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  #31  
Old 12-20-2010, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idrinkwine732 View Post
You stay hushed on that #1, it's going to surprise a ton of people
I'm sure no one would ever guess. :X
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  #32  
Old 12-20-2010, 03:07 PM
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Before I dive straight into my top 30, I'll change the pace a bit and put up my favorite album arts. Keep in mind, this is all the album art, not the album itself. This will also destroy any preconceived notions that analyzing art is my forté.



10. God is an Astronaut - Age of the Fifth Sun


Age of the Fifth Sun's album art is something that really speaks to me. I'm a huge fan of landscape photography and painting as long as it captures something interesting. The cool painting-ish feel of this work really captures what I thought the album was going for. I see an obscured horizon with mountains and some clouds in the distance on what looks like a sunset. Interestingly enough, the opener, Worlds in Collision, seems like the soundtrack to whatever is happening here. It's right up my alley, not becoming overdone with symbolism or anything else. Just a cool looking cover.


9. Alcest - Écailles De Lune

I feel like Niege and Alcest really had something in mind when they were looking for artwork for Écailles De Lune. I feel like the cover displays the melancholy and mood of the album very well. It also maintains some subtlety with it. It took me looking at the booklet itself to notice that the scene seems to be underwater. Call it me being picky, but I'm really glad they kept the logo in there, too. Alcest have such an artfully done logo that it really deserves to be in every album art they make. I feel like it wraps the artwork together pretty well at the center and the rule of thirds sort of demands it gets paid attention to. Artwork just as well done as the album itself.



8. Howl - Full of Hell

This is some artwork that hits you straight in the mouth. Boom, this guy's mouth is filled with fucking fire. All that aside, I think this is some of the cooler artwork because it strays from a "let's be all artsy and symbolic with our artwork." While I do like to analyze stuff further than it is supposed to, that is a nice change. I'm still a little bit confused by some things about it like the eyes around the skeleton as well as what looks like eyes of light in the skeleton's eye sockets. Something really cool is going on here, and while I may not have it all figured out, it's certainly cool to look at.


7. Agalloch - The Marrow of the Spirit

John Haughm once described The Mantle as an album that should symbolize a journey to survive in the wilderness and avoiding hypothermia and death. Agalloch seemed to continue desiring that atmosphere in their music, but in their artwork for Marrow of the Spirit I feel they captured it perfectly. An icy landscape with what must be a near frozen river winding the foreground. This is something that perfectly captures what Haughm and Agalloch were going for with this album. There is something weird going on here though, because I feel like there is another image being overlayed on top of it, but I can't really tell if it is. I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to be focused on in the top half and it confuses me a bit. With that said, it's rare that an album art captures an album as well as this.


6. Slough Feg - The Animal Spirits


I nearly didn't put these two together purely because I don't like the way how spirit is the last word in both of them. But that's irrelevant. On first glance, this art appears to be just a sketch of a priest, nothing more. But when I picked up The Animal Spirits at the record store, I realized that it was more than that. His eyes appear almost raven-like. His forehead is divided, giving him a seemingly constant snarl. He appears to have no ears. His nose is odd shaped and out of proportion. All of these things could be attributed to poor art, but Slough Feg must have done this deliberately. He looks like an animal. I really like a sense of subtlety in my artwork, so it really spoke to me.


5. Hellish Crossfire - Bloodrust Scythe


Ah, art that reflects not beauty but satanic brilliance. It is an artwork that seems to be welcoming you into the hellish storm that you are about to experience. The reaper standing next to the pentagram extending out his hand to draw you into satanic death thrash awesomeness. I love the whole thing. From the rams skull on the left to the weird cloud formation at the top. No diversity on the color spectrum. Just blood red and orange. No subtlety that I would otherwise love. It just grabs you into the album. This is just an ugly brutal cover that is perfect for the type of music that it represents.


