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Old 01-05-2007, 11:18 PM
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Arrow 2006: A Year Of Music In Review

************Originally posted in my Blog on this site, visit it to help Pavo with his new software************

January 5, 2007-- 2006 has come and gone, another year more or less like the rest, and a year that will be remembered for many reasons outside the realm of music. However, that's what I'll be focusing this short essay on, a recap of the year in music, encompassing the albums, the concerts, and even my personal musical growth in 2006.

For me, 2006 marked the year where I attended the most concerts up to this point. Going to rock and metal shows ranks near the very top of things that I love to do most, and this year I witnessed some fantastic shows. Seeing Tool twice in a span of 4 months was quite special, including an intimate small-venue show at the renowed Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. This was only their third show since the "Lateralus" tour ended in November 2002, so it was truly a performance to be remembered. The second time I caught them was from the pit at the Oakland Arena, with support provided by the stunningly brilliant prog-rock band Isis, who have since captured my most recent musical craze (affectionately known as "fanboyism" ) and have earned my undying support. 5 days after that show I was back in the same venue for this years installation of Gigantour, featuring a sterling lineup that included Overkill, Arch Enemy, Opeth, and of course the mighty Megadeth, who tore through a set of classics and even unveiled for the first time a new song from their upcoming album "United Abominations". Perhaps the most surprising and unique show of the year came in October for Queensryche playing their "Operation: Mindcrime" albums in their entirety. This was my first time seeing the show, and it was easily the best combination of music and stage theatrics I have ever seen. They truly did the story justice, from the acting to the props to the lighting and everything in between, all coupled with the music to illustrate fabulously the harrowing tale behind the 'Mindcrime' story. Of course, the greatest show of the year was delivered by none other than the mighty Iron Fucking Maiden and their sold-out performance in Irvine, CA. Right up there with their show from the "Dance Of Death" tour for my favorite show ever, and was for so many reasons one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The entire journey and that whole vacation will be something I will cherish forever. Finally, the concert year ended with Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Oakland Arena (again), delivering a fully-loaded Christmas show on steroids. I also made it out to a couple of local shows throughout the year, where I discovered one of the best bands my local Peninsula scene has put out since Light This City hit the bigtime: De La Fuente, also known as DLF. I highly anticipate their debut full-length recording, as their demo shows great signs of promise.

As a musician, this past year was really where I began to get a sense of myself as a songwriter and as a player. Being inspired by a wider range of influences than ever before helped me grow in my talent and my ability to write music, which is really the goal of any musician. I have developed a genuine relationship in playing music that it feels like my calling in life, where I know I will go in my future despite what other things I may undertake or what obstacles may come. When something becomes a part of you that deeply, it can never be uprooted. I am ever-grateful for the opportunities I've had to jam out my with my friends, alone spending hours playing both guitar and drums, and (most special of all) getting to jam with my dad as well. Who knows, maybe we'll be the first father-son tandem in metal No matter what though, this year was a pivotal point for me in this area above the rest, simply because of the shift in magnitude it has taken and the role it plays in my life.

Now, finally, to the MUSIC itself. This year I dedicated myself to amassing as many new releases as I could, and with the strength of this years crop of releases this was not difficult at all. As a somewhat-aspiring music journalist I think its important to get a sense of whats happening right now in the world of music and culture you are immersed in, whether that be rap, pop, country, or anything else. Although I clearly associate myself most with metal and consider myself as a straight-up metalhead, I have tastes that are a little broader than that, encompassing a greater span of genres across the musical spectrum. Some people might ask how or why I ended up with so many 2006 releases (I stopped at a fitting 100), but I ask how could you not, with the talent thats out there right now. You don't need to be rich to get a ton of music either, what with downloading so prevlant and music so easily accesible online. Obviously it cannot hold a candle to going out and buying the album, poring over the booklet, taking in the cover art, even to the very scent of the inside sleeve of an LP. However, with so much out there to discover its unfortunate that more people don't go out and just sample some of the stuff thats available online if they don't have the means to go out and splurge at the record store. Obviously this is personal choice, some are perfectly happy carrying on their own way, and that's awesome. But I can't stand when people say there's nothing going on in underground music or metal today, because frankly that's total bullshit.

Anyways, in amassing a range of music from indie folk to cult black metal, mainstream alternative rock to the most intense underground death metal, I have opened up my musical horizons and tastes far wider than I would have ever imagined. Hopefully in the coming years I can expand my tastes even further, because stagnation ultimately leads to boredom, and the day music becomes boring to me is the day that I seriously question my existence and purpose. On a lighter note, this years underground scene was ultimately highlighted by the emergence of what I hypothesize will soon become the new trend in less mainstream pop culture, similar to metalcore today; the post-rock/hardcore/progressive metal scene has erupted with a surge of bands (mostly from the Midwest, fittingly enough) playing melancholic, epic tunes in the vein of genre legends Neurosis and Isis, mixing it with the indie post-rock of bands like Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed! You Black Empreror. There are several key reasons why I feel this is the next step in the underground Hop Topic scene (although it will come out in a repackaged form), and the top two reasons are: this is not difficult music to write and play (generally), and it has a specific target audience it can cater to. Both of these are facets that metalcore has going for it, hence its popularity. However, this sort of counter musical trend is inevitable to me, almost like the dirge of grunge burying the pomp of hair metal (but on a much smaller scale). The scene is still in its infant stages, but beware the hordes of thick-rimmed glasses and messenger bags......the hipster-indie-emo-nerd outcasts who couldnt latch onto the heavy screamo metalcore thing are about to have their day. Hopefully this travesty can be averted, but it seems like the path is being carved. Right now there are enough creatively vital bands to keep the scene relatively fresh and exciting, and it will likely never sink to the depths of the dreaded "-core" bands, but in following the scene closely I can see the pattern forming.

In other rock and metal circles there were some great records to be found from very diverse acts. Several major releases this year from established bands mixed with soon-to-be underground classics made this year quite unique. Black metal has seen the evolution of a few select acts as the much-reverred USBM scene momentarily comes to a slow, while brutal death metal had a big year for tours and releases despite a lack of quality albums (in my opinion, of course, as with everything written here). The generally dormant thrash scene was given a little jolt by a couple of established German acts, while a group of classic heavy metal legends released albums that garnered them even more success. The stoner and doom crusties were out in full force, delivering monolithic slabs of 70's headbangin' drunken foolishness, while the ever-present slew of sleek instrumental prog acts put out several very solid releases themselves.

Overall, I think this year served as a testament to the wonderful state of underground music today, and hopefully next year will bring new heights in every aspect of creative music.

Last edited by ADD; 01-05-2007 at 11:24 PM.
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