floor, curtains closed, rain quietly hammering against my window and only a small table lamp illuminating my room. In The Woods fell as silently on my shoulders as the dusk falls over daylight with the acoustic wonders of music forming their own residence inside my head. The expectant feeling rose throughout the whole song and the wait for the burst of agony felt like three eternities woven into each other but when Clawmaster's first lines of

    Sweating blood
    Wading in mud

    bellowed belligerently out of my speakers, I was as home as a Finnish man could be.

    There is clear progress from the previous work. The guitars have partly shifted from serrated soulreaping to mildly melodical power-risers. Traces Of Liberty and Divine Act Of Lunacy demonstrate the aforementioned progress when their choruses take their toll of the listener's unconsciousness.

    Unline most metal bands, I find Ghost Brigade to excel in the lyrical manner as well. The despondent vocal compositions of Ikonen freeze your ears and fortify the effect the simplified, yet cunningly metaphorical lyrics create. Breakwater, the towering title-track-intention, verbally depicts a sinking man grasping for his last breathes of air - a refusal to fall down from his knees, a struggle to get back up on his feet.

    As generic of Ghost Brigade tracks as Call Of Decay and Torn may seem, they are still buried deeper in darkness and carved further into the musical flesh than the majority of the songs in the whole genre. With Soulcarvers ending the album in a feeling of the want of raising your hand towards the sky in a formation of potential throes of perdition, one is left staring blankly forward in admiration.

    Admiration.

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  • Trivium - In Waves (2011)

    Ago 9 2011, 16h46

    Trivium - In Waves



    Generally the most descriptive term most people who rate albums on a frequent basis are able to find for Trivium and the whole genre of metalcore is 'balls'. I wouldn't concur that this is the most metaphorically figurative noun that can be said to depict the music of the given band into the minds of people. Yet, unfortunately it also holds some truth within, and the fiftfh studio album of Trivium exaplains why.

    Capsizing The Sea is probably the most outside-the-box thing that Trivium has ever done musically and it blends quite well with the follow-up title track In Waves. The haunting piano melody and Heafy's crushing growls start the album off and lay out great expectations on the table cleaned by the previous effort, Shogun, which I actually found quite enjoyable. Normally I listen to metalcore when excercising and I had to try this album as a possible replacement for Shogun before I could critically review it.
    The result: replacement unsuccessful.

    The album is crammed with short tracks that are connected to each other with instrumental interludes, yet it lacks the straight-forward coherency that this lay-out should create. Single tracks are able to stand out from the line of musical privates and Forsake Not The Dream and Of All These Yesterdays actually sound great booming out loud. These alone can't create an aura of excellence around the album, though.

    The lyrical thematics get lost somewhere between obscurity and obsolescence and provide me with nothing I would not have known already, which I find to be a problem in quite a few metalcore bands. Overall, a decent follow-up to Shogun but when you're expecting a band defining themselves musically and are faced with a band defying your musical taste, you can't help but to feel slight disappointment.

    Generic, over-produced, flat.

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  • A Storm Of Light - As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade (2011)

    Ago 2 2011, 18h26

    A Storm of Light - As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade




    Missing slams down as the first track of the album and already describes the most of what the album has to offer. Drums like hammerfalls on an anvil, vocals brushed with rust and wavering, sludgy riffs that penetrate the sides of clean execution and granular mass of sounds without ever reaching the end of either side. The featuring vocals and various artists do not stick out from the mass but one can be lead into the thought that they were never meant to.

    As The Valley Of Death Becomes Us, Our Silver Memories Fade is the third full-length album from the Brooklyn-based post-metal group, A Storm Of Light. The band has improved with every album and ironically, their best work up to day is a split album with Nadja - Primitive North was the rising tide that carried the band further. The long album title of the latest indicates that the band is clearly ready for defining their own sound and with Josh Graham of Red Sparowes as the frontman the direction towards attention in the post-metal section is more than crystalized.

    Yet, the album seems to have come out as a tangled mess of everything. As if there was no decision on whether to focus on the lyrics, the album features long instrumental sections of, I admit, well-executed drumming and slow, mashed guitar riffs as well as forward-ramming vocals with lyrical complexity in them. Black Wolves leaves us a lyrical code to decipher with its metaphorical delivery but musically it doesn't strike one as anything staggering.

    Dawn burns through the trees
    Sheltered you hide
    A soulless Babylon preached fear
    And our guns weep poison


    Majority of the songs would generally be better off without the vocals seeing as how the instrumental aspect of the album is only a little flawed. Wretched Valley is left as a cult of ruins because of non-necessary vocals, even though Leave No Wounds is rightfully supported by them.