4. Hour of Penance - Paradogma


Just like Bloodrust Scythe, this is an album art that hits you straight in the face. Unlike Bloodrust Scythe however, Paradogma seems a little bit smarter about it. It does have some subtlety. I love so much about this artwork that I don't really know where to start. The statue of Mary crying tears of blood while a red storm of death destroys the church around her. I feel like perspective is really important here, because if they had just shown this from a zoomed out view it wouldn't have had the same effect. I feel like the church is about to crumble on top of me, and that must be exactly what Hour of Penance wanted. I'm unsure as to what the birds/people are at the bottom, but it appears that they are calmly looking onto the apocalyptic scene in front of them. Really a wonderful piece of art.


3. Blind Guardian - At the Edge of Time


As you will read in my review of the album, At the Edge of Time was my first exposure to Blind Guardian. Before I even decided to check out the album though, I was captured by this art. It seems so ominous while the palace or temple behind the statue gives off a feeling of majesty. Upon further examination though, I realized that this art is nearly perfectly symmetrical, even down to what hands the guards use to hold their weapons and the lighting on the background. I don't know why that's important, but it was cool to me. The whole feeling of the artwork made me want to check out the album even more, and it really fit the puzzle for a Blind Guardian album.


2. Overkill - Ironbound

This may be because of how disappointed I have been with past Overkill albums. I find a lot of them to be lame and really uninspired. I was particularly disappointed with the last two, but this one is really great. The bat (I've been told his name is Chaly) made of iron on top of a fire. For some reason whenever I listen to Ironbound, I get a sense of manufacturing. Not in a "loltheydidallofthisinthestudiolol" way, but a feeling that they wanted their album to sound like a steel plant...in a good way. The sense of fire prevails in the music as well as the artwork. It feels good to like an Overkill cover again.



1. Martriden - Encounter the Monolith


Let me explain. Encounter the Monolith is a concept album on 2001: A Space Odyssey, which chronicles human advancement through time. As humankind progresses, they find these symbolic monoliths, marking a turning point in human advancement. I love this artwork because it is just so complete. It is connected with the theme of the album, it is cool to look at and it is completely original. The rectangular monolith eclipsing a solar eclipse. That's cool. I can't help but be reminded of the Kubrick film, when the chimps all first discover the monolith and then later in the film when Floyd finds the second on the moon. This artwork really hit home for me, and it connected so well with the lyrical matter. It almost made the ending of the film make sense. Almost.
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  #33  
Old 12-20-2010, 04:49 PM
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Nice reviews of the artwork, dude. It's pretty clear that you're as passionate about the artwork as you are about the music, if not more. I've always felt that album art is a big part of the metal experience, more so than with other forms of music.
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  #34  
Old 12-20-2010, 06:17 PM
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Very little of that makes sense to me.
Go on.

Kudos on the Cardiac Arrest record, man. They've got one of the coolest death metal guitar tones/styles Ive ever heard. Sadly, not enough memorable songs.
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  #35  
Old 12-20-2010, 06:41 PM
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Great review on Martriden even if it was only intended for the artwork. Currently 11th on my underrated list and moves up my overall list with every listen
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  #36  
Old 12-20-2010, 06:52 PM
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Kudos on the Cardiac Arrest record, man. They've got one of the coolest death metal guitar tones/styles Ive ever heard. Sadly, not enough memorable songs.
I hear that. I think it's a great album as a cohesive piece, but there are few parts that make me go "I want to listen to that again."
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  #37  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by idrinkwine732 View Post


7. Agalloch - The Marrow of the Spirit

There is something weird going on here though, because I feel like there is another image being overlayed on top of it, but I can't really tell if it is. I'm not entirely sure what I'm supposed to be focused on in the top half and it confuses me a bit.
I notice that as well. Bad photoshop job? I'm guessing that both images are part of the same landscape, but the upper image does look like its cut-and-pasted really carelessly.
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  #38  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:05 PM
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^ Scalzi sketched the cover of the Animal Spirits himself, it was supposed to look really raw and primitive.
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  #39  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:49 PM
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^ Scalzi sketched the cover of the Animal Spirits himself, it was supposed to look really raw and primitive.
He succeeded. A really awesome artwork while not being all blood and guts and skeletons and guns and blood and guts. Not that I think Slough Feg will ever go that direction.
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  #40  
Old 12-23-2010, 10:25 AM
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30. Hour of Penance - Paradogma

Boy did I luck out with this one. I really liked Behemoth's Evangelion and found myself hungry for some new Behemoth material. Instead, I got Paradogma. This band screams Behemoth from the get go. I mean, it's at the point where if Nergal did a guest spot on their next album, it shouldn't be called an Hour of Penance song. You have your very Inferno esque drumming going on the whole way and the guitarwork is really reminiscent of Demigod/Zos Kia Cultus. Towards the end of the album they stray from the classic Behemoth sound though, which is a welcomed change. They close the album with the absolutely MASSIVE Apotheosis, and I feel like it's the soundtrack to the chaotic events of the album art. An excellent effort. It's a shame almost the entire band had to leave after its release.



