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Old 01-07-2009, 10:04 AM
overkiller overkiller is offline
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overkiller's 50 Albums of 2008

Alright, here goes. I got lazy on a bunch of these, and the brevity of certain blurbs reflects that. I'm going to post 50-11 now, but you'll just have to wait for 10-1 because I'm an asshole Like last year, I heard exactly the number of albums I'm listing here; nothing got left out.

50. Edguy - Tinnitus Sanctus



The only album I heard all year that actually straight-up annoyed me from start to finish. I don’t even hate Edguy that much, but I absolutely hated listening to this, and I barely made it through without turning it off.

49. Judas Priest - Nostradamus



Ugh. Did we learn nothing from that god-awful abomination Manowar put out last year? This nearly two-hour spectacle has something like, oh, two or three good riffs. OUT OF TWO FUCKING HOURS. The rest consists of mostly incompetent symphonic arrangements on top of guitars which are barely present at all. This is not progressive, this is like Glenn Tipton letting out a fart he’s been holding in for 60 years.

48. Destruction - D.E.V.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.



This album starts strong with its thrashing title track, but immediately after it all comes crashing down (beginning with the ironically titled “Elevator to Hell”). Destruction has gotten worse with every album following their 2001 masterpiece The Antichrist, and this turd continues the trend.

47. Motörhead - Motorizer



Well… it’s another Motörhead album. It’s not particularly good. It’s just kind of… there. It does feature Lemmy saying “Rock out with your cock out”, though, and that’s gotta be worth something.

46. Metallica - Death Magnetic



(blurb copied from Death Magnetic thread)

Ok, reality check here, folks. Yeah, this album is alright. If you judge it against St. Anger, hell, it even seems great. But let's remember a few things. Since the release of the Black Album, Metallica has been marked as a band that shifts with trends to garner mainstream success. Death Magnetic is no different. The market is ripe for this kind of album right now--just take a look at what's popular. Master of Puppets-worship like recent Trivium. Middling melodeath that is rooted in 80s metal, like Arch Enemy. So although Metallica manage to vaguely imitate the Metallica of circa 20 years ago, I can't help but feel that the whole "returning to our roots" thing is just a convenient label to smack on yet another cashgrab, just like St. Anger was (being an attempt at nu-metal, it also fit right into a profitable trend of the time).

Now, as to the actual quality of the music on the album, as I said, it's alright. But the universally positive reviews it's getting (see the "Professional Reviews" sidebar on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Magnetic) are somewhat puzzling to me. Allmusic.com's review says it sounds "as if it could come after ...And Justice for All". Fine. But aren't we forgetting that if it really had come out right after Justice, it would've sounded extremely familiar (excepting the modern groove etc. influences), and would seem a big step down in quality from the albums before it? Yes, Death Magnetic was a reasonably fun listen, if overlong, and the first track actually had me pumped. But I can't see myself listening to this (at least all the way through) more than once. You can get the same exact stuff in much higher quality from other bands (including Metallica themselves), without the annoying modern groove influence; the Metallica name shouldn't skew our perceptions of how worthy this album really is. I think everyone (and by that I mean mainstream music media) wanted Metallica to rehash Master of Puppets so badly, that when they finally managed to crap out something close to just such a rehash, everybody jumped on on James' and Kirk's dicks. I'll pass.

45. Ihsahn - angL



Sometimes the all-over-the-place feel of this album works to its credit—wisps and chunks of familiar-sounding ideas are put together like some kind of unique puzzle. However, too many of the ideas here are just plain bad, and as one might expect, there’s too much prog-for-its-own-sake going on.

44. In Flames - A Sense of Purpose



I don’t hate new In Flames. I really don’t. But I don’t particularly like the stuff, either. This album could be good for what it is if it had more variety, but 50 minutes of the same melodeath-based, hook-laden modern rock gets very tiring very quickly.

43. Dismember - Dismember



I share Brad’s feelings on this album—there’s nothing wrong with it, per se, but therein lies the problem. For such a legendary band, this album is painfully nondescript. 42 minutes of plain old death metal that will slide right by if you’re not paying attention—and this album doesn’t make you attention, like good death metal should. Also kind of tragic considering it’s self-titled; in no way does this thing represent the mighty Dismember, as an eponymous album should.

