Throughout the year, I take all of the albums I like; the ones I think might be Top 15 quality and I put them on a list. In no particular order, they sit until a few months before the end of the year. Then, I start deciding what stays and what goes. Sometimes it’s a tough choice, sometimes I have to listen to a few things again to refresh my memory as to why they were on the list in the first place. But, there is a lot of weeding out, weeding in, and sorting. It’s actually kind of fun and I get to take a break from listening to new things for a short while.
This year, I decided to do a best of (so far) list, just to see where things are going. I haven’t done this before. There have been a small handful of albums that went over well with me and I think they will stay on my list, but overall I have to say that it is not a particularly great year in metal as far as I am concerned. The “wow” factor is just not happening all that much this year…for me. This list is in no particular order. It’s a list of albums I think have the most potential for end-year nods. We do still have a way to go though. Read the rest of this entry →
Label: Metal Blade
Song: 15 (including four bonus tracks)
Length: 68 Minutes
Previous Albums: Ensiferum (2001); Iron (2004); Victory Songs (2007); From Afar (2009); Unsung Heroes (2012)
Genre: Folk Metal
I like the opening riff to One Man Army (the song not the album). It isn’t revolutionary in terms of guitar riffing, but the way it kicks off the song reminds me of early thrash metal; energetic and enthusiastic. Take away the folk elements from this song and its core is pure speed/thrash metal. Before you dismiss Ensiferum’s One Man Army (the album) as just another niche folk metal album, think again. Yes, you will hear all of the fundamentals of a folk metal album, but if you take the time to peel away the layers you’ll hear there is more buried between the swords, spears, and pre-battle hymns than you might expect. And I will say this…the folk parts seem much more tame compared to older albums.
In the last couple of months I picked up this thing called yoga. You might have heard of it. That thing where you do strength and flexibility poses and it’s supposed to make you strong, limber, and cleansed in the mind and body. Ask a yogi and they will probably give you a more philosophical answer to what yoga does for a body. In layman’s terms, all I can tell you is that I feel freakin’ good when it’s over. I am getting more flexible and stress-free and that’s kind of important at my ripe old age of 40. I attribute my progress specifically to my twice-weekly sessions. See, only twice a week and I have come so far. Who says they don’t have time for this? Anyway. When it’s over, I feel like all I need is a shower and a bed – I feel so relaxed. Something must be working and I found that I am starting to “need” these yoga sessions twice a week. It’s kind of addicting. Read the rest of this entry →
One classic rock band I always felt were always grossly underrated were the gents in Uriah Heep. They did find a nice chunk of commercial success during the 1970s with their first wave of records including Salisbury, Return to Fantasy, and their most celebrated album Demons and Wizards. But somehow, probably due to the general public’s shift towards a more ‘modern’ sound that pervaded the 80s, the band kind of fell off the map even though they continued to release stellar records. Fortunately the countries of Northern Europe never gave up on the band and they continue to thrive selling out arena shows in that region allowing the band to continue producing records so us in other parts of the world could be graced by their proggy sounds.
Being Finnish and incorporating elements of heroism, pub style sing-a-longs, and fantasy into their music it’s pretty obvious that the popularity of Uriah Heep in Ensiferum’s region played a nice part in helping shape the bands sound. And as most bands do with the artists that influenced them, a cover was sure to be done. Taking one of Uriah Heep’s biggest hits, Ensiferum transformed the folk ballad about the Lady of Death (depending on how you want to interpret the lyrics, as the clever way they are written, different cultures will find many different meanings to the song) into one hell of a raging metal song. Keeping that original feel of “Lady in Black” in tact along with all of its infectious harmonies and memorable progressions, the extra punch of metal transforms a somber yet punchy little ditty into a song of raging heroism. Enjoy (and check out some Uriah Heep if you dig on some classic rock and haven’t done so already, you won’t be disappointed)!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!!
Original Uriah Heep Version:
Just when I thought 2011 was a banner year for metal, I think 2012 might be equal to or better in terms of both quality music and sheer volume of albums released. It surely was not a dull moment if you ask me; it seemed like I was listening to at least a couple new albums each week. Interestingly, I can probably look at half my list and tell you that some of these albums, I had no idea were coming. They completely snuck on me or I never expected them like Kreator…a band I nearly forgot about came out with a killer album. The band at #15 I never knew existed until just a few weeks ago and I am still impressed with them. There are definitely some surprises on my list this year. Some of these bands have been around for years and I am only now getting into them. I hope you had a great 2012 in metal! Here are my Top 15 albums of 2012.