29. A Silver Mt. Zion - Kollaps Tradixionales

Ah, my first nonmetal album on the list. It's tough reviewing post-rock because there's only so much you can say. With that said, I'm going to try my best. ASMZ is a side-project of Godspeed You! Black Emperor guitarist Efrim Menuck, that is in a similar mold as GY!BE. However, the work is a lot more guitar oriented and features vocals. I think A Silver Mt. Zion created a fine effort with this album, creating some of their most intriguing songs such as Piphany Rambler and There Is A Light. The opening of the album is a really cool scene, starting with some ambient sounding guitar work and a siren-ish vocal part. One thing that always stopped me from fully enjoying their discography was the inability to know the mood of their own song, but Efrim and Co. really got it down this time. My only complaint is that they really cut down on the actual music this time around with too many ambient noise parts instead of just playing. I know that's sort of post-rock's thing, but c'mon. Still, a fantastic album from one of post-rocks's best.



28. High on Fire - Snakes for the Divine

I always love talking about a new album from a very consistent band, because I get to talk about how consistent they are. High on Fire are never gonna let you down with a new album. I probably wouldn't have said that before Snakes for the Divine was released, but this album totally affirmed that statement. They are a bastion of consistency in a scene where bands tend to blow all their creativity on their first album or two. Snakes for the Divine gets to a rockin' start with what could be one of the best riffs that Matt Pike has ever written and then marches right into a thunderous drum and guitar battle that makes High on Fire so awesome. The first three tracks of this album are among the best that the band has written, with Bastard Samurai being one of the most fun live tracks that you could get out of a band. The middle seven minutes of the album sort of lull along, but they get you going again with Fire, Flood & Plague. It's a shame only 5/8 of the tracks are this good, because if Holy Flames and Ghost Neck were as good as Frost Hammer and the title track, we'd have a top fifteen album brewing. A heavy and consistent album from a band that is so well known for being heavy and consistent.



27. Landmine Marathon - Sovereign Descent

This album sucks. A lot. But I pity Nat and Brad so much that I put it here. Of course, I jest . One of the two ambassadors of this band once told me that Landmine Marathon had a Carcass and Bolt Thrower thing going on with Sovereign Descent, and that was more than enough to get me to check it out. I mean, if some dude told me the next My Chemical Romance had a Bolt Thrower and Carcass feel to it, I'd probably give it a looksie. It's that intriguing to me. They weren't kidding. Some seriously awesome worship is happening here, with Grace Perry delivering a fantastic almost Pestilence-ish vocal performance. Something tells me that if this band had a much more generic vocalist ala Cannibal Corpse and the like, I would have found it much easier to discard. However Perry really does a great job with this record, and probably overshadows some really awesome riffs throughout the album. Justify the Suffering reminds me so much of Those Once Loyal that I feel like I should be hearing cannon fire in the background. Really, very few bands pull off worship like this very well. Really killer release.



26. Lair of the Minotaur - Evil Power

I first heard of LotM when I was first getting into metal and I heard an album called Carnage. I was so intrigued that I bought War Metal Battle Master and was less excited. I had forgot about them for years until I saw a review of their new album, Evil Power, and had seen a few ecstatic remarks about it on a certain website. I listened and much to my amazement, it was killer. It's really rare that you can sing "LETS FUCK THEM ALL AGAIN" to some music that's pretty damn enjoyable. It was when I first heard the beautiful, serenading tones of "Lets Kill These Motherfuckers" that I knew Lair of the Minotaur were back. I really like the production on this album which was a problem for WMBM and Carnage but what really shines is the vocal work. The sound is very clean but Rathbone's vocals still sound evil as Hades. I really like what Lair of the Minotaur did with Evil Power, and that is creating a gnarly sludgy thrashy sounding album.