42. Unearthly Trance - Electrocution



Ugh, what happened to this band? Prior to hearing this album, I was only familiar with Season of Séance, Science of Silence, which was a dark, terrifying doom machine with a healthy dose of Hellhammer influence. This is just… I don’t even know. It sounds so flaccid compared to that album.

41. Unleashed - Hammer Battalion



I thought I was gonna like this one more. It starts out great (just listen to that guitar tone!), but the songs begin to run into one another for me, and sometimes Johnny Hedlund’s ridiculous vocals are just too much to take. Still, definitely a solid slab of old-school death metal and worth hearing if you’re a fan of the band and/or the style.

Last edited by overkiller; 01-07-2009 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:17 AM
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40. Death Angel - Killing Season



This album definitely has some great riffs and some ass-kicking tracks, but I really just can’t get into this kind of “tough-guy” style of modern thrash. Probably won’t be revisiting this one any time soon.

39. Hibria - The Skull Collectors



Recommended to me as “power metal with balls”, and, well, I’ll give it that. But like most power metal, it just seems to me too much like a novelty—“Tiger Punch” had me pumped, but by the second or third song I just wanted to turn it off and listen to something else, even though the riffs and melodies are pretty solid (if unoriginal). I’ll stick to my Painkiller and Helloween.

38. Krallice - Krallice



Black metal side-projects of otherwise non-black metal musicians are often met with skepticism, and like fellow mediocre-USBM project Weakling, Krallice serve as a perfect example of why that skepticism is justified. This album has a handful of enjoyable parts, but what these guys fail to remember is that, even in a subgenre as diverse and interpretable as black metal, you need a core of good riffs to make good metal. The interesting parts of each song pop up here and there, bookending seemingly endless amalgamations of uninteresting, noodling riffs. Another plus is the audible and active bass, but on the whole, these guys should stick to their other bands and leave black metal to those who know how to do it right. (Also, what the fuck is with that name? Awful.)

37. Aura Noir - Hades Rise



I’ve never been particularly impressed (or repulsed) by Aura Noir, and Hades Rise doesn’t change that. Definitely some cool riffs and tracks that rock, and I give them props for being tr00, but on the whole this stuff is fairly lackluster. I think they just get the balance between 80s thrash and 90s black metal wrong, really.

36. Satyricon - The Age of Nero



This really isn’t that bad. I maintain that Satyricon does this style better than their old, “tr00” style, and the catchy-as-fuck “Black Crow On a Tombstone” (yes it’s cheesy, eat shit and die and then go listen to Venom, black metal is cheesy) only proves this point. When they sound closer to straight-up black metal, they get to sounding like a parody of themselves, so I can’t rank this any higher, but there is definitely some worthwhile stuff here.

35. Gnaw Their Tongues - Devotion



The crossover between black metal and experimental noise has yielded some great projects, but Devotion is not among these. It has real potential, but for the most part it just ends up sounding too hokey and contrived, instead of terrifying and engaging like the black/noise combo should.

34. Arcana - Raspail



Some enjoyable ambient/atmospheric “medieval” (really a very bad/false tag, but people like to apply it to this kind of music) stuff. Very, very obviously influenced by Aion-era Dead Can Dance, and that’s probably their biggest fault; they don’t really bring anything new to the table.

33. The Gates of Slumber - Conqueror



A decent traditional doom album, if a bit standard-sounding—right down to the 16 minute, multi-chapter doom epic which bands like Electric Wizard have made us so familiar with (although this one is somewhat unique in that it’s mostly quiet/clean). If you’re a fan of the subgenre, check this out. Otherwise, there’s not too much which makes this release stand out.