Tags: A Band of Orcs, A Eulogy for the Damned, Adding Heads to the Pile, Baroness, Biker, Clockwork Angels, Dark Roots of Earth, Eluveitie, Ensiferum, Equilibrium, God Forbid, Helvetios, House of Gold and Bones Part I, jeff loomis, Kill Devil Hill, Kreator, metal, Orange Goblin, Overkill, Paradise Lost, Phantom Antichrist, Plains of Oblivion, Rock, Rush, Six Feet Under, sludge, Stone Sour, Testament, The Electric Age, Thrash, Top 15 of 2012, Tragic Idol, Undead, Unsung Heroes, Yellow and Green
High above the ground
Beyond the thunderclouds
A Black shade is flying alone
Once so feared among men
Now the legend is becoming too old
But finally the horrifying truth is about to unfold…
I like the story-telling in Ensiferum’s music. I have to thank my blog parter (atleastimhousebroken) for getting me into this band. I have thoroughly enjoyed their folk-metal stylings. Today’s #11 is Deathbringer From The Sky which appears on the album Victory Songs released in 2007. A very consistent band, Ensiferum is all about telling cool stories of which, this particular song could apply to end of the world prophecies. I can’t believe we are down to 10 days already. I guess I should start looking into a song for when (if) we wake up on the 22nd. Enjoy and happy 12/12/12.
As we journey down the path to my number 1 favorite album of all time, you will more than likely see some classic metal albums. Many of these albums have been my favorites for years while some are relatively new….only came into my life in the last couple of years. This all-time list is an ongoing effort started by our friends at The History of Metal page on facebook. Each day we list another album until we get to the end which should take us just up to the end of the year. Below is my next list of five as we near our way to the top.
One thing I really appreciate in music is when a band uses an album title that really fits with what is contained on the record. Such is the case with Ensiferum’s new release, Unsung Heroes. Throughout all of Ensiferum’s previous releases my favorite tracks off each album weren’t when they turned the speed dial to 11 and galloped forth with abandon. It was when they slowed down a bit to a mid to fast-mid pace and really took their time to let their killer melodies sink in. Songs like “The Wanderer” off of Victory Songs or “Smoking Ruins” off of From Afar only came as a few on each record, but always shined as the unsung heroes on their respective albums amid all of the blistering quality songs surrounding them. While there are some classic, lightning speed tunes on Unsung Heroes there is also a definite homage paid to those mid paced, anthemic songs that really made their past albums stand out.
As if I couldn’t get hyped enough for the upcoming Ensiferum record, Unsung Heroes, which is scheduled to be in my hands on August 27th, they go and release a cool video packed with an abundance of headbanging and more LARPing than a D&D convention. Oh, and the song itself is quite kick ass too! They are pretty much doing what Ensiferum does best; epic soundscapes, huge guitars, sing-a-long choral vocals, and plenty of heavy to keep the neck thrashing from start to finish. Check it out! Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Making of video:
Over on my favorite forum for rambling about metal, The History of Metal (it’s an open Facebook forum, so anyone, meaning you, can join and flap your jaw about metal with a wide variety of metalheads from all over the world), the admin made a challenge to all the members to create their top 100 albums of all time. Loving making lists I’m all on this. Between the ~1500 albums I have there is a lot to filter through and this has turned into quite a daunting, yet fun, challenge. This list will represent where I am with my favorite albums right now, if I were to do this last year or next year, while being similar, I’m sure there would be lots of differences. My only self-imposed limitation on this is I’m confining each band 3 albums in the list to avoid entire, very large, discographies over saturating it. Every 5 days or so I’ll make a post with the next 5 entries into the list. Fellow bloggers, I extend this challenge to you (and be sure to let me know where and when you’ll be posting it, I’d love to read it), and for readers without a blog join up with THOM and post yours there! Enjoy!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
#80: Music by 311
To me, 311 are just a damn good time and this album will forever bring a smile to my face. These guys also put one hell of a show bringing music fans from all walks of life together to jam on some crunchy grooves. Their debut, Music, will always be my favorite album by them with songs ranging from the ‘hazy’ and lazy “My Stoney Baby” to the funky, hard rocking styling of “In Your Face” all tied together with some great duel vocals bouncing between spacy sung vocals and old school hip hop vocals. I like the constant theme throughout the album of ‘just relax and take it easy, man’ (Story of my life ;) )