25. Carach Angren - Death Came Through a Phantom Ship

I checked these guys out on a whim, seeing their album cover thinking I'll see if it's worth my time. Turns out what I was checking out was some really ballsy symphonic black metal, a genre that I have often called the scene music of black metal. I've always wondered why bands like Dimmu Borgir are popular, but now hearing this album gives me another question. Why the hell aren't these guys popular? Seregor has a Jeff Walker esque sort of sound with his vocals and when coupled with some really heavy black metal riffs. They aren't afraid to put in a few harmonics here, either. I like how the synths play more of a backing role than totally overtaking the song. A really awesome mix job put this one over the top too. At last, I have found a symphonic black metal band to believe in.



24. Intronaut - Valley of Smoke

I knew Intronaut really had their work cut out for them on Valley of Smoke. They just released one of my favorite sludgy sounding albums ever in Prehistoricisms, so they had a lot of pressure to do well with the follow up. Seconds into Elegy and I think the riff is so sexy that they might have done it. I really like the bass work with this album and if it wasn't fretless, it might be half as good. I feel like they let more of a Mastodon influence in this time around as well. Everybody sounds on key for the first half of the album, but then for some reason I just am not feeling the same way as I did earlier. I'm not as hooked to the riffs, and by the end of the album I'm wondering what went wrong. I can't pick out what was wrong, but after repeated listens, the same thing happens. I'm just not as interested. With that said, everything is in order here, but it doesn't have the immediate appeal that its predecessor had. With that said, the album as a whole sounds gritty and nasty, which is exactly what it should sound like.



23. Red Sparowes - The Fear is Excruciating, But Therein Lies the Answer

I wasn't a fan of Red Sparowes before TFIEBTLTA, because I thought I had heard everything that post-rock had to offer me. I had my Explosions in the Sky, I had my Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I had my Mogwai, I had everything I needed. But this album placed Red Sparowes in that company, because they expanded what I thought post-rock could do. They had a sense of drive that I wasn't used to in the genre, and it was so perfectly executed in this album. Songs like In Illusions of Order have a sense of pace that I find really interesting. A lot of bands slow the pace a lot, but Red Sparowes pull it back up keeping the ambiance and atmosphere at the same level. They aren't afraid to get a little heavy at parts while keeping the sense of relaxation at a high. A really well done post-rock record that will get a lot more spins from me.



22. Ihsahn - After

I've had a fascination with Ihsahn for as long as I've been into black metal, and it's cool to see him be involved in something like this. It shows his versatility as a musician and ability to write some very varied music. After, like many of these bands, was my first Ihsahn album, and I was immediately impressed. I think songs like A Grave Inversed carry a bit of dead weight, but beyond that, there's very little wrong with this record. A few have complained that the saxophone pieces are way out of place, but I couldn't disagree more. The saxophone is a difficult instrument to get working without seeming like "lololletsputasaxherelol." The sax on After is totally complimentary, and it slowly morphs in, so at the start of The Barren Lands you're thinking, this is a cool little metal album here but by the end of On the Shores you know it's so much more. I think this album reminds me a ton of Yakuza, who really are one of the few bands to get the saxophone in metal right. Ihsahn is solidifying himself as one of the all time greats.



21. Lantlos - .neon

Let's give Niege a hand. Go on. Do it. I'll wait. This is the dude that released SPOILER two very very good albums this year with his two best bands, Alcest and Lantlos. That dude can bring the black and shoegaze influenced metal that I think sounds mighty dandy. It's tough for me to review this without comparing it to Alcest, who I have coming later, but I'll try anyway. .neon is a fascinating album. The two/three piece works really hard to get an ambiance that you can only get in post-rock into the uber kvlt abyss that is black metal. On this album, Niege demonstrates his clean vocal ability as well as his already demonstrated harsh vocal talent. The guitarwork on the album is fairly reserved, but wasn't a problem. There's something missing that makes Alcest much better than this, and I'll explain that later. A really cool album from one of the most interesting musicians of the day.
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