32. Toxic Holocaust - An Overdose of Death



A huge disappointment. I’ve had something of a falling-out with Toxic Holocaust ever since they signed to Relapse—it’s not so much that I have something against Relapse (besides the fact that I generally don’t take them seriously); rather it’s that Toxic Holocaust is NOT a band that should be signed to that label. They’ve always been an underground band, and signing to Relapse basically means breaking big. Fast forward a few months—the new album is out (which at this point I still haven’t brought myself to hear), and a newly-made video for “Wild Dogs” appears on Headbanger’s Ball on MTV. What was once one of my favorite bands, for their music and for their underground status, was now guaranteed to be discovered by any knuckledragger who watches Headbanger’s Ball. This did not make me happy. So, even forgetting all that, how’s the album itself? Well, it’s really not much different from the past two LPs, at least in style, which is a plus. However, this album just feels lazy—the songs that had been released as demo tracks via Myspace sounded better as demo tracks, and the other new songs are pretty fucking forgettable. And what’s with that re-recording of “War Is Hell”? I mean, okay, it might be their best song, but it’d be damn near impossible to outdo the version of it which appears on Evil Never Dies. It just feels wrong. Highlights would be “Nuke the Cross” (previously released), “City of a Million Graves” (previously released), and “Gravelord” (may or may not have been previously released, I’m not sure). If this album is your first experience with Toxic Holocaust, check out Evil Never Dies and Hell On Earth to find out what you’re missing. Then promptly jump off a bridge.

31. The Monolith Deathcult - Trivmvirate



A really interesting, brutal, and mostly excellent industrial/death metal album, but two things got to me and prevented me from ranking it any higher: the overstated Nile influence, and the uncomfortable track glorifying the SS RONA (a Russian military division which fought for the Nazis in WWII). I mean, I generally try to keep an artist's ideologies separate from their music if possible, and I listen to other bands with less-than-savory political views, but it’s hard to stomach a somewhat-discernible death growl belting out “Political prisoners, traitors and faggots” and “Warsaw’s Jews, Gypsies and retards/Prepare yourself for death and horror/The Kaminski Brigade enters the perimeter/And waits for the command to lay your city in ruins”. Eugh.

Last edited by overkiller; 01-07-2009 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:27 AM
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like mediocre-USBM project Weakling
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:28 AM
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42. Unearthly Trance - Electrocution



Ugh, what happened to this band? Prior to hearing this album, I was only familiar with Season of Séance, Science of Silence, which was a dark, terrifying doom machine with a healthy dose of Hellhammer influence. This is just… I don’t even know. It sounds so flaccid compared to that album.
Check out the album they released before this one a couple years ago called The Trident, their best one I think.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:31 AM
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30. Earth - The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull



If you like Earth’s new style, then you know what to expect from this album. Droney, doomy stoner rock with a Western/highwayish feeling. Mostly enjoyable, though it does drag at several parts.

29. Trap Them - Seizures in Barren Praise



Some great DM/grind, with some resemblance to new crust like Skitsystem, but it’s got too much of a new-hardcore feel for my taste.

28. Coffins - Buried Death



Coffins are simply one of the heaviest bands around, and Buried Death is no exception. It’s fairly one-dimensional though, not the most interesting stuff (or the best Coffins release, for that matter), but I can’t stress enough how fucking HEAVY these guys are.

27. Amon Amarth - Twilight of the Thunder God



I really disliked this at first, but upon subsequent listens, I realized it was mostly because 2006’s With Oden On Our Side just set the bar so fucking high for these guys. This is a good record, but the continued inclusion of hardcore breakdowns (which we saw on “Asator” etc.) is irritating, and the overall quality is not quite up to the standard they set with the last album. And the title track really just sounds like power metal to me. Really. Regardless, there is definitely enough of what we’ve come to love about this band to be found here, with a touch of experimentation (is that a cello!?), and this should be considered a worthy addition to the Amon Amarth canon.

26. Hail of Bullets - ...Of Frost and War



Great old-school DM in the Bolt Thrower vein, totally fucking brutal and recommended for fans of the style—but it really doesn’t bring anything new to the table, as one might expect.

25. Darkthrone - Dark Thrones and Black Flags



I really want to get behind this one, but I simply can’t. It ain’t bad, but it’s just not that good. This is pretty much in the vein of their last album F.O.A.D., but at this point it sounds like the joke is wearing a bit thin (if you recall my enthusiasm for F.O.A.D. last year, you can imagine my distress over this). Had they made a shift in style analogous to the one between The Cult Is Alive and F.O.A.D. (which kind of shifted their focus from punk influence to heavy metal), this might have been a more exciting record—but then again, what would they have shifted to, honestly? Progressive jazz fusion black metal? No, I don’t think so. On the whole, if you like new Darkthrone, this album is enjoyable, but it doesn’t carry the musical or controversial impact that their last two efforts slammed in our faces. Highlights would be “The Winds They Called the Dungeon Shaker”, “Death of All Oaths (Oath Minus)”, “Hanging Out in Haiger”. This last one is utterly ridiculous and sees Darkthrone at their most melodic/heavy-metal-influenced—check out Fenriz’s impression of King Diamond’s lower-register vocals! Also, with the album title being what it is and with song titles like “Hiking Metal Punks”, I would’ve liked to see them turn up the punk influence again, but it’s not all that pronounced.