    By carving out the slight repetition from the album, adding some ardor into the vocals and lengthening the instrumental parts, A Storm Of Light has all the qualities of becoming a large contender on the battlefield of post-metal.

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  • Two People In A Room - Two People In A Room (2011)

    Jul 27 2011, 4h20

    Two People In A Room - Two People In A Room



    There are moments in your life when the world comes to complete halt. It seems like everything around you turns into slow motion, the clocks stop from turning and your movements become as intricate as the instincts of a highly fragile being. Your touch becomes light, yet smooth as silk, as your fingers run on the bare back muscles of the person lying next to you. The room is empty - normally there would be furniture, pictures, mirrors, everything you can find in a normal room. Yet, this day is simply not normal. You are the only two elements in the room and there is nothing else.

    Two People In A Room is a Berlin-based ambient/drone duo formed by Michelle Hughes & René Margraff in September 2009. I had never heard of them until this album, which captured a certain day of my life instantly. Ambient music needs to be very descriptive in order to penetrate into the unconscious of the listener. There are no vocals, barely any melodies even. The music needs to create an atmosphere so vivid that it fills the entire room with its spirit, yet it must go unnoticed as the shadows over a dirt path - it cannot interfere with your thought process.

    Side By Side and Crash Your Plane, Walk Away begin the album off by processing through 20 minutes of your life to absorb you into the world the rest of the album will create. The occasional sounds of the guitar combined with the hum in the background create a stagnant feeling and leave you immobilized for a moment. The feeling is lost throughout the slow chord progression of Holiday On Air Force One, which creeps up to its climax without never really reaching it, leaving the listener hoping for something never to come.

    The album is not a flawless mixture of ambient sounds but it manages to grasp the single feeling of being alone with someone in a room. Inside the room the world revolved around you, you are the world. As solid as the album is, I felt no addiction towards it. Two People In A Room set the bait well but forgot to plant the hook inside it.

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  • Fair To Midland - Arrows And Anchors (2011)

    Jul 12 2011, 18h30

    Fair to Midland - Arrows and Anchors



    People have always carved symbols into the tombstones of the departed - the ones they have cried tears of sorrow for and the ones they wish never to rise from the abyss. In gravestones the arrow symbolizes martyrdom and mortality, which bear strange resemblance to each other. One is defying the inevitable whereas one is the inevitable. Of old, the anchor has been a symbol of hope and eternal life in Christian burial. The sailing ships from this world to the next, the solemn anchor deserted at the gray havens.

    After a burial of four years, Fair To Midland rises from the ground, shattering their tombstones into shards of granite. Reincarnation is not possible when you have never been deceased. Thus, the band defies their mortality and has created a piece of music promising hope and giving an eternal life to the ears of its serendipitous listener. Fables From A Mayfly set the bar high in 2007 but Fair To Midland's latest, Arrows And Anchors, not only leaps over the bar with major ease but has also brought a bar of its own, which is set musical miles above the previous. Not only has the band come to life, they have also brought a different form of life into their music. Life that implodes your speakers.

    A tight combination of Fair To Midland's greatest assets is bound to point the arrow into the right direction. Cunningly crafted and well-inserted introductions and interludes, crashing guitar riffs amongst a woodland of densely planted drum comping, Sudderth's vocals of an angel in exile and metaphorically curious lyrics. In addition to this aggregation of sonority, the band has also added catchy choruses. Musical Chairs provides a backbone for the album - it has all of the above. Lyrical pondering of an eternal life and its existence, Sudderth's absorbing vocals and the catchy chorus.

    Arrows And Anchors is a lot heavier than their previous album. Joe Barresi's rough handprints can be seen all over but the new product line has also brought a refreshing emphasis on the keyboards of Langley, which is clearly visible in songs such as Uh-Oh and Coppertank Island.

    With Amarillo Sleeps Over My Pillow I'm left standing in the black rain with my hands shaking from the cold and my head rattling from the sheer strength from the song. The fresh heaviness becomes real throughout the album and the new sound definitely leaves one astounded. Not only is the album a heavy entity woven intricately together but it also manages to let singular tracks stand out from the masses. This is a respectable difference to the past and and upgrading the brigade of the whole diminishing genre of alternative metal in total.

    After being pulverized into amazement by the anthem of Golden Parachutes and getting slammed sideways by the enthrallingly groovy Rikki Tikki Tavi, I'm left standing at the end of the album at the feet of a 11-minute behemoth of Greener Grass. The time spent with this album trickled from my hands as the sand does from an hourglass. The epitaph of Fair To Midland will include both, the arrow and the anchor, and with this album, they are engraved into my mind as well.

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