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  #21  
Old 12-11-2011, 07:42 PM
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#22
Opeth - Heritage


Alright speaking of disappointments I'll get to this album. Of all the albums released this year, this one is probably the most difficult to rate honestly. Because it's by one of the great kings of Prog Metal, Opeth. You know what, I do like this album - but I almost kept it off this list entirely because it's hard not to be clouded by how much of a disappointment it is. To elaborate, you can look at ANY previous Opeth album, and if I were making a top 25 of their respective years, there is NO WAY that each one wouldn't make the top 10, probably top 5 (and Blackwater Park is probably my favorite album of 2001). Heritage comes in at somewhere half as good as the rest of Opeth, not breaking it's way into my top 20 for this year.

Thus it's difficult for me to admit that I do like this album, because when I try to talk about it I compare it to other Opeth albums in my head and end up wanting to shit all over it for being such a letdown (I suspect this happens with a lot of us ). BUT, trying to be as legit as I can, I say that this is actually a pretty good album. It's soft Opeth, so no growls or really metal parts whatsoever (this is a plus for some, a minus for others - I'm personally neutral towards it). However it's nothing like Damnation, and barely sounds like Opeth at all at some times. It adopts a more 70s psychedelic vibe, and is probably accurately described as a 'rock' album because it doesn't go completely soft despite dropping all affiliation with metal. There are moments on this album where it really does come together quite splendidly. But the glaring fault is that quite the opposite happens just as often. It's worth an honest listen though, and when looked at without Opeth-tinted glasses it does stand on its own as a good album in my opinion.

Recommended song:
"Häxprocess "
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  #22  
Old 12-11-2011, 07:50 PM
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Good summary there. I pretty much agree with your view of the album.
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  #23  
Old 12-13-2011, 07:07 PM
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oops skipped a day

#21
Boris with Merzbow - Klatter

The second appearance Boris make on my list is their collaborative effort (one of many) with Merzbow from the Japanese Noise scene. This album represents a side of Boris (and their relatively frequent collabs with Merzbow) all fans would be more familiar with. This is a noisey droney album that does a lot of crazy things to your ears when you listen to it. Featuring a cover and alternate versions of 2 songs from Boris' magnificent 2003 album Akuma no Uta, you would think that this album lacks new material. But the AnU songs represented are wildly changed to the point that if it weren't for the same title or 1 or 2 trademark riffs noticed in them, they wouldn't be quite the same at all. This almost isn't a "new" album considering it was recorded in 2007, but it did remain unreleased for 4 years which makes it still quite fresh to hear. There's not much else to say about this album, it's just a 44 minute trip into the chaotic and blissful drone, making occasional stops at RockTheFuckOut Avenue.

Recommended Song:
"Akuma No Uta" (I choose this song because it's fucking awesome, no matter how many different variations it has appeared in.)
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  #24  
Old 12-13-2011, 08:06 PM
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Moving on to the top 20!
#20
The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Symphony


HATERS GONNA HATE.

I've always been a fan of soundtrack music generally speaking, and I love lots of film soundtracks and happen to have a big gigantic soft spot for Video Game soundtracks, particularly the Zelda series. A lot of people love that music too, for good fucking reason. This came as a bonus to a fucking game, and I decided it was good enough to include, and pretty damn high up at that. This takes so many classic Zelda themes and arranges them - splendidly, at that - into pure orchestral goodness and actually dropped my jaw when I first decided to give it a spin.

With two 10+ minute songs that cover entire games in medleys, while not sounding cheesy or unfulfilling in the slightest - this whole set is holyshitawesome. It comes with the game, if you get the bundle edition, and if you don't want the game but like Zelda music even the tiniest bit you should at least pirate it. Some people might say this doesn't count as a "real" album, and to that I say: Fuck you. This is awesome. And I ain't lying.

Recommended song:
"Great Fairy's Fountain Theme" (not too fond on linking a 10:30 length song as a sample so this is fantastic as well)
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  #25  
Old 12-13-2011, 08:09 PM
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Fuck yes, incredible album, very glad to see it get a little bit of recognition! I had to download it, but am getting an official version for Christmas..!
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  #26  
Old 12-14-2011, 06:05 PM
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#19
Stratovarius - Elysium


In their follow up to 2009's comeback-ish album Polaris, Stratovarius basically repeat what they did on their last album, but a little more consistently. I consider it pretty awesome that a band who left a historical impact on power metal in the past can lose their main songwriter, and then have their next two albums be better than their previous two. Despite losing Timo Tolkki, who was once the driving force behind the band, Stratovarius have for 2 albums straight now proved that they still have what it takes to write great power metal in their trademark style.

There are a couple of noticeable differences in a few heavier riffs, and an increase in keyboard-oriented moments that older Strato didn't feature as often, not to mention closing with a song so epic in length that it dwarfs other Stratovarius "epics". In this way, it still compares more to Polaris than any other album, but on Elysium the high points are lower, and the low points are higher, which is more consistent, but ultimately a tad less exciting. Still, an incredibly solid power metal album from a classic band with a signature sound. It may not be Visions, but it can stand alongside it proudly.

Recommended song:
"Infernal Maze"
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  #27  
Old 12-14-2011, 06:31 PM
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I liked Polaris - but I love Elysium. The consistency is definitely part of it - but I also firmly believe the title track is easily the best song they've recorded since "Infinity", 11 years ago. The self-titled album in '05 was a disaster, and the drama nearly made me never want to listen to Strato again. Polaris was a big step back in the right direction with a few very strong tracks, but I think the new record may actually be up to par with their classic 1996-2000 output, something I never expected to say.
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  #28  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:18 PM
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I guess I just favor Polaris a bit more because the absolute best songs on it wreck super hard. Elysium doesn't have anything as awesome as "Forever Is Today" imo, which makes it not quite as good. I love em both though.
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  #29  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:20 PM
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  #30  
Old 12-14-2011, 08:52 PM
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#18
Yes - Fly From Here


This is an album where, quite simply, Yes prove that they do not need Jon Anderson to make great music. To be honest I didn't care about this album and wasn't intending to listen to it. It's been 10 years since the last Yes album, and God knows how many more than that since the last truly great Yes album - and without Jon Anderson I was sure it was destined to be a failure. And yet here it is, ranking 18th on my year-end list. I'm glad that I ended up giving it a try after seeing a random post about it on another forum because this turned out to be awesome. Benoit David is a suitable replacement, completely nailing the technical difficulty of singing Yes material, while having a great vocal timbre for the band and still not sounding like a clone of their previous lead singer.

More important than that is the composition of this album. Yes did get pretty heavy at times in the past, but this album retains very little of that, opting for the softer, more atmospheric side of the band with a huge emphasis on their progressive aspects - think Fragile rather than 90125. In fact, a major high point of the album is the first 6 tracks, which comprise of one suite with the same title of the album, flowing together as one epic song while each standing out as their own piece. While not quite the absolute masterpiece that is "Close To The Edge," (and I will stand by the "absolute masterpiece" statement) it does call that epic from the past to mind to remind you that this band still exists in a good way. Oh yeah, and the last half of the album is pretty great too.

Recommended songs:
"Fly From Here - Pt. II - Sad Night at the Airfield"
"Fly From Here - Pt. III - Madman at the Screens"
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