24. Melvins - Nude With Boots



I wasn’t familiar with latter-day Melvins before hearing this album, but Nude With Boots has some great stuff to offer. We still hear Buzzo’s wacky, weed-soaked doom, but this time there’s a healthy dose of hard rock straight out of the 1970s—Led Zeppelin can be heard all over some of these songs. Definitely enjoyable.

23. Enslaved - Vertebrae



This album is somewhat frustrating, primarily because it has so much damn potential. A lot of passages, especially the proggy ones, sound phenomenal, but they’re often interrupted by not-so-great black metal riffing or other disappointing ideas; the dynamics are just off. Also, this album gives me a general vibe of… fatigue, or something. I’m not sure what causes it, whether it’s the production, or how they’re playing, but from the guitar work to Grutle’s BM vocals (which are now croakier and more ridiculous than ever), everything just sounds kind of weak. They should be playing their hearts out, and it simply doesn’t sound like they are half the time. The clean vocals also sound kind of tired, but they fit the proggy passages beautifully, I must say. Overall this is a good record, and definitely worth a listen if you like later Enslaved, but I just can’t help but feel like it could’ve been much more.

22. Immortal Technique & DJ Green Lantern - The 3rd World



Opinion seems to be divided on this one, and I’m not terribly enthusiastic about it. It definitely has everything that makes Tech great; but I find myself not enjoying a good chunk of about half of the songs here. Some of Green Latern’s beats just don’t live up to those on Revolutionary Vol. 1 and 2, and some of Tech’s rhymes just don’t pack the punch they did on those records. Still, it’s a good album.

21. Kaki King - Dreaming of Revenge



Well, what do we have here? This is an interesting little album, which was recommended to me very late in the year. It consists of mostly instrumental acoustic rock/folk of some sort or another, with a few singer-songwriter-pop-style tracks featuring Kaki’s deceptively sweet singing. Not having heard her music before, my initial reaction was to want to hear more of the singer-songwriter style stuff, and that remains one of my gripes about the album, but I can’t really judge her music based on that. She’s an extremely skilled guitarist; she mostly uses fingerstyle/slap technique, but while her playing is indeed soulful and engaging, it can get to feeling a bit showy at times. Overall this is an interesting and unique album, unlike anything else on this list. Check it out if you’re looking for a change of pace.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:51 AM
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20. God Is An Astronaut - God Is An Astronaut



If you’ve heard anything else by GIAA, then you know what to expect from this album—not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Spacey instrumental post-rock, sometimes high-energy, sometimes moody and introspective. This album sees a bit more of the high-energy side of the spectrum, but I just don’t think it quite lives up to their past two full-lengths, which managed to convey so much emotion while rocking so hard.

19. Genghis Tron - Board Up the House



I found this interesting for a couple of listens, but after that it started to get old. Still, this is a fairly imaginative, refreshing album.

18. Virus - The Black Flux



Avant-garde rock/metal consisting of mostly dark, disturbing (dare I say “virulent”?) semitonal guitar work a la Deathspell Omega and bizarre, almost trance-like clean vocals. Really quite good. It’s like the avant-rock cousin of Deathspell’s last album, Fas. My only complaint is that, at 53 minutes in length, it does get to be a bit taxing.

17. Moss - Sub Templum



A monolithic, primordial slab of twisted, excellent drone-doom. Owes something to Sunn O))), but I’d probably sooner listen to Moss than to that band.

16. Wold - Stratification



Black metal/noise crossover done right. This album is like the coldest, bitterest ice storm imaginable. Terrifying yet beautiful.

15. Leviathan - Massive Conspiracy Against All Life



Dark, depressive, bizarre, terrifying—all things one would expect from a Leviathan album. Definitely measures up to his previous two releases, and may even exceed them. Loses some of its punch on repeated listens, but still recommended.

14. Nachtmystium - Assassins: Black Meddle Part 1



Quite a good album, but it could definitely be better. As the title suggests, this album is heavily indebted to Pink Floyd. It starts off strong, opening with “One of These Nights”, a dark, minor-chord parody of “One of These Days” by PF which borders on hilarity, suddenly jumping into “Assassins”, a headbanging, rousing black metal anthem (since when do black metal bands write rousing anthems!?), followed by “Ghosts of Grace”, another excellent high-energy track which also shows signs of rock influence. “Away From the Light” is an interlude which doesn’t feel especially necessary, and it leads into “Your True Enemy”, a revenge song in which not much seems to happen (besides a good riff or two). “Code Negative” is decent, but the album still seems to be in a lull at this point. Things pick up again once we hit “Omnivore”, a searing black metal track with some trippy electronic noodling. The last song, “Seasick”, which comprises three tracks, sounds a bit too much like they were simply trying to imitate Pink Floyd (right down to the saxophone solo), but it’s good for what it is. Definitely recommended, but approach with caution.

13. Roma Amor - Roma Amor



A rare little gem of an album I stumbled across while reading a blog partially dedicated to Neofolk. The band describes this stuff as “neo-cabaret”; it mostly consists of acoustic guitar, accordion, and female vocals—some in Italian, some in English, some in French. Beautiful music, at times brooding, at times touching, at other times tragically comic.

12. Sigur Rós - Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust



The opening track “Gobbledigook” heralds this album as an energetic, upbeat departure from Sigur Ros’ sprawling shoegaze soundscapes, and this promise is fulfilled by most of the rest of the album, but there are definitely tracks that sound like the same old Sigur Ros (which isn’t such a bad thing). Huge emotions, orchestral swells, timid vocals—it’s all there. Definitely worth checking out.

11. Nas - Untitled



Excellent album with serious evocative power. At times it’s a bit alienating (“Testify” specifically calls out white fans and downloaders… oh hey that’s me), but Nas’ message is definitely valid and pertinent to modern America. Extremely catchy stuff, and Nas’ flow is still razor-sharp, save for a few awkward rhymes here and there.







...10-1 may have some surprises
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:57 AM
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20. God Is An Astronaut - God Is An Astronaut



If you’ve heard anything else by GIAA, then you know what to expect from this album—not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Spacey instrumental post-rock, sometimes high-energy, sometimes moody and introspective. This album sees a bit more of the high-energy side of the spectrum, but I just don’t think it quite lives up to their past two full-lengths, which managed to convey so much emotion while rocking so hard.
Best band of that style going right now for sure, but I agree it definitely isn't in the same league as Far From Refuge which is a masterpiece.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:58 AM
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I'll comment on the first 40 that I've heard:

50. Edguy- I didn't think the whole thing was all that great, and they definitely dropped the ball on the supposedly humorous track on the end, but it never annoyed me, haha.

49. Judas Priest- This was in my top 10, but this happened last year too. We disagree at times.

46. Metallica- I didn't hate this at all either. I liked the majority of it, in fact. Oh well.

45.-43. Ihsahn-In Flames-Dismember- You nailed it. Well, for Dismember, I nailed it, then you agreed.

32. Toxic Holocaust- I didn't feel betrayed because I wasn't a huge fan when they were still underground. I kind of feel the opposite of you on this one because I have nothing against good bands getting exposed to bigger audiences.

31. The Monolith Deathcult- I didn't hear this one, but FUCK THOSE LYRICS. Seriously, they will never get me to listen to them with that kind of attitude.

30. Earth- Basically.

27. Amon Amarth- Well, I liked it a lot more than you did, but I'm glad you somewhat came around and warmed up to it.

22. Immortal Technique- I think you're being a bit nicer to it than I was, but I don't totally disagree.

19. Genghis Tron- I'm just glad you don't totally hate it, because all year I kinda thought you might. But yeah, it's one of my favorite albums of the year and I first heard it last January, so obviously I don't really agree that its effect wears off.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:11 AM
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11. Nas - Untitled



Excellent album with serious evocative power. At times it’s a bit alienating (“Testify” specifically calls out white fans and downloaders… oh hey that’s me), but Nas’ message is definitely valid and pertinent to modern America. Extremely catchy stuff, and Nas’ flow is still razor-sharp, save for a few awkward rhymes here and there.
YEAH!!!
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:12 AM
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Yeah Immortal Technique - I do think some of Green Lanterns little bells and whistles get annoying, but I still think the message is still strong